The 2015 NLL Draft is now less than two months away and it’s time to start projecting which players will go where from one of the best draft classes, if not the best, in the 30-year history of the National Lacrosse League. Preview the NLL Mock Draft 1.0 by draft expert Stephen Stamp below and find the full story on Inside Lacrosse.
“With the National Lacrosse League officially announcing that the 2015 Entry Draft will be held Monday, September 28 at the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre, it’s a perfect time to run IL Indoor’s first Mock Draft of the year,” Stamp writes.
The first round will be heavily influenced by the Georgia Swarm. Holding four picks among the first six, the Swarm will be adding a ton of talent in a draft that has been hailed for years as probably the best ever. Any first-round pick and many in the second will provide a player with the potential to make an immediate impact, including several players who could be key building blocks for a franchise.
If things fall right for Georgia, they could add an elite level player at righty forward, lefty forward, defender and transition player. The key to how the Swarm’s draft plays out will be who or which positions they prioritize. The big question is, do they use the first pick to pair Lyle Thompson with his brother Miles on the right side of the offence or do they go after a number one lefty in Jesse King?
1) Georgia Swarm: Lyle Thompson, RF, Onondaga Redhawks and University at Albany
The temptation to reunite the Thompsons in the NLL is probably just too great for the Swarm to pass up. Miles and Lyle have produced magic together wherever they’ve played, gaining attention in particular with their performances at Albany and for the Iroquois Nationals at the 2014 world field lacrosse championships. Lyle is probably the most talented of the four brothers who’ll be playing in the NLL come next winter, which is saying a lot with Miles, Jeremy and Hiana already demonstrating high levels of talent. Off the floor, pairing Lyle with Miles would also provide a marketing bonanza in the Swarm’s new home in Gwinnett. For anyone else, Wesley Berg might be the better choice, but for Georgia, there’s a lot to commend the selection of Thompson.
2) Rochester Knighthawks: Wesley Berg, RF, Oakville Rock and University at Denver
This is an incredibly difficult selection to handicap, especially since no one in the organization seems to have much of a sense of who the team will pick at this point. Randy Staats is an obvious choice since he is highly talented, is of First Nations decent and is a cousin of star forwardCody Jamieson. All of those factors suggest he would fit in wonderfully on the excellent roster that owner and GM Curt Styres has built. The coaches on the defensive side will surely be lobbying for Graeme Hossack, the best defender to enter the league since Kyle Rubisch. And with the uncertainty of when and how effectively Jamieson will return from his achilles injury, it’s hard to overlook lefty forward Jesse King, who may be even better than the top righties in this stacked draft. But even after last year’s holdout by Jeremy Noble after they picked him with the second overall pick, it will be hard for the Knighthawks to pass on another University of Denver righty. Berg is big, athletic, ridiculously talented and knows how to play the game. He could be a game-changing presence for years to come.
3) Georgia Swarm: Graeme Hossack, LD, Brooklin Redmen and Lindenwood University
With Jesse King still on the board, it will be hard for the Swarm to pass him up, but Hossack is a rare gem in the defensive zone and you just can’t let him slip away. He has the cover ability and lacrosse IQ to be the core of your defence for the next decade. Think Rubisch as a left-hand shot. Those are high expectations to place on a young defender, but Rubisch himself chimed in on Twitter to agree that Hossack is special.
4) Calgary Roughnecks: Jesse King, LF, Victoria Shamrocks and Ohio State University
Plenty of knowledgeable lacrosse folks think King should be the first or second pick in this stacked draft and it’s hard to make a strong argument against them, other than just how deep this draft is in elite prospects. King shone at the junior level, he was excellent for Canada at the world field lacrosse championships and he has 31 goals and 29 assists for 60 points in 15 games with the Sr A Victoria Shamrocks this summer. He’s athletic, talented and a good teammate. He’s also a lefty forward, and those are always in demand. Calgary needs defence more than another lefty (they’re well stocked with Jeff Shattler, Dane Dobbie and Daryl Veltman), but King is too good to pass up when there aren’t any other defenders at his calibre available in the draft.
7) Calgary Roughnecks: Randy Staats, RF, Six Nations Chiefs and Syracuse University
Again, Calgary needs defence but that is not the strength of this draft. They’ll be able to grab some solid defenders with their other four picks among the first 30 in the draft. Here, though, they need to go for the best player available, even if he plays a position at which they’re already strong. Staats is that player, and it wouldn’t actually hurt the Riggers to add another righty forward given that they were playing Karsen Leungthere quite a bit last year. Leung is far more valuable to them coming out the back door; he was named a finalist for the transition player of the year award.
8) New England Black Wolves: Reilly O’Connor, LF, Brooklin Redmen
O’Connor was sensational in Jr A, posting three straight 100-point seasons for the Whitby Warriors (the first player since John Grant Jr. to do so). He got off to a slow start with the Redmen, though, looking a little overmatched by the bigger, stronger defenders he had to face. His game improved as he began to initiate contact with defenders rather than waiting for them to come to him, and he’s posted an unspectacular but decent 7/14/21 stat line in 11 games. Unfortunately, he had to go back to school to finish up some work and missed a handful of games that could have further helped his development. O’Connor is still a good bet to be ready to contribute at the NLL level soon, but he will probably fall to this point in the draft just because there is so much other talent ready to rise in this draft.
The Next Ones
Lintner will make someone in the second round of the draft very happy, as will several of the other players who will be selected with the next dozen picks (Vancouver has two compensatory picks and Georgia one at the end of the second round for having had free agents signed away). He’s the last of the elite group of righty forwards, but there a few others who are interesting. Seth Oakes has the potential to be a star but spent much of his time playing Jr B after his home centre (Akwesasne) moved down from the A level. Mike Triolo is a big (6’8”, 215 pounds) jack of all trades for Brooklin who can open space for teammates, takes faceoffs or play some defence and he also has a nice straight overhand shot.Jacob Ruest has been a 2-point-per-game guy with Oakville last summer and Langley this year. His Thunder teammate Anthony Malcolm has 25 goals and 44 points as a WLA rookie.
There are a handful of lefty forwards who should go in Rounds 2 and 3, but the order they fall will depend largely on the eye of the beholder. Mike McDonald is highly talented but hasn’t played much high-level box lacrosse. Shayne Adams, Kyle Aquin and Jordan Durston all have their fans but none are locks to be able to play at the next level. John St. John has never been much of a system guy but he had a great final Jr A season with the Toronto Beaches, finishing fourth in the league in scoring and showing he won’t back down from anyone.
The real depth as you get into Rounds 2 and 3, though, comes out the back door. Brad Gillies is a worker bee with some speed and stick skill for the Oakville Rock. Thomas Hoggarth and Bryce Sweeting are a righty-lefty combo from the Peterborough Jr Lakers who both bring size, toughness and…