Is Zay Flowers the Missing Piece for the Ravens?
It’s no secret that the Ravens biggest weakness throughout Lamar Jackson’s tenure here has been the receiver room. Baltimore has made big jumps this past offseason to fix that problem. They signed Odell Beckham Jr. and drafted Zay Flowers out of Boston College with the 22nd pick of the 2023 NFL Draft.
I’ll be honest I was really hoping the Ravens would go with Jordan Addison, who was drafted right after Flowers to the Vikings. But after watching the tape of Flowers and seeing some Pre-Season snaps, I am fully behind the front office’s decision.
At Boston College, Zay Flowers broke the receptions, receiving yards, and touchdown records in his 4 years there. He appeared in all 48 games for the Eagles. Flowers is very durable, given a score of 5.00 in durability rating (highest score you can receive) according to Draft Sharks Injury Guide. The only instance I could ever find of him getting injured came back in 2021 against UMass, and he ended up coming right back into the game. This is what Ravens fans should be the happiest about, considering the injuries they have had in the past.
With Zay Flowers, we could be getting what we thought Hollywood Brown was going to be. Like Flowers, Hollywood was an undersized speed threat. His weaknesses were route running and avoiding contact at all costs. My biggest issue with Hollywood was whenever he caught a pass and saw a defender in front of him, it seemed like 90% of the time he would dive to the ground and not even try to make a move. Zay Flowers seems to be the exact opposite when it comes to those weaknesses. From all the practice tape that has been released, Flowers looks like he creates at least 3-4 yards of separation on each route he runs.
When watching Flowers, it’s hard not to compare him to Tyreek Hill. I think an even better comparison for him is former Raven, Steve Smith Sr. Flowers grew up being a huge fan of Smith, even being told by his father to “be like Steve Smith.” They are the exact same height, only separated by a few pounds, and just a .02 difference in their 40 times at the combine.
Watching this quick highlight tape of Zay Flowers just shows how versatile he truly is. He isn’t the usual slot that will just do quick routes and create space, even though he is terrific at that. He can also go up and track the ball over multiple defenders. This is also more proof of how he doesn’t avoid contact; he will evade tacklers as best he can with his quickness, but when he needs to get physical he doesn’t shy away. This clip alone sold me on going after Zay Flowers in the draft when I first watched it.
This is by far the best receiving corps the Ravens have had with Lamar Jackson behind center. I think it’s even fair to say the Ravens potentially have 3 different WR1’s that can be interchanged between Flowers, Odell, and possibly Bateman. It also has been a while since the Ravens have had a legit slot WR, Hollywood occasionally played the slot in 2021 but still had most of his snaps outside. If Flowers can be a threat at the slot it will open up so much for the Ravens to take deep shots to their outside receivers.
The Ravens also have a new offensive scheme in place with Todd Monken taking control. I think Ravens fans will be pleasantly surprised with how different this offense will look. He prides himself on a high tempo offense, that uses the entire field to open up the game. He frequently used a no-huddle offense at Georgia where he won back-to-back National Championships. The last few years I’ve always wanted the Ravens to implement that into their offense because of the youth, speed, and explosiveness all the skill players have on that team. That obviously was rarely used with former offensive coordinator, Greg Roman, who used a more methodical, run game to try and wear the defense down.
This is why I believe Zay Flowers is that missing piece in this new offense. It gives Jackson and Monken so much more freedom to open the field. Obviously, the season hasn’t started yet, and we are basing this all off of some preseason games and practice tape, but it’s hard not to get excited watching this man play.
Looking at some preseason props, Zay Flowers is currently tied with Jordan Addison at 7th for Offensive Rookie of the Year at +1600 on BetUS. BetUS doesn’t have any preseason props for yards, receptions, or touchdowns yet, but most sites have him between 600 and 625 yards, 49 receptions, and 5 touchdowns. My bias may be coming through, but I think a full healthy season between him and Lamar, he should go over on both the receptions and receiving yards. For touchdowns I am a bit questionable about just because of the number of options they have once they get to the red zone.
The only thing that could hurt these props is the ball getting spread around between him, Odell, Bateman, and Andrews. Especially in Monken’s offense, he loves to target his tight ends and get them in space, which is nothing new for Andrews. But, with the Ravens expected to have a huge increase in the pass game, I still think they will find a way to get Flowers those touches and yards.
This Sunday can’t come soon enough. For me at least, this has been the most I’ve looked forward to for a Ravens season. A lot of it having to do with getting rid of Greg Roman and finally bringing in an offensive mind that generates more creativity in their scheme. From now until Sunday I will just be binge watching Zay Flowers, Odell Beckham Jr., and Lamar Jackson highlights if you need me.