After extensively reviewing the rosters, my judging criteria is based on:
1) Drafting strategy
2) Line strength and cohesion
3) Player fantasy value
4) Overall team energy based on ability to defeat the Space Jam Monstars at Club Nationals.
I graded each team based on those criteria and then ranked them as I would do Nationals predictions.
Grade: A (2nd place)
Overall, very smart selections top to bottom, choosing six strong offensive players in his first ten picks. The Bart-to-Beau Revolver connection will certainly be tough for teams to stop and the chemistry is well-established for Sockeye’s Holt and Sefton, also on offense together. The only flaw in the offense seems to be the lack of balance– he’s got a plethora of deep cutters in Clark, Perston and Kittredge. Elliott noted he was drafting for confidence, experience and impact as well as leadership and chemistry. Those traits were well-represented by his picks as nearly all his players could be considered veteran leaders.
On defense, the Matsuka-Porter connection from Ring is a nice compliment to the Smith-TrollSullivan trickshot huck-attack. I know from experience that Miles M-B will have a calming influence on the team, toning down Teddy Browar-Jarus’ aggressive decisions, possibly encouraging the Danny “Warhawk” Clark Birdman flaps, and definitely applauding Castine’s ruthless body-spikes and Sockeye tattoo flashing. I see this team getting its first real challenge in semis, probably losing a tight one to Space Jam.
Bryan Jones / Zack Smith
Grade: A+ (1st place)
On paper, this team is legit. The owners leveraged their early round picks with a focus on tall, fast and athletic defenders, choosing four defensive players in the first six picks. It goes without saying that this team will challenge even the best offensive line.
The Paideia pipeline was open for business with Tunnell, Dahl and Lindsley all Grueling by Round 8. This line could get huck happy considering their time together on What’s-That-Smell? A-T-L! Kosednar and Stuart did not overlap at Carleton, but I believe their CUT connection will shine through, probably bringing down their spirit score and accounting for many stoppages of play. Jack “Axeman” Hatchett will improve the team spirit when he politely asks for Matsuno’s autograph (he’s a big fan of Japanese sportswear and Buzz Bullet swag). It’s interesting that the GOAT boys (Cam and Yearwood) aren’t together on the same line, but overall, this team wins the tournament with enough “Beau stoppers” to take down the Space Jam Monstars in the finals. Can they do it? That’s why we play the games.
Grade: A- (3rd place)
Enders clearly drafted for speed, youth and disc skills, choosing 5 offensive players with his first seven picks. Leading the field with 3 Callahan winners, this team also snagged most of NexGen – with six players from 2011, three from 2012 and four from 2013. Offensively, they are loaded with speed (Freechild, Stubbs) and defensively they have plenty of physical height (Neff, Anderson). I really like the Rhino contingency on O with Freechild, Janin and Honn playing together for multiple seasons. The downfall of this O squad might be too many high release break throws (Dylan, Simon) including those pesky scoober flippers (Stubbs).
Defensively, they are stout with Bjorklund and the newly introduced children’s book character “Fat Martin.” McShane and EJ will stifle other teams with their defensive pressure. I think their youth will play to their advantage until the moment becomes too big, when they’ll bow out in semifinals.
Grade: C (8th place)
Purdy’s team is definitely talented, but I found fault with the utilization of their talent. Most notably, taking Joye first and playing him on defense, taking Thomas in Round 11 and leaving him on the defensive bench, and putting Kapinos (who could be the steal of the draft) on the offensive pine. Overall, too many role player picks during the stretch rounds and not enough firepower on O. I imagine this team would do well in the heat, with Sam Kanner ripping off his shirt at a moment’s notice and rubbing those sausage patties with glorious enthusiasm. There is an obvious theme of IHD on O with Wiseman, Jeffery and Schlachet and as well on D with Kanner and Hagen. I’m intrigued by the power-pairing of Alan “The Magician” Kolick and Shofner from the DC Current – hopefully they’ll function like they did in the MLU and not for Truck Stop (underwhelming). Lots of skilled throwers on this team, but my biggest gripe has to be leaving Big Penos on the bench. Nobody puts Kapinos in the corner.
Jonathan Neeley / Joaquin Nagle
Grade: B- (6th place)
These owners made strong picks but stumbled in their management of personnel (8 players per line). Somehow both Mickle and Spiva are playing both ways, while leaving their Round 11 pick Joel Wooten on the defensive bench but placing their last 2 picks both on the starting O. Considering the pre-draft goals of building an offense of versatile players and defensively taking away the top options, they choose great defensive players in Farrell, Richardson, and Cranston. I also like the Bravo connection with Gregerson, Mickle and Farrell. If anything, this team could have too much leadership with Graham and Cahill getting into a power struggle over which Alpha Dog calls the stack side on O, and Farrell and Wallack interrupting each other in the huddle trying to manage their junk sets.
Grade: B- (7th place)
I found Devolver to be the most interesting team because of their multiple international players. However, I disagreed with the drafting strategy, leaving Round 6 pick Rogacki on the bench. Another cause for concern was that Cricket and Frogger were not on the same line – clearly not taking advantage of their power animals. An interesting move was putting Chain’s Jared and Asa on defense, but I liked the Sockeye connection of Koss and Harkness playing together. It was also fascinating that two Clapham players were selected, but played on different lines. I think everything can agree that the “pro ultimate veteran” Husayn pick was a solid one (if you’ve seen his combine vertical approach).
Grade: B+ (4th place)
Leppert’s team is certainly talented and well-balanced in regard to both position (cutters and handlers) and age (with both veterans and youth). I like the player combos of Rebholz and Prial (Ironside) as well as Kerns & Li (Polar Bears, U23X). The defensive combo of Mac, Chicken and Kinley is pretty solid and putting Chain players Liu and Clark together will pay off. Pollack may have been a reach in Round 6, but this D line needed some height. I sense good chemistry with the Hodag connection of Rebholz to Camp, but also think some bad blood might develop between Colin and Alex from their college days. Overall, lots of NexGen love with seven players spending time on the Tour and five of those playing offense.
Grade: B (5th place)
Stevenson employed a balanced drafting strategy by choosing four offensive players (2 Callahan winners) and then four defensive players. I like the Johnny Bravo theme with Lance, Richter and Roehm on the O and Konker, “Air Tim” Morrissy and Zemel on the D line. Perhaps a bit early for the Nord in Round 9 (unless you recently watched I Bleed Black), but certainly lots of explosive firepower on both lines including energy and competitive drive. Obviously this team would be the most fun to play on — with AUDL MVP Goose and Muffin performing flex-offs and partner RLESL Split Squat competitions during huddles and timeouts. The Richter-Muffin bromance would undoubtedly flower into an orchestra of pain for opponents. It’s only a matter of time before DeGirolamo and Driscoll are punting discs after every score. I’m certain Brian Hart will be able to tap into the Hodag Hate for some nasty plays. This team might score a perfect zero on spirit ranking, despite some stiff competition from the Monstars.