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Four Players The New York Giants Need To See Step Up In 2016

Ereck Flowers

Ereck Flowers, the ninth overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, was immediately thrown into the fire when he was named the week one starter at left tackle due to the pectoral injury Will Beatty suffered in training. The transition to the NFL for any offensive linemen from college is usually a difficult process. Compound that with being thrust into the toughest position on the line—as well as documented footwork issues in pass protection—and you have a recipe for disaster. Although Flowers’ rookie season was not nearly a disaster, there is certainly room for improvement.

He struggled to handle pass rushers coming of the edge, and allowed the most pressures of any offensive linemen in the entire league. His footwork was in fact a big problem as many scouts predicted, and resulted in several drive-stalling holding penalties. He played so poorly in 2015 that he was rated the lowest-graded tackle in the entire NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. It was also known that he and former offensive line coach Pat Flaherty (who is now with the San Francisco 49ers) butted heads on multiple occasions throughout the season, as Flowers did not agree with his coaching style. But along with all of these negatives came several encouraging signs for the then 21-year old.

He started 15 of 16 games as a rookie as Eli Manning’s blindside protector—no small feat for any rookie linemen. And he did this while battling a nagging ankle sprain that he suffered in his very first game in the pros. Week in week out, Flowers battled through a painful ankle sprain that hindered his performance—especially in pass protection. His toughness could not be questioned, and he held is own in run blocking all year with improvements in his footwork as the season progressed.

Can Flowers’ struggles in pass protection be attributed to the combination of a nagging ankle injury and natural rookie growing pains? Rather, are they deep-rooted problems that stem from technical flaws unable to be fixed through coaching? The Giants desperately hope that it is the former.