With the selection of Ereck Flowers in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, the New York Giants drafted what they envision will be a longtime offensive tackle.
Described as a "battleship" and an "aircraft carrier" by coach Tom Coughlin, Flowers, 6-foot-6 and 329 pounds, began his college career as Miami's right tackle but eventually shifted to the left side, where he started all but one game in the last two seasons.
On draft night, the Giants' top brass -- Coughlin, general manager Jerry Reese and vice president of player evaluation Marc Ross -- said that Flowers can play anywhere, including guard, but tackle is his natural position, either on the left or right side. While still very young -- he turned 21 last Saturday -- Flowers has the nastiness to be a mauler in the run game and the athleticism needed to pass block.
"He can be either side," Coughlin said Thursday night at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. "He [was] a left tackle last year, but he has the size and so on and so forth to play a lot of spots if you so desire. We think he is a tackle."
Flowers became the third offensive lineman in the last two years to be drafted early by the Giants. In 2013, the franchise selected Justin Pugh with the 19th overall pick before taking Weston Richburg in the second round last year.
They make up a young nucleus that now moves forward in the second year of Ben McAdoo's tenure as offensive coordinator.
Ereck Flowers takes a tour of Quest Diagnostics Training Center for the first time!
After releasing starting center J.D. Walton in the offseason, Richburg, who started 15 games at left guard as a rookie, will have every opportunity to assume that role, where he played extensively in college.
Moving outward, the Giants return veteran guards John Jerry and Geoff Schwartz, who missed most of his first season with the Giants in 2014 because of injury. Meanwhile, Pugh has started all but two games in his first two seasons at right tackle, and opposite him on the left side is Will Beatty, who is entering his seventh season.
So that will create some competition heading into training camp. Coughlin would not comment on if Pugh will move positions until he talks to his coaches about "exactly how we are going to go about starting this."
Meanwhile, asked if they see Flowers as a player who could compete with Beatty at left tackle, Ross said, "We'll see. A franchise left tackle is a rare commodity. There are not many of those guys around the league, and we think this guy has the ability, the upside, the potential, the toughness, the smarts and the competitiveness to be a franchise left tackle for us."