Another year, another crown for Whipsnakes. After two weeks of glorious, fulfilling lacrosse to watch, we now enter the pro field offseason. If all goes well, and y’all wear ya damn masks, we’ll get the NLL back and on schedule in a few months.
Twitter would love to see the PLL run another bubble this winter, which seems remotely possible considering that A) no other pro leagues really have a good plan for the winter, and B) the PLL saw good success this time with their Championship Series, and could choose to strike while the iron is hot.
This isn’t an article to talk about the near future. This is to talk about the farther out future. With today’s results, we now know the full draft order for the 2021 PLL College Draft, and that means it’s time for your first way-too-early mock draft.
Just for fun, we’re even going to throw in some trades we’d like to see, just because we thrive in the chaos (unlike the Chaos, who did not thrive in the chaos today). So, without further ado, let’s make some fans mad!
2021 PLL Mock Draft
Pick No. 1
Atlas LC select Michael Sowers, Attack, Duke
Man, it’s so weird typing “Duke” instead of Princeton. Regardless of college, Michael Sowers is, in many’s opinion, the best non-specialist (more on that later) in the 2021 class. He seemed well on his way to having one of the most productive seasons of all-time before the college season was scrapped in 2020. He’s an elite passer and scorer, can quarterback an offense, and he’s a threat from anywhere he can get his hands remotely free. There’s a good chance he’ll enter the 2021 Draft as the all-time leader in points at the NCAA DI level.
Now, as a counterpoint, if I’m running the Atlas draft, I’m actually looking to move this pick. Atlas has plenty of issues to fix for next season, but they just brought in Rob Pannell to play the X attack role, which clashes with where the premiere talent is in this draft class. Also, having Trevor Baptiste seems to rule out aiming for TD Ierlan here, and it just seems unlikely that Atlas would select a defenseman (my top need for them) with the No. 1-overall pick. So, since they can’t trade this pick in this theoretical mock draft, I have them just going with the best player available and selecting Sowers here. Find a way to get him on the field and let him cook from there.
Pick No. 2
Waterdogs LC select Jeff Teat, Attack, Cornell
Waterdogs played in so many close games this year, its goal differential was only -6. There is a great midfield to build off of, as Zach Currier and Connor Kelly are both fantastic and LSM Reece Eddy was a pleasant surprise. What the roster seemed to lack this year was an alpha on offense. Currier is obviously one of the best players in the world, but he’s not necessarily an offensive quarterback. He’s more of an all-over-the-field guy. What I think Waterdogs needs most of all is a go-to offensive threat that can take charge of this offense and make them that much more threatening. Kieran McArdle showed flashes of being that guy, but strikes me as a far scarier Robin than a Batman.
So what do you get the team that needs to start winning close games instead of dropping them? How about Jeff Teat, aka college lacrosse’s Captain Clutch? Teat would be an instant-impact offensive player for the Waterdogs, giving it another dynamic. He’s also a good passer, with 36 assists in his last full season and already had 15 when the 2020 season got scrapped. Giving the ‘Dogs Teat would also mean easier matchups for McArdle, Drenner, Reeves, etc. The extension of his college career denied Chaos the chance to lock up Teat, and Waterdogs benefit greatly from it.
Pick No. 3
Chrome LC select Tehoka Nanticoke, Attack, Albany
The best player available is Yale’s TD Ierlan, but Chrome seem invested in FOS Connor Farrell. I wanted to give them Dox Aitken, but a grad year to play football means that he’s not worth the risk at pick No. 3, since he could potentially not be available and then be re-eligible to be drafted in 2022. So here’s what I’m going with: Tehoka.
His Albany career hasn’t necessarily played out the way that many of us expected, but he’s still a big, bruising dodger with elite creativity, and he’s performed at an elite level for the Iroquois. I see him in the PLL playing a similar role to what Austin Staats does for Chaos. For Chrome, part of the excitement here is getting a player who can play anywhere on the offense. He’s got the hands to fill in for Gaudet’s role (and good luck putting a short stick on Tehoka). He’s got the size to be the sort of thicc boi body that would make for a different dynamic as a wing dodger, the way that Matt Rambo does. If Chrome like their current attack line, they could run him out of the offensive midfielder spot like Chaos do with Staats. Trying to figure out which midfielder to put the LSM on between Tehoka, Jesse King, and Ned Crotty would be a matchup nightmare.
I’m not sure that Tehoka is actually the best offensive player left on the board. Others might prefer Chris Gray, or Logan Wisnauskas, but I wanted to give Chrome something that they don’t already have, and that feels like size to me. No need for Gray with Wolf at X, and Wisnauskas seems too similar to Guterding. Tehoka, however, gives them a matchup threat anywhere on the offense. If we get Worlds Tehoka instead of Albany Tehoka, this could be a massive steal at pick 3.
Pick No. 4
Redwoods LC select TD Ierlan, Face-Off Specialist, Yale
The draft board breaks perfectly here for Redwoods, who get arguably the best player in the draft at their biggest position of need in snagging Ierlan at pick No. 4. Losing Greg Gurenlian to retirement turned out to be a huge hole for Redwoods, neither of whom’s face-off men cracked 40% in the Championship Series. As a team, they won a measly 36.7% of their draws in 2020, and that’s simply not going to cut it for a team this good.
So how do they fix the face-off problem? Enter Ierlan, who may walk out of Yale as college lacrosse’s G.O.A.T. at the X. He already owns an insane 10 NCAA records, including career face-off wins and career ground balls. His 79.1 percent win rate in 2018 remains the best face0off season of all-time. Plugging him in for this team is like giving them Gurenlian back, only this time he’s not even entering his physical prime yet. The club, had it gone farther, would have had to possibly trade up to get here, but, thanks to seeding, its finding itself in a perfect situation to sit back and watch its greatest need fall to it. Atlas (Baptiste), Waterdogs (Jake Withers and Drew Simoneau won 57% as a tandem) and Chrome (Farrell) all seem unlikely to pick a face-off specialist in the first three picks. Should Redwoods, who already had an elite defense, get Ierlan, this could be the team to beat for 2021.
Pick No. 5
Archers LC select Mac O’Keefe, Attack, Penn State
Talk about a luxury pick. Alright, look, I’ll get the caveats out of the way early: Archers don’t seem to have, on paper, a need at attack. But the big need, to me, is at the face-off stripe, and TD Ierlan just got drafted by Redwoods in this mock. I considered Loyola’s Bailey Savio in this spot, but I just feel like pick five is really high for a face-off specialist that isn’t Ierlan. I also strongly considered Syracuse midfielder Brendan Curry, because his speed would be such a fun element on a first midfield line with Tom Schreiber. That might even be the smarter pick here. I’m not gonna lie, I wrote that paragraph first.
But I don’t care. This would be so much fun for lacrosse fans everywhere. I’ve had very few experiences watching college lacrosse that were as fun as watching Grant Ament and Mac O’Keefe play at Penn State together. Their chemistry is off-the-charts. It felt like O’Keefe getting open by two inches was game over for the defense. Ament would find him anywhere. O’Keefe also brings legitimate two-point range to the table, something that the Archers offense definitely lacked in 2020. as they managed to only hit one short-stick two-bomb all series.
Now, to defend this pick a little more, I might point out that Marcus Holman wrapped up the season with a whopping seven points through six games. In a normal scenario, I wouldn’t argue to replace Holman, and I’m not necessarily arguing that here. What I’m saying is basically this: Archers needs more shooters for Grant Ament to feed, and Mac O’Keefe is both the best shooter in this draft class, and also a player that Ament has an extremely established chemistry with. Run him at attack. Run him as a Chanenchuk-like offensive midfielder. I don’t really care where you put him. I just want Archers to reunite Ament and O’Keefe so that I can watch them play together for another 10-15 years.
Pick No. 6
Chaos LC select Chris Gray, Attack, North Carolina
Chaos made the seemingly crazy move after the group stage to bench 2019 MVP runner-up Connor Fields. The result? Their offense scored as many goals in their next two games, both of which were elimination games, as they had in the first four combined. Fields is still, in my opinion, a good player, and I hope he finds a new home for 2021. His style of play doesn’t match what Chaos coach Andy Towers clearly wants from his team. The attack trio of Josh Byrne, Curtis Dickson, and Miles Thompson played quite well over the first two games, but fell silent in the second half of the championship game. While Chaos play a relatively positionless brand of lacrosse (Byrne scored a bunch of his goals from dodging spots traditionally meant for midfielders), I think they would benefit from replacing Fields with the sort of feeding threat that is a better fit for their quick ball movement and flexibility.
Enter Chris Gray. As a sophomore in 2019, Gray led the NCAA with a Patriot League record 111 points on 49 goals 62 assists. Transferring to UNC didn’t slow him down in the slightest, he’d already racked up 47 points in seven games by the time the season was cancelled. Gray can do it all. He scored eight goals in a game against Hopkins this season. He’s a dynamite passer who could benefit enormously from playing with pure finishers like Dickson and Thompson, and would make such a fun two-man game pairing with Byrne. He also shot 46 percent in 2020 and snagged 15 ground balls, and that sort of efficiency and team play seems like a perfect fit with what Towers wants for this team. Offense isn’t exactly the biggest need on the board here for Chaos. The smarter pick might be a defender, but I just don’t see a defender on par talent-wise with what Chaos could get in Gray. In this mock, they’ll defer defense to round two or free agency, and lock up the best X attackman left on the board.
Pick No. 7
Whipsnakes LC select Tre Leclair, Attack/Midfield, Ohio State
To clarify here, I would be drafting Leclair as a midfielder if I’m Whipsnakes. The attack trio of Matt Rambo, Zed Williams, and Jay Carlson was amazing all series long, and they have absolutely no reason to replace any of those dudes unless there’s another expansion draft. With that said, there’s a lot of Leclair’s game that reminds me of Rambo. I think letting him learn from the former MVP would be great for both of them. Leclair is a certified goal scorer. In every single season he’s played for the Buckeyes, including the one cut short by COVID, he’s managed to score 26 or more goals. His career mark of 135 goals ranks second in Ohio State history.
This offense replaced a ton of production from guys like Connor Kelly and Drew Snider with Zed Williams, but wouldn’t it be fun to give Whipsnakes more midfield weapons again? A midfield line with Mike Chanenchuk and Leclair would be a constant two-point threat. The midfield (well, the short stick midfielders) for Whipsnakes only put up 23 goals during the whole series, which is only three more than Zed Williams scored personally. With as elite a defense as the Whips already have, scoring more goals just makes them that much harder to beat. They’re rock solid at attack, defense, faceoff, and goalie, which means midfield seems to be the biggest “need” they have. Leclair as a midfielder, which I’m imagining plays out like a right-handed version of Jesse King as a midfielder, would give Whipsnakes yet another matchup weapon, a cannon-type shooter on its power play, and another thicc boi to pair with Rambo on offense. Sign me up. I’ll watch him in this offense any day.
6 TRADES WE’D LOVE ON/BEFORE DRAFT DAY
I mentioned a few positions where I’d love to see a trade during the mock draft, so I decided to throw a few out there for fun. Remember, these trades are all theoretical, so no need to get mad. These are just for fun. Unless they happen, in which case I demand full credit for the idea, thank you.
Trade No. 1: Fields Trip
The trade – Chaos LC trade attackman Connor Fields to Waterdogs LC in exchange for pick No. 9 of the 2021 College Draft.
Why the trade works for both sides – Connor Fields is clearly now on the outside looking in for the Chaos offensive rotation, which is a sentence I never imagined writing before the Championship Series. Alas, here we are. I still believe in Fields’ talent, and he’s proven he can not only produce at a high level when given the right opportunity, but be an MVP-caliber SportsCenter regular when he’s on his game. His value to Chaos might be low right now, but that doesn’t mean others won’t see it. Waterdogs runs an offense that better fits what Fields does as a player, and it could use from an attack group that saw only a single player crack five points in 2020. While I doubt that the ‘Dogs would value him highly enough right now to trade the No. 2 pick for him, they could still flip their early second-rounder for the former Great Dane.
Chaos would have a ton of draft capital, already having secured extra picks in their trades of Myles Jones and Matt Gaudet. It might even give them the ammo to, say, trade up in the top three to beat out Redwoods for Ierlan. Chaos get draft flexibility, Waterdogs get a proven scorer, everybody is happy.
Trade No. 2: #TradeWard
The trade – Chaos LC trade goalie Dillon Ward and pick No. 6 in the 2021 College Draft to Atlas LC in exchange for pick No. 1 in the 2021 College Draft.
Why the trade works for both sides – Like I said before, this isn’t the ideal year for Atlas to have secured the No.1-overall pick. The most obvious top picks in this draft are all either X attackmen, which Atlas just got in Rob Pannell, or TD Ierlan. I can’t possibly see Atlas replacing Pannell after just one year, nor can I see Pannell agreeing to move to any spot on the offense except for X. Similarly, I can’t foresee a single scenario in which Atlas decides to replace Trevor Baptiste with Ierlan. So, what are the options? Well, they could just pick an attackman anyways and try to move him. They could reach on a midfielder or defenseman. But I have them trading out of the top spot, and securing quite a haul in the process. Jack Concannon is a fine goalie. 57percent in the series isn’t anything to scoff at. But he’s not Dillon Ward, the 2014 World MVP and one of, in my opinion, the best three or four goalies in the entire world.
Atlas could trade out of the first pick, secure a truly elite goaltender (and we’ve seen what an elite goaltender can do with an average defense, thanks to Blaze Riorden), and still have a first round pick, which they could use to secure the defensive help they so desperately need. Meanwhile, Chaos turns a player they literally didn’t put on the field in 2020 into the No. 1 overall pick in a strong draft class.
So many epic possibilities. Chaos already picked Jeff Teat once. They could do it again. They could add Michael Sowers to the mix. Or, they could do what I’d do, and replace Thomas Kelly (38%) with TD Ierlan, aka the best college face-off man of all time. Atlas improve their defense, move into a better position to draft what they actually need without reaching, and Chaos get to fill their biggest need with the best possible player to do it. Everybody wins.
Trade No. 3: The Map to Defensive Relevance
The trade – Atlas LC sends pick No. 1 to Redwoods LC in exchange for defenseman Garrett Epple and Redwoods’ second round pick in 2021.
Why the trade works for both sides – Massive caveat here that this trade only makes any sense if Matt Landis is once again available for the 2021 season. If he remains unavailable due to his military commitment, then there’s no way in hell that the ‘Woods consider this trade for a single second. If they do have Landis, though, I think this trade makes a sneaky amount of sense. Redwoods have a truly elite defense, and parting with one of those players would suck, no doubt about that. But they would still be able to roll out a starting defense of Eddy Glazener, Matt Landis, and Finn Sullivan, plus have John Sexton at LSM. That’s still a very, very good defense. The kicker is that the defense has to play less, because the trade here allows Redwoods to jump to the front of the draft and lock up Yale’s TD Ierlan at No. 1 overall. Sure, there’s a solid chance that Ierlan could fall to pick four, but do they want to take that risk? This way, they’re guaranteed Ierlan, and instantly fix their face-off woes. Playing less defense would help most defenses allow fewer goals.
For Atlas, they get to bring in Garrett Epple, an All-Star caliber defenseman, to pair with the rest of their big muscle bros. This xreatse arguably the most Twitter-hated defensive duo in the league with Epple and Kyle Hartzell. Atlas struggled mightily on defense in both 2019 and 2020, but rolling out a defensive unit of Tucker Durkin, Cade van Raaphorst, and Epple suddenly looks a lot better than it ever had on that side of the field. There aren’t any defenders worth drafting with the top overall pick in 2021, at least not since JT Giles-Harris opted to play football for a grad year instead, but securing Epple and a second rounder seems like a fair way to try and fix Atlas for the 2021 season. I’m not sure either fan base would love this trade, if I’m being honest. Giving up the No. 1 pick is a tough pill to swallow, as is trading a piece of a great defense. Still, I think this trade makes both teams better, if a little bitter about it.
Trade No. 4: #FreeChrisCloutier
The trade – Atlas LC sends attackman Chris Cloutier to Chaos in exchange for midfielder Sergio Salcido
Why the trade works for both teams – Poor Sergio Salcido. After being moved during the offseason last year, he’s (theoretically) on the move again here, as he finds himself going to Atlas. On a positive note for Salcido, this time he actually lands in the right type of offense for what he does. Salcido has always been a true-blue American, by which I mean he doesn’t really fit in with the box-style offense that Chaos prefers. He had an okay season, putting up 8 points this year for Chaos, but that’s not really the level of production an All-Star should be getting.
So, let’s send him to go play with Atlas, who absolutely love midfielders to take giant iso dodges. It’s all they do, besides shooting twos. The thunder-and-lightning combinations that Salcido could create with Romar Dennis or Connor Buczek would be super fun, and it would give Atlas a style of dodger that they don’t really have (read: a fast one). Meanwhile, we grant John Grant Jr. his Twitter wish and free Chris Cloutier, who, despite scoring seven goals on 41 percent shooting, seemed to be extremely underused by Atlas. Cloutier is SUCH a fun fit for Chaos, where his penchant for bull dodges, tight finishes, and all of his glorious Canadian-style game would mesh extremely well with Chaos and its offense. At this point, all NLL guys should somehow find a way onto the Chaos roster, and this is just another opportunity for that. Like last year’s Salcido-Jones trade, this is about taking two talented players currently playing in the wrong systems, and flipping them in the hopes that both players can contribute more to the other’s team.
Trade No. 5:The (Tar) Heel Turn
The trade – Archers LC sends attackman Marcus Holman to Waterdogs LC in exchange for the No. 2 pick in the 2021 College Draft
Why this trade works for both teams – In 2019, Marcus Holman was The Guy. He led all attackmen in goals with 33. He was an obvious All-Star. He was one of three finalists for the Eamon McEneaney Attackman of the Year. Then, the Archers went and drafted Grant Ament, and Holman damn near fell off the cliff. He finished the Championship Series with six goals in six games, and added a lone assist. There could be plenty of factors for that. Hell, before the rosters were announced, I remember seeing rumors that Holman was considering retirement. But, in my mind, it’s because Holman’s best role got filled by Ament. He’s a natural X attackman, and a dude used to quarterbacking his own offense. As more of an off-ball guy this year, he became more irrelevant. So, let’s send him to Waterdogs, where he can once again be The Guy. Ryan Boyle’s commentary on the Waterdogs not having found someone to be the offensive alpha remains true, so they could easily spend the offseason making sure that everybody knows Holman is once again The Guy. In doing so, Watersdogs could reawaken a currently-sleeping beast, and be with a top five attackman in the league.
Meanwhile, for Archers, they get to jump up to the second-overall pick in the 2021 College Draft. Opportunities abound. If nobody jumps them, they could get their hands on TD Ierlan. They could draft Mac O’Keefe, thus turning Holman (a non-off-ball attackman) into one of the best off-ball attackmen in the whole game. They could draft Jeff Teat, or Michael Sowers. And that’s all just with the second pick. Archers would, in this scenario, still be holding onto their own first rounder, pick No. 5. Losing Holman would suck, but replacing Holman with, say, Ierlan at No. 2 and O’Keefe at No. 5 is a huge win for \ Archers, both for 2021 and long-term. Meanwhile, rather than take a risk on handing the offensive keys to a rookie, Waterdogs could sit back and be content with the attack pairing of Holman and Kieran McArdle, which would be a heck of a pair to build around, especially once you factor in Zach Currier.
Trade No. 6: Ultimate Chaos
The trade – Chaos LC trade pick No. 6 and a second rounder to Chrome LC in exchange for attackman Matt Gaudet.
Why the trade works for both teams – HAHAHAHAHA could you imagine? Gaudet’s just, like, in the Chaos locker room after chirping their entire organization and thanking them for trading him the first time? Ahh, good times. No, this trade isn’t happening. It shouldn’t happen. But, if the PLL ever decides to do a Hard Knocks type show, make this happen. Alright, that’s the end of the article. Get outta here.