The New England Patriots don’t have any dominant pass rushing stars, but there is one blossoming in defensive end Trey Flowers.
Following another solid season in which he led the team in sacks for the second consecutive season, the former third-round pick out of the University of Arkansas proved he is a star on the rise. In fact, his steady improvement each of the last two seasons is why Gil Brandt of NFL.com projects Flowers to earn his first Pro Bowl nod in 2018.
Among the reasons Brandt lists are his physical traits, which combined with his ability to play different positions along the defensive line makes him a force to be reckoned with for opposing offensive lineman.
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"“Flowers has led the Patriots in sacks in each of the past two seasons (with 7.0 in 2016 and 6.5 last season), and he was one of just four Patriots to play every defensive snap in Super Bowl LII, which further shows you his value to this team. He has 34-inch arms and an 85-inch wingspan, two traits that are very helpful to a pass rusher.”"
There is no doubt Trey Flowers will emerge into a Pro Bowl-caliber player. Besides the physical attributes Brandt mentioned above, there is a maturity to Flowers’ approach to the game that makes him a dependable player in Bill Belichick’s defense.
With growth comes leadership
Going back to his rookie season in 2015, Flowers watched from the sidelines due to injury. Despite not getting on the field, he studied film and learned from veterans such as former defensive end/linebacker Rob Ninkovich. After emerging in his second season in the NFL and making one of the big defensive plays to help the team win Super Bowl LI, Flowers took what he learned and became a mentor himself.
Suddenly becoming one of the reliable veterans on defensive, Flowers became a mentor to fellow defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr. Another Arkansas alum, Wise credited Flowers with helping him adjust to the NFL game and inspiring him to get better with each game.
"“He’s been helping me out since day one, since I got here,” Wise said back in December. “He’s been a big help from the beginning, helping me with fundamentals, helping me with plays, helping me with the small things in the defense so that I can prevail and get better every week. That’s kind of what he’s been doing, helping me fine tune my stuff.”"
With Wise expected to take a leap during his second season, along with the return of Dont’a Hightower, last year’s top draft pick Derek Rivers and the addition of Adrian Clayborn, Trey Flowers should be freed up to pressure the quarterback more than he was in 2017.
In a contract season, the young defensive end will make his presence known. His versatility will keep him on the field for more snaps and his physical ability will make opposing quarterbacks weary of his pass rush.
In summary, Trey Flowers will be a Pro Bowl-type player for the New England Patriots in 2018. It won’t just be because of the number of sacks he racks up, but because of all he does within the defensive scheme. His value will blossom, unfortunately for the team, the rest of the NFL will see that value.