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Mock Draft 2.0: Who Will Go No. 1?

With the 2015 NLL Draft on Monday, Sept. 28 just days away, National Lacrosse League draft guru Stephen Stamp from Inside Lacrosse has posted his updated Mock Draft 2.0 on IL Indoor. Who will go first overall and which other prospects will hear their names called early? Watch live on NLL.com starting at 7 p.m. ET as one of the most highly-anticipated drafts in the league’s 30-year history unfolds with generational talent in a draft class that includes Wes Berg, Turner Evans, Graeme Hossack, Jesse King, Randy Staats, Lyle Thompson and more.

“The 2015 National Lacrosse League draft is rapidly approaching; it goes Monday at the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre starting at 7 p.m. I’ll have the live webcast call of the draft along with Claude Feig,” Stamp writes. “The big question still remains, who will we be talking about as the first pick? In fact, all the picks are very much up in the air this year. There are five players who are legitimate first-overall talents and in which order their names are called is still anybody’s guess.”

I’ve talked to people from the organizations with the high picks, and I truly believe that they really don’t know yet which way they’re going to go. There are so many moving pieces that it’s a remarkably difficult draft to predict. That, of course, makes it a lot of fun, too.

With my Mock Draft 1.1, I proposed a trade with Rochester sending the second pick to Georgia for the fifth and sixth picks. I still like the idea; I think it makes a ton of sense for both teams, but I’m not getting any sense that it is likely to happen. So as you scroll down, you’ll see my first round of picks play out with everyone taking their own turns. I’m not convinced that’s going to happen, either—don’t be surprised to see some trades, whether it be the one I suggested others—but that’s the way I’ll play it out for now.

1) Georgia Swarm: Lyle Thompson, RF, Onondaga Redhawks and University at Albany

It’s been a lot of fun watching Thompson play at the World Indoor Lacrosse Championships. He’s so fluid and quick and he plays with such joy. As much as I think they could better serve their franchise by taking one of the other top prospects with this pick and taking the slight risk that Rochester would pick him, I understand why Georgia will probably make this selection. Teaming Lyle with his brother Miles would be a boon both on and off the floor. Losing Callum Crawford to Colorado in free agency is a blow to the offence but filling that spot with Lyle provides a substantial cushion to that blow.

2) Rochester Knighthawks: Randy Staats, RF, Six Nations Chiefs and Syracuse University

You can make a very strong argument that Staats is not the right pick for the Knighthawks here. I still like the trade idea I floated in Mock Draft 1.1 in which Rochester would send this pick to Georgia for the fifth and sixth picks, with one of which I’m confident they could still get Staats. That possibility doesn’t seem to be gaining much traction as far as I can tell, though, so I’m going to guess that Rochester will take Cody Jamieson’s cousin even though there isn’t much need or room for him with all the strong righties the team boasts. Staats had a very good summer with the Chiefs including excellent play in the MSL finals, and he’s been very good at the WILC as well. He’s going to be a good NLL player for years.

3) Georgia Swarm: Graeme Hossack, LD, Brooklin Redmen and Lindenwood University

If you haven’t seen much of Hossack, you may wonder how Georgia picks him ahead of some of star offensive prospects such as Wes Berg and Jesse King. If you have watched him as much as I have, you don’t wonder at all. He’s ready to play at a high level from his first practice. He was Brooklin’s nominee for Major Series Lacrosse MVP. It is extraordinarily rare for a defender to be honoured like that, and it speaks to how important he was to that team. Georgia has some good defenders but Hossack may well be the best on the team the day he hits the floor with the team.

4) Calgary Roughnecks: Wesley Berg, RF, Oakville Rock and University of Denver

This pick doesn’t change. A physical specimen with elite talent, and he’s from the west? Too good to pass up for the Riggers. They, along with plenty of others, will have been watching Berg for years since his phenom days with the Coquitlam Adanacs. The Roughnecks had to move Karsen Leung to forward om the right side sometimes last year. Adding Berg will provide a long-term boost to the offence and allow Leung to remain in the transition role at which he has excelled for them since entering the league.

5) Georgia Swarm: Jesse King, LF, Victoria Shamrocks and Ohio State

It seems almost unbelievable that Georgia could get King with the fifth pick. If this draft plays out the way I’m envisioning it, it would be the best-case scenario for the Swarm. Of course, whoever they take with this pick will be an amazing value simply because there are five really elite players and one of them has to go fifth. Many people would argue that he should go first overall and there’s really no strong argument against it. Adding King at this stage of the draft would make this arguably the best draft a team has ever had. You should, of course, be vying for that kind of success with the picks Georgia has in this draft, but that expectation doesn’t detract from how huge of an impact adding Thompson, Hossack and King would make.

Others Making Noise

For those of us who didn’t get to see him during the BC Jr A season, Christian Del Bianco was a revelation at the Minto Cup. The goalie didn’t even turn 18 until after the series was over near the end of August, but he’s decided to cast his lot into this draft, posing a perplexing decision for NLL GMs. Smallish for a goalie, Del Bianco still manages to achieve excellent net coverage with his excellent understanding of angles and his athleticism. His size may make the adjustment to the larger nets of the NLL a little tricky, but he appears to have the potential to make that adjustment effectively. The big issue that makes where he goes such a big question is his age. Goalies tend to mature later, although we’ve seen a trend towards early success with players like Evan Kirk and Dillon Ward.

And there is a precedent for 18-year-olds to step into the league and perform well enough to be legitimate contributors: Johnny Powlesshad three Champions Cup rings before he finished junior ball. But again, this a goalie, not a phenom who had been anticipated to be a pro lacrosse star since his bantam days.

I think Del Bianco has the potential to be a very good NLL goalie; there are those who label him a franchise goalie and say he’ll go in the first 15 picks. That may well happen. In today’s NLL, though, with so much talent and so few roster spots—as well as no affiliated league in which a team can develop prospects while keeping them in the organization—many GMs…

The other big riser over the last couple of months is Dan Taylor, the big lefty forward out of Calgary who played this summer with the Maple Ridge Burrards…

Come back regularly to IL Indoor. Coming soon is my list of the top 50 prospects for this draft and, of course, full coverage of the draft itself and the league award presentations taking place next Tuesday.

Click here for the full list of projected first-rounders along with more players on the radar ahead of the 2015 NLL Draft by Stephen Stamp on IL Indoor.