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Giants say OT Flowers was best available at No. 9

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New York Giants insisted they stuck to the “best available player” concept with the ninth overall pick in the NFL Draft on Thursday night.

Fortunately for them, the “best available” just so happened to align with a glaring position of need, that being offensive line, a position they filled with Miami tackle Ereck Flowers.

The 6-foot-6, 329-pound Flowers, a college left tackle whom head coach Tom Coughlin also believes can play right tackle, becomes the final missing piece on a Giants offensive line that has been under renovation the last two seasons.

Flowers, who will be 21 by opening day, brings a lot to the table, according to general manager Jerry Reese.

“Obviously, he’s a gigantic human being with really long arms,” Reese said. “He was the strongest guy at the combine and can play left or right tackle. We think he can be a long-time tackle for the NY Giants.”

According to some scouting reports, there have been concerns about Flowers not being polished enough as a run-blocker, an area where the Giants struggled last season on the offensive line.

However, Reese didn’t seem too concerned about Flowers quickly making the transition from the college ranks to the pros.

“All college players have to learn the speed of the game when they get up here and play against these defensive linemen and these defensive schemes in this league, but obviously he’ll have to catch up to the speed of the National Football League,” Reese said.

“But he’s played at a high level of competition and we think he’ll catch up pretty quickly.”

When pressed, Reese acknowledged that Flowers’ run protection will probably need the most work at this point.

“I think if I had to grade one over the other, I think he’s probably a better pass blocker,” Reese said. “He’s very productive as a pass blocker, but I think he’s a very good run blocker as well.”

While it’s widely assumed that Flowers will be the new starting right tackle, which would push incumbent Justin Pugh inside to let guard, Coughlin wasn’t ready to make that announcement.

“I’m really not going to comment about that until I have an opportunity to talk to our coaches about how we’re exactly going to go about starting,” he said.

Flowers becomes the fourth Giants starting offensive lineman to be acquired in either the first- or second-round of the draft, joining left tackle Will Beatty (R2-2009), Pugh (R1-2013) and center Weston Richburg (R2-2014).

Right guard Geoff Schwartz was acquired via free agency last offseason from the Kansas City Chiefs.


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