In retrospect, I should have seen the New York Giants' selection of offensive tackle Ereck Flowers in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft on Thursday night from a mile away. Especially after the Washington Redskins selected Brandon Scherff it should have been obvious that if the Giants took an offensive lineman at No. 9 Flowers would be the guy.
Jerry Reese and the Giants have always loved measurables. Flowers has them in spades. They have always loved size and athleticism, the physical profile of what they like being something they value highly. Flowers checks those boxes, much more so than the probably more polished Andrus Peat. Flowers checks off the character box, as well. He also checks off one other box, and it is the one that most people who are not convinced this was the right move for the Giants point to. Flowers is very young, very raw, very much a work in progress. He is a project, maybe more of one than you might like to take on with the ninth pick. It wouldn't be a shocker if Flowers struggles mightily at the beginning as he tries to adjust to the right side and work through some of the technique issues analysts have pointed to.
[Related: Big Blue View staffers grade the pick]
So, what box does all of that check off? It checks off the 'draft for the long term' box. It is what the Giants did when they drafted Jason Pierre-Paul and it's what they try to do whenever they can. They draft a player because of what they think he can be, not necessarily because of what he might be today. Having missed the playoffs three straight seasons and entering a "win or else" year where coach Tom Coughlin faces pressure to win in order to keep his job it was fair to wonder if the Giants would abandon the 'draft for the long term' idea and focus more on the now. Picking Peat would have done that. Picking Flowers shows that the Giants are sticking to their core beliefs.
Here is Giants VP of Player Evaluation Marc Ross on Flowers:
"He is a man-child physically. He is gigantic. He has long arms. He just turned 21 on Saturday. Super productive against the highest level of competition there, the Florida States and the Nebraskas. He is a good player who is just scratching the surface of how good he can be. ...
"The guy is 20. They all have technique flaws. Nobody is ready-made to play in the NFL. Even fourth- or fifth-year seniors. They all can improve. He is just learning to play, but even with technique flaws, the guy was a productive and dominant player at times. ... A franchise left tackle is a rare commodity. There are not many of those guys around the league and we think this guy has the ability, the upside, the potential, the toughness, the smarts and the competitiveness to be a franchise left tackle for us."
Reese said Thursday that "we think he can be a long time tackle for the New York Giants ... we think it's all upside with him."
Reese also said on Thursday that Flowers "fits the offensive profile" that the Giants like.
Could the Giants have done something safer? Peat would have been safer in terms of his readiness for the NFL. Maybe defensive tackle Danny Shelton or even cornerback Trae Waynes would have been safer. But the Giants are banking on what Flowers will be for them in the long run. It is the way they have always done things under Reese, so it should hardly be a surprise.
Now, all we can do is sit back, watch how Flowers progresses and see if the Giants end up being right.