Thursday, March 03, 2011
Position: Defensive End
Size: 6'5, 304
Age: 27, 3/28/84
Drafted: Undrafted 2006
Experience: 5 Seasons
Salary History and Contract Status - 2011: Cowboys extended second-round restricted free agent tender to DEs Stephen Bowen and he is subject to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
2006 Draft Profile:Tied-27th rated DE in 2006 draft - Stephen Bowen - Hofstra - 6'4 - 275 - 4.87 - Second-team All-Conference selection as a senior after totaling 48/11/5.5. Junior numbers included 68/8/3. Quick, leverage lineman with ability in pursuit. Plays with exceptional pad level, immediately alters his angle of attack or changes direction. Fast in any direction of the field. Plays with good balance and body control. Lacks bulk, strength and can be handled at the point by opposing tight ends. Must improve his hand technique and protect himself better. Flashing ability, Bowen is a defender with an inconsistent motor. More was expected of him last year, and he presently sits as a low-level free-agent prospect.
Pre-2010: The 2006 Dallas Cowboys draft is often considered to be one of the weakest in franchise history. Bobby Carpenter in the 1st Round, Anthony Fasano in the 2nd (who they basically gave away), Jason Hatcher in the 3rd, and a collection of Sylar Green, Montavious Stanley, and Pat McQuistan types. Certainly, in the final draft of Bill Parcells, the Cowboys seemed to really hit a cold streak. But, if you are to blame the personnel types for the draft, we must also consider the fact and give credit in that the Cowboys found 3 players off the street as undrafted Free Agents in April 2006 that are still with the team. Stephen Bowen, Sam Hurd, and of course, Miles Austin seem to completely replace a lousy draft class with very useful roster parts and one Pro Bowl player in Austin. Bowen was surely not expected to outperform Hatcher over the next 5 years, but I would suggest that has happened. But, it did not happen overnight as he first was released, then signed to the practice squad in 2006, and slowly ushered along. 223 snaps in 2008, 484 snaps in 2009, and then 552 in 2010 according to ProFootballFocus.com.
2010: In 2010, Spears missed training camp and the first idea was to give that defensive end starting spot to Jason Hatcher. But, it was soon clear that this was not going to work as Hatcher just did not step up and handle the run downs to their liking. Bowen was already a sure thing as a nickel defense rusher and has always put up results. His ability to rush the passer was never enough to leap off the screen on a consistent basis, but he was always getting results. In 2010, he had 33 disruption plays on pass rushes with 27 pressures, 4 hits, and 2 sacks. (17/7/3 in 2009). But, when Spears was hurt in Green Bay, Bowen stepped in to play on 1st and 2nd Down, as well. He is certainly not the run stopper that Spears was, but his complete game was such that the Cowboys did not really lose anything and he is also not a liability against the run. I believe all parties were pretty happily surprised that Bowen was able to step in and hold his own and at times out perform Spears in replacing him.
2011 Analysis: The problem with developmental players is that by the time they are ready to contribute as regulars, they also need a contract. That is why Tony Romo and Miles Austin received contracts with a rather small body of work. In the NFL, free agency comes in year 5 whether you have been playing him or not. With the labor situation, the Cowboys are uncertain about how much he is going to cost, but it would seem rather unlikely to lose him for 2011 after they placed the FA tender on him. Clearly, the object for the offseason is to add a DE early in the draft who can do everything well from day 1. Once they get that player, they don't have to continue this merry-go-round of DEs who can only do a few things well. Bowen is a very nice situational DE and likely a marginal starter. I would love to have him back, but I would be careful of asking him to do too much. Losing Spears is likely, and the prospect of having Igor Olshansky and Bowen as your two DE starters would not scare the league. Bowen is quite useful, but the Cowboys need to focus on adding to this position this offseason.