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2022 Rookie Review: Dallis Flowers Leads NFL In Yards Per Kickoff Return

Flowers, an undrafted free agent, logged time as both a kick returner and cornerback and earned a spot on the Pro Football Writers Association All-Rookie team as a kick returner. 

Dallis Flowers

2022 Statistics

  • Games played: 13 (1 start)
  • Kickoff returns: 23
  • Kickoff return yards: 715
  • Yards per kickoff return: 31.1
  • Longest kickoff return: 89 yards
  • Defensive snaps played: 174 (19.8 percent)
  • Tackles: 14

The Big Picture

Undrafted rookies who flash during training camp but don't have a clear path to playing time will often wind up on a team's practice squad to start a season – the stash and develop method. But before that player can be signed to a practice squad, he has to clear waivers first, meaning any team can claim him and put him on their 53-man roster. It's what the Colts did to land cornerback Kenny Moore II back in 2017 after the New England Patriots released the undrafted rookie from Valdosta State.

But sometimes, teams believe a player has such intriguing upside that they don't want to expose him to waivers. That's how the Colts felt about Flowers, the undrafted cornerback from Pittsburg State whose speed and athleticism showed up during training camp – but who also didn't have a clear path to playing as a reserve cornerback or returner. The Colts lined up Isaiah Rodgers Sr. as their kickoff returner and Nyheim Hines as their punt returner going into the season, after all.

Flowers kept working behind the scenes, though, and his confidence in what he could do with an opportunity never wavered.

"Coming into this, I wasn't even supposed to be here," Flowers said in December. "You know what I'm saying? Coming from an NAIA or Division II school, I wasn't supposed to be here. But I knew I was good enough to be here."

That opportunity came at halftime of the Colts' Week 12 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, when Rodgers suggested Flowers get a shot as kickoff returner to special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone. Flowers scythed 89 yards on the opening kick of the second half, sparking him to a remarkable finish to his rookie year:

Flowers, who had returns of 89, 49 and 48 yards, this week was named to the PFWA All-Rookie Team as a kick returner. But he also logged time at cornerback over the final quarter of the season, including his first career start, which came in Week 18 against the Houston Texans.

At every turn, Flowers beat the odds in 2022, from making the Colts' 53-man roster as an undrafted free agent out of Pittsburg State to leading the NFL in yards per kickoff return. Not bad for a guy who was told in the pre-draft process his film was good, but – as Flowers recalled: "I don't really know how good you are for real because you're going against future teachers."

But when Flowers went against current NFL players, he looked pretty good, too.

Season Highlights

View some of the best photos of cornerback Dallis Flowers in his 2022 debut season with the Colts.

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