When early projections and initial mock drafts were announced for the 2011 NFL Draft, Clemson defensive end Da’Quan Bowers was right at the top. Many had him going No. 1 overall to the Carolina Panthers, but some had him being taken by the Denver Broncos at the No. 2 spot. However, after Bowers struggled at Clemson’s Pro Day and doubts arose about the strength of his surgically repaired knee, his stock fell prior to the draft. After sitting through the first round, Bowers was eventually taken by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 51st overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
One question that remains after the draft is did the Broncos, who had three opportunities to select Bowers, make a mistake in not taking him?
The Broncos used the majority of this years NFL Draft to address the teams glaring needs on defense. The Broncos, who’s defense ranked near the bottom in the NFL last year, used six of its nine picks in the draft on defensive players. They selected Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller with the second overall pick in the draft, and then used the 45th and 46th overall picks on UCLA safety Rahim Moore and Miami offensive tackle Orlando Franklin.
After the slide Bowers was expected to make, it was unlikely that the Broncos would take him with the second overall pick. It was however feasible that they would take him in one of their two back-to-back picks in round two, if he were available. Bowers was there for the taking, but the Broncos went a different route on defense when they took Moore with one of the two picks. Why skip Bowers here? The Broncos did so knowing that the defensive backfield needed help too.
If you calculate the average age of the Denver Broncos’ starting defensive backs, you will find that they are the oldest defensive back core in the NFL. Veterans like Andre’ Goodman, Champ Bailey, and Brian Dawkins, all of which have at least nine years NFL experience each, could use a young talent like Moore to help make the big plays. Also, the selection of Oklahoma safety Quinton Carter in the fourth round of the draft suggests that Broncos head coach John Fox is looking beyond the defensive front for ways of improvement. The Broncos had just selected a sack master with the second pick of Miller, so getting assist with the pass rush there and looking to help other sections of the defense was probably a smart decision.
After selecting Moore, the Broncos had another pick right away. They still could of taken Bowers there, but chose Franklin instead. Along with the defensive struggles in 2010, the Broncos also found it difficult to run the ball against opposing teams. Inconsistency at the o-line probably forced the Broncos to look at making the other side of the ball better as well, which justifies taking the best offensive lineman in the draft.
The reasons why the Denver Broncos chose not to select Da’Quan Bowers is probably the same reasons 31 other teams didn’t, too many questions. They also may have just wanted to focus on improving the team as a whole instead of focusing on one area. Whatever the reason, Bowers will eventually play, and the Broncos will see that they either made the right choice in skipping him, or a huge mistake. Like most draft picks, only time will tell how good they really are.
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