Brock Bowers is ideal tight end for modern football in 2024 NFL Draft

Every NFL Draft follows a familiar pattern.

During the preceding summer big boards are built and “way too early mock drafts” are published, often identifying players at a particular position — or positions — who are the clear top player at that spot. This typically happens at the quarterback position, when a player is propped up to start the season.

Then, as their college schedule unfolds, the nit-picking begins. Players rise and fall, and suddenly the proclamations from the previous summer fall by the wayside.

Take this year at the quarterback position. Caleb Williams entered the fall as the consensus QB1, but his final year at USC, coupled with impressive years from Jayden Daniels, J.J. McCarthy, as well as Drake Maye, shifted the conversation. Williams still be the top pick in a week, but the group has tightened behind him.

One position where that did not happen this season?

Tight end.

Georgia tight end Brock Bowers entered the year considered far and away the top prospect at his position, and despite an injury Bowers is expected to be the first tight end taken next week, and likely the only tight end in the first round. Just what is it that makes Bowers so special?

A constellation of traits that translate well to the next level. We will focus here on two critical ones that boil down to the same theme:

Bowers can create explosive plays.

Bowers is a matchup nightmare

Football is a matchup-based game.

Talk to coaches, players, scouts, and more and they will tell you that the higher up you go, and especially in the NFL, it is the players that matter. The old adage of the game being more about the “Jimmies and Joes than the Xs and Os” certainly applies to the professional game.

In today’s NFL, the ability of a tight end to be the proverbial “matchup nightmare” is a potential cheat code for an offense. When an offense has a tight end that can run away from cornerback, let alone linebackers and safeties, that is going to pose problems for the defense.

This is a box that Bowers certainly checks.

If there is one play to perhaps sum up the Georgia tight end, it might be this play from his 2022 game against Missouri. With the Bulldogs facing a 1st and 10 near midfield, Bowers aligns as part of a three-receiver bunch on the left, across from pass rusher Isaiah McGuire, and with safety Jalani Williams giving him around five yards of cushion.

Watch as Bowers first fights through the jam at the line from McGuire, then runs right by Williams for a big play in the passing game:

This is the kind of athleticism and explosiveness that poses problems for the defense at the next level. Add in the incredible adjustment at the catch point, and you have the kind of highlight-reel play Bowers is capable of.

Here is another example, this time from Georgia’s National Championship win over TCU. Watch as Bowers again runs by a safety, for a touchdown in the third quarter:

While both of these are vertical routes working through traffic, this play against Alabama from this season is another highlight-reel moment. Bowers aligns in the slot, and works against a safety once more, this time with the Crimson Tide playing Cover 4. Bowers is isolated on a safety one-on-one in space, and watch as he creates separation on his post route:

Bowers does a good job of stressing the leverage of the defender, with a jab step to the outside at the top of his route. That, coupled with his short-area quickness, is all he needs to get separation working back inside, for a huge gain in the passing game.

That short-area quickness is certainly a strength, and it leads us to this next trait.

Elite YAC

Yardage after the catch is always a critical factor for an NFL offense.

But in today’s modern NFL, it might be an essential factor.

As more and more defenses lean into two-deep coverages, forcing quarterbacks to throw underneath as they look to eliminate the big play, the ability of an offense — or a offensive player — to turn a quick throw underneath into an explosive play is massive for an offense.

That is something that Bowers certainly brings to the table.

Instead of starting with a video, let’s start with a still image.

This play, with Bowers circled in red, ends as a touchdown for the tight end:

In the fourth quarter of a tie game between Georgia and Auburn, Bowers finds space against zone coverage and catches a quick in-cut just over ten yards down field. Over 20 yards later, Bowers is in the end zone, having run through, and by, the Tigers defense for the catch-and-run touchdown:

Or take this play from 2022 against South Carolina:

Bowers finds space due to a coverage bust in the secondary, but from there it is all about the tight end. He makes multiple defenders miss in space en route to a 78-yard touchdown, with the majority of those yards coming after the catch.

Again, this turns into a touchdown:

That ability to create with the football in his hands made him a threat even when the Bulldogs kept the football on the ground. On this 2022 play against Kent State the offense dials up an end around for Bowers. Watch as he bursts into the secondary, erases the angle the safety has, and turns this handoff into a 75-yard touchdown:

Bowers’ athleticism makes him a threat every time he touches the football. While he will certainly see better athletes on the other side of the field in the NFL, that athleticism will still create big plays in the NFL.

There are of course more components to playing tight end in the NFL than generating explosive plays, and Bowers might face some questions about his ability to translate into a more traditional NFL tight end, tasked with inline blocking responsibilities and the like. But if you look at what he can create in terms of explosive plays, and then focus on the blocking part of the position, you might be going about things wrong, or be Arthur Smith.

Explosive plays are a big part of the NFL today, whether it is an offense trying to create them, or a defense trying to eliminate them.

The team that drafts Bowers will have one more way — or even more, given his skillset — to create explosive plays next season, and beyond.

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