New England Patriots wide receiver Donte Stallworth (19) during OTA on the practice field at Gillette Stadium.
Heading into the final round of this Patriots Flag Football Draft, I feel that I've built a really solid team that is very well balanced. I've got the two quickest, shiftiest players on the team in Wes Welker and Julian Edelman. I've got two versatile defensive pieces in Pat Chung and Nate Ebner, and I've got another solid two-way player in Matthew Slater.
Alec certainly made an interesting decision with his selection of Nate Solder. I'd be lying if I said I didn't consider him at any point in the draft. He's a big body who can protect Brady for his team, and originally entered college as a tight end. Unfortunately for Alec, pass rush has little to do with flag football, and if Solder was going to make a good tight end, he would have stayed at the position. And while I'd hate to try to defend a screen having to knife through blockers such as Solder, Gronkowski, and Hernandez, I think Solder is going to be more of a liability than anything else on defense.
This being said, I'd like to take back some of the athleticism I lost out to Alec's selection of players such as Devin McCourty with my final regular pick (we might do doing a selection of a "defensive specialist" tomorrow). Most of my selections to this point have been versatile two way pieces, and I think it's about time I take a flier on a one-way threat. I'm going to use my sixth selection on wide receiver Donte Stallworth.
If there's one thing my team was lacking up until this selection, it was a legitimate deep threat. Matt Slater is a player with a lot of speed who will certainly command respect deep and could come up with a catch or two in the hypothetical game, but I can't really expect him to be a consistent threat in that portion of the field. The selection of Donte Stallworth will certainly help in that area.
While he hasn't been a big-time producer the last couple of years, Stallworth has proven experience in this league, and proved last year in Washington that he still has elite speed. If you remember, Stallworth was really dynamic after the catch during his lone year with the Patriots in 2007, and was recently being used as a kick returner in training camp. He's got a decent amount of chemistry with Tom Brady, and his presence will help divert attention from Welker and Edelman underneath. In addition, Stallworth's presence should virtually guarantee that Slater receives little attention deep.
Defensively, I think I can get enough out of Stallworth. While he hasn't played the position in years, Stallworth was an All-State defensive back during his time at Grant High School, coming up with four interceptions his senior season. I wouldn't call Stallworth a two-way player in the mold of a Julian Edelman or Matt Slater, but I think he'll be effective enough as my fourth or fifth defensive back.
With Stallworth and his elite speed now part of my squad, I believe my team has it all: speed, versatility, quickness, and football intelligence. Bring it on Alec, we're just about ready.