What, you thought I was only going to pop in and annoy the other crowd? No, ladies and gentlemen, I am an equal opportunities mock draft-er. With the MLL having wrapped up its COVID-shortened season (tournament? Not sure what the official name is), we now have the draft order for the 2021 MLL Draft.
As both leagues are vying for the same talent pool, things will inevitably get complicated, but that’s an issue for both parties. In the past two college drafts, two of the top five draft picks for the PLL have opted to go the MLL route instead. Anything and everything is possible.
Also worth noting: MLL rules, unlike PLL rules, guarantee players drafted in 2020 who return to college have their rights retained by the drafting club. So, you won’t be seeing Michael Sowers or Jeff Teat on this list. If they opt to play in the MLL, they both belong to Boston.
2021 MLL Draft Order
- New York Lizards
- Philadelphia Barrage
- Chesapeake Bayhawks
- Connecticut Hammerheads
- Denver Outlaws
- Boston Cannons
2021 MLL Mock Draft
Pick No. 1
New York Lizards select Chris Gray | Attack | North Carolina
Lizard’ rookie Colin Burke had a great tournament for N.Y. in his first pro action, and looks to be a good building block for the offense. Connor O’Hara also continued his breakout in a big way, finishing third in goals-per-game for 2020. Those two, plus Dylan Molloy, form a solid nucleus for their offense, but the Lizards could still use a boost, especially with more consistency. The lizards finished 0-4 and had some of the lowest output in the league. Considering they also gave up the most goals, the defense could probably use some help, but we’ll go ahead and address that in round two. With the top overall pick, the Lizards snag a legitimate superstar in the making in UNC’s Chris Gray. An attack trio of Gray, Molloy, and O’Hara would give New York one of the strongest units in the MLL.
More importantly, Gray gives them the quarterback-type attackman that they’re missing right now. O’Hara and Molloy are both great scorers, but they could use someone to run the X and distribute the ball to their various scoring threats. This would allow Molloy to move out to the right wing, where he played some of his best pro ball earlier in his career. The Lizards clearly missed having that type of playmaker at X, and Gray is one of the best there is at the NCAA level. He’s a tremendous passer with top-tier vision, and more than capable of chipping in his own goals too. With Sowers and Teat off the board in this funky draft scenario, Gray is the best attackman available. Also, he’s a New York native, so this would just be fun.
Pick No. 2
Philadelphia Barrage select Tre Leclair | Attack | Ohio State
More box dudes, please. I mean, sure, Brendan Sunday was their leading scorer in goals-per-game, but this is an offense already featuring 2020 NLL MVP Shayne Jackson and former NLL MVP Mark Matthews. Field lacrosse is starting to take more and more concepts out of the indoor game and translate it to the outdoor game. A smart offense could jump on that trend early, and use it to start confusing opposing defenses. Oh, did I mention they also have the NLL Rookie of the Year in Tyson Gibson? The Barrage are sneakily stacked with box talent, and I would love to see them just commit to the bit and become the MLL’s premiere box-style offense. What do they have to lose, after tying the Lizards for the lowest goal total in 2020?
Enter Tre Leclair. He’s a versatile, bruising righty that would give Philly a matchup weapon all over the offense. He’s got legit two-point range, and could run out of the midfield to take advantage of the pro game’s rules. He can move down to attack, where his big boy frame can smash towards goal. He’s also more than capable of running some extremely entertaining two-man game situations with guys like Jackson and Matthews. Draft Leclair, lean into the positionless box lacrosse revolution on offense, and see what happens. Hint: good things.
Pick No. 3
Chesapeake Bayhawks select Bailey Savio | Face-off Specialist | Loyola
It was an extremely rough 2020 for the Bayhawks at the face-off stripe. They finished dead last in the MLL in win percentage. CJ Costabile had to take ten draws and was actually the most successful guy they had. This team has a ton of talent, but they’re inconsistent. What might help them become more consistent? More possessions. They had the fewest turnovers-per-game in 2020, so getting more possessions could easily translate to better scoring. It can also ease off the pressure on their defense to keep things close, as they showed throughout 2020 that they start slow.
So, how do we fix their faceoff woes? TD Ierlan, the best faceoff man in the NCAA by a wide margin, would be ideal here, but he went No. 1 last year to the Lizards, who maintain his rights. So, instead, the Bayhawks swing for Bailey Savio, the Loyola Greyhound. Savio finished 2020 with the fifth-highest win rate in DI, with 68.7 percent. He’s gotten better every single year in college, and could build on a very promising start to 2020 in 2021. Getting more possessions would help both the offense and the defense, and seems to be the biggest need that Chesapeake has left.
Pick No. 4
Connecticut Hammerheads select Jamie Trimboli | Midfield | Syracuse
Raise your hand if you scored the least amount of goals in the MLL this summer. That means you, Connecticut. There were some great individual bright spots on this offense. Ben Martin broke out in a major way for 2020, and Bradley Voigt was second in the MLL in goals-per-game. Will Sands led the MLL in assists-per-game. That’s a lot of good individual accolades, but it also shows me that the Hammerheads are relying way too much on three guys to carry the offensive burden. Still, it’s hard to blame the attack. Voigt, Sands, and Martin all had fantastic seasons, and 2019 first round pick Michael Kraus is capable of a lot more than he showed in 2020. So, let’s go about fixing the midfield instead.
Jamie Trimboli was leading all NCAA DI midfielders in goals-per-game when the 2020 was prematurely ended. He’s been at least an honorable mention All-American every year he’s started, and was a First Team guy for 2020. Also important for a team that needs more goals: Trimboli was shooting a hair under 50 percent in 2020, a mark that shows remarkable efficiency for a big-time scorer. Two games with four goals in 2020 hint that he can absolutely dominate, and he’s got a lot of dynamism to his game. He was also already teammates for multiple seasons with Voigt, which could produce some instant chemistry that could lead to a quicker impact as a rookie than he might have had on another team. He’s returning to ‘Cuse for the spring, but pairing him back up with Voigt for the 2021 MLL season would be great for them, the Hammerheads, and lacrosse fans in general.
Pick No. 5
Denver Outlaws select Brendan Curry | Midfield | Syracuse
Talk about a luxury pick. Sure, Denver lost the title, but there are simply no obvious holes on this roster. Max Adler is a face-off god. Their defense allowed the fewest goals in 2020, and their offense only missed the scoring title by a single goal. So, for me, this pick came down to figuring out what part of the Outlaws to make even scarier for 2020. Considering that their defense and face-off units are already elite, I decided to give them more offensive weapons, because why not? Ryan Lee and Rookie of the Year Daniel Bucaro were No. 1 and No. 2 in shot attempts for 2020. They both had fantastic seasons, so I don’t mean to point that out as a knock, but I do feel like they could benefit from having another top-tier weapon to help ease that offensive burden. Chris Aslanian has done a great job at replacing the X production and feeding of John Grant Jr. (not that anybody can truly replace him), so we’re going to go midfield here.
Back-to-back ‘Cuse midfielders! Look, the Syracuse first midfield line is just incredibly stacked right now. They were having the best season for an Orange midfield since the Gait brothers before they got shut down by COVID. Tucker Dordevic would’ve been in one of these mocks had he been eligible. Here the Outlaws add a nasty speed element by selecting Brendan Curry. For Curry, this might be the ideal landing spot. With teams forced to throw their LSM at Bucaro for the majority of games, Curry would potentially find himself with a ton of short-stick matchups. I wish all the luck in the world to any SSDM who has to try and keep up with Curry’s blistering speed. He’s also run some attack in the past, which could benefit the Outlaws by giving them another guy who, like Bucaro, can be a threat from multiple spots in the offense. Curry also has remarkable consistency, as he’s registered at least one point in 21-straight games for the Orange. He doesn’t even have to change the color of his gear.
Pick No. 6
Boston Cannons select George Baughan | Defense | Princeton
The following two statements are both somehow true: the Cannons are the 2020 MLL Champions. The Cannons had a negative goal differential.
By a whopping one goal, but still, it’s worth pointing out. There are, obviously, two ways to fix that. The first is to score more goals, but the Cannons already sealed that up in the 2020 Draft, by selecting both Michael Sowers AND Jeff Teat in the later rounds. Should either of those players choose the MLL route, Boston gets to bring in a top five player in this draft class for the price of a later-round lottery ticket. Drafting a third offensive guy is an option, but seems a little steep. Particularly considering that, when he’s on, Randy Staats remains a top five player in the MLL.
So, I’m looking to help Nick Marrocco out for 2021 and give the Cannons’ defense a shot in the arm by selecting George Baughan out of Princeton. In just four games in 2020, Baughan recorded eight caused turnovers, which ranks top 15 in DI. He made the jump from All-Ivy to All-American as a junior, and could be in for even more in 2021. He led the Ivy in caused turnovers in 2018 and 2020, and was third in 2019. The man just knows how to take the ball away from opponents. He’s also registered three points and taken three face-offs as a Tiger, which is a lot of fun range as a player. The Cannons won the title already. Imagine if they bring in Sowers, Teat, and Baughan for 2021. Good luck to the rest of the league.
MOCK DRAFT ROUND TWO
Pick No. 7
New York Lizards select Gibson Smith | Defense | Georgetown
Of seven qualifying goalies, Austin Kaut had the worst save percentage in the league for 2020. That’s not entirely on Kaut, though, whom I still believe in despite a rough 2020. So, with the first pick of the second round, we’re giving him some help out front. Ben Randall is a great defender, but they could use another one. Gibson Smith, a 2020 First Team All-American out of Georgetown, would go a long way towards fixing those defensive woes. As a sophomore in 2019, Smith racked up 108 ground balls, a school record for a non-faceoff player, and 34 caused turnovers. He’s started every single game since he stepped onto campus. Against Yale in 2019, he had five caused turnovers by himself. He’s a surgeon with a long pole, and one of the best ground ball vacuums in the NCAA. He’d go a long way towards helping the Lizards escape the basement.
Pick No. 8
Philadelphia Barrage select Drake Porter | Goalie | Syracuse
In two seasons as a starter, Porter has led the ACC in save percentage. The Ontario native made 18 saves against Army this spring, basically handing the Orange a win by himself. He’s a fantastic young net-minder, and could be a big upgrade in cage for the Barrage. Incumbent Chris Madalon can’t be entirely blamed for the Barrage’s defensive woes, but he didn’t rise above the defense either, posting a mere 47.5 percent save rate in 2020, second-to-last in the MLL. Porter really stepped his game up in 2020, and holding that level of play for 2021 makes him seem like an obvious pro candidate. Should he not be drafted first in cage, take a look at Georgetown’s Owen McElroy.
Pick No. 9
Chesapeake Bayhawks select Mac O’Keefe | Attack | Penn State
Mac O’Keefe hasn’t yet had the opportunity to show what he can do as the No. 1 attackman in his offense, but he’s one of the best No. 2 attackmen I’ve seen in some time. He’s a wonderful off-ball cutter, with near-limitless range and a nose for goal. Pairing him up with Lyle Thompson could allow him to play to his fullest potential as a goal scorer, and give Lyle a constant back-cutting threat. Andrew Kew exploded this season in a similar role. With both Kew and O’Keefe cutting around behind a defense, Thompson would either get a TON of assists in 2021, or he could see slower slides and return to goal-scoring dominance.
Pick No. 10
Connecticut Hammerheads select Jared Conners | Long Stick Midfield | Virginia
The Hammerheads’ defense was roughly in the middle of the pack for 2020, but a lot of that has to do with Sean Sconone bailing them out over and over again. They were dead last in caused turnovers. So, to help them out with dealing with those pesky offenses, I have them taking 2020’s First Team All-American LSM in Jared Conners, who is returning for a fifth year at Virginia. A massive, 6’5” frame makes Conners an intimidating physical presence, and he racked up seven ground balls and three caused turnovers against both Loyola AND Princeton in 2020. Plus he scored three goals in six games, which gives Connecticut a similar scoring threat at LSM that Chesapeake has in CJ Costabile.
Pick No. 11
Denver Outlaws select Owen McElroy | Goalie | Georgetown
The Outlaws seemed content in 2020 with their two-man goalie rotation, but I still feel like they could benefit from finding a true replacement for Dillon Ward, rather than settling for a committee approach. Owen McElroy, the 2020 First Team All-American goalie, would be a great chance for the Outlaws to find a locked in starter for 2021, and not have to go back and forth so much. For 2020, he never allowed more than ten goals in a game, and never posted a lower save rate than 53 percent. His season save rate of 63 percent is fantastic, and he’s consistent as hell.
Pick No. 12
Boston Cannons select Chris Fake | Defense | Yale
Fake hasn’t ever been quite as good as he was as a freshman, but that’s partially because his freshman campaign was just stunning. He’s still one of the best one-on-one defenders out there, and he could be a huge steal for the Cannons at pick 12. So, similarly to their lottery ticket picks of Sowers and Teat, this could pay off huge if it works out, and isn’t too high-risk if it doesn’t.