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Ravens 2023 Draft: Why the Ravens picked wide receiver Zay Flowers

A look into the new Ravens wide out

2023 NFL Draft - Round 1 Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

The day started with strong signals that Baltimore Ravens may be looking to add another wide receiver to their roster. But initially, the talk was heavy about Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins in a possible trade. Instead, the Ravens ended a spectacular day in franchise history with possibly one of the most electric players in the draft, wide receiver Zay Flowers. But why Flowers?

While it remains to be seen what active roles Rashod Bateman and Odell Beckham play come 2023, it's easy to guess that those two will likely rotate mainly between the X and Z, playing out wide where their size, release packages and route running give the most impact. While both can play in the slot, the question was how do the Ravens round out the room. Does Devin Duvernay or the newly acquired Nelson Agholor play the Y? Do the Ravens trade for Hopkins and try to get Bateman or Beckham to play the Y while Hopkins mostly plays the X? Insert Flowers.

Don’t get it twisted, while size is a slight concern for Flowers at only 5’9, the skills to play outside are there. He did it at the college level well enough. Wicked pacing in his routes and a complete release package with sudden feet will eventually allow Flowers to play outside and beat NFL-level press-man coverage, it's just not likely to happen quickly in his rookie year. So how does Zay get his flowers on day one of his rookie year? Easily enough, you throw him in the slot.

Flowers did it all at the college level. Outside, in the slot, as a mover, even gadget plays. Deep threat, intermediate areas, the short game. It’s all there for Flowers. The most impressive part of his game that immediately pops on film? His suddenness. His ability to get in and out of breaks in his routes and gain yards after the catch with his movement abilities is flat-out special and uncommon.

One of the most fun aspects of Flowers is he is another individual on this roster with a rare unique playmaking ability. We know guys like Bateman, Beckham and tight end Mark Andrews can make special plays with the ball in their hands. But Flowers is on another level. We’ve seen Lamar Jackson and J.K. Dobbins consistently take plays that have no business being positive gain and do the classic “something out of nothing” routine. Flowers adds a third player capable of that to this roster. Flowers is capable of keeping up with Jackson and Dobbins in a special way that even guys like Bateman and Beckham can’t do.

Comparisons to former Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown will come often due to size and speed. But while Brown had that infamous Hollywood speed, that fifth and sixth gear to take it to the next level, he often played a little soft. Avoided contact and struggled after the catch in Baltimore. Expect none of that with Flowers. While Flowers may lack that top-end speed compared to Hollywood, the competitiveness is off the charts. Comparisons to Steve Smith Sr., another receiver Ravens fans are familiar with, have been fired off a lot, including from Agent 89 himself.

So why Flowers? To put it simply, he compliments the current wide receiver room and fills a role. While the talent to be an outside guy is there, Flowers will be a day-one slot demon for the Ravens, rounding out the abilities that Bateman and Beckham bring. He will also allow Todd Monken to be multiple with the wide receiver room, having the ability to disguise and motion all three around the field, lining up whoever, wherever. At the end of the day, this new Ravens wide receiver room is gonna be hard to cover with three receivers who run nasty routes, can work all three levels, and who all three have the ability to take any ball the distance.