To make the most of Lynn Bowden Jr, the Las Vegas Raiders will have to utilize all of his talents, which include wide receiver, running back, and quarterback.
Raiders general manager Mike Mayock went all in on the offense in the 2020 NFL Draft, looking for players to maximize quarterback Derek Carr’s chances to succeed. He did this by picking up an array of offensive weapons, starting with Henry Ruggs III and later picking the all-world talent from the University of Kentucky, who creates some intriguing possibilities for the offense. Hence why Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden made the pick, Bowden played all three key positions in college, which certainly brings intrigue with him.
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While Bowden doesn’t figure to be a part of the quarterback’s room alongside Carr, he did make the most of his time as a signal caller back in college. As Ted Nguyen of The Athletic pointed out, “when the [Kentucky] Wildcats needed a spark, they trusted Bowden and played him at quarterback for the final eight games of last season. He rewarded their trust by going 6-2 and rushing for 1,359 yards and 13 touchdowns in those games.”
Bowden might be the unofficial fourth quarterback behind Carr, Marcus Mariota, and Nathan Peterman, but he can offer a change of pace similar to Taysom Hill and the New Orleans Saints.
Look at what Bowden does with a fake handoff in the first play of this highlight reel. Now, picture him behind the Raiders offensive line and a fake to Alec Ingold or Josh Jacobs.
Raiders: The Joker
What Bowden can do at quarterback is only part of his package. Mayock said that even though the Wildcats product was indeed drafted as a running back, “Ultimately, he’ll probably be what we call a ‘joker,’ which is what I love in Jon’s offense. It’s somebody who can do multiple jobs.”
One of those jobs was punt returning for Kentucky, as you’ll see at the 1:20 mark of the highlights, Bowden returns a punt for a touchdown, displaying some dangerous speed.
Many expect to see Bowden to do his most damage this season at wide receiver even though he’ll probably see touches as the third running back behind Jacobs and Jalen Richard. Gruden should also get creative with Bowden in the red zone, the Raiders need as much as they can scoring touchdowns after all. The 2:20 mark is a perfect example, Bowden’s lined up in the middle burns his coverage to score in the corner endzone.
There’s a lot riding for Gruden in 2020 as this will be the inaugural season for the team’s new home in Las Vegas. The Raiders have to make a splash and opening up the playbook will go a long way towards doing so. If Gruden remains adamant about sticking to a conservative “dink and dunk” approach, picking up talent like Bowden and Ruggs will have been a waste. For fans sake, let’s hope that’s not the case.
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*Top Photo: Nell Redmond/Associated Press