KFFL.com NFL draft analyst Cory J. Bonini recently conducted the following interview with Clemson defensive end and 2011 NFL Draft prospect Da'Quan Bowers.
How is your knee feeling, and what do you have to say about people doubting your long-term health?
Cam Newton said it best: For everyone who doubts my skills or my health, it's just ammunition to the fire. I'm just storing that in the back of my mind, and when the time comes, I just want to prove everybody wrong.
A few NFL team executives have publicly given your knee a vote of confidence and have come to your defense, yet the rumors persist. Have you struggled at times to deal with all of the negativity?
Definitely not, because I don't read the paper, the Internet or anything like that. I just go about my life. I rehab and I work hard every day. That's all I've been working on ... getting in shape, getting ready for camp, getting ready for the team that I'm going to be playing with.
Have you reached out to any NFL players about the draft process? If so, what advice were you given?
I didn't ask anyone, because no one has been through this type of draft, with the lockout and everything that's going on. I go out there learning different things and am just waiting patiently for things to develop and go as it should go.
Looking back at your Pro Day, how do you feel you performed?
At my Pro Day, for me, it was an underachievement. I didn't get the numbers that I hoped for. I'm definitely faster than the 40 (-yard dash time) I put up. I'm definitely stronger and a better athlete than any of my numbers showed, but I did what I was supposed to do. I just wanted to prove to the coaches and the medical staffs that my knee can tolerate the pounding in April and that I'll be well and ready for August.
Tell me about your decision to enter the draft as a junior: Was it an easy decision, and have you had any doubts that you made the right choice?
I'm definitely positive that I made the right decision. I thought about it long and hard. I thought that I had developed, and my goal that I set for my college career was reached. The only thing I didn't get that I wanted was a championship, but I felt that I was ready to compete at the highest level, the NFL, so I put my name into the draft. I was given the opportunity, and I'm looking forward to it.
Some people question why you experienced such a large increase in statistical production in 2010. Explain what changed for you as a junior that enabled you to lead the nation in sacks.
I matured. I knew the defensive system, and I played within the system. I was a whole lot more into it than I was previously. I wasn't trying to make every play ... I wasn't trying to make every sack. I just did my job, and the when the plays came to me, I made them.
What aspect of your game do you feel like you need to improve the most?
Every aspect. There's not anything with my game that I can't improve ... from my pass rush to my run stop ... everything. I can always improve some part of my game.
You have the size and run-stopping skills to translate to a 3-4 defensive end. Do you think you could play the five-technique at a high level, and do you have a preference of defensive alignment?
I've had teams mention both of those positions. I can do either one. I can stand up and play linebacker, or I can play five-technique in a 3-4 scheme. It's just all about technique, and once you learn technique like I have learned it, you can pretty much play any spot out there.
I definitely have no preference.
Compare yourself to a past or current NFL player: Who would it be and why?
Julius Peppers. We got the same type of body build. He's a lot faster, a lot taller than me, but our bodies are built almost the exact same way.
Do you ever find yourself overwhelmed by the thought of being a high pick in the NFL draft?
No, it's not overwhelming. It gives you a chance to show what you're capable of doing and why you're capable of doing that. Being drafted as a high pick gives you the opportunity to show your skill set as soon as possible.
How do you relieve stress and spend your free time?
Playing music - playing my guitar - when I'm away from football, my guitar goes everywhere.
Do you play fantasy football?
I've never played fantasy football. I have heard about it, but I've never played it.
Once you get settled into your NFL career and have a little extra free time, do you think you would have any interest in it?
Probably so, once I'm settled with everything and have a little more free time.
Cory is KFFL's General Manager. In late 2002, he joined the KFFL staff as a research analyst and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1996. A member of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, as well as Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Bonini has been featured in print, on radio and on scores of websites. Bonini co-hosted Big Lead Sports on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio from 2011 to 2012.
Bonini was recognized with the 2010 Best Article in Print Award from the FSWA and was a finalist for the same award in 2011. In '11, he finished first overall in the FSWA NFL experts challenge that featured 60 of the industry's best competitors.