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Draft Darlings: Zay Flowers is the playmaking wide receiver Kansas City craves

The wide receiver prospect fits the Chiefs’ scheme by winning in a variety of ways.

NCAA Football: Louisville at Boston College Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

There seems to be one thing missing regarding the Kansas City Chiefs’ offseason.

They have addressed the offensive line, added to the pass rush and strengthened the depth of the defense. They have yet to bring in any wide receivers outside of Richie James on Friday.

Rumors are swirling about the Chiefs and their interest in signing Odell Beckham Jr., or even trading for the Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Deandre Hopkins. Yet, no trigger has been pulled, and we are roughly three weeks away from the opening day of the 2023 NFL Draft.

If the Chiefs stay put in free agency, they’ll need to add another playmaker to the receiver group — someone who can immediately make an impact. There is depth in the upcoming class of wide receiver prospects, but the likeliest way of finding that impact player is by drafting him early.

One of the hottest names among first-round wide receiver prospects currently is Boston College’s, Zay Flowers. He has risen up draft boards throughout the process because he is a very impressive, all-around receiver. He could be the playmaker that tops off the Chiefs’ dynamic receiving group.

Here’s what to know about Flowers:


Xavien “Zay” Flowers grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, among 13 siblings; he was the fourth-youngest of the children. He blossomed into a three-star recruit as a wide receiver in high school, although he also played defensive back. Flowers committed to Boston College, passing up offers from South Carolina, Kentucky, North Carolina, and NC State, among others.

After coming onto the scene as a true freshman and making a handful of highlight-reel plays, Flowers broke out as a sophomore by earning first-team All-ACC honors during the shortened COVID season; in 11 games, he racked up 892 yards and nine touchdowns through the air.

After a third-team selection in 2021, Flowers got back onto the All-ACC first team in 2022 with 1077 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns in 12 games.

He accepted an invitation to the East/West Shrine Bowl, staying true to the commitment even when the Senior Bowl extended an invitation to Flowers. He was the most impressive prospect there, projected to become the first attendee of the Shrine Bowl to be drafted in the first round.

At the NFL Combine, Flowers measured in at 5 feet 9 and 182 pounds; his arm length of 29 inches matched the height. He recorded a 4.42 40-yard dash, pairing that with a vertical leap of 35.5 inches and a broad jump of 10 feet 7 inches.

Film evaluation

Flowers was used in a variety of ways for Boston College’s offense. He could line up on the outside and win against press coverage, come from the slot and find windows over the middle of the field, and also take jet sweeps and other outside handoffs.

His speed shows up right off the snap, getting into routes with good acceleration and putting pressure on defensive backs to hurriedly get on top of him.

That threatening speed is combined with an awareness of how to mess with those defenders dropping into coverage. He is very good at manipulating their placement in coverage with his route direction. He also shows explosiveness out of cuts. His suddenness prevents many defensive backs from recovering once he has set them up for failure.

His speed shows up when he has the ball in his hands as well, using it to erase defenders’ angles to cut him off on plays to the edge. He also has the body flexibility to maximize yards gained up the sideline, bending past a defender and tight-rope walking for a few more yards.

In general, Flowers is an impressive runner after the catch. His ability to stop on a dime shows up as he maneuvers around potential tacklers downfield, seamlessly transitioning in and out of cuts and hardly ever allowing himself to be squared up on in the open field.

He prioritizes getting upfield rather than messing around with the horizontal action too much.

This playfully encompasses the skill set that Flowers can bring to an NFL offense. He comes off the line with great speed, immediately putting pressure on the two defenders assigned to bracket him. He then creates as big a throwing window as he can by pressing the outside defender before breaking back in on the post route; he tracks the ball very well in the air and goes through a defender in good positioning to make the highlight-reel catch.

How he fits with the Chiefs

If Flowers were to be drafted by Kansas City, he’d join a room with some similar athletic profiles as him — but he would immediately be the most polished receiver over Toney or Moore. His downfield route running is more advanced while also being as good — or better — than the other two are in space with the ball in their hands.

He would be able to align in every receiver spot, run routes to all levels of the field, and be enough of a playmaker to maximize designed plays like jet sweeps or receiver screens.

The bottom line

Flowers is the all-around receiver that the Chiefs value having at the top of their wide receiver depth chart. His stature may fool you, but Flowers is a legitimate first-round talent that will improve any passing offense he’s put into.

If the Chiefs want to ensure they get an immediate-impact receiver, Flowers is my favorite of their perceived choices on Day 1 — but they’ll likely have to move up to secure him.

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