The potential for D’Quan Bowers to drop a few spots in this year’s draft has suddenly made him one of the most talked about prospects. A healthy Bowers is most definitely worth a high draft pick as he has the potential to become the next Jared Allen, Julius Peppers or Dwight Freeney. Too bad there is no guarantee he will stay healthy and that is a risk a team can’t take.
For all intents and purposes, Bowers is a prime prospect. Listed at 6’3” and 280 pounds, Bowers has the size and strength to push through an NFL caliber offensive line and make plays in the back field, if his knees hold up that is. A defensive end’s explosive power is almost completely derived from the knees and thighs. Without the full ability to flex the knee and push off the turf though, suddenly a top tier defensive end is no different than your run of the mill defensive lineman.
If Bowers does in fact need microfracture surgery, like everyone seems to think he does, then the strength he has in his knees and the surrounding ligaments has the chance to be taken away. According to the National Institute of Health, the procedure has the surgeon make small holes in the knee, “the holes [in the bone]release[s] the cells … that build new cartilage.” While it sounds easy enough and the procedure can take as little as 40 minutes, there can be some significant lasting effects.
Chris Webber, while a former NBA player, underwent microfracture surgery and he was given the same four month time frame for his return as Bowers. In his eyes though, that was nothing but blind optimism. Years later he still feels like he is just getting back to 100 percent. While announcing a game for TNT, Webber remarked that the surgery is not always as easy as people say it is and prevented him from becoming the top NBA star Weber though he could be.
On top of Webber’s experience, lets remember the microfracture procedure has a doctor breaking another part of Bowers’ body in order to fix an injury to his cartilage. So before he even sees an NFL field or sees team doctor, which may not be for a full year, he will have already had two significant injuries to his knee. For almost any other prospect, that is a big warning sign.
Moving past just how much the surgery can hinder his career though, lets just look at some of the other options team’s have in a draft that has been characterized as deep at the defensive line positions. Other ends available include UNC’s Robert Quinn, J.J. Watt of defensive minded Wisconsin, Aldon Smith of Missouri, Muhammad Wilkerson of Temple, Cameron Jordan of Cal., Ryan Kerrigan of Purdue, Adrian Clayborn of Iowa, Cameron Hayward of Ohio state and Brooks Reed of Arizon. Oh and these are just guys in the top 32 prospects. While no prospect is perfect, these other guys have the ability to become just as good as Bowers, without the baggage of surgery.
With all of that talent at defensive end, why take the risk on Bowers? Sure you draft for the future and not for right now, but lets be real here the future is murky at best for him. Plus if your a team who hears that someone lower down in the draft is high on Bowers, why not trade down and take another one of other top tier defensive ends?
Don’t get me wrong, Bowers can turn into a top defensive player and his surgery may be no big deal. That said though, no surgery is routine, and a team would be hard pressed to justify the risk of taking him in the top 15, or maybe even the first round. A player drafted in the top 25 spots, generally, should be one that can have an almost immediate impact, especially for the money they have gotten in the past. As it stands right now, there is nothing that says Bowers will be abel to do that.