This post is part of a continuing series in which we break down 13 2011 NFL Draft prospects - our Baker's Dozen - that should interest the Buffalo Bills. Previous physical scouting reports: WR Julio Jones, DT Nick Fairley, DT Marcell Dareus.
Because of the fact that he underwent post-season knee surgery, Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers has flown under the radar a bit over the past several weeks while his draft classmates have worked out for NFL scouts. There's a very good reason, however, that Bowers is still in the conversation for a Top 5 overall pick despite being relatively forgotten - he is a unique, pro-ready prospect with elite pass rushing potential.
Defining Trait: Power. Bowers is a bit unusual as a prospect in that he's an elite pass rusher wrapped up in a power package. It's not often that you see a player with his sack numbers be so powerfully-built and, more importantly, effective against the run. His power is generated from superb lower body strength, and is made even more difficult to deal with given his good snap anticipation and initial burst. He transitions from quickness to power naturally, making him a difficult block whether one or two get the assignment.
Pass Rush. Despite low sack totals while he was a rotational player in his first two years at Clemson, Bowers is a natural pass rusher. Has the speed, burst, balance and body control to bend the edge, dips his shoulder to get under tackles with ease, has an effective swim move, and occasionally flashed a good rip. Does not have a wide array of rush moves, mostly because he didn't need them in college. Has quick hands to effectively fight off blocks. Excellent burst, and solid closing speed. Strong lower body gives him an effective bull rush, and he can collapse the pocket. Has yet to show well consistently against double teams. Comes out of his stance high, neutralizing his effectiveness on many snaps.
Run Defend. Was a consistently good run defender from day one at Clemson. Has a great hand punch that allows him to stun, and then maneuver around, blockers. Plays with improving instincts and awareness, and reads his keys correctly. Has good, but not great range, and can struggle to change direction fluidly in space. Slips blocks and disrupts running plays in the backfield, but can also anchor. Will get high and lose leverage, negating his exceptional lower body strength. Fluid moving laterally. A good contain run defender; rarely lets plays get outside. Consistently good, but not perfect, motor; chased a lot of plays down from behind.
College Production. Bowers played mostly left defensive end at Clemson, but he made a lot of plays from a three-technique DT position as a junior, where his power and quicks allowed him to dominate guards. He has the size and strength to pull that off professionally, too, and that's cause for many to think he could be a 3-4 end in a one-gap system. His early-career production, however, was lacking from the perspective that he was the nation's top recruit coming out of high school, but his break-out junior campaign - in which he led the nation in sacks - has alleviated some of those concerns (and created others).
Da'Quan Bowers: College Statistics
|Da'Quan Bowers Totals||37||150||43.5||19.5|
Athletic Traits. Strong and powerful in the lower body. Heavy hands and long arms. Thick throughout his frame, making him the rare pro-ready 4-3 defensive end that can be more than just a situational pass rusher. A fluid athlete that moves pretty well for a 280-pound individual. Moves well laterally, but struggles to sink his hips and change direction, making him an iffy fit for 3-4 outside linebacker. Good closing burst and tackles with authority. Lost some weight heading into his junior season that many attribute his better sack production to. Returned kicks and played running back in high school.
Da'Quan Bowers - 2011 Combine Results
Injury Issues. Spent most of his sophomore (2009) season fighting through a knee injury. Injured his meniscus in a two-sack performance against NC State in 2010, played through it, and recorded three more sacks over Clemson's final four games. Post-season surgery on the meniscus has prevented Bowers from doing anything but the Combine bench press this off-season; has a highly important pro day on April 1 to prove to scouts that he's healthy, and disprove reports to the contrary.