2015 NFL Draft Preview: OL Ereck Flowers
No one is doubting Ereck Flowers' toughness. The junior coming out of the storied Miami Hurricanes program has, time and time again, shown many of the ferocious qualities of his college's mascot. When he sustained a knee injury last season, he missed just one game (the only scratch of his career), battling back to compete against the rival Florida State Seminoles. Add to that his sheer size and strength; his 6'6" and 329 pounds frame put up 37 reps at the combine, tops among all offensive linemen. And this is to say nothing of Flowers' play on the field, where he has stifled top defensive prospects all season long with physically dominant run-blocking.
Yet despite his notable athletic gifts, Flowers is still graded only as a late-first or second round prospect, mostly due to his technique. After minimal contributions at right tackle his freshman year, he spent the remainder of his career on the left side, and although he mostly found success, he had issues with holding penalties (six in two seasons) and terrible performances (contributing to Virginia's four QB sacks this season). As overwhelming as his physical presence is, it is sometimes neutralized by his poor footwork and slow start off of the snap, which can lead to poor balance. And although he is generally poised off the field, he had an issue with a skirmish against Nebraska.
So yes, Flowers has some issues to work out. However, his issues are the correctable type, and his gifts, such as size and aggression, are the types that can't be taught. He is the definition of a raw prospect, one with all the physical gifts to succeed, but who must hone his craft. And if recent history is any indication, teams place a premium on offensive linemen. With at least four tackles taken in the first round of the last two drafts, it would be surprising not to hear Flowers' name called on the first day of the 2015 draft.
Given the importance of protecting the quarterback, every team could use a powerful, aggressive tackle like Flowers. However, he would maximize his potential with a coaching staff who could teach him the technique he currently lacks. Luckily, with his status as a late first-rounder, he can find plenty of teams that fit that bill. New Orleans, Denver, and Indianapolis all have picks at the end of the first round, and all have great quarterbacks with whom Flowers could excel.