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Five PLL Draft Moves that Might Surprise You

The PLL Draft is less than two weeks away. Mock drafts abound, the temperature of the takes is rapidly rising. If previous draft years have taught us anything, it's that PLL coaches really don't care about narrative. Who the experts like, don't like, rate highly, don't rate highly. They evaluate themselves and draft what they think helps their team. Trying to predict how the draft will go is futile. But even when narratives fail, it can be fun to take some shots in the dark. That's what this is. Also these aren't totally dark, more like dimly lit shots. Shots in mood lighting, really. Don't count on any of these to actually happen; I have no information to suggest they will. But also, don't be surprised if they do.

The Whipsnakes will go defense at three. And they shouldn’t take Zappitello.

I know, sacrilege. I’ve had this take for a while but should probably explain myself. The Whipsnakes offseason roster movement is defined by losses to this point, not additions. And the losses are big. Michael Ehrhardt retired and Bryce Young was dealt to Boston. Connor Kirst, who has become a very good two way midfielder, was dealt with him. They got Matt Rees in return, but Rees is coming off a major knee injury and will be 30 next year. The defensive group right now is Matt Dunn, Tim Mulley, Colin Squires, Brett Kennedy, and Elijah Gash. It needs some support. I seem to be alone in this opinion, or at least in a willingness to make it known publicly right now, but I’d take Kenny Brower first. Brower is bigger, he’s stronger, he’s outstanding off the ground, he’s been guarding the guys who everyone says will get drafted at the top of this class every day for the last four years, including winning matchups with Shellenberger. In one-on-one drills, Zappitello is probably better. But pro games aren’t one-on-one drills.  Brower was the best defenseman on the U21 team that won gold. He’s been the guy drawing the top matchup for Duke for three years running. I think Brower has the highest pro ceiling for a defender in this class. 

Liam Entenmann won’t be the first goalie taken

I realize there is no way to have this take and not have people read it as me suggesting Entenmann isn’t good. Entenmann is extremely good. He had Doogs calling for him to be the first overall pick during the national championship game last year because he was stopping shots like Neo stopping bullets in The Matrix. But let’s give Will Mark his due folks. In his career, Liam Entenmann has faced 1943 shots. That’s basically in 4.5 years as a starter today; he got pretty light action his freshman year. Will Mark saw 1435 shots before he got to Syracuse. In his two years at Cuse, he’s seen 1214 shots. That’s 2649 shots, about 700 more than Entenmann. Essentially a full extra season worth of shots for Will Mark at this point. He’s made 891 saves to date (keep in mind not all shots faced are shots on goal). Entenmann has made 632. At LIU, and even in his first year at Cuse, Mark has played behind defenses that have not been what you might call pro level. Entenmann has been able to play behind an elite defense, see shots he wants. He still makes exceptional saves, don’t get me wrong here, Entenmann is about as sure as a pro as you’ll find. But looking past Mark is a mistake. He’s been outstanding without the same levels of support. Tom Mariano compared Mark to Drew Adams, the all time saves leader in pro field lacrosse. That’s reasonable. 

A Rookie of the Year Finalist will go undrafted

Last year, Ethan Rall went undrafted and famously got a call while in a Wawa to come join the Cannons. All lacrosse media and supposed experts, including and especially myself, considered Rall to be a bit below the level of some other draftees. Loaded defensive class and all that jazz. For some reason we considered Rall on the outside of it, despite him being a 1st team All American. Extremely loud wrong on that one. Rall would be a Rookie of the Year and LSM of the Year finalist. This year, the offensive side of the ball is loaded. Coaches I have spoken to are in agreement that there will be 19 man roster type players in the 4th round. The undrafted will be a loaded group of players, and the roster moves that follow the draft as teams fill the roster for camp could be just as important as the draft itself. I’ll give you the pick for a guy who may go undrafted, but will make someone very happy. Dalton Young. Every game starter from his sophomore year at Richmond onwards, Young can move between attack or midfield at the pro level. He’s had 60+ points each of the last three years. He’s never shot lower than 33%. He’s never had a SOG% of less than 55%. He’s had 26+ GBs each of the last three years. Junior year he had more goals than assists, senior year he had more assists than goals, this year he’s nearly perfectly split currently at 32 goals and 35 assists. Young can fit for anyone. He won’t come in as a superstar, but he’s as steady and reliable an offensive player as you’ll find in the draft. Teams will look for the superstar, taking QB types or shifty dodgers, and highlight players from the Big 10 or ACC. Doing so, and missing out on Young, would be a mistake. 

Pat Kavanagh will slide to the end of the first round

Pat Kav is my favorite prospect in this draft. Just personally, the guy I think will do the most for pro lacrosse is Kavanagh. His skill and style of play are all exceptional, but he also has more star potential via his personality than everyone else in this draft. He’s already shown he’s able to be candid and entertaining in interviews with guys like Pat McAfee, not just trafficking in the same old “we try our best and work hard and buy in and believe” and all that typical coach speak that you can teach anyone to say. He’ll play with fire on the field, he’ll speak with honesty of it, and that’s what every pro sport wants as much of as it can get. That said, Kavanagh’s body has been through it. He played the title game with a hamstring made of medical tape and hope. He had a torn labrum in his shoulder. He plays violent lacrosse, he takes hits. In any other sport, this type of injury history at the college level would be called out as a red flag on draft day. I think there will be coaches with concerns about his body holding up at the pro level. PLL has adjusted rules for violent hits, but that doesn’t mean the sport won’t still be full of serious collisions. Spending a high pick on a player comes with the expectation that the player will be on the field for you every week. With Kavanagh, the coach that takes him better be sure that can happen, or at least be comfortable with the risk. 

Coach Tierney will use half the draft on DU players

Two players in particular that could end up in purple and black. First, the obvious. The Waterdogs released James Reilly, leaving them with exactly zero faceoff specialists on the roster. I don’t expect it to stay this way. Denver’s Alec Stathakis is one of the top faceoff men available this year. He’ll be rated below Jake Naso and Luke Wierman, but I wouldn’t put him too far back. I loved Stathakis before the rule changes for this year. He can quickly exit and soak checks or contact from a pole as well as anyone, and if teams were looking for a specialist that can do that the same way Sisselberger can, Stathakis is a reasonable choice. He’s stronger and built more solidly than the others. The rule change makes that less of a factor, but he still is a still a very good option for the pro level. The second is maybe less obvious, but AJ Mercurio will be on the Waterdogs radar. Mercurio is great from wings and between the lines, he’s also a physical presence. At 6’3, 230 lbs, Mercurio can play handle matchups with players like Myles Jones, Charlie Bertrand, or Romar Dennis. He’s still fast enough for speedier midfielders, and is very good from sticks length. He’s a serious threat to score, but his strength is the caused turnover, win the ball and start transition play. Coach Tierney builds teams to control tempo. Defensive play built on a team first scheme, and grinding down the offense. Mercurio played for him at Denver, as did Stathakis, and Tierney will benefit from having players on that end who know him and his system well. And, of course, there is JJ Sillstrop for the offense end if we really want to go full Denver.


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