In the latest SB Nation NFL Mock Draft, the Cleveland Browns are projected to select Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers to help bolster their defensive line, particularly in the pass rushing department.
Bowers is an impressive prospect. After being the top rated prep-school prospect three years ago, his career as a Clemson Tiger got off to a very rocky start. With only four sacks in two seasons, he was not living up to the initial hype that he had created for himself, and then tragedy struck.
In a year's time, Bowers lost his mentor--former Clemson star defensive end Gaines Adams--as well as his father. Something seemed to click with Bowers from that moment on, as he took the country by storm in 2010. After two disappointing seasons with the Tigers, Bowers led the country with 15.5 sacks and over 25 tackles for a loss. Some scouts believe that if his technique were more refined, he would have easily had over 20 sacks on the year.
Bowers' impressive senior season statistically is made even more impressive when you add in the fact that he played most of the season with a partially torn meniscus, a knee injury that would undoubtedly affect a defensive end whose job is to get around the edge and chase quarterbacks and running backs.
For the Cleveland Browns, Bowers would be a fine selection if he were to fall that far, which may or may not be so likely. Bowers has received a very lofty comparison to another former ACC star: North Carolina multi-sport athlete Julius Peppers.
The Browns' pass rush needs a significant boost. The team gave up on Kamerion Wimbley last offseason and traded him to Oakland, and they also let go of 2009 second round pick David Veikune, who later wound up in the AFC West with the Denver Broncos.
In the 2010 NFL Draft, Cleveland did a fine job of adding talent to their defensive backfield, and it seems they found a couple of real gems in safety T.J. Ward and cornerback Joe Haden. Now the key is going to be maximizing those players' potential by making life more difficult for opposing quarterbacks, and on paper, Bowers certainly seems to accomplish that.