As David D. tweeted to me earlier today, "Imagine if the NFL had its draft before college football season. Well that's exactly what lacrosse is doing." Yeah, when you put it like that, that does sound insane.
In a way, there would be something sublimely awesome about having the NFL Draft in August. Imagine if a team drafted Jake Locker with the No. 1 pick in the draft, committed $75M to him upfront and then had to watch him stumble through his senior season, cringe as he got injured and shrug their shoulders as he barely led Washington to a bowl game.
The Car Crash Factor would be off the charts. Conversely, there's the excitement of watching a guy drafted in the 4th Round by the Patriots comes out of nowhere to rush for 2,000 yards and win the Heisman.
Of course, there's a better chance of Coach P winning a National Title at UConn than that happening. But it's fun to dream (and I would love to see a mock draft from way back in August to see just how much things have changed).
So yeah, Major League Lacrosse is basically doing just that. They're holding their draft tomorrow, a full month before the actual season begins.
I suppose the stakes aren't quite as high for MLL teams as there are for NFL ones, but still, isn't that quite the gamble? Go ahead and draft Joel White with the No. 1 pick, but what happens if he suffers a massive injury against Denver on February 20th? (Not that it will happen...). What if you draft one guy based on expectations while the guy you passed over end up evolving into a megastar by the end of the year? You would have drafted that guy had the draft been in June, but now you're left with what you got.
Inside Lacrosse has a good breakdown of why this makes sense for the MLL. It helps solidify rosters, it grows the connection between the pro and college game (MLL affiliations are sure to be mentioned during ESPN game telecasts), allows players to plan for their future home sooner (and find a full-time job if needed).
The draft loses the pageantry of having players presents at the event but let's face it, no one gave a crap to begin with. Not much lost there.
But what about this...The Next Gary Gait decides in April that he's going to leave school early due to either a desire to get paid or impending sanctions. In the old system he would have been the No. 1 without question. But now, the draft is over and he's basically a free agent. How much will the team with the top pick be kicking themselves? (I understand that would be an anomalous event, but still...crazier things...)
It's all a bit risky, mainly for the injury issue and the chance of missing out on a late-bloomer. I'm still not sure if its a worthwhile endeavor. There are pros but do the pros outweigh the cons? If I own one of these teams, I don't want to draft a guy with the first pick and then watch him tear his ACL in April. But I suppose its that Car Crash Factor that will make it that much more interesting.
As for the draft itself, expect it to be a very Syracuse-y affair. Inside Lacrosse has set the over/under of SU seniors drafted at 6.5. Their experts seem split on which way it will go, though it's certainly a possibility.
I could see John Galloway, Joel White, Jeremy Thompson, John Lade, Jovan Miller, Stephen Keogh and Josh Amidon all getting drafted Friday night. Amidon's size and hard shot could make him a dynamic MLL middie.
Both have Joel White going No. 2 to Rochester where he'd be paired up with Cody Jamieson. They both also have Jeremy Thompson going sixth to something called the Hamilton Nationals, formerly the Toronto Nationals. Goalie John Galloway is expected to head to Rochester as well, according to both.
Meanwhile, while we're on pro lacrosse, the National Lacrosse League (the indoor one) will be having its All-Star Game this season at Turning Stone Casino.
Turning Stone Resort will host the National Lacrosse League's All-Star game on Sunday, Feb. 27. The 2 p.m. contest will be played at the 2,700-seat Event Center that is part of the Oneida Indian Nation's entertainment complex. The game will be televised nationally by the Versus network. Participants in the East vs.West game are selected by fans, who can vote online for players that representthe NLL's 10 teams.
A nice bonus will be the honoring of the Iroquois National Team that was prohibited from participating in last year's world championships in England because of conflicts over their Haudenosaunee passports.
First things first...Turning Stone has to actually create an indoor lacrosse field, complete with boards, glass and turf. Remember that next time you blow $250 at one of their blackjack tables. Your misery is helping pro lacrosse. Win-win.