Gets overextended too often and bent over at the waist though contact and can be hung up easily at times. However, plays off slide down blocks well down the line because of his athleticism and length and is tough to reach the corner on because he closes quickly as well. Exhibits the anchor strength to consistently set the edge when run at and really took a liking to his motor this season. Played hungry more consistently chasing from the backside and making far more plays in pursuit.
Possesses a good first step off the edge in the pass game for a guy his size and again extends his arms well in order to quickly gain inside position. Generates a natural pop at the point of attack and can initially overwhelm on contact. Works his legs well through the play when engaged and has the ability to drop his pad level when trying dip around the edge and accelerate past his man. Displays some natural flexibility and fluidity in all areas of the game and when in space does a nice job suddenly using his inside move to slip blockers inside and accelerate quickly toward the quarterback.
However, lacks the kind of burst to consistently turn the corner off the edge and isn't real shifty through contact. Doesn't disengage from blocks nearly as well as given credit for as a pass rusher off the edge and too often gets upright and hung up easily when engaged off the edge. Works hard and has the natural power/length and athleticism to eventually fight his way through contact and close, especially when the QB is flushed from the pocket, but isn't nearly as savvy or technically sound using his hands to consistently disengage.
Had some trouble with his weight during the early part of his career at Clemson. Seemed to lean out and really take his game to another level as a junior with the potential of entering the draft. Therefore, will he keep that same type of drive once he is drafted high and has a significant paycheck in his pocket?
Impression: A strong, long-armed athlete with impressive closing speed for his size and natural anchor strength. However, needs to do a better job using his hands to shed blocks in both the run and pass game, gets held up far too often when engaged for me to give him an elite level grade."
Run Defense: Ready-made strong-side NFL defensive end because of his strength as a run-stopper. Uses thick upper body, quickness and awareness, and leverage to keep containment on the edge, and sheds most tackles easily. Stays square to the line of scrimmage and shows good awareness throughout the play. Competes, chasing to either sideline, even after losing his balance. Takes on multiple blockers, (tackles, pulling guards and fullbacks) as they come with violent hands so he can hold his ground. Generally stays alive against cut blocks, but loses his balance regularly and needs to use his hands better to defeat.
Explosion: Has explosive strength on the edge, bringing his full force in his hand punch to the chest of overmanned college tackles on bull rushes and when shedding blocks. Flashes the ability to come hard off the snap and turn the corner as a pass rusher on the strong side, but may struggle to do so against NFL right tackles without improving technique.
Strength: Already looks like an NFL end, pushing some tackles into the backfield with one arm, and will only grow stronger over the next couple of years in a pro strength and conditioning program. More developed in the upper body than the lower body, but plays with excellent leverage against bigger linemen. Strong hands to shed on the outside.
Tackling: Combines NFL-quality strength and length to provide explosive tackling on the edge. Most ballcarriers find it difficult to evade him once in his grasp. Closing speed and strong wrap give him the capability of forcing fumbles on sacks or against ballcarriers in the open field. Changes direction well for his size and is able to keep himself in outside runs to force a decision. NFL backs won't go down as easily as college backs do when he gets one hand on them, however.
Intangibles: Matured and turned on his game after losing his mentor, former DE Gaines Adams (cardiac arrest) and his father (seizure) over the past year. Lost 20 pounds between junior and senior seasons. His best football is ahead of him. Has become a student of the game."
Pursuit: Is very good in pursuit, especially against the run. Shows good range to make plays on the backside. When Bowers gives full effort, he works hard to the ball. Had some lapses as a junior where he throttled his play down.
Run defense: Is a powerful defensive end who can get low to stop the run. Is better working the run to the inside than the outside. Still, Bowers mostly bull rushes and works to keep outside contain. Has lined up at tackle and has the power to beat guards when he stays low.
Strength: Here is one of the main areas that makes Bowers ready for the NFL right now. He shows the strength to bull rush offensive linemen backwards and at times demands double teams. Has some trouble against double teams, especially when he’s not low. Got to show off his power plenty as a junior when Clemson used him as a 3-technique to pass rush from the inside.
Tackling: Can be an explosive hitter when he reaches the ball carrier. Has the strength to knock the ball loose on tackles. Changes direction pretty fluidly to keep up with shifty runners.
Technique: For Bowers to succeed his has to get leverage. At times in 2010, though, he often came out of his stance too high, allowing linemen to get below him. While Bowers doesn’t get driven backwards, he does get held up. Has good hand usage to fight off linemen, though. Rarely gets in trouble against counter moves.
Final word: Not a lot of true defensive end prospects have Bowers’ blend of strength, size and quickness. Make no mistake, he’s the kind of 4-3 end that a team can plug in for years to get pressure on the quarterback. Bowers can also shift inside in nickel situations and is strong and instinctual enough to handle draws.
The most obvious comparison for Bowers is former New York Giants end Michael Strahan. Bowers isn’t quite as boisterous as Strahan, but he’s similar in playing style. Bowers has a good burst off the snap and turns that burst into power.
His main move is a straight forward bull rush with a swim, just like Strahan. You might not get a lot of double moves or spins out of Bowers, but he doesn’t need them.
Bowers was highly recruited out of high school but was considered an underachiever until 2010. A knee injury that essentially knocked him out of three games slowed his progress as a sophomore. But he finally delivered as a junior. He came into the year in much better shape and finished with 15.5 sacks and 26 tackles for loss.
Bowers is a force to be reckoned with.
Bowers arrived on the Clemson campus after graduating early, and made an immediate impact, making many plays in the 2008 Spring Game as a true freshman. Bowers started immediately as a true freshman for the 2008 season.
While Bowers never really lit up the sack statistics in his freshman and sophomore years, he was still very effective overall, making numerous tackles for loss, and still disrupting the backfield. A knee injury in his sophomore year forced some struggles for him. He played some defensive tackle at times, often as a three technique in his freshman and sophomore seasons.
But it wasn’t until 2010 when Bowers made re-established his name as a sack artist. He recorded 25 tackles for loss, 15.5 of which were sacks. He broke out in a big way, and his stock won’t get any higher. On a Clemson team that’s struggling, and will most likely struggle in 2011, Bowers felt to need to leave for the NFL Draft in order to not jeopardize his draft stock.
Bowers has made quite the name for himself as a pure pass rusher. He’s a very effective bull rusher, who uses a fantastic swim move to get penetrate the offensive line. He can line up on the inside in certain situations, as his strength allows him to knock defenders off of the ball with his excellent snap judgement and awareness. Bowers moves well laterally, and plays well in pursuit. He is effective against the run, doing well in keeping outside contain, but his penetration is excellent for forcing the runner back inside. He’s a powerful tackler, and wraps up well when tackling the ball carrier. With a great defensive line coach, Bowers has all the physical tools to be one of the most dominating defensive ends to come out in the last five to ten seasons.
Bowers doesn’t seem to have any glaring weaknesses, which is a reason why he’s such a special player. But some coaches at the next level may want him to develop more pass rushing moves. His swim move and bull rush is just about all that’s a part of his repertoire and he may need to add an inside move to his game. At times he seems to lose focus, and will take plays off. He seems like he loses confidence somewhat easily. After giving up a big play, it takes him a few more plays to get back in a groove. While he’s quick, and athletic, it may be difficult for him to translate to the 3-4 OLB position, making him most likely restricted to the 4-3 scheme. Bowers does need to work on staying low, and maintaining leverage. He sometimes jumps straight up out of his stance, getting held at the point of attack, and being rendered useless.
As of now, Bowers’ value lies as a surefire Top Ten draft pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. It seems that his biggest competition for the #1 overall draft spot is fellow defensive lineman and penetrator Nick Fairley, from Auburn. Right now only three of the top ten teams in the draft currently run a 4-3 defense. The Browns may be making the switch to make it four, but if Carolina doesn’t take Bowers with the #1 overall pick, then Cincinnati will be hard pressed not to grab him with the fourth pick overall. I don’t see him sliding down out of the Top Five.
NFL Player Comparison: Michael Strahan"
Negatives: Is a bit stiff in the hips coming around the edge... Does not get consistent leverage in the run game... Needs to stay low to maximize lower-body strength... Misses some tackles... Will give up on plays too early... Missed two games with MCL and PCL strain in 2009... Needs to improve his sack total... Little experience dropping into coverage."
Weaknesses: Not always as focused as he will need to be at the next level. Motor runs hot and cold. When he loses focus, he can be locked on an driven. Work habits are above average, but not outstanding. Will need some coaching up on how to be a better overall football player.
Projection: Top 5 pick."
Things changed quickly in 2010. Just six games into the season, Bowers has 37 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss and 9.0 sacks. He is wreaking havoc in the backfield against just about every unfortunate team on the schedule. Clemson is not having a great year, but plenty of people are paying attention to Bowers. The 6-4, 280 pound defensive end is one of the most consistent pass rushers in the nation right now.
Barring an injury or a major drop-off in production, Bowers would be a first round selection in the 2011 draft if he opts to leave a year early. The way things are going, Bowers could very easily lead the nation in tackles-for-loss and sacks and that is an impressive feat to accomplish. Many have Bowers as the top pass rusher on their board and that means, if the right team has the first pick, that Bowers would be in the mix for the first overall pick in the draft. There is a long way to go, but it is hard to find another end with the production and pure skills and talent that Bowers possesses."
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