One thing we have learned under Jerry Reese is that the New York Giants big board does not always align with the main media's big board. In certain instances the Giants have gotten great perceived value (Prince Amukamara, Kenny Phillips), other times they have been right in line with expectations (Jason Pierre Paul, Hakeem Nicks), and of course there has been Justin Pugh.
The fact that the Giants have been hard to pinpoint leading up to the draft should give pause to anyone who thinks they know what the Giants have in store already. That's why we have been trying to look at a few out of the box options for the Giants with the No. 9 overall pick. Today we look at an offensive linemen who is not La'el Collins, Brandon Scherff, or Andrus Peat -- who seem like the most likely Giants offensive line targets.
I thought about whether or not to include any offensive linemen as dark-horse candidates because, truthfully, no one would be surprised if the Giants took an offensive linemen in the first round. I've decided, though, it might be surprising if they took a particular offensive linemen (and you could add D.J. Humphries or T.J. Clemmings to this last as well).
The only place I know Ereck Flowers has been mocked to the Giants this entire pre-draft process was once, by Newark Star Ledger's Jordan Ranaan, and I figured only one result out 100 qualifies as "dark-horse" material. But if you want you can call this "dark-horse candidate offensive lineman not named Brandon Scherff, La'el Collins or Andrus Peat."
Let's break down Flowers.
Flowers is a mammoth man who checks all the size requirements at 6-foot-6, 327 pounds, with 34.5-inch arms, and 9 7/8-inch hands. If the Giants are looking for a prototypical right tackle size to improve the run game, Flowers has that and then some. He hoisted 37 bench press reps up at the combine, which is great for a guy with his long arms (and the Giants have favored some guys who threw up a ton of reps -- Mitch Petrus is an example), and tops at the combine. His spider chart is incomplete, but his size and strength is comparable to players like Jake Long coming out of college.
Flowers is a mobile big man his size much like Cordy Glenn was coming out of college, and the massive Glenn has had a nice career in Buffalo where, despite, draftnik knocks everywhere he has stayed at left tackle for the Bills and played effectively (3.8 PFF score his rookie year, 19.6 PFF score last year, 6.5 PFF score this year). Bob Sturm wrte this about Flowers:
He is without question as mobile as I have ever seen from a prospect at that weight. His feet are not heavy and he has agility and mobility that you really have to admire. He is a massive man, but at times, he looks like he weighs 305 (and that is a compliment). He is a very strong, bully run-blocker who blinds you from the sun when Duke Johnson is running behind him into space. He moves to the 2nd level with ease and seldom loses on a run block at all. In pass protection, he isn’t bad at all. He looked comfortable in the games against Florida State and Nebraska, and even when he gets knocked off balance, he is able to recover and re-anchor his stance before his man can get around him. What is most impressive to me is his effectiveness as a Left Tackle against edge rushers, despite perhaps having some real technique deficiencies at this stage of his young career.
Flowers is also a young prospect who was a big-time high school recruit (the Giants have a few of those on their roster, though that could just be coincidental because big-time high school recruits end up at big-time programs and are just big-time players). He is also a true junior who has started the last two years and played all 12 games his freshman season. Flowers is a still rising prospect, the Giants have been fans of young prospects in the past because young prospects theoretically lack as much polish and have more potential, and I do think that is the case here with Flowers who has very high potential, especially if a team thinks he can be a starting left tackle. He should be able to come in immediately and provide a huge boost to the run game at right tackle.
Another interesting bit of information is that Mike Mayock has changed his positional rankings and moved Flowers up to No. 2, and Mayock is very plugged in. Before he was the face of NFL network and covered games and a myriad of other adventures Mayock had his own unique breakdowns, (in my opinion) since he has become so much more involved in everything he still breaks it down, but more of his rankings include input from his trusted sources around the league. It's why a number of players have jumped up right before the draft each of the past few years that ended up in the first round (*cough* Pugh *cough*). The fact that Flowers has jumped out of nowhere up to No. 2 is an indication that there are teams who really like him.
The Giants also sent a large contingent to visit Flowers at his pro day (along with other 'Canes) players, which could be indicative of their interest. In years past, when they were picking late in the first round the Giants weren't connected with players they ended up with, but the times they have picked in the top 15 (Pierre-Paul, Beckham Jr.), they have been very present throughout the pre-draft process. It could be that the Giants tried to mask interest in players they were hoping were available, but didn't want to let so many teams in front of them now they were interested in, but picking in the first half of the first round they could be thinking we'll show our interest there are only eight picks that can happen and we'll definitely get a guy we want. It is also important to note that Flowers did not hire an agent so if a team were interested in Flowers it would have to get in personal contact with him (like at his pro day or combine) to get his phone number.
Though most see Flowers as a RT, our own Invictus sees him as much more. And other things indicate that Flowers could be going earlier than expected. First is what former Bears scouting director Greg Gabriel said about Flowers:
Yet despite his notable athletic gifts, Flowers is still graded only as a late-first or second round prospect, mostly due to his technique.
as well as what Lance Zeirlein has said about him:
While they have different body types, Flowers will have some of the same strengths and flaws 2014 first-round pick Greg Robinson had coming in. Flowers has the size, feet and talent to be a very good left tackle, but he will be a work in progress unless he can eliminate some of the balance issues that could plague him.
All of these breakdowns of Flowers focus on his lack of refined pass-blocking footwork, but nobody can deny the enormous potential he has, and the quick left tackle feet with better than prototype size. Flowers has the potential to be a good left tackle if he corrects some techniques as a pass blocker, but he should be an immediate road-grading right tackle NOW. This could be exactly what the Giants are looking for. A dominating road-grading right tackle who has the ability to grow into a plus left tackle in time. While Brandon Scherff, La'el Collins, and Andrus Peat might be the favorites, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And the Giants might be willing to wait for Flowers to blossom.