Yesterday saw two of the biggest names on the 49ers come off the flag football draft board, when I picked Vernon Davis and Fooch picked Michael Crabtree. Both are solid picks, and I think David's QB / WR vision for Crabs is pretty intriguing. That said, I am really excited to have VD (lol, out of context jokes). I think he brings a huge amount of athleticism to the table and is the type of guy who can create a devastating force on the offense.
Well, I am pleased to say that I think I am getting the same sort of impact on my defense with this next pick. For my second pick in the draft, I am taking Patrick Willis, human being extraordinaire. Similar to the rational with Vernon Davis, I am getting one of the best overall athletes in the game. Willis is easily one of the best defenders in the game, but he also has received numerous accolades on the offensive side of the ball too in high school and college.
The advantages Willis brings to any flag football game are his precision, awareness, and monstrous speed. Pulling flags are not easy - not at all. It requires intense precision and mental concentration. These are the types of attributes Willis displays every Sunday. When he tackles, his hand placement and head placement are almost always perfect. That will lend itself quite heavily to flag pulling.
Follow me after the jump where I envision his offensive and defensive roles on my team.
As I mentioned above, Willis is no stranger to sound offensive play. I don't think he has the skill set to be a star offensive player on a flag football team, like Vernon Davis does. In all likelihood, he won't stretch the field too much, and when he does get the ball in his hands, his speed will get him to a sideline. He probably won't juke too many players out of their shoes. So how I envision Willis on my offense is a sort of slot receive, who can also come in to pass block if needed (see, versatility! That's the name of the game in this draft). What I imagine happening is Vernon stretching the field pretty consistently. So consistently, in fact, that he will probably need to be double covered. He's just too tall and fast. Willis, therefore, can utilize his speed to run a lot of crossing routes - routes which are designed to leave slower players in his wake. He may not pick up yardage in huge chunks, but he will pick up small chunks well enough that he becomes a true nuisance to a defense.
This is where Willis really shines, though. I picked Vernon with my first pick because he is the exact type of guy who can support an entire flag football offense. Willis, on the other hand, can do the same thing for defense. Again, like on offense, Willis brings a huge degree of versatility to the defense. We have all seen how darn well he can cover almost anybody in the NFL, save maybe the speediest of the receivers. He is especially good at covering tight end types. As such, I would be entirely comfortable having Willis line up as a CB in this flag football game. He could absolutely play the position.
That would be a waste of his talent, however, which is sideline-to-sideline speed. He can, and would, cover the middle of the field with aplomb. Some of the biggest yardage gains in flag football occur when a QB just decides to take off. Maybe the pass rush got tired of Mississipping, or the QB evaded the blitz. Either way, it is always good to have a QB spy. Willis can be that guy. He can shade the QB, going wherever he goes and never letting him cross the line of scrimmage. That takes away an offense's weapon. Big time. Moreover, all those short, pesky underneath routes? Covered. Maybe a corner loses his footing and is a couple yards behind a receiver running underneath the deeper routes. In that case, Willis has the speed and instincts to not only pick up that coverage but still watch the QB. So, Willis will me my sort of roaming ILB. His job will be to intimidate and stop the QB and underneath routes. Essentially, his job will be to just be Patrick Willis.