By no fault of his own, Lynn Bowden Jr. landed on the Raiders’ lengthy list of draft mistakes.
Just months after drafting Bowden — a standout receiver at Kentucky who also played running back and quarterback — in the third round, Las Vegas traded Bowden to the Miami Dolphins.
Bowden shouldn’t feel alone, though. The Las Vegas Raiders, while still in Oakland, made a bigger mistake with former Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson.
The Raiders drafted Lynn Bowden Jr. in April
Lynn Bowwden Jr. did a little bit of everything in his three years at Kentucky.
A standout high school quarterback from Warren, Ohio, Bowden moved to receiver when he joined the Wildcats in 2017. Bowden caught 17 passes for 210 yards as a true freshman and turned 12 carries into 37 yards.
Although Kentucky only gave Bowden nine carries for 25 yards in 2018, the sophomore earned second-team All-SEC honors by totaling 67 catches, 745 yards, and five touchdowns.
When injuries decimated Kentucky’s quarterback room last year, Bowden moved back under center and did his best Michael Vick impression. Although Bowden only completed 47.3% of his passes for 403 yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions, the junior shined on the ground.
Bowden picked up 1,468 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on 7.9 yards per attempt. Bowden also caught 30 passes for 348 yards and a touchdown.
The stellar junior season earned Bowden consensus first-team All-American honors and the Paul Hornung Award, an honor given to the most versatile player in college football.
Las Vegas traded Bowden to the Miami Dolphins during final cuts
It appeared the Las Vegas Raiders had a steal when they drafted Bowden in the third round of April’s draft.
NFL Media’s Lance Zierlein compared Bowden to longtime NFL receiver Randall Cobb during the pre-draft process. Zierlein projected Bowden as a “[g]ood backup who could become [a] starter]” and praised his versatility.
“While he’s a slot receiver by position, creative play-callers can use him as a zone-read quarterback and as a gadget receiver for jet sweeps and a variety of short catch-and-run screens. He’s not overly sudden or explosive and some teams may want him to prove he can be more than a glorified running back. He’s instinctive, highly competitive and makes big plays.”
Las Vegas never really gave Bowden a chance to show off those skills against other teams. The Raiders traded Bowden, who was playing running back, to the Miami Dolphins along with a sixth-round pick for a fourth-round pick.
Raiders general manager Mike Mayock and Bowden each dismissed an internet report that Bowden’s off-field behavior troubled the Raiders.
Mayocktold reporters the move was a “football decision only.”
Lynn Bowden Jr.’s story is similar to Tyler Wilson’s
If Raiders fans felt deja vu watching their general manager cut a mid-round pick in his first preseason, they weren’t wrong.
The then-Oakland Raiders drafted Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL draft. A former All-SEC quarterback, Wilson joined a Raiders quarterback room in desperate need of a franchise player.
That long-term quarterback option wasn’t Wilson. He performed so poorly in the preseason that Oakland waived him during final cuts.
Wilson, the 112th overall pick in his draft, was the highest-drafted player that year who was waived.
How bad was Oakland’s quarterback room that year? The Raiders depended on Matt Flynn, Terrelle Pryor, and undrafted rookie Matt McGloin.