Miami (Fla.) offensive tackle Ereck Flowers played with tailback Duke Johnson in high school and college, and now he is following Johnson's lead in leaving early for the NFL.
Flowers (6-foot-6, 324 pounds) told South Florida High School Sports, "I have done everything that I can in college as a football player and now it's time to take that next step."
He told the website that he had been given a second-round grade, "but I will really look to raise that bar over the next few months." NFL Media analyst Lance Zierlein thinks Flowers "could have benefited from another year of seasoning, but his feet, toughness and strength to win in the running game should get him drafted no worse than early in the second round."
Flowers, who played with Johnson at Miami's Norland High, declared for the draft one day after Johnson did so.
Flowers was a part-time starter at right tackle as a true freshman in 2012 before moving to the left side last season and becoming a full-time starter. He obviously is a big man and has had some issues with speed rushers.
"Flowers has a few holes in his pass protection that are very concerning," Zierlein says. "He's a waist-bender, lets his base get too narrow and his hand placement is inconsistent. These issues lead to him getting knocked off-balance too often. Those issues are coachable, but will take time. What he does have is special feet in pass protection that helps him cover up his flaws. He's a mauling run blocker who combines pure nasty with knee bend and arm extension to get his targets turned and secured with consistency."
Flowers missed one game this season after minor knee surgery, which ended a streak of 21 consecutive starts.
Flowers' decision means Miami, which finished 6-7 for just its fourth losing season since 1978, will lose arguably its top three players: Flowers, Johnson and senior linebacker Denzel Perryman. In addition, Flowers' departure means Miami will have just two returning starters along the offensive line as the Hurricanes break in a new feature back. Guard Jon Felicano and center Shane McDermott were seniors.