Ereck Flowers at left tacke in 2016 was not the plan for the New York Giants. In 2016? Maybe. Not, however, from the first snap of his NFL career. With Will Beatty out for several months with a torn pectoral muscle that, however, appears increasingly to be the Giants' reality. Let's look deeper at Flowers as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp.
2014 Season in Review
Started 12 games at left tackle for the Miami Hurricanes, earning second-team All-ACC honors. According to Pro Football Focus, Flowers gave up no sacks and just 10 pressures in 2014, third-lowest in the draft class. Flowers declared his eligibility for the NFL Draft after his junior season.
2015 Season Outlook
The road to success in the NFL is an often bumpy one for young tackles, even highly-drafted ones. We recently posted a study of offensive linemen drafted in the first round over the past five years, and the results provide a total mixed bag. From stars, to guys who took a while to develop into good players, to some guys who have completely flopped.
Where will Flowers end up on that scale? Having used the ninth overall pick on him, the Giants of course believe he will end up as one of the league's premier tackles. Perhaps, though, for our purposes here that isn't the right question. The question we need an answer to is can the 21-year-old be a functional, adequate left tackle as a rookie? It's a question we can't answer right now, obviously, but the ultimate answer is one upon which the Giants have a lot riding.
In his 2015 NFL Draft Guide, Dane Brugler of CBS Sports wrote that Flowers "could have used another year at the college level to clean up his mistakes and simmer a while longer in the crock pot," but that Flowers "possesses the hard-working preparation habits to adapt with NFL coaching."
Flowers will need those "hard-working preparation habits" because, as we know, he can forget simmering in the crock pot. Beatty's injury means he's pretty much first man up the ladder to fight a five-alarm fire.
Few players are finished products right out of college, and how quickly he can overcome flaws in his technique is the primary concern many have in regards to the 6-foot-6, 329-pound Flowers. As we have written previously, one offensive line coach even went so far as to say Flowers had "some of the worst technique I've ever seen in a player drafted that high."
Flowers seems to have the right attitude, both about outside criticism and his need to become a better player.
"Outside of this organization here and my coaches I really don't care what anybody else has to say. I go to meetings every day and I listen to what they tell me. That's the voices, them and my teammates are the ones that matter," Flowers said. "I've always been a person to always believe in myself. I'm out there every day trying to get better. I'm up for the challenge."
The quarterback Flowers is tasked with protecting, Eli Manning, likes the physical tools and the attitude he has seen from the rookie.
"He's big and strong and mean," Manning said early in OTAs. "He's got a good attitude and he wants to be a good player. Sometimes that's all you need."
Marshall Newhouse is starting at right tackle for the Giants now. Newhouse, a five-year veteran now on his third NFL team, said that everyone is "invested" in helping Flowers learn the ropes.
"You get here you learn a brand new system. Then not only that then he gets thrust into being a starter at that important of a position. Just managing the highs and lows and helping him be even keeled and working on something to improve every day. There's no one who's polished as a rookie," said Newhouse, who started 13 games for the Green Bay Packers as a rookie fifth-round pick in 2011. "You're going to make mistakes but you're also going to get some flash plays and it's about taking what I did right from those great plays, applying that on a consistent basis, taking what happened not so great on the bad plays and working to improve it so that stuff doesn't happen again.
"I'm here to be a guy who's made plenty of mistakes and had plenty of success. Just throwing my hat of experience into the ring. Whatever he wants to take he'll take and we'll go from there, but I think we're all very invested in helping him grow and be a good tackle. We see he has the tools."
The Giants can't expect Flowers to play at a Pro Bowl level as a rookie. They probably can't even expect him to play as well as Beatty did a season ago, when he allowed only three sacks and compiled a +13.0 Pro Football focus rating in 1,141 snaps. If his rookie season is more Taylor Lewan (+2.2 PFF score, four sacks allowed with the Tennessee Titans) than Jake Matthews (-36.8 PFF score, seven sacks, 44 pressures allowed with the Atlanta Falcons) the Giants will have to be happy with that.
During OTAs the Giants have often doubled up on Flowers' workload, giving him first-team and some of the second-team reps during 11-on-11 periods. The hope, of course, is to accelerate his learning curve.
"You can never stop getting better at what you do. There's a certain level you've got to be able to play at. I'm here to get better every day," Flowers said. "Whether I'm second, third or whatever string I'm trying to be the best I can be regardless of what happens. When he told me that (he would be at left tackle) it's the same thing I've been doing. Trying to get the film work in, trying to do the extra work.
"I've got a high ceiling. I'm trying to reach it."
The Giants can only hope that Flowers can make the climb quickly.