Raiders Have Big Plans for Bowden
by Tom LaMarre
Lynn Bowden Jr. is the wild card in the promising class of Las Vegas Raiders rookies.
The 5-11, 204-pound Bowden can play wide receiver, running back and even quarterback, in addition to running back kicks, and Coach Jon Gruden and his staff plan to utilize all over the field the way the coaching staff did at Kentucky.
Bowden is learning the drill on virtual OTAs, as the Raiders’ new headquarters in Henderson, Nev., isn’t quite ready for them to move in.
What’s he learning?
“I’m really not permitted to speak about that right now,” Bowden told Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, but he believes it’s something special. “ … I feel like I'm going to wake the world up. It’s only a matter of time.”
Another thing the Raiders like about Bowden is his intelligence, which they learned all about while interviewing him at the NFL Combine before selecting him in the third round (No. 80 overall) in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Gruden threw everything at Bowden on a blackboard during a one-on-one meeting, and the 22-year-old ate it all up and spit it right back at his future coach.
“I remember putting a play on the board at the combine for Bowden and we put in a concept and we told him what all five guys do,” Gruden told Jerry McDonald of the San Jose Mercury News. “Then we’d say Derek (Carr) might audible to this and then five guys have to do this.
“(Then) we’d erase the board and talk about other things. Then we told Bowden to get up on the board and put the concept in and tell us what all five guys do and erase it and tell us what all five guys do if Derek audibles. And he hit it out of the park.
“ … He sees football. He understands football concepts.”
Bowden did all that at Kentucky.
After being an All-State running back at Warren G. Harding High School in Warren, Ohio, Bowden moved to wide receiver at Kentucky and in his three-year career with the Wildcats he caught 114 passes for 1,303 yards and six touchdowns.
Last season as a junior, Bowden switched to quarterback with eight games remaining and led Kentucky a 6-2 record, including a 37-30 victory over Virginia Tech in the Belk Bowl.
Bowden was named Most Valuable Player in the bowl game after rushing for 233 yards on 34 carries and completing 6-of-12 of 12 passes for 73 yards, including the game-winning touchdown pass with 15 seconds left.
“The more I thought about it, the more I was like, I’m just not OK with losing,” Bowden said of the switch to quarterback. “So if me playing quarterback gave us a better chance to win, that is what I was going to do.”
Bowden finished the season with 1,468 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns, 30 receptions for 348 yards and a touchdown, and completed 35 of 74 passes for 403 yards and three touchdowns while winning the Paul Hornung Award.
And he also had 220 yards on kickoff returns and 53 yards on punts returns, but didn’t run back kicks after switching to quarterback, but he returned two punts for touchdowns in 2018.
“Ultimately, he’ll probably be what we call a ‘joker,’ which is what I love in Jon’s offense,” Raiders General Manager Mike Mayock said. “It’s somebody who can do multiple jobs.”
The Raiders hope the joke is going to be on teams they play.
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