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Zay Flowers

Ravens drop Flowers into crowded receiving corps

If form holds, there will be some notable rookie pass catchers. In the last 10 years, 35 wide receivers have finished with top-40 numbers in their first season. But I don’t think Zay Flowers is going to be one of those guys.

The offense he’s landing in isn’t as bad as it’s been in the past, particularly with Lamar Jackson agreeing to a new contract yesterday. That was huge, in my eyes. It will give him ample time to learn the new offense. (I did not like the idea of Jackson skipping all of the offseason work, showing up in July or August.) I believe the Ravens are going to pass a lot more this year, and that Jackson will finish with better passing numbers than most are expecting.

Baltimore’s passing game, of course, was pretty much a disaster last year, with Jackson averaging only 187 passing yards in 12 games, with 17 touchdowns. Only three regular quarterbacks averaged fewer passing yards. But Jackson is capable of a lot more, and I think they’re going to let him show it this year. I think that was the thinking in replacing offensive coordinator Greg Roman, with his run-oriented scheme, and plugging in Todd Monken.

The Ravens, recall, toyed around with Jackson passing more two years ago. He averaged 260 passing yards in his six full games that year, with 16 TDs. That might be more in line with what we see this season.

But the Ravens are well stocked with pass catchers. They’ve got Mark Andrews, who’s one of the best tight ends in the game. I think Odell Beckham will be their most productive wide receiver. Rashod Bateman probably will be a starter, and they can also mix in Nelson Agholor as a deep threat.

Where does that leave Flowers? Probably rotating in and catching a few balls, I would think. I don’t envision him being a big part of the offense.

Flowers is undersized (5-9, 182), with a small catch radius and small hands. I don’t see him coming down with a lot of contested balls. I saw a few of those catches on his highlight tape from Boston College, but that would be tough to duplicate at the NFL level.

Flowers is not a burner. He ran 4.42 at the combine, but they’re not going to be lining him up outside and trying to use him on deep routes. He should be primarily a slot.

I saw at Boston College they did some cool stuff with Flowers at the goal line, using his quickness to get him open for short touchdowns. But with the Ravens having both Andrews and Beckham, I don’t think Flowers will be a big part of the offense in that area of the field.

Below see the list of the last 35 rookie receivers who finished with top-40 numbers (using PPR scoring). I don’t see one on the list who’s like Zay Flowers. They’re all either bigger, faster or in better situations.

I suppose if you were trying to build a case for Flowers, you might point to Jahan Dotson (who didn’t quite make the list but had some rookie success) and Diontae Johnson. Those guys aren’t much bigger than Flowers, and neither went into a good situation. But unlikely that I will be using one of my late-round picks on Flowers. I think there’s going to be a bunch of others I like more.

ROOKIE RECEIVERS WITH TOP-40 NUMBERS
YearPlayerNoYdsAvgRunTDPPRRk
2021JaMarr Chase, Cin.81145518.02113306.65
2014Odell Beckham, NYG91130514.33512297.08
2020Justin Jefferson, Min.88140015.927274.26
2016Michael Thomas, N.O.92113712.409259.77
2021Jaylen Waddle, Mia.10410159.837247.812
2014Mike Evans, T.B.68105115.5012245.113
2014Kelvin Benjamin, Car.73100813.809227.816
2021Amon-Ra St. Brown, Det.9091210.1616227.322
2013Keenan Allen, S.D.71104614.708223.618
2020CeeDee Lamb, Dall.7493512.6827219.722
2016Tyreek Hill, K.C.615939.726712219.018
2022Garrett Wilson, NYJ83110313.344217.721
2019A.J. Brown, Ten.52105120.2609217.122
2020Chase Claypool, Pitt.6287314.11611216.923
2015Amari Cooper, Oak.72107014.9-36214.721
2018Calvin Ridley, Atl.6482112.82710208.820
2022Chris Olave, N.O.72104214.504202.224
2014Jordan Matthews, Phil.6787213.008202.225
2014Sammy Watkins, Buff.6598215.186200.027
2017JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pitt.5891715.808197.720
2020Tee Higgins, Cin.6790813.6286196.628
2019DK Metcalf, Sea.5890015.5117193.129
2019Terry McLaurin, Was.5891915.807191.930
2019Deebo Samuel, S.F.5780214.11596191.131
2014Jarvis Landry, Mia.847589.0-45189.430
2021DeVonta Smith, Phil.6491614.305187.630
2022Drake London, Atl.7286612.004184.628
2020Brandon Aiyuk, S.F.6074812.5777184.535
2016Sterling Shepard, NYG6568310.5318184.436
2017Cooper Kupp, LAR6286914.005178.925
2019Darius Slayton, NYG4874015.408170.037
2019Diontae Johnson, Pitt.5968011.5416167.139
2022George Pickens, Pitt.5280115.4245166.540
2018DJ Moore, Car.5578814.31722163.036
2013Cordarrelle Patterson, Min.4546910.41589161.738

—Ian Allan

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