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Graney: Brock Bowers won’t be outworked by his Raiders teammates

The stories went like this: That when he showed up at the University of Georgia as a freshman football player, Brock Bowers went right to work.

He competed so hard in practice drills — completing each one as it might be his last — veteran players were taken aback.

They wondered what was up with this tight end from picturesque Napa, California. Wondered from where the drive came. Wondered if he was trying too hard to impress.

They were, however, pushed to keep up with him. Like it or not.

It’s the mindset Bowers arrived with at Raiders rookie camp this week, the team’s first-round draft pick at No. 13 overall. It’s the desire that could help him make the immediate impact coaches believe exists within Bowers.

And he’s talented enough to do so.

“Obviously we’re very fortunate to get a guy like Brock Bowers in our room and in our building,” coach Antonio Pierce said.

There is every chance the Raiders selected the best pure football player in the draft. Bowers, at 6 feet, 3 inches, and 240 pounds, can do it all. Line up at several spots. Produce from all of them. Versatile beyond words.

But it was a surprise to many that Bowers was the pick, given the Raiders last year drafted talented tight end Michael Mayer in the second round out of Notre Dame. Many believed (raising hand here) the team should have instead looked to take an offensive tackle or defensive back.

It’s not a surprise, however, how excited the Raiders are about Bowers.

12 personnel

If the idea was to add another playmaker to the mix — and it was — you couldn’t have asked for a better option at the 13th pick. Bowers owns the potential to give defenses fits.

I don’t believe the Raiders literally flipped a coin in deciding whether to draft Bowers or Alabama cornerback Terrion Arnold, but I do think it would have been classic if owner Mark Davis provided the quarter to do so.

You’re going to hear a lot about 12 personnel with the Raiders this season, the alignment that includes two tight ends. You’re likely going to see a lot of Bowers and Mayer on the field together. It’s not the easiest grouping to defend. Pierce as a Super Bowl-winning linebacker knows this well.

“I mean, you look at the National Football League, and it’s difficult,” he said. “Being a former player going against 12 personnel, the matchups that they get you in, what you do defensively I think becomes an issue as well.

“I think we’re fortunate to have two tight ends on our roster that in the last four years of college football were pretty much the best two, and I think hopefully that creates issues. It’s going to create issues for us at practice, we’ll see that. In our division, we’ve got some really good tight ends, so it’ll be good reps for us as well.”

Man of few words

It will be something to watch how the Raiders use Bowers and Mayer. Line one up in the slot. At wide receiver. Keep them on the line. Put them in pairs. Which defensive position is across from them? It forces the other side to adjust.

Sure. It’s just a helmet and shorts for now. But there is no question about the fluidity Bowers owns. He showed such during rookie camp Friday. Much like when he was setting records at Georgia, his yards after catch should be more than noticeable.

“I’m not going to say much, but I’m going to go out there, do my job, and just do everything to my best abilities,” Bowers said. “I think that’s where I fit. I feel like they have a great culture already. So, I just can’t wait to meld in and just do my thing and just get to work.”

That’s never been an issue for him.

Just ask some former Georgia teammates.

Competed in every drill as it was his last.

It will play well — if not better — in the NFL.

Ed Graney, a Sigma Delta Chi Award winner for sports column writing, can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on X.

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