First, the Ravens gave Lamar Jackson the reported biggest contract in NFL history. Then they have him his Flowers.
Hours after agreeing to a five-year extension with Jackson, the Ravens selected wide receiver Zay Flowers with the 22nd-overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
The Ravens had opportunities to trade back, but General Manager Eric DeCosta and his team are so high on Flowers that they didn't want to risk losing him.
"I can't think of a player that I've drafted that I feel as strongly about as you from the totality of everything — you the person and you the player," DeCosta told Flowers on the phone after picking him.
Flowers is a dynamic threat who will make a perfect pairing with Odell Beckham Jr. and Rashod Bateman. Flowers can be an immediate weapon in the slot and the Ravens strongly feel he can play outside too, just as he did in college.
Flowers has premier speed (4.42 40-yard dash) and explosion in and out of his breaks. The questions are about Flowers' 5-foot-9 size, but he plays bigger than his frame. He wins contested catches and is dynamic with the ball in his hands, taking on a physical, aggressive running style.
Former Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. said Flowers reminds him of himself. Flowers said he's been watching his tape since he was 6 or 7 years old.
"My dad always told me, it doesn't matter about size. It's about what's in your chest," Flowers said.
Flowers posted 78 catches for 1,077 yards and 12 touchdowns last season at Boston College, where he shined despite being the team's clear top target. Everybody knew he was getting the ball, and he did it anyway.
He's the 11th of 14th children and is from South Florida like his quarterback. Flowers said he knew when Jackson was in high school that he was going to be special, and now the two are teaming up to make plays together. Jackson certainly seemed to like the pick.
Jackson isn't the only Raven who approved of the pick. Flowers was Beckham's favorite wide receiver in the draft, and the two FaceTime'd the night of the pick.
Flowers was Mel Kiper Jr.'s favorite wide receiver and the No. 22-ranked prospect on Daniel Jeremiah's big board.
Flowers was part of a stretch of four straight wide receivers to come off the board, a first in NFL history. No wide receiver was picked until Jaxon Smith-Njigba to the Seahawks at No. 20. Then Quentin Johnston went to the Chargers at No. 21. The Ravens picked Flowers next, and he was followed by Jordan Addison to the Vikings.
"I knew if I got to 22, I knew I was going to be a Raven," Flowers said. "We're just going to make every team that didn't pick me pay for it."
The Ravens and Flowers had a strong connection throughout the pre-draft press conference. He said he built a relationship early with Quarterbacks Coach Tee Martin at the East-West Shine Bowl, where the Ravens were reportedly "connected to the hip" of Flowers. Flowers said his best and favorite visit was in Baltimore, and the feeling was mutual.
"I haven't come across many more impressive, just, face-to-face prospects that I've ever interviewed at the Combine and then here in Baltimore," DeCosta said. "His story, his resiliency, his ability to just succeed and handle things was really, really impressive."
As part of the Ravens' final pre-draft process the week before the draft, DeCosta gives a list of names to all of his scouts, presumably of players the Ravens may draft in the first round. The assignment is to evaluate and rank them. Flowers was "by far" the number one prospect of the eight players, DeCosta said.
While cornerback was a bigger immediate need, the Ravens passed on Deonte Banks and Joey Porter Jr., two players widely projected to Baltimore, to give their wide receiver yet another boost. Banks went No. 24 to the Giants and Porter fell out of the first round.
Baltimore's offense finished last in the league in wide receiver receiving yards in 2022. That won't be the case in 2023 with Flowers, Beckham and Nelson Agholor added to the room. With tight end Mark Andrews and others, Jackson now has no shortage of weapons.
"Our goal this offseason, and one of the things that I was focused on, was adding to the receiver room," DeCosta said. "When we feel like we need to do better, we will attack it in different ways. I think we've proven that.