For our last four profiles, we focused primarily on the defensive side of the ball. Today I'll be focusing on another possible first-round option for the Detroit Lions, specifically at offensive tackle. Previously, we took a look at Pittsburgh OT T.J. Clemmings, who many believe may not even be available by the time the Lions are on the board. So assuming that some of the big-name OTs are off the board (Andrus Peat, La'el Collins and Clemmings), what other tackle(s) might the Lions consider with the No. 23 pick in the draft? Well, one name they should strongly consider is Miami (FL)'s Ereck Flowers.
I actually mocked Flowers to the Lions a few weeks back and claimed they could do a whole lot worse. That's not to say Flowers isn't an exceptional talent -- I believe he is -- but there weren't a whole lot of options to choose from. More and more draft pundits are beginning to see the true value of Flowers and have begun to move him up on their draft boards. He was a three-year starter for the Hurricanes (one year at right tackle, two at left) and helped pave the way for 2014 first-team All-ACC running back Duke Johnson.
Like many OTs in this year's class, Flowers is an exceptional run blocker who has his ups and downs in pass protection.
Mauler vs. the Run
First, I want to give a special shout out to Draft Breakdown and all the hard work those guys put into making these videos, because it makes my job a whole lot easier. Second, there wasn't any specific tape dedicated to Flowers versus Virginia Tech, so I had to steal this off of Duke Johnson's page. Regardless, if you focus on Flowers (No. 74), you'll see how he's able to completely erase a defender from a developing run.
What makes Flowers stand out among his counterparts is how technically sound he is in the run game. In the play above, you'll see him get a hand on the initial defender to seal the block for his left guard, then push off into the second level to open up a lane for Johnson. He's extremely light on his feet and displays great footwork, especially in the run game. Flowers did a really nice job in Miami's zone-blocking scheme all year long.
Flowers may be the best second-level blocker in this class. Here is another beautiful example against South Carolina:
Ups and Downs in Pass Pro
I'll start with the positives first. Flowers has great awareness and was forced to regularly diagnose and pick up stunts.
Here are two consecutive and identical plays where Flowers does a nice job of recognizing and stuffing a stunting defensive tackle. The first play is slightly more impressive to me, only because Flowers is pretty far out of position but still manages to kick back and stuff the DT.
Florida State's D-line was full of talent last year. Here's a nice example of Flowers anchoring and controlling second-round talent Mario Edwards Jr. with ease.
The problem with Flowers is that you rarely see him control his assignment and drop his anchor right away like in the play above. He tends to be a leaner in pass pro and will get caught off balance too often.
Edwards Jr. is able to get the better of Flowers on this play by catching him overextending and swatting his hands down.
Things didn't get any better for Flowers when matching up against another top edge rusher in Virginia's Eli Harold. They traded shots throughout the game, but Harold ultimately got the better of him.
Not exactly sure what happened here. Either Flowers was daydreaming about what the time of possession stat might look like, or he completely forgot the snap count. Regardless, Harold beat him pretty badly, and it wasn't the first time.
How He Fits
Ereck Flowers is a great talent with plenty of upside. He is an exceptional run blocker who tends to struggle in pass protection against stronger and/or faster D-linemen. If he's available for the Lions in the first round, it's more than likely that he'll be strongly considered to help bolster their depleted O-line. Flowers is raw, but I wouldn't be surprised if he was able to win a starting job immediately. If he's unable to beat LaAdrian Waddle for the starting right tackle job, I could definitely see him moving inside and holding down the starting left guard spot while also serving as a swing tackle.
There may be some small concerns with Flowers' health after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus on an unspecified knee last October, but it doesn't sound too serious.
Flowers also allegedly gave a middle-finger salute to some Nebraska fans after losing a high-scoring affair on the road. Now that Dominic Raiola is gone, the Lions will have to find a way to meet their crowd-hating O-lineman quota.
2015 NFL Draft profiles: OT T.J. Clemmings (Pittsburgh), RB Duke Johnson (Miami [FL]), CB Eric Rowe (Utah), DT Michael Bennett (Ohio State), CB Quinten Rollins (Miami [OH]), DT Jordan Phillips (Oklahoma)
Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave any suggestions of prospects you would like to be profiled in the comments below.