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Mock PLL College Draft: Where do the top college players land?

The 2020 PLL College Draft will take place on May 13 at 7pm ET and we can all watch via NBC Sports Network. This is the second announcement in as many days from the PLL after they announced their Championship Series will take place this summer, also on NBC networks, in a quarantined, fan-less environment. These two things will give lacrosse fans something we’ve been desperate for, live lacrosse content. The classic college games have been fun, but we need some of that new stuff.

The draft will be two rounds long with 14 total players selected and any trades that included draft picks have been pushed off to the 2021 draft. Only players who aren’t returning to school can be taken, per US Lacrosse Magazine, so TD Ierlan, Michael Sowers and others who will be back in school next spring aren’t going to be taken in this draft. Some players are still up in the air and may return to school but haven’t announced yet. So there’s a good chance this all changes.

A star (*) denotes a player who has not definitively said they will be going pro or been included on PLL draft preview releases, and their inclusion is purely speculative on my part. Also, I’m not touching the Cornell guys because there’s just so much unknown there that even speculating is silly. With that said and the disclaimer that it is really a total mess (but I blame COVID-19 for that), here is my mock draft.

Round 1

1. Archers LC – Grant Ament, A (Penn State)

When the entry draft happened, the Archers used their picks to bolster their defense and midfield with Eli Gobrecht and Christian Mazzone. The first overall pick gives them a chance to grab a quarterback to play at X. There were two top choices in this initial draft class in Grant Ament, who can play this summer, and Michael Sowers, who is a year away after announcing he will take a graduate year at Duke. Since this draft only allows for seniors who have graduated to be taken, Grant Ament is the pick.

Ament is an electric dodger with elite vision. Playing him at attack with some of the best shooters in the league in Will Manny and Marcus Holman is a match made in heaven. With Ament operating at attack and Schreiber at the midfield, the Archers will have two players on the field who can absolutely carve your defense up with their passing ability.

2. Atlas LC – Bryan Costabile, M (Notre Dame)

Atlas LC acquired Rob Pannell in the entry draft and added Craig Chick at defense. With Pannell, Eric Law and Ryan Brown, along with depth provided by James Pannell and Chris Cloutier, the Bulls should feel comfortable at attack. The defense now sports Tucker Durkin, Kyle Hartzell, Craig Chick and Cade Van Raaphorst, which is a group that should be causing turnovers and triggering transition at a regular clip.

The Atlas did lose both Ryan Conrad and Steve DeNapoli to expansion, and even though they acquired Romar Dennis, could use a little more depth in the midfield, particularly with a guy who can make an impact on both ends. The likes of Dox Aitken, Peter Dearth, and Ryan Terefenko are out, since they’re heading back to school. Fortunately, there’s another option just as good.

Bryan Costabile is 6’2, 210, and a smooth downhill dodger who’s powerful enough to play both ends. He has two point range, and it won’t be long before he demands a pole matchup. He’s a former high school quarterback who had college options in both sports, which is a testament to his athleticism. Costabile fills the gap left by a guy like Ryan Conrad, and is probably even a little more polished offensively. 

3. Waterdogs LC – Nick Mellen, D (Syracuse)

The Waterdogs are in a bit of a tough spot, as they’ll be thrust into the Championship Series without really having the chance to gel as a team, whereas other rosters have a year together under their belt. They added the sport’s most versatile midfielder in Zach Currier and a great LSM in Ryland Rees.

Coach Copelan has clearly valued players who can play a number of spots and are swiss army knife-type guys. It’s tough to know exactly where they’ll plan to go here. I would have said backup goalie after the entry draft, but they signed Tate Boyce. They could use another defender, and Nick Mellen fits the bill for them. He’s athletic enough to play as an LSM and has the cover skills to play down low for the Waterdogs as well. He’s been the top ‘Cuse cover defender since he’s been on campus and should fit in well with the Waterdogs.

4. Chrome LC – Matt Gaudet, A (Yale)

The Chrome have already added a defensive stalwart and leader in Jesse Bernhardt via the entry draft, as well as another capable defensive piece in Donny Moss. This should address their only loss in the expansion draft, defenseman Chris Sabia. The Chrome also have some great pieces in place at attack already in Jordan Wolf and Justin Guterding, and if you look past their win–losses record, you’ll see an offense that scored 12 goals per game, which was the best in the league last year.

The best off-ball attackman in the class rounds out that group perfectly. Gaudet, if not for the shortened college season, had a legit chance to leave Yale as their all time leading goal scorer. He has elite hands and finishing ability. Using him with Wolf and Guterding, and a midfield line with more high level dodgers like Ned Crotty and John Ranagan, makes him a strong fit in this spot. 

5. Chaos LC – Michael Kraus, A (Virginia)

The Chaos went completely to their back end in the entry draft, grabbing Dillon Ward to put alongside Blaze Riorden and create the best goalie tandem in the world. They also added Jason Noble to replace some experience and leadership lost when the Waterdogs snatched ageless wonder Brodie Merrill. The Chaos will also have Curtis Dickson this summer, who was unavailable in 2019, and added Sergio Salcido via trade, giving them an absurd amount of depth on the offensive end.

There’s something to be noted here. Andy Towers is a New Canaan High School alum, arguably the greatest player the town has ever produced. Michael Kraus is ALSO a New Canaan High School alum. I think Kraus in the late first round to the Chaos feels almost serendipitous. Yes, the attack is a little more crowded, but Kraus has shown at UVA that he can still be very productive in a cast of stars, whether he’s the alpha or not.

6. Redwoods LC – Jack Kielty, D (Notre Dame)*

The Redwoods lost Brian Karalunas and Wes Berg to expansion, but kept intact their starting close defense, starting attack, and a crew of two-way midfield talent including Brent Adams, Sergio Perkovic, Jack Near and Pat Harbeson. The Woods also managed to grab Finn Sullivan to replace Karalunas and Greg Puskuldjian for faceoff depth after the retirement of Greg Gurenlian. As if that wasn’t enough, the Woods also acquired Myles Jones in a trade with the Chaos. There really aren’t many holes to worry about filling for this group.

At this point, the Woods are likely just looking to add some depth, particularly with Matt Landis possibly not being available due to potential military commitments. Why not do so by bringing in yet another top level Notre Dame defenseman in Jack Kielty? One of the top defenseman in the ACC, Kielty is 6’2, 210, and plays with the same excellent footwork and physicality as those poles you’ve come to love on the Redwoods already. When your roster is built as well as the Redwoods are right now, you use the draft to make your strength stronger. Kielty has not yet specifically said if he is returning to Notre Dame. Ty Xanders recently reported that Penn’s Kyle Gallagher and Kyle Thornton are both heading to South Bend, perhaps giving Kielty a reason to stay if he needs one.

7. Whipsnakes LC – Andrew Pettit, A (Lehigh)

The Whips got hit particularly hard by expansion. They lost four players: Ryan Drenner, Drew Snider, Ben Reeves and Connor Kelly. That’s 61 points from the 2019 regular season off to the Waterdogs. They were able to get Zed Williams, who will fit well with this offense and do what he does best: score goals. They also added TJ Comizio, another great athlete who can have a two-way impact, bolstering their group that includes similar players like Jake Bernhardt and John Haus. They’ve also acquired two-way middie Max Tuttle in a trade with Chrome.

The Whips are likely looking to add a bit more offensive punch to replace all those points lost, as their defense is intact from last year and it was one of the league’s best. Andrew Pettit is a gifted goal-scorer and dodger at attack. In 2018, he scored 46 goals and shot over 40% doing so, which is very good for a guy who’s not just a finisher inside. The tricky part here is that he and MVP Matt Rambo are lefties that play in similar spots on the field, but I think Coach Stagnitta can find ways for him to contribute.

Round 2

8. Waterdogs LC – Matt DeLuca, G (Delaware)

The Waterdogs acquired a goalie they like in Charlie Cipriano courtesy of the expansion draft, and there’s already a connection there between Cipriano and Coach Andy Copelan. After the entry draft, the Waterdogs also signed goalie Tate Boyce. While Tate Boyce was a solid option behind Nick Marrocco for the Boston Cannons last summer, this is a spot I could see for some more competition and depth on the roster.

Matt DeLuca stands a mighty 6’6, 225 lbs, and was an all american at Delaware, averaging double digit saves per game during his career. Goalie might be the toughest position in the PLL when it comes to cracking a game day roster, but I could see DeLuca winning a spot in the top two for the Waterdogs. 

9. Chrome LC – Mark Evanchick, D (Penn)

Jesse Bernhardt helps the defense as we’ve already said, as does Donny Moss. But further reinforcements can only help. Evanchick is maybe the most solid pro prospect at pole in the draft, with great strength and physicality. He won’t wow you with caused turnover numbers very often, but he won’t get beat very often either. In high school, he broke the Connecticut high school career sack record, previously held by NFL great Dwight Freeney. You don’t get to do that with being exceptionally strong and technically sound.

Mark Evanchick received All American recognition and was first team All-Ivy as a sophomore and junior, while being the Quakers top cover defender. He’d give the Chrome a roster with several capable on-ball defenders, something you might need when you look at the attack rosters around the PLL.

Note: Evanchick signed late Friday with the Philadelphia Barrage of the MLL, after writing. As far as I know, this does not stop a PLL team from drafting him to keep his rights for a future season, but he could just as easily go undrafted in the PLL now.

10. Atlas LC – Peyton Smith, Faceoff Specialist (Marist)

No one has any illusions about who the primary faceoff man is for the Atlas; Trevor Baptiste continues his reign as faceoff king of the PLL. That said, having a capable backup and change of pace player is something that the Atlas will need. The Atlas ended the year against the Archers, playing for the first overall pick, and Baptiste didn’t dress due to World Indoor Lacrosse Championship commitments. The Atlas used three players who went a combined nine for 37 in the game.

Without Baptiste tilting the field and giving the Bulls extra possessions, things didn’t go well. Smith is a very capable specialist out of Marist, don’t sleep on him just because he isn’t Ierlan/Arceri/Gallagher. This offers the Atlas a secondary option and, when it comes time for the grueling Championship Series, a capable backup if Baptiste needs a day to rest. 

11. Archers LC – Tanner Cook, M (North Carolina)*

Archers LC’s biggest need was that X attack spot, now filled by Grant Ament. But their midfield got hit particularly hard in expansion, as Dan Eipp, Ben McIntosh and even Christian Cuccinello, who could run out of the box, all went to the Waterdogs.

Tanner Cook is 6’3, 215 and out of the Hill Academy in Canada. An impact player in his first three years, things took off in 2020 as Cook had scored 20 goals in the shortened UNC season, benefiting tremendously from an attack quarterbacked by Chris Gray. Well now he plays with an attack quarterbacked by Grant Ament, and Cook can be a decent replacement for McIntosh.

12. Chaos LC – Tom Rigney, D (Army)

Consider that the Chaos have a strong connection to the service academies (Johnny Surdick, Greyson Torain, Matt Rees) and Tom Rigney fits that from a locker room and culture point of view.  Rigney is part of that outstanding defensive tradition at Army. He is 6’3, 225 and was the captain at Army. He won’t wow you with stick skills and likely won’t join the bomb squad any time soon, but his strength and footwork are outstanding, and he has a knack for ground balls. He’ll play tough, hard nosed defense with a physical edge, and that’s the kind of thing Coach Towers loves.

13. Redwoods LC – Miles Silva, A (Army)

Back-to-back cadets! Miles Silva is really the best available player by this point. Silva is primarily an off ball player, scoring 65 goals in his Army career to just one assist. One assist in four years. He’s a big body at 6’4, 225 and his lethal finishing and shooting skills make him a nice fit here, even if it’s just a stash pick for now. The Redwoods have an offensive personnel group with guys who are going to need touches and a chance to dodge every game (Jules Heningburg, Ryder Garnsey, Kyle Harrison, Myles Jones, Sergio Perkovic…the list goes on). Silva is a guy who doesn’t need that. He’ll fit in with this offensive unit nicely.

Note: Miles Silva signed Tuesday with the Denver Outlaws of the MLL, after writing. As far as I know, this does not stop a PLL team from drafting him to keep his rights for a future season, but he could just as easily go undrafted in the PLL now.

14. Whipsnakes LC – Reece Eddy, D/LSM (Boston)

The Whips add a little depth at their LSM spot by taking BU’s Reece Eddy with the last pick. Eddy was having a spectacular season for the Terriers, earning all-american honors before the year was cut short: second in the country in caused turnovers per game, third in the country in total caused turnovers. He had eight ground balls and three caused turnovers in the Ohio State game alone. The LSM job belongs to Michael Ehrhardt, but the Whipsnakes shuffled through a few options when it came to a second option. If the Whipsnakes decide not to give Isaac Paparo this job outright, Eddy is a solid choice to bring in and compete. 

Where do the top PLL draft prospects fall in your mock draft? Let us know in the comments and check out the latest episode of the Pro Lacrosse Talk podcast to hear where Adam Moore and Hutton Jackson think some of the top draft prospects could end up.

Dan Arestia is a lacrosse fanatic first, writer second. He is a frequent contributor to Lacrosse Playground and has been published on College Crosse and Inside Lacrosse.

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