I wasn’t sure what to think of Bowser when I first heard of him. I heard nice reports on him during Senior Bowl Week, but had him as a late Day 2 guy. After seeing his combine numbers, there’s a good chance Bowser goes in the first round. Bowser fits the mold of what the Patriots look for linebackers, with athleticism to spare. His ability to rush the passer and drop into coverage makes him a great fit for a defense that is anything but predictable. He can play ILB or they can have him play on the edge in a 5-1 or 5-2 defense. Bowser was a teammate of Elandon Roberts at Houston, so Belichick probably already had him on his radar before the draft season began.
Here is his Spider Graph from the Combi
In terms of athleticism, Bowser ranks in the 70th percentile or better at the LB position in everything but the bench press, which is the most overrated Combine test ever.
Bowser played 8 games, missing 5 games due to an altercation with a teammate that resulted in Bowser suffering a broken bone. In that time period, Bowser recorded 12 TFL and 8.5 sacks. A two-year starter and a solid contributor for four years, Bowser has plenty of experience in the system. He has the athleticism and size to handle any LB spot in any defense.
Vs. Memphis 2016 (48-44 Loss)
Houston had Bowser dropping into coverage as often as he was rushing the passer. Dropping into coverage looks very natural for him, as he played a lot of snaps on the edge and a few off the ball. His long term NFL fit is more off the ball where he can play in space more. Bowser’s 4.6 speed is pretty evident on a handful of plays, but he did struggle to get pressure off the edge in this game. I don’t see him as a 3-down edge rusher in the NFL, but he can be a very productive player at the 2nd level as both a blitzer and a coverage player.
Patriots Fit: In the first year, Bowser should play a lot of Special Teams and should compete for a spot in the LB rotation in his rookie year. In 2017, the Patriots used a rotation of Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Shea McClellin, and Elandon Roberts at LB, although it became Hightower and Van Noy/Roberts late in the season. Bowser fits the Patriots mold for their linebackers, former edge rushers who play better in space than rushing the passer. Dropping into coverage is a skill that Bowser does very well. By the end of his 2nd year with the team, I expect him to crack the lineup and maybe even be the best player at his position on the Patriots roster.
Pro Comp: Jamie Collins. Like the former Patriot LB, Bowser is a freak athlete. While not as explosive as Collins, Bowser is a bit faster and more agile. Bowser still tested well in both jump numbers, finishing in the 86th and 94th percentile in Vertical and Broad Jump at the LB position. I expect Bowser to have a similar career arc in Years 1-3 as Collins, especially if the Patriots are able to land him in the draft. I give Bowser a high 2nd round grade, with an inconsistent pass rush being the only thing that keeps me from giving a Round 1 grade. He’s a guy I can see the Patriots targeting early in the draft.