It's slim pickings by the time we approach the tail end of round three in this year's Patriots Flag Football draft. Many, if not all, of the Patriots' premier playmakers on offense have already been plucked and some schematic creativity will certainly be required to claim the throne.
When I perused the projected 53-man roster for the 53rd time this week, I had a very welcome "a-ha!" moment when venturing beyond the standard receiver and running back fare. It was almost too good to be true, so I quickly entered my selection and waited for my colleagues' reactions.
With my third pick, I selected Leon Washington.
All the tumultuous happenings that have seemingly cursed the Patriots' 2013 offseason certainly put a damper on the solid acquisitions the team did make. In this writer's opinion, look no further than the signing of KR specialist Leon Washington when you start to mine for diamonds in the rough.
Washington sufficiently fills a glaring need the Patriots have been suffering for years. No, not the defense--the kick return game. A running back in a previous life, Washington most recently served as the kickoff return specialist for the Seattle Seahawks, ranking second in the league last season with an average of 29 yards per attempt. He's not really viewed as a viable backfield threat anymore as he enters the twilight of his career, but he doesn't have to be on the New England Patriots--or in my flag football batallion.
I just need Leon to make people miss. Lots of them.
Washington, like Vereen before him, is absolutely terrifying in open space, relying on a combination of speed, footwork and shiftiness to evade defenders and get to the sidelines where his track-like acceleration outpaces most. Washington's projections on a flag football team are drool-inducing, utilizing his juicy skillset to keep up with just about any offensive threat my opponents manage to throw at me while establishing a furious propensity to create points in a variety of ways on offense. He's certainly not the youngest guy on my team, but when the pads are shed and contact disallowed, Washington will be able to flourish out of the backfield or out receiving. I think he'll be superlative in the slot, stymieing any advantage my cohorts once held with the athletic likes of Julian Edelman and Devin McCourty.
I now possess two offensive workhorses in Shane Vereen and Leon Washington that boast a staggering amount of versatility (where have you heard that before?) and a bastion on defense in Jerod Mayo that has the sideline-to-sideline speed to keep up with the little guys over the middle. I like where my team's at, but there's still a handful of pieces needed to complete it.
Let's hope Alec's towering ego gets the best of him as he makes the first selection in round four.