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Patriots Flag Football: Alec's Third Pick

Alec Shane adds some more speed and versatility to his already formidable squad with his third round pick.

Jim Rogash

We're two rounds into the draft, and it seems that everyone's individual strategies are starting to shine through. Greg seems to be adopting the tried-and-true "best player available" mentality, while Rich seems interested in simply amassing the most gross tonnage possible in an effort to simply steamroll his way to victory. Adam Fox appears to be taking the NES Ice Hockey approach to his draft, balancing small and big guys in an attempt to create the best combination of size/strength and speed possible. All fairly decent strategies, and it looks like the battle for second place is going be a close one.

As for me and my draft strategy, it's all about two things: athleticism and versatility. NFL football and flag football are two different beasts indeed, and certain skills are simply more important in flag football than in tackle football. And perhaps no ability is more imortant in the backyard game of kings than being really, really fast. You can't teach speed, and you can't catch it either, and so it's time to make sure that I get the fastest guy I possibly can. I drew inspiration from The Karate Kid sensei John Kreese when making my last pick, and for this round I'm going to look to the sage wisdom of Mickey Goldmill from the Rocky series. In the words of old Mick, we gotta get speed. Demon speed. We need speed. Speed's what we need. We need greasy, fast speed! And that's why I'm very happy to be taking Matthew Slater with my third round pick.

As an NFL receiver, Slater is average at best. He gets bumped off his routes easily, he has trouble getting separation, and while he has excellent hands, he can't make difficult catches in traffic. Most of those problems disappear at the flag football level, though, and what I'm left with is the fastest player on the team and the guy who will be able to absolutely blow by anyone drafted so far as my team's primary deep threat. Offenses will have three full Mississippis before the pass rush comes, and seeing as how Slater runs a 4.4 40, he should be well on his way down the field before the pressure even starts. Deep balls are absolute game changers in flag football, and I'm ecstatic that I have such a speedster at my disposal. Furthermore, the only New England player that can keep up with him, Devin McCourty, is also on my team, so there's no need to worry about anyone going step for step with him. At the very least, my opponents are going to have to account for Slater streaking down the field on a Go Route, which should leave plenty of open space over the middle for my second round pick Julian Edelman to run around and move the chains cones as Devin McCourty works the sidelines and intermediate routes. With Slater, Edelman, and McCourty, I have all three passing zones covered, and I wouldn't rule out utilizing Slater as a runner/end around reverse guy. I can line him up anywhere I want, send him short, or just have him run deep on every snap. Decoy at worst, major asset at best, and phenomenal value in the third round.

On defense, let's not forget that Slater spent a fair amount of time at the safety position, so he's definitely familiar with the other side of the ball. He's also a special teams ace who knows how to cut off the angle, funnel the runner into traffic, and make the tackle - all huge assets when trying to rip someone's flag belt off. I have no problem matching Slater up as my second cornerback against almost any receiver left on the board; McCourty and Slater on the outside with Edelman covering the slot makes for a pretty formidable defense, all things considered. I can also use Slater at the safety position that he knows so well, where he can use his wheels to ensure that nobody gets behind the secondary for any quick, cheap scores. If anyone is going to score on my squad, they are going to have to earn it, and with Slater on my team I don't need to worry about getting burned deep.

Best athlete on the team? Check. Most versatile player on the team? Check. Fastest player on the team? Check. Back-to-back flag football championships? I think we all know the answer to that one.