Napa’s Brock Bowers goes to the Raiders in first round, No. 13 overall

Brock Bowers is surprised to be headed for Las Vegas.

The former Napa High star and three-time All-American from Georgia was drafted Thursday night by the Raiders at No. 13 overall in the NFL Draft.

The Raiders’ intent was kept pretty much under wraps.

“I was shocked,” Bowers told reporters. “I wasn’t really sure what was happening. But when that phone call came in I was juiced.”

Bowers was the John Mackey Award for the last two years as the best tight end in college football, and joins a franchise that included such luminaries at the position as Hall of Famer Dave Casper, Todd Christensen and Raymond Chester.

While attending Redwood Middle School in Napa — the former site of Raiders training camp — Bowers would watch practice on occasion and said he once got quarterback Derek Carr’s autograph.

“It’s come full circle,” Bowers said.

In three seasons at Georgia, Bowers caught 175 passes for 2,538 yards for a 14.5 yards per catch average and three touchdowns. He is the first selection under new general manager Tom Telesco and coach Antonio Pierce.

Bowers was the 13th consecutive offensive player selected in the first round, with no defenders chosen until UCLA edge rusher Laiatu Latu of UCLA going at No. 15 to Indianapolis. There had never been more than seven offensive players picked consecutively in any previous draft.

When Bowers enrolled as a Napa High freshman, he was a 5-foot-11 option quarterback. By the time he was a sophomore, Bowers had 42 receptions for 620 yards and seven touchdowns and then exploded with video game numbers as a junior with 39 receptions for 1,098 yards and 14 touchdowns plus 316 yards rushing. Bowers’ senior season in 2020 was canceled because of the pandemic.

The Raiders, 8-9 last season, had just two touchdowns from the tight end position in 2023. Both came from Michael Mayer, who had 27 receptions for 304 yards in 14 games with 12 starts. Austin Hooper played in all 17 games at tight end with 25 receptions for 234 yards in 17 games with nine starts.

Bowers 6-foot-3, 241 pounds, is the first tight end drafted by the Raiders in the first round since Rickey Dudley went No. 9 overall out of Ohio State in 1996.

Regarded mostly as a receiving tight end, Bowers isn’t projected to get much bigger than 250 pounds but has the speed and athleticism to line up in the slot to create mismatches against defensive backs.

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