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Cowboys 30 pre-draft visits report: Boston College WR Zay Flowers

The Cowboys are looking for speed at receiver, and Zay Flowers brings it.

NCAA Football: Boston College at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys are still very much in the market for wide receivers, but after trading for Brandin Cooks early in the offseason, their next most likely place to find pass catchers for Dak Prescott is this month’s draft. The 2023 receiver class may not have the clear star prospect at the top like most years, but it’s not lacking in players with speed and big-play ability - both things Dallas needs as they install Mike McCarthy’s offense.

The Cowboys have broken their mold a bit when it comes to showing pre-draft interest in receivers that lack the size and frame they’re used to in search of these playmakers, perhaps none more so than with Boston College’s Zay Flowers.

A four-year starter in the ACC, Flowers had a breakout senior season with 78 catches, 1,077 yards, and 12 touchdowns. Averaging 15.3 yards per catch over his career, Flowers accounted for 36% of BC’s total passing yards in 2022, putting up over 130 yards three times.

Flowers is ranked as high as the third receiver in this class, normally behind TCU’s Quentin Johnson and Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Smith-Njigba still being on the board by the Cowboys’ 26th overall pick would be a surprise, but they did also visit with Johnson.

How would Flowers’ unique skill set fit in Dallas? Here is what the tape says.

Boston College WR Zay Flowers: Strengths

For a receiver that measured in the bottom tenth percentile for height, weight, wingspan, and arm length at the combine, Flowers makes his best plays using the middle of the field. He’s not afraid to run crossing routes where bigger defenders can bang him around, Flowers wastes no time getting to top speed out of his breaks. His 4.42 second 40-yard dash showed what he can do in a straight line, but Flowers brings the ability to maintain this speed through cuts to game situations.

Fluid in his lower body movements with great hip flexibility, Flowers ran deep routes with double moves and he tracks the ball exceptionally well. Showing above average ability to make contested catches and elevate for his size, this is a player with flashes to make an immediate impact despite the step up in physicality that will be waiting in the NFL.

Boston College moved Flowers around their offense, finding space for him by lining the receiver up out wide, in the slot, or tossing him the ball on reverses. A north-south runner with the ball in his hands, Flowers sees an opening and attacks it quickly, not wasting motion to get up the field.

One of the biggest questions Flowers will have to answer in his projection to the next level is how he deals with press coverage. While there is room to improve, Flowers’ best trait here is the ability to decrease the “strike zone” longer defenders have to disrupt him, using his strong hands and slim frame to create space at the line.

Boston College WR Zay Flowers: Weaknesses

For a player that will likely be expected to step into some gadget roles for an offense, Flowers doesn’t have ideal foot speed through his breaks to sell routes and create space. Making up for a lack of suddenness with long speed worked in the college game, but winning over the middle on short to intermediate routes could be a challenge early.

Flowers doesn’t always give his quarterback a clear target, allowing defenders back into his frame when fighting for the ball. Though he catches the ball well outside his frame, the hand strength to snag the ball at it’s highest point isn’t there. Against zone coverage, Flowers tends to drift into defenders and wasn’t a consistent checkdown option to take full advantage of his open field ability.

Boston College WR Zay Flowers: Summary

In almost any other draft class, Flowers would be a hyper-unique player that teams would value for his big-play ability and speed. Being stacked against other dynamic receivers like Jalin Hyatt and Tank Dell (both pre-draft visitors to the Cowboys), Flowers’ draft stock now sits more comfortably in the range where Dallas can gamble on his upside.

A potential day one contributor out of the slot with run-after-the-catch ability and an aggressiveness that stands out despite his size, the best version of Zay Flowers is a player every modern NFL offense needs. Whether he’s closer to what the Cowboys may already have in Kavontae Turpin or a perfect complement to the speed that CeeDee Lamb and Brandin Cooks bring to this offense remains to be seen.

The bigger unknown for the Cowboys offense remains at tight end, where Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot have a lot to prove as reliable middle of the field options for Prescott. Where Super Bowl quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes had Travis Kelce and Jalen Hurts had Dallas Goedert, the Cowboys can add a player that’s instantly a matchup nightmare for linebackers in Flowers. Even just having the threat of Flowers running clearing routes can open up an offense, something the Cowboys thought they had a year ago in the third round with Jalen Tolbert.

The wait until the 26th overall pick is going to be a long one, and there’s more than one path that sees Zay Flowers as one of the best remaining options on the board for the Cowboys to jumpstart a new-look offense with this dynamic receiver.

Games watched (2022): Clemson, Louisville

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