How Luke Bowanko Fits with the Jacksonville Jaguars

Giancarlo Ferrari-King@@GiancarloKingFeatured ColumnistMay 10, 2014

Oct 5, 2013; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Virginia Cavaliers offensive linesman Luke Bowanko (70) blocks Ball State Cardinals linebacker Trent Toothman (50) at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

It's been said before, but the retirement of long-term Jacksonville Jaguars center Brad Meester has opened up a competition for the future of the position.

Right now the Jaguars have guys like Mike Brewster, Patrick Lewis and Jacques McClendon who all could be in the mix to be the team's starting center in 2014.

But that didn't stop Jaguars general manager David Caldwell from going after a prospect in the sixth round of the draft.

Bringing in University of Virginia center Luke Bowanko could very well mean that Caldwell isn't thrilled with the options he currently has available.

Bowanko was a guy the Jaguars knew about entering the draft. It was Ryan O'Halloran of the Florida Times-Union who reported that the Virginia center had a predraft visit scheduled earlier this offseason.

He's also the second Jaguars offensive lineman to come out of Virginia behind tackle Austin Pasztor.

Bowanko spent his time at Virginia playing both guard positions as well as center. At 6'5, 292 pounds, he's a big-bodied offensive lineman who moves surprisingly well for a player with his build.

That combination of size and athleticism makes him a strong fit for offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch's zone-blocking scheme.

A successful zone-blocking scheme has to be executed by all facets of the line. It's more of a collaborative effort that requires timing, smarts and fluidity.

Looking at some of the most successful zone-blocking schemes around the league, the 2013 Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins are prime of examples how teamwork and smarts in the trenches can spring running backs to stockpile yards in a hurry.

The Jags have a ways to go if they want to be grouped into that category.

Last season, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), they ended up having the worst-ranked offensive line in the National Football League.

Clearly by signing Toby Gerhart and drafting UCF's Storm Johnson, Fisch is going to have to count on this new-look line to get the job done and take a major step forward from their dismal performance just a season ago.'s Hays Carlyon tweeted that the Jags were intrigued by Bowanko's "versatility." That's understandable considering he has experience rotating between all three positions on the interior line.

On his post-draft conference call, via, Bowanko was asked about how he feels competing for the job:

I feel like I bring a hard work ethic and determination that was bred into me at a young age. I was going into today, no matter what the outcome was, I was hoping for a chance to get somewhere and compete and make the team better. That was my outlook today so I was stoked to get the call from Coach Butkus, and it’s really just been a great day so far.

Bowanko is a relatively unknown prospect because he wasn't invited to the NFL combine. "It's little things like that in life that kind of put a chip on your shoulder," the Virginia center told reporters about missing out on that experience.

Like Brewster and the rest of the guys on the Jaguars roster, Bowanko is going to have to come into camp and compete if wants to win the starting job.

But he has great size and was a sixth-round pick, so there's a good chance he not only makes the roster, but also winds up starting at some point during the season.

Who knows, depending on how things shake out, maybe we'll see Bowanko and quarterback Blake Bortles take their first snaps as starters together at some point during the 2014 season.


*To learn more about this young man, you can listen to Bowanko's full post-draft conference call via

All CFB stats and information courtesy of, unless noted otherwise. 

All NFL stats and combine information via, unless noted otherwise.