How will the Las Vegas Raiders use rookie third-round pick Lynn Bowden?
In many ways, Bowden fit the exact mold of a Mike Mayock/Jon Gruden type of player given his worth ethic, leadership, and versatility. On the surface, it made perfect sense.
However, what was a surprise was the position he was announced as — a running back.
Bowden played the majority of his college career as a wide receiver being named an All-SEC freshman in 2018 and leading his team in receiving in 2018. But following injuries at the quarterback position, the former high school QB returned to the backfield in 2019.
Incredibly, Bowden would lead the Wildcats on a 6-2 run as he was named the Paul Hornung Award recipient as the nation’s most versatile player. Yet, most projected Bowden to convert back to a full-time receiver in the NFL.
The Raiders, however, seem to have different plans.
In a recent interview with ESPN, Mayock insisted that the Raiders planned to use Bowden in a “joker” role deploying him all over the offense and on special teams.
“Ultimately, he’ll probably be what we call a ‘joker,’ which is what I love in Jon [Gruden]’s offense. It’s somebody who can do multiple jobs. But day one, he’s going to come in and be a running back.”
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What do the Raiders mean by a ‘joker’?
Ultimately, fans probably shouldn’t look too far into what position the team labels Bowden as. Despite being announced as a running back by commissioner Roger Goodell and despite Mayock declaring that he will come in as a “running back,” don’t expect him to be limited to that role.
The Raiders will likely deploy Bowden at everything from running back to wide receiver to kick/punt returner to kick/punt coverage to maybe even a wildcat quarterback.
After all, it wouldn’t be the first time that Bowden was a Wildcat quarterback — if you catch my drift.
Given the presence of both Devontae Booker and Jalen Richard, it’s unlikely we see Bowden deployed too often as a true running back. If anything, he’ll be used as a gadget player on offense while maintaining a strong role on special teams.
Ultimately, the goal will be to get the ball in his hands.
The Raiders may be dubbing Bowden as their resident “joker,” but perhaps his pre-college label as an “athlete” is more appropriate.