2017 AUDL Mock Draft

Which team is this year's big draft day winner?

The American Ultimate Disc League.
Photo by Brandon Wu — UltiPhotos.com

The AUDL is now in its sixth season. The league has far outlasted any of the original projections made from the outside in 2012. And every year the league evolves. With that in mind, last year Ultiworld ran its first AUDL mock draft. An AUDL draft is still a long ways off, and it’s more likely than not that it never happens. But isn’t it fun to think about? The NBA and NFL drafts are some of the most exciting nights in the seasons of those sports. The trades, the unknowns, the uncertainty. Anything is possible on draft night.

I — along with other Ultiworld contributors Patrick Stegemoeller, Preston Thompson, and Tim Schoch — staged a mock draft. Two rounds, forty eight picks, and one player drafted that doesn’t even play college ultimate later, we ended up with some potentially axis-tilting developments to the league and tantalizing player combinations.

The ground rules of the draft:

  • Eligibility is limited to only seniors and fifth year college players who we have not confirmed are returning for another season of college. So while teams would love to draft Matt Gouchoe-Hanas or Alex Olson, because they are returning to play college for another season, they’ll have to wait their turn.
  • The draft pool includes players that are already playing on AUDL teams. It just makes it more entertaining this way, and more accurately depicts player value. While this may disrupt the space-time continuum, it’s our hypothetical universe and we’ll tear holes in the fabric of its reality as we please.
  • Trades are allowed.
  • Trades that were made in last year’s draft that affect this year’s draft (e.g. Ottawa trading their 2017 first rounder as part of a deal to move up to draft Jeff Babbitt), are observed in the 2017 edition. Is this confusing? Is it unfair to Ottawa since they never actually got Jeff Babbitt? Yes, but we must have a code. If Sam Hinkie has taught us anything, it’s to never trade away future draft picks, especially first rounders.
  • Last year the Philadelphia Phoenix stole the show, ending up with four picks and a guy that’s already thrown over 70 assists during the 2017 AUDL season. Who won this year? Read on and let us know.

Round 1

1. Nashville Nightwatch (Pat) – Jack Williams, UNCW

Williams rides the wave of his transcendent performance at college Nationals all the way to the number one pick in the AUDL draft. He may not be the most polished player on the board, or the best at any one thing in particular, but his ability to do it all and carry a shorthanded UNCW squad all the way to the finals is exactly what the perpetually shorthanded Nightwatch will need every week.

2. Detroit Mechanix (Preston) – Khalif El-Salaam, Washington

El-Salaam showed this past year with Washington that he can truly do it all, and Detroit has showed this year that they need a little bit of everything. Although they’re showing signs of improvement, the Mechanix are looking for another star that can compliment Johnny Bansfield and bring some excitement into the stadium. They’ve got that with El-Salaam.

3. Vancouver Riptide (Tim) – John Stubbs, Harvard

For a team that has so woefully underperformed this year, the #3 pick is an easy choice. This is the definition of picking for value because Stubbs was the most talented player in college last season. The 2016 College POTY can do it all on the field for Vancouver and maybe can add to the excitement level for a team in desperate need of a spark.

4. Philadelphia Phoenix (by way of Ottawa) (Pat) – Ben Jagt, Minnesota

Trust the process! After dealing away the first overall pick last season, Philly find themselves with a bevy of picks here in 2017. With the clear top three all off the board, the Phoenix go for fit here, and the towering Jagt gives them the kind of go-to downfield threat that their offense needs. With teams forced to respect Jagt’s prowess deep, he should open up valuable space underneath that can jostle loose Philadelphia’s somewhat stagnant offense.

Tim: Drafting a 26 year old (sorry, I keep forgetting how old you actually are, Ben) with the #4 pick seems risky. Definitely not a franchise player to build a team around.

**TRADE: The DC Breeze trade away their first and second round 2017 picks to Philadelphia to move up to #5. The process continues.

5. DC Breeze (by way of Philadelphia) (Preston) – Parker Bray, Georgia

After trading up with Philadelphia, DC has shown they’re looking for a star to get them over the hump. This team is looking to be first in the east and go win a title. They take Parker Bray who coupled with Markham Shofner makes the Breeze one of the best handling teams in the league. The dynamic offense will allow them to move some pieces over to the D-line, giving them a shot at taking down Toronto.

Nathan: Preston says Bray and Shofner will work well together; others might say it’s a little redundant.

6. Chicago Wildfire (Preston) – Adam Rees, Oregon

Rees is another do-it-all guy that the teams near the beginning of the draft desperately need. Unlike some others, Rees shines as a defender. In Oregon Ego’s biggest moments, they looked to Rees to carry them forward. As Chicago looks to improve in 2018, he’ll have to carry a similar weight for a considerably weaker side.

7. Austin Sol (Tim) – Cameron Wariner, Cal Poly-SLO

Wariner can ball and, for a team playing second fiddle to the Dallas Roughnecks, the Sol need the same kind play that won him DPOTY this past college season for SLO. His athleticism, big play potential, and ability to own every inch of turf makes him an ideal pro player. He’ll fit right into a big minutes role with Austin and play a central role on their D-line, which has had trouble stopping the high octane South Division offenses.

8. Atlanta Hustle (Nathan) – Tyler Monroe, George Washington

Atlanta has a lot of nice pieces on its team. But what the Hustle lack is a versatile superstar that they can count on when the game is on the line. Nathan Vickroy might be that guy, but on his own he’s not enough. Tyler Monroe brings even more to the table. With Tyler Monroe on board next year, everybody’s job in the Atlanta offense just got a little easier.

9. Indianapolis Alleycats (Pat) – Ben Sadok, Massachusetts

The best pure thrower on the board falls all the way to number nine, and Indy is happy to snap up the 2017 college POTY. Throwing guys open his forte, and that may be necessary with a lack of offensive firepower on the AlleyCats roster. Throws aside, what Indy really loves about this guy is his attitude and they project that he will be even more driven after slipping out of the top five. It’s not the first time people have overlooked Sadok, but he’s been proving doubters wrong his whole career.

Nathan: Love this pick for Indianapolis. Allows Travis Carpenter to lead the D-line. Gives Indianapolis the dynamic handler they have long needed.

10. San Diego Growlers (Preston) – Sam Van Dusen, Pittsburgh

San Diego is looking for a defensive leader, and they’ve found one in Sam VanDusen. He was one of the best one-on-one defenders in college this past season, and his offensive capability after the turn is no joke. The west is a deep division with tons of athletic firepower, and this pick will help take their defense to the next level.

11. New York Empire (Tim) – Kai Marshall, Oklahoma

After what has to be seen as a disappointing season for the New York Empire, they’ll be looking for a piece that can be a weapon for them on both sides of the disc. Marshall brings that with both his size and athleticism, along with his pure ultimate skill and game IQ. While he may not plug any one specific hole, he will complement the talented pieces and slew of throwers they have on their O-line already. On big points, imagine Marshall and Jeff Babbitt on the same line.

12. Seattle Cascades (Nathan) – Elliott Chartock, Stanford

The Seattle Cascades are an interesting mish-mash of a team. Both young and old, conservative with the disc and creative, Sockeye and Mixtape, Seattle is a team that cannot be easily pigeonholed. What the Cascades undoubtedly do need though is a younger handling core that is ready to take the reins from the veterans when asked. Adam Simon is no spring chicken (I apologize for that joke….actually I stand by it 100%) and neither is Mario O’Brien. With Chartock on board, this team starts to make a lot more sense. Chartock joins the even younger John Randolph and now the Cascades seem more like a legit contender in the West rather than a team that’s punching above its weight.

13. Montreal Royal (Pat) – Nico Mueller, Massachusetts

Adding to their stable of European imports, Montreal brings Nico Mueller of the German National team and more recently UMass aboard in their push to claim the East and lock up home turf for championship weekend. On the field, he’s a defensive switchblade that can lead the charge with Christian Foster after a turnover. Off the field, he should be a hit as well. I assume he already speaks French because he went to a country that actually cares about education, so he’ll likely be a good fit with the team culture, as long as no bubbling Alsace-Lorraine related resentment exists in the locker room.

14. San Francisco FlameThrowers (Preston) – Dillon Larberg, Texas

Time will tell if Dillon Larberg was meant to go higher in this draft, but Larberg’s injury this year may have scared some teams off. San Francisco’s firepower and depth allow them to take a risk, though, and they may have lucked into one of the best talents to come out of college this year. Larberg has already shown his stuff with the Dallas Roughnecks, and before this year’s injury, he was keeping Texas in the hunt for Nationals. Imagine the offense the FlameThrowers can put out when Larberg is their third or fourth cutter. It’s scary.

15. Los Angeles Aviators (Tim) – JD Hastings, UNCW

The Aviators need defensive help, and in a wide open Western Division a stronger D-line is all that’s between them and taking control of the division and cruising to a playoff spot. Hastings will be a step in the right direction for them. Hastings brings a tenacity and intellect on defense that will pair well with the LA defense and his ability to cover multiple kinds of handlers should win him a starting role right away.

16. Pittsburgh Thunderbirds (Nathan) – Michael Fairley, Central Florida

Pittsburgh is by no means a small team but in drafting Michael Fairley they’re doubling down on a strength. Since his college season ended, Fairley has been a valuable addition to the Jacksonville Cannons and should have no problem fitting in with the Pittsburgh offense. Now the O-line cutters that Pat Earles and the rest of Pittsburgh can throw to includes Fairley, Tyler Degirolamo, Mark Fedorenko, and Ethan Beardsley. That is fearsome. Good luck to the rest of the Midwest in trying to slow down that attack come playoff time.

17. Jacksonville Cannons (Pat) – Ross Barker, Wisconsin

A physically imposing, hard working cutter with big throws and bigger confidence? How was this guy not a Cannon already? Maybe Jacksonville could have gone with a handler like Mekler here to stabilize the backfield, but at this point in the draft you want to augment your strengths, and that’s exactly what Jacksonville does here.

18. Philadelphia Phoenix (by way of DC) (Pat) – Wyatt Mekler, Minnesota

And there goes Mekler. His agent got a little nervous after Jacksonville passed, but the Phoenix gladly take him here. Possessing big game experience and built in chemistry with Philly’s first pick of Jagt, Mekler should bring the kind of steel to Philly’s O-line that they have needed for years.

19. San Jose Spiders (Tim) – Hank Womble, Auburn

This is a great pick. Let me explain. Every year the talent in the Bay Area rotates around between the Spiders and the Flamethrowers. Currently all the big name Revolver talent is with the FlameThrowers. BUT San Jose is the one with the lead in the division. Will it last? Maybe. But if they want to continue their success they’re going to have to lock in the best players and to lock up the best players they’ll need the fattest wallets and to do that they’ll need to sell more tickets and merchandise, and to do that they’ll need a great game day experience that keeps people coming back for more. And that’s where Hank comes in. Dude can lead comebacks single handedly and if he makes his brand of crazy hype man to the professional level, he’ll keep fans coming back for more. Also, the Callahan award winner went #3 and the next two people who deserved to win the Callahan went #1 and #9 so why is it so surprising that the third most deserving non-winner goes at #19?

Nathan: Tim. Hank Womble doesn’t play for Auburn. I like it in some ways, but I think you could have waited until round two. Not sure if San Jose ownership is going to keep you around as a decision maker much long after this pick.

20. Minnesota Wind Chill (Nathan) – Mark Rauls, Colorado

The Wind Chill could reach and draft for need here. That would mean adding another dynamic handler to pair with Klane in the backfield or maybe a big guy on the O-line that can come down with the disc even when he isn’t open. Rauls doesn’t really fill either role, but he can handle if the Wind Chill need him to and he can be an effective target too. You just don’t pass on this kind of talent when it’s still on the board with the twentieth pick. Even if he doesn’t fill a need he will make the Wind Chill better right away. Given the soundtrack to his Callahan video is a song by Minnesota native P.O.S. he should fit in no problem.

21. Toronto Rush (Pat) – Joel Clutton, Texas

A bit of a reach here, but Toronto is hoping that they can take the size and skills of Clutton and mold him into a reliable offensive presence. With veterans of championships past getting phased out in Toronto, the Rush are investing in Clutton as a long term project that will hopefully pay off as the new generation of Toronto players are ready to take the reins in the East.

22. Dallas Roughnecks (Preston) – Nathan Vickroy, Georgia College

Vickroy has already shown his stuff in the southern division with the Atlanta Hustle, and his big athletic frame fits right into the Roughnecks lineup. Unlike other players in the draft, Vickroy is not stranger to the AUDL, having already played over 200 points in his career.

Nathan: Great pick for Dallas. They don’t need Vickroy, but throw him on the D-line for Dallas and he’ll be a difference maker. He was a 40-40 (goals and assists) player for Atlanta this season.

23. Madison Radicals (Tim) – Tristan Van Der Moortele, Minnesota

Van Der Moortele has been a rock for Minnesota Grey Duck for the past four seasons and he can bring that consistency and leadership into Madison. As a North Central native he’ll be very familiar with his new Radicals teammates and their unique play style. What I like most about this pick is VDM’s game IQ, especially defensively, is through the roof so he’ll find a home both on their zone lines and their one-on-one lines.

24. Raleigh Flyers (Nathan) – Dongyang Chen, Washington

Given how great Raleigh has played this season it’s unlikely that anyone they add at #24 will make a big difference. But it’s not hard to imagine Chen filling in a rotation spot as a D-line handler for the Raleigh Flyers when called upon.

Round 2

As we enter the second round, the names become a little less familiar and nailing a pick becomes even more difficult but also more important. And questions still linger. How many Pittsburgh players get drafted? How many times will Jay Bilas say the word wingspan? Does Preston take anyone from outside the Southeast region?

25. Nashville Nightwatch (Pat) – Nate Pettyjohn, Cal Poly-SLO

A reliable offensive cutter helps to stabilize an O-line that has been anything but.

26. Detroit Mechanix (Preston) – Avery Johnson, Wisconsin

After taking the do-it-all El-Salaam in the first round, Detroit goes with a more conservative true handler pick. Avery Johnson was pivotal to the Wisconsin offense this past season, with calm handling presence in the backfield. Johnson’s hucks will go a long way in forming an offense that can put up meaningful points in the Midwest.

27. Vancouver Riptide (Tim) – Noah Backer, Michigan

Vancouver needs some stability and a player that can provide some leadership. Backer provides both.

28. Ottawa Outlaws (Nathan) – Carson Wilder, Texas Tech

In a somewhat cruel twist of fate, after fleecing the Outlaws as the acting GM of the Philadelphia Phoenix last year, I end up picking for Ottawa this year. I think adding Jeff Babbitt would have meant at least two more wins and less prime drafting position for the Outlaws’ first round draft pick this time around, but as it is Ottawa is without a first round pick. To add insult to injury, I missed a message that could have shipped this pick to LA as part of a deal to bring Tom Doi to Ottawa, which I’m sure has always been Tom Doi’s dream. Carson Wilder is a nice consolation prize, though; he played great for the Austin Sol this season and is the kind of young player the Outlaws need.

29. Philadelphia Phoenix (Pat) – Nick Ladas, Wisconsin

A big defensive stopper who can rip off the turn, the extra space of the AUDL field should fit Ladas’ game nicely. After putting on a very impressive performance for Wisconsin at Nationals, Ladas should be able to step into a big role for Philadelphia right away. Able to put the roof on a zone or take a dominant cutter matchup in person defense, Ladas should help get some breaks back for the slightly leaky Phoenix O-line.

30. Chicago Wildfire (Preston) – Henry Babcock, Richmond

Chicago was drooling when they saw the inaugural Donovan Award winner fall to the 30th pick. Babcock is used to putting a program on his back, with his play at Richmond propelling them to new levels. As one of the best throwers in college, Babcock can immediately impact the Wildfire, and he partners well with first round pick Adam Rees.

31. Austin Sol (Tim) – Charlie McCutcheon, Minnesota

With their first pick the Sol took a big play maker and cutter defender so with their second pick they’re going with a bit smaller of a defender but someone who is still able to lock people up with his athleticism and tenacity. Imagine a pit bull playing one on one defense.

32. Atlanta Hustle (Nathan) – Tarik Akyuz, Case Western

In the South division you can never have enough height. Tarik Akyuz provides that and more.

33. Indianapolis Alleycats (Pat) – Tanner Repasky, Florida

Repasky is used to cutting off of a high usage thrower following his time in Florida as Bobby Ley’s wingman. With Indy building around Sadok, Repasky is a perfect building block.

34. San Diego Growlers (Preston) – Carl Morgenstern, Pittsburgh

Defense wins championships, and the Growlers now have it. After taking VanDusen in the first round, the Growlers pick up his teammate Carl Morgenstern in the second. The two Pitt standouts alone completely revamp their D-line and give them skills after the turn.

35. New York Empire (Tim) – Wesley Chow, Colorado

Not a very flashy pick. Wes Chow brings a strong all round game that should translate well to the pro level. He’ll be a depth player for New York but him and the other young guns on the Empire will keep building in the next few seasons.

36. Seattle Cascades (Nathan) – Max Sheppard, Edinboro

Sheppard may not come from a prestigious college program but he’s already a valuable part of the Pittsburgh Thunderbirds and Mark Burton will love throwing to him.

37. Montreal Royal (Pat) – Ian Sweeney, Cal Poly SLO

The big play potential is off the charts for this tall lefty, as he’s equally willing to throw the disc full field as he is his body through a brick wall. How does he fit in with Montreal? Does it matter? He’s a highlight reel player that can be plugged in for energy off the bench and if he develops into more, that’s great too.

38. San Francisco Flamethrowers (Tim) – Natan Lee-Engel, Carleton

Late in the second round, the FlameThrowers go for pedigree. Natan is fresh off a national title with Carleton CUT, and his calm presence in the backfield was a big part of their success. While Alex Olson and Sol Yanuck may make the flashy plays, Lee-Engel was always there for the crucial reset or pivotal around break. His quickness and speed made up for a smaller frame for most of his college career, and the wide field of the AUDL should be no different.

Nathan: Way more CUT alums have played for San Francisco than Minnesota so this makes sense.

39. Los Angeles Aviators (Tim) – Emmett Blau, Williams

LA adds more defensive prowess with their 39th pick in Emmett Blau out of Williams. He is a do-it-all defender who can run the offense on a turn. A total steal at 39 since he’s coming from a D-III school but he is about to explode on the elite level.

40. Pittsburgh Thunderbirds (Nathan) – Zach Norrbom, Mary Washington

Norrbom first played in the AUDL in 2013 with the DC Breeze and is back with the Breeze again this season. He’s got a lot of semi-pro ultimate experience for such a young player and was also a big part of Ambiguous Grey’s success last year. Since the college season ended, the Thunderbirds defense has looked much better, allowing them to take a more talented offense-oriented handler like Norrbom here.

41. Jacksonville Cannons (Pat) – Hugh Knapp, British Columbia

Because someone needs to jack the rock to those goons.

42. Philadelphia Phoenix (by way of DC) (Pat) – Kevin Tang, Pittsburgh

Apparently the only player in the history of the Pittsburgh program to not make the U24 team, Tang has a lot to offer Philadelphia as they continue to gobble up as many above replacement level players as they can. He’s a scrappy defender with the foot speed to guard handlers and the springs to take on bigger cutters in the air. In order to claw their way out of the basement in the East, Philly needs players that know what it’s like to win and Tang’s college career gave him plenty of big game reps.

43. San Jose Spiders (Tim) – Michael Volz, Auburn

Adding so much speed to an already athletic team? Scary. Volz is a bit raw as a thrower but defensively and cutting wise he is a stud.

44. Minnesota (Nathan) – Thomas Edmonds, Pittsburgh

Putting Edmonds in the backfield makes the Wind Chill a little less predictable and more difficult for Madison to game plan for. The University of New Hampshire product played well for En Sabah Nur this season and has already made an impact for the Thunderbirds. He’ll be a valuable addition.

Tim: Me, Pat, and Preston should be fired. We all just forgot about Thomas. Nice pick.

45. Toronto Rush (Pat) – Jeremy Harker, Colorado

When in doubt, go with the program guy.

46. Dallas Roughnecks (Preston) – Mike Rice, Connecticut

Dallas doesn’t need much with their late pick in the draft, but they pick up a nice downfield target in Mike Rice.

47. Madison Radicals (Tim) – Jonah Kurman-Faber, Northeastern

Probably not someone most people are familiar with but Jonah has been killing it for Northeastern. His superpower is that he has the best pulls in the college game (it helps that his coach is pulling dark arts master Christian Foster) and he is deadly with them both in hang time and field position. For a team that runs as much zone as Madison, having Jonah put up a 10 second hanger into the corner of the other team’s endzone will be a terrifying weapon.

** TRADE: The Raleigh Flyers trade their second round pick for the Seattle 2018 second round pick.

48. Seattle Cascades (via Raleigh) (Nathan) – Charlie Schuweiler, St. John’s

Given that the last pick in the draft probably wouldn’t get much of any playing time for the best team in the league, the plan was for the Flyers to take Hank Womble here. But then he went 19th overall, which was a just a little bit unexpected. Instead, they trade the pick to Seattle for the Cascades 2018 2nd rounder. Seattle uses it to continue building their next generation handler core with Charlie Schuweiler, as the run on DIII handlers in the second round comes to an end.

PICK REVIEW

  • Nashville Nightwatch: Jack Williams (#1), Nate Pettyjohn (#25)
  • Detroit Mechanix: Khalif El-Salaam (#2), Avery Johnson (#26)
  • Vancouver Riptide: John Stubbs (#3), Noah Backer (#27)
  • Philadelphia Phoenix: Ben Jagt (#4 via Ottawa), Wyatt Mekler (#18 via DC), Nick Ladas (#29), Kevin Tang (#42 via DC)
  • DC Breeze: Parker Bray (#5 via Philadelphia), TRADED up to #5 by giving up 1st/2nd round picks #18 and #42
  • Chicago Wildfire: Adam Rees (#6), Henry Babcock (#30)
  • Austin Sol: Cam Wariner (#7), Charlie McCutcheon (#31)
  • Atlanta Hustle: Tyler Monroe (#8), Tarik Akyuz (#32)
  • Indianapolis Alleycats: Ben Sadok (#9), Tanner Repasky (#33)
  • San Diego Growlers: Sam van Dusen (#10), Carl Morgenstern (#34)
  • New York Empire: Kai Marshall (#11), Wes Chow (#35)
  • Seattle Cascades: Elliott Chartock (#12), Max Sheppard (#36), Charlie Schuweiler (#48 via Raleigh), TRADED their 2018 2nd rounder to Raleigh for their 2017 2nd rounder (#48)
  • Montreal Royal: Nico Mueller (#13), Ian Sweeney (#37)
  • San Francisco FlameThrowers: Dillon Larberg (#13), Natan Lee-Engel (#38)
  • Los Angeles Aviators: JD Hastings (#15), Emmett Blau (#39)
  • Pittsburgh Thunderbirds: Michael Fairley (#16), Zach Norrbom (#40)
  • Jacksonville Cannons: Ross Barker (#17), Hugh Knapp (#41)
  • San Jose Spiders: Hank Womble (#19), Michael Volz (#43)
  • Minnesota Wind Chill: Mark Rauls (#20), Thomas Edmonds (#44)
  • Toronto Rush: Joel Clutton (#21), Jeremy Harker (#45)
  • Dallas Roughnecks: Nathan Vickroy (#22), Mike Rice (#46)
  • Madison Radicals: Tristan van de Moortele (#23), Jonah Kurman-Faber (#47)
  • Raleigh Flyers: Dongyang Chen (#24), TRADED for Seattle’s 2018 2nd round pick
  • Ottawa Outlaws: Carson Wilder (#28), TRADED their 1st round pick away last year
  1. Nathan Jesson

    Nathan Jesson is Ultiworld's lead AUDL reporter. He has been covering the league since 2013. You can reach him on Twitter @semiproultimate.

  2. Preston Thompson

    Preston Thompson has been a staff writer for Ultiworld since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Alabama where he played for four years. He started playing ultimate in the AFDC in Atlanta, GA in 2009. You can reach him by e-mail (preston.james.thompson@gmail.com) or follow him on Twitter (@pston3).

  3. Patrick Stegemoeller

    Patrick Stegemoeller is a reporter for Ultiworld and a law student who lives in Washington DC. He captained SUNY-Geneseo Snail and began playing ultimate in high school with AUDA of Albany. He hopes that his degree in History will prove to be valuable at some point. You can find him on twitter at @patstegs.

  4. Tim Schoch
    Tim Schoch

    Tim Schoch is an Ultiworld writer.

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