January 20, 2011

MLL Mock Draft: New Format for Star-Studded Class

by Corey McLaughlin | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

Rochester needs a goalie, but Joel White is too good to pass up at No. 2. Besides, Corey McLaughlin writes, the Rattlers could nab White's Syracuse teammate, John Galloway, in the second round.

© Greg Wall

The Major League Lacrosse draft Friday in Baltimore will feature one of the most talented draft classes in recent memory, MLL coaches and general mangers say.

It's also the first MLL draft to be held before the pro and college seasons begin. Teams are basing their picks on evaluations of players' college careers to date and recommendations by college coaches, which is tricky when perhaps untouted players still have an entire season to prove their stock.

Preseason predictions can be unreliable or players can be injured, so the dynamic of this draft is different than in years past. It's like picking a list for preseason player of the year candidates, and hoping the selections pan out.

Here's my best shot.

FIRST ROUND

1. Toronto Nationals: Kevin Crowley, M, Stony Brook (51a, 26a, 69 GBs in 2010)
"The most complete player in the draft," one MLL coach said, and many feel that way. Crowley led Stony Brook to the most wins in school history (13) and the NCAA quarterfinals last season. He scored the most goals in a single season by a Stony Brook player. That's not to discount his passing ability, either, in the face of early slides, double- and triple-teams. "We saw some bizarre defenses that I had never seen before," Crowley said. The 6-foot-4, 200-pounder also played on Team Canada this summer at the FIL World Championships and should fit in well with the Nationals' Canadian-Iroquois flavor.

2. Rochester Rattlers: Joel White, LSM/D, Syracuse (6g, 4a, 78 GBs)
Rochester definitely needs a goalie, but White is too good to pass up. He's still at long stick midfield despite speculation every preseason that he'll switch to short stick because he has the skills. The other option for Rochester is White's Syracuse teammate, goalie John Galloway, the top goalie in the draft. But none of the other five teams have a glaring need in goal, and Rochester can likely land Galloway with its No. 8 overall selection. There are also whispers of Brett Queener returning to Rochester via trade from the Nationals.

3. Denver Outlaws: Billy Bitter, A, North Carolina (22g, 22a, 42 GBs)
The Outlaws need a dynamic offensive playmaker that can open up options for other talents like Max Seibald, Brendan Mundorf and Drew Westervelt. Bitter can do that, as the college lacrosse world first came to see during his breakout sophomore season. We know he was hampered by injuries last year and was the target of many a defensemen (i.e. Virginia's Bray Malphrus' second quarter hit on Bitter at the Big City Classic), which led to a down year, but Bitter fits the bill of what the Outlaws are looking for.

4. Boston Cannons: Ryan Flanagan, D, North Carolina (51 GBs, 36 CTs)
Boston coach Billy Daye's North Carolina ties will come into play with this pick. Other talents, specifically midfielders, will be on the board, but Boston needs a defenseman. Flanagan fits the mold of a pro. He's big, has range, speed, stick skills and checking and cover ability. There really isn't a thing he can't do.

5. Long Island Lizards: Shamel Bratton, M, Virginia (24g, 17a)
It makes too much sense to me that the Long Island native Bratton lands with the Lizards. Long Island wants to add offense, and Bratton can provide it from the midfield. He's been in the spotlight since playing at Huntington High School and, while attracting constant attention at Virginia, has put up 101 career points. Will be a big fan favorite.

6. Toronto Nationals (from Chesapeake Bayhawks): Jeremy Thompson, M, Syracuse (15g, 8a, 46 GBs, 58.2 FO%)
A dynamic presence with his faceoff ability and ability to create transition offense. Member of the Iroquois Nationals team that wanted to play at the FIL World Games.

SECOND ROUND

7. Toronto Nationals: Jay Card, A, Hofstra (31g, 22a, 31 GBs)
Another Canadian that makes sense to land with the Nationals. He's a great finisher and is the next best attackman behind Bitter. The Nationals will have a good night with three of the top seven picks.

8. Rochester Rattlers: John Galloway, G, Syracuse (7.16 GAA, 59.5 SV%)
Rochester gets the goalie it needs, and he happens to be the best goalie in the draft.

9. Denver Outlaws: Zach Brenneman, M, Notre Dame (29g, 13a)
If Denver takes Bitter in the first round, a two-way midfielder could be next on its wish list. Brenneman, a lefty, is built for the pro game. He's big (6-foot-3, 215 pounds), strong, durable (hasn't missed a game at Notre Dame), and an effective dodger who is good clearing and on defense, too.

10. Boston Cannons: Jovan Miller, M, Syracuse (15g, 6a, 48 GBs)
Capable on defense and offense, he'd help out Boston's midfield and be a nice piece between Kyle Sweeney, Jack Reid and Chris Passavia on defense and Matt Poskay, Ryan Boyle and Max Quinzani on attack.

11. Long Island Lizards: Rhamel Bratton, M, Virginia (23g, 8a, 20 GBs)
Maybe its wishful thinking, but the Brattons will end up on Long Island together. Rhamel would boost the Lizards' midfield depth, as would Long Island native Brenneman, if available. Long Island could also use another attackman, and adding Duke's Zach Howell to former Blue Devils Matt Danowski and Zack Greer is appealing. However, Howell could also be a third-rounder.

12. Boston Cannons (from Chesapeake Bayhawks): Brian Farrell, LSM, Maryland (6g, 6a, 53 GBs, 26 CTs)
Boston may have already taken a defenseman, but it could look toward that end again. Farrell's work in transition is unmatched by any in this draft, and he would be a great piece to have for his fast break ability. Cover skills are questioned by some.

BEST OF THE REST

Who would be your No. 1 pick in the 2011 MLL draft?
Kevin Crowley, M, Stony Brook
Joel White, LSM/D, Syracuse
Billy Bitter, A, North Carolina
Ryan Flanagan, D, North Carolina
Shamel Bratton, M, Virginia

View Results

Josh Amidon, M, Syracuse
Sam Barnes, D, Notre Dame
Dan Burns, M, Maryland
Grant Catalino, A, Maryland
David Earl, M, Notre Dame
Barney Ehrmann, D, Georgetown
Zach Howell, A, Duke
Brian Karalunas, D, Villanova
John Lade, D, Syracuse
Jamie Lincoln, A, Hofstra
Jack McBride, A, Princeton
Jordan McBride, A, Stony Brook
Kevin Ridgway, D, Notre Dame
Brett Schmidt, D, Maryland
Max Schmidt, D, Maryland
Steve Serling, M, Hofstra

FINAL THOUGHTS

The MLL is a midfielder's league, and team rosters and the draft usually reflect that. (See: Pat Heim, No. 1 overall pick to the Chicago Machine out of Penn State in 2007.) But this year's crop of defensemen is as deep as an MLL rookie class has seen... The draft begins at 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Power Plant in Baltimore, site of the former ESPNZone, and will be streamed online on ESPN3.com. The draft is open to the public, but not open to players who will likely be drafted. The league doesn't want to accidently have a player commit an NCAA violation (take a team hat, shirt, or more importantly, acknowledge the fact that they plan to play professionally) which would result in making them ineligible this college season. The league published a 12-question FAQ for players concerned about eligibility issues and other draft-related questions... Check back to laxmagazine.com for a live draft blog Friday night and post-draft coverage.


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