Draft day: Picking the state's best

Just for fun, I thought we'd take a different approach to our 2011 football preview. Instead of going through the top players in Massachusetts one by one, why not stage a mock fantasy draft? We rounded up 10 GMs willing to play along — a group made up of ESPNHS staff, ESPNBoston gurus and even a couple of the state's top players. After a lottery to determine the order, we jumped right in. Of course, there is no league and we probably just wasted a lot of time, but it was an amusing way to waste it. And big thanks to Nick LaSpada and Jonathan DiBiaso, two of the state's hardest-working QBs, for taking part in this. Here are the Round 1 results:

1st Annual ESPNHS Massachusetts Mock Fantasy Football Draft

Round 1, Pick 1

GM: Matt Remsberg, ESPNHS senior editor

Selection: WR/RB Armani Reeves — Catholic Memorial, Sr.

Strategy: I was tempted to take Billerica's Nick LaSpada or Everett's Jonathan DiBiaso here, but I'm reluctant to take a QB in the first round of any fantasy draft — even fake high school fantasy drafts. I love Reeves' versatility, and the Penn State commit should rack up the TDs this season.

Round 1, Pick 2

GM: Brandon Parker, ESPNHS associate editor

Selection: QB Jonathan DiBiaso — Everett, Sr.

Strategy: I normally don't like taking quarterbacks this high either, but it's hard to look past the numbers DiBiaso put up last year. The two times I've won fantasy football titles, quarterbacks have been critical (hello Tom Brady in 2007), and after DiBiaso's junior campaign of 43 scores and just four interceptions, I like this kid running the show for my squad.

Round 1, Pick 3

GM: Chris Parish, ESPNHS associate editor

Selection: RB George Craan — Concord-Carslisle, Sr.

Strategy: Normally I'd take LaSpada, but I really want to see if he picks himself. So instead I'm going with George Craan. He's got perfect size to dominate at 5-11 and 210 pounds, and his numbers last season don't lie. He'll go for more than 2,000 yards this year and I think he'll find the end zone 26 or 27 times, and you can't ignore numbers like those in a fantasy draft.

Round 1, Pick 4

GM: Nick LaSpada, Billerica QB/2009 Gatorade POY

Selection: QB Nick LaSpada — Billerica, Sr.

Strategy: I really like my skill position players this year, and our offense has been working hard to be ready for the start of the season. If our team is playing well, the numbers will be there. And I feel I can change games on both offense and defense.

Round 1, Pick 5

GM: Scott Barboza, ESPNBoston editor/reporter

Selection: LB Tim Joy — Chelmsford, Sr.

Strategy: They say championships are built on defense right? Well, Joy will hope to lead the Lions to a Merrimack Valley Large title this year. The BC commit is an imposing presence at 6-2, 220 pounds and is a tackling machine with 131 stops last year.

Round 1, Pick 6

GM: Brendan Hall, ESPNBoston reporter/editor

Selection: QB Paul Mroz — Brockton, Sr.

Strategy: In my opinion, the most underrated passer in New England. They grow up quick in the City of Champions, and it's hard not to root for this kid after everything he's been through off the field. I definitely want this kid in the clutch — he's a natural leader.

Round 1, Pick 7

GM: Jonathan DiBiaso, Everett QB

Selection: RB Andrew Coke — Andover, Sr.

Strategy: I played against Andrew last season and trained with him over the summer. He's a tough, hard-nosed runner with great vision, and in the open field I don't see anyone catching him from behind. Andover runs an offense that is built around him, and like he did last season, I see him putting up monster numbers this fall.

Round 1, Pick 8

GM: David Auguste, ESPNHS associate editor

Selection: RB Preston Cooper — BC High, Sr.

Strategy: I was immediately sold on this kid, and I'm ecstatic he fell to me at No. 8. I watched a play last year where Cooper flattened an oncoming corner with a stiff arm, juked a linebacker out of his cleats with a nasty cutback, then reversed field for a touchdown. It's those kinds of runs that lead me to believe he will improve on last year's 1,500-yard campaign. CHAMPIONSHIP!

Round 1, Pick 9

GM: Mike Grimala, ESPNHS associate editor

Selection: RB Karl Sery — Hudson, Sr.

Strategy: I'm a CMass guy, so you know I'm going outside 495 for my first pick. Sery ran for more than 1,400 yards last year, and most of his offensive line returns intact this season. I think he's a good bet to run for 20-plus touchdowns, and if he adds a few more TDs on interception returns, hey I'll take those too. Now I just have to hope there's a good QB available in the next round.

Round 1, Pick 10

GM: Jon Mahoney, ESPNHS senior editor

Selection: QB A.J. Doyle — Catholic Memorial, Sr.

Strategy: As a BC High Alum, it pains me to pick a CM kid. But North Carolina State coach Tom O'Brien knows his quarterbacks (ever heard of Matt Ryan or Russell Wilson?), so if this kid's good enough for the Wolfpack, he's good enough for my team. And with Armani Reeves as his top target, I expect a big year out of Doyle.

For Round 2 results, click here.

Have a suggestion for my pick? Hit me on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala).