The NFL comp for Georgia TE, Brock Bowers, is fairly obvious and straightforward. Many experts compare him to George Kittle and this is the comp I'm going with as well. There are some differences between the 2 players, which we will go through. Since Bowers is a TE, you might think that the long term plan behind drafting him would be for the Rams to replace Tyler Higbee and get more receiving production from the TE position. I don't think that's the right way of looking at Bowers.
In my view, the primary role for Bowers on the Rams' roster would be as an eventual replacement for Cooper Kupp. Not necessarily a direct 1 for 1 replacement. I mean, CK had nearly 2,000 receiving yards in a single season. That's asking alot to expect a TE to produce that many yards. Still, many of the ways the Rams use Kupp in the scheme are exactly the same ways Brock Bowers fits in an NFL offense. McVay literally could call the exact same plays and not change anything other than have Bowers line up in Kupp's position.
While Bowers is listed as a TE, he and Higbee essentially play 2 different positions. Higbee is more of a traditional "Y" tight end who has an important role blocking in-line, an extension of the OL in the run game. Bowers projects as a flex TE who typically would line up in the slot or split out wide like a WR. He'd play the position that Gerald Everett was meant to fill for the Rams. It is just a matter of semantics to call Bowers a tight end, because he just as easily could be described as a big WR.
Bower is widely considered to be a lock to be a top 10 pick, even though TEs rarely are taken early in the 1st round. Since 1990, there have been 7 TEs drafted in the top 10. Kyle Pitts went 4th overall. Vernon Davis went 6th overall. Eric Ebron was 10th.
Prior to the end of last season, Daniel Jeremiah wrote a preliminary evaluation on Bowers and compared him to Kittle. He said Bowers was dynamic and looked like the fastest player on the field. He understood how to lean into defenders before exploding out of breaks. Excellent hands attacking the ball at highest point, away from body. Impressive downfield adjustments. At his best after the catch, makes a quick transition upfield after catch. Drags defenders forward with lower body strength. Surprisingly nifty making defenders miss in space. Very competitive in run game, excels on combo blocks. Effective on jet sweeps, even used like RB in short yardage. Lacks size, like an H-back. Has more juice than Kittle, but Kittle is more consistent as a blocker.
This summer, Trevor Sikkema, a draft analyst for PFF, was so impressed by Bowers that he declared that Bowers would likely be one of the 10 best draft prospects he's ever evaluated. Red zone threat on fades. Super strong hands. Incredible YAC receiver. Really good blocker in space. Unbelievable work ethic and effort on every play. Only weakness is size blocking bigger DEs. A slam dunk top 10 pick. PFF said that Bowers had a 76.5% contested catch rate in 2022, among the top 10 for FBS receivers.
PFN (Dalton Miller) says that Bowers has no wasted movement at the top of the route. Advanced releases vs off coverage. Speed and physicality to stack DBs. Efficient COD. Creative and physical after catch. Not aggressive attacking the ball. Needs to use frame more as route runner. Limited size to block in-line. Gets cute on square cuts. Could be called an "X" wide receiver. Shouldn't make it out of the top 15 selections.
NFLDB: Elite ball skills. Relentless motor and energy. Potential as a blocker. Outstanding body control. Needs to refine ability to consistently separate vs elite NFL safeties. Physical defenders can disrupt route timing. Small to play in-line. Rounds off breaks, needs more polish to master full route tree. Concerning limited release repertoire. Challenged by physical press-man coverage. The undisputed TE1 in draft. A franchise cornerstone.
CBSSports (Josh Edwards) 4th overall prospect
Mel Kiper (in mid-October) 4th overall
NFLDB 6th overall
Drafttek 5th overall
Draftwire (Jeff Risdon) 13th pick in mock draft
Luke Easterling (SI) 8th overall in mock draft
PFF 5th overall
Ian Cummings 6th overall in mock draft (to Rams)
BuffaloFambase 7th overall
Steve Shoup 8th overall
Name: Brock Bowers. Turns 21 years old in December. True Junior.
School: Georgia. Finance major
Size: Listed 6'4'' tall, 240 pounds. Per NFLDB 4.48 seconds (40 time). When he was a HS recruit and weighed 225 pounds, he reportedly had a 40'' vertical jump at a recruiting event and ran 4.55 in the 40.
4 star recruit from Napa, CA. Both of his parents were accomplished athletes. His mom was a great softball player for Utah State. His dad played center for the Utah State football team. He has a sister who plays college softball.
As a high school freshman, Bowers was a QB in an option offense for the JV team. He played TE and LB in HS and was recruited as a LB by some schools. He also played basketball in HS. Bowers was an immediate impact star as a true freshman (PFF said that Bowers would have been a 1st round pick if he had been draft eligible after his freshman season), then built on it by becoming a 1st team All American and the Mackey Award winner in 2022.
Bowers suffered a high ankle sprain in October and had tightrope surgery. NFL agents reportedly suggested that Bowers shut it down for the rest of the season and focus on preparing for the draft, but this suggestion made Bowers angry. He did the exact opposite, returning surprisingly early from his injury and playing in UGA's most recent game.
2021: 56-882-13 receiving; 4-56-1 rushing
2022: 63-942-7 receiving; 9-109-3 rushing
2023: 44-601-5 receiving; 6-28-1 rushing
Bowers is grounded, humble and matter of fact in interviews. He's direct and to the point answering questions, not overly eloquent or much of an extemporaneous speaker. Prior to the season, Kirby Smart said that Bowers had a 3.45 GPA in finance.
Has legendary football character. The UGA coaching staff raves about his accountability, competitiveness and work ethic. A role model for the younger players. Smart told a story about how the younger TEs conspired to try to beat Bowers in a team sprint drill, but Bowers refused to back down and beat them in every spring, even though they were basically cheating. Coaches describe him as an out front, lead by example player who prepares and practices at a high level every single time.
Excellent body control. Quick feet in tight quarters. What Cooper Kupp is to the slot WR position, Bowers brings many very similar athletic and play traits to the slot TE position. Similar to CK, Bowers has an uncanny ability to make defenders miss in space after the catch. Can twist and turn his body to adjust to off target throws at all 3 levels of the field. Doesn't turn his head to look for the pass too early.
Superb change of direction suddenness. This helps to make him a weapon for a variety of play action type plays like what McVay likes to use in a West Coast based system, because TE can take one step to make it look like he's about to block or move in one direction, then immediately cut back in the opposite direction and it is very difficult for defenders to mirror and match his movement. Turns on a dime. Attention to detail combined with his sudden athleticism creates instant separation vs the defender. The big plays make highlights, but this ability to fake a block, then release to the flat so quickly is going to make Bowers very tough to stop in short yardage and GL situations if the defense thinks you might run the football.
A "nod and go" master. On speed outs, makes cut at sharp angle, fluidly turning his hips. Able to snap off routes. Wiggle and sudden moves in stem to separate. Body control to make subtle turns without losing speed. Smooth turns to sit down vs zone coverage. Can weave through traffic to maintain route tempo.
Very subtle and deceptive hesitations create separation. For example, as he comes off the line, he can turn his body slightly, making it look like he's about to run an angle route and go towards the middle of the field, but then immediately swivels the opposite direction over his outside shoulder and it's an out route. He does the opposite as well, hesitation to fake out, but ran post route to middle of field. Similar thing when he's in the middle of his route. Against trail technique, TE turns over his outside shoulder, as if he's going to break outside, but this is a trick to pull the defender in that direction, and TE immediately turns back over his inside shoulder. His ability to make those types of movements so fluidly makes him slippery to cover.
Understands how to create leverage. TE wants to run a slant, but the CB is sitting inside, playing technique to take away in-breaking routes. TE attacks toes of CB, then deceptive hesitation and TE crosses CB's face and beats him cleanly to win inside on the slant. TE is in slot and wants to run corner route. TE attacks inside toes of CB, then pairs outside head fake with hard jab step inside. CB is faked out and dives inside, then desperately tries to grab the TE, but misses, TE cuts outside and creates big separation. TE is in-line, LB is playing inside of him, TE wants to run angle route, tough to do vs inside technique. TE comes out of 3 point stance, hard outside stem, gets LB to bite, then destroys him with inside break, creating fantastic throwing lane for the QB. If defense is playing off in zone, TE understands that he doesn't need to waste time with unnecessary fakes, creates leverage with simple, smooth turn.
Very reliable hands. Great hand eye coordination. Tracks ball well. Soft, very quiet hands catching the ball. Frames the ball with 2 hands, extended away from his body. Very good concentration to make catch and hold on through contact. Plays like his hands are covered with glue. Tucks the ball away after catch. Has muscular forearms. Great timing of hands to snatch the ball out of the air. A skilled juggler who can make acrobatic tough catches. Able to reach down to his toes to dig out low throws. Once in a blue moon he'll double catch the ball, but most catches are clean.
Stays low coming off the LOS and gets into his route with good tempo.
Uses hands effectively to swipe away jam attempts. Against catch technique press at LOS, can freeze the DB with footwork, get by them, then accelerate to beat them over the top.
Tremendous long speed for a TE. Has build up speed, so at first it might not look like he's going very fast, but then he'll pull away.
Dangerous YAC beast in open field. Very good vision as a runner. Instinctive feel for how to cut and angle away from tacklers. Good contact balance, able to survive hits to his side or his legs and keep running.
Lines up all over the formation. In slot, split out wide like a WR, in-line TE, in the backfield like a HB or FB. Can be the solo split end on the opposite side of a trips formation. When he is lined up as a RB, it is tough for the defense to cover him going to the flat. One game I watched, they gave him the ball on a surprised run up the middle. Screens, jet sweeps, UGA has many different ways to get the ball in his hands.
Even more dangerous when used with pre-snap motion. My guess is this gives him a head start, helping him get up to speed quicker.
Gives "A+" effort as a blocker. Moves his feet, battles hard. Will "run with and through" DBs and LBs when blocking in space to try to sustain the block. Good technique blocking. Footwork and base entering block, hand placements are all sound. Gets to smart blocking angles and defends the angle. Assignment sound as a blocker. Adjusts post-snap to find secondary blocking assignment. Blocking on screens, can pick off defenders in space.
A fiery competitor on the field, lets his emotions show when he makes a big play, doesn't back down from challenges. He might not be a big, strong TE, but he'll leave it all out on the field to try to win the game.
Nice attention to detail carrying out fake handoffs when he's not getting the ball on the play and is just a decoy.
Could have had even more 2022 production, but Stetson Bennett missed him with some throws that were wildly off target.
The type of player a coach loves to have on the team. A textbook player, does his job the way it is taught and does it consistently. Low maintenance and reliable. A throwback, team oriented attitude, because if Bowers were all about himself, he could be sitting out right now instead of coming back so soon from injury.
Would be an early entrant, about a year younger than an average draft prospect.
He's about as effective as a blocker as a WR. More like Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods or Ben Skowronek blocking than a TE. Not a pad popper, lacks strength and mass. Gets stacked by DEs. If he's blocking a safety, feels like a 50/50 proposition who will win. Got overwhelmed by DE at POA, and after DE sets the edge he counters back inside to tackle the RB. Got stacked as move blocker.
Too small, lacking strength and length to block in-line as an attached TE. Struggles and has to battle hard to hold his ground at the POA on kickout blocks, vulnerable to getting driven backward into the running lane to plug the RB's hole. Lacks strength in both upper and lower body.
Curious about his arm length, because he appears to lack effective length while blocking. Got ripped down pass blocking, beaten by push pull move. Probably due to limited length, tends to lean too far forward in pass pro, his helmet ahead of his toes. Whiffed vs DE as move blocker.
Small frame, doesn't have broad shoulders. Body does not appear to be suited to add more weight and muscle. Already filled out and defined musculature in his arms. Probably has limited upside physical developmental potential.
Really struggles to get off the LOS when a physical jam is delivered squarely into him. He doesn't have enough size or strength to shove the defender away and power through it.
Average catch radius for a TE. Not a big, tall TE with a big wingspan. Doesn't look like he has big hands. Even though he made some highlight catches at full extension, there were several other throws at the very limit of his radius that he was unable to pull in.
Doesn't box out the defender well and doesn't have enough size and length to defend the catch point. Defenders can reach around him and knock the pass away from behind. On high passes, a CB can reach up and disrupt him right at the catch point for PBUs. One play, the CB slaps him in the facemask and TE was unable to complete the catch in the EZ for a TD. He might have good contested catch stats, but I feel this is misleading, especially because NFL defenders are typically bigger, longer and have better ball skills than college players. I don't know if Bowers will be an elite contested ball winner in the NFL.
When defender is running next to him and jostling him in the route, TE doesn't use his body effectively to carve out space.
Mostly a finesse runner after the catch. Doesn't have size and power to drive through defenders after the catch. He's not Gronk. He can rip off big play catches, but if it is 3rd down and you throw it 2 yards short of the sticks and 2 defenders gang up on him, he's not likely to push through them to get the first down. On a 3rd&6, they threw it short of the marker and TE was unable to pull out of the tackle to get the final yard needed to get to the marker.
Average burst coming out of a 3 point stance. Since he has build up speed, he doesn't have elite burst right off the LOS, which can make a difference on short passes where the QB is under immediate heavy pressure and has to get the ball out very quickly. Speed out isn't super fast, because he's not super explosive right at the LOS.
Build up speed, so you can get him in the first 5 yards. On a jet sweep, if the defender has the angle or penetrates behind the LOS, he can't burst to get away from them, because he doesn't have instant acceleration. It is when he has a "runway" when he really becomes dangerous, kind of like Jerry Rice. Same with tight coverage, he can't create separation just by running away with them with pure speed in the first 5 yards. Even though he has fast timed speed, on a jet sweep, he's almost exactly like Cooper Kupp when running behind the LOS and CK has 4.62 second speed.
Physical jams can momentarily knock him off balance as he's coming off the LOS or at the top of the route when he's trying to break. Can be slightly rerouted, knocked off of his intended angle.
His yards per catch and yards per rush averages declined each season of his career.
Is he really worth a top 10 pick? OJ Howard was the 19th overall selection in 2017 (Gerald Everett's draft), was 6'6'' tall, 251 pounds and ran 4.51 seconds in the 40. If they were in the same draft, I wonder if NFL scouts would be split about which TE was the better prospect. Bowers had better production, better intangibles and was more consistent, but Howard is just as fast and is a bigger player. Some NFL coaches might prefer that bigger frame, especially for the pro level. Howard never became an impact player for the Bucs and tore his Achilles in 2020. He's currently out of the NFL. In the 2024 draft, there is another very athletic TE from Texas, Ja'Tavion Sanders. I wonder if some scouts like him better than Bowers. I agree that Bowers is an elite TE prospect. He might have been the top TE taken in every single draft stretching all the way back to the Vernon Davis draft class in 2006. Still, how early is too early to take a TE in the draft, even one who is arguably really a WR? If a team needed a pass catcher that badly, why not just take one of the top WR prospects instead? While Bowers has great athleticism for a TE, he's still a 240 pounds player, he's not a 200 pound WR like Kupp, so his athleticism isn't nearly as impressive if you're comparing him to other NFL WRs as opposed to NFL TEs. Running 4.5 seconds in the 40 is super fast for a TE, but it is relatively slow for a WR.
Draft Grade and Pro Comp
1st round grade. George Kittle (5th round 2017, Niners, Iowa)
Brock Bowers is a generational TE prospect. So rare to find a player who runs so fast, who is so good at catching the ball, and is technically polished at everything he does on the field, plus has a monster work ethic to potentially only get better once he gets into the NFL. Also, he's about 3 years younger as a prospect than Dalton Kincaid.
Many draft experts didn't expect Kittle to be a starting TE in the NFL. He was undersized, so he was supposed to be more of an H-back type player, a receiving specialist suited to be a TE2.
Kittle was a superior blocker at Iowa compared with Bowers. Kittle had more play strength. There were plays where Kittle would drive defenders backwards and even pancake them. Where I'd give Bowers the edge is I think he has more consistent hands catching the ball than Kittle.
I have substantial reservations about whether Bowers can ever develop into a good enough blocker to play as a normal in-line TE, but in the modern NFL, I don't know if that will matter much. Even if Bowers plays most of his snaps flexed out wide, he can still be a very effective offensive weapon. His limitations as a blocker, however, are a legitimate reason to question whether Bowers is worth a top 10 pick.
I also have questions about whether Bowers is a true 3 level receiving TE. He is a good route runner and fast, but because he's a small player who struggles against physical contact, he might not be able to win consistently over the middle in 3rd down situations and near the GL. His NFL team might end up using him to go downfield, but need to add a 2nd TE, a bigger body to handle other types of shorter routes. For the Rams, this is one reason Higbee would likely remain on the roster, to help balance out the areas where Bowers struggles.
Kyle Pitts had over 1,000 receiving yards and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2021, playing with Matt Ryan. Injuries marred his 2022 season. In hindsight, did the Falcons make the right choice in taking Pitts? It is a tough comparison for 2023, because the top of that 2021 draft was stuffed with so many excellent players in the top 15 picks (other than some of the QBs who have struggled), so there were many great players the Falcons left on the board. If the Falcons never figure out their QB situation, maybe they will end up wasting some of Pitts's best years. If the Rams drafted Bowers, they still would need to figure out their long term QB situation for the post-Stafford era.
Brock Bowers is a unique player and one of the most intriguing prospects in the 2024 draft. He's not a true TE per se, he is more of a hybrid player. Just as Deebo Samuel isn't a normal WR, he is almost like a RB/WR combo, Bowers is a mixture of a RB/TE/WR. Of those 3 positions, he's probably more of a WR than anything else. The reason I think that Rams fans should be interested in this player is he can do things on the football field that remind you of Cooper Kupp. Bowers is a receiving weapon that is suited for the modern NFL game and the way offenses have evolved. He's a versatile chess piece that is a good fit for McVay's offense. Should he be one of the top draft targets for the Rams?