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2019 NLL Mock Draft – Rounds 1 & 2

As you might expect, much has stayed the same since my First Round Mock three weeks ago. There’s also been substantial change to the first round, though, and of course the entire second round is new as today we present how the first two rounds could play out when the National Lacrosse League’s 13 teams gather to select players graduating out of junior lacrosse and NCAA programs on September 17 in Philadelphia.

 

I haven’t repeated all the information I shared in my Top 50 prospects list last week; you can find that here to see more detailed stats and further nuggets about the 38 players who appear in this mock draft (33 from the two rounds plus the next highest ranked prospect at each position) and another dozen set to be selected in Philly.

First Round

 

1. New York Riptide

Andrew Kew, LF | Oakville Rock & Tampa

With Tehoka Nanticoke back at Albany, the choice is clear for New York. Kew is a centerpiece they can build much of their offense around. The other possibility I have been hearing for this pick is Tyson Bomberry, but the Riptide just can’t pass up Kew here. Be prepared for a possible trade later in the round if New York thinks Bomberry will be gone and they need to move up from their next pick at #10 to get him.

 

2. Rochester Knighthawks

Ryland Rees, RT | Burnaby Lakers & Stony Brook

No change from my Round 1 Mock here, either (that will be a theme for a good chunk of the first round). Rees is the clear choice for a Rochester team that built a pretty solid NLL offense through the expansion draft, trades and free agency. They got some good defenders, too, but have nowhere near the depth in that end of the floor that they do up front. Rees will be a big addition to address that balance.

 

3. New England Black Wolves [from Philadelphia, Kevin Crowley trade]

Tyson Gibson, RF | Victoria Shamrocks & Robert Morris

Gibson remains the pick for the Black Wolves. He’ll be playing in the Mann Cup, so the team will have one last chance to assess him, but it’s unlikely that even if he had a poor performance in that series that New England would move off him. You’re generally not making a selection this high in the draft based on that small a sample size.

 

4. Saskatchewan Rush [from Vancouver, Corey Small trade]

Holden Garlent, LT | Brooklin LC & Canisius

Nanticoke staying in school impacts the Rush here because Rees may well have fallen to them had Nanticoke come out. The Rush won’t be disappointed to get Garlent, though. He is a quality player ready to contribute immediately.

 

5. Halifax Thunderbirds

Warren Jeffrey, LD | Brampton Excelsiors & Vermont

The Thunderbirds are anticipating the canoe journey from Six Nations to Halifax will wrap up in Nova Scotia on October 1. Expect Jeffrey to be there as part of the welcome committee while he gets familiar with his new lacrosse home.

 

6 Colorado Mammoth

Clarke Petterson, RF | Brampton Excelsiors & Cornell

With no other forward on the board nearly as ready to step in and make significant contributions at the pro level, this remains a safe bet for the Mammoth to grab Petterson.

 

7. Calgary Roughnecks [from New England, Shawn Evans trade]

Liam LeClair, RD | Six Nations Arrows & Windsor

LeClair’s play in the Major Series Lacrosse finals only reinforced that he is ready to play at the highest levels. While it’s a nice touch that Liam will go to his brother Kellen’s former team, the Roughnecks are legitimately taking the best player available.

 

8. Calgary Roughnecks [from San Diego, Wes Berg trade]

Zach Manns, LF | Victoria Shamrocks Jr A & Drexel

This is the spot where I heard the most disagreement to my first round mock a few weeks ago when I gave the Roughnecks Keegan Bell. The consensus was that it was just too high to take him. My feeling earlier was that with Wes Berg not returning, Rhys Duch missing the summer season with an injury and not a lot of righty depth on the roster, it seemed like Calgary just had to pick a righty forward here, especially since they don’t have another selection until the third round, 40th overall.

But with Riley Loewen officially not returning (signed over the weekend with Vancouver) and the prevailing rumors that Dane Dobbie is likely headed to either join Loewen in Vancouver or down to San Diego, a lefty is definitely in play. I wasn’t really comfortable with any of the righties this high, and I’m not 100% comfortable with Manns this high either; most of the evaluators I’ve spoken to say he’s a strong talent but possibly not ready for the NLL yet.

 

9. Saskatchewan Rush

Trevor Smyth, LD | Oakville Rock & RIT

I’ll stick with Smyth to the Rush. I think they’ll appreciate his strong all-around game and steady play. As a team that has tended to be a little righty-heavy out the back door, Saskatchewan could welcome the chance to add a pair of first-round lefty D-trannies in addition to the return of Jeff Cornwall.

 

10. New York Riptide [from Toronto via Saskatchewan, Jeff Cornwall trade]

Tyson Bomberry, LD | Six Nations Chiefs & Syracuse

Given the chatter about Bomberry possibly going to New York first, the Riptide should be thrilled that he’s available at 10, where they can get him without having to give up any other assets. If I were a GM with a pick from 2 to 9, though, I would certainly be expressing some serious interest in taking Bomberry to boost the trade value if New York decides they need to move up to get him.

 

11. Georgia Swarm

Ryan MacSpadyen, LT | Brooklin LC & Mercy

I would tend to assume that with Holden Cattoni gone in the expansion draft and Joel Tinney traded to New England, Bryan Cole is likely to move up to forward full time. That would mean they really need to add a defense/transition player who is ready to play regular minutes right away. Kason Tarbell, Brent Noseworthy and Justin Robinson are all intriguing prospects, but no defender is more ready to step into a lineup than McSpadyen, who has four years of MSL experience under his belt and has shown that he can play the up-tempo game that suits the NLL.

 

12. Buffalo Bandits

Kason Tarbell, RD | Six Nations Chiefs & Cornell

Yes, the Bandits lost a pair of forwards in the expansion draft, but one reason for that was that they were exceptionally deep at forward. They still have a strong returning group up front and they have expressed that they feel pretty comfortable with the depth players they had in the system. The drop off from a forward they could get here to one they could get at 30 is not actually that steep, so it makes sense to go for their preferred defender. I have to believe that would be Tarbell, who played very well this summer for co-Head Coaches Rich Kilgour and John Tavares in Six Nations. He is reliable in his own zone and efficient at moving the ball up the floor.

 

13. Georgia Swarm [from Calgary, 2017 draft picks trade]

Brent Noseworthy, LD | Brooklin LC & Michigan

With Joel White returning to the team and McSpadyen added two picks earlier, this selection seems to scream lefty forward for the Swarm. But would the lefty they could get here be substantially better than either Hiana Thompson or one that they could get with one of their three second-round picks? I would argue no, which opens the door to picking a high-upside defender who is a bit of a project but could turn out to be an excellent player for them with some patient development. Noseworthy is big, strong, athletic, coachable and improving at warp speed.

 

14. Halifax Thunderbirds [compensatory pick, Matt Vinc signing]

Justin Robinson, LT | Brooklin Lacrosse Club

The Thunderbirds have Chris Boushy coming back off breakout seasons in both the NLL and WLA, Austin Shanks, three other forwards signed to multi-year contracts and Stephen Keogh signed up for one season. And that’s just the right side. On the left side they have Cody Jamieson, Kyle Jackson and Ryan Benesch returning. And, while things improved down the stretch, they still gave up the second-most goals in the league in 2019. That’s why, even after taking Warren Jeffrey with their first pick, I’ve got Halifax going back to the well on defense and choosing Robinson. He isn’t the prototypical defender, but he fits the style the team has adopted the last couple of years that is much more open to running in transition. Robinson is fast, has good hands, makes sound decisions and can play solid defense despite not being the biggest guy on the floor.

 

15 Toronto Rock [comp pick, Brodie Merrill signing]

Jake Fox, RF | Brooklin LC & Johns Hopkins

With David Brock signed as a free agent from New England and promising young defenders Brad Lyons, Scott Dominey, Mitch Gustavsen and Adam Jay all re-signed, the back end is looking pretty deep. That gives Toronto a chance to go after a forward and it could well be a righty. Yes, the Rock signed Dan Dawson. But they also lost Dan Lintner to expansion and traded away Phil Caputo. GM Jamie Dawick and HC Matt Sawyer will be familiar with Fox from facing him four times in MSL this summer with the Oakville Rock. Fox is a big banger and willing worker, which could be useful to help create space for rock righties Dawson, Tom Schreiber and Rob Hellyer.

 

16. Saskatchewan Rush [comp pick, Dan Dawson signing]

Travis Longboat, RF | Six Nations Arrows Jr A

With their third pick of the first round (if they don’t trade one, as they have been wont to do), I see the Rush taking a forward. I’ll go with the highly skilled and smooth as silk Longboat. Other possibilities could be Keegan Bell, who is bigger and has a great outside shot, or Matt Van Galen, who is closer to approximating the skill set of the departed Curtis Knight, which might make him fit more readily into the role that the Rush would see for an incoming righty.

 

17. New England Black Wolves [comp pick, Aaron Bold signing]

Aaron Forster, RT | Burnaby Lakers & NJIT

I’ll stick with Forster to New England and a reunion with his Jr A coaches, Glenn Clark and Clem D’Orazio. Forster’s bad luck in breaking his thumb in his first WLA game will definitely affect his draft ranking for many teams, but if anyone knows what the athletic Ottawa native is capable of its Clark and D’Orazio. Forster could prove to be a steal at 17, although there is risk in taking him when his injury deprived him of a chance to demonstrate what he can do against men at the highest levels of play.

 

Second Round

 

18. Rochester Knighthawks

Devyn Mayea, LD | Burlington Chiefs & Nipissing

There is no clear best player available at this point among the big mass of solid but not sure-fire prospects, so let’s consider the Knighthawks’ positions of need. They’re more or less set in goal with a hotshot young prospect, a steady veteran backup and a talented journeyman looking to make his mark in the league (Hartley, Fryer and Wende, respectively). Their right side is probably already above average, which is quite an accomplishment for a team in its first year. The left side has one established NLL starter and a handful of guys (Kealey, Saunders, Michel) trying to establish (or re-establish) themselves, of whom precedent says some will succeed and some won’t. On D, they have a nice mix of veterans, second-chance guys and youth, with Rees being the shining light. So, a lefty forward or a defender makes sense. In my rankings, the available defenders are several spots ahead of the lefties, so I’ll stick with them and give the Knighthawks Mayea (pronounced my-YAY). He’s big and strong, has some wheels and stick skills, and comes from a program in Burlington that has been highly competitive and producing some defenders who are earning regular roles in the pros. (In a happy coincidence, this pick is a perfect alignment of my Top 50 rankings and mock draft order, which doesn’t happen that often past the first handful of selections).

 

19. New York Riptide

Landon Kells, G | Peterborough Lakers Jr A

Kells may be a bit of a reach this early. The Riptide, though, have under contract right now one goalie who hasn’t established himself as a starter with three previous teams (Alexis Buque) and one who collapsed during the Presidents Cup (Angus Goodleaf) and—while he said almost immediately he wants to come back and play—has to be considered a question mark until he is cleared medically to attempt a return. There aren’t a lot of free agent options, so picking a goalie has to be a priority. That leaves two ways of approaching it. If they don’t see a big difference between Kells and Cameron Dunkerley, they can wait till their pick at 30 feeling fairly confident that one of them (or even Nate Faccin) will still be there, giving them the chance to address one of their other many areas of need with this pick. Or, if they feel strongly that one or the other fits with them better, they grab him here. A good argument for either Kells or Dunkerley could be made here. Given that their first two goalies are bigger bodies, we’ll go that route for them and have them select Kells, who is bigger than Dunkerley but still athletic. He’s also coming from a situation in Peterborough where the defense in front of him was young and decimated by injuries, so he faced a ton of shots and dealt with it well. That could prepare him for life with an expansion team.

 

20. Philadelphia Wings

Sean Darroch, RD | Brooklin LC & Lindenwood

The Wings lost significant defenders Frank Brown and Matthew Bennett in the expansion draft. Even with the signings of Ian Llord and Daryl Waud, another body in the back end would seem to be a priority (they also signed LF Cory Vitarelli, helping keep them feeling relatively comfortable up front). Darroch is big and strong, has adequate speed and stick skills, plus has a couple years of senior experience with Brooklin. He’s not a slam dunk ahead of the trio of Western D/transition players not far behind him on my Top 50 list (Brett Craig, Derek Lloyd and Dylan Kinnear); if one or more of those three are willing to relocate to Philly, they could certainly be in play. One thing to note is that GM/Head Coach Paul Day has been sticking close to home with his signings—Vitarelli, Llord and Waud are all Peterborough Lakers, where Day is also GM. So perhaps he was impressed enough with rugged Jr A Lakers defender Matt Smith to pick him here and keep the trend going.

 

21. Georgia Swarm (from Vancouver)

Travis Getz, LF | Brooklin Merchants Sr B & Wheeling Jesuit

The Swarm get their lefty in the diminutive but talented and driven Getz. If, as I hypothesized earlier, Bryan Cole moves up front more permanently, that gives Georgia some size at forward. That may make it easier for them to consider a smaller forward with some big upside. Getz sees the floor well, has good hands and will definitely put the team first and be content to play a supporting role, as he did with Brooklin’s MSL club. As he showed with the Merchants, Getz is also capable of putting up goals in bunches.

 

22. Georgia Swarm (from Halifax via New England)

Dylan Kinnear, LT/F | Langley Thunder & Ohio State

The Swarm did sign Leroy Halftown, their second round pick a year ago and a lefty forward, as a free agent. So, I will resist the urge to see them double down and take another LF here. Instead, I’ll give them a player who can go out of either door, has shown some scoring touch, and has the athleticism to give them the versatility that teams prize. Kinnear is probably best suited to playing transition but could be included in the competition for a spot-on offense.

 

23. Colorado Mammoth

Cory Highfield, LF/T | Oakville Rock & UMass-Lowell

The Mammoth traded Ryan Benesch and saw Cory Vitarelli walk in free agency but had Zach Greer return from retirement. I still think another lefty forward makes sense and Highfield may be gone by the time they pick again at #31. He didn’t have a great season with the Rock, but he did have a few excellent games. Combine the promise he showed in those with his size, which is something Colorado doesn’t have in abundance, and you can see how Highfield might be the pick here.

 

24. New England Black Wolves

Matt Smith, LD | Peterborough Lakers Jr A

I’m tossing a bit of a dart at a dartboard with this pick. I would love to put one of the western guys who are next on my prospects list (Keegan Bell, Brett Craig, Derek Lloyd, Jordan Getz), but New England will not be bringing in a West Coast player to compete for a depth roster spot. Smith is a solid defender who could earn a role with a strong camp. More likely here is that the Black Wolves go with a US college player who might be able to make the shift to the indoor game. Possibilities might include lefty forward Bradley Voigt from Syracuse, who has taken opportunities to play box including a bit of junior in Six Nations and at the LASNAI; Towson standout middies Zach Goodrich; VMI long pole Kyle Walsh; or Duke stud defender Cade Van Raaphorst.

 

25. San Diego Seals

Keegan Bell, RF | Langley Thunder & Tusculum

They acquired Wes Berg, but with Dan Dawson gone as a free agent and Connor Kelly gone in the expansion draft, Casey Jackson missing most of the summer with concussion issues, Turner Evans traded away, and the timing of Austin Staats’ return from knee injury uncertain, the Seals need to add some offensive players. Bell is a big righty with a very good outside shot who could have a chance to contribute. With no first rounder this year and no second for the next two years, San Diego needs to maximize its value on this pair of back to back selections.

 

26. San Diego Seals (from Saskatchewan)

Jordan Getz, LF | Calgary Mountaineers Sr B & Wheeling Jesuit

A lefty to balance out the righty Bell at #25, Getz showed at the Presidents Cup this year that he can produce at a level comparable to current NLL players. He is a bit undersized but smart, skilled and resilient. Taking another forward seems to make sense since their key free agent signings have been on the other side of the ball with defenders Mike Carnegie and Eli Gobrecht and goalie Nick Damude.

 

27. Toronto Rock

Matt Van Galen, RF | Oakville Rock & Detroit Mercy

In the last two drafts, Toronto has selected seven defenders, goalie Riley Hutchcraft and lefty forward Daniel Craig. Given that, it doesn’t seem crazy to suggest they might spend back to back picks in this draft on righty forwards to address their need for some depth at that position. Travis Longboat, who I have them taking in the first round, is a talented young player but no sure thing to be ready to play at the pro level. Van Galen is familiar to the Rock coaches and staff as a member of the Oakville Rock. The fact that he was sent down to the Sr B Titans this summer after he struggled to start the MSL season doesn’t suggest they will be racing to pick him, but at #27 he’d be a decent value pick in the hopes that he could find again with Toronto the form that made him Oakville’s second-leading scorer in 2018.

 

28. Georgia Swarm

Brett Craig, LD | Maple Ridge Burrards & Seton Hill

When you stockpile plenty of picks, one of the things you can do with them is pick multiple players at a position to create competition for rookies (and free agents) to earn the few available roster spots. I’ve already got them taking D/transition players McSpadyen, Noseworthy and Kinnear. While another lefty forward might be a good call, there is not an abundance of them available while there are still some promising defenders. With the lineup stacked at righty forward and in net, adding Craig to the mix in a back end that needs some new players to step in and contribute has some logic.

 

29. Buffalo Bandits

Liam Osborne, RF | Brooklin Merchants Sr B & Belmont Abbey

The Bandits signed Cam Milligan as a free agent and brought back practice squad player Dallas Bridle, but as I mentioned above, internal competition is a good thing, and with Shawn Evans gone, there are some minutes available for a young player. Osborne has been a consistent 4-point-per-game player in two years of Sr B and he hasn’t looked out of place at all when he’s got the call to come up and join Brooklin for MSL games. He’s remarkably strong, enough so that his 5’7” height really isn’t that much of an issue, and he blends deft stick skills with an evolved lacrosse IQ. He might not be ready to rip it up in the NLL right away, but Osborne does have the potential to be a regular contributor with a bit of time to develop.

 

30. Halifax Thunderbirds (from Calgary via Buffalo via New England)

Cameron Dunkerley, G | Victoria Shamrocks Jr A

Dunkerley was excellent for the Shamrocks in helping them reach the Minto Cup, being named BCJALL first team all-star goalie along the way. Warren Hill established himself as the starter with a brilliant second half to last season when he finally got a chance to play regularly in the NLL. The Thunderbirds don’t have any established backups. They are bringing goalies like Chase Martin and Jake Lazore to camp. Both are solid goalies, but neither has NLL active roster experience, so Dunkerley should be given a real shot at making the team.

 

31. Colorado Mammoth (compensatory pick)

Derek Lloyd, RT | Victoria Shamrocks & Stony Brook

The undersized but athletic and talented Lloyd is a value pick for the Mammoth, having fallen below his #23 spot in my Top 50 prospects list because of teams’ tendency to select players closer to their geographic base outside of picks very high in the draft. Having taken a pair of forwards (assuming that’s where Cory Highfield is deployed) earlier in this mock draft, it makes sense for the Mammoth to just take top player left on the board, in this case bolstering their defense which is the only group in the league to allow fewer than 200 goals in each of the last three seasons.

 

32. Rochester Knighthawks

Matt Marinier, LD | Burlington Chiefs Jr A

The theme of the draft remains defense for the Knighthawks. The big, burly Marinier is the third straight defender taken by Rochester. With another chance to select just three picks from here, the Knighthawks could go after a lefty forward like Kyle Dawson, Tyler Brown or Clay Scanlan.

 

33. New York Riptide

Gale Thorpe, LF | Akwesasne Bucks Sr B & Ohio State

With its first of back-to-back picks at the end of the second and beginning of the third rounds, New York can grab the son of Riptide GM/Head Coach Regy Thorpe. The younger Thorpe slid just off my Top 50 prospects when some late renunciations were added. He hadn’t played a lot of box before since his 61-point Jr B season in 2014 with the Akwesasne Indians but returned to Akwesasne this summer with the brand-new Bucks in the Can Am Sr B league. Thorpe scored 13 points in seven regular season games but picked up the pace as he helped the Bucks win a silver medal at the Presidents Cup, scoring 6 goals and 13 assists for 19 points in seven games.

 

Next Highest Prospects at each position from Stamper’s Top 50

RF   Marshall King, #33

LF   Kyle Dawson, #38

RD/T      Dylan Chand, #34

LD/T      John Wagner, #35

G     Nate Faccin, #36

NLL