Las Vegas Raiders: Mike Mayock explains why Lynn Bowden was traded
The Las Vegas Raiders’ decision to pick Lynn Bowden, Jr out of the University of Kentucky in the third round of the NFL Draft led to some raised eyebrows but plenty of excitement as well. Bowden was a jack of all trades at Kentucky, having played running back, wide receiver, and quarterback in his time with the Wildcats.
Primarily a receiver in college, Bowden stepped in at QB for Kentucky and was excellent as an option QB who did most of his damage with his legs. His athleticism and speed were on full display as he rushed for nearly 1,500 yards and 13 touchdowns his junior year but also had more than 100 catches and 1,300 receiving yards throughout his career.
Bowden’s versatility was seen as a potential weapon for the Raiders as he could line up all over the field as a receiver but would primarily be used as a running back. Unfortunately for the Raiders, as Mike Mayock said, as quoted by Raiders Wire, they asked far too much of him to transition from QB/WR to running back.
"“If you look back at it and you think, should you be picking guys that perhaps were a projection from one position to another? You know, we took [Bowden] in the third round and ended up trading him to Miami before the seasons started. He was a college slot receiver and a quarterback and we tried to move him to running back in a pandemic year. And to be honest with you, I don’t think it was fair to the kid.We don’t even see him face-to-face live until training camp in July. Basically, what I’m saying is that I think in a COVID year, you have to be nimble and you have to learn lessons,” said Mayock. “And you have to try to leverage the draft for whatever you can.”Source: Raiders Wire"
As Mayock said, it was not fair to Bowden to ask him to learn a whole new position in the NFL without the benefit of mini-camps and OTAs thanks to COVID restrictions. They made the same mistake with Tanner Muse who played safety at Clemson but they wanted him to move to linebacker in the NFL. Muse was not traded but looked just as lost as Bowden in training camp and was ultimately placed on injured reserve.
Raiders reasons for trading away Lynn Bowden Jr.
As Raiders Wire points out, there may have been off-the-field reasons for trading Bowden as well but if we are to believe Mayock, then they simply moved him because he could not get up to speed fast enough at his new position. The Raiders clearly wanted someone who could contribute immediately but unfortunately, the player they received in return, LB Raekwon McMillan, did nothing meaningful in 2020.
There may be more to this story but the Raiders would not want to badmouth a player they selected and Bowden will not spill the beans either until his career is over. He may very well end up being a productive player with the Dolphins and, unfortunately, it did not work out in Las Vegas, but it is a valuable lesson learned for Mayock and the Raiders.
This summer may not be exactly the same as 2020 with all of the COVID restrictions but this year the NFL’s decision to cancel the scouting combine will cause a new set of issues but with the same underlying lesson. That lesson of course being drafting a player for what he is and what he is capable of and not what the Raiders hope to turn him in to. They are in a win-now mode and there is no time for project players at this point in the team’s current trajectory.