NFL Draft: Raiders don't get a 1st-round QB, but get elite TE prospect Brock Bowers

The tight ends for the teams in the NFL's conference championship games last season were Mark Andrews, Travis Kelce, George Kittle and Sam LaPorta. It's arguable those are the four best tight ends in the NFL.

Those tight ends weren't the only reason their teams made the NFL's final four, of course. But it shows the impact having a top tight end can have.

Georgia tight end Brock Bowers had one of the most productive careers of any tight end in college football history. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, File)

In this year's NFL Draft class, there was only one tight end that was considered a potential star: Georgia's Brock Bowers, who went to the Las Vegas Raiders with the 13th overall pick. It might have felt like a concession after the quarterback-needy Raiders saw six quarterbacks go in the top 12 picks, but they do come away with one of the most accomplished college tight ends ever.

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If Bowers is as good as his college career indicates he can be, he can have a huge impact right away.

Last season, LaPorta helped give a big boost to the Detroit Lions' offense. He had 889 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was a big reason the Lions ended up in the NFC championship game.

It's rare for a tight end to make that type of impact as a rookie, but a lot will be expected from Bowers.

Bowers won the John Mackey Award, given to the best tight end in college football, in 2022 and again in 2023. He's the first two-time winner of that award. And 2021 might have been Bowers' best college season, when he had 882 yards and 13 touchdowns. He had 13 touchdowns in 2022 and 2023 combined.

No matter the stat, Bowers excelled and did so on a highly successful Georgia team in the tough SEC. He isn't a great blocker, but he projected as a versatile piece for any NFL team in the passing game. Only two tight ends, Mike Ditka and Kyle Pitts, had 1,000 yards as a rookie. It will be tough for Bowers to reach that mark, but he has the talent to make a run at it.

Georgia logoGeorgia logo
Brock Bowers
2023 - 2024 season

Having a top tight end is a valuable asset in the NFL. And Bowers has a shot to be one of the best in the league. The Raiders just need to figure out who will be throwing him the ball over the long term.

Some team was going to lose at the game of quarterback musical chairs in the draft. When the Atlanta Falcons surprised everyone by taking Michael Penix Jr. with the eighth overall pick, that made the squeeze even tighter.

Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels and Drake Maye went with the first three picks. After that, Penix went eighth, J.J. McCarthy went 10th and Bo Nix went 12th, one pick before the Raiders went on the clock. The Raiders probably didn't assume all six quarterbacks would be gone by the time they were up at No. 13 overall, but they had to adjust.

The Raiders signed Gardner Minshew II in the offseason, and unless Las Vegas has some big plans for the rest of the offseason, he'll likely be their short-term starter until the team figures out a more permanent solution. The good news is that whenever that quarterback of the future arrives, he'll have a very talented tight end to throw to.