NFL.com analyst and former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah takes a "first look" at some of college football's top players for 2023. This is the fourth in a series of scouting reports that will run in July.
The past two NFL drafts have been defined by the University of Georgia, with a whopping 25 Bulldogs selected in this span. The majority of those draft picks -- including seven first-rounders -- have come from the defensive side of the ball. But don't let that fool you into thinking the back-to-back national champions have lacked offensive firepower. UGA has finished top 10 in scoring in each of the past two campaigns, averaging a healthy 41.1 points per game (fifth nationally) last season. And a crucial piece of the Dawgs' attack will be back on display this fall for his junior season.
Brock Bowers burst on the scene as a true freshman in 2021, leading Georgia in receptions (56), receiving yards (882) and receiving touchdowns (13). In 2022, he won the John Mackey Award as the nation's top tight end, once again pacing the Bulldogs with 63 catches for 942 yards and seven touchdowns while also adding nine rushes for 109 yards and three scores.
Bottom line: The Napa (California) native has established himself as one of the most unique and prolific playmakers in college football.
With Stetson Bennett now on the Los Angeles Rams, Bowers will be working with a new quarterback in 2023. I'll be interested to see how this affects his game, but it's a safe bet the versatile pass catcher will play a starring role in Georgia's attempt at a three-peat.
Now that I've had a chance to dig into Bowers' game tape from last season, here is my initial scouting report.
Height, weight: 6-foot-4, 230 pounds (school measurements).
2022 statistics (15 games played): 63 catches for 942 yards (15.0 average), 7 TDs; 9 rushes for 109 yards (12.1 average), 3 TDs.
Game tape watched: vs. Oregon (Sept. 3, 2022), vs. Auburn (Oct. 8, 2022), vs. Florida (Oct. 29, 2022) and every target from the 2022 season.
What I liked: Explosive ... Dynamic ... Urgency ... Burst ... Juice. Those words show up over and over in my notes. Some players blend in when you study them, while others appear to be playing at a different speed and tempo. Bowers definitely falls into the latter bucket. He looks like the fastest player on the field -- and he gets even faster when the ball is in his hands. He is consistently creating separation, even when opponents attempt to disrupt his release by doubling him at the line of scrimmage (SEE: Oregon game). The 20-year-old understands how to lean into defenders before exploding out of his break.
Bowers has excellent hands and attacks the ball at its highest point, away from his body. He makes some impressive downfield adjustments and is quick to transition up the field once he catches the ball. He is at his best after the catch, boasting the ability to run away from defenders or drag them for extra yards with his lower-body strength. Not to mention, he is surprisingly nifty when it comes to making defenders miss in space.
Bowers is also very competitive in the run game. He excels on combo blocks and deftly adjusts to defenders in space to mirror/control. There are times where he'll fall off blocks on the front side, but the effort is always there.
Where he needs to improve: The only real knock on Bowers is his lack of elite size. He's doesn't have a long, rangy body type in the 6-foot-5 or 6-6 range. He is built more like an old school H-back. Obviously, there's nothing he can do to improve in this area. I don't see it as a major issue, but some teams will worry about his ability to hold up as an in-line blocker at the NFL level. He is often detached from the offensive tackle in the Georgia attack, and that is where he will likely spend the majority of his time in the NFL.
Biggest takeaway: Bowers is the perfect match for a creative play-caller. Georgia uses him in a variety of roles. At times, he's a vertical weapon who generates chunk plays on go routes and corner routes. At other times, he's a menace in the TE screen game. The Bulldogs feed him the ball on tunnel screens, and when he has a runway and some blockers, he can rack up big yardage after the catch. (PFF charted him with 479 yards after the catch in the 2022 season.) He's also very effective as a ball carrier on TE sweeps and jet sweeps. He can capture the corner with his quickness and burst, and once he gets his shoulders squared up the field, he's a load to bring down. There are even a few plays where he's utilized as the single back in short yardage. I would love to see him paired up with an NFL offensive coordinator willing to showcase all of his unique abilities.
He reminds me of: George Kittle. There are striking similarities in their body movements, explosiveness and competitiveness. Kittle is a more consistent blocker in the run game, but Bowers has a little more juice after the catch. Both guys really separate out of breaks and refuse to be tackled by the first defender after the catch. There's a will to fight for every single yard -- and it elevates to an even greater level when a first down or touchdown is within reach. Kittle has been a top-two/three player at his position for the bulk of his career. Bowers has that type of upside.
I can't wait to watch him play: in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 2. Is that too presumptuous? After looking over Georgia's schedule, I don't foresee any scenario that would keep the Bulldogs out of that game. They are head-and-shoulders above everyone on their side of the conference and they avoid Alabama and LSU from the SEC West. One of those two juggernauts will likely meet the Dawgs at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta with the SEC crown on the line. That is one of the biggest stages in college football, and I can't wait to watch Bowers compete against a bunch of future pros. I have a feeling he won't see action in many fourth quarters during the regular season, as the back-to-back reigning national champions should steamroll through opponents.