Written by RUGBYMag Staff    Wednesday, 27 April 2011 07:59    PDF Print Write e-mail
The First 2011 Super League Draft Pick Is...
Clubs - Top Club Leagues

(If there was an RSL draft, we envision it'd look similar to the scene of Seta Tuilevka announcing his signing with Montpellier pictured on the right.)

The NFL draft has become a spectacle almost beyond comprehension. A middle-aged man reads a name off of a piece of paper every 5-10 minutes, and thousands of people, who've often been waiting well over an hour in anticipation, go absolutely bonkers. They're usually either enraged or ecstatic.

Between these brief bits of excitement, the camera cuts from men on telephones to kids waiting to hear their name called to over-analyzed game film, all the while a panel of guys bicker about who will be the next player picked. One of those men (Mel Kiper) has the worst haircut on television. Still, people watch every year.

Perhaps someday the American rugby community will have a similar moment in the sun. For now, it's just fantasy, but a fantasy we're going to explore with a two-round mock Super League draft. There are no age restrictions. Every college player in America is eligible for selection. The draft order is determined by the previous year's standings, and since the 2011 standings aren't final, we'll wing it where necessary.

1. With the first overall pick in the 2011 Super League draft, the Dallas Harlequins select...

Thretton Palamo. The Harlequins need everything. The scrum needs help, the midfield, back three and halfback positions could use an upgrade. That's why they take best talent available. It's an obvious pick, but the right one. There is little risk here. We know he's big enough, strong enough and fast enough. He already has more international experience than the team he's going to, and the only real risk is that he'll be plucked by an overseas club sooner than the 'Quins may like.

2. Old Blue New York

Seamus Kelly. Old Blue has to choose not only for need, but for players who will fit into their club. They are an ornery, tough-minded New Yawk club, which needs to improve their backline attack. Kelly can handle himself on the field and around his teammates off the field too.

3. Chicago Griffins

The Griffins need more raw speed, but they're not going to necessarily fulfill that need here. The most talented player in the draft not named Palamo is Ryan Roundy. He could factor in at a number of positions, from back row to back line. If there's anyone who can teach Roundy how to be a big-bodied center, it's probably Andrew Suniula. Roundy is simply too talented to pass on.

4. Utah Warriors

The Warriors brain trust breathes a sigh of relief ... not because they didn't want Roundy, but because they know they really need help in the scrum - the front of the scrum - but Roundy is dangling out there ... a local kid with tons of ability. Roundy's off the table, so Utah looks to the tight five. Could be lock Mark Bonham of BYU, or hooker Camden Burd of Utah, but they pick St. Mary's prop Nick Wallace instead.

5. Denver Barbarians

The Barbos have always been a tad slow, whether they want to admit it or not. They have a good, young flyhalf in Maximo DeAchaval, some talent in the midfield and a very capable fullback in Taylor Howden. So they go with the fastest player in the college game - Rocco Mauer. He gives them the speed to really capitalize on the style Jason Kelly wants to play.

6. New York Athletic Club

Help is needed in a bunch of areas, and one of those is athleticism out wide. Dustin Muhn has the maturity and versatility and the personal drive to be a success at NYAC. They pick the Cal wing.

7. Chicago Lions

They wanted Mauer and were familiar with him, given he's played in their 7s program, but he's off the table. If they could trade down for extra picks later on, they might. But since they can't, they're going young with Cam Dolan. His frame can hold more muscle and he's already a specimen. No one in the Super League has enough guys his size with his athleticism who play can anywhere in the second or back row.

8. Boston

Boston is getting into the position of picking the best athlete, or the player who could make an impact regardless of position. At this point, that looks like Utah scrumhalf Don Pati

9. Old Puget Sound Beach

The OPSB war room made up of Evan Haigh and Waisale Serevi are tempted to take another toy for the backline, but they realize they have greater needs. (If only Matt Millen of the Detroit Lions could have come to the same conclusion). OPSB's pack is not as bad as some think, but it still could use some help, so they select Neil Barrett, the Cal hooker.

10. Life

Life is loving life at the moment. They have a pipeline in their college team and they are playing well. Time to bring in someone to make an impact as a future Eagle, perhaps a flyhalf (?). Nick Viviani from Bowling Green.

11. San Francisco Golden Gate

Samu Manoa leaving for Northampton has created a massive void in the engine room. Paul Keeler is torn between Viliami Vimahi of BYU and Nick Civetta of Notre Dame, but he picks Civetta because he is a bit younger with a bit less wear and tear.


12. Dallas

Having addressed issues in the backline with the selection of Palamo, Dallas needs a leader who will help in set pieces, be physical, and perhaps someone to be a team captain in the not-too-distant future. BYU lock forward Mark Bonham fits all those criteria.

13. Old Blue New York

Old Blue flirted with this guy in the first round and is absolutely tickled to pick him up in the second. Gareth Jones will team up with first-round selection Seamus Kelly to form what instantly becomes one of the best midfields in the Super League.

14. Chicago Griffins

The Griffins can't expect Brendan Brown to save their bacon in the backs all the time. An outside back who can play inside or fullback, who can kick and run ... that's what they need. Cal back Blaine Scully

15. Utah Warriors

After picking up Wallace in the first round to play opposite Kite Afeaki, Utah's front three is looking really good if they can just get a little more consistency out of Blake Burdette at hooker. They have John van der Giessen anchoring the second row and some talent in the back row with Ryan Chapman. They already have some really good backs, but they want more. They're torn between another local player or someone from the outside. They decide they need more t-shirt sales in the middle of the map and select Pat Sullivan, Arkansas State flyhalf. He allows Jason Pye to move to wing, giving Utah a very strong back three.

16. Denver Barbarians

Denver needs depth and needs athleticism, and make a surprise pick in that they choose someone still raw, but someone who can help their young players take control of the game: UCLA loose forward Dave Martini, a former Bruin wide receiver.

17. New York Athletic Club

NYAC gets tougher, bigger and more physical with the addition of Chris Parker. He can play anywhere in the second or back row, and he's a workhorse. He could team up with Tom Katzfey to make a fantastic engine room or slide to the flank and make an impact there.

18. Chicago Lions

An injection of youth at the halfback position would help the Lions improve their attack. BYU's Shaun Davies or St. Mary's Chad Clark can both play 9 or 10. We go with Clark.

19. Boston

East Coast rugby is renowned for its grind-it-out approach, using big, hulking forwards to crash vertically up the field and wear down an opponent. Boston, in an effort to create the most physically imposing front row in the nation, selects Mikey Su'a of BYU. Coach Mike Diamantopolous wants to shave a few pounds off the prop, who is already light on his feet for someone nicknamed "Baby Rhino".

20. Old Puget Sound Beach

OPSB's backline looks in very good shape at the moment. What they need is a forward to blast through the defensive wall. It's a tossup for the Beach Dogs whether they want Sean Rohrs of Navy or Derek Asbun or Tom Rooke from Cal, or Travis Hughes from Arizona State. With the military guys unable to control where they live and when they can play, perhaps Rohrs isn't the safest choice. OPSB takes Hughes.

21. Life

With no pressing needs, Life is happy to gamble and take Hughes' back-row teammate Trevor Kohl. If he goes to the NFL, fine, Life can recover. If not, they have time to develop the crossover talent.

22. San Francisco Golden Gate

The one glaring weakness to SFGG's game is its scrum. Nick Civetta helps, but SFGG could still use a young front-rower to help tighten the screws, so they take Matt Crawford, the All-American prop out of St. Mary's.


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