There's a slight height and size advantage here, no? (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
We’re now at the halfway point in our six round flag football draft, and as Greg said last night, our two teams couldn’t be any more different. But that’s what makes a scenario like this one fun; we’ve both chosen different strategies on how to best build a squad, and we are sticking to those strategies. There really is a lot to account for when you only have six picks to build an entire team, and at the end of the day it all comes down to what you value in a player most: versatility and quickness, or size, speed, and athleticism?
I could shift my drafting philosophy coming into the latter half, but I think what I’ve been doing so far has been working. I’m happy with the way the draft has unfolded, and I have always believed in the old "if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it" adage. Plus, if I decide to switch my draft strategy up, I’m going to start overthinking things, and I’ve come to learn over the years that the less actual thinking I do, the better off everyone is. So, I’m going to stay the course.
Now I’d be lying if I said Matthew Slater wasn’t on my draft board; I was hoping to add another speedy deep threat to my already potent offense. Unfortunately, Greg snatched him up with his third selection, leaving me high and dry. Nice pick, Greg. Oh well; I guess I’ll have to just settle for the consolation prize in 6’6", 265 pounds of touchdown catching, DB burning, monster spiking, porn star dating, nude posing Rob Gronkowski.
Gronk is an absolute steal in the fourth round and he makes my offense pretty much unstoppable. At this point in the game, the best chance Greg has of covering Gronk is to just sit Welker on top of Julian Edelman’s shoulders and hope for the best. I have Aaron Hernandez as my utility player, Brandon Lloyd as my deep threat, and now I can do pretty much anything I want with Gronkowski; he can stay in to pass protect, lead block for a running play, run the seam route, or just stand there with one hand on Edelman’s forehead while he swings at nothing but air. And that isn’t even factoring in the speed and athleticism that Devin McCourty will add to my offense. Gronk might not rack up as many yards after the catch as he normally would, since all you have to do to stop him is rip the flags off him, but at the very least he’ll be good for positive yardage every time he catches the ball. I mean, seriously, he doesn't even need to get open; he can just run to wherever the first down marker is and stand there, and Brady can throw it high enough for Gronk and his 34 inch vertical to do the rest.
Although, I would like to propose we play just one down of the flag football game under tackle football rules, just so we could all watch Gronk running down the sidelines with Welker latched around one ankle and Edelman latched around the other. But I guess that’s a discussion for another time.
As for the defensive side of the ball, I’m not even going to try to sit here and make a case for Gronkowski as a solid cover man. Yes, he’s fast and agile, but compared to the little guys that Greg has on his squad, he just won’t be able to keep up with their fast cuts. If this were a cartoon, Welker and Edelman would be constantly runing in and out from between his legs until Gronk was just one giant human pretzel. Plus, I can definitely see a situation where Welker yells from across the line, "Hey Gronk! Your shoe is untied!" And by the time Gronk processes what Welker said, bends down to take a closer look, realizes that he is in fact wearing Velcro shoes today, and stands back up, Welker is already long past him and on his way to the end zone. I definitely can’t have any of that, and that’s why I’ll be asking Gronk to play some free safety as well as jam the line of scrimmage. Gronk has enough speed and vertical leap to at the very least be a presence in the middle of the field, and I think he’d be good to break up any of the deep balls that might come his way. Bill Belichick put him back at safety a few times during the regular season to help bat down any potential Hail Marys at the end of the half, and since Greg will be employing a lot of those plays after I go up 35-0 after the first 5 minutes, Gronk will be a good guy to have back there. He’ll also make a fairly decent defensive lineman/linebacker, and I’d definitely trust him to rush the passer. Even if he doesn’t quite get the sack, Gronk is still almost nine feet tall with his arms extended over his head, and having that kind of size right up in Tommy B’s grill will make it much more difficult for him to see all those little receivers he’ll have scurrying around on the short routes.
Like I said when I drafted McCourty, athleticism counts for a lot in flag football, and for his size, Gronk is one of the most athletic men in the National Football League. After all, he did just dominate the AAA-All Star Game Home Run Derby in Buffalo, New York, so his abilities clearly aren’t limited just to bowling over defenders and setting tight end receiving records. I’m very confident that Gronk will at the very least be serviceable on defense, especially given his supporting cast, and absolutely unstoppable on offense.
There are still two picks to go, but at this point I might not even use them. I should just play two men down to at least make this game somewhat entertaining. Your turn, Greg.