Tuesday, April 24, 2018

If MIAA Stars Entered the NFL Draft: 2018 Edition

St. John's (Shrewsbury) quarterback Steven Bucciaglia
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Back by popular demand, it's the weird and mostly pointless blog we did last year about MIAA players getting taken in the NFL Draft.

As I said last year: Yes, the concept of this post is silly, and I don't care. Last year I mostly did this blog because the state of sports journalism, particularly in the Boston market (haha, Boston Market) was so effed, but a year later, there is some cause for optimism.

The Athletic just came to Boston, while Boston Sports Journal seems to be doing well...

Ed. Note: In this space I previously made a remark about The Boston Herald that I think came off the wrong way. I made a comment about the paper's financial state as a legacy journalistic entity in contrast to the new businesses that just came to town. 

Essentially, I was making the point that, even as these start-ups bring promise and optimism, we still have The Herald selling in bankruptcy court, so the present state of local sports journalism is obviously mixed.

That comment was in no way a jab at The Herald's work. I have friends at the paper, share writers with their high school section, and maintain that they've had the best sports coverage in Boston since I've moved here. Heck, the late, great Bruce Lerch even got me my first job in this town.

TL;DR : I made a dumb comment, and have nothing but respect for The Herald. Anyways, onward with the rest of the blog!

A reminder of the rules for MIAA players being taken in our MIAA/NFL Draft:

1. The player must be a senior. I know college juniors (and redshirt sophomores) can be taken in the real NFL Draft, but that's not how our draft works.

2. The player can be headed to prep school next year. Since we don't include ISL or other Prep School players in our draft, guys that are finishing up their MIAA careers and graduating from an MIAA school get the chance to be drafted.

3. This is only the First Round of the Draft, and we're using the current draft order. There will be no trades simulated, though I did give that some thought.

4. We are not pretending last year's MIAA/NFL Draft actually happened. For example, the real Browns still need a QB. I'm not going to pretend that them drafting Bobby Maimaron last year in our fictional draft filled that need. Seriously, everything would be way too complex if we did that, and it would create an MIAA/NFL cinematic universe that I don't feel like keeping track of. I'm not even ready for the new Avengers movie.

5. Any complaints? Yell at me on Twitter at my handle, @HerewegoJoe, and tell me why I'm the worst fictional GM ever. Heck, you can even make your own MIAA/NFL mock draft and send me a screen shot.

Anyways, without further ado, here is our 2018 MIAA/NFL Draft.

1. Cleveland Browns: Steven Bucciaglia, QB, St. John's (Shrewsbury)

Once again, Cleveland is looking for a franchise quarterback, and once again the MIAA can help the Browns out. Bucciaglia had a season for the ages at St. John's, smashing every relevant Central Mass passing record, and leading the Pioneers to a perfect season and Division 3 state championship.

No doubt that Bucciaglia's leadership, quick release and accuracy will help him break the curse of Browns QBs.

2. New York Giants: Danny Abraham, RB, BC High

Sure, the Giants could draft Eli Manning's eventual replacement, but they instead pick up one of the biggest play makers, and most consistent runners in recent MIAA memory. Abraham's speed, vision and versatility make him the perfect pick at No. 2, and should give the Giants' struggling offense a shot in the arm.

3. New York Jets (via Indianapolis): Sal Frelick, QB, Lexington

The Jets need a franchise QB, and Frelick's mobility makes him especially appealing. A true dual-threat QB, Frelick's ability to make plays with both his arm and his legs make him a candidate to play early, and should help him survive with less than stellar talent around him.

4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston): Cole Drugotch, WR, St. John's (Shrewsbury)

Clearly, the Browns' front office fell in love with the Pioneer offense this season, as they select Bucciaglia's favorite target to help him out. Drugotch's size, strength, smarts and hands made him one of the most lethal play makers in the state last season, and his comfort with Bucciaglia could help speed up Cleveland's rebuilding process.

5. Denver Broncos: Chad Peterson, QB, North Attleboro

It's a quarterback-driven league, and the Broncos are in desperate need of a signal caller. Luckily for them, North Attleboro star Chad Peterson is still on the board, with a laser-rocket arm, and great athleticism to boot. Perhaps the most physically gifted QB in the state, Peterson has all the tools Denver is looking for to finally find an adequate replacement for Peyton Manning.

6. Indianapolis Colts (via NYJ): Elijah Miranda, DE/LB, BC High

Indy needs a pass rusher for its new 4-3, and Miranda provides plenty of speed off the edge, plus the ability to stuff the run, and even play LB, if called upon. A versatile play maker who can get to the QB, Miranda fills a few holes for the patchy Colts D.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Andrew Dittrich, DB, King Philip

The Bucs need help at corner and safety, so they snatch up a guy who can play both. A technically sound and play making DB, Dittrich is mostly known for his three interception, two returned for touchdown game against Taunton. That win locked up another Hockomock Kelly-Rex title for the Warriors, but Dittrich's play both against the pass and the run were stellar all season as KP won its second consecutive state championship.

8. Chicago Bears: Bryce Shaw, LB, Bridgewater-Raynham

Chicago is looking for its next Hall of Fame linebacker, and Shaw fits the ball. A physical, instinctive 'backer who can make plays from sideline-to-sideline, the B-R star could quickly get Chicago's defense back on the right track.

9. San Francisco 49ers: Ben Bohenberger, OL, Mashpee

It's never sexy to take an interior lineman in the Top 10, but Bohenberger is a special player, who can push the pile, pull, and pass protect at an elite level. The Mashpee star's toughness and athleticism should instantly make San Francisco's line a force to be reckoned with.

10. Oakland Raiders: Nick Correia, DL, Nantucket

Maybe the most physically dominant player in the MIAA last year, Correia simply ate opposing offensive lines for lunch last season when they ran the ball at him. But the Nantucket monster in the middle isn't a one trick pony. He also has the quickness and motor to push the pocket after opposing QBs.

11. Miami Dolphins: Jerrod Clark, TE, Brighton

The Dolphins coveted Correia as a replacement for the departed Ndamukong Suh, but with him off the board, they go a different direction and grab a play making tight end. Clark's size and nimble feet make him a rare specimen for the position, and his background as a high-level basketball player has the Dolphins thinking he could be the next Antonio Gates.

12. Buffalo Bills (via Cincinnati): Jason Maitre, WR, Everett

The Bills consider a QB, but instead add a dynamic target for A.J. McCarron in the form of the shifty Everett pass catcher. Equally lethal both as a deep threat and an underneath receiver, Maitre can do it all, and will surely strike fear into opposing defensive coordinators.

13. Washington Redskins: Shane Frommer, ATH, King Philip

Washington could use a dynamic running back and a play making linebacker, so they snatch up the versatile Frommer, who can do both. While he likely won't play both sides at the NFL level, Frommer's diverse skill set makes him a no-brainer for a Washington team with plenty of needs.

14. Green Bay Packers: Isaiah Likely, WR, Everett

With the departure of Jordy Nelson, Green Bay quickly hands Aaron Rodgers another physical receiver. Likely's size, speed and leaping ability made him nearly impossible to defend for the Crimson Tide last year, and his presence should keep Rodgers happy after he was (reportedly) frustrated with the Packers' front office.

15. Arizona Cardinals: Bryce Latosek, QB, Millis

Arizona simply cannot waste any more years of Larry Fitzgerald's career, so the Cardinals pull the trigger on a small-school QB with franchise potential. Latosek's quick release and anticipation make him one of the most intriguing passers in the draft, and just what the doctor ordered after Carson Palmer's abrupt retirement.

16. Baltimore Ravens: Ty Donatio, LB, Central Catholic

A great coverage linebacker and big hitter, Donatio should fit right in with Baltimore's defense. The former CC star has the speed to give the Ravens another dimension in their linebacker corps, and gives Baltimore some much-needed youth at the position.

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Aiden Gillis, LB, Marblehead

With an excellent pass rush already in place, the Chargers turn their attention to the second level of their defense,. The former Magician should excel early, thanks to his sure tackling in space and superior instincts.

18. Seattle Seahawks: Tommy Aicardi, OL, BC High

Seattle's offensive line has been an issue for a while now, so the Seahawks turn to one of the most complete linemen in the state to help them get back on track. In a class of great lineman, the former BC High star just might be the most versatile.

19. Dallas Cowboys: Chris Campbell, WR, Shrewsbury

With Dez Bryant gone, Dallas uncovers a gem in the form of Campbell, an underrated play maker, who can take the top off a defense, and turn underneath routes and reverses into big gains.

20. Detroit Lions: Federico Ernst, OL, St. John's (Shrewsbury)

Detroit's inability to run the ball in recent years has limited the Lions' offense. That should change with Ernst in town, as the Pioneer star is a one-man wrecking ball.

21. Cincinnati Bengals (via Buffalo): Mathias Villafane, DB, Central Catholic

A true shutdown corner, Villafane could tie together a Bengals defense that always seems to be just one piece away. Beyond his coverage skills, which are ample, Villafane will also bring a winner's mentality and plenty of swag from one of the state's best defenses.

22. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City): Will Bowen, LB, BC High

Big, strong and fast, it's a testament to the depth at linebacker in this draft that Bowen is still on the board at pick No. 22. The Bills eagerly scoop up the BC High two-way star (and UNC lacrosse commit) to help rebuild their defense.

23. New England Patriots (via LAR): Liam Doran, LB, St. John's (Shrewsbury)

Speaking of talented LBs still on the board, New England can't believe its luck that one of the best and most versatile defenders in the state is still available. After a rough defensive showing in the Super Bowl, Doran can't get out to Foxboro fast enough.

24. Carolina Panthers: Calvin Johnson, ATH, St. Mary's (Lynn)

One of the most explosive players in the state, Johnson torched opposing defenses as a dual-threat quarterback last season. But, his future in Carolina will likely lie at receiver, where the Panthers love his potential.

25. Tennessee Titans: David Schwartz, DL, Longmeadow

A vicious hitter with a non-stop motor, Schwartz can set the edge, and rush the passer for Tennessee. The Titans might even be inclined to slide him inside the provide an interior pass rush on later downs. Either way, the Longmeadow star will surely add some punch to Tennessee's defensive front.

26. Atlanta Falcons: Matt O'Neill, DL, Weymouth

A massive defensive lineman who can play the run and rush the passer, O'Neill spent the majority of his senior season at DE. That could change in Atlanta, though, where the Falcons have a vacancy at DT, and O'Neill's strength could make him an instant impact player.

27. New Orleans Saints: Harrison Gross, TE, Lincoln-Sudbury

Drew Brees lobbied his front office to bring back Jimmy Graham, and it's easy to see why. With a talented backfield and receiving corps, a play making tight end might be the final piece of New Orleans' Super Bowl puzzle. The Saints get that piece here, in the form of the versatile L-S star, who is also a great run blocker to boot.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Brandon Winn, DB, Tewksbury

Injuries sank Pittsburgh's defense down the stretch last year and, while inside linebacker is also a priority, the Steelers opt to go for a play making safety who can further upgrade their young secondary. Winn excelled both downfield and in the box, while also showcasing the ability to play man coverage in goal line situations during his senior season in Tewksbury.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Pat Walsh, OL, Wachusett

A tough multi-year starter for the Mountaineers, Walsh should be a perfect fit in Jacksonville. Quick enough to protect the passer and physical enough to pave the way for Jacksonville's fantastic stable of backs, Walsh should be ready to play from Day 1.

30. Minnesota Vikings: Will Shield, OL, Mansfield

Minnesota's offensive line struggled at time last season, and Shield's physicality at the LT spot should help that, though he could move over and play RT as well. Either way, the Vikings' run blocking is about to pick up.

31. New England Patriots: Elijah Johnson, DB, East Longmeadow

There aren't many more physically gifted corners in the state than Johnson, who should be an instant starter for the Patriots. I don't know if you heard, but New England chose not to play a certain corner in the Super Bowl, and he is now playing elsewhere, so addressing this position might be a good idea.

32. Philadelphia Eagles: Sal Figueroa, RB, Fitchburg

Running back may not be Philly's biggest need, but young legs never hurt, and Figueroa has as much potential as anybody in the draft. After helping to resurrect the Red Raiders program, the sky is the limit for this young and explosive runner.


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