Talking football with Clemson defensive end
APRIL 27, 2011, 02:50 PM EST
Clemson star defensive end Da'Quan Bowers visited the Minnesota Vikings, Cleveland Browns, Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, New England Patriots, Arizona Cardinals and the Tennessee Titans, according to a league source with knowledge of the situation.
There were mixed reviews of his Pro Day workout from draft analysts, which was regarded by NFL scouts as displaying solid progress with the knee even though he wasn't in ideal shape yet as he works his way back into playing form.
Bowers was able to jump and cut normally. The 6-foot-3 1/2, 280-pounder turned in 40-yard dashes in the 4.9 range and had had a 34 1/2 inch vertical leap. He also posted a 4.34 to 4.4 short shuttle and a 6.95 three-cone drill.
He led the nation with 15 1/2 sacks last season.
Bowers won the Bronko Nagurski award as the top defensive player in the nation last season.
He was also named Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year, recording 63 tackles, 24 for losses and 17 quarterback pressures.
Bowers had three sacks in one game against Maryland and was named National Defensive Player of the Week.
He intercepted one pass and forced a fumble last season.
Bowers said he patterns his game after Julius Peppers. He has drawn comparisons to Reggie White and Bruce Smith.
National Football Post caught up with Bowers today for a wide-ranging telephone interview from his home in Bamberg, S.C.:
What's it like for you now that the draft is finally here?
Bowers: "I'm definitely ready to get it over with. The excitement hasn't set in yet. I'm definitely not nervous. You've got to wait and hope everything works out in your favor."
Bowers is ready to take the next step.
Is there a goal you've set for where you hope to be picked?
Bowers: "Honestly, I just want to be drafted first of all. Everybody would want to be the No. 1 overall pick. Just to be drafted is enough."
What kind of football player will the team that drafts you get?
Bowers: "They're going to be getting a competitor, a smart guy, a guy that wants to work hard and win."
What kind of personality will you bring to the locker room?
Bowers: "I'm a guy that's never had any off-the-field issues, no type of issues. I'm a laid-back kid. I'm not a troublemaker. If I'm not doing something with football, I'm home and taking it easy."
There have been a lot of reports that your stock is sliding and some draft analysts have said you won't have a long career because of your knee. What do you say about that?
Bowers: "I don't let it bother me. They don’t pick for teams. They get paid to make predictions. Organizations and staffs pick the players, not the analysts. I don't care if they say they don't get drafted.
"Mel Kiper and guys like that get paid to make up stories. They can sit around and do that. They don't make decisions. I don't really care. It doesn't bother me at all."
Bowers underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus and was unable to work out at the NFL scouting combine or the original Clemson Pro Day. He says reports that he'll need microfracture surgery or that he'll be prone to arthritis are incorrect.
Bowers: "It's all overblown. None of that stuff is true. My knee wasn't as bad as people made it seem. I'm not going to dwell on that. The organizations know. They have every medical record. They know what type of player I am. My fillm speaks for itself. There's no reason for any team not to have me on their draft board."
Bowers played seven games with the injury, recording seven sacks and 15 tackles for losses after hurting his knee
Bowers: "My film speaks for itself, going up against the national champions against Auburn, against the No. 1 tackle in the draft, Anthony Castonzo from Boston College, powerhouse programs. If you turn on the film, I'm going to be one of the guys that jumps out at you. I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing consistently. I'm not just strong, I'm fast. When they think I'm going to use speed. I'm going to go through you."
What's the fastest you ever ran the 40-yard dash?
Bowers: "At Clemson, I ran a 4.5. In high school, I ran a 4.48. I could run a 4.7 or a 4.6 now that I've had more time to train."
How much will you be dedicating your career to the late Gaines Adams?
Bowers: "Definitely a lot. Had it not been for him, I wouldn't be here right now. I wouldn't have had that mentor and big brother to give me that knowledge about the game."
Are you enjoying the draft experience?
Bowers: "It's been a fun experience. It's been a business, too. I go to meet with all these teams. I was on the road for three weeks straight. It's hard to tell what the teams are thinking. They were all very, very respectful of me."
What were your visits like with the Browns and Vikings?
Bowers: "I enjoyed my time there. I definitely loved it. They were very humble. I love the coaches there. They have a very good staff. It's like my hometown there. They love football. .. I definitely enjoyed my visit with Minnesota. I got to watch film with them and I fell in love with that defense. I would love to play for any of those places."
Why didn't you go to New York for the draft and why are you spending the draft back in Bamberg, S.C., your hometown?
Bowers: "I wanted my whole community to be a part of it. Bamberg has about 4,000, 5,000 people. We have one stoplight. I'm proud to be from there. My cousin, [Philadelphia Eagles player] Ricky Sapp, is from there, too."
How important is your faith to you?
Bowers: "My faith is everything. I rely on my faith to give me the answer to everything."
Bowers is heavily involved in music, playing the guitar in a gospel group.
How important is gospel musci to you?
"Music is important to me and I love it to death, but football comes first. Music comes second. Music is very important to me. It’s been in my family a long while, it’s the cause of me having most of the things I have in my life right now. I play guitar and I play drums and I sing background with the group also. I enjoy football and music."
Is it tough getting this much attention?
Bowers: "I think everyone in the world knows everything there is to know about me. I'm a private person, so that makes it tougher. I'm just ready to play some football."