2011 NFL Draft: Is Da'Quan Bowers' Knee the Biggest Smoke Screen of All?

Nick SeroCorrespondent IIIApril 14, 2011

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

Clemson DE Da'Quan Bowers led all college football players in sacks in 2010 and at one point was considered a candidate for the first overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft. Then Bowers partially tore his meniscus and required offseason surgery.

Just like that, Bowers plummeted from potential No. 1 overall selection to almost falling out of the first round.

There was some concern that his knee wouldn't even be able to hold up the entirety of his rookie season, but both Bowers and his agent have been denying the rumor since the end of the college season.

Bowers hasn't fallen entirely out of consideration in the top 10—he has and will visit eight teams drafting in the top 10 this month.

There is a term thrown around about this time known as "smoke screen," referring to the artificially positive buzz created by teams about a certain player  to increase his draft day stock and make another team waste an early pick on him.

Usually the "smoke screen" is about increasing the buzz, but this year I think Bowers may be the bizarro "smoke screen."

There are obvious reasons why Bowers and his agent would be adamantly denying the idea that Bowers' knee won't be able to hold up. The Bowers camp has been fighting the rumors tooth and nail recently, however.

If Bowers were to be selected in the top five, and couldn't make the field because of his knee, he would still walk away with millions of dollars in his bank account, so you can't fault the guy if he is bending the truth.

Bowers hasn't slowed down his tours to different teams, though, flying across the country with allegedly no swelling in his knees.

The Bowers camp is so sure about his health that he has even gone as far as sending outlined medical information to different media across the country.

Bowers won't be able to prove his knee is healthy until August rolls around and he starts picking up his workouts, but, as of now, I am just about convinced that Bowers is a top five talent who could be playing for a team picking low in the draft.

That is, unless his knee is a "smoke screen."

Is it that far-fetched to think that teams are trying to reduce Bowers' value only so they can have a chance to draft the Clemson star?

I don't think it is, and I wouldn't surprised at all when Bowers' name is called much earlier than many have thought.