Scouting Report: Up until this season, Bowers wasn't the player we are seeing this year. He was a solid player no doubt, but this year, he's finally started playing up to the level that has been expected of him. And what level is that? Well for me, as a pure DE only, Bowers is the best player in the country. He's as good a combination of size, speed and quickness as there is at defensive end in this draft. His size is well, almost too good. I love the fact that he's a solid fit 280lbs, but there's a part of me that thinks he could play with less stiffness and more top end speed if he played slightly lighter. But the added bulk and the strength with it really helps him play the run. The big negative I see on Bowers in terms of the technical parts of his game is counting too much on his physical advantage and not being more aware of his leverage. To me this is why he's much better suited to stay on the end rather than play a 3 technique DT in a 4-3 (except as a situational pass rusher). Going along with this size is a lot of real world strength, which would lend itself to a strong side DE spot, or even if he bulked up a little more a 5 technique DE in the 3-4. He's got a good football IQ and does a nice job breaking the play down and working to the ball.
Draft Status: I tend to believe that his ability to rush from the outside as well as play in either a 4-3 or 3-4 will serve him well come April. His run stopping ability is just bonus. In a draft that lacks elite talent at the sexy position of QB, Bowers could find himself in the top 5 of the first round. I'd consider him the second best DL in the draft, but I suspect most put him ahead of Alabama's Marcell Dareus.
Final Analysis: I've gone back and watched every Clemson Tigers game I had for the past two seasons, trying to really get a good sense of what Bowers is all about. Here's what I see. Great pass rusher, and not just because he's a remarkable athlete. He shows multiple rush moves as well, but just needs work on refining them. Against the run on the outside he does very well. His upper body strength really pays off here. But he's more of a big hitter than big tackler, and he's going to catch Hell from his coaches when big backs bounce off him and keep going. I like his effort more than most. Watch the best DEs in the league and they all start to dog it when the play goes away from them. I consider it more conserving energy than being lazy. Live to fight another day I say. All in all, a very good prospect who is destined to start very early in the NFL. But he's going to need work to be an effective every down player. He was a late bloomer in college and the same could end up being said for him in the NFL.
Reminds me of: James Hall DE St Louis Rams. Similar physical type, strong at the point of attack, and does very well as a pass rusher even with their added bulk.
Red Flags: None
Scouting Report written by Curt Popejoy