Lynn Bowden Jr. entered the NFL Draft as somewhat of an enigma. Some viewed the exceptional athlete from the University of Kentucky as a jack of all trades and master of none. Vince Marrow saw Bowden’s versatility as a strength at the next level. Not everyone agreed with the Big Dog, but the Las Vegas Raiders did.
It takes about two seconds to watch Bowden’s tape and recognize his athleticism. After a pair of injuries to quarterbacks, Kentucky used his athleticism from the shotgun to lead the Cats to a 6-2 finish. The move to quarterback showed how Bowden could perform physically between the tackles, where the Raiders plan on using him as a running back. More importantly, his command of Kentucky’s offense exhibited a deep understanding of the game of football.
Las Vegas Raiders’ head coach Jon Gruden put Bowden’s mental chops to the test in a meeting at the NFL Combine. He passed with flying colors.
“I remember putting a play on the board at the combine for Bowden and we put in a concept and we told him what all five guys do,” Gruden told The Mercury News. “Then we’d say Derek [Carr] might audible to this and then five guys have to do this. Then we’d erase the board and talk about other things. Then we told Bowden to get up on the board and put the concept in and tell us what all five guys do and erase it and tell us what all five guys do if Derek audibles. And he hit it out of the park.”
Bowden’s offensive expertise showed Gruden that he can learn different positions quickly at the next level.
“He sees football. He understands football concepts. He’s been a quarterback in the SEC so he’s had to operate at the line of scrimmage. He’s had to recognize defenses. He’s had to communicate.”
Bowden’s physical abilities played a role in his stupid 2019 stat line — 185 carries for 1,468 yards (7.9 average) and 13 touchdowns, 403 passing yards and three touchdowns, 30 receptions for 348 yards and one touchdown — but his exceptional football IQ made him a commodity the Raiders felt compelled to take in the third round of the NFL Draft.