Few college players have to deal with the kind of expectations that awaited Da’Quan Bowers upon arriving at Clemson. It took him a couple years to figure it out and really come into his own as a college player, but he burst onto the national scene in explosive fashion this past year. Rarely will you find such a physically gifted player produce the way Bowers did this past year. An incredible Junior season has the former five-star recruit thinking Top 5 in the upcoming NFL Draft. What sets him apart is his ability to rush the passer and stop the run equally well; he projects as a three-down end with excellent versatility in 4-3 schemes.
One area of his game that shined upon entering the lineup for the Tigers has been Bowers’ ability to defend against the run. Not only does he possess solid anchor strength in his lower body, but he also has tremendous recognition skills. He uses leverage & upper-body power to manipulate blockers and seal the edge. He has a non-stop motor in the run game and has the fluidity & speed to track down opponents in pursuit. Additionally, he is secure wrap-up tackler that will routinely make plays both downfield and in the backfield.
Bowers really exploded on to the scene this past season as a pass-rusher after losing weight in the offseason. Where he appeared to be a dormant force his first two seasons, Da’Quan came very much alive to lead the nation in sacks in 2010 with 15.5. For a player that typically carries 280 pounds or more on his frame, he has excellent closing speed and can live in opponents’ backfields if not given proper attention. His first step is not elite, but he does a nice job disengaging and closes extremely fast if given an opening. He is a sure tackler with good hips who doesn’t give Quarterbacks any second chances. That all said, he must improve his array of pass-rush moves as he got by mostly on physical ability in college.
As I touched on earlier, there are few Defensive Ends that possess the recognition skills and awareness that Bowers does. With over 150 career tackles in three years as a starter, it clear that he has little problem finding the ball. In fact, locating the ball and reacting accordingly has been a strength throughout his college football career. Continuously while at Clemson, Da’Quan out-produced Linebackers in the tackle department. His football IQ seems to be very high and he’s without doubt the best “read-and-react” end in this class.
Though it is an area that NFL coaches will stress, Da’Quan Bowers enters the league as a player capable of using his hands to disengage from blocks. He may not be particularly violent or explosive with his hands, but he’s strong, active, and very smart. Bowers utilizes his hand placement to manipulate blockers and enter the backfield at will. As an equally effective pass-rusher and run stopper, his hands have helped him to be one of the more complete Defensive End prospects in recent memory.
Size, Speed, Strength & Athleticism
No matter the level of competition, Da’Quan Bowers’ physical ability is very impressive. At over 280 pounds, he appears capable of running and playing in space as well as most Linebackers. His closing speed may be his most evident attribute that shows up on tape week after week. He has solid burst, but he may not be as explosive as some top pass-rushing prospects. Still, he must continue to add strength in the NFL where the players he’s lining up against are much bigger and stronger than in the ACC.
It seems as if football has been Bowers’ only significant athletic experience. He was the top overall recruit coming out of High School according to most recruiting services and he didn’t disappoint while at Clemson. He did return kicks and play running back for his High School team, showing off his rare athleticism for his size.
As we are well underway in the draft process, injury concerns loom with Bowers. He will likely be unable to workout for NFL scouts & personnel before April due to a knee injury that kept him from participating at the Combine. He missed only two games, however, in his college career: during his Sophomore campaign with minor knee injuries. His health before the draft will be a big determinant as to whether he’ll go Top 3 or Top 10 overall.
By all accounts, Da’Quan Bowers is a very charming and put-together individual. He has tremendous football character with a great head on his shoulders and a very strong work ethic. There is no quit in his game or in his personality. In a draft class with many red flags, Bowers is a breath of fresh air as an intelligent, well-spoken, and mature individual.
Though he has been nicked up in the pre-draft process, it’s hard to question Da’Quan Bowers’ toughness. He is a three-down player with a very good motor and stamina. He’s both a physically and mentally tough player who won’t leave the field unless an injury is (fairly) serious.
Da’Quan Bowers possesses terrific potential as a complete, “do-it-all” Defensive End. If he can develop his pass-rushing moves further, he could become a game-changing force at the next level. He is an ideal fit in any 4-3 scheme as a Left End, Right End, and he’s even capable of playing 3-Tech inside on passing downs. A downside for Bowers may be his lack of value to 3-4 teams. With half the league operating primarily out of the “30” front, it’s possible he falls further on draft day than his talent would indicate. A high-ceiling, high-floor player that should become a solid starter at the very least.
2010: 13 games played 13 starts, 66 Tackles 26 Tackles for Loss 15.5 Sacks
2009: 12 games played, 46 Tackles 10.5 TFL 3.0 Sacks
2008: 13 games played, 37 Tackles 8.0 TFL 1.0 Sack
Majored in community recreation, sport and camp management at Clemson.
Awards & Honors
2010: Bronko Nagurski Award Winner. Ted Hendricks Award Winner. Unanimous 1st Team All-American. 1st Team All-ACC. ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
2008: Honorable Mention Freshman All-American (Sporting News).
Prospect Video Clips
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