The Las Vegas Raiders were serious about getting their offense to the next level in 2020. The “Swiss Army knife” Lynn Bowden Jr. will help them get there. Yet, what led the team to pick him?
Bowden played collegiate football with the Kentucky Wildcats from 2017 to 2019. Back in the 2020 NFL Draft, Raiders general manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden selected him with the 80th pick. Bowden was part of an impressive trio of offensive weapons the Raiders assembled. He, Bryan Edwards and Henry Ruggs III joined the team via the draft. Fans are no doubt excited about the prospects for this collection of rookies. Still, why did the Raiders choose the unorthodox Bowden? The former Wildcat played three offensive positions: Quarterback, wide receiver, and running back.
Gruden elaborated on what led to Bowden’s selection when he spoke to Jerry McDonald of the Mercury News. The Raiders coach seems to be high on the football IQ Bowden put on display at the NFL Combine. “I remember putting a play on the board at the combine for Bowden and we put in a concept and we told him what all five guys do. Then we’d say Derek might audible to this and then five guys have to do this. [Then] we’d erase the board and talk about other things. Then we told Bowden to get up on the board and put the concept in and tell us what all five guys do and erase it and tell us what all five guys do if Derek audibles. And he hit it out of the park.”
“He sees football”
Bowden’s intelligence was certainly a factor in the Raiders drafting him. Recognizing what the roles of key players are in audibles displays a deep football understanding. Nothing less would be expected as Bowden has literally played every key position save for offensive line. Mayock announced the “Swiss Army Knife” would be providing running back depth at season’s start. However, it’d be doubtful he’s limited to that role.
“He sees football. He understands football concepts.” -Coach Gruden on Bowden’s IQ
While fans shouldn’t expect Bowden to be a factor in the quarterback room, his experience with the SEC indeed helped his draft stock. Gruden alluded to as much when spoke on Bowden’s experiences as a quarterback. “He’s been a quarterback in the SEC so he’s had to operate at the line of scrimmage. He’s had to recognize defenses.” The SEC is often seen as the most challenging college conference, mainly due to the amount of talent that translates into the NFL every year. Facing these high caliber defenses undoubtedly helped Bowden prepare for the NFL. Entering a rookie year where he’s expected contribute, it will pay off.
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*Top Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images