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Giants take Ereck Flowers with ninth pick in 2015 NFL Draft

Miami offensive lineman Ereck Flowers talks with the

Miami offensive lineman Ereck Flowers talks with the media during a news conference at the NFL football scouting combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Friday, Feb. 20, 2015. Credit: AP

Jerry Reese believes the selection of Ereck Flowers will end the need for annual end-of-season conversations and hand-wringing. You know, the ones in which he and John Mara stand up after a losing campaign and talk about how they need to improve the blocking up front.

"We think this can help solidify the offensive line," the Giants' general manager said Thursday night. "Hopefully, this will settle the offensive line down and we don't have to keep talking about the offensive line as much."

For the last several years, that unit has been a bugaboo for the Giants. They started their rebuild with Justin Pugh in the first round of the 2013 draft and continued with Weston Richburg in the second round last year. Now they think taking Flowers with the ninth overall selection completes the puzzle.

With Giants officials describing him as "gigantic," "a battleship" and "a man-child," he definitely has the size to be a cornerstone on the line. Listed at 6-5 and 329 pounds, Flowers -- from the University of Miami -- is projected to play tackle.

Which side? The Giants wouldn't say, but it's clear they see him as the eventual successor -- either this year or in the not-so-distant future -- to left tackle Will Beatty.

"A franchise left tackle is a rare commodity," Giants vice president of player evaluation Marc Ross said. "There are not many of those guys around the league. We think this guy has the ability, the upside, the potential, the toughness, the smarts, the competitiveness to be a franchise left tackle for us."

At first, though, he could line up at right tackle, which would move Pugh inside to a guard position. "It's competition up front, period," Tom Coughlin said. "It'll be that. The better the competition, the better the results."

Flowers, who turned 21 just last week, was not the top-rated offensive lineman on the Giants' board heading into the draft. That distinction went to Iowa's Brandon Scherff. Washington snapped up Scherff with the fifth overall pick, though. At nine, Reese said, Flowers was the top pick on their board.

It's similar to the scenario of last year, when the Giants picked their second-ranked wide receiver in the first round after Sammy Watkins went early to the Bills. The Giants can only hope Flowers is as good a consolation prize as Odell Beckham Jr. turned out to be.

One of the hairs that separated Flowers from Scherff was polished technique. Scherff was considered the most NFL-ready lineman in the draft, and Flowers concedes he needs some refinement in his play. "I have a long way to go," he said, "and I'm ready to go that way."

For all of the technique flaws, Flowers was the strongest player at the Combine and the Giants raved about his toughness. Coughlin said he feared he might injure some of his friends with ferocious high-fives after he was selected. Coughlin also noted that he arrives "in a bad humor" at piles and mauls on the second level.

Said Reese, "This guy doesn't take [expletive] from anybody.''

Off the field, they believe he is a quiet kid who preferred to spend his free time in college in the weight room rather than on South Beach. He's close to his father (who will serve as his agent), and although he's young, Ross said he is of the same football-first cloth from which last year's picks were hewn.

Reese would not say whether the Giants fielded or initiated any calls when they were on the clock. Nor would he say if he tried to trade up when defensive tackle Leonard Williams still was available (although he grinned, knowing it was the Jets who eventually took him with the sixth pick).

Flowers is only the first pick of eight for the Giants, and Coughlin said the team entered the weekend wanting to make improvements on both the offensive and defensive lines.

Said Coughlin, "We think we've made a good start here.''

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