We continue looking at prospects in the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft from a decidedly Cowboys point of view. Taking the Cowboys current personnel, draft position, scheme, and needs into consideration; defensive line, linebacker, defensive backs, as well as complementary offensive pieces at tight end and right tackle, we hope to profile the majority of the potential prospects that could realistically end up as Cowboys within the first two rounds. Now that all of the “official visits” have leaked we’ll profile as many of those prospects as we can.
Today’s Prospect - (Reported pre-draft visitor)
#81 - Tyus Bowser - Outside Linebacker/Defensive End - Houston - 6-3, 247
Games Watched: Memphis, Louisville, Cincinnati
Pros: Extremely fluid athlete who is light on his feet with impressive agility and change of direction. Explosive burst, first step, and closing speed, although you don’t see it very often due to how he was used in college. Has the look of a premier athlete, he had an excellent Combine but looks even more athletic in games. Shows the ability to get small and slither through tight creases on the interior of offensive lines, which projects well to being used on stunts/twists. Attacks blockers in the run game with violent hands. Very natural movement ability when dropping into space/zone coverage, may even be able to cover some tight ends in man coverage with his athleticism. Flashes a rip move and hand usage but you rarely see it. Plays with a good motor, hustles and pursues. Statistical production doesn’t look impressive on the surface but 12 TFL and 8.5 sacks are impressive numbers considering how often he was asked to drop into coverage, which seemed to be about half the time.
Cons: Raw in several aspects of the game, often looks to be playing on pure athleticism. Almost no refined pass rush technique, seems more “blitzer” than pass rusher as he mostly uses his pure speed/explosiveness to shoot a gap or run around the outside shoulder of OT’s. Slow to read and react at times. Lacks (or hasn’t yet shown due to how often he was asked to cover) natural ability to bend/flatten around the edge. Average size, will need to add bulk/lower body strength to become a full-time defensive end. Doesn’t show consistent ability to shed blockers, sticks to linemen too often; he does a good job of stacking in the run game, but not shedding. Pass rush is usually stopped cold once engaged with linemen if he doesn’t win with initial speed/burst. Tackling form needs refinement, goes high too often, usually ends up wrapping up ball carriers but needs teammates to get them to the ground. Played as a pure 3-4 OLB, almost never, if ever had his hand on the ground.
Conclusion: Much like T.J. Watt, Bowser looks like an ideal fit as a 3-4 OLB, although there are clear traits that match what the Cowboys would like from their weakside defensive end. Watt is definitely more refined than Bowser as a pass-rusher, while Bowser looks like the better, more explosive athlete, despite similar Combine numbers. He also looks much more natural in coverage than Watt, which does not matter as far as pure defensive ends go, but it does bring me to my next point.
Also similar to Watt I feel like Bowser is not ready to step in and bang heads with left tackles for 40+ snaps a game as a pure, hand on the ground defensive end from Day 1. Sure, he can do it in limited snaps, but I think he would be better served starting off as a stand up SAM LB in base packages who moves around in nickel and dime, sometimes with his hand on the ground, sometimes standing up, where you look to create favorable matchups and bring him from different angles. If that does end up being the plan for Bowser his coverage ability would certainly come in handy.
In many ways this type of role would be similar to what Von Miller did early in his career before Denver switched to a 3-4, it’s how Minnesota uses Anthony Barr who has made two Pro Bowls, and it’s what Seattle did with Frank Clark as a rookie. All players who are similar to Bowser (and Watt) as far as size and play style.
Then from there you allow him to grow into a full-time defensive end if that’s what you want to do. You give him time to develop his pass-rush technique and hand usage, to acclimate to playing with his hand on the ground, and give him the opportunity to add bulk and improve against the run.
There is certainly a lot to like with Bowser, and his upside is sky high if he takes to Rod Marinelli’s coaching, but you can’t ignore how raw he is in several facets of the game. He just isn’t a pure defensive end yet no matter how much anybody wants him to be. Similar to Watt I feel like Bowser is a strong backup plan at 28, although I’d feel a lot better about taking him in the 35-40 range with an extra pick in hand.
I do not have access to coach’s film or anything of that nature, I just watch plenty of football (television broadcast version) and go off what I see out of a prospect.
Special thanks to DraftBreakdown for posting the videos that help provide a more in-depth look at this year’s prospects.