It was fairly surprising to see Quinton Flowers’ name not get called during draft weekend. The 5’10”, 214 pound University of South Florida quarterback who rushed for 1,078 yards and threw for 2,911 yards his senior season was left to field calls from teams instead of seeing his name go by on the bottom of the TV.
“I was surprised by that. After everything I did in college, all the records … staying out of trouble … you thought I’d be one of those guys that get drafted,” Flowers told Geoff Hobson of the Bengals.com about what happened following the NFL Draft. “Things didn’t go as planned, so you keep pushing ahead. In life, you have to have the right mindset. I’ve always had faith in God and that’s one thing I’ll always say. He never made a mistake. That gets me through. Everything happens for a reason. I just told myself God did it for a reason. So after the draft, I just sat back and the Bengals were the first team to text me and they wanted me to be a part of the organization and I talked to my agent and we made it happen.”
This has to be considered an easy hill to climb compared to some of the mountains Flowers has hiked during his life. He lost his father at a very young age, his mother passed when he was only 17 and then the very next year his brother was taken from him as well. It makes the idea of joining a team as an undrafted free agent without a position sound like a walk in the park.
Flowers is doing just that by signing with the Bengals as an undrafted free agent. The kid who once threw passes to the Bengals’ all-time leading receiver Chad Johnson at little league practices has grown up to wear the stripes himself. Johnson use to take a trip down to Florida during bye weeks and give out some equipment to the kids.
“Chad was always talking trash, having fun with the kids,” Flowers said. “He was always keeping a smile on the kids’ faces. He likes to have fun. He still has that kid’s mentality.”
Johnson wasn’t the only former NFL player to catch a glimpse of Flowers before joining the Bengals. Former NFL quarterback Shaun King was his quarterbacks’ coach in his Junior season. He saw the talent first-hand that should make Flowers an interesting member of the Bengals training camp.
“I think Quinton is an NFL player,” King says. “When we’re evaluating, we get so caught up in measurables. At the end of the day they’re going to blow a whistle and play a game and the only thing that’s going to matter is who loves the game, who prepares the most consistently, who has the most heart and Quinton grades off the charts in all those categories... I think he can throw the football, I think he can catch the football, I think he can carry the football. He’s a phenomenal football player. If you put him in a box I think you limit your offense’s ability.”
The Bengals coaches certainly have a tall task ahead of them finding how to best utilize Flowers at this level. As of now, it seems the plan is to play him at running back, which is where he’s listed on the roster. The team gave him the number 34, and Bengals running backs coach Kyle Caskey is happy to have him in the fold.
“The first step is getting him in the building,” Caskey told Hobson. “Now that we’ve got him here we’ll see what he can do and how we can fit him in to help us and help his career.”
Caskey was one of the coaches on hand for Flowers’ Pro Day and it seems he’s a big fan of the quarterback-turned-running back. Caskey even gave Flowers a heads up by texting him during the draft to let him know the Bengals were still interested in him. It seemed to be something that stuck with Flowers as he made his decision on who to play for.
“It was a different environment over there,” Flowers says of the Bengals. “They kept checking in with me to see how I was doing. The coach told me stay upbeat and be positive.”
Now comes the tricky part of finding what slot Flowers fits into. Running back seems like a great place for him to start with the Bengals considering his experience carrying the ball. Although Flowers knows receiving the handoff will be different than running the option as a quarterback.
“I just have to get a feel for it. Let my instincts take over,” Flowers said. “I think that’s why I was able to be the best I can be. Once I get a feel for things I just let my instincts take over. In college I watched film and I practiced like it was a game because you never know what’s going to happen in a game.
“The hardest adjustment will be picking up blocks. I’ve never done it. Reading the holes better instead of dropping back and if it’s not there just get outside and use my talent. Now I just have to hit the gaps and trust the O-line.”
Flowers’ skill set opens him up for a ton of options across the roster. He could even add the gadget dimension that the Bengals haven’t had since Mohamed Sanu left the Bengals. He will have to compete on special teams in order to make the roster, and the plan is for him to get looks both as a returner and personal punt protector.
On Friday Flowers took snaps as QB RB, personal punt protector and caught punts before practice.— Geoff Hobson (@GeoffHobsonCin) May 11, 2018
He is quick enough, but he will have to show that desire to make tackles and blocks. Flowers could also find himself as receiver in certain situations given his ability in the open field. One thing is for sure, though, Flowers won’t let being moved from the quarterback position discourage him from making the Bengals roster.
“At the end of the day I can’t keep saying I want a shot at quarterback,” Flowers said. “Some people feel certain ways about me, but I don’t get caught up in all that hype. I’m just being myself. Do whatever it takes to help the team win.”
According to Marvin Lewis, the Bengals promised Flowers they’d do everything they could to help him earn a spot on the team.
Lewis on Flowers: We promised him we’d do everything we can to help him make the team.— Geoff Hobson (@GeoffHobsonCin) May 11, 2018
It seems like the coaches like him quite a bit; he’ll be a player to watch for this summer.