With it now being September, the 2020 NLL Entry Draft is right around the corner. An oasis of lacrosse action in this pandemic, this particular Entry Draft will be even more exciting than normal, and not just because it’s virtual for the first time ever.
What truly makes this Entry Draft unpredictable and particularly mesmerizing is the fact that NCAA players who exhausted four seasons of eligibility were granted an extra year of eligibility so they could play in 2021. A number of high-profile players have elected to return to college for that fifth season.
Factor in the fact that the NCAA season was cut short and numerous summer box leagues were cancelled, and there’s not a lot of recent footage to use for scouting players.
All of that to say we won’t know the ramifications of selections in this Entry Draft for longer than normal and can’t really hazard a guess as to what the Swarm’s plan is heading into the 2020 Entry Draft. Are the Swarm drafting for now or for the future? With 10 picks, Swarm Owner and General Manager John Arlotta certainly has the draft capital to address needs now and prepare for the future.
And while all of that sounds nerve-wracking, it really shouldn’t for Swarm fans. The Entry Draft is Arlotta’s bread and butter.
In fact, the Swarm’s leader has had 61.5% of all players he’s drafted since 2015 either play in the NLL since being drafted or are currently on an NLL roster at the time of this writing.
It’s been nothing short of laudable, so let’s take a look back at the Swarm’s selections since the mega Swarm draft class of 2015:
|Round 1||Lyle Thompson||#1||2016 NLL All-Rookie Team, 2017 NLL MVP and Champion’s Cup MVP, 3x NLL Sportsmanship Award winner, currently plays for the Swarm.|
|Round 1||Jesse King||#3||2016 NLL All-Rookie Team, currently plays for the Roughnecks.|
|Round 1||Chad Tutton||#5||2016 NLL All-Rookie Team, currently plays for the Swarm.|
|Round 1||Randy Staats||#6||2016 NLL Rookie of the Year, 2016 NLL All-Rookie Team, set the record for most points scored by a rookie, currently plays for the Swarm.|
|Round 2||Thomas Hoggarth||#20||Currently plays for the Knighthawks.|
|Round 3||Michael Seidel||#29||Played one game for the Swarm in 2016.|
|Round 5||Nick Ossello||#43||Saw action for the Mammoth and Seals, last active season was 2019 with the Seals.|
|Round 6||Rick Lewis||#50||Has not played in the NLL.|
Arguably the best rookie quartet in the NLL’s history, 2015 was the equivalent of adding rocket fuel to a Volkswagen Passat’s gas tank. The Swarm had a good team already, and it would take rookies time to adju – couldn’t even finish that with a straight face. Staats set an NLL rookie record for most points scored (which still stands to this day), and every first-round pick earned a spot on the six-person NLL All-Rookie Team. Also, every player but one drafted by the Swarm had a cup of coffee in the NLL.
|Round 1||Bryan Cole||#4||Has played all 4 seasons of his NLL career with the Swarm.|
|Round 1||Connor Sellars||#10||Has played all 4 seasons of his NLL career with the Swarm.|
|Round 2||Leo Stouros||#17||Spent his first 4 seasons with the Swarm, currently plays for the Riptide.|
|Round 2||Warren Hill||#20||Played in 2 games for the Swarm in 2018, currently plays for the Thunderbirds.|
|Round 3||Lauchlin Elder||#22||On the Swarm’s Practice Roster in 2017 but has not played in the NLL.|
|Round 3||Brayden Hill||#25||Played in 2 games for the Swarm in 2018 then 4 games for the Wings in 2019, has not played for an NLL team since.|
|Round 3||Matt Kavanagh||#28||Has not played in the NLL.|
|Round 5||Liam Byrnes||#44||Played in 2 games for the Swarm in 2017, has spent the past 2 seasons with the Wings.|
The 2016 Swarm class is one of Arlotta’s most successful, as nearly every player saw time in the NLL in some form or fashion. It was also the final pieces to the puzzle, as Cole, Sellars, and Stouros all helped bring the franchise its first NLL Cup. Just two players haven’t played in the NLL.
|Round 1||Zed Williams||#4||Played his first 3 seasons with the Swarm, currently plays for the Mammoth.|
|Round 3||Frank Brown||#24||Played in 7 game for the Swarm in 2018 before joining the Knighthawks, currently plays for the Bandits.|
|Round 3||Mason Jones||#32||Has not played in the NLL.|
|Round 4||Nik Farrus||#42||Has not played in the NLL.|
|Round 5||Bennett Drake||#47||Has not played in the NLL.|
|Round 5||Isaiah Davis-Allen||#50||Has spent the past 2 seasons with the Wings.|
|Round 6||Adam Osika||#59||Played in 8 game for the Wings in 2019.|
The Swarm didn’t experience much turnover in the 2017 offseason, so the goal was to solidify the back end with Williams and Brown and trade as many draft picks for future considerations as possible. While none of the players in this draft are with the Swarm any longer, four of seven picks playing in the NLL is considered a pretty successful draft – so I’m told.
|Round 1||Brendan Bomberry||#7||2019 NLL All-Rookie Team, currently plays for the Swarm.|
|Round 1||Adam Wiedemann||#8||Has played all 2 seasons of his NLL career with the Swarm.|
|Round 2||Joel Tinney||#18||Played in 5 games for the Swarm in 2019, currently plays for the Black Wolves.|
|Round 2||Steven Orleman||#19||Spent his first 2 seasons on the Swarm’s Practice Roster, currently plays for the Riptide.|
|Round 2||LeRoy Halftown||#20||Spent the 2019 season on the Swarm’s Practice Roster, has not played in the NLL.|
|Round 4||Justin Lemcke||#46||Has not played in the NLL, on the Swarm’s PUP List.|
|Round 4||John Sexton||#47||Has not played in the NLL, on the Swarm’s PUP List.|
|Round 5||Tanner Poole||#60||Has not played in the NLL.|
|Round 5||Nolan Apers||#61||Has not played in the NLL.|
|Round 6||Sawyer Howell||#71||Has not played in the NLL.|
Again, the Swarm didn’t have many needs going into this draft beyond shoring up back door, and Arlotta used his wealth of picks late to select some interesting prospects, two of who are currently on the Swarm’s Physically Unable to Perform list – Lemcke and Sexton. Howell was given a proper look in the 2019 Training Camp after the Swarm made early cuts related to the 2018 impasse between the NLL and PLPA and impressed, even if he didn’t make the final roster.
|Round 1||Kason Tarbell||#11||Played his rookie season with the Swarm, currently with the Swarm.|
|Round 1||Ryan MacSpadyen||#13||Played his rookie season with the Swarm, currently with the Swarm.|
|Round 3||TJ Comizio||#44||Spent the 2020 season on the Swarm’s Practice Roster, currently with the Swarm.|
|Round 4||Gunnar Schimoler||#59||Has not played in the NLL.|
|Round 5||Jordan Gillis||#74||Has not played in the NLL.|
|Round 5||Mikey Herring||#75||Has not played in the NLL.|
Again again, it’s about what was needed by the Swarm, and the answer following the 2019 NLL Expansion Draft was “Not much.” Arlotta got the guys he wanted, traded picks for future considerations, and brought in some interesting prospects to the Swarm’s 2019 Training Camp.
Out of 39 Swarm picks, 24 have played or are currently on an NLL roster. When Arlotta makes a pick, 61.5% of the time that pick sees time in the NLL.
Fun bonus: with the recent influx of American rookie free agents signing with NLL teams ahead of the 2020-21 season, this American train is something Arlotta’s been on for a while now, dating back to transition player David Earl in the 2011 NLL Entry Draft
Even if the players don’t stick with the Swarm, a solid handful have spent time with NLL teams, like Nick Ossello, Liam Byrnes, Isaiah Davis-Allen, and Adam Osika.
If they have no box experience, Arlotta is willing to take a chance on a player’s abilities and intellect to pick up the game quickly and potentially crack a roster. Comizio, Schimoler, and Herring are recent examples of this.
In fact, Comizio impressed enough following the shortened 2019-20 season that the Swarm re-upped him for two more seasons at the beginning of August.
Not every draft pick lands, and not every pick stays on the team that drafted him. It’s a fact of sports life. But a general manager who hits on 61.5% of his draft picks should give any fanbase confidence heading into a draft.
So when you watch the 2020 NLL Entry Draft on Bleacher Report Live or the NLL’s YouTube channel or Facebook page to see who the Swarm will select, watch with the knowledge that Arlotta is adding high-character and athletic individuals, and his successes in the Entry Drafts over the last five years speaks for itself.