After much anticipation, Clemson DE Da’Quan Bowers worked out for NFL scouts and personnel inside of Clemson’s Memorial Stadium. Bowers tore his right medial meniscus in week 10 of the college football season and after having surgery, was unable to participate in the NFL Scouting Combine or Clemson’s regular pro day event on March 10th. After early projections had Bowers going as high as the #1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, expectations were high.
Bowers took the field in front of a large group of NFL scouts and personnel, including Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff, Bills General Manager Buddy Nix, Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt, Cleveland Browns defensive line coach Dwaine Board, Dolphins pass rush coach Bryan Cox and scouts from the Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Detroit Lions, New Orleans Saints, St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, Carolina Panthers, Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers.
Bowers began the workout with the broad jump, setting a mark at 9′ 2″. Bowers then moved to the 40 yard dash. By my clock, I timed Bowers at 4.91 and 4.97 seconds. By checking with other scouts that were near me, my times weren’t much different. I did observe one scout’s time for Bowers at 5.06 on his second run, but this scout wasn’t positioned directly at the finish line. Bowers then moved to the 3 cone drill, where I timed him at 7.06 and 7.12. Finally, I timed Bowers in the short shuttle at 4.5 seconds.
The most important note about these drills wasn’t the time, it was that Bowers showed no signs of dragging his leg at all. During the cone/shuttle runs, Bowers planted his leg without problem and didn’t limp after events were over.
Defensive end Miguel Chavis, who one NFL staffer referred to as “Steven Segal” because of his slicked back ponytail, also ran the timed events. I timed Chavis at 5.18 and 5.15 in the 40 yard dash, 7.6 in the 3 cone and 4.69 in the short shuttle.
After the timed events, Bowers participated in position drills alongside teammate Jarvis Jenkins. Scouts did have Bowers doing certain tasks that showed how his knee was holding up. For example, Bowers was asked to jump along a straight line on one leg, during which, he showed no signs of favoring his repaired knee. Both Bowers and Jenkins looked good in pass rushing drills. Bowers displayed quick and active hands and Jenkins looked sudden and violent. Bowers did appear to tire near the end of the drills but given that he was focusing on rehabbing his knee and not football conditioning, it’s understandable.
The most interesting and entertaining portion of the workout came at the end where Bowers worked one on one with Dolphins pass rush coach Bryan Cox. Cox took Bowers through a series of linebacker drills and the two maintained a witty banter throughout the workout. When Cox asked Bowers to run along a straight line, bending his knees and scraping the ground with his hands, Bowers had some problems and frequently bent at the waist instead. Cox then quietly said to Bowers “I’m stiff and I can do it. If you can’t do it, then you must be real stiff.” Bowers looked decent back pedaling but was clearly fatigued during the linebacker drills. Cox and Bowers continued their banter after the workout with Bowers asking Cox “Was I good?” to which Cox responded “It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t good, but it wasn’t bad.” Cox and Bowers shared several minutes of private conversation after the workout was completed and appeared to have a very friendly relationship, leading Bowers to introduce his uncle to Cox before leaving.
All in all, Bowers may have run a slower 40 time than he would have liked but he looked good enough in the workout. It’s possible that people are over-evaluating this workout due to the impressive workout North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn had the day before in Chapel Hill. However, Bowers showed that he has a dedication to football and a solid work ethic by pushing himself to workout today. Had he canceled the workout for fear of a slower 40 time, scouts would have been more nervous of Bowers, fearing that his knee was not anywhere close to being ready to play. By coming out and showing that his knee could handle the stresses of football activity, Bowers showed that he’s on track in his recovery. He may not be 100%, but he’s close and working in that direction. It’s my belief that if Bowers’ knee checks out in Indianapolis at the medical re-check next weekend, there’s no reason Bowers should drop out of the top 15.
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