When word leaked out Friday night that the New York Giants were "close" to signing free-agent cornerback Zack Bowman -- formerly of the Chicago Bears -- the general reaction on Twitter was 'What? ANOTHER cornerback? Where is he going to play?'
Bowman, 29, is a six-year veteran who has started 23 of the 73 NFL games he has played in. He, quite obviously, doesn't have the pedigree that recent free-agent signees Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie or Walter Thurmond have. So, what gives? I reached out to Dane Noble, editor of SB Nation's Bears' web site, Windy City Gridiron, for thoughts on Bowman. In the end it's simple -- it comes down to special teams. Here is what Noble wrote:
Bowman is one of those players who had always done very well on special teams, but not quite enough on defense to keep a starting DB spot.
On special teams, he's a guy that is ALWAYS around the ball on kickoff and punt coverage... if his name isn't being called specifically for making the tackle, he's still a part of helping make that tackle happen.
On defense, he was always a solid backup, and had a few chances to lock down a starting position... Lovie Smith gave him a few chances to start and make some things happen, but that defense was so productive that Bowman couldn't quite rise to the level of play that everyone else was at. When inserted into the starting lineup due to injuries, he was serviceable, but just couldn't quite get over that hump of being an everyday guy.
His value definitely comes on ST's, and providing depth as a defensive back, but he can be a liability in the passing game when put on an island. In run support, he's good, and can thrive when part of a gang mentality.
Overall, I'd say he's a really good ST guy, and a solid depth player on defense.
Remember how awful the Giants were on special teams a year ago? They couldn't return the ball, a problem they hope to have solved with the additions of Trindon Holliday and Quintin Demps. They couldn't cover kicks, either, giving up three punt returns for touchdown and tying with the Redskins for last in the league in return yardage allowed with 655 yards surrendered.
Bowman, if he signs, would be a help in that department. The fact that he could do an adequate job at corner if needed due to injuries is a bonus.