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NFL Analysts Debate, How Early Is Too Early to Draft Georgia TE Brock Bowers?

Eight Tight Ends Have Been Selected in the First Round Since 2014

FILE - Georgia tight end Brock Bowers (19) runs into the end zone for a touchdown against Alabama defensive back Jordan Battle (9) during the second half of the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Atlanta. Bowers was named to The Associated Press preseason All-America team, Monday, Aug. 22, 2022. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

Georgia TE Brock Bowers has been one of the most talked about prospects ahead of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Undoubtedly one of the top-rated players overall, the positional value placed on tight ends at the pro level has analysts divided on how early is too early to select the two-time Mackey Award winner – and the Jets are at the center of the debate.

"He is a special kind of talent," former offensive lineman and NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger said during "The Jets Overtime Draft Preview Show." "He is technically called a tight end, but you have flexibility with this guy. You can put him out wide with linebackers that might walk out with him, you can have 12 personnel on the field, but no matter what, he can be your go-to guy. The whole idea of drafting him just comes down to how are you going to utilize him?"

The Jets have the No. 10 pick in the draft (April 25-27 in Detroit) and after a strong offseason in which GM Joe Douglas addressed a majority of the team's outstanding needs in free agency, reporters and draft pundits have mentioned the Jets as a possible landing spot for Bowers.

The Jets currently have four tight ends on the roster – veterans Tyler Conklin and Kenny Yeboah and third- and second-year players respectively Jeremy Ruckert and Zack Kuntz.

"I love our tight ends room," Douglas said. "We have a chance to add even more dynamic play, but have guys like Conk, who's a dude and can get open, unbelievable hands. Ruckert is going to make a jump, Yeboah can do a lot of things in the run game and Kuntz is a physical phenom and at 6-7 runs like a gazelle. I feel we have four in the room who are legit tight ends."

See's Daniel Jeremiah's top 50 prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Over three seasons with the Bulldogs, Bowers (6-3, 243) was named an All-American three times, including a unanimous selection in 2023, and recorded 173 receptions for 2,538 yards and 26 touchdowns – all SEC records for tight ends. He helped Georgia to back-to-back national championships (2021-22) and was a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses throughout his 40 career games (37 starts).

"Anyone who has watched Georgia in the last few years knows Brock Bowers," Baldinger said. "He shows up in all the biggest games. He is a point scorer with electrifying one-handed catches. He can beat any kind of coverage. But what really gets me excited is his blocking ability. He is a bulldog that attacks the edge and can block in-line."

With few questions about his ability on the field, the drawback on how high he will be selected comes down to how each individual team values his position.

Over the past few decades, Super Bowl winning teams like the Kansas City Chiefs of the 2020s and New England Patriots of the mid-2010s, led by tight ends Travis Kelce and Rob Gronkowski, have relied heavily on their tight ends.

Kelce was taken in the third round (No. 63) in 2013 and Gronkowski was drafted in Round 2 (No. 42) in 2010. Many analysts believe Bowers has the potential to be a top-tier tight end.

"I don't think there is a tight end that has the body control that Bowers has," former Jets DT and current analyst for SNY Leger Douzable said. "All you have to do is turn on the Auburn film and he literally took over the game in the second half. The craziest part was that they knew where the ball was going, and they couldn't do anything about it. He is and will be tight end No. 1."

Since 2014, eight tight ends have been selected in the first round, three have been picked among the first 10 selections and the results have been mixed.

Last year, Buffalo picked Utah TE Dalton Kincaid in round one (No. 23). He came on strong late in the season with 8 receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown in two postseason starts. Also, the Lions selected Iowa TE T.J. Hockenson eighth overall in 2019 and he has produced two seasons with 900-plus yards receiving and 23 touchdown receptions over five years.

The eight selected in the first round, however, have combined for one 1,000-plus yard receiving season and one with double-digit touchdowns.

"[Bowers] is an explosive weapon on offense and a mismatch for linebackers and safeties in coverage," Douzable said. "He has gotten significantly better blocking, but I think at No. 10 that is too rich when you factor in positional value."

There is no denying Bowers talent at the collegiate level. NFL scouts have raved about his competitive mentality and athleticism for a player his size. But with a mixed track record on first-round tight ends, Douglas and the Jets 'player evaluation staff have a lot of options, one of which is Bowers.

"He is a fast, twitch player and an explosive athlete," Baldinger said. "Maybe we use those terms too frequently, but he is that guy. His ability to adjust to the ball in the air and the suddenness he plays with and his ability to get into defenders at the point of attack on blocks is what you look for when you are looking for top-10 player."

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