James Cowser, Edge-Rusher Southern Utah
Despite already having two excellent edge-rushers in Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin, Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie continued to add depth along the edge in the 2016 NFL draft. In addition to former Michigan State defensive end Shilique Calhoun, the Raiders added former Southern Utah edge-rusher James Cowser as an UDFA.
According to Tyler Smith of SilverandBlackPride.com, Cowser finished his collegiate career with the Thunderbirds as the all-time FCS leader in sacks (42.5) and tackles for loss (80). At 6’3”, 248 pounds, Cowser has almost ideal size to play as a rush linebacker when Ken Norton Jr. opts to attack the quarterback in a 3-4 defensive scheme.
Though Cowser is highly regarded for the use of his hands when rushing the passer, his high motor and commitment to the film room are what often put him in a position to make the play. His technique when playing the run will have to improve, but Cowser’s relentless style of play should pay dividends for him as he continues to prove the naysayers wrong in his attempt to make the transition from the FCS to the NFL.
Fortunately for Cowser, Del Rio has already expressed that Cowser is working to make his transition seamless.
“He’s just come in here and worked really hard,” Del Rio said, via Raiders.com. “He’s been impressive in the fact that he’s a good learner, he understands what we’re asking of him, what we want him to do, what we want him to be able to do, whether it’s special teams or defense as his role. He’s very conscientious. He’s done a nice job so far impressing us with the way he has attacked his work.”
Given his size and energy, Cowser is a project player that will have to work his way into a significant role on defense, but he, like Hansley, should see a majority of his snaps come on special teams if he manages to work his way into a roster spot.