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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Undrafted DE Tashawn Bower making noise in battle for roster spot

By Matthew Coller

It didn’t take long for Tashawn Bower to show that his success in training camp could translate to the field.

Shortly after entering Thursday night’s preseason opener, the former LSU pass rusher sacked quarterback TJ Yates. Throughout the rest of the game, Bower consistently beat his man, picking up three quarterback hurries and the highest overall game grade from Pro Football Focus.

“That was a dream come true,” Bower said Sunday. “I dreamed my whole life of being able to do it, to play at the highest level. Getting an opportunity to go out there and show coaches what I can do was something I really enjoyed.”

The 6-foot-5, 250-pound defensive end had unimpressive college numbers in college, finishing his career with only 5.5 sacks. But something clicked for the Vikings’ rookie toward the end of 2016.

In the final regular season NCAA game, Bower played 73 of his total 338 season snaps and picked up three hits, four hurries and two stops. Then against Louisville in the Citrus Bowl, he sacked the quarterback three times.

At the NFL Combine, he posted the third best 60-yard shuttle among defensive ends, but Bower’s lack of experience and shortage of weight/power kept teams from picking him on draft day.

An NFC Scout told that Bower was, “long and athletic but he’s not very strong. He’s a developmental type who you hope can be unlocked by your position coach.”

According to the website, Bower’s weight was only in the 10th percentile and bench press in the 23rd, but his height, broad jump and 60-yard shuttle were all 75th percentile or above. In more simple terms: With added strength, he might have serious athletic potential, so the Vikings signed him.

Of course, there are shades of Danielle Hunter in Bower’s story. Hunter rarely sacked the quarterback in college, but quickly became one of the NFL’s elite edge rushers once he joined Mike Zimmer and defensive line coach Andre Patterson in Minnesota.

The two players’ athletic profiles are not that similar outside of height. Hunter’s profile compares closely to that of former No. 1 overall pick Jadaveon Clowney, while it’s hard to find a good NFL comparison for Bower’s NFL Combine results.

Still, Bower is learning what he can from Hunter’s quick rise and is trying to emulate Hunter’s pass rush moves because they have a similar body type.

“I know that we had the same coaches and he was here with [Andre Patterson] and they molded him into something special, he’s already a freak so I can’t wait to keep watching him and playing alongside him,” Bower said. “It was definitely something that was nice to have because I’ve been friends with [Hunter] for awhile. To have something that you know and can mentor you off the field is definitely a benefit.”

Last year, defensive lineman Tom Johnson explained that Hunter’s growth came from a change in philosophy from Patterson, who suggested that his lanky rusher get his hands on offensive linemen as he rushed rather than going around them.

“I’m trying to take all those techniques and angles that coach is teaching us and hope that it makes me just as successful,” Bower said.

The New Jersey native has a good chance to make the 53-man roster, but he’ll have to continue to perform in preseason games. The Vikings already have Everson Griffen, Hunter, Brian Robison and Stephen Weatherly locked into spots and drafted Ifeadi Odenigbo in the seventh round.

“The biggest thing is to take the coaching, take the technique and keep practicing it,” Bower said. “It’s going to take a bunch of repetition. A bunch of the stuff you learned in college, you’re going to have to get rid of that and take what the [Vikings’] coaches are teaching you or you’re not going to be successful.”

The post Undrafted DE Tashawn Bower making noise in battle for roster spot appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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