Hiring Shane Waldron could prime the Bears to look at Brock Bowers in the 2024 NFL draft
University of Georgia’s star tight end Brock Bowers could be a target for the Chicago Bears. With the 9th pick in the 2024 NFL draft, the Bears are in a position to draft an offensive weapon.
Brock Bowers is the definition of an offensive weapon.
The possibility of the Bears drafting Bowers has become more prevalent in online discussions in recent days. After the Bears hired Shane Waldron, these discussions took off. This is because Brock Bowers would help the Bears more effectively run some of Waldron’s most effective formations.
How the Waldron scheme pushes the Bears towards Bowers
During his time in Seattle, Waldron showed a fondness towards 12 and 13 personnel packages, which involve 2 and 3 tight ends respectively.
Here is a brief description of 12 personnel and why NFL offenses utilize it:
12 personnel means that there is one running back, two tight ends, and two receivers on the field. Having two tight ends gives the offense flexibility in both the run and pass game. Defenses are often forced to match the bigger offensive personnel with larger linebackers. Moving two tight ends around the formation can also help set the strength of the defense and overload one side of the field — especially with quick shifts or motions.
Here is a visualization of 12 Personnel:
Seattle found a lot of success out of 12 personnel packages thanks to the mismatches it creates. Another strength of the formation is its flexibility as either a run or pass formation. Based on it’s frequent success in Seattle, it is very likely that Waldron brings his 12 and 13 personnel sets with him to Chicago.
Which brings us to the topic of this article, Brock Bowers. Because of Waldron’s heavy use of 12 and 13 personnel, the Bears might be interested in drafting Brock Bowers with the 9th pick. These sets require multiple tight ends that can be good at blocking and receiving, both are aspects Bowers shines in.
Brock Bowers in one of the best tight end prospects of all time
During his time at Georgia, Brock Bowers proved that every facet of his game is elite. From catching passes to run and pass blocking, Bowers can do it all at a high level. ESPN Senior Writer Mark Schlabach provided some statistical context to the claims of Bowers greatness.
Brock Bowers’ importance in Georgia’s offense can’t be overstated. He leads the team with 41 receptions for 567 yards, ranking second among FBS tight ends in both statistics, with four touchdown receptions (and one more rushing). He has only two drops in 52 targets. On top of that, he’s one of the best blockers in the game.
Bowers isn’t a typical tight end in the open field, either. He is No. 1 among tight ends and No. 4 among all FBS players with 415 yards after contact. Bowers has 16 catches in which he’s made defenders miss tackles, which is fourth among all FBS players and twice as many as any other tight end.
12 personnel is what the University of Georgia’s offense has been built around for the past few years. Brock Bowers is already very experienced with 12 personnel and pre-snap motion, both of which are staples of Waldron’s offense.
Bowers would a strong choice at number 9.
Perhaps instead of Bowers, the Bears may be interested in drafting one of the many first round worthy receivers with the 9th pick. In that case there are a handful of free agent tight ends that the Bears could target.
Free Agent tight end targets for the Bears if they pass on Brock Bowers
Below are three of the available free agent tight ends the Bears could look at. Each have their own unique strengths, but they were primarily selected with route running and pass catching in mind.
Tonyan is the least attractive of the 3 options provided. Primarily because he is more of a receiver than a tight end. Waldron’s scheme thrives on multi-faceted tight ends who can catch passes and block well.
Tonyan spent the 2023 with the Bears, playing in 17 games. In 2023, Tonyan caught 11 of his 17 targets for 112 yards. Tonyan may not jump off the page as a top tight end, especially after his 2023 season. In his defense he was severely under utilized in Luke Getsy’s offense. He did also drop some critical passes, especially versus Cleveland.
Something also worth noting is that straight up blocking is not a strong suit for Tonyan. He has gotten slightly better at blocking in his career but not significantly enough to wow.
Tonyan could find a space and resurgence within the offense under Shane Waldron. The Illinois native is only 29-years-old and can easily still be an effective tight end in the NFL.
Tonyan will be a free agent heading into the 2024 offseason. The Bears will have to resign him if they want him back. If the Bears can get him back on a team friendly deal he may be worth keeping.
Seahawks tight end Noah Fant would be a solid free agent pickup. Fant is already familiar with Waldron’s offense and was successful in executing it.
In 2 seasons in Seattle, Fant caught 82 of 100 targets for 900 yards and 4 touchdowns. Fant is only 26-years-old and could be a longer term option for the Bears number two tight end position.
Fant, a former first round pick, has also significantly improved his blocking skills in the last two seasons.
Schultz spent one year with the Huston Texans, catching 59 of his 88 targets for 635 yards and 5 touchdowns. Dalton Schultz is only 27-years-old and has room for even more improvement. He is also a solid run blocker, earning the sixth highest grade among qualified tight ends in 2022.
Schultz is best utilized as a receiving threat down the field, but can block well when asked to do so. Schultz is projected to be more on the expensive side than the other two TE’s. Spotrac.com predicts his market value is around $11 million per year.
All three of these tight ends are decent fits for Waldron’s scheme on paper. There is much more to evaluating a players place on an NFL roster than stats, but stats are a good start.
At the end of the day, there are many strong options for the Bears in free-agency as far as tight ends go. In that case if they decide to invest in wide receiver with the 9th pick instead of Brock Bowers, the Bears will still have opportunities to get a solid TE 2.
Unlimited possibilities lay ahead
The Bears have a once in a lifetime draft ahead of them. Two top 10 draft picks is not a very common occurrence. Ryan Poles has the chance to get his hands on two first round players. All thanks to a fantastic trade he made with the Panthers a year ago.
The amount of directions the Bears could go in during the 2024 NFL draft makes them dangerous. Other teams may have no intel on what the Bears really plan on doing. Which makes the Bears powerful in the potential trade market.
There may be teams desperate to trade up in the draft to get either a QB or receiver. Ryan Poles is in a power position to make demands if another team calls about a trade. He could trade a pick for a king’s ransom, or he could draft two highly touted players, including a QB, Brock Bowers or a premier wideout like Marvin Harrison Jr.
The argument is there that Brock Bowers could fall to the Bears at 9. He could be a good target for the Bears if Ryan Poles decides to spend big money on receivers in free agency. The Bears need heavy investment in the wide receiver department, regardless of what happens.
The good news about Brock Bowers is that he is about as good of a receiving tight end as anyone has seen. And he can help run Shane Waldron’s offense more effectively. Bowers would be a fantastic receiving option for whoever the Bears quarterback is in 2024.
Ryan Poles has his work cut out for him in the 2024 NFL draft. Poles pulled off a solid 2023 draft that paid dividends for the Bears. Ryan Poles proved he is definitely up for the challenge of turning the Bears around.
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