The Baltimore Ravens have longed for a first-round pick at wide receiver to blossom into a productive player. They’ve made picks such as Travis Taylor, Mark Clayton, and Breshad Perriman over the years.
Baltimore’s most recent first-round wideout Zay Flowers appears to be on his way to breaking out. Flowers was selected with the No. 22 overall pick in April. The rookie receiver cemented a starting spot for the Ravens early in camp. Expectations were high for Flowers entering the season. Through six games, Flowers has 35 receptions, 367 yards and one touchdown. That touchdown came last week against the Tennessee Titans in London. Ravens coach John Harbaugh feels it’s the first of many.
“I just had visions of future touchdowns,” Harbaugh said. “When I saw that … It’s like the analogy my dad always makes [about] olives. Ever open up an olive jar? And what happens with the olive jar? Do the olives come pouring out? They don’t come out. What do you have to do? You got to get the first one out, right? Once you get the first one out, the rest of them pour out. Hopefully, that was Zay’s first olive, and there will be many more to come.”
Flowers’ touchdown was the one time the Ravens scored while in the red zone. He showed great maturity as a receiver by uncovering himself and finding an open area where Lamar Jackson could find him.
“It was a scramble drill,” Flowers said. “Me and Lamar [Jackson] have been connecting the whole season on scramble drills, and we were able to find the end zone on that one.”
At 5-foot-10, 172 pounds, Flowers isn’t the most imposing receiver from a stature perspective, but his start and stop change of direction ability makes up for it. It actually earned him a certain nickname from Jackson who grew up in the same area in South Florida.
“His brother was great, great when we were little kids, even high school,” Jackson said. “They used to call his brother Joystick, and I told him, ‘You’re going to have to steal that name because you’re different. We’re in the league now, so you have to take that name from him.”
Although it’s early in Flowers’ career, he has already drawn the attention of two of the best wide receivers to ever put on a Ravens’ uniform. Steve Smith Sr., like Flowers, wasn’t a big, imposing receiver, but Smith was known for playing bigger than his size and for being an elusive playmaker.
Smith said Flowers reminds him of himself.
“He’s kind of like me, a jitter bug,” Smith said. “He makes the quarterback right. He has that rare speed, ability and change in any direction at the blink of the eye. You can’t put a price tag on athleticism.”
Most of the Ravens pass catching records are held by Derrick Mason. After six games of watching Flowers, Mason made a pretty bold declaration.
“This guy is gonna pass whatever records I have,” Mason said on The Ravens Vault with Bobby Trosset. “He’s gonna blow ‘em out the water. They’re not gonna let him leave Baltimore like they let [Marquise] Brown leave Baltimore a few years ago. This kid is here to stay.”
“Zay brings a level of competitiveness that I don’t think you see in many guys,” Mason explained. “This guy is quick, he’s fast, catches the ball with his hands and knows how to find open spaces.”
The future is bright for Flowers and he has a pretty good mentor, Odell Beckham Jr. to learn from. There was a time when it seemed like first round receivers were destined to struggle. That’s no longer the case with the success that seems to be on the horizon for Flowers.