The NWSL Draft Preview Part I: The Draft Big Board
With the 2014 National Women’s Soccer League College Draft just two weeks away, Our Game Magazine will be breaking down all the Draft in two parts. Part One will be the Draft Big Board with a ranking of players by position and some sleepers that you will want to keep your eyes on come Draft Day. Part Two will break down each team of what they have done over the off season and what they positions they will be looking to fill via the draft.
Then on January 17th, Our Game Magazine will be on-site in Philadelphia for the NWSL Draft with plenty of coverage from the event. So buckle in those seat belts tightly because it is going to be a fun ride for the next few weeks.
With NWSL Draft Preview Part I, we break down the potential 2014 draft class by each position. Each position this year has a lot of depth and there could be a good amount of talent when we reach Rounds Three & Four. We are taking in mind that since there has not been an announcement of players that will be allocated for 2014, this list includes all seniors, regardless if they have the potential to be allocated or not. Keep an eye on these rankings as the Draft comes closer as we will make any updates when announcements are made.
NWSL Big Board (As of January 1, 2014)
#- Canadian/Mexican International
^- Foreign International
1. Maya Hayes (Penn State)
2. Kealia Ohai (UNC)
3. #Nkem Ezurike (Michigan)
4. Frances Silva (West Virginia)
5. Morgan Marlborough (Santa Clara)
6. ^Rafaelle Souza (Ole Miss)
7. Jazmine Reeves (Virginia Tech)
8. Jordan Jackson (Nebraska)
9. Courtney Verloo (Stanford)
10. #Charlyn Corral (Louisville)
11. Kristen Hamilton (Denver)
12. Micaela Castain (Washington State)
13. Micaela Capelle (Portland)
14. Kim DeCesare (Duke)
15. #Christine Exeter (Louisville)
16. #Christobel Oduro (Memphis)
One thing in common with a lot of the strikers that are eligible for the draft this year is speed. There are a lot of players that like to press forward and run down long balls over the top or out wide. Maya Hayes and Kealia Ohai should be first round selections as well and might make an impact with whatever team they land on. Jazmine Reeves had an breakthrough 2013 with Virginia Tech and with her wide play, teams could look at her as a potential winger in addition to being a forward. One target forward name that might pop up during the draft is Nkem Ezurike. She had a big season for Michigan and while she would take up an international spot as she is a Canadian International, there will be a team out there that could potentially pick her up one way or another. Another couple players to keep an eye on is Morgan Marlborough and Jordan Jackson as they both have local ties with Kansas City area. So they both could be potential later round draft picks by FC Kansas City if still on the board.
1. Crystal Dunn (UNC)
2. Julie Johnston (Santa Clara)
3. Vanessa Dibernardo (Illinois)
4. Cloee Colohan (BYU)
5. Maegan Kelly (Marquette)
6. Mandy Laddish (Notre Dame)
7. Meghan Toohey (Michigan)
8. Nicholette DiGiacomo (Denver)
9. Jenna Richmond (UCLA)
10. #Danica Wu (Ohio State)
11. Kaitlyn Kerr (Duke)
12. Ashleigh Ellenwood (Arkansas)
Crystal Dunn, Julie Johnston and Vanessa DiBernardo will most likely go 1-2-3 unless something out of the ordinary happens. After those three are selected, it is really a guessing game to see who is a best fit with the various teams. The earliest any of the remaining midfielders could get drafted would either be late First Round/early Second Round. Jenna Richmond is a sleeper in the bunch as she proved at the College Cup that she can be very instrumental in the center of the midfield. Whoever drafts her will definitely get rewarded with that selection. You also can’t rule out seeing Mandy Laddish potentially following her former Notre Dame coach Randy Waldrum down to Houston in the second or third round if still on the board.
1. Kassey Kallman (Florida State)
2. Marissa Diggs (UCF)
3. Amanda Frisbie (Portland)
4. #Shelina Zadorsky (Michigan)
5. Natasha Anasi (Duke)
6. Emily Menges (Georgetown)
7. Emily Jacobson (Marquette)
8. Holly Hein (Michigan)
9. Molly Menchel (Virginia)
10. Rachel Lenz (Texas A&M)
11. Emi Lawson (California)
Kassey Kallman capped off a very impressive collegiate career and should transition smoothly into the NWSL this coming season. Teams will no doubt like her physical style of play and aggressiveness to win balls in the back, so she could be a top-five overall pick. Amanda Frisbie proved that she can be very versatile on the field after turning from a striker to a defender for Portland this year. The only thing that might hurt her draft stock is the fact that teams might not be sure what position will be best for her in the NWSL. Ari Romero was ranked as a Top-Three defender on this list originally, but she was allocated to Seattle, who will be happy to have her on board. Sleepers in this group include Molly Menchel, who played for Washington Spirit Reserves in the W-League last year and could be a late pick for the Spirit. Also, Houston might possibly lean towards Texas A&M product Rachel Lenz, who was a steady defender for the Aggies and could be a nice local name to pick up in the late rounds for the Dash.
1. Aubrey Bledsoe (Wake Forest)
2. Kelsey Wys (Florida State)
3. Erica Owens (BYU)
4. #Dayle Colpitts (Virginia Tech)
5. Emma Stevens (Nebraska)
This class of goalkeepers is a very strong group. But the two issues with eligible ‘keepers for the draft is that this class isn’t very deep and there aren’t a lot of teams that will be looking for goalkeepers. Expect at least Aubrey Bledsoe and Kelsey Wys to be drafted somewhere, perhaps maybe with Portland, Seattle or Western New York as backups. The only thing that hurts Dayle Colpitts with her draft stock is the fact that she is a Canadian International. And unless she gets allocated, most teams already have their international spots filled up. Which after the top notch season she had with Virginia Tech, teams would like the chance to have her on their roster.
With that, Part I of the NWSL Draft Preview has concluded. Check back in next Friday for Part II. Comment below on who you think will be a First Round pick or do you think there is a sleeper lurking in this draft class that will make an impact in the 2014 NWSL Season? Let us know your thoughts.
JJ Duke graduated from Rider University in New Jersey with a degree in Digital Media Studies. While his playing days may have ended back in high school, he still prides himself of being a decent shot-stopper and an all-around fanatic of the beautiful game (fervent supporter of Manchester United and the founder of a Rider supporters group, the 206 Ultras). He is the Student General Manager at 107.7 The Bronc at Rider and has contributed to various local newspaper and Web sites in the Trenton, NJ area of high school and collegiate sports including The Rider News and Fish4Scores.com. He became involved with Our Game Magazine early in 2012 when upon following OGM on Twitter, he was contacted within minutes (which caught him by surprise) by Tiffany about working with the team. After spending the summer covering the USL W-League and the WPSL-Elite league as an intern, he is looking forward to continue working with the OGM team, especially on games in the US.