Las Vegas Raiders take Georgia tight end Brock Bowers with the 13th pick in the NFL draft

HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — Brock Bowers was in middle school in Napa, California, when the then-Oakland Raiders would hold training camp nearby.

He'd drop by to check out practice and once even got an autograph from quarterback Derek Carr.

Now Bowers is part of the Las Vegas Raiders, who selected the Georgia tight end in the first round of the NFL draft Thursday with the 13th pick.

“It's come full circle,” Bowers said from Napa.

This the second year in a row the Raiders have taken a tight end high. Las Vegas traded up last year to take Notre Dame's Michael Mayer in the second round with the 35th overall pick. Mayer caught 27 passes for 304 yards and two touchdowns last season.

“We love Michael Mayer,” Raiders general manager Tom Telesco said. “He’s a really good player. He’s going to take another big jump this year. But we got a chance to add another dimension to the offense, whether it’s a tight end, a hybrid receiver, whatever it is. We need more playmakers on that side of the ball.”

Bowers was the first player to win the John Mackey Award as the nation's top tight end in consecutive seasons after recording 56 receptions for 714 yards and six TDs.

He said he had limited contact with the Raiders, mostly at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis and “a little over the phone," so Las Vegas wasn't among his expected destinations.

“I was really shocked," Bowers said. "I wasn't sure what was happening. When the call came up and said Las Vegas, I was juiced.”

Georgia used Bowers all over the field, even lining him up in the backfield or in the slot.

“I think it’s fun to move all around the field," Bowers said. "I hope it continues, but whatever they call for me to do, I’ll do it to the best of my ability.”

Telesco said he also liked Bowers' ability to block.

“When you play at Georgia, you have to be able to block, and in the SEC, he's playing against some real defenders,” Telesco said.

Who will be throwing Bowers passes remains to be seen. Aidan O'Connell is the incumbent starter, but the Raiders signed Gardner Minshew in the offseason. Their hopes for a franchise quarterback were likely dashed when six QBs were taken among the first 12 picks.

Telesco said he wasn't surprised by the run on quarterbacks, and that he didn't seriously consider trading up.

“We figured it could be a lot of quarterbacks going early just by looking at the needs of who was there,” Telesco said. “We figured somebody may come down that maybe usually wouldn't. We didn't know who it would be, but the fact it was somebody that could really make some plays on the offensive side of the ball was helpful.”

This is Las Vegas' first draft under coach Antonio Pierce and Telesco, who are trying to turn around a team that went 8-9 last season. Pierce took over as interim coach in the second half of the season after coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler were fired, and the Raiders went 5-4 under his watch.

After being rewarded with the full-time job, Pierce made no secret that he wanted a long-term answer at quarterback. The Raiders could take a QB later in the draft such as South Carolina's Spencer Rattler or Tulane's Michael Pratt.

The Raiders have other areas of need to address as well, such as the right side of the offensive line, defensive tackle and cornerback.