The Pokemon Draft, Round 3

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In case you didn’t know, football is back. College football has kicked off, NFL is right around the corner. Even the staunchest of football h8trz would have to admit to getting excited about spending every second of their weekends glued to the couch watching some gridiron action. All of this means only one thing, of course- it’s Fantasy Football season. Those with long memories may remember I did a fantasy preview last year. Honestly, I just didn’t care enough this year, and nothing much has changed. Aaron Rodgers is still good. You should draft him. You’re welcome.

However, I knew I had to throw something up before we dive back into the weekly picks. And so, the perfect opportunity to revive a forgotten bit arose. Friends, I present the long-anticipated third round of the Pokémon Football Draft. If you’re new to the site or just can’t remember anything earlier than last week and don’t know how this works, please read rounds one and two first. It’s pretty simple: which Pokémon would be good at football? Don’t worry, you don’t have to do any thinking. I’ve already built big boards for all seven generations. I didn’t get the nickname “the Mel Kiper of Pokémon” by accident. I had to grind and fight, studying tape and avoiding interaction with the opposite sex until all hours of the night. This isn’t a game to me. It’s a lifestyle.

Anyway, on to the draft. The third gen is really where we start cooking with gas. Some of the best talent in league history comes out of this stacked class. I’m talking some all time greats. Legends. It’s deep, too. There’ll be no need to tank, this year. This is the best class in Pokémon football history, no questions asked. I apologize in advance for any football-related daydreams and erections this Big Board causes. On to the field. If you’ve forgotten, the lack of players means everyone’s got to play both sides.

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1. Slaking (DT/DE/T)

I should clarify that this is my Big Board of best available talent, not a mock draft. Because make no mistake- barring a trade or a shocking change of heart, there’s no chance Slaking is going number one overall. The character concerns are just too extreme. A troubled youth with such a huge chip on both his shoulder that his shoulders are more chip than flesh at this point. In the wrong situation, not only will he be out of the league in two years, he’ll drag everyone in the entire organization down with him. But in the right situation? Start writing the Hall of Fame plaque now. A guaranteed all-time-great if he has his head on straight, Slaking is simply unblockable. It’s impossible to keep him from completely destroying an opponent’s gameplan. When he’s right, any play that doesn’t result in a Slaking tackle for loss is a win for the offense. He’s even a pro bowl level tackle on offense. He literally has everything. Except a reasonable work ethic.

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2. Sceptile (WR/SS)

Randy Moss. That’s all that needs to be said. If he merely breaks every receiving record his career will be a disappointment. Within four years he’ll be considered the greatest receiver in league history by just about everyone, which is likely to be the only consensus opinion in today’s social media landscape. He’s just a freak. Speed, athleticism, skill. A set it and forget it prospect if there ever was one.

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3. Metagross (DT/T)

If the best ability is availability, Metagross has the most ability in the draft. He just doesn’t miss games. He doesn’t miss plays, really. But he’s also got top-five-prospect-level skills to with that endurance. He’s a cornerstone player on both sides of the ball, a leader in the locker room, and one of the smartest players we’ve evaluated. Whoever drafts Metagross will thank their lucky stars for the next decade.

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4. Blaziken (QB/SS)

If there’s one thing this class lacks, it’s quarterbacks. However, what’s absent in depth is more than present in pure ability. Blaziken has all the tools to be a dynamic, dual-threat quarterback that could terrorize the league. A long strider with a massive arm, he creates big plays as easily as most people breathe. Accuracy issues are there (as is a juvenile temper), but the upside is huge. In the quarterback starved PFL, someone like Blaziken will be hard to pass up.

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5. Sharpedo (OLB/DE)

Listen, when you draft Sharpedo you’re not looking for versatility. You’re going to get one thing and one thing only: sacks. Sharpedo lives for sacking the quarterback, and he’s almost impossible to deny. He’s got an explosive first step and all the moves, but, more often than not, he’ll just bull rush the unfortunate tackles who can’t keep up with his speed and power. Again, don’t ask him to go out in coverage or play any offense. Just set him loose on the edge and watch him rewrite the record books.

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6. Salamence (TE/DE)

The first true two-way star on the board, Salamence could easily be a pro bowl-level player on either side of the ball. A physical tight end with an absurd catch radius and a balanced defensive end who can play in any scheme against the run and pass, Salamence is just a talented football player. He doesn’t have great lateral quickness, but doesn’t need it with his raw strength and speed. A skilled blocker to go along with his receiving abilities, Salamence can own the middle of the field on offense, moving the chains at will. He’s got a nose for the ball on defense, and uses his athleticism to stand out amongst the many talented defensive linemen that populate the league.

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7. Vigoroth (OLB/MLB/FS/SS/WR)

Like a ball of clay, Vigoroth can be molded into anything you want him to be on the defensive side of the ball. A freak athlete with an inexhaustible motor and a mean streak ten miles long, Vigoroth loves causing havoc and confusion. His long arms clog passing lanes, he’s quick to diagnose plays, and his active feet allow him to arrive at the ball early and with a vengeance. He’s relentlessly coachable and has a thirst for the game. The only drawbacks are his recklessness, temper, and tendency to tire himself out early in games. His passion for the game doesn’t extend to the offensive side of the ball.

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8. Ninjask (WR/CB)

If he were just a little bigger, he’d be a top-five prospect. He’s the quickest player ever evaluated as well as one of the fastest, and is completely impossible to tackle in the open field. Routinely making defenders look absolutely foolish, Ninjask is a terror in the right system. He was made for the slot in an uptempo, run and gun offense, and can totally dominate underneath. Only problem? If he ever is tackled, he’ll likely wind up on the IR. Severely undersized and brittle, you’d better have a top training staff if you want to make Ninjask a focal point of the offense.

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9. Aggron (T/G/DT)

Nothing you haven’t seen before, Aggron is a beast of a tackle. That doesn’t mean he won’t be a high-level player, though. A bit of a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to blocking, he’s strong but not superhumanly so, has good feet and hips but not the best, has solid hands, and has very good size. He doubles as an above average run stuffer on the other side of the ball. He’s as reliable as they come.

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10. Groudon (T/TE/DE/DT)

If football games were decided when teams got off the bus, Groudon would be the best player in the league. A mountain of a player, he’s the second biggest player in the draft, but looks like if Hercules and Serena Williams had a child and then fed that child steroids for 22 years. He can practically lift the entire stadium with one hand. The only problem? He might be the slowest player in the league. He might be the slowest professional athlete of all time, really. He was able to dominate at tight end in college, but against pro defenses he’ll be much better suited to playing tackle. He’s a true space eater on defense, and pity the ballcarrier that runs directly into his path.

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11. Wailord (T)

It’s pretty simple: you can’t get around him. Even if he’s a total bust, he’ll go down probably the greatest pass blocker of all time. He might never give up a sack in his career. The only problem is that he’s so big he kind of cuts off half the field. You can’t really run behind him without being swallowed up by his never-ending body. Shorter quarterbacks may struggle to see over him. He’s very, very slow. But, again, if you run a pass-first scheme Wailord eliminates many of the variables that can kill pass plays. He’s another likely Hall of Famer from this class.

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12. Combusken (RB/MLB/OLB)

Another two-way star, Combusken can quickly establish himself as one of the best runningbacks and linebackers in the league. A Todd Gurley-Le’Veon Bell type three down back, Combusken gets better the more touches he gets. He’s a violent, physical runner that seems to have been plucked from a bygone era, and he can get into trouble with the new helmet safety rules. Be prepared for many fifteen yards penalties, both when he’s got the ball and when he’s making tackles. Still, he makes teams better simply by being on the field, and has an infectious energy about him.

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13. Wailmer (G/DT)

Yet another massive line prospect, Wailmer prefers the thick of the interior to the perimeter. A dominating run blocker and, through sheer size, a decent pass blocker, Wailmer can be a staple at the pro bowl. He’s also a wrecking ball of a d-tackle with a thick, powerful base and a good get-off. Wailmer is Graveler without the off-the-field concerns, and the fact that he’s so low on the board tells you all you need to know about this class.

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14. Swampert (DE/TE)

A prototypical hand-in-the-ground pass rusher with no love for quarterbacks, Swampert is the type of defensive end every defensive coordinator dreams of having. Blessed with ideal size and athleticism and a constant desire to improve his technique, you’ll be hard pressed to find an easier player to install into a team. He’s listed at tight end, but he’s really more of a glorified blocker than anything. Does have surprisingly soft hands, though, and is good catching in traffic, making him a good red zone target. He won’t be a sexy pick, but I’d be surprised if he wasn’t always on playoff teams.

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15. Latios (WR/SS) 16. Latias (WR/FS)

It felt disingenuous to separate the sibling duo that tore up the receiving record books in college, so I’ll bunch them together. Latios and Latias are essentially identical prospects: great all-around receivers that possess good speed, great quickness, good route running, and good hands. Both have pro bowl potential with the possibility of something more, but they aren’t the game changers Sceptile and Ninjask are, and the jury is still out if they can perform at the same level if they’re on different teams. Latios is ranked one spot higher because of his greater commitment to defense.

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17. Cacturne (TE/WR/DE/OLB)

One of the more intriguing offensive players in the draft, Cacturne allows offenses to achieve the 2018 football nirvana known as “Being Multiple.” A wide receiver in a tight end’s body, Cacturne is a walking matchup problem that can rip defenses up the seam or on the outside. He can line up anywhere and requires constant defensive attention. Of course, his disciplinary record precedes him. His role as the leader of the Grass University Pyramid Scheme is well known (the trial is next month), and he was recently busted for shoplifting at a Golf Galaxy. If he can survive the legal issues, he’s a top player.

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18. Medicham (QB/OLB)

An intellectual, accurate quarterback that can suffer from paralysis by analysis, Medicham can probably be viewed as the PFL Alex Smith. This isn’t an insult, by the way. Medicham is conservative and doesn’t have the biggest arm, but you know what you’ll get from him: a steady hand that doesn’t make mistakes and takes the openings the defense gives him. You can win with a guy like that, especially in a league filled with so many all-or-nothing chuckers. He’ll never blow anyone away, but he won’t be the reason you lose, either. The dearth of quarterbacks obviously helps his standing.

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19. Regirock (TE/T/DT/DE)

One look at Regirock tells you all you need to know about him- he’s massive and made of rock. At times a dominating defensive lineman and left tackle, he has a nasty tendency to loaf and drift through games. Like Groudon, his lack of speed will likely force a full-time move away from tight end, but he still has the latent skills to serve as a goalline option. If you have a coach that can connect with him and bring out his full effort every play, he’s great value in the second half of the draft. If not, well, at least he looks good in shorts.

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20. Registeel (TE/DE)

A more nimble, less talented version of Regirock, Registeel suffers none of the character concerns of his sedimentary counterpart. He’s a football robot that cares only for this week’s all-22, but there are concerns he’s already reached his ceiling. Now, he’s still a fine player, but what you see is what you get. A C+/B- tight end and a B+/A- defensive end. At this stage in the draft, sure things become less glamorous when compared to the dice-rolls that follow, but give me someone I can count on to be the first guy in the facility every morning.

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21. Kyogre (TE/DE/OLB)

My high school football coach used to say that someone looked like Tarzan and played like Jane if their production didn’t match their physical stature. Yes, it’s 2018 so we can’t say that anymore, but the fact remains that it describes Kyogre perfectly. All the tools are there for an elite player, it’s just a matter of whether or not he’s tough enough and wants to work hard enough to maximize them. In college, he got by on size and talent alone. In the pros, it’ll take a little more if he wants to be considered one of the best, which, all things considered, he really should be. Rumors of a Fortnite addiction may scare away traditional coaches.

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22. Grovyle (RB/WR/CB)

Another Swiss Army Knife of a player, Grovyle is just someone you want to get the ball to, no matter where he lines up. A natural running back, he flashed enough receiving skills at the combine to kickstart the imaginations of every offensive coordinator who ever watched Dexter McCluster highlights. He’s even got enough of an arm to be used as Wildcat QB (the PFL is about seven years behind the NFL strategy wise). Good in the return game, as well. Doesn’t offer much besides depth at corner.

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23. Flygon (CB/S/WR)

An excellent cover corner with ideal recovery speed, fluid hips, and ball skills, the only thing lacking from Flygon’s game is seemingly confidence. After being beat deep twice in the fourth quarter of the National Championship Game two years ago, Flygon had a crisis of faith. To start the year, he was biting on every pump fake, he was losing assignments, he was dropping easy interceptions, and he was out of position constantly. Ironically enough, it was only a shift to receiver that started to get his mind right again. Flashed some of his true ability in the final weeks of the season, but questions remain about his mental toughness.

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24. Rayquaza (WR/TE/S)

In addition to a pure evaluation of talent, part of this exercise is to project future success. It’s still unknown if Rayquaza will ever play in the league, which is why he is shockingly low on the board. With enough raw talent to be a top ten pick in any draft, Rayquaza is still taking at least two years off to go on a religious mission. People won’t want to hear it, but this obviously makes most coaches question his commitment to the game. He’s also going to be pursing a master’s degree while away, which raises even more concerns that Rayquaza, one of the most dominant offensive and defensive players in college football, may never play a down in the PFL. Not saying anything about his decision, but I, for one, wouldn’t want to turn down all that money. All those impoverished children are still gonna be there in ten years.

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25. Metang (OLB/DE/MLB/RB)

A slower Clay Matthews if Clay Matthews actually still played football, Metang is versatile enough to line up at defensive end or any linebacker spot. He lacks consistency and can disappear at times, but when he flashes, he flashes big time. He creates turnovers at will and will lead the league in tackles at least once. A running back in name only.

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26. Meditite (RB/CB)

Whereas previous draft classes were heavy on line prospects, we’re finally seeing the skill positions fill out. Meditite ran for over 2,000 yards last season and he has a fringe third round grade. Just shows what kind of talent is in this class. Meditite is all about quickness, and, while he may never get 30 carries a game, there’s no reason to believe he can’t have 700 yards rushing and 60 catches in a season.

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27. Zangoose (G/MLB/OLB)

Though undersized and possibly better suited for a more glamorous position, Zangoose refuses to stop playing guard. Many may see this as admirable, I consider it a little pig-headed. He’s proved skeptics wrong at every level, sure, but you’re telling me Zangoose is supposed to block Golem? I don’t see it. What I do see, however, is a sideline to sideline linebacker who can step in and be a leader day one. If he focused on defense, he could have a long and successful career. Just give up being a guard, dude.

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28. Absol (DE/OLB)

A pretty one-dimensional pass rusher, Absol will give you exactly what you think he will when you draft him. Could round out his game and become an every down player, but, at the start, will be little more than a situational pass rusher. He can still make an impact, however.

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29. Regice (T/DT)

The slowest, least talented, and least durable of the trio, Regice can still carve out his place in the league because of his high work ethic. He’ll never be an all pro, but can be more than serviceable as a right tackle or rotation defensive lineman. Is perhaps best suited to a veteran mentor role, the biggest challenge he’ll face will be becoming a veteran.

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30. Hariyama (DT/T)

A beefy, space-eating nose tackle, Hariyama will always grade out as a superior run defender. It’s just a matter of if he’ll ever be anything more than that. Based on his combine performance, I’d say probably not.

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31. Tropius (T/DE/DT)

Like Rayquaza, Tropius’s off-the-field pursuits have scouts questioning his dedication. However, unlike Rayquaza, Tropius is actually still playing. His fashion label may be picking up steam despite his standing as a middle of the road prospect, but it’s doubtful that will have any real impact on his ability to have a full career. At the very least, he’ll look good while playing.

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32. Marshtomp (FB/MLB/OLB)

The fullback isn’t quite dead yet, and Marshtomp is easily the best lead blocker in the draft. He brings the wood when he blocks and has soft hands, to boot. He’s just not a particularly good athlete. He lacks the speed to ever be a true difference maker on defense, but at least he’ll always go 100%.

Next Five

Walrein (G/C/DT), Shelgon (RB/FB/MLB), Banette (WR/CB), Armaldo (DE/OLB/TE), Crawdaunt (MLB)

Coaching Prospects

Duskull, Vibrava, Sableye

Would Have Been Number One But Would Kind of Break the League if I Included Him So Now He’s Just the Belichick of Pokémon Football

Deoxys

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