With the 2022 football season coming to an end soon the Boston College Eagles look to send three of their key players the NFL next season. Zay Flowers, Phil Jurkovec, and Marcus Valdez have been three of the key contributors for the Eagles over the past three seasons and with the NFL Draft on the horizon. Here is the Boston College draft preview.
Zay Flowers, Wide Receiver
Ht/Wt: 5, 10” 170 lbs
Flowers is a dynamic receiver who has the ability to create explosive plays every time he touches the ball. Throughout his time at Boston College. Flowers ranks tenth all time in career receiving yards at BC while being fifth all time in receiving touchdowns. Flowers’ ability is not just limited to the passing game though.
Flowers unique playmaking skills make him a force in the running game as well. Although he hasn’t ran as much during his senior season, his 53 rushing attempts accounts for about 23% of his total touches. Flowers’ high in rushing attempts was his freshman year at BC when he ran the ball for a total of 27 times for 195 yards. His size does limit his ability in the rushing game as he is used mainly on end arounds and jet sweeps, which is perfectly acceptable for someone with the playmaking skills Flowers possesses.
Flowers currently leads the ACC in receptions and receiving yards while being third in touchdowns. Even for someone who is on a “bad” football team this year at BC he is still the top receiver in his conference this year. Flowers is currently ranked the 121st best prospect coming out for the draft as of now (13th Wide Receiver).
As a receiver Flowers is most dangerous when being targeted down the field. Although he does not have the size that many of the top receivers have coming out of college this year. This year four of his touchdowns have been on passes that have traveled twenty yards or longer in the air. When BC defeated Louisville earlier this season, Flowers was able to outrun two Louisville defenders catching a perfectly thrown ball by Phil Jurkovec.
Flowers’ damage is done in the middle of the field, having 42 of his receptions this year being between the hash marks. This can be concerning due to his lack of size but it also shows two things.
First how his speed and route running ability allows him to create separation in tight areas. His speed really is the useful tool here as nobody covering him has 4.2 speed.
Secondly it shows just how tough mentally he is. Many smaller guys like standing outside of the box where they know they are not going to get crumbled when someone twice their size is waiting for them there. Flowers are the opposite. Although he excels at utilizing his speed to blow by defensive backs on deep balls, 34 of his 54 receptions have come between the hash marks and under twenty yards this year. So there is no question that he doesn’t mind running through there.
I expect Flowers to go between picks fifty to one hundred on day two of the NFL Draft. His speed should make an immediate impact at the NFL level.
Pro Comparison: T.Y. Hilton, Eddie Royal
Phil Jurkovec, Quarterback
Ht/Wt: 6’ 5”, 214 lbs
Phil Jurkovec is a 6’ 5” dual threat quarterback who likes to get out of the pocket and get positive gains on each play. He is elusive, has great balance, and is deceptively fast for as tall as he is. He sees the field very well and during his time at BC he has taken complete control of the offense under Hafley. He is a smart quarterback who will check down if he doesn’t like his reads and take care of the ball. Although he has struggled with interceptions this season that is more due to BC playing from behind and him taking shots late in the game to get them back.
Very accurate as a passer he is efficient at those short timing routes and possesses great ability of touch and arm strength. He is a very confident passer and does not allow turnovers to affect him. Earlier this season BC Head Coach Jeff Hafley called Jurkovec “a true leader” after their victory over Maine.
He has improved on his ball placement skills over the past three years at Boston College. He has made great strides in putting the ball where his receivers can make play while making it almost impossible for defensive backs to make plays on the ball. He has excelled at throwing the deep ball which he and Zay Flowers both benefit from. He does not just focus on his main playmakers. As stated before, he is not one to force things and is more than willing to spread the ball around.
He does have a habit of throwing off balance and relying on his arm strength which is something he has improved on but still needs to refine. Majority of the time when he is pressured he does have a tendency to not have situational awareness to a degree allowing the pocket to collapse. It’s a mix of being too patient and not moving through his progressions fast enough, though he has made great strides in that area throughout the season.
He has shown he can face adversity while being at Notre Dame. He was a high recruit for the Fighting Irish and though it did not work out there his demeanor, from all accounts, has not wavered. Although he did not have great things to say about former Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, Jurkovec’s overall demeanor has been more positive since transferring in 2020.
Jurkovec projects to be a fifth round pick as of now but I would see him going more towards the sixth or seventh round due to his production fall off this year. He is a very talented player no doubt but he still needs to refine a few more things if he wants to be an NFL player. Jurkovec injured his knee in the week 9 game against UConn and his season remains in limbo.
Pro Comparison; Nick Foles
Marcus Valdez, Defensive End
Ht/Wt: 6’0”, 256 lbs
Although on the smaller side, height wise, for defensive ends Marcus Valdez is a player who could potentially make a name for himself at the next level. Valdez has an exceptional motor to play at the next level as a pass rusher. He has exceptional flexibility for an edge rusher and utilizes his lower center of gravity to take advantage of offensive tackles.
Valdez does have one of the best spin moves anyone has had as an edge rusher coming out of college. Honestly the only comparable spin move I have ever seen is Dwight Freeney. Valdez has dominated the ACC, especially during the 2021 season when he recorded five sacks and two forced fumbles. He has played well over 2,000 snaps during his five years of college football.
Even with an elite spin move he is more of a power edge rusher instead of a finesse rusher. He uses his massive lower body to generate power to move blockers with ease. His conditioning as well is top tier as he still is a difference maker late in games, even when he plays a high number of snaps. Valdez’s consistency is something else that separates him from the rest of the pack, which I believe goes hand in hand with his high motor and conditioning. He has progressively gotten better each season at Boston College.
The only knock on Valdez is that he is often slow when reacting to the run as he has been beaten multiple times this year outside when he has containment. As an undersized player for an edge rusher and how he doesn’t have a ton of speed it’s difficult to predict him having a bunch of success at the NFL level. In college he can take advantage of offensive tackles because of his hard work but at the NFL level the tackles are far superior to that of what Valdez has faced in the ACC.
He has struggled defending the run as stated before but has improved. Most of his mistakes are made when Boston College faces teams who run RPO and draw plays. Because he pins his ears back and rushes with such power these schemes typically exploit Valdez’s aggressiveness.
He is very much a work in progress and I believe he has a higher ceiling than most edge rushers although he is on the smaller side. His spin move is unmatched and he just makes offensive lineman look silly trying to block him when he pulls it off. At the next level I don’t see him being a three down player due to him being below average defending the rush but also he can be an impactful third down pass rusher.
Valdez is currently the 50th ranked defensive lineman coming out for the draft this season so it is unlikely that he will be drafted but I do see him being a player who will be an undrafted free agent and could have the possibility of making a 53 man roster next August.
Pro Comparison: Dee Ford