Positives: Bowers has an elite combination of size, strength and athletic ability which is what made him such a sought after recruit coming out of high school. He had an incredible season which included 16 sacks for Clemson and finally seemed to live up to his potential which was fun to watch. He showed an impressive get-off for his size, good edge speed for his size and he flashed an effective spin move at times this season. He seems to have a good feel for the game and he keeps contain well and seems to at least understand his assignments. He is really at his best when he can pin his ears back and fire off the line. He shows surprisingly good pursuit from the backside and seems to have a good motor overall, and that was consistently true this year and in the two games I checked from his previous season. One of those was against Georgia Tech as well, a predominantly running team, and he still seemed to consistently chase down runners. He seems to be a good tackler also, and his long arms help him make ankle tackles that some players wouldn’t be able to make. He also sets the edge well in the running game pretty consistently and is good at stringing plays out even when blocked. Bowers also has an impressive burst for a player his size and he uses that to close on QB’s or other ball carriers when he gets them in his sights.
Negatives: Bowers definitely has the one year wonder concerns to worry about because of his relatively underwhelming first two seasons at Clemson and his fantastic junior season, but his motor and effort level alleviate those concerns for me a bit. However, his block shedding is pretty awful. It’s not that his hand usage is awful, but he just does not seem to know how to shed blocks. Any time an offensive lineman (and even at times tight ends) got a good block on him he would just stay blocked. It didn’t matter if it was against the run or rushing the passer, he just couldn’t get off the blocks. I found that incredibly hard to believe watching him, but a lot of his sacks and tackles for loss came when he was unblocked or when he was able to use a speed rush or a quick pass rush move to keep a blocker from engaging him and then he would zero in on the ball carrier. That is incredibly concerning in my opinion because it is very rare for him to get blocked, much less double teamed, fight off the block with good hand usage and then make a tackle for loss or get a sack. Those kinds of plays don’t translate well to the NFL and that makes me think that Bowers has a lot of bust potential unless he can dramatically improve his hand usage and blocking shedding capability. He also has a good speed rush, bull rush and flashes a good spin move but he could use development on those moves and I haven’t really seen him use a swim or a rip move much. He also doesn’t show much ability to dip his shoulder to get the edge, and doesn’t look like he has a lot of hip flexibility. He also doesn’t seem to read plays very quickly, though he is also patient and won’t read run and crash down on the ball carrier if he has bootleg or reverse responsibility. He also doesn’t play with very good leverage versus the run at times and that limits his ability to stand up offensive linemen at the point of attack.
Overall: Bowers is a very impressive athlete with tons of potential but I don’t think he is the most fundamentally sound player. He has pretty good burst and speed off the edge, but it isn’t elite. He doesn’t shed blocks well at all in my opinion and while he was incredibly productive this season I don’t think a lot of those stats will transition well to the NFL. He doesn’t look like a 10+ sack guy in the NFL to me, and while I think he could still be an effective LE if he gets a year or two of good coaching and development so he can shed blocks more effectively. He has things he needs to work on, specifically some fundamental things, but because of his sheer raw ability I think he will still be drafted very high. I personally don’t have him graded out as a top ten player but I think as a top 20 pick he would make a lot of sense because it is so hard to find a LE who can rush the passer and also play the run effectively, especially one with a good motor. Bowers has that potential, but he won’t ever be an effective pass rusher or run defender if he can’t get off blocks once he is engaged.
Projection: Top 10. I don’t have him graded this high and I have heard rumors of him sliding out of the top 10 but I don’t think that will happen, he’s just too good of an athlete and he has too much potential that someone in the top five or top ten will jump all over him. I definitely think he is a boom-bust guy though because if he doesn’t diligently work to improve his block shedding ability he won’t come close to living up to the hype he has been creating since high school.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Pass Rush: 3.5
Point Of Attack: 3.0
Thanks for reading!