DRAE BOWLES, 6-1, 205 WR JACKSON, TN. [JACKSON CHRISTIAN HS]
Ratings: Rivals 4* wide receiver No. 127 overall player No. 3 player in Tennessee, Scout 3* No. 48 wide receiver, ESPN 4* No. 15 wide receiver No. 101 overall player No. 2 in Tennessee, 247 4* No. 25 wide receiver No. 212 overall No. 4 in Tennessee. Chose UT over Vanderbilt, Auburn, Arkansas, Cal, Cincinnati, Duke, Kentucky, Louisville, Maryland, Michigan, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Missouri, North Carolina, Notre Dame and others.
STRENGTHS: Bowles is an in-state kid who wanted to come to Tennessee, committed early and never wavered through the process, even when Charlie Baggett was let go. That's a strength to me, but it's just one of many for Bowles. He is very physical and has a nice size-speed combo. He is so strong that some coaches wanted him to be a safety or linebacker on the next level. He has nice speed for his size and perhaps his best trait is his stick-em hands. He is very thick and has a great frame. He's going to be a real good one before his days are done. He really showed out at the U.S. Army All-America game, and though he isn't flashy, he is simply a quality all-around talent.
NEEDS WORK: We talked about him having good speed for his size, and 4.5 certainly qualifies, but he isn't the greatest route runner with that speed. He needs to learn to be quicker to get where he's going on timing routes, but he really didn't have to in high school. His school also didn't throw too much this past year, so he's going to be a bit rusty.
CREDENTIALS: Participant in the prestigious U.S. Army All-America game, drew rave reviews throughout the week almost to the same level as five-star Stefon Diggs. Even though his team didn't throw a lot this year, Bowles was still an All-State selection for the second time. As a junior, he had 58 catches for 1,102 yards and eight touchdowns. This season, he finished with 31 catches for 519 yards and five touchdowns. As a junior, he also had 57 tackles with five sacks and three interceptions. He made the Mobile Press-Register's top 150 prospects in the Southeast. He had 14 total touchdowns as a junior, played all over the field and made exceptional grades.
OPTIMISTIC CEILING: When I watched Bowles' film, he reminded me of somebody in particular. I hate throwing names around out there like this, but when I saw that ESPN reminded them of this guy, too, I thought, "Well, maybe he really can be that good." That guy is Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant. The comparison is certainly one to watch for, and Bowles has incredible hands like Bryant -- without the baggage. Rivals says Bowles reminds them of Mike Wallace, but he isn't a burner like Wallace. I think Bowles can compete for playing time immediate -- though he probably won't have to -- and he'll certainly be a starter and a major contributor for several years at UT. I think he'll play in the NFL someday, too.