By all accounts, Seahawks cornerback Tre Flowers performed well beyond expectations during his first NFL season.
After being selected in the fifth round out of Oklahoma State in last year’s draft, Flowers took on the grueling task of trying to transition from safety to cornerback. Despite impressing coaches from the outset during offseason activities, Seattle hoped to avoid having to throw him onto the field too quickly, allowing him ample time to harness his new craft on the practice field.
However, injuries to veterans Byron Maxwell and Dontae Johnson during the preseason forced Flowers into Seattle’s lineup as a starter at right cornerback to open the regular season. Though he went through inevitable growing pains learning his new position on the fly, the rookie wound up starting 15 games opposite of Shaquill Griffin, recording 67 tackles, six passes defensed, and three forced fumbles.
The unexpected early arrival of Flowers helped push the Seahawks back to the playoffs, providing a much-need lift for a young secondary. With the organization now positioned for future success in the post-Legion of Boom era, coach Pete Carroll expects a tremendous jump from the young defender after undergoing trial by fire last season.
“He’ll come back with all of this history already in the books,” Carroll told reporters at the NFL annual meetings. “And what I think we’ll see - he’s already a really aggressive player and he loves to get after the ball and make his hits, and he’s a very good tackler and all of that - I think all of that is going to show up even more. He’ll just be more confident and more sure of himself, and I’m expecting him to be a monster out there.”
Seattle covets size, length, and athleticism at cornerback and Flowers checked off all three boxes, projecting as the optimal late-round prospect for the team to mold in the secondary. Standing 6-foot-3 and weighing 203 pounds with nearly 34-inch arms, he ran his 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine, sixth-best among safeties.
Though he’s still refining technical aspects of the cornerback position, his prior experience as a safety served him well in Seattle during his rookie year. Flowers proved to be an excellent open field tackler and immediately displayed a knack for creating turnovers, including stripping the football away from Cardinals running back David Johnson in Week 4.
“His ability to knock the ball out and force fumbles really stood out last year, it’s something we really cherish about his play.” Carroll said. “I think he can get quite a bit better there too.”
As the next step in his development, Carroll and the Seahawks hope to see Flowers expand upon his turnover-creating ways by becoming more effective playing the football in coverage. He missed out on several chances at interceptions as a rookie and as he becomes more comfortable with added experience, he should be able to start capitalizing on some of those opportunities.
Once viewed as a long-term project, the sky now looks to be the limit for Flowers and the Seahawks view him as a cornerstone for their next great defensive unit moving forward. Amid heightened expectations, Carroll and his coaching staff will be betting on him to take a major leap forward this summer.