The moment my first-round selection of Taco Charlton went live on SB Nation, I started having buyer’s remorse. As hype around Haason Reddick continued to increase among #DraftTwitter, I realized I probably made a mistake passing on him at 21 overall. Chances are the Lions won’t even have a chance to make that mistake, as many see the Temple linebacker going in the top 15 in the draft. I’m happy with Charlton, but felt like I passed up on a good, albeit fake, opportunity.
Feeling a little bummed with my pick, I helplessly watched the board fall, hoping that a top linebacker prospect would fall to the Detroit Lions in the second round. And, boy, was I lucky. After Reddick, Zach Cunningham and T.J. Watt were quickly snatched up toward the end of the first round, exactly zero linebackers were taken in the second (unless you count edge rusher Carl Lawson). Here is how the board fell to me:
1. Cleveland Browns - DE Myles Garrett
2. San Francisco 49ers - S Malik Hooker
3. Chicago Bears - QB Deshaun Watson
4. Jacksonville Jaguars - DL - Solomon Thomas
5. Tennessee Titans- CB Marshon Lattimore
6. New York Jets - S Jamal Adams
7. Los Angeles Chargers - DL - Malik McDowell
8. Carolina Panthers - TE OJ Howard
9. Cincinnati Bengals - Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
10. Buffalo Bills - Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
11. New Orleans Saints - Derek Barnett, EDGE, University of Tennessee
12. Cleveland Browns - Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
13. Arizona Cardinals - Patrick Mahomes II, QB, Texas Tech
14. Philadelphia Eagles - Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
15. Indianapolis Colts - Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
16. Baltimore Ravens - Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
17. Washington Redskins - Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
18. Tennessee Titans - John Ross, WR, Washington
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - David Njoku, TE, Miami
20. Denver Broncos - Christian McCaffrey, RB/WR. Stanford
21. Detroit Lions - Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
22. Miami Dolphins - Haason Reddick, LB, Temple
23. New York Giants - Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
24. Oakland Raiders - Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
25. Houston Texans: DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
26. Seattle Seahawks: Garett Bolles, LT, Utah
27. Kansas City Chiefs: Takkarist McKinley, OLB, UCLA
28. Dallas Cowboys - Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan
29. Green Bay Packers - T.J. Watt, OLB, Wisconsin
30. Pittsburgh Steelers - CB - Gareon Conley - Ohio State
31. Atlanta Falcons - DE - Derek Rivers - Youngstown State
32. New Orleans Saints - Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss
33. Cleveland Browns - S Budda Baker, Washington
34. San Francisco 49ers - Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky
35. Jacksonville Jaguars - Taylor Moton, OL, Western Michigan
36. Chicago Bears - Obi Melifonwu, S, Connecticut
37. Los Angeles Rams - Kevin King, CB, Washington
38. Los Angeles Chargers - Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
39. New York Jets - Pat Elflein - C/OG - Ohio State
40. Carolina Panthers Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
41. Cincinnati Bengals - Charles Harris, DE, Missouri
42. New Orleans Saints - Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
43. Philadelphia Eagles - Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
44. Buffalo Bills - Marcus Williams, FS, Utah
45. Arizona Cardinals - Chidobe Awuzie, CB Colorado
46. Indianapolis Colts - Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
47. Baltimore Ravens - Carl Lawson, DE/OLB, Auburn
48. Minnesota Vikings - Dan Feeney, G, Indiana
49. Washington Redskins -- Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida
50. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Josh Jones, S, N.C. State
51. Denver Broncos - Antonio Garcia, OT, Troy
52. Cleveland Browns - CB Teez Tabor, Florida
At this point, there was no doubt I was taking a linebacker with the Lions’ second-round pick. The question was who. With Tyus Bowser, Jarrad Davis and Tim Williams still on the board, it was not an easy decision.
I quickly eliminated Williams, as I see him much better suited as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Additionally, his poor performance at the NFL Combine put to bed the arguments that he may be the best athletic linebacker in the draft.
That left just Bowser and Davis. Let me be clear here: I would be absolutely fine, even thrilled, if the Lions could get Davis in the second round. He’s a versatile linebacker who can provide some pass rush, be a run-stuffer and is even adequate in coverage. His combination of speed and strength is rare. In Detroit, he could fit as the middle linebacker or move to the outside.
However, Davis does have a troubling injury history, including a broken ankle, a torn meniscus and a severe ankle sprain—the same ankle he broke previously.
There’s something about Bowser that is just too tempting. You watch his tape, and he jumps out of the screen. Everything about Bowser’s play screams playmaker, to me. If it weren’t for being on the wrong side of a teammate’s punch, Bowser would have ended 2016 among the nation’s leading sackers. In just eight games, Bowser managed 8.5 sacks, 12.0 tackles for loss, three passes defended and one forced fumble. For most college players, that’s enough production for a full season.
But Bowser isn’t just a pass rushing specialist. Though it wasn’t his primary role in Houston, Bowser looked above-average in his coverage skills during his abbreviated senior year.
Extrapolating his numbers if he had maintained that pace over a full 13 games, Bowser would have finished the season with 76 tackles, 19.5 tackles for losses and 14 sacks. Bowser was ultra-productive despite being utilized heavily in pass coverage on third downs as he operated as more of a classic 4-3 outside linebacker after playing defensive end earlier in his career.
Bowser didn’t start his career as a 4-3 linebacker. Houston viewed him simply as a pass rusher when he first joined the team. That’s completely understandable considering his amazing athleticism.
But when Houston needed a three-down linebacker out of Bowser, he adapted and he got even better. This tells me he can continue to grow under whatever role the Lions need him to assume, and he’ll be a steal in the second round.
Are you sold on Bowser as a potential fit at linebacker for the Lions?
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