By Jeff Gagne, Images by J.R. Lawless

Chapter 1: Gun Slinging in the War Room

This week we sit down with Dion Hawkins, the Owner of the Tulsa Desperados. With the team mostly full of veterans and picking at the middle of the draft, we know they are focusing on an improved season this year. We speak on how to evaluate prospects, having a Plan B and how the team feels about the secondary prospects in this seasons upcoming draft, starting June 21st.

Jeff: What is the most important piece of evaluating a prospect: the interview, how they act in chat or some other pieces?

Dion: “I don’t believe one aspect is more important than the others. When I’m evaluating a prospect, I research them for awhile before ever speaking to them. With the new minor league format, I can actually scout the player on the field which, at the end of the day, is the most important in my eyes. I couldn’t care less about a player’s general chat activity, as long as you are not negative or being disrespectful to others in the league – you’re good with me.”

Jeff: How many scenarios do you plan for in the draft with your draft board? Or do you feel you have a good feel of how things might play out?

Dion: “We have multiple draft scenarios planned and our draft board reflects that. With the draft this year being on multiple days, we are taking it one round at at time. Having the 7th pick we have 4 guys/girls that we are comfortable taking at that spot. I have no idea how this year’s draft is going to play out -man i wish i knew – but I am comfortable and prepared for whatever happens.”

Jeff: With secondary being one of the only pieces you have to fill through the draft, do you feel confident with the prospects in the SFLm to step in and help?

Dion: “I feel very confident with the players that are playing in SFLm; I have seen some great play on both sides of the ball. We have a few secondary spots to fill but I think there is plenty of talent out there to cover all of our needs. With the first time of having a supplemental draft, we will most likely be drafting the best player on the board when its our time to pick regardless of position.”

Gagne does see Tulsa addressing their secondary in the upcoming draft. CB Rosca Santigira, or the ‘Stat Man’, is the best value we see for Tulsa. Not only does his have 15 weeks banked with no missed check ins, but he is also one of the big play threats at CB in the SFLm this year with 3 INTS and a fumble recovery returned for a TD.

#35 Rosca Santigria could add big play ability to the Tulsa secondary, if picked in the early rounds.

Chapter 2: Draft Day Forecast – Chance of Storms

For a while we thought the Storm were in need of a RB. Now, we are having the chance to speak to the Storm’s newest RB, JW Doyle. We touch on the SFLm prospects, focus in on the large and great QB class and finally on a lighter note, what snacks we might see in the Florida War Room.

Jeff:  In speaking with this draft class, what has stood out to you about the prospects?

Doyle: “For sure, the activity across the board. (Although one could argue that the best builds have low activity and the best activity have mediocre or below average builds for the most part). Seeing a bunch of activity hopefully turns into making locker rooms more active across the league as well as putting more brands out there in the chat room. The less publicly active teams will be able to have more people representing them in chat and the activity of the server will rise as well.”

Jeff: There are more QBs than spots available. With all their banked weeks, are they attractive at their secondary positions?

Doyle: “On secondary positions no matter what l, you’re probably looking at activity, personality, and longevity. If a QB has a 12-month sub that’s gonna put him ahead of others on a secondary stand point. But also if that QB is active or has friends/family in the league that also makes him a valuable target for any team. And honestly their secondary position is where activity will soar since full value is not nearly as needed at WR3 or DB2 rather than QB1. But, then again if the active QB’s get snagged by the teams who are willing to develop them, you’ll probably see most of the not so active QB’s get overlooked for secondary positions.”

Jeff: What will be the go to snack in your War Room on draft nights?

Doyle: “For sure some sprite – food wise probably some pretzels or maybe some burgers and hotdogs. Hopefully a healthy amount of fresh never frozen hand tossed pizza as well to represent the Italian presence in our locker room. But for the older lads in the locker room, maybe some adult beverages for them.”

In the first round we see the Storm trying to address the offense and taking TE Benji Mattson. Not only is he a presence in the booth, but also on the field!

Chapter 3: Bullish About the Draft

Last but not least, Gagne sits down with Fort Worth’s Nacho Sicario. The experienced campaigner will be hoping his Toros can hit the ground running by being smart in the draft.

Jeff: What has been the hardest part of the draft process for you and the team?

Nacho: So far we have found the adjustment to the new season and draft rules. Rolling with the punches has been our main focus. We had pretty good success in free agency, picking up key players for our team build.

Jeff: How did the recruitment of Pichler impact your offseason plan?

Nacho: We were a little late in the recruitment for Pichler, even after we got our expansion bid approved. He is a great addition for the Revolution. First season in, he had success while being a polarizing figure in the SFL. We backed out of the Pichler deal after Xander reached out to us about coming back for S15.

Jeff: What advantages do you see going into the draft as a new team? What disadvantages do you see?

As a new team going into the draft, we feel that we can fill out team exactly how we need and don’t have any turnover in players from the previous season. We can build from within to get some great chemistry and long term success. We don’t see many disadvantages. We feel that with the group we have and the group of rookies we draft, we will be set up for success right out the gate. We have high expectations for ourselves.

Make sure to keep tuning in to the Draft Playbook. We have one more episode left in this series. Let’s make it the best one yet!