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Trey Flowers’ seven-sack sophomore season with Patriots stands in good NFL company

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Over the past decade, 44 players have posted seven-plus sacks in their second NFL season. Only seven of whom were taken after the draft’s third round.

Seattle Seahawks v New England Patriots Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Over the past decade, 44 players have gone on to notch at least seven sacks in their second NFL season, according to Pro Football Reference.

Trey Flowers is one of them.

His journey began with a redshirt on injured reserve. The 6-foot-2, 265-pound Arkansas product missed 15 games during his rookie campaign with the New England Patriots before going on to establish himself as a starting defensive end midway through 2016. He hit home for the first two sacks of his career on Oct. 30 against the Buffalo Bills, and added a handful more by Dec. 18 against the Denver Broncos. He had three multi-sack games through that span, as well as the team lead.

Then, of course, came the 2.5 sacks Flowers racked up on league MVP Matt Ryan in Super Bowl LI. But the take-down tally that he amassed prior to then proved to be seldom seen, at least from a second-year pro who’d waited until day three to learn his destination.

Flowers stood far from being a top-10 pick like the likes of Mario Williams, Von Miller, Ezekiel Ansah, Khalil Mack, Leonard Williams, Aldon Smith or Vic Beasley. He wasn’t in the Whitney Mercilus to Demarcus Lawrence to Olivier Vernon range, either. And that’s all right. His game wasn’t the same as any of whom. It still isn’t.

But since 2006, only six others who arrived in the fourth round or later have managed to record as many sacks in their second year on the field as Flowers did in 2016.

Here are those outlying six.

FOURTH ROUND AND BEYOND: SEVEN-SACK SOPHOMORE SEASONS OVER LAST DECADE

Elvis Dumervil – 12.5 sacks in 2007: A Broncos fourth-round pick out of Louisville in 2006, Dumervil has gone on to record 99 sacks in 146 career games. The 5-foot-11, 250-pound pass-rusher has collected five Pro Bowls and two first-team All-Pros. He was the 2009 NFL sacks leader.

Trent Cole – eight sacks in 2006: A Philadelphia Eagles fifth-round choice by way of Cincinnati in 2005, Cole has since accumulated 90.5 sacks in 176 career games. The 6-foot-3, 270-pound outside linebacker has been named to two Pro Bowls and has one second-team All-Pro nod on his resume.

Alex Okafor – eight sacks in 2014: An Arizona Cardinals fourth-round addition via Texas in 2013, Okafor, like Flowers, appeared in just one game during his rookie season. The 6-foot-4, 261-pound edge-rusher has since tallied 13.5 sacks in 42 career games, with 5.5 sacks transpiring over the past two seasons.

Geno Atkins – 7.5 sacks in 2011: A Cincinnati Bengals fourth-round pick from Georgia in 2010, Atkins has rung up 52 sacks in 105 career games. The 6-foot-1, 300-pound defensive tackle has been voted to five Pro Bowls, and has accrued two first-team All-Pro selections along with one second-team All-Pro.

Henry Melton – seven sacks in 2011: A Chicago Bears fourth-rounder out of Texas in 2009, Melton missed his entire rookie season before registering 2.5 sacks in 2010 and seven in 2011 – his second on the field. Perhaps that warrants an asterisk. The 6-foot-3, 290-pound defensive tackle has 22.5 sacks in 80 games, and one Pro Bowl honor.

Trevor Scott – seven sacks in 2009: An Oakland Raiders sixth-round selection hailing from Buffalo back in 2008, Scott finished his career with 16.5 sacks in 85 career games. The 6-foot-5, 260-pound defensive end spent the 2012 campaign with New England, logging three sacks in 14 appearances.

It is good company to be in, those seven of 44. It is, even though Flowers is not to be mistaken for a third-down specialist or a full-time three-technique. It is, even though the long-term success of Dumervil, Cole, Okafor, Atkins, Melton and Scott inevitably varied just as much.

They are simply points of pass-rush reference to keep in mind as Flowers enters 2017.

The former No. 101 overall pick does so with seven sacks, 45 tackles and a batted pass through 17 regular-season games and eight starts. He does so with 567 snaps on his NFL odometer.

And he won’t turn 24 until August.