With the selection of Clemson end Da'Quan Bowers in the second round, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are back in the familiar position of having a draft slider help them build an emerging roster.
Last season, wide receiver Mike Williams (fourth round) and running back LeGarrette Blount (undrafted, claimed off waivers from Titans) emerged as two of the top rookies in the NFL. They played angry and motivated because so many people passed on them -- with reason since they had some transgressions that were legit red flags.
Add Bowers, the 51st overall pick, to the mix now. The NCAA's leader in sacks last season (15.5), Bowers was once considered for the top overall pick in the draft. The results of a knee surgery that was more invasive than just a simple scope to repair meniscus damage scared teams away in droves.
Thing is -- I've talked to general managers, coaches and his agent about this -- the concerns about Bowers are about his longevity. There is a good chance that this season and/or the next or even a few more after that, he could be gangbusters. There's also the chance that knee could give way quickly. It wasn't a risk for the Buccaneers to take Bowers at this point, especially since the reward could be so massive.
They also considered him 20th overall.
Tampa Bay's handling of tight end Kellen Winslow also shows it knows how to manage a player with a damaged knee. Winslow has had multiple procedures on his knee and the Bucs rest him or sit him during practice when needed to have him ready to produce on Sundays.
They have been in search of a pass rusher for years, especially since their last serious attempt proved unproductive -- that being the late Gaines Adams, the Clemson defensive end Bowers patterned himself after.
Bowers will be on a young and potentially dangerous defensive front that features last season's No. 3 overall choice in tackle Gerald McCoy, this season's No. 20 overall pick, end Adrian Clayborn, and last season's second-round selection, tackle Brian Price. The potential of that group with their young legs to get after Matt Ryan, Drew Brees and Cam Newton has to make you think.
It's been a tough few weeks for Bowers, who is a rock-solid young man with no character flaws. There is no way he saw this coming. He needs to take that same approach to the NFL about his impact.