2011 NFL Draft: Is Da'Quan Bowers' Upside Worth the Lions' First-Round Pick?

Joe UnderhillCorrespondent IIIApril 11, 2011

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 18:  Michael Dyer #5 of the Auburn Tigers against Da'Quan Bowers #93 of the Clemson Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 18, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It wasn't very long ago that draft experts were talking about Da'Quan Bowers as a possible No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft. Now there are many who think he may drop out of the top 20. It only takes one team to fall in love with a player—might that team be the Detroit Lions?

Most experts believe the Lions are targeting a CB/LB or possibly an OT at No. 13 overall. However, GM Martin Mayhew has already said they would look at defensive linemen and wouldn't rule out drafting one, even though they return Kyle Vanden Bosch and Cliff Avril at DE and Ndamukong Suh and Corey Williams at DT.

Depth is always extremely important, especially for a team looking to post its first .500 season in what seems like forever. The defensive line showed last year it could help cover for a lackluster secondary. If Prince Amukamara is off the board, there isn't another CB worthy of being picked that high, and who the Lions draft is anyone's guess.

Mayhew has a history, however brief, of picking who he believes is the best available player regardless of position (see Brandon Pettigrew). How the Detroit medical staff views Bowers' knee is the critical part of the Lions' evaluation process. Bowers is coming off knee surgery in the offseason, and there are questions regarding his recovery and the success of the surgery.

There is also concern in some circles with Bowers' performance last year. Bowers had only one dominant year at Clemson, and after his game tape was analyzed, almost half of his sacks came when he wasn't blocked. The other big question is his motor; he can be seen taking plays off.

All that aside, Bowers has loads of potential. In Detroit he would be mentored by KVB, one of the best defensive ends in the league and a player whose motor never stops.

Personally, I think Bowers has enough upside to be drafted before the Lions pick at No. 13. What it all depends on is who falls in love with him. Some possibilities would include Cincinnati at four, Tennessee at eight, Dallas at nine, Washington at 10 and Minnesota at 12. All those teams have options they are going to have to explore fully. If healthy and if motivated, Bowers could be among the top two or three defensive players in this draft.