As soon as the 2014 NFL Draft wrapped up, the draft community got started on the next crop of prospects. Since then, Dante Fowler has been touted as arguably the best draft-eligible edge defender, ahead of talents like Vic Beasley, Trey Flowers, and Eric Striker. Additionally, he was named to the Bronko Nagurski Award watch list and the Bednarik Award watch list.
Given all that buzz, it’s worth asking: why is Fowler so well-regarded?
Statistically, Fowler hasn’t been a major standout. The then-true sophomore only recorded 3.5 sacks last year, two coming on free rushes against Kentucky. He was named second team All-SEC, with Michael Sam, Dee Ford, Jadeveon Clowney, and Kony Ealy instead earning first team accolades. Aside from Clowney, none of those players received the preseason hype that Fowler did, yet all out-produced him.
That said, it is not Fowler’s box scores that draw attention to him — it is his insane athleticism.The hype surrounding Fowler is a lot more about projection and development than obsessing over past performance. He may have every tool necessary to be great, though he has yet to put them all together consistently.
If Fowler manages to refine that raw ability, he will turn into the top ten prospect he’s commonly made out to be.