Forget about the arthroscopic knee surgery in January, Da’Quan Bowers believes there’s no reason at all to worry about his long term as a prospect in the National Football League. Considered a slam dunk to go in the top ten, if not the top five or higher, earlier this offseason, the Clemson defensive end has slid in the majority of mock drafts in recent weeks. We’ll see if the skepticism from the media and fans is well founded or if it’s a classic case of pundits over-thinking things during the lead up to the NFL Draft. But regardless of how high he’s drafted, Bowers undeniably has the talent to be something special at the next level.
Bowers joined ESPN Radio to talk about how all the speculation about his knee and health is unfounded, what the most interesting aspect of the pre-draft process has been, the story behind his prized possession — ‘Denise’ the Fender Stratocastar guitar that his father played as a touring gospel musician — how he still hopes to be the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, how he and Cam Newton try not to talk too much about where they might end up despite communicating frequently, how Gaines Adams was the player he tried to emulate while growing up, how Julius Peppers is the current player that he believes he can replicate in terms of style of play and productivity, and how he’s enjoyed being able to show a different side to his personality beyond just football through this evaluation process leading up to the draft.
On what he can share about his knee and overall health:
“All the speculations about my knee and the surgery are all wrong. The NFL teams and the doctors know what’s going on, so that’s all that really matters at this point.”
On what the most interesting or revealing aspect of the pre-draft process has been:
“They ask me all about my background and my musical background, and it’s been quite fun too…”
About Denise the guitar?
“About Denise the guitar. It was my father’s guitar; it was the source of income for my family the past 33 years. My father never had a 9-5 job, he was a professional gospel musicians that traveled across the world and played that guitar in a number of states and countries.”
On what he’s hoping will unfold on Draft day:
“I hope I’m picked high, even first. You know, it’s a dream to be the first draft pick of the draft, so I’m just looking forward to it.”
If there’s been any friendly texting back and forth between him and Cam Newton about who might go No. 1 overall or higher than the other in the draft:
“I’ve been with Cam on several of my visits. We’ve all been in the same place, you know, we’ve been together quite a bit. So we haven’t really talked about it. When we’re away from it, we like to stay away from it and talk about other things.”
If there was a player growing up or today that he’s tried to model his game after:
“Definitely. When I was coming out of high school, I wanted to play like Gaines Adams, you know, my mentor and big brother. Him and I have a lot like the same body type, almost identical with the long torso and the short legs. He was a little lighter than I am, but that’s who I wanted to model my game after.”
If there’s a guy in the NFL today that he thinks he can replicate in terms of style of play and productivity:
“Julius Peppers of course. He has the speed, he has the power, he has the skills to do anything and everything that any defensive coordinator would want him to do.”
If it’s hard to feel like he’s losing money before even starting his career with the likely scaling back in rookie wages in the new CBA:
“The way I feel is I can’t miss anything I never had. So…”
On getting to show people throughout the draft process that there’s more to him than just chasing down quarterbacks and running backs on gameday:
“Definitely. That’s a good way to put it — letting people see that I’m more than a defensive end, I’m more than a college football player, period. That I enjoy other things, that I am human, that I like doing the same types of things that they like to do and doing it in a similar situation.”
On what the short term goal is — being the No. 1 overall pick?
“Definitely. I want to go as the No. 1 draft pick. That’s the prized possession being that first name called.”
Listen here to Bowers with Scott Van Pelt and Ryen Rusillo on ESPN Radio (interview begins at 36:30 mark)