A few months ago Clemson defensive end Da’Quan Bowers was in the debate as the potential number one pick in the upcoming draft, amidst names such as Cam Newton, Patrick Peterson and Marcell Dareus.
Bowers designation as the potential “best player” in the draft was a rightful one. Last season he won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, awarded to college footballs best defensive player, and was designate as the ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
It was season largely spurned on by the death of his father, Dennis Bowers, who passed away last August.
On his death bed he encourage his son to become the best college player he could possibly be, and with his 63 tackles, 15.5 sacks and 24 tackles for loss he did just that to near perfection.
Bowers distinguished himself as the best defensive end prospect in the draft, the only question at the time becoming if the Panthers, who hold the number one pick, needed a quarterback more than a play maker on the defensive side of the ball.
However Bowers stock began to plummet after he skipped the Combine due to a surgical procedure to repair the meniscus in his right knee back in January.
His pro day arrived April 1st, to the delight off all those anxiously awaiting his workout, only for scouts and those observers from various NFL teams to note he seemed to favor the knee throughout drills. There was also obvious swelling afterwards, raising an immediate red flag for most in attendance.
Word spread quickly of Bowers medical concerns and the potential of the knee to become arthritic, only compounded by reports that a physical he underwent Indianapolis confirmed it would indeed bother him throughout his professional career.
Bowers draft stock took an immediate turn for the worst. Many believe he could fall all they way to the second round because of the medical concerns. It appears for now he has slide out of the top ten at least and may plummet even farther.
The New Orleans Saints hold the 24th pick in the upcoming draft. It’s clear that defensive end is one of the primary concerns this off seasonas bothWill Smith and Alex Brown accounted for only 7.5 sacks combined in 2010. The defense was also soft against the run ranking a pedestrian 16th, giving up on average 113 yards a game.
Smith is also facing a possible four-game suspension to start the 2011 season for his violations of the leagues substance abuse policy stemming from a failed drug test three seasons ago.
Smith, along with team mates Deuce McAllister, Charles Grant and Jamar Nesbit ingested the wight loss supplement StarCaps. Unfortunately the players did not realize at the time the supplement contained a banned diuretic, Bumetanide.
The questions for the Saints at 24 is of course if Bowers is there, which seems unlikely, will they roll the dice and ignore his medical risk in liu of his skill set and potential in their defense.
Certainly he would be hard to ignore there, fills a huge need for them and could be the steal of the draft. His bust potential is huge considering he could be drafted and never play a down his rookie year barring how well his knee holds up through training camp and offseason workouts (assuming the offseason ever happens given the current impasse negotiating a new CBA).
Of course ultimately where Bowers goes in the draft is still yet to be seen, but personally I don’t think he will be available to the Saints at the bottom of the first round. Tremendous upside, tremendous risk — what’s a team to do?