NFL Draft 2020: Raiders add Kentucky receiver Lynn Bowden Jr., reportedly plan to convert him to running back

To say the Las Vegas Raiders have prioritized playmakers in the 2020 NFL Draft would be to understate what Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock have done since Thursday night. First came speedster Henry Ruggs III at No. 12 overall. South Carolina big man Bryan Edwards also joined the team’s wide receiver corps on Day 2. But it was the Raiders’ third pick, exactly one selection before Edwards, at No. 80 overall, where things really got interesting: Las Vegas drafted Kentucky wideout Lynn Bowden Jr., and not only that, but seemingly converted the Wildcats’ 2019 emergency quarterback to running back.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced Bowden as a RB upon the Raiders selecting the 22-year-old athlete, and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport has since reported Las Vegas does, in fact, plan to use the rookie in the backfield to start his career.

Bowden went to Kentucky after starring at QB in high school, then spent most of his Wildcats career catching passes in addition to serving as a return specialist — and then returning to QB for seven starts in 2019 after Kentucky’s top two passers suffered injuries. 

But it shouldn’t be a surprise the Raiders want to make him a true utility man by plugging him in alongside a more prototypical ball-carrier in Josh Jacobs. Mayock spoke at February’s scouting combine about targeting “dynamic players” who didn’t necessarily have a specific label — athletes with the potential to line up at RB, H-back and just about every other offensive position. Bowden himself told CBS Sports’ Josh Edwards ahead of the draft that “a lot of teams see me as playing everything, not just receiver.”

There may be questions about whether the Raiders have even one quarterback capable of spreading the ball to all of the team’s new weapons, but there should be little doubt about Bowden’s ability to open up an offense at the next level.

“He is incredibly elusive in space,” Edwards explains. “When he was moved to quarterback, teams knew that he was going to be running the football but they still could not stop him. He does not possess top-end speed, but that will not stop him from making plays. He offers versatility as a return man as well. Antwaan Randle El and Randall Cobb are a few really good comparisons for him.”

As for whether Las Vegas’ plan to start him at RB is feasible and/or sustainable?

“I think they’ll move him around,” says Edwards. “He won’t exclusively be at RB or WR. I think he could have success at RB, though, because of his patience and elusiveness.”

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