Wide receiver draft prospect Zay Flowers likes the Ravens for two reasons – Lamar Jackson and Steve Smith Sr.
Growing up in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Flowers heard stories about Jackson and began rooting for him, giving his support to another South Florida native. Flowers is very keen on the possibility of being teammates with Jackson, and would love for the Ravens to make it happen by drafting him in the first round.
"Playing with Lamar, that would be a South Florida connection – two dynamic players going out there to make plays every game," Flowers said at the NFL Combine.
Smith is a receiver that Flowers idolized growing up. He loved the former Ravens' tenacity, the way he played every game with a chip on his shoulder. Smith and Flowers are shorter receivers who play with an edge bigger than their 5-foot-9 size.
"Steve Smith, he was just a dog," Flowers said. "He'd go up and get the ball against anyone. He'd put his body on the line."
Flowers is a legitimate threat to turn any play into a big play once he gets the football, with shifty moves and sharp change of direction that makes him a handful to bring down in the open field.
Draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah sees Flowers as a great fit for the Ravens at No. 22.
"Zay Flowers is an overall player I love," Jeremiah said during a recent media conference call. "The suddenness there I think would be a fun player to match up in that offense."
Flowers had 78 catches for 1,077 yards and 12 touchdowns last season as the No. 1 threat at Boston College, the standout player for a team (3-9) that finished last in the ACC Atlantic Division. Every opponent knew that Flowers was the Eagles' go-to guy, yet he still found ways to make plays with his route running and run-after-catch ability.
Flowers says he plans on doing everything when wide receivers workout Saturday at the Combine, and how fast he runs in the 40-yard dash will be interesting. Listed at 170 pounds prior to the Combine, Flowers says he has bulked up 183 pounds since the season ended and has gotten stronger without losing any of his speed and elusiveness.
"I can play at this weight, and I've been running at it for four weeks," Flowers said. "I think I'll be fine."
Flowers pushes back at the notion that he'll be primarily a slot receiver in the NFL. He views himself as a versatile receiver who can be effective lining up anywhere in a formation. New Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken used receivers in a variety of ways at Georgia, and Flowers would give Monken another weapon to work with.
"I'm not just a slot: 75% of my snaps were played outside," Flowers said. "I think I could move around and play any position they put me.
"I'd say Tyreek Hill really changed it for small receivers, being able to do what he does. Putting the ball in his hands anywhere and him scoring touchdowns has helped guys like me. I think I'm pretty physical for a receiver. You watch my film, my coach was pretty hard on blocking. If you wanted the ball, you had to block. I think I'm a pretty good blocker."
Flowers grew up in a large family, the fourth youngest of 14 children. He competed against older brothers and sisters on a daily basis, and fondly remembers playing football games in the yard with his siblings.
"It made me competitive," Flowers said. "They are my biggest fans, my brothers and sisters, so I'm living the dream for all of us."
He had offers to attend other schools, but chose Boston College because Flowers wanted to walk his own path at a place that wasn't already a football powerhouse.
"Coming to Boston College, I wanted to do something different," Flowers said. "I wanted to go somewhere different where nobody had momentum. That was a big reason for going to Boston College, creating my own story. I completed a dream by playing college football and getting education at a high-level school."
Smith and former Steelers star Antonio Brown are the receivers that Flowers said he models his game after. But he's eager to make his own name in the NFL, and wants to show teams at the Combine that if they're looking for a wide receiver, they should start with him.
"I just have to go out on the field and do the work," Flowers said, pausing at one point to look around the room at the various wide receivers being interviewed by the media. "It came fast, I worked for it, so I'm here – now take full advantage of it."