Ereck Flowers is Starting to Bloom

For New York Giants left tackle Ereck Flowers, Week 2 of this season was rock bottom.

In that game, Flowers, a third-year pro who this past summer had started to show signs of having turning the corner after two forgettable seasons allowed three sacks to Detroit Lions pass rusher Ziggy Ansah, plays that were marred by sloppy and inconsistent technique.

With fans and analysts preparing to slap the dreaded “bust” label on the No. 9 overall pick in the 2015 draft, the 23-year-old Flowers was working on every little detail of his game behind the scenes.

So says defensive end Olivier Vernon, who like Flowers is from the U and whose locker is just a couple stalls away. Vernon, you see, goes against Flowers every day in practice, so if there is anyone qualified to offer a first-hand look at Flowers’ progress, it’s Vernon.

“I’ve seen it since the beginning of the season as far as him getting his technique right,” said Vernon. “I wish he’d get more credit than what he’s been getting. People always want to point out the bad; they never want to talk about the good.”

Vernon is starting to get his wish.

After allowing four sacks in the first two weeks of the season, Flowers hasn’t allowed a sack since, per Pro Football Focus.

Several weeks ago, Giants general manager Jerry Reese raised eyebrows when he vehemently defended Flowers’ development, at one point labeling Flowers as comparable to some of the other left tackles in the NFL.

“All young players do have to develop. I do think he’s developed,” Reese said during his bye week press conference. “Is he going to be our long-term left tackle? We don’t know that, but if you look at him compared to a lot of left tackles around the National Football League, there’s a bunch of comparables around. But, if you put Flowers on some of these guys’ jersey and you’d be like, ‘Wow.’”

Head coach Ben McAdoo said he has also seen the improvement in Flowers.

“He’s a young player who works hard and is getting better at his craft each and every day,” said McAdoo. “He’s improved in meetings, he’s improved on the field. He has his ups and downs just like the other players do, but he’s getting better.”

Flowers, who rarely speaks to the media, currently has a 95.4 pass blocking efficiency rating per Pro Football Focus, a figure derived from a formula that measures pressures allowed on a per-snap basis with weight given toward sacks allowed.

Flowers has allowed 23 total pressures allowed in 397.

Vernon, whom Flowers once said was instrumental in sharing tips and tricks to help him get better, said that Flowers has improved everything when it comes to his technique, but among the most noticeable difference in Flowers has been his balance, his footwork and his health.

Where Flowers has been slower to develop is, ironically, in the one area that was believed to be a strength: run blocking.

According to official league stats, the Giants have averaged 3.83 yards running behind the left tackle position, 20th in the NFL. While not all plays represented were necessarily run behind Flowers—the Giant shave run traps and pulls.

Per Pro Football Focus’ grading system, Flowers is currently the 73rd (out of 78) worst run-blocking tackle in the NFL.

Like Reese, Vernon was quick to point out that its rare for players to step into the NFL and play at a Hall of Fame level. But, he added, with hard work and continued attention to detail, he was confident that Flowers’ stock would continue to rise.

“One thing I know about him is he’s a worker so he’s going to work,” said Vernon. “He wouldn’t be here right now if he wasn’t the hard worker he is so I’m happy for him and I know he’s going to keep it rolling.”