The Baltimore Ravens caught a glimpse of their future in Week 2 of the preseason, and that electrifying future goes by the name of Zay Flowers.
Flowers, selected by the Ravens with the No. 22 overall pick in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, swiftly became a household name. He secured a touchdown after taking a dump-pass from quarterback Josh Johnson in the flat for 22 yards, piercing through the Commanders' defense on the grand stage of Monday Night Football.
ZAY FLOWERS WR1 🗣️
— PFF (@PFF) August 22, 2023
The speedy Boston College alum, who posted a 4.42 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, is poised to make an immediate impact on the Ravens' passing game. Flowers is a pivotal element in the explosive supporting cast Baltimore has assembled around former MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson, one of the game's most dynamic talents.
As a rookie, Flowers has the chance to learn from and star alongside the seasoned veteran Odell Beckham Jr., who remains a matchup nightmare in his own right.
But, make no mistake, there is no shadow from which Flowers must emerge, even with Beckham in the same receiving corps. If anything, Flowers has the opportunity to replicate the big-play success that drew the Ravens to sign Beckham in the first place.
Much like Beckham Jr. brings a well-known skill-set that has helped him pull down 531 catches for 7,367 yards and 56 touchdowns through his 96 career games, Flowers wasted little time proving his worth to his teammates.
"Zay is different," Johnson told reporters after the Ravens' preseason Week 3 loss. "Witnessing him execute what you all see daily - we managed to get the ball in his hands early. He's a thrilling player, and his moves are captivating; it's that way every day. Consequently, it infuses life into the entire team, observing him step onto the field and release his extraordinary talent. I'm enthusiastic about the young guy."
A common thread binds Beckham and Flowers, as the Ravens' newcomer aspires to replicate the big-play dynamic the veteran built his career upon.
Beckham established a legacy by making impactful plays and breathtaking highlight-reel snags, including his one-handed catch against the Dallas Cowboys, forging a reputation for making contested catches, and playing a pivotal role in the Los Angeles Rams' push to the Super Bowl in 2021.
Meanwhile, Flowers joins Baltimore's ranks after nabbing a career-high 78 passes as a junior, tallying 1,077 yards with 12 touchdowns, while averaging 13.8 yards per catch.
According to Pro Football Focus, Flowers boasted an elite 58.3 percent contested catch rate in 2022.
"Zay is an absolute stud," an NFC Personnel Executive confided to FanBuzz, under the condition of anonymity to candidly discuss another team. "He's a slot player who brings remarkable punt return value. My only reservation is his size. However, if he can stay healthy, he's a very legit wide receiver."
How Zay Flowers and Odell Beckham Jr Will Shape The Ravens Offense
With Flowers operating in space, Beckham stretching the field over the top, and Rashod Bateman - if he can stay healthy and put a nagging injury history behind him - aiming to recapture his promising rookie form, the Ravens have the chance to become one of the league's most well-rounded and potentially explosive receiving corps.
It's clear that the Ravens spent this offseason dedicated to surrounding Jackson with the caliber of playmakers at receiver that will challenge opposing defenses, particularly vertically. This approach is geared toward catalyzing one of the game's most awe-inspiring talents to take a significant leap in his growth as a passer.
Flowers has has made a strong impression throughout an impressive training camp and preseason. Beckham Jr., if he can stay healthy, boasts a history of exacting a pound of flesh from opposing secondaries.
Should Flowers successfully emulate the dynamic that Beckham Jr. once brought to the league, the Ravens' offensive future is incredibly bright.
Just ask Jackson, who has the privilege of steering the Ferrari that general manager Eric DeCosta has built.
"Odell looks like the the Odell we know," Jackson told ESPN's Lisa Salters on the sidelines of Monday night's game against the Commanders. "The original Odell from the Giants. The Super Bowl-winning Odell. And then we have the new addition Zay, and he looks phenomenal, as well. [I've seen] how shifty Zay is, he has great hands to catch the ball and knife up the field. Zay's explosive. He's an explosive guy."
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