Marquis Flowers has been a 4 year contributor for the Arizona Wildcats defense. Playing a range of positions including as a spur safety to an outside linebacker, predominate on the strong side, he also has been moved around and used inside in certain situations and an edge rusher. Flowers has been able to make a ton of plays with his combination of speed and instincts, but was somewhat undersized even for the collegiate level and although he was extremely successful and productive, he has shown a lot of skills but it is unclear if they all add up to one position in the NFL.
Flowers has a number of skills that could make him a productive NFL player, but it is not clear at this point what position he is best suited to play. As a result, his beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, between his speed and agility as well as his instincts. He is nevertheless undersized and gets pushed around too much in the running game. Flowers may get picked relatively late on day three of the draft but there is a chance he could end up going undrafted and earning a job in camp, making a team find a spot to put him.
Vitals & Build
Flowers measured 6’2 ½” 231lbs at his Pro Day. He has a decent build, but he is undersized relative to the position he was playing in college and his lack of weight and base gave him problems. The fact he was this size at his Pro Day is a little concerning as it raises more questions than answers. For a SAM backer, he wants to be bigger, at least 240lbs and there are some in the NFL closer to 260. Given Flowers play style, 240 is far more in line with how he plays. He may have been lighter because he wanted to run fast, which he did, but it raises questions as to whether he can play that position in the NFL or what position he should play.
Flowers has great speed and burst as well as pretty good agility. He is far better and impressive when his hips are facing forward, but he has shown he can flip his hips and run a little bit. His strength needs to improve and he just needs a better base to hold up against blockers. That is going to be the big question going forward if a team wants him to play as a SAM or as an edge rusher. How he is able to add that weight while maintaining his athleticism and speed is the big question facing him.
Flowers is a pretty good tackler. He wraps up effectively, keeps his legs driving and is either able to power an opponent to the ground or at least drag them to the ground. Some of this appears to be a product of being undersized, which has forced him to have good fundamentals as a tackler and allowed him to be successful in that regard.
Flowers is fantastic when it comes to shooting gaps, exploiting holes in the blocking scheme and is able to stop plays before they start. He has been able to catch opposing ball carriers almost at the mesh point as well as being able to run them down from the side.
Flowers is aggressive and willing to meet and take on blockers, not making the mistake of taking bad angles to circumvent them in an attempt to get to the play, resulting in taking himself out in the process. When Flowers can get a quick shock on the opponent and keep moving, he looks great.
The problem for Flowers is when opponents get a hold of him, the results can be troublesome. When he is able to get off of the block, it generally takes too long. He can get knocked off balance because he is not a big guy and has to adjust before he can acclimate and get off of the block. Worse is when opponents are able to get into his body or simply overpower him, which happens too often and he gets put on skates and driven down the field.
He has more success when he has options when he plays on the outside and has options on which way he can go. The times he plays inside and is in a phone booth, the results are much worse. With nowhere to go, he ends up as a blocking sled at times. When he can create some momentum, he has a far better chance at not only holding his ground but being able to deliver an impact, push the blocker back and get them off balance so he can get by and make a play.
The effort is there. The instincts are pretty good. He makes a good of plays. If he can add weight and strength, giving him a better base and allowing to at least stop the damage, and shed more efficiently. If he can do those things, he can potentially be a full service linebacker.
Flowers has experience as both a linebacker and as a spur safety, so he has a good sense of knowing how teams want to attack him. He is far more experienced and more comfortable in zone, likes to have his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage with his eyes reading the quarterback.
Flowers generally has a good sense of how much range he has and can cover a good amount of ground. He has shown the ability to bait quarterbacks into throws and take the play away, not only breaking up the pass but getting the turnover. He has natural ball skills and is a threat when opponents make mistakes in his zone.
Man coverage is a little more difficult because while his hips are solid, they are not great. His athleticism suggests he can mirror, but it is not something he was asked to do a great deal. There is nothing suggesting he cannot help in this capacity at some level, but he is a much better zone coverage player.
This is an area where Flowers should be able to come in and contribute early in his career. The combination of his athleticism and range combined with his threat as a rusher can allow him to be beneficial as a sub package player as well as someone who should be able to make an impact on special teams.
Pass Rush & Blitz Ability
Like with his ability to shoot gaps, Flowers can exploit opportunities and get to the quarterback in a hurry. Whether as a declared blitz option as an edge rusher or on a delayed blitz, he has had success in both areas.
Because he is not afraid to take on blockers, he can win and keep working towards the quarterback. He is most effective when he can be a free rusher, find a hole and use his speed to put on quick pressure, but if he someone blocks him, he is not immediately rendered powerless to help.
Based on where he is now, he is likely going to be attractive as a sub package player that can help in coverage and add a pass rush option. If he can add weight and get stronger, he can potentially help as a strong side linebacker or a weak side linebacker in a 4-3. For the 3-4, he could be attractive as an inside linebacker but could also be moved around and potentially help on the edge as a rusher.
Flowers has a similarly productive career, size and measurables as Sean Porter of the Cincinnati Bengals. Porter was used as an edge rusher in a 3-4 before becoming a weak side linebacker in a 4-3 at Texas A&M, but came into the NFL undersized and with questions as to where he would go position wise in the NFL. Flowers has many of the same qualities and his position could be different depending on the team that picks him.
Marquis Flowers had a productive career for the Wildcats, but he never really had a true position in college. He did a few different jobs that Arizona added up to make a position, because he was so effective in certain respects. Flowers has speed and explosiveness as well as pretty good instincts and the ability to make plays. He should be an asset on special teams and could start out as a role player with the potential to develop into a full service player with time.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com