With its second round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Baltimore Ravens selected Tyus Bowser. Bowser, a linebacker from the University of Houston is a prospect who shot up draft boards in the months leading up to the draft due to his impressive showings at the combine and Senior Bowl. Bowser will be looking to impact a Ravens pass rush that stagnated down the stretch in 2016.
All the way back in 2013, Tyus Bowser played a game against Rice that showcased everything that he can do, and showed how dominant he can be.
Tyus Bowser’s Perfect Game:
In this game against Rice, Bowser showed off his athleticism, explosiveness, coverage skills, and most importantly, pass rushing skills. He consistently got to the quarterback, either getting the sack or forcing the quarterback to throw the ball away. Bowser showed his excellent coverage skills for the position with an interception. This game came in Bowser’s first year at Houston. Since then, Bowser has only refined these skills.
Bowser’s athleticism is what made him a second round pick. He made so many plays in his career at Houston as a result of his natural ability.
The first play I picked out is from Bowser’s senior year when Houston faced Cincinnati. On this play, Bowser comes off the edge in pursuit of the quarterback. However, the quarterback is able to find an open receiver quickly, not giving Bowser time to work off his block and get to the quarterback. Bowser picks up on what the quarterback is doing, and is able to quickly react, jump, and knock down the pass.
Bowser’s athletic ability is evident as he is able to adjust and make a really good play.
The next play I chose shows Bowser’s explosive ability. Lamar Jackson is able to complete the pass here, but Bowser shows fantastic burst off the edge. Bowser quickly launches out of his stance and into the backfield. With a just a simple hand move, Bowser blows past the Louisville tackle, and would have had a good chance to sack Jackson had he not gotten the pass off in time.
The burst shown on this play will be one of the biggest ways that Bowser can help in the pass rush immediately. Terrell Suggs is strong, physical and powerful, but he isn’t the most athletic outside linebacker in the NFL. Bowser provides the burst and athleticism that Suggs lacks. Bowser’s quick jump off the snap from one side, and Suggs’ brute force on the other could prove to be a stellar duo.
Next, I picked a play in Houston’s game against Memphis which showcases Bowser’s athleticism as well as his instincts. Bowser starts lined up off the ball, ready to play in coverage over the middle. However, when he sees that the Houston pressure has forced the quarterback out of the pocket, Bowser bursts out of his zone, and charges after the quarterback. Bowser shows off his speed as he is able to quickly get to the quarterback, and force him to throw the ball away.
Bowser’s athletic ability is shown as he chases down the running quarterback, and his quickness in doing so.
All in all, Bowser’s athleticism is probably the most heralded aspect of his skill set. His ability to be a playmaker as a result of his natural talent has the potential to make him a really solid player on the next level.
Pass Rushing Ability
It’s his athleticism that translates into the other aspects of his game, and it is clearly evident when Bowser is rushing the passer. Bowser produced on a really high level during his career at Houston. In his final season, Bowser posted 8.5 sacks despite missing five games with an injury.
The first video I have is one showing all of Bowser’s sacks in his career.
In many of these plays, Bowser shows one of two themes. Either Bowser is able to set and bend the edge well, using that to get to the quarterback, or he is able to make a quick move to the inside shoulder of the tackle, and charge up the middle right into the face of the quarterback. The following plays all echo one of the themes.
I picked a play from Houston’s breakout victory over Oklahoma. In the fourth quarter, as Houston is trying to close out Oklahoma, Bowser comes up the middle and is able to get to Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield. As he approaches Mayfield, Bowser gets pushed by an offensive lineman toward the ground. As he is falling, Bowser is able to reach out and strip the ball out of Mayfield’s hands. Bowser’s athletic traits show as he is again able to make an adjustment to make a spectacular play. This play fits the theme of Bowser cutting inside and coming up the middle to put pressure on the quarterback. On top of that, this came against one of the nation’s most mobile quarterbacks in Mayfield.
As previously mentioned, much of Bowser’s impact comes from effectively setting and bending the edge, or a quick move to the inside shoulder of the tackle and a rush up the middle. The latter is what happens in the below play. Bowser is able to beat the Louisville tackle inside storm towards the quarterback, putting heavy pressure on Lamar Jackson. Jackson looks to panic as a result of Bowser, and throw the ball away, earning an obvious intentional grounding penalty. Since Bowser was able to force Jackson out of the pocket and into his own end zone, the penalty resulted in a safety, adding to the already dominant Houston lead.
Another way that Bowser’s athleticism has helped his game is in coverage. Of all of the outside linebackers in this draft class, Bowser is the best in coverage. It’s rare to get an outside linebacker that can cover tight ends, running backs and slot receivers effectively.
The video below shows two consecutive plays against Memphis where Bowser is able to make an impact with his coverage skills. On both plays, Bowser drifts into the flat zone on the near side of the field, putting himself in the position to make a play on either a running back screen pass, or a pass to the tight end or wide receiver on that side of the field. Bowser locks down that area. In fact, the Memphis quarterback looks to make a quick check to that side, before switching completely off of it and focussing on the other side of the field.
Next, Bowser is able to use his coverage skills to create a turnover. Bowser lines up in between the tight end and the slot receiver, and covers a zone just beyond the first down yardage marker. Bowser goes on to pick up the tight end cutting to the outside, and sees the throw coming in his direction. At just the right moment, Bowser lunges out at the ball, making contact with the tight end as well as the ball to break up the pass. Luckily for Bowser, the ball was tipped up right to one of his teammates who hauled in the deflection for an interception.
Poor block shedding/physicality leading to struggles against the run
The plays in the strengths section show how talented of an athlete Tyus Bowser is. However, Bowser has had some struggles shedding blocks and being physical, something that has hindered his ability to consistently make a play, especially in the run game.
This first play shows Tyus Bowser lined up on the edge. Cincinnati hands the ball off and runs it to Bowser’s side of the field. Bowser is matched up against a tight end, which would seem to give the advantage to Bowser. However, the tight end is able to block Bowser completely out of the play, and open a hole for the running back to come right through.
If Bowser had been able to shed that block, he would have had a good chance to make the tackle. To make things worse, this was a tight end that was able to neutralize Bowser. The Ravens second round pick will need to be able to shed a block from a tight end at the NFL level.
Bowser at times seems to shy away from contact as well. In the below play against Memphis, the play goes away from Bowser’s side, but Bowser does not really attempt to get over to the play. Bowser doesn’t even go to hit the tackle. Instead he slows up and seems almost to watch the play unfold on the other side of the field.
I’d like to see Bowser try to bend the edge around the tackle and bear down on the quarterback instead of back away from a blocker like he does here against Memphis.
Finally, another play where Bowser is unable to get off of a block versus the run. Bowser is again blocked out of the play by the tight end, which opens a hole for the running back to burst through, a very similar scenario to the play against Cincinnati.
Bowser needs to be able to work off blocks against the run. He has so many athletic traits, but is unable to show any kind of physicality on plays like this to make the tackle. In the NFL, this is something that team’s could try to scheme around. Teams will know that all they have to do is add a tight end to the end of the line to block Bowser, and a hole for the running back should be opened on that side of the line. Opposing offensive coordinators will go back to that play over and over until Bowser shows that he can get off of a block from a tight end.
Bottom Line: Bowser brings a lot of really good traits to the table. He seems to be the perfect compliment to Terrell Suggs’ physical style of play. Bowser’s athletic ability makes him very hard to block at times when he is rushing the passer, but he also is able to do well in coverage. His sweet feet in coverage may be as a result of his basketball career. Bowser was on the Houston basketball and football team before fully committing to football. In my mind, Bowser’s ability to get after the passer and the added plus of good coverage skills should make him a favorite to be a rookie starter. But for Bowser to become the elite outside linebacker ready to take over for Suggs, his play against the run and overall physicality must improve. This is especially so as a result of the fact that the Ravens play in the most physical division in football, the AFC North. Le’Veon Bell’s patience could give him the opportunity to run free against the Ravens if the Steelers can eliminate Bowser off the edge with just a tight end. If Bowser can improve that glaring flaw in this game, he has the talent to be a starter for a long time to come, and one of the better pass rushers in the NFL.