Las Vegas Raiders Draft: Initial grade and analysis for Lynn Bowden

Las Vegas Raiders, Lynn Bowden (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Las Vegas Raiders, Lynn Bowden (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The Las Vegas Raiders used their first of three third-round picks on Kentucky’s Lynn Bowden. What does the dynamic athlete bring to the table?

After selecting speedy wideout Henry Ruggs with their pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Las Vegas Raiders turned back to the wide receiver position with the selection of Kentucky’s Lynn Bowden.

Only referring to him as a “wide receiver” isn’t telling the entire story.

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Bowden is an inspirational story who was originally recruited as a quarterback but moved to receiver during his freshman year. As he continued to learn the nuances of the position, Bowden’s production continued to rise.

In 2018, he led all Kentucky players with 67 catches for 745 yards and five touchdowns. Not dominant numbers, but in Kentucky’s run-heavy, conservative offense it was definitely notable.

But it wasn’t until his junior season where Bowden would begin to make nationwide headlines.

Due to injuries to both Kentucky’s starting and backup quarterbacks, Bowden was forced to move back to quarterback after the first four games of the season.

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It was an unselfish move that undoubtedly could have affected his draft stock and development at wide receiver, but it was never a move Bowden even questioned. That’s just the type of character that he is and it’s likely what made him so endearing to the Raiders.

Miraculously, Kentucky would go 6-2 with Bowden as the starting quarterback as the 22-year-old would go on to be named first-team All-SEC and first-team All-American after rushing for over 1,400 yards and 15 touchdowns.

He only hauled in 30 catches for 368 yards and a lone touchdown in his final collegiate season. And yet, he’ll likely be classified as a receiver in the pros.

Much like former Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller, projecting Bowden to the NFL is a tricky situation. On one hand, he’s a natural athlete who is a playmaker with the ball in his hands — and it’s hard to bet against his character.

But on the other hand, he was an already unpolished receiver prospect who essentially missed an entire year of development in 2019. His route-running needs considerable work and he probably shouldn’t be viewed as a typical wideout.

He’s an athlete who could be used in a variety of ways on both offense and special teams. From quarterback to running back to receiver, Jon Gruden should have plenty of options when choosing how to deploy Bowden.

Not to mention his ability to be a playmaker on special teams, perhaps in the return game. The losses of Trevor Davis and Dwayne Harris mean that Las Vegas will need to search for a new return man and Bowden could be that guy — particularly on punts.

In the end, the Raiders likely fell in love with Lynn Bowden as a person and swooned over his potential versatility. Has there ever been a more perfect player for Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock to develop?

Next. Las Vegas Raiders: Grade and analysis of the Henry Ruggs pick. dark

A classic Raiders pick and not in a bad way.

Final Grade: B+