The Minnesota Vikings have a lot of holes to fill during this offseason and the lockout has caused a lockdown on free agency, so the draft becomes even more important. With the 12th pick in the draft, the Vikings were predicted to fill their most pressing need at quarterback, but since their first choice, Washington’s Jake Locker, was gone, the Vikings fill another need–defensive line–with Da’Quan Bowers, powerful defensive end from Clemson.
Bowers was long predicted to go earlier in the draft, but due to concerns over surgery on the meniscus of his right knee in January, Bowers dropped to the Vikings at 12. There is thought that Bowers may need microfracture surgery on that knee, so his stocked dropped in recent weeks, but his upside is too good to pass on for Minnesota.
Still, Scouts Inc. believes the knee is a definite concern:
“Missed two games due to a knee injury (MCL and PCL strain) in 2009. Also underwent arthroscopic knee surgery following the 2010 season and could not workout at NFL combine as a result. Appeared to still be favoring the knee during his April 1 workout for NFL scouts, which has only added to his long-term durability concerns. Some believe knee will eventually require microfracture surgery.”
Regardless, the Vikings have a need at defensive end because left end Ray Edwards is most certainly going to investigate free agency no matter what his free agent status once the new labor agreement is finished. In fact, right now he is investigating professional boxing, with the first of two bouts set for May 20. Locking up Bowers would allow the Vikings to save free agency dollars on Edwards and go hard after retaining free agent WR Sidney Rice.
Bowers would slide into left DE very nicely. Last season he led the nation in sacks with 15.5 for Clemson. Those are good numbers no matter how you slice it, but some critics have said that those Bowers sacks have come mostly from his power and athletic ability being better than the college offensive lineman he faced. The technique required to get past professional tackles is lacking in Bowers, critics say.
That may be the case, but it is not a deal breaker. Athletic ability and power can’t be taught–technique can be. Bowers will look good on the opposite end of the defensive line from Jared Allen–but not so good to opposing offenses. Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com agrees:
“To be clear, no NFL team . . . can afford to pass on a player who grades out as an elite pass rusher. But in order to qualify under that category, Bowers would have to completely pass every medical question a team has.”
Bowers can either be a gamble or steal at No. 12 in the draft, and since the Vikings can’t get the QB of their choice there, they will roll the dice with Da’Quan Bowers.
For more about the 2011 NFL Draft, be sure to check out the hornface.com NFL Mock Draft.