Zay Flowers flew up draft boards during NFL draft season out of Boston College and ended up being selected in the first round by the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens made Flowers the number 22 overall selection and the third in a run of four straight wide receivers selected in the first round, preceded by Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Quentin Johnston and followed by Jordan Addison. These four were the only four wide receivers selected in the first round and Zay Flowers has a path to be the best of the group.
Zay Flowers has the skill to be the best wide receiver from the 2023 draft class
Zay Flowers may not have elite size, listed at 5’9″ and 182 pounds on the NFL website, however, Flowers makes up for it more than enough with his other physical traits. While officially, Flowers ran a 4.42 40 yard dash, his first unofficial time was a 4.37 which is more indicative of the speed Flowers possesses.
Not only is Flowers fast, he’s twitchy. Having quick twitch off the snap is a huge benefit to NFL wide receivers and allows pass catchers to get open without having to engage in hand-fighting with opposing defensive backs. That quick twitch off the line of scrimmage is something Davante Adams is known for.
Not only speed and quick twitch, but Zay Flowers is also elusive, which he showed Monday night in the Baltimore Ravens second preseason game when he caught a pass just a few yrads from the line of scrimmage and turned it into a 26 yard touchdown.
Zay Flowers has the opportunity to be the best wide receiver from the 2023 draft class
Zay Flowers of the four wide receivers selected into the first round fell into the best situation to have the opportunity to be the best wide receiver on his team. Jordan Addison, selected one pick after Flowers, is not surpassing the league’s best wide receiver Justin Jefferson and also will have to compete with T.J. Hockenson and K.J. Osborn for targets.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Quentin Johnston are both on teams with three capable wide receivers. Jaxon Smith-Njigba has to contend with D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, a very solid wide receiver duo for the Seattle Seahawks.
Quentin Johnston, drafted one pick ahead of Flowers by the Los Angeles Chargers has to surpass Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, who while both have struggled with injuries, are staples of the Chargers offense that figures to pass the ball more with Kellen Moore taking over at offensive coordinator.
However, the Baltimore Ravens also have a new offensive coordinator, Todd Monken. Monken comes to the NFL after occupying the same position with the back to back NCAA Champion Georgia Bulldogs. The year before Todd Monken arrived at Georgia, the Bulldogs were 49th in scoring, two years later Georgia was 9th.
Todd Monken runs an RPO (run/pass option) offense that is predicated on taking what the defense gives you. Lamar Jackson should thrive in an offense of that style and Zay Flowers fits effortlessly into that type of scheme with his ability to get open early.
I mentioned who the other first round wide receivers have to contend with on their teams, Zay Flowers does have some wide receivers he will compete with, however the path for the others is much harder than the one Flowers has to traverse. Zay Flowers will have to compete with the incumbent Rashod Bateman, the “wide receiver one” for the Ravens after Baltimore sent Marquise “Hollywood” Brown to the Arizona Cardinals. Bateman in two seasons, in which he’s played 18 total games, has 61 career receptions and three touchdowns, numbers Flowers could eclipse in his rookie season.
Zay Flowers put up 78 receptions for 1,077 yards and 12 touchdowns in his senior season at Boston College.
This past offseason the Ravens also added Nelson Agholor (Flowers should already be ahead of him on the depth chart) and Odell Beckham Jr. who is coming off an ACL injury that cost him the entire 2022 season.
No doubt the name and the game recognition is there for OBJ, but even if healthy, Flowers will be on the field at the same time as Beckham Jr. because Zay Flowers is a slot receiver.
The opportunity and skill set are certainly in place for Zay Flowers to be the number two option for the Baltimore Ravens after tight end Mark Andrews who will no doubt lead the team in targets. However, Zay Flowers certainly has a chance to be the best rookie wide receiver from the 2023 NFL draft class.