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A unicorn appears: A draft profile on tight end Brock Bowers

A look at a top tight end prospect in the 2024 draft

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Syndication: Online Athens Jake Crandall / USA TODAY NETWORK

In just a few short days, the New York Jets will officially end their season following their season finale against the New England Patriots. Right after that, NFL draft season will officially begin for Jets draftniks.

With that in mind, much has been said about the New York Jets and their offensives woes, so it isn’t tough to see why fans and mock drafters have regularly called for the New York Jets to add an offensive player. Typically, that player is a wide receiver, an offensive tackle, or a quarterback given the high value attributed to those positions. However, a potential dark horse for that pick is Georgia Tight End Brock Bowers, who has long been considered one of the 2024 NFL draft’s few blue-chip prospects. In the event that no blue-chip player at one of the aforementioned positions is available when the Jets are on the board, Bowers becomes an unconventional but intriguing option. This situation is likely if the Jets pick closer to 10 than 5. What is so intriguing about Bowers that he could potentially buck the trend and crash the draft’s top 10 picks even though that is exceedingly rare for tight ends?

To start, Bowers might as well be built in a lab to play tight end. Georgia has him listed at 6’4, 240 pounds, which is about as prototype as they come in the size department. Bowers is also extremely fast for a tight end, with reports that he could run in the 4.5 range. In watching the tape, that wouldn’t surprise me, but I’m relatively certain that he’ll have one of the best 10-yard splits in the class because the man accelerates as quickly as any tight end (or really any player for that matter) that I’ve seen. Long story short, dude has all the measurables needed to play tight end at the NFL level.

Then we move onto his raw counting stats as reported by Player Profiler, which are considerable for a tight end.

  • 2021 (15 games): 71 targets, 56 catches, 882 yards (15.8 yards per reception), 13 touchdowns
  • 2022 (15 games): 82 targets, 62 catches, 942 yards (15 yards per reception), 7 touchdowns
  • 2023 (10 games): 71 targets, 56 catches, 717 yards (12.8 yards per reception, 6 touchdowns

At a bare minimum, that is remarkably consistent. At its most impressive, Bowers had more touchdowns and catches than potential Hall of Fame wide receiver AJ Green had while at Georgia. Either way, impressive for any player, even more so for a tight end.

Beyond these raw counting stats, the more advanced analytics love Bowers too. Per PlayerProfiler, Bowers had a college dominator (% of total team’s receiving yards and touchdowns) in the 78th percentile, a yards per reception in the 81st percentile, and a breakout age (age in which one had their first dominator over 15%) in the 95th percentile. Many first-round wide receivers would envy that kind of production, so him doing it as a tight end is extremely impressive.

Then there are his underlying numbers as reported by PFF. Let’s break those down using other tight ends as comparables:

  • Receiving grade of 86.7 (~100th percentile)
  • Yards per route run: 2.65 (~100th percentile)
  • Run block grade: 63.0 (~75th percentile)
  • Missed tackles forced: 18 (2nd overall)
  • Yards after catch: 8.7 (tied for 6th most)

All of these numbers support that Bowers is a pretty great player. Beyond that, we can watch his individual games and see that these numbers back up what is seen on tape. Once again, I encourage you to pull up any draft prospect’s individual games on Youtube, but for expediency I will opt to post a highlight video of him with the ball and of him blocking.

Sometimes tape is easy to watch. Bowers is easy to watch. The pros are easy to spot. He’s a more than willing run blocker. He’s easily a net positive in that regard and Georgia even trusted him pass blocking on an island from time to time, so there’s three down tight end potential here.

He’s also more than willing to go over the middle to get the ball and to make a catch through contact, which you need from a tight end.

And with the ball in his hands? Yeesh, he might be the most gifted tight end after the catch in years. He’s the rare tight end that gets schemed run plays ... and he’s earned those reps on a college football powerhouse in Georgia.

There are some aspects of Bowers’ game that leave something to be desired. Specifically, while he has a great horizontal catch radius and has the ability to make some fantastic grabs when sticking his arm out either past him or behind him, he lacks much in the vertical catch radius. That’s shown in these highlights by the lack of those plays. In watching more of his individual games, you can count the number of times where he goes up and gets the ball on one hand. And the drops he does have? Well, they tend to come when he tries to go into the air to make a play. For me? That’s a big deal because I like my tight ends to dominate the red zone and Bowers may never be that guy.

To those points, PFF backs up that his underlying receiving metrics leave something to be desired even when compared to other tight ends:

  • Contested catches: 2 (tied for 73rd)
  • Contested catch rate: 22.2% (~25th percentile)
  • Average depth of target: 6.5 (tied for 115th). Note that that this is going to be brought down by the relatively high number of “forward passes” that are really just the QB doing what amounts to a handoff on the new pop pass that has become en vogue. However, it also reflects that a decent chunk of his production came a bit easier than it did for others based on what was asked of him.
  • Drop rate: 5.1% (~50th percentile)

Overall, Bowers is an odd prospect to try to pin down. He excels in some very valuable areas like creating yards after the catch and as a blocker. He also accumulated really great numbers as a pass catcher that cannot be denied. However, he leaves something to be desired in the passing game, specifically in the contested catch department, which is largely due to him not being able to offer much in the “go up and get it” department. That’s especially concerning when you play tight end, because that’s very often the role that the large bodied tight ends are expected to play to complement the skillsets of the smaller shiftier receivers.

What does all this mean for Bowers as a prospect? Once again, I’ll opt to use the letter-number scale that I’ve laid out previously. Within that, I’d call Bowers a 9E prospect.

Specifically, there’s a lot of upside, and if he can ever become a force on contested catches then he’s going to be unlike any player we’ve ever seen. The problem is that isn’t necessarily easy to learn, and I’m not seeing much on his tape to lead me to believe he even has the vertical jumping ability to get there. To put it succinctly: “man has no hops.” However, Bowers offers enough in the run game as a blocker and in the passing game as a short yardage option that I still think he’s probably a good NFL starter even if he never gets there as a contested catch guy. It’s pretty clear on tape that he’s a unique threat with the ball in his hands, so I think a creative offensive coordinator will be able to draw value out of him. The concern for me is what happens if he ends up with a coordinator that tries to use him as a traditional tight end. I think there is significant risk that he never fills that role at a high enough level to warrant where his draft stock currently suggests he’ll go.

Overall, I view Bowers as a player with immense upside but significant “bust” potential if he’s taken in the top 10 by a team that isn’t prepared to build their scheme around what he can do (short yardage YAC focus) instead of what he can’t (win contested catches). That 9 grade represents that high potential (elite player) and that E grade represents the high risk (10% chance of reaching potential) that is a function of both his skillset and my concerns that he’ll end up with an offensive coordinator that isn’t prepared to change their playbook to accommodate his skillset. If that potential doesn’t come to fruition, then I still think there’s a role player role for Bowers that he can easily fill, so I could probably call him a 7B if I wanted, but that isn’t the kind of outcome that teams are looking for in the top half of the first round, so I’m not sure how pertinent that grade is to Bowers’ evaluation.

As it pertains to the Jets, I’m skeptical the offense would make the necessary adjustments needed to maximize Bowers. I would expect that there will be other players I prefer more when the Jets pick in large part due to that, but I wouldn’t be upset about adding a player with his upside.

Poll

How would you feel if the Jets took Brock Bowers inside the top 10?

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    Yay
    (68 votes)
  • 52%
    Nay
    (132 votes)
  • 20%
    Meh
    (52 votes)
252 votes total Vote Now