My picks: 5 NFL players I'd have in a Flag American Football team
By Eliot Hutton, Academy Youth player
Whilst I am new to this sport and have a tiny amount of experience compared to Coach Babbington and Coach Cluskey I have decided to give my team a chance to absolutely annihilate their two teams so let's get started: Quarterback/Safety: Johnny Manziel (Browns) Although already having been picked by Coach Cluskey I feel that I need to give myself a chance, despite his ability being questioned by most pundits and scouts in the build up to the draft and the upcoming season (of course he should be starting QB for the Browns) this year and the fact he was only picked 22nd overall when he should've gone in the top 5, by picking this absolute beast of a playmaker despite not being the most physically imposing of players Manziel is a playmaker and the ideal quarterback in a flag American Football team. With a 40-yard dash time of 4.68 secs he is easily fast enough and his ability to scramble and make plays outside of the pocket makes him my starting Quarterback.
Wide Receiver/Cornerback: Richard Sherman (Seahawks) Now it just looks like I'm copying everyone else doesn't it? But Sherman is the one person that you have to have in your flag American Football team. With his size and ability to cover ground so quickly (4.56 40 yard dash time) he has to play. His ability on defence is unquestionable and the fact that he played Wide Receiver during college for Stanford gives him a definite boost in value, but most of all his ability to annoy and wind up opponents makes him the easiest pick of my team - who doesn't want a player who can get in the heads of the opposition?
Wide Receiver/Cornerback: Walter Thurmond III (Giants) The big risk I've taken here is the choice of no pure wide receiver on my team here but that's a risk I'm willing to take, if it means I can get 2/5 of 'the legion of boom' on my team, admittedly Thurmond has had troubles of the field but who cares? As long as he can play that's all that matters, even though he isn't the best choice for cornerback he's a Giants player and I want to get at least one player in there so he's my second wide receiver.
Running Back/Blitzing Linebacker: Devin Hester (Falcons) Despite not having played very well ever since his first two years in the NFL he is my running back, the cornerback-turned wide receiver-turned punt and kick returner is fast, and I mean fast, with a 40-yard time of 4.41 seconds he is easily one of the fastest players in the league. Despite having not played very well ever since his first two seasons and after being picked up by the Falcons after the Bears got fed up of him he would be a true play maker; his 6 touchdown returns in 2006 broke the record for punt and kick returns and then he went and broke his own record in 2007 with 7 touchdown returns. His ability to get to the quarterback through his pace would rush any player into making a lot of mistakes and with my defence being so strong I would be expecting a lot from them.
Center/Pass covering Linebacker: Robert Gronkowski (Patriots) Gronk is big. At 6' 6" and 265 lb he would make anyone jump out of the way of him. He can catch, obviously, but it's his yards after contact that make him so dangerous I sadly can't find the statistic anywhere on the internet but I know for a fact that it's a lot of yards, as long you see him charging at you there is no way that anyone would want to get in the way of him even if they were only going for his flags. His size would be a huge factor on defence as well and if Hester ever got tired why not put the big man in to blitz for a while?