You can treat this final round of the flag football draft as a sort of lottery; compensatory picks if you will, seventh-rounders. At this point, no selection will take you over the top, but you could rummage through the scrap heap and manage to find a nice piece that could complement the others well.
With my sixth and final pick I chose Stevan Ridley, putting the entire Patriots' starting backfield at my beck and call. Ridley's hands are nothing to write home about and he doesn't possess that dynamic shiftiness that Shane Vereen might, but he does offer a different look at running back that the defense has no choice but to game plan for. Vereen might excel more in the flag football realm as his pass-catching ability holds up quite favorably, but Ridley's certainly no slouch; as the Patriots' most productive running back last season, he relied on a combination on strength and back-breaking stutter steps to pave his personal yardage. And if training camp is any indication, Ridley's been used heavily in passing drills as of late. I won't need him to snag every ball that heads his way--just some of them.
Much like Bill Belichick, I believe the two backs work best as a tandem, and it's with that philosophy that I managed to squeeze both on my flag football squad. A few wrinkles to flummox the defense could be the difference between scoring and stalling on a given drive, and I believe capitalizing on the skillsets of both Ridley and Vereen would work wonders for my particular group.
On defense, I'd be comfortable letting Ridley see an opponent's skilled wideout. He could get burned on a few out-routes as he lacks the closing speed to consistently compete, but I feel he'd ultimately succeed there. If not, I could relegate Ridley to the slot, believing his hip fluidity would particularly strengthen that area of the field. With the Amendolas, McCourtys and Gronkowskis of the world earning their wages there, you can never have enough solid coverage.
Now I know what it's like to be the New England Patriots' front office on draft day--it's incredibly tough to target the guy you want when you're picking from the bottom of each round. But, much like the Patriots, you just have to do that much more homework on the personnel and find those diamonds in the rough that can truly make the roster elegantly shine. I feel I did just that, selecting a gritty group that will happily and effortlessly go toe-to-toe with the front-loaded rosters of Alec, Greg and Rich. There's lots of speed, lots of evasiveness and a treasure trove of "football I.Q." that really helps put into perspective how Belichick the GM might evaluate his own players.
It was an absolute thrill to draft with such smart and skilled writers like Alec, Greg and Rich, and I had to constantly stay on my toes to be sure neither one of them sneakily thought two moves ahead of me. Now that the back-patting and congratulating has concluded, we'll adjust our game faces and let our readers act as judge.