While Virginia Tech may not be the second-coming of "Cornerback U" - a moniker once given to the Florida State Seminoles - they have certainly graduated a lot of defensive backs into the NFL in the past several seasons, but only Oakland Raiders cornerback DeAngelo Hall has carried the label of first-round draft pick. However, that could all change in the 2008 NFL Draft with cornerback Brandon Flowers potentially becoming just the second Hokies defensive back in school history to be selected in Round 1.
Flowers began his career in Blacksburg, Va. in 2004, but a fractured fibula ended his season after one game and earned him a medical hardship. He played sparingly in '05 behind future second-round pick Jimmy F. Williams (Atlanta Falcons), notching 20 tackles.
Following Williams' ascension into the NFL, Flowers emerged as a force in 2006 with 51 tackles, 7 1/2 tackles for loss, 18 passes defensed and three interceptions. Last year, Flowers racked up 86 tackles, including eight for a loss - the most by any cornerback in major college football - and five interceptions. He was named to the All-Atlantic Coast Conference first-team after both the '06 and '07 seasons. Flowers was also an Associated Press Third-Team All-American as a sophomore and a Second-Team All-American last season.
Flowers is a physical cornerback at the line of scrimmage. He likes to jam opposing receivers and slow them at the line by not giving them a clean release. He has a short memory for bad plays and does not dwell on his mistakes.
He lacks elite recovery speed, but he does do a nice job of turning fluidly and is excellent at locating the ball in flight. Flowers does a good job of reading routes, as well as having acute overall awareness, which helps make him effective in both man-to-man and zone coverage. He is a bit on the short side (5-foot-9 3/4) but is adept at timing his leaps, gets adequate elevation and will fight for jump balls.
A hard hitter, Flowers is strong in run support, boasting fine instincts and the ability to diagnose the run quickly. He takes the proper angles to the ball carrier and will pursue all over the field. A generally sound tackler in the open field, Flowers is also an able blitzer - adept at disguising his intentions at the line of scrimmage and then closing fast on the quarterback.
A bit undersized at just 5-foot-9 3/4, 189 pounds, Flowers may find himself physically overmatched at times. He does his best to compensate for it by playing with a mean streak but at times can be undisciplined, as well as overaggressive, both in coverage and run support.
In coverage that aggressiveness makes him susceptible to double moves and it takes him time to recover since he lacks top-end speed. In run support the aggressiveness sometimes leads to him abandoning proper tackling technique in lieu of trying to punish the ball carrier, which can he lead to some missed tackles.
He has endured some health woes during his collegiate career, including a broken fibula and a few ankle injuries, leading to some questions about durability. He has not missed a game in the last three seasons, however, so such concerns may be unfounded.
Expected Draft Placement
While not viewed in the same way as Troy University's Leodis McKelvin or Tennessee State's Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Flowers is still a virtual lock to be selected on the first day of the draft, whether it is late in the first round or early in the second.
Flowers' style of play seems to fit well with the physical, man-to-man coverage employed by the Green Bay Packers - a team that has two good but aging cornerbacks in Al Harris and Charles Woodson. The Packers are thought to be interested in adding a young defensive back or two to the mix and could target Flowers at the 30th overall pick. Were the Packers to go another direction, Flowers would likely slide into the early second round where teams like the Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs and New York Jets could all be interested.
About Herija C. Green
A graduate of the prestigious Top Gun school, Green's ego writes checks his body can't cash. When he's not overdrawing his ego's bank account, Green enjoys games of beach volleyball, riding his Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle, and buzzing the tower (whether the pattern is full or not). He resides in the Danger Zone and yes, Ice... Man, he is dangerous. He also writes.
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