Where Did That Guy Come From? Stephen Bowen And The Defensive Line

Our player bio series continues after a brief hiatus for draft fun with a look at the personnel along the defensive line.  If you are unfamiliar with the series, here we look at the path taken by each of the players currently on Dallas' roster, in respect to their draft position and other players that Dallas had the opportunity to secure. We also take a look at their current contract situations.

We highlight one player from the group to start the post, and then cover all other players at the position(s). The series kicked off with Roy Williams and the wide receivers. We then moved on to the Andre Gurode and the interior offensive linemen, Doug Free with the tackle group, and Felix Jones with the running backs, and then Martellus Bennett and the tight ends. Now we'll move on to the defensive line. 

Name: Stephen Bowen

Position: Defensive End

DOB: 3.28.84

College: Hofstra

Height: 6'5"

Weight: 304 lbs.

Signed by the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent following the 2006 amateur draft, Bowen is viewed by some as the latest UDFA breakout the Cowboys have uncovered. He spent the first two months of his rookie season on the practice squad before being called up to the active roster on November 7th. Bowen's first career sack was of current backup QB Jon Kitna, in the final game of 2006 season against the Detroit Lions. The nephew of NBA defensive standout Bruce Bowen, Stephen originally started off as Chris Canty's backup, gaining additional snaps each consecutive season. 2010 was the second straight and third in four years he appeared in all 16 games, starting 9 to replace an injured Marcus Spears. If you look at the standard statistical measurements, Bowen's contributions don't initially indicate anything to get worked up over, but when you dig a little deeper there may be support for the optimism.

Continue for more...

Born in North Carolina, Bowen attended high school at Half Hollow Hills West High School in Dix, N.Y. There, Bowen starred in both football and basketball. You will in fact often see Bowen's name attached to charity basketball events featuring Cowboys players. Bowen was a two year starter at Hofstra University, he was a teammate of late-round standout Marques Colston of the Saints, and Steelers offensive lineman Willie Colon. Keyshawn Johnson and Bill Parcells favorite player-mascot - Wayne Chrebet - also attended the Hempstead, New York university.

The Cowboys extended a second-round tender to Stephen Bowen back in March. As a five-year veteran, Bowen is squarely caught in the cross-hairs of the current labor process. Whether the tender offers even stand, whether players are still bound to their original teams after four, five or six years, will both determine the size and originator of Bowen's next contract. The uncertainty is nothing new to Bowen, having signed five consecutive one-year contracts with the club. The Cowboys brass, however, seems very intent on Bowen as part of their long term plans at the position.

We've all heard the report of new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan walking into the coaches meeting singing the praises of Stephen Bowen after looking at him on tape. How could he be so high on a player that only amassed 22 total tackles and 1.5 sacks? Let's see.

We use advanced statistics in the same way we use standard measures. They don't tell the whole story that can be gleaned from the trained eye test, but they allow a look into those areas we don't normally focus on. One example would be watching the play of a 3-4 defensive end. Bowen is rarely going to amass large standard numbers, but he shines under the light of the advanced statistic.

Profootballfocus.com rates each game of a player, and then provides a cumulative season score. For a defensive player, individual games are a combination of that players run defense, pass rush, pass coverage and penalty scores. To ease comprehension, PFF color codes based on what they consider the level thresholds. A green score indicates an above average grade, white an average one, and red a below average. Stephen Bowen had an astounding nine games in the green. His overall season score of +15.0 ranked him third amongst all 3-4 defensive ends in the league for 2010. This was achieved first as a pass rush specialist, but when Marcus Spears went down with an injury, Bowen started the final nine games of the season and continued his stellar play. So much so that PFF decided to profile Bowen in it's secret superstar series earlier in the offseason.

Now this was all done within the confines of the Wade Phillips scheme. It is still yet to be said how a player with so much pass rush ability but a yet limited run stopping niche will thrive in Rob Ryan's multiple defensive looks. It's not that Bowen is a poor run defender, more so he seems to be nondescript in that realm. In 16 games, Bowen didn't register a single 'red' game. He also never had a single game in the green. In 2009, Bowen didn't register any red games either, but he did have two green games. In 2008, one red, no greens. Over the three year stretch, to amass one bad run defense game, two good ones and 45 average ones over 48 games including playoffs- saying that he is an average run defender seems a pretty safe bet.

So what does that mean for the upcoming season? It sure would be nice to have some interaction between the coach and budding superstar to help appease the hunger of a locked out fandom.

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Player Name Pos. DOB College Path To The Cowboys
Clifton Geathers DE 12.11.87 South Carolina Signed off waivers in December 2010 after the Cowboys released Jeremy Clark. Geathers was released by the Seattle Seahawks on December 7 after signing with the club on November 27. He was originally drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the sixth round (186th overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft out of South Carolina, but was released by the Browns on final cuts. Geathers signed with the Miami Dolphins on September 5 where he appeared in one game and spent time on their practice squad before his release on November 26.
Jason Hatcher DE 7.13.82 Grambling State Originally drafted by the Cowboys in the 3rd round of the 2006 with the 92nd overall pick. Currently has a second round tender offer from the club to return. Free agency status is affected by which version of rules 2011 is played under, as a five-year veteran. Notable players selected in the 32 picks after Hatcher: S Eric Smith, G Max Jean-Gilles, S Ko Simpson, T Jahri Evans
Igor Olshansky DE 5.3.82 Oregon Signed as a free agent in 2009 with Dallas to replace Chris Canty, after five seasons in San Diego. Originally drafted in the 2nd round (35th overall pick) of the 2004 draft by the Chargers. Signed a four-year deal on March 6th, 2009, with a voidable fifth year. Scheduled to earn 3.335 million in 2011, 4.2m in 2012.
Marcus Spears DE 3.8.83 LSU Drafted with the 20th pick in the 1st round of the 2005 draft by the Cowboys. This was the Cowboys second selection of the first round (#11 DeMarcus Ware) that year. Draft pick was acquired in 2004 draft day trade with Buffalo. Dallas sends 2004 pick #22 (JP Losman) to Buffalo for 2004 second round pick (#43-Julius Jones), 2004 fifth round pick (#144-Sean Ryan (a)), 2005 first round pick (#20-Marcus Spears). Next four 3-4 D Lineman selected after pick #22 in 2004 draft: Marcus Tubbs, Igor Olshansky, Junior Siavii, Tank Johnson. Last three all ended up playing for Dallas. D-Line personnel drafted after Spears in 2005: Luis Castillo (#28), Mike Patterson(#31), Shaun Cody(#37), Matt Roth(#46), Dan Cody(#53). Nteworthy players drafted immediately after Spears: Aaron Rodgers(#24), Roddy White(#27) Logan Mankins (#32). Was a top 8 player at defense end on a per snap basis in 2010, according to PFF.
Josh Brent DT 1.30.88 Illinois Selected in the 7th round of the 2010 supplemental draft by the Cowboys. Brent entered the supplemental draft after not being able to restore his academic eligibility. On 7/22/2010 signed a four year contract through the 2013 season for 1.8 million.
Jay Ratliff DT 8.28.81 Auburn Originally drafted by the Cowboys in the 7th round of the 2005 draft, No. 224 overall. He was the 15th DT selected, after Luis Castillo, Mike Patterson, Shan Cody went early. Signed through the 2012 season when he inked a five-year 20.9m contract 12/14/2007. has been named to three consecutive Pro Bowls and has accrued a 46 Career AV from Pro-football-reference.com.
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