It wasn’t that long ago that the tight end as a concept seemed to be well on its way to becoming a casualty of the spread revolution, doomed for the endangered species list alongside its obsolete cousin, the fullback. What’s happened instead is that “tight ends” have gradually adapted to their new habitat by evolving into full-service athletes who are shockingly comfortable in space without sacrificing any of their traditional bulk. And no one playing the position right now is a more highly evolved athlete than Brock Bowers.
… If anything, though, Georgia’s offense is even more committed to blurring exactly where on the depth chart he belongs. The “tight” part is increasingly arbitrary: Through 3 games, Bowers has lined up wide or in the slot on 62.9% of his offensive snaps, per Pro Football Focus, up from 53.4% last year. (Compare that to the quintessential SEC “move” tight end of the past few years, Kyle Pitts, who lined up in a conventional inline or H-back position on nearly two-thirds of his snaps in 2020. Or to Washington, a much bigger presence at 6-7/270, who has played almost exactly the same number of snaps as Bowers this season but lines up tight nearly three-fourths of the time.)
If we’re really being accurate, he’s more like an all-purpose weapon whose versatility allows OC Todd Monken to deploy him as needed without conceding size or play-making juice — a reliable blocker on the perimeter, a dynamic YAC threat on screens and reverses, a size/speed mismatch from just about anywhere, all in one player.
Yes, Bowers is a special, maybe even unique, talent who’s going to make any OC look good (well, maybe not Paul Johnson). But there’s something wild about seeing Georgia discussed as a cutting edge offensive power. I’m old enough to remember regularly mocking the annual promise in Athens to involve the tight ends in the offense more. It’s not a joke anymore.