Let me start by admitting the obvious: this whole judging thing is incredibly subjective. Now that that’s out of the way, I’m going to explain to you my process:
The first thing I did was create seven (get it?) criteria on which I would rate each team between 1 and 10. I figured, if this thing is going to be subjective lets at least make it look objective. The seven criteria were:
Athleticism –How fast, quick, agile, explosive, etc. is this team?
Playmaking – So when you are in those really tight spots, do these players come up with it more often than not? Can they make game changing plays?
Clutchness – Do the players play better or worse under high pressure scenarios?
Chemistry – Do the players make other players around them better? Can they succeed with six other great players on the field?
Adaptability – Is the team interchangeable? Can they adjust to play against different teams with a wide variety of skills, styles, and strengths?
Leadership – Are there guys on this team who will get a bunch of superstars with ego under their umbrella working toward the same goal?
Durability – Are these guys historically healthy?
The weight of each category on here is the same. Here were the initial results:
|Bryan Jones/Zack Smith||8||9||8||5||8||5||5||48|
|Jonathan Neeley/Joaqin Nagle||5||7||6||5||5||5||5||38|
Here’s the run down from bottom to top:
8. Zach’s team struggled in my rating system. The only seven or higher is on durability (and that’s probably generous given that he’s got both Danny Karlinsky and Alex Kapinos on his team, both of whom have had notable injuries in the recent past). While Kolick and Lloyd are game changers in the MLU and AUDL, they are both containable within a setting like this where the top end talent is better and scouting has proven effective at dealing with them. Joye is certainly the biggest impact player but he’d have a ton of heavy lifting to do. And the first three picks were Zach’s best. In general, I think he got very outpicked in rounds four and on, missing out on some big impact players. His players aren’t as dynamic and interchangeable as the teams ranked higher and he doesn’t have a clear leader or two who can guide the team.
7. Neeley and Joaq’s team is interesting. First, I think they got a bunch of steals. Mickle looked great at the club champs and I think that the fifth pick is a very fair spot. Despite playing on the US World Games team, Farrell is still underrated and fell to the fourth round (27th pick). Cahill is only a couple years removed from being a consensus top three player and is still in the prime of his career so the fifth round looks really low. Tim Gehret’s a great pick up who knows how to get it done and Russell Wallack is a huge steal in the 12th round (he may be the best shut-down lane defender in the game). But for whatever reason, Team Inside Breaks didn’t seem to perform as well as I would have expected in my ranking system.
6. Coit’s team comes in 6th with his Johnny Bravo heavy line-up. Rob Ford’s Toronto Rush seems to be relying on guys who have been excellent in college or in the pro leagues but haven’t really shown up yet at the very top of the club game (Tyler D, Nick Lance, Goose) or guys that were at the top of the club game five years ago (Nord, Richter). Don’t get me wrong, all of those players are awesome but none of them are at their current peak. And, like others in the bottom half, I think Coit missed many of the big finds in the later rounds.
5. Jimmy’s squad comes in at number 5 for me. I really like the top of his line-up in terms of playmaking. Rehder, Mac, Prial, and Jay Clark will give teams a lot of match-up problems and there is great athleticism throughout his line-up. All of that said, this roster feels more role-based than any other out here. There isn’t as much adaptability and with only a few (guardable for this level) throwers doing the heavy lifting I think they could struggle with using second options when teams prepare for them. I also didn’t mark them high on leadership and the durability has got to be a concern with Rehder’s injury history.
3. (tied) Tony sneaks into the top four on the back of some high scores in durability, athleticism, and leadership. Inselmann, Rogacki and Linq provide great voices along with their consistent and dynamic play. There are a few wildcards in this draft and the Gack is definitely one of them. He’s much better than his pick order suggests and can change the game. Markette is not only an exceptional player, but exceptionally good at bringing up the level of the players around him as he knows how to fill gaps and find holes in the defense that most others can’t. Foord is another exciting pick and it’s clear that Tony relied heavy on his international and east coast knowledge in the draft. I like this team. I think the sixth pick in the draft was a hard one to have and am impressed with what Tony did with it.
3. (tied) Elliot’s team won the tie breaker for me. At first glance, Team Brokaw seemed most intriguing to me. They received the top scores on athleticism and playmaking. Beau is clearly the best player in the game. While there was a time when such a thing as a Beau Stopper (or container) existed (Joel Wooten and Colin Mahoney are the two that come to mind), I’m not sure we’ve seen anyone like it in the last four years. I love the potential of a Hector/Bart leadership duo – great but contrasting styles of leadership. Timmy Perston, Matzuka, Porter, BJ, Castine, and Brodie all give this team big playmaking potential. Of course, Brodie needs to be discussed further. A unique talent in the game, I have yet to see him play in a system that allows six other great players to also show their strengths. That said, I’m shocked that Brodie was drafted as low as he was (81st overall). He’s clearly an enigma in our sport that even the experts don’t know how to evaluate and assess. His long-running knee injury also makes him a question mark. Overall, this team has a very legit shot at winning it all.
2. On first glance I didn’t really like Charlie Enders’ team. All I could think was “too much NexGen.” But, when I went to the “objective” criteria, my results told a different story. This team gets high marks for adaptability and chemistry. Kevin Minderhout intentionally chose NexGen players that were dynamic and interchangeable so the adaptability makes sense. The chemistry comes from how much they’ve played together. The big ding on them was clutchness. There are a lot of guys on that list who have fantastic highlight reels and fewer who have had memorable performances on a meaningful stage.
1. Bryan Jones and Zack Smith did their homework. But more than that, it seems that they took advantage of some serious oversight by the other drafters. Here’s a team that drafted two World Gamers in the second and third rounds, with their third round pick (Tank) being the hands down playmakingest of all players at the World Games. Here’s the thing about the World Games players: the best coaches in the world selected these guys for a team similar to the ones these drafters are constructing. Certainly after the first few players they are choosing guys to fill in specific roles, but it’s surprising to see some of the players drop so low including Tunnell (15), Tank (18), Ryan Farrell (28). With that said, it’s the middle of the draft that Zack and Bryan dominated – the fourth through 13th round picks are considerably above the group average with the biggest steals being Dahl, Yearwood, and Matsuno. There are so many big and/or fast guys who can throw in this line-up that it’s frightening. This team combines excellence in athleticism, play-making, clutchness, and adaptability which give it the top score.
Biggest Snubs: There were a bunch of players I was very surprised to see not drafted. In my opinion, the biggest snubs were:
- Andrew Brown
- Derek Alexander
- Morgan Hibbert (All three of these guys are current or former Furious. Why so much Canada hate?)
- Eli Friedman (How is a relatively recent Callahan winner so underrated?)
- Dalton Smith (wasn’t he America’s sweetheart just a year ago?)
Bracket Play: So using the results of the really complicated and very objective rating system I created, let’s put them in a formal bracket:
1 (Jones/Smith) vs. 8 (Purdy) – This is as much of a bloodbath as an all-star game can be at this level. The Jones/Smith D-line gets a couple breaks before Purdy is forced to bring Joye over. And Purdy’s team struggles to touch the disc on D. Final 15-7
2 (Enders) vs. 7 (Neeley/Nagle) – This is like the extreme opposite of the first game. Neeley’s D-line has an answer for Ender’s O-line. Farrell just puts the breaks on Freechild until he’s frustrated. Wallack contains Stubbs as much as one can contain Stubbs. Too much work falls to Montague who’s in a tough match-up with Mickle. Cahill looks like one of the best on offense controlling the O while letting Graham make highlight plays and Neeley edges out the upset 15-13.
3 (Trotter) vs 6 (Ford) The first challenge for Ford is that the Beau match-up in the quarters throws off his line. Ford is forced to move Tyler D to the D line to contain Beau and even that doesn’t make much of a dent. Tyler gives up some speed and, put in an unfamiliar situation against a superior athletic talent, does what many do which is allow relatively uncontested Beau unders. Beau is free to take shots deep to Timmy Perston who isn’t necessarily out-playing Helton but somehow seems to find the open space and make inconceivable contested grabs. With Tyler D doing double duty, he’s less effective on the O-line and beyond that Ford’s O-line doesn’t have the speed to best Castine, Wynne, and Porter. 15-12 Trotter wins.
4 (Leonardo) vs. 5 (Leppert) Definitely the game of the first round. Koss on Rehder, Carnegie on Prial, and Sharkness on Thorne are the two key match-ups to watch when Leppert is on O. On the other side of the ball, Liu on Markette should be interesting, Taylor and Clark win their match-ups but I’d think Kinley and Simon will find their match-ups tough. The Leppert D line struggles to generate turns but is very good about converting them. Just not quite good enough. Leonardo moves on 17-15.
1 (Jones/Smith) vs 4 (Leonardo) Every time I look at this Jones/Smith D-line, I feel for their opponents. This line is excellent at both generating and converting turnovers. They also have tremendous field awareness and between Gibson, Matsuno and Wiggins I can imagine a lot of off-man blocks occurring. Leonardo, coming off a tough quarterfinals match-up find themselves outmatched on both O and D and drop this game 15-12.
3 (Trotter) vs 7 (Neeley) Neeley’s team found themselves in an interesting quarters position. Underrated by the initial ranking they ran in to the most overrated team and pulled the non-upset upset. Now they face a tougher match-up. Mickle goes D to match-up on Beau. Farrell on Holt to contain the quick movement gives up a little size. Russell Wallack finds himself without an ideal lane cutter match-up. Sefton is a bit too quick for him but that’s who he draws and he struggles to contain Sefton’s smart and quick movement. At each spot, Neeley’s team is giving up just a little advantage but it adds up to a lot. On O though, Neeley’s team can hang with Trotter’s team. Brodie and Teddy aren’t grind them down defenders and Neeley’s O-line is too smart to give Trotter many chances. This one’s another classic but Trotter pulls it out 16-14 on the back of his superior offensive line where Beau makes every other match-up tougher.
While not the top two seeds, the first two pickers end up in the finals. Trotter does it on the back of the talent of Beau and some great leadership and team play while Jones/Smith do it with their depth and their D-line. What worked for Trotter isn’t going to have the same success in the finals though. Beau still has an advantage in his matchup with Snieder, but beyond that the Jones/Smith D-line is too tough. The top seed earns the crown with a 15-13 victory over the 3 seed Trotter.