Why Zay Flowers could be the WR1 in the 2023 NFL Draft

(Photo: Adam Richins, USA TODAY Sports)

The 2023 NFL Draft season is underway, and the Scouting Combine is coming up in a few weeks. In lieu of this amazing event, how about I introduce to you a player I believe will climb up draft boards in Indianapolis — Boston College Wide Receiver Zay Flowers. Flowers is currently battling the likes of TCU’s Quentin Johnston, USC’s Jordan Addison, and Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba for the top receiver spot in this year’s draft. He’s also competing with a surprisingly crowded TE group that could have GMs prioritizing the latter-mentioned position group in the first round more than wide receivers. However, I strongly believe Flowers has the necessary tools to make an NFL decision-maker select him in the 1st round, even as the first receiver off the board this spring. Here is why he deserves his “flowers.”

Player Overview: 

  • 5’10’’ 172 lbs Wide Receiver
  • 3-star recruit in 2019 out of a University School in Fort Lauderdale, FL


Notable career accolades at Boston College: 

  • 1st team All-ACC in 2022 with 78 catches, 1077 receiving yards, and 12 receiving touchdowns.
  • 200 catches, 3056 receiving yards, and 29 receiving touchdowns in four seasons at Boston College


  • Exceptional suddenness and lateral quickness 
  • Really quick feet in and out of route breaks, a key trait that helps maintain route integrity and break off defenders with impeccable timing
  • Plays with outstanding playing speed and urgency whether running routes or running with the ball.
  • Displays outstanding body control to adjust to the ball in the air, even when tightly covered
  • Excellent running skills and vision with the ball in his hands, turns into a running back in the open field.
  • Excellent catch and tuck technique, hauling balls with his hands and smooth transitions into his body to quickly turn upfield for additional yardage
  • Excels at changing speeds during routes, which helps him create space from defenders in tight areas.
  • Really good at making the first defender miss in space with really good elusiveness and agility
  • Can block in the running game with tenacity and feistiness not exhibited by many undersized WRs, a la Steve Smith
  • Can play out wide and in the slot effectively to help avoid the slot receiver-only label


  • Lacks the prototypical size of a #1 wide receiver and is a bit thin (currently listed at 172 lbs), although he does seem to have an athletic body that could add 5-10 lbs
  • Doesn’t break tackles as he lacks power, and is susceptible to being wrapped up quickly by powerful tacklers if he can’t escape with his quickness and agility.
  • Lack of strength could leave him susceptible to being jammed and crowded at the line by stronger and longer CBs in the NFL.
  • Lacks the long strides to consistently separate from tight man-to-man coverage purely on long speed, as he relies mostly on his lateral quickness to help him separate for yards downfield. That can leave him susceptible to being negated down the field by corners with similar lateral quickness and recovery speed.


I believe Flowers is the most polished wide receiver to come out of this year’s draft with his combination of quickness, elusiveness, route running, and speed to be an instant impact player from Day 1. Is he going to be a WR1 for every NFL team? No. However, he is a perfect fit for offenses who implement a lot of play action and bootleg action, as well as West Coast-type concepts to help a playmaker like him get the ball in his hands quickly in space.

Pro comparison: Antonio Brown

2023 NFL Draft Projection: Top 20 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, He could be the first receiver off the board in a draft lacking a true consensus top wide receiver prospect.