Height/Weight: 6'1", 232 lbs
Projected 40 Time: 4.6-4.7 sec
2009 Penn State Stats:93 tackles (52 solo), 17-60 TFL, Sacks 3.0-15, 2 INT, 2 FR
Short Bio: Penn State fans got their first look at Navorro Bowman as a redshirt freshman on special teams in 2007. It was quickly evident that Bowman was a physical player with speed and tenacity in pursuing the ball and bringing down the ball carrier. In limited duty due to a stacked depth chart with upper classmen like Dan Connor and Sean Lee, Bowman managed 16 tackles to go with a sack and 2.5 TFL. His season was cut short by a few games after he was involved in an on campus altercation and suspended from the team for the rest of the 2007 season.
Bowman returned in 2008, and thanks to a depleted linebacker unit from Connor's graduation and Sean Lee's knee injury, Bowman got the chance to start in week four of the season and never looked back. Though many don't remember, Bowman had a significant role in Penn State's biggest win of the year against Ohio State. Everyone remembers Mark Rubin knocking the ball out of the hands of Terrelle Pryor on a 3rd and 1 quarterback sneak. But as the ball was bouncing around out of control with bodies flying everywhere, it was Bowman who jumped in the pile to cradle the ball giving Penn State the huge momentum swing that propelled them to victory. He went on that season to lead the team in tackles with 106, and recorded 17.5 TFL, 4.0 sacks, and 1 INT to go with it. His efforts earned him First Team All-Big Ten honors from the media and coaches. But the day before the Rose Bowl against USC, tragedy struck when Bowman's high school coach and long-time friend, Nick Lynch, died unexpectedly in an automobile accident. Coupled with the fact his father died a few months earlier it was a devastating blow to Navorro. With a heavy heart, Bowman played in the Rose Bowl, and though Penn State didn't win, he had a monster game with eight tackles and five TFL.
The 2009 season started off slow for Bowman as he faught off a nagging groin injury. After missing two of the first three games completely, it really wasn't until midway through the season when he was back to playing full speed. Still, he finished second on the team with 93 tackles to go with 4 sacks and 17 TFL. For the second year in the row Bowman was named to the All-Big Ten first team.
Strengths: Many people compare Bowman to former Penn State linebacker LaVar Arrington. Though he may not be as physically gifted as Arrington, he's pretty close. The big difference is that where Arrington relied almost solely on his physical ability to react to the play, Bowman is more calculating in anticipating the play. He has the rare combination of explosiveness to go with good instincts. He's an extremely effective run stopper that wraps up the ball carrier and stops them dead in their tracks. He can also drop back into coverage quickly. Bowman is extremely physical at the point of attack and holds his ground against bigger blockers. His exceptional lateral movement allows him to cover the entire field, and he has a knack for making the big play as evidenced by his three career interceptions and three forced fumbles.
Weaknesses: At 6'1" and 232 lbs he might be a bit undersized. I said he holds his ground against bigger blockers, but he has trouble shedding them off. He can read and attack running plays with the best of them and prefers to slice through the line to make a play. He's a bit slow in the pass rush. When a lineman is coming at him he can use his quick lateral movement coupled with the inertia of the offensive lineman to get around him and make a play, but when the offensive lineman is in a pass protection stance Bowman has trouble getting around them, and his smaller size renders bull rushes ineffective.
There's also the matter of his off the field issues. Since all you get from the NFL draft gurus is that Bowman has "character issues", I'll go into some detail here. The 2007 altercation on campus could almost be explained away as boys being boys. It was a classic he-said-she-said-let's-throw-down-in-the-alley deal. If it were just that, there probably wouldn't be an issue here, but Bowman was part of a larger pack of players creating trouble that night, and of all the boneheads, he was perhaps the biggest beating another kid senseless. And this was just six months after the famous spring of 2007 apartment fight incident (of which Bowman was never specifically mentioned as being a part of) when you think the players would have learned their lesson. Bowman was suspended for the last two games of the 2007 season and did not travel with the team to the bowl game.
He was dragged into court and put on probation, but in the spring of 2009 he was brought back into court for not living up to the conditions of that probation. At that time he admitted to having smoked marijuana in violation of his probation, and the probation officer accused him of not doing any of his assigned community service. Bowman explained he was going through a tough time after the loss of his father and football coach, and relapsed into his old habits when he went home to Baltimore during winter break and hung out with his old friends. He claimed the probation office never contacted him or gave him any instructions, but he pointed out he had done a considerable amount of charity work in relation to the football team and asked the court to take it into consideration. The court was sympathetic to his case, and he was let off with a stern warning. Joe Paterno also had sympathy on Bowman and did not feel like the probation violation warranted any punishment from the football team standpoint.
NFL Draft Projection: Bowman could possibly sneak into the late part of the first round, but more likely he should be a mid to late second round player.