Giants take Ereck Flowers with 9th overall pick in NFL draft

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) The New York Giants didn't get the polished offensive lineman everyone expected, just a recently turned 21-year-old who they think can be one of those rare franchise left tackles

After seeing Outland Trophy winner Brandon Scherff taken by Washington, the Giants seemingly put the finishing touches on their offensive line by selecting Miami offensive tackle Ereck Flowers with the ninth overall pick in the NFL draft on Thursday night.

Flowers is a huge player who excels in in pass protection, something bound to give Eli Manning more time to throw to Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz.

''Ereck is a physical, nasty, tough football player, and you just don't see that too often any more in college football,'' said Marc Ross, vice president of player evaluation. ''He is a man-child really physically. He is gigantic (6-foot-6, 329 pounds), huge hands, long arms. He just turned 21 on Saturday. He is super productive at the highest level of competition. He is a good player just scratching the surface.''

The selection should allow the Giants to move Justin Pugh inside to guard, although line coach Pat Flaherty wants all his linemen to be able to play all the positions.

Coming into the draft, many experts had predicted the Giants would pick Scherff, the fifth-year senior from Iowa who was voted the nation's top lineman. The Redskins took him at No. 5. The Giants then took Flowers four picks later.

Ross said the two players had similar grades and that Flowers has a big upside.

''I have a lot of confidence in myself, or I wouldn't be playing the sport or doing what I do,'' Flowers said in a telephone conference call. ''It's really just confidence in myself and what I see in myself. I can't sit here and persuade you, but I am confident in myself.''

General manager Jerry Reese believes Flowers is a complete lineman who might be a little be better pass blocker than a run blocker at this point.

''He's just a big, tough guy,'' Reese said. ''That's one of the things when you talk to the coaches down there, it's like this guy doesn't take any crap from anybody. We like that and you can see that in his play. He likes to finish guys off and that kind of fits the offensive profile that we like. We like some big, tough guys with a little bit of a nasty streak.''

The Giants (6-10) have missed the playoffs the past three seasons and have not been close the past two seasons.

New York still needs to find a defensive tackle and a linebacker later in the draft but the offensive line was the prime consideration heading into the draft.

This marks the second time in three seasons that the Giants have taken an offensive player with their top pick. Pugh was taken in 2013 and became the right tackle, while Beckham was the No. 1 selection last season and helped new coordinator Ben McAdoo's offense take off after overcoming an early hamstring injury.

The Giants now have to focus on the defense, which was among the worst in the league, particularly against the run. It led to the firing of coordinator Perry Fewell and the hiring of Steve Spagnuolo, who was the coordinator when the Giants won the Super Bowl in February 2008.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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