Lynn Bowden Brings Versatility to the Raiders' Rookie Receiver Trio
With the 80th pick in the NFL Draft, the Las Vegas Raiders selected Lynn Bodwen Jr., one of the most dynamic playmakers in the 2020 class.
Bowden played three different positions -- not including his special teams role -- at Kentucky. Let's take a look at the multi-positional wide receiver and what he offers fantasy football owners as a rookie.
In three seasons at Kentucky, Bowden started at quarterback, running back, and wide receiver in 38 career games. In 2019, he started at quarterback in UK's final eight games, going 6-2 as a starter and breaking the program's rushing records for a signal-caller. Bowden's 1,369 rushing yards in those eight games carried the Wildcats to the Elk Bowl, where he ran for the program's most yards in a bowl game with 233 yards and two scores on the ground.
His rushing prowess was so remarkable he finished with a higher rushing grade last season (87.2) than Lamar Jackson did at Louisville in his Heisman campaign of 2017 (86.8). He broke more tackles on pure running plays than D’Andre Swift did this past year, and Bowden's 13 rushing touchdowns out of his 17 total (1 receiving, 3 passing) tied for second in the SEC.
Bowden is projected to play wide receiver in the league and specialize as a slot receiver and return specialist much like his first two seasons at Kentucky.
As a wide receiver, Bowden caught 97 of his 114 receptions and all 21 of his career touchdowns in his last two seasons. He had a target share of 27% and a catch rate of 83% as a sophomore, seeing a career-high 67 passes on 80 targets for 745 yards and 5 touchdowns.
He was the 10th player in school history to reach 4,000 all-purpose yards in a career, finishing fifth with 4,660. He is one of the most polished returners in the draft, as he finished top-four in Kentucky history in career kick returns (71) and kick return yards (1,628) to go along with his superb -- but short-lived -- nine career punt returns with two returned for touchdowns.
What to Expect
The 2019 Paul Hornung Award winner can come into the Raiders' offense as a gadget player and return specialist. The Raiders selected Henry Ruggs III with the 12th pick then nabbed Bryan Edwards out of South Carolina with the very next pick following Bowden's selection.
Bowden is an exceptional runner with the ball in his hands, no matter where he lines up, but he'll likely be best used as a slot receiver. His fantasy value may have been best served elsewhere, with Las Vegas drafting three rookie receivers, but don't be surprised if Bowden lines up in the backfield or is used as a returner as a rookie. Expect Bowden to be on the waiver wire and keep an eye on him throughout preseason play to capture what his role will be with the team.
Our JJ Zachariason project Bowden for 21 catches, 266 yards and 1.3 touchdowns in 2020.