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Raiders have their own Swiss Army Knife in Lynn Bowden Jr.


Much like Randall Cobb before him, Lynn Bowden Jr. also played a lot of different positions at the University of Kentucky. The Las Vegas Raiders are hoping that will come in handy at the next level.


For the Kentucky Wildcats, Bowden took snaps at quarterback, running back, and at wide receiver. Las Vegas drafted Bowden with the hopes of him becoming a weapon for quarterback Derek Carr and the rest of their offense.

Lynn Bowden, we announced as running back,” Raiders general manager Mike Mayock said in a conference call. “Ultimately, he’ll probably be what we call a joker, which is what I love in [Head Coach] Jon [Gruden‘s] offense. It’s somebody who can do multiple jobs. But day one, he’s going to come in and be a running back. In the SEC two years ago, he caught 60- 70 passes as a slot.”


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Mayock continued, “Last year, as you guys know, he was quarterback/wildcat. He gained over 1,000 yards. We think he’s one of the more athletic, tougher guys in this year’s draft. We’re going to train him to be running back, if he’s able to do that job, we’ll be able to do some other things with him. Move him around, let him catch the football. He’s a really good punt returner. That will be his role originally.”

So what is the joker role? It is a player who is like a Swiss Army knife, a jack of all trades if you will. Players who are given the joker label can line up anywhere on the field. Often, they line up as an H-Back, but they can also be used as a traditional running back, as well as return kicks and punts on special teams.


The last time the Raiders had a player who lined up as a Joker H-Back was Marcel Reese, who was selected to four Pro Bowls. From 2010-15, Reese caught 203 passes for 1,995 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Raiders.

In his final season at Kentucky, Bowden began the season on the Fred Biletnikoff Award watch list, which is given to the most outstanding receiver in college football. However, after injuries to the Wildcats’ first and second-string quarterbacks, Bowden became Kentucky’s starting quarterbackBowden finished the season 6-2 as the Wildcats’ starting quarterback, and his 348 receiving yards for the season led the entire team.


Photo Credit: Chet White – UK Athletics

Despite position change, Bowden finished with 1,468 rushing yards, 30 receptions, and a combined 17 touchdowns (passing, rushing, and receiving). Bowden was also named the 2019 Belk Bowl MVP after rushing for 233 yards and two touchdowns against Virginia Tech. He also threw the game-winning touchdown in the 37-30 victory.

Even as he learns the NFL game in his rookie season, Bowden should be able to be a contributor on special teams. At Kentucky, Bowden averaged 22.9 on kick returns and 22.1 yards on limited punt return duties throughout his career.



“Whatever they need me to play,” Bowden said after he was selected in April’s draft. “I’m not set on one position. I’m trying to win as many games as we can, get the championship. Wherever [Head] Coach [Jon] Gruden wants me to play, that’s where I’m going to play.”

Las Vegas put a clear emphasis on drafting playmakers at the receiver position. Not only did they select Bowden at No. 80 overall, but they also drafted Henry Ruggs III at No. 12 overall and Bryan Edwards at No. 81 overall.

With the Kansas City Chiefs and their high powered offense, teams are searching for a way to add more weapons to their offense. Giving Raiders head coach Jon Gruden a versatile player like Bowden should not only take some pressure off Carr but also running back Josh Jacobs and the rest of the offense.

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-Antwan Staley – Franchise Sports Media

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