Oklahoma State receiver Adarius Bowman has seen his draft status drop fairly substantially since the start of the 2007 season.
Scouts were troubled at first by the number of passes he dropped during practice sessions in Mobile, then had further concerns after he posted a 4.74 40 at the Combine, then failed to improve on that number with a 4.75 at Oklahoma State's Pro Day.At this point, he is grading out as a fourth- or fifth-round draft prospect and is currently rated as the 25th-best wide receiver available in the 2008 Draft according to Scout.com's draft rankings.
From a different perspective, though, it looks a lot like Bowman may be the steal of this year's draft for any team that is fortunate enough to draft him.
When evaluating a player, it's usually best to focus on their entire body of work and their performance over the course of their college career.
Bowman makes a catch vs. Texas A&M
AP Photo/David J. Phillip
Bowman was extremely productive in his three years in Stillwater, finishing fourth in school history with 155 catches for 2,697 yards and 25 touchdowns. This was all done against Big 12 competition; some of the best athletes and players in Division I football, with big games against Texas, Texas A&M, and Nebraska in 2007.
For a player that has been criticized for his lack of speed and big play ability, it's interesting to note that Bowman average 16.3 yards per catch throughout the course of his college career.
You don't post those kinds of numbers and those kinds of averages against that level of competition unless you're fast enough to play the position effectively.
On film, he certainly seems to play faster than his 40 times, as the numbers would indicate. He's in a very similar situation to what Anquan Boldin went through prior to the 2003 draft.
After a distinguished career at Florida State, Boldin saw his draft ranking start to drop after he ran the 40 in the mid 4.7s. He ended up being selected in the second round that year, caught 101 passes, and won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
While it's unlikely that Bowman will get that type of opportunity with the Colts, given how established the depth chart is at the position, he will also have time to develop and refine his game.
He's a full two inches taller than Boldin at about 6 feet, 3 inches, tips the scales at 223 pounds, and is more of a long strider than Boldin. However, he does need to work on a few things, such as catching the ball at its highest point and using his hips and shoulders to create separation and box out the defender.
Bowman eludes a Texas A&M tackler in 2007
AP Photo/David J. Phillip
His inconsistent hands are also a worry, but he has a number of things going for him, as well.
He's not as complete a receiver as Boldin was coming out of college, which is why it makes sense that he won't be selected until two or three rounds later. And, since he has time to develop and learn from some of the best players at his position, he could eventually evolve into a productive receiver like Boldin.
In addition, he missed two games with a knee injury towards the end of last season and was dismissed from the football team t the University of North Carolina in October of 2004 after he was cited for possession of marijuana in an incident in another players' room, which he addressed quite candidly in this interview with Scout.com's Ed Thompson.
The charges for possession were eventually dropped, and while it seems that Bowman learned a valuable lesson, he used all five years of his eligibility and will turn 23 before the season starts, which may scare some teams off as well.
He was able to come back from the knee injury during the season and play in Oklahoma State's final regular season game as well as their bowl game.
He definitely has a combination of pros and cons, and the Colts probably have too many needs at other positions for them to draft him towards the end of the second round like Boldin was.
If he is still available in the fourth or fifth round, Indianapolis would be wise to take him and secure themselves an excellent value pick and someone that could contribute significantly in the post-Marvin Harrison era.