New York Giants: Will Ereck Flowers cost Jerry Reese his job?

Jun 15, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese walk together during mini camp at Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 15, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese walk together during mini camp at Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports /

Trusting, or hoping, Ereck Flowers will develop into a dependable left tackle could ultimately cost New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese his job.

The New York Giants won 11 games en route to earning a playoff berth last season. But that hasn’t kept fans from criticizing general manager Jerry Reese and head coach Ben McAdoo over the past several months following the team’s postseason defeat at the Green Bay Packers. One individual often on the minds and lips of disgruntled fans is offensive tackle Ereck Flowers.

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Unless you accidentally stumbled upon this piece while searching for news on the San Francisco Giants, you’re probably at least somewhat familiar with Flowers’ struggles. Flowers failed to improve following a rough rookie season in 2015, and he led the NFL in one noteworthy stat during his first two years in the league:

Logic suggests the Giants cannot wait for Flowers to flip a figurative switch or figure out life in the NFL, and not only because the club used a first-round pick during the 2015 NFL Draft to select the product of the University of Miami. Quarterback Eli Manning is a two-time Super Bowl champion and two-time Super Bowl MVP who has been the most durable offensive player in the league since the fall of 2004. He turned 36 yearsold this past January, though, and Father Time will eventually catch the veteran who wasn’t the most fleet-footed athlete when in his 20s.

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Nevertheless, the Giants seem determined to give Flowers another opportunity to silence doubters and critics this season. The club elected to neither sign nor trade for a proven replacement at left tackle before the start of the 2017 NFL Draft, and Big Blue then waited until the 200th overall pick in the draft to select an offensive lineman, Pittsburgh’s Adam Bisnowaty.

For better or for worse, Flowers would likely be New York’s starting left tackle if the season began on the first Sunday of May. Fortunately for all involved, the Giants don’t have to worry about Flowers taking the field for a meaningful game until September, but those believing (hoping) the young man who turned 23 years old only days before the 2017 NFL Draft can save his career beginning this summer may want to lower any and all expectations.

Former New York offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz, who retired as a player following the 2016 season, recently evaluated Flowers for an SB Nation piece, and Schwartz had both positive and negative things to say about his former teammate. He also didn’t hold back at the conclusion of his assessment:

"There is plenty of good on Flowers’ film. When he is in good body position, no one can beat him on the edge. However, for being a lineman picked near the top of the draft, he has flaws that will be hard to correct over time."

“Hard to correct” and “over time” obviously stand out from that passage. Flowers shouldn’t be a project at this stage of his career regardless of his age, and Schwartz’s words don’t necessarily fill one with confidence he believes Flowers can become what the Giants need to him to be on the first Sunday night of the 2017 campaign.

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Reese, McAdoo and anybody else making roster decisions for the Giants had multiple opportunities to select a tackle early in the NFL Draft. New York could’ve traded up from pick No. 23 to grab Utah tackle Garett Bolles. That transaction likely wouldn’t have cost more than New York’s first-round pick and a third-round selection. Big Blue obviously wasn’t interested, and the club drafted tight end Evan Engram even though Wisconsin tackle Ryan Ramczyk remained on the board until the New Orleans Saints selected him with the last pick of the first round.

In his final mock draft published on April 24, Nate Davis of USA Today predicted the Giants would select Ramczyk en route to starting him and moving Flowers to the right side of the offensive line. Meanwhile, Alabama offensive tackle Cam Robinson fell to the second pick of the second round of the draft until the Jacksonville Jaguars traded up to take him.

During the final week of April, Newsday’s Tom Rock wrote he believed there was no instant replacement for Flowers in this draft class. While that is a matter of opinion, it is obvious Reese and others within the Giants agreed, but the GM will have some difficult questions to answer next winter if the Giants fall short of a title and at least one of the top-three tackles drafted in 2017 has even a good rookie year.

Next: Early 2018 Mock Draft: Up next for Giants?

On paper, the Giants possess a championship defense and a passing attack capable of torching any opposition in the NFL. If that passing attack fails to flourish because of a leaky offensive line, wasting the final seasons of Manning’s Hall-of-Fame career could cost Reese more than just another title.