* - How well does his skill set carry over
to the fantasy game? For receivers, a player needs to be a realistic
threat for 70 catches and 1,000 receiving yards at some point
early in their career to be a candidate for a perfect grade. Positional
scarcity at the pro level is also a part of the equation.
With the majority of smaller receivers, it becomes apparent quickly
they need to spend most of their time in the slot (or at least off
the line of scrimmage). Such is not necessarily the case with Flowers,
who possesses so much foot quickness and short-area burst that most
cornerbacks have a hard time getting a decent jam on him. Boston
College did a fine job of making that a non-issue by lining him
up in the slot on just over a third of his snaps over the last three
seasons while also motioning him quite often and using him on jet
sweeps at times. Flowers plays fast and has the necessary speed
(4.42) to get deep, making it unlikely he will get caught from behind.
He understands the importance of pacing early in his route and when/how
to create separation at the top of his stem. (He ranked inside the
top 20 in the nation in catches of at least 20 yards (12; t-16th)
and yardage pm those plays (500; 11th) in 2022, per Pro Football
Focus.) The Biletnikoff Award semifinalist flashes impressive body
control near the sideline, plays much bigger than his size in contested-catch
situations and has loose enough hips to make multiple defenders
look silly in the open field if he has enough space to do so.
While Flowers has a little bit of the feistiness in him that Steve Smith used to, there is a reason why there are not a plethora of
5-9, 182-pound receivers in the NFL. Among other reasons, it is
hard for those players to remain durable. (Flowers did not miss
a game in four college seasons, for what it is worth.) They also
tend to struggle to stay on their route plan when facing the bigger
and stronger cornerbacks the NFL has to offer. While Flowers is
excellent after the catch when in space, he is not at his best when
he has to play through contact. Interestingly, Boston College lined
him up on the perimeter and used him almost twice as often outside
the numbers as it did inside. When he did get work inside the numbers
in 2022, it was quite often on shallow crosses, which begs the question
of how willing and/or able he is to work over the middle of the
field on more physical routes such as hooks or in-breaking routes.
His most obvious and immediate concern, however, may be the 24 drops
over his college career (11 percent drop rate), including nine in
2022. How much of that was a function of playing with quarterbacks
such as Phil Jurkovec, Emmett Morehead, Dennis Grosel and Anthony Brown as an Eagle is up for some debate.
Comparisons to Tyler Lockett are warranted in the sense that
both receivers are about the same size and very fluid in their
routes. The major differences between the two are that Flowers
can do more after the catch but is not quite as sure-handed. Although
he is technically a three-level receiver, Flowers is a player
that NFL teams should want to utilize primarily on screens, hot
reads and deep shots - at least initially. Regarding his effectiveness
as a vertical receiver, Flowers recorded five or more receptions
on targets 20-plus yards downfield in all four of his college
seasons, including 12 in 2022.
One can only imagine what might have been possible if Flowers
had the benefit of better quarterback play throughout his BC career,
and that part of the scouting process will always make evaluating
receiving talent trickier than it should be. Would drops be an
issue for him if he had a Day 1 or Day 2 signal-caller? Flowers
should be dynamic enough to live on the perimeter in the NFL,
but his new team might be better served to consider him a movable
chess piece as a rookie. His long-term upside is unlikely to be
as an alpha receiver, but it is well within his range of outcomes
that he solidifies himself as a high-end complementary receiver.
Doug Orth has written for FF Today since 2006 and been featured
in USA TODAY's Fantasy Football Preview magazine since 2010. He
is also a high-stakes player who often appears as a guest analyst
on a number of national sports radio shows, such as Sirius XM’s
“Fantasy Drive." Doug is also a member of the Fantasy
Sports Writers Association.