Adding NaVorro Bowman helps fill a role of need for the Oakland Raiders. However, his biggest impact will be in mentoring the young Raiders linebackers.
Even during an awful four-game slide, the Oakland Raiders found a way to get better before their must-win game in Week 7 versus the Kansas City Chiefs. They signed long-time San Francisco 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman to a one-year deal to help fill a need in the middle of the defense.
Bowman is past his prime as a star inside linebacker with the San Francisco 49ers. He’s a step or two slower than he was during the peak of the Jim Harbaugh era in San Francisco. However, Bowman can come in and make a huge impact, short-term and long-term, to help right this Raiders defense.
A youth movement in San Francisco had the 49ers part ways with their popular inside linebacker. It was only a matter of time before first-round pick Reuben Foster was going to usurp him on the depth chart anyway in San Francisco.
With the Raiders being banged up and inexperienced at linebacker, this was an ideal landing spot for the former 49ers standout. Bowman could come in and start day one on the inside, especially with rookie Marquel Lee dealing with a nasty ankle injury.
At worst case, Bowman will help stopping the run and bring a more cerebral nature to the Raiders defense for the rest of the season. He had been playing below his career standard in San Francisco this year, but Bowman will likely get back to decent now with the Raiders.
However, his biggest impact on this team is on the example he sets to the Raiders’ young linebackers. While he wanted more playing time, Bowman had to know that it would be a mentorship role he’d be expected to take on this young Raiders defense. The three players that benefit the most upon his arrival are Lee, Nicholas Morrow and James Cowser.
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Lee might be hurt, but the Raiders drafted him to wear the green dot in the middle of this defense. Oakland saw value in selecting Lee in the fifth round out of Wake Forest this past spring. Like Bowman, Lee is best at stuffing the run. Bowman was a great pass defender in his prime. That could be something Lee could benefit from having Bowman aboard for 2017.
Morrow was an undrafted player out of Division III Greenville. He made the team out of camp thanks to his great coverage ability. If he can pick Bowman’s brain about how to get in better position to factor in run defense, he’ll be a more complete playing entering year two in the league next spring.
While Cowser is more of an edge player, he benefits simply by playing next to Bowman. Knowing that Bowman has his back as a seasoned veteran, he can feel free to take more chances playing out on the edge in a rotational role.
Obviously, adding Bowman helps pass rushers Bruce Irvin and Khalil Mack, as well as the rest of the Raiders’ front-seven. Oakland knows it’s not getting an All-Pro level player anymore out of Bowman. What it does know is that he has the on-field experience to help his new teammates achieve new heights playing for the Silver and Black.