When the Rosetta Stone - originally created in 196 BC - was re-discovered by French soldiers in 1799 it eventually led to a breakthrough in the understanding of the ancient Egyptian language and script. When I stumbled upon Stephen White’s 2015 pre-draft breakdown of Ereck Flowers yesterday, I felt a similar illumination. His April 2, 2015 SB Nation piece, Ereck Flowers is a big dude who’s a big NFL Draft prospect despite his technique, is a mind-expanding deep dive into Flowers’ strengths and weaknesses that makes me a heck of a lot more comfortable that we’re on the right path with the left guard experiment being carried out this preseason.
I would encourage every Redskins fan to read the source text, but I’ll excerpt several of the key points here.
The author, Stephen White, is a retired NFL player who spent time with the Titans, Buccaneers, and Jets who has made a post-football career of profiling college talent for the NFL game on SB Nation. His first impressions of Flowers centered around the lineman’s massive size:
University of Miami offensive tackle Ereck Flowers ... is huge. I’m talking 6’6 and built like a damn refrigerator...I was a little surprised that he weighed in at 329 pounds, however. I’ve never worked at a carnival as one of those kiosk workers that guess people’s weights, but I swear he looked much heavier than that on tape. When you are 6’6, 329 pounds could actually look rather svelte. Flowers wasn’t sloppy fat, but the dude was pretty damn big, period.
Even admiring Flowers’ size, he acknowledges that for many offensive linemen, particularly the largest ones, struggles with weight problems can be a persistent issue that affects play in the NFL:
It’s just that in my experience, there is a direct correlation between offensive linemen who have weight issues and guys with technique that consistently flounder.
His evaluation of Flowers’ college play picked up on his considerable potential, but also expressed bafflement at his poor technique. At least some of those poor techniques - like lining up too close to the line of scrimmage - which could have been easily corrected by coaching at Miami, weren’t, likely indicating the lack of direction he received in college. The fascinating, and perhaps encouraging thing, is that in spite of poor technique and footwork, particularly in pass protection, Flowers was still effective in pass protection at Miami. Flowers’ incredible strength (he had 37 bench reps) and size were able to paper over most of his technique deficiencies in college, but as we’ve seen in his time with the Giants, that approach fell apart in the NFL.
At this point in the article, things get very interesting though. White remarks about Flowers’ incredible ability to get upfield on run blocking, destroying linebackers and safeties at the second level, and then drops this breadcrumb:
... that got me to thinking about an alternate plan for Flowers. But I will talk about that later.
While White was dismayed by Flowers’ shortcomings in the pass blocking game - which he acknowledged could probably be corrected with training - he was effusive with praise both for his run blocking, and something we all love to hear about our offensive linemen, his “nastiness.”
Most of what I didn’t like about Flowers is readily correctable. My biggest concern other than his weight is his pad level. While Flowers is no doubt a big, strong man -- who was about to play pretty good football in spite of poor pad level against other college players -- he is about to enter a world where damn near everybody is big and strong and powerful. There will be definitely be more than one opponent in five games, who tests him under his chin on bull rushes no matter how big and strong he becomes, because of his poor pad level.
He goes on to say that, under the best circumstances, Flowers was probably a bottom of the first round talent. Under the worst circumstances - with persistent weight issues - he was probably a second rounder or lower. We know now he was picked 9th overall by the Giants in the 2015 draft, so probably overdrafted by just about any measure.
In light of Flowers’ observed shortcomings, White saves the best for last, boldly projecting the destination where, four years later, the behemoth of a lineman finally seems to have landed:
He is also a guy that just might be able to slide inside to guard if tackle doesn’t work out. I know that there aren’t many 6’6 guards around, and hey, if pad level issues keep Flowers from working out as a left tackle, then even thinking about him at guard could give you pause. However, remember when I mentioned how well he did in those five games, getting up on the second level to block linebackers and safeties on running plays? Well guards do that kind of thing a lot. It’s not easy to find a guard of any size who can consistently get on linebackers and safeties, and stay on those blocks.
I’ll give Mark Tyler and others credit for sticking by the Flowers’ signing even in spite of the deep suspicion that many fans felt when the Redskins brought him on this offseason. Looking back now, perhaps Bill Callahan and others saw what White saw over 4 years ago: Flowers was a very large round peg being ineffectively jammed into a small square hole without even the lubricant of advanced technique. Now that we’ve got that round peg in the right place, let’s roll it downfield and crush some opponents at the second level.
Does White’s article and this synopsis make you feel any better about Flowers’ potential at LG?
This poll is closed
I’m still not sure.