In every draft, there is an impressive, “does-it-all”, utility player. In the 2020 NFL Draft, that player is Lynn Bowden Jr. Bowden began his career as a wide receiver at Kentucky. Throughout his college career, Bowden began to see reps at running back before finding himself slotted into a wildcat quarterback position due to Kentucky running out of remaining quarterbacks. Now, the Raiders will unleash his potential.
Throughout all of his position changes, Bowden thrived. In his final season, he recorded 30 catches in his first 5 games, on pace for a monstrous season. After the fifth game, however, Bowden found his number called at quarterback. Bowden would lead Kentucky on a 6-2 stretch while leading the SEC in rushing yards.
Bowden appears like an incredible athlete suited for the next level. Not only that, but a utility play could be just what head coach Jon Gruden needs. The Raiders have stockpiled their offense in the draft, adding three wide receivers with their first four picks. But, Bowden adds the uniqueness that Jon Gruden can use to his advantage.
Similar to the Raiders signing Trevor Davis a few days before their matchup against the Indianapolis Colts in 2019 to use him for a 60-yard touchdown off a bubble screen, Bowden will become a plug-and-play athlete. Unsimilar to Davis, Bowden has shown impressive talent at reading holes and finding gaps.
The Raiders can use Bowden for “backyard” style plays, but he also has the opportunity to notch some starts. While Gruden will appreciate his athleticism and speed, Bowden can flat out play. He could find himself receiving out of the slot or slotted behind the Raiders’ talented offensive line as a third-down back. It is quite unlikely Gruden will run Bowden out of the wildcat, but with talent like his, anything is a possibility.
Bowden also presents an impressive pairing with rising star Josh Jacobs. Every workhorse needs a jockey, and the Raiders should take consideration in riding the Jacobs/Bowden combination. The best part about Bowden is that, like a pawn reaching the other side of the chessboard, he can be used wherever and however he is needed. He does not need to be molding into certain roles as he is already trained at all skill positions except tight end. However, standing at 6’1”, Bowden would not be completely written off as a deep substitute on the Raiders’ depth chart. Hopefully, that never comes into question, especially as the Raiders’ tight end room already runs quite deep.
Typically, a running back/wide receiver hybrid will find themselves running slants and other short routes due to lack of size, but this is not the case for Bowden. The ideal scenario would be Bowden coming out of the backfield, creating a potential speed mismatch between him and a potential linebacker guarding him. Bowden is dangerous. The former Wildcat (ironic, isn’t it?) is too fast for most linebackers and too strong for most cornerbacks. Just about everything is decided, except for how exactly Gruden plans to use him.