Navorro Bowman – Penn State
Scout: David Syvertsen
Height/Weight: 6’1 – 230
Pro Potential: Angelo Crowell – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Coverage/Zone Defense Skills: Has a good sense for where the ball is heading, reads the quarterback well. Can drop in to the deep third as a cover 2 middle linebacker. Will be late to diagnose pass on playaction, takes too many false steps.
Instincts/Recognition: Reads the run blocks very well and can get himself in to the hole very fast. Flows to the action quickly. Gets caught out of position on counters and playaction passes, too many false steps.
Pass Rush: Quick blitzer that can get in to the pocket before the passer is at the end of his drop back. Makes himself small to blockers and can slip through the smallest of windows. 8 sacks in 3 years.
Pursuit/Lateral Movement/Agility: Rangy linebacker that can play sideline to sideline despite starting inside the guard on most plays. Can meet the ball carrier on outside runs
Quickness/Explosion: Tremendous explosion in short areas. Will frequently make a blocker completely whiff because of the last second quickness. Outstanding athlete both in space and in a phone booth.
Strength/Ability to Shed Blocks: When a blocker gets a clean look, Bowman is turned in to a non factor. He can avoid blocks very well, but he does not shed them. Once he is locked on to, he is ridden out of the play. If he does get that initial angle advantage, he lacks the power to make up for it. Has a strong frame with plenty of muscle, but his power in the box is below average.
Tackling: Sure tackler that can take down a ball carrier several ways. Over 200 tackles the past two years despite missing some action. Likes to stay low to the ground and explode through the target. Sure balance pre-tackle.
Versatility: Has played in the middle and on the weak side throughout his tenure at Penn State. Plays well in traffic and in space, opening up different scheme possibilities for him. Can be given a balanced set of run and pass responsibilities. Best suited for the weak side because of his frame but can play the middle in a pinch.
Final Word: Bowman did not surprise many by leaving Penn State early for the draft. He has a shot at being a top 20 pick because of his NFL ready speed and quickness. In a league that placing less value on size and more on speed, Bowman is going to be sought after by many teams. The lack of size will likely be an issue for Bowman however, and it could keep him off the field in a starting role for the first year or so. Linebackers that play as physical as Bowman but don’t have the size are an injury risk. But if he can stay on the field, his level of play will be a factor if he can get the protection up front from a big, blocker-eating defensive line.