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Second Round NFL Draft 2011: Why The Bengals Could Pass On Clemson Defensive End Da'Quan Bowers

Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers fell out of the first round on Thursday. It was met with both surprise and expectation. We feel that the Bengals will draft a pass rusher this weekend to possibly replace Antwan Odom, who along with being largely ineffective during his three seasons with the Bengals, his salary is ridiculously high and a four-game suspension for violating the league's illegal substances policy could make the Bengals realize his value is far less than his salary. That pass rusher could be defensive end Da'Quan Bowers. But we're not exactly convinced of that.

Bowers is an interesting selection. After posting four quarterback sacks his first two seasons at Clemson, the defensive end dominated college football with 15.5 sacks, posting at least one quarterback sack in ten of 12 games last season. Often projected as a top-five selection, including mock drafts with the Bengals selecting him fourth overall, Bowers seemed like the top defensive line prospect. Then reports surfaced that Bowers' arthroscopic knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus in January was more serious than was being admitted. As a result of his surgery, Bowers missed his school's March 10 Pro Day and the NFL Combine, deciding to hold a personal workout for scouts in April. His 40-time was slower than expected and the general impression was more of disappointment.

"The knee is fine; I'm 100 percent," Bowers insisted. "I still have a lot of work to do. Still strengthening and getting it back to where it needs to be. But it's not hurting. It's not giving me any problems."

According to PFT, the condition of Bowers knee forced some teams to remove the prospect off their boards entirely.

"The reality is the knee is assessed 32 ways by 32 different clubs," Flanagan said. "What we know is that Dr. [James] Andrews and a number of other doctors that examined Da'Quan felt good about the short and long-term term prospects of the knee. But, obviously, there were some teams that were concerned about the knee, and I think that was reflected tonight. Ultimately, we feel very strongly that Da'Quan's knee is going to hold up, not only in the short term but the long term."

The Bengals could be one of those teams worried about his knee. The last time they took a flyer on a player with a bum knee, they ended up paying $7 million to Antonio Bryant. It was conjectured that failing to discover the condition of Bryant's knee led to the Bengals replacing several members of their medical staff. It's difficult not to believe that Bowers' knee doesn't weigh heavily in their minds. The Bengals were already burnt by a player that disregarded informing teams of his actual knee condition; would they risk that again?

Yes. The Bengals were at fault, signing Bryant and then clearing him for practice before the full nature of his knee was revealed. The Bengals eventually righted the issue, releasing Bryant and signing Terrell Owens, who led the Bengals in virtually every statistical receiving category.

But with Bryant possibly fresh in their minds, the damage could be done where it concerns Da'Quan Bowers. Could he become a first round talent falling in the draft, thus becoming a steal (ala Carlos Dunlap)? Sure. But it wouldn't be surprising that Bowers' knee, no matter how convincing the rehabilitation argument is, could force the Bengals to pass over him in the second round.