Newest Raider ‘really shocked’ to be headed to Las Vegas

Joshua L. Jones-USA TODAY Sports
Georgia All-America tight end Brock Bowers became the Raiders' first-round pick at No. 13 in Thursday's NFL Draft in Detroit.

HENDERSON, Nevada — They quickly fell from the board. One after another. Six in the first 12. 

If you were the Las Vegas Raiders and you were hoping to select a quarterback Thursday when you picked 13th in the NFL Draft’s first round, you missed the boat.

All the good ones were already gone. Even Michael Penix Jr., the QB whose name was constantly being linked with Las Vegas, was off the board. He was taken at No. 8 by Atlanta, which had picked up veteran Kirk Cousins in the offseason.

So what did Tom Telesco, the Raiders’ first-year general manager do? 

He selected a tight end. Brock Bowers of Georgia.

Mind you, the Raiders need help on the offensive line. They need help in the secondary, specifically at cornerback. They have a good young tight end in Michael Mayer, who they took in the second round of last year’s draft. So if you’re a fan of the Silver and Black, you have every right to feel confused by this.

By the way, you’re not alone.

“I was really shocked,” Bowers said from his home in Napa, California, of being selected by the Raiders and was the only tight end taken in Thursday’s first round. “I wasn’t sure what was happening. I talked to them on the phone and at the (NFL) combine. But I didn’t expect this.

“When that phone call came from Las Vegas, I was juiced.”   

Telesco said Bowers was on the team’s radar and things on their draft board fell to where Bowers was their guy.

“We’re looking at more playmakers in all positions and all shapes and sizes,” said Telesco, who was responsible for the Raiders drafting a tight end in the first round for the first time since 1996 when they tabbed Rickey Dudley at No. 9 overall. “I think (Bowers) will help us there. He’s got natural football skills.

“He’s tough. To play tight end at Gorgia you have to be tough. You also face a lot of good defenders in the SEC. Our scouts do a greta amount of work. A player like Brock was a consensus guy.”

When asked if he tried to move up to get a quarterback, Telesco said: “We looked into it. But we really didn’t try particularly hard.”

I’m guessing coach Antonio Pierce lobbied hard for a DB. I’m also guessing a tight end wasn’t high on his priority list. But it now falls to him and his staff to coach Bowers up and integrate him into the NFL and get him to fit in with “The Raider Way.”

The Raiders have seven picks remaining, barring any trades. They pick at No. 44 in round two and No. 77 in round three on Friday, then have five additional selections Saturday in rounds 4-7. Maybe they fill their needs there. When you’re 8-9 and you missed the playoffs, you better address your deficiencies. 

“You always find guys who you thought would go in the first round,” Telesco said. “I’m sure teams will be looking to move up (in the second round). You have to be prepared for any scenario.”

In drafting Bowers, who is 6-foot-4 and weighs 240 pounds, they get a player with a winning pedigree. While he was with the Bulldogs, the program won 42 games and two national championships in 2021 and 2022. He had averaged 14.5 yards per catch in his three seasons with Georgia and had 175 receptions for 2,538 yards and 26 touchdowns.

He was a first team All-America and a first team Academic All-America. He was a two-time winner of the John Mackey Award which goes to the nation’s outstanding tight end. He didn’t play in Georgia’s 63-3 rout of Florida State in the Orange Bowl as he was nursing an ankle injury. He said he’s healthy and ready to go.

“I feel I can be used in a multitude of ways,” Bowers said. “At Georgia, they moved me around. I think I’m a hard worker and I work my butt off every day. I’m super competitive.”

Growing up in Napa, Bowers remembers watching the Raiders train in his hometown.

“I got an autograph from Derek Carr once,” he said. “That was pretty sweet. It’s cool how things have come full circle.”

The addition of Bowers gives quarterbacks Gardner Minshew and Aidan O’Connell yet another weapon to work with. He said he can’t wait to get on the field with Davante Adams, Jakobi Meyers, Mayer and the rest of the Raiders.

“I’m excited to be a piece of the offense,” he said. 

Getting the fans excited? That may take some work.