Is another Erik Flowers looming?

Tom Modrak said that more mistakes are made from drafting "big men" than any other position in the NFL Draft. Certainly, the Bills mistakenly took Erik Flowers 26th overall three years ago. What went wrong with Flowers, and how can the Bills prevent such a mistake from occurring this year?

Flowers had two qualities dedicated NFL pass rushers must have: quickness and agility. But when an offensive lineman made initial contact with him, Flowers never showed the ability to neutralize the block or hold well enough to get free from it.

Was he too light? Probably. In 2001, Flowers once lamented that Jerry Ostroski picked him up during a play in practice and brought him to the ground, effectively taking him out. Had Flowers been heavier, that might not have happened, but in all likelihood that probably would have happened no matter what.

A good defensive lineman can't just have quickness and agility. He must have a strong upper body and be able to fight off a lineman when he holds or gets the hands inside the numbers. A good defensive lineman must consistently win that wrestling match to be successful.

Flowers' quickness was mostly associated with his legs. They were his main weapons. But NFL pass rushers must have good hand-to-hand combat skills, and Flowers never adequately developed those.

I read about Arizona State's Terrell Suggs and I can't help but think he's another Flowers. He's a great pure pass rusher with some moves to him; he went to Arizona State, as Flowers did; but what happens when that initial contact is made? Can he fight it off?

For my money, I'd draft an end who's not be as sexy as Suggs, but has shown that he can play the run and the pass. That's why I like Penn State's Michael Haynes (6'4", 281 pounds), Ohio State's Kenny Peterson (6'3", 298) and Oklahoma State's Kevin Williams (6'5", 304).

They're quick, agile and physical players, not just quick and agile. Peterson and Williams are big enough to play tackle. Haynes might be able to play there in passing situations.

Now those three guys might not be like Jevon Kearse or Julius Peppers, recording sack after sack, but they can overpower their opponents. Offensive linemen won't pick them up and use them as chairs.

Speed rushers certainly provide the oohs and ahhs that come with sacks. But Bruce Smith never won a Super Bowl. Jevon Kearse never won a Super Bowl. Julius Peppers never won a Super Bowl. Mark Gastineau, the original pure sack-man speed rusher, never won a Super Bowl.

I like an all-around end. I think that's the way to go, to ensure a successful pick. The less Buffalo gets caught up in the hype surrounding speed rushers, the better for the defense.


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