Offensive line coach Pat Flaherty had a good feeling when the Giants drafted Ereck Flowers.
"I felt and I still feel that Ereck is going to be a very good player for the New York Giants for a long time," he said on Thursday. "I thought in a couple of years he'd be very good. Well, a couple of years now is September, so that's where that's at."
Flowers has been pressed into service at the most important position on the offensive line: left tackle. He's stepped in and replaced projected starter Will Beatty, who tore his pectoral muscle just before the start of OTAs last month.
It's Flaherty's job to make the rookie ready for the task.
"I have a positive attitude towards him," the coach said. "He really likes the game of football, he's trained very hard in the weight room, and he's a competitor. When you have those types of elements as a person, you have a chance to develop into a player. Now, it's going to take some development, and we all know that because of the injury to William that this development has been escalated."
Flaherty said when he met with Flowers in the pre-draft process, he made it clear what the Giants' expectations would be if they selected him.
"If you are drafted ninth overall by the New York Giants, it's for a reason," Flaherty said. "That reason is that from Day One you are going to compete to be a player. I did tell him at that time that nobody knows when that day is. It could be the first day, it could be the 25th day, it could be the 10th day. My goal as a coach is to get you ready for that day."
Flaherty has some experience doing that with rookies. For most of the past decade the Giants did not have a first-year player starting on their line. Chris Snee did it at guard in 2004, but it wasn't until Justin Pugh was a first-rounder at right tackle in 2013 that it happened again. Then last year Weston Richburg, a second-rounder, became a starter. Now Flowers looks like he'll be the third in a row.
"That's why I wear a hat because my hair is all gray," Flaherty joked.
He said going through the process in each of the last two seasons can help him this time.
"I learned some things from Justin that helped Weston and I learned from some things from Weston in combination with Justin that will help Ereck," Flaherty said. "The biggest thing is how much time can you spend with them and keep giving them information."
Flaherty is under no illusion that there won't be struggles with Flowers.
"You're gonna be a rookie, they're gonna treat you like a rookie," he said, "but I think he'll grow and mature at a rapid pace."
He pretty much has to now, no matter what the Giants' schedule was when they drafted him and had a healthy Beatty.
"We like him as a future left tackle for the New York Giants," offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo said before changing tenses -- and tone -- to the present. "I'm very comfortable with him being out there right now. I look forward to getting back here in camp and him jumping in there right from the beginning and giving a run at it."