NWSL – 2016 Draft Class Snapshot – Roccaro Leads Underwhelming Class

This class! …is not very good. I’d argue that the only two sure things are Cari Roccaro and Makenzy Doniak, with some reasonably interesting prospects likely to fill out the rest of the first round. Depth falls off a table not soon after though, with defense and goalkeeper looking especially woeful with half the data in. There’s a chance things will improve as players age and mature, but on the whole, it looks like this could be one of the worst draft classes in ages if things don’t get better.

Positional Rankings

GK

1. Lindsey Luke – Utah
2. Christiane Endler – South Florida
3. Emma Newins – Georgetown
4. Megan Kufeld – Washington
5. Abby Smith – Texas

DEF

1. Katie Naughton – Notre Dame
2. Christen Westphal – Florida
3. Emily Sonnett – Virginia
4. Jordan Coburn – Virginia Tech
5. Caroline Dwyer – Penn

MF

1. Cari Roccaro – Notre Dame
2. Ashley Meier – Virginia Tech
3. Ashley Spivey – Maryland
4. Raquel Rodriguez – Penn State
5. Isabella Schmid – Florida State

FW

1. Makenzy Doniak – Virginia
2. McKenzie Meehan – Boston College
3. Summer Green – North Carolina
4. Rachel Daly – Saint John’s (NY)
5. Taylor Smith – UCLA

Overall Rankings

1. Cari Roccaro – MF/D – Notre Dame

Looking harder and harder to dislodge from this #1 ranking as she continues to impress for both club and country. Versatility’s a huge asset at the next level, and the New Yorker has it in spades, essentially able to play as a center-back, defensive midfielder, or forward. Saw a lot of time at defensive midfielder for the Irish, as Waldrum loved to play his best players there but has shown herself to be great center-back at youth international level. Will be interesting to see how game evolves under new coaching staff but still looks a solid #1 with two years to play at college level.

2. Makenzy Doniak – F – Virginia

Fleet-footed forward looks like a prime contender to go down as one of the century’s best collegiate forwards should she continue at her current pace. Efficiency numbers are great for a forward who shoots and scores as much as she does, and eight goals against RPI Top 50 opposition shows she doesn’t just inflate her stats with goals against bottom feeders. Is a contender for twenty-five goals teaming up with Morgan Brian again, but the true test of her viability as a potential #1 pick may be her senior season without Brian to wreak havoc with.

3. McKenzie Meehan – F – Boston College

Was a defender once upon a time. I suspect a move back to the rearguard probably isn’t going to be in order, at least for the next few years at BC for Meehan. Formed one of the nation’s deadliest scoring duos with Stephanie McCaffrey, posting some utterly absurd efficiency numbers, managing a goal in under four shots and netting thirteen against RPI Top 100 teams and seven against RPI Top 50 teams. Nine of her goals were game winners as well, indicating who BC fans should want to have the ball on their foot during winning time. If she’s able to spur the Eagles on to ACC glory or another College Cup, she could well be an early first round pick come 2016.

4. Katie Naughton – D – Notre Dame

U.S. U20 center-back has seen her reputation soar for both club and country in two seasons, as she’s rapidly become one of the nation’s elite defenders. Didn’t suffer any type of sophomore slump either, excelling as the Irish moved into the ACC. Quick covering ground and uses her size in the air well, also displaying a decent nose for goal with five goals in two seasons thus far. With Irish moving on with a new coaching staff, her leadership going forward will be key.

5. Summer Green – F – North Carolina

Mercurial talent first announced her presence as a player to watch in the Spring of 2012, when she scored twelve goals in U17 World Cup Qualifying for the U.S. It’s been a roller coaster ride since, with the Michigan native showing world beating talent in spurts but also a frustrating degree of inconsistency that’s undermined her hopes of becoming one of the nation’s very best players. Sky is still the limit, but questions of how fast she’ll grow into that upside still linger.

6. Christen Westphal – D – Florida

Had massive shoes to fill in Gainesville after the graduation of club legend Kathryn Williamson but seems to be doing just fine thus far. Clearly learned well from the current Portland Thorns center-back, as she upped her already impressive game this season to turn into one of the nation’s best central defenders. Could be another Gator first round pick but is undersized for the position at the next level and may need a move out wide or into midfield.

7. Ashley Meier – MF – Virginia Tech

Towering midfielder was seen as one of Virginia Tech’s most important signings ever before the 2012 season and has done little to diminish her reputation in two fantastic seasons thus far. Has shown a great nose for goal with seventeen goals in two seasons, while 5’10” frame ensures she won’t lose too many battles in the more physical matchups. Has already been a big part of VT’s rise, but if she can help lead the club to major trophies, her stock could rise still.

8. Lindsey Luke – GK – Utah

Sure handed Californian making the most of her second collegiate home, helping lead Utah’s resurgence while rising up draft boards herself. In a class littered with promising but inconsistent talent, Luke’s steadiness should see her as close to as sure a thing as it gets from keepers in this class. Not the biggest keeper at 5’7″ but a fantastic shot stopper with great handling and will likely finish up with four years of starting experience by 2016.

9. Emily Sonnett – D – Virginia

Lived up to considerable hype as a rookie, turning into one of the ACC’s better defenders and forcing her way onto the starting backline of a formidable Virginia defense. Reputation probably took a bit of a hit after falling out of contention for the U.S. U20 team, which might indicate she’ll just be a damn good center-back instead of a superstar. How she responds as veteran head of a rebuild defense next year will dictate if she can climb into the first round of 2016’s draft.

10. Rachel Daly – F – Saint John’s (NY)

Most definitely worth the wait after being forced to sit out the 2012 season due to NCAA rules. Has also played on defense but was a star striker for the Red Storm in 2013, netting a whopping twenty-three goals in twenty games. Brit’s scoring tear in the Big East probably reminded many of Seton Hall’s Kelly Smith’s similar exploits a while back. Didn’t totally do it against weak competition either, netting nine against RPI Top 100 teams while putting up a good shots per goal ratio for a big scorer. If she improves her shot on target percentage and keep scoring, she’ll have a bright future as a pro, either here or back in Europe.

11. Jordan Coburn – D – Virginia Tech

Rose from relative obscurity to turn into one of the nation’s best center-back prospects this year for ACC contenders Virginia Tech. Found herself in the unlikely position of defensive leader on the backline as just a sophomore as the Hokies’ rearguard was hit by attrition after 2012. Considering how well the group performed after being cobbled together this year, the best for her and her backline mates could be yet to come, making her a potential first-rounder of the future.

12. Taylor Smith – F – UCLA

Texan possesses blazing speed, which was put to good use in the College Cup, as she threatened the two formidable defenses of Virginia and Florida State with abandon. For all her talent, Smith started out the 2013 season a bit cold before heating up late in UCLA’s title run. Ten assists shows she’s more than a poacher, though she needs to be a bit more efficient to move into the top ten.

13. Cheyna Williams – F – Florida State

Has as much upside as anyone in the nation. Athleticism and willingness to dribble right through the heart of defenses is a blessing and a curse, leading to both spectacular goals and some ghastly usage rate numbers, specifically Williams putting just over one of her three shots on frame. FSU’s proven to be a great finishing school for future pros though, and given the right coaching, Williams could rise into a first round prospect.

14. Leah Galton – F/MF – Hofstra

The best import from England since…well, since Rachel Daly above, but Galton’s still a smoldering prospect who could fortify her spot as a prospect for the first half of the 2016 Draft with two more big years. England youth international also capable of putting in a shift on defense if necessary but at her best scoring and playmaking in the attack. Probably too much to ask to rise much higher but still a bonafide top twenty-five prospect right now.

15. Ashley Spivey – MF – Maryland

Top ten talent who has to prove she’s still worthy of the ranking after missing the end of 2013 with a serious injury. Played as a center forward this season but probably grades out as a midfielder at the next level after playing as a deep-lying playmaker and a winger as a rookie. Midfield depth is awful for this class, so Spivey has an outside chance of rising into the first round if she comes back strong.

16. Janine Beckie – F – Texas Tech

Part of the core of young talent that has helped transform Texas Tech into one of the Big XII’s top teams. Has done a lot of good work against stiff opposition, but her underwhelming usage numbers are keeping her from truly challenging the elite in this draft class. There’s still time to improve on those numbers though, and if she can spur the Red Raiders on to greater things the next two years, the top ten could be within reach.

17. Raquel Rodriguez – MF – Penn State

“Rocky” has packed a big punch in two seasons for both club and country. Rodriguez already looks like being a key player for Costa Rica for some time after breaking into the national setup, already one of her nation’s top talents. Sort of a jack of all trades type in midfield, a big offensive threat but able to put in a shift nullifying opposing attacking midfielders. How PSU fares with her as one of its leaders in the next two seasons will be key for draft stock.

18. Caroline Dwyer – D – Penn

Quaker sophomore already on course to become one of the best Ivy League defenders in league history after a pair of bravura seasons for the club thus far. Also looking a good bet to become Penn’s best player ever after an All-American season for the surprising Quakers. Defensive depth is lacking in this class, meaning she’s got a shot at staying in the frame as a mid-round pick with two more big years.

19. Ashley Campbell – F – Dayton

Was a revelation as a rookie in 2012 but had higher expectations and big shoes to fill this past year. It’s safe to say she met them, netting eighteen goals as a sophomore as she led Dayton’s blistering attack. Usage numbers are fantastic for someone who scores as much as she does, but the Canadian likely needs to turn it on against top competition to rise much higher on the board.

20. Mallory Weber – F – Penn State

Became an overnight sensation as a rookie in 2012 as Penn State’s big guns were helping to win the U20 World Cup for the U.S. Took more of a secondary role in the offense behind Maya Hayes from the beginning last season and still ended up with seven goals and eight assists. Could see her draft stock soar if she can boost her protection as the top option next season without Hayes and Costa at PSU.

21. Ifeoma Onumonu – F – Cal

Had massive expectations after setting Berkeley on fire as a rookie in 2012. Didn’t quite meet them though, as the Golden Bears were unexpectedly a middling Pac-12 side in her sophomore campaign. Probably doesn’t have much further to go to hit her draft ceiling (not good) but probably isn’t going to fall much further if she stays steady (good) given lack of options in this class.

22. Isabella Schmid – MF/D – Florida State

German probably didn’t make as much of an impact as she’d hoped in 2013, struggling with niggling injuries throughout. Schmid wasn’t at full fitness for much of the season but still made her impact known at full-back later in the year while also getting occasional cameos in midfield. Not the most dynamic player but still a heady, talented competitor that could be in for a breakout season in 2014 if fully healthy.

23. Katie Bowen – MF/D – North Carolina

Young New Zealand star adapted to the college game quite quickly in two seasons in Chapel Hill. Can play at either full-back or further forward on the flank, and her versatility could make her a hot commodity either here in the States or abroad. Could be one of UNC’s stars if she can get past scary injury suffered at end of 2013 season against UCLA.

24. Olivia Brannon – D – Michigan

This is taking into account if Brannon gets a medical redshirt for the 2013 season. Former youth international has had a star-crossed college career, looking like one of the nation’s top defensive prospects after a tremendous rookie season. It’s been rockier since, with Brannon eventually falling out of favor for club and country before playing just four games through injury in Ann Arbor. Plenty of potential still here, especially in weak class.

25. Hanna Gardner – D – North Carolina

Had a crazy rise from unheralded walk-on who didn’t make the travel roster at the beginning of 2012 to invaluable defender for a national championship winner. Form was good enough to get her a cup of coffee with the U20 team, but her best work remains with the Tar Heels. Satara Murray will continue to get most of the plaudits, but don’t count out the East Chapel Hill alum from rising into a middle round prospect by 2016.

26. Bobbi Clemmer – D – TCU

The benefits of this being a weak draft class is that you get gems from unheralded programs, and Clemmer fits the bill perfectly. Clemmer already turned heads last year as a rookie for an improving TCU side but continued to make big steps forward this year and looks like one of the Big XII’s best defenders as just a sophomore. Has potential to go down as one of school’s best ever.

27. Ashleigh Ellenwood – F – Arkansas

Big, physical sophomore initially caught the eye playing with the Red Stars during their amateur days and took a little bit of time to acclimate to this level as a freshman. But she was front and center as the Lady Razorbacks made more big leaps forward under Colby Hale this season. A big target forward to lead the line who saw her production explode this year. Perfect match for player and team and could be a future SEC star.

28. Brittany Ratcliffe – F – Virginia

Quite the enigma for the ACC champions. Certainly proved herself to be capable in front of goal…as a super sub. Whether Steve Swanson can jam both Ratcliffe and Makenzy Doniak into the same starting XI is a hell of a dilemma and one that the Cavs boss will be toying with for the next two seasons. Ratcliffe still looks like one of this class’ best forwards, but you have to wonder how high she can rise if she’s not a consistent starter.

29. Elise Krieghoff – F – Cal Poly

Hey, all she did as a rookie was score eleven goals while battling mono. If that didn’t hint you in that the Mustangs might have something special in Krieghoff, this season should convince the doubters. Almost doubled her total of goals while contending for the unofficial DI Golden Boot. Needs to do it against better competition to keep rising but should have more than one chance in the next two seasons.

30. Victoria Barba – MF – San Diego State

Flair player is one of this draft class’ most exciting prospects, though this is mostly an upside projection in all honesty. Crowd pleaser hasn’t shown a ton of end product in two years thus far, but you get the feeling that if she does develop it, she could become of the region’s deadliest players. Figures to rise into the Top 25 or drop like a stone in a make or break junior year for her draft stock.

31. Sarah Zadrazil – MF – East Tennessee State

If you’re going to be a draft prospect, much less an international draft prospect, from a small conference like the A-Sun, you better be a bloody good player. Zadrazil’s that and then some, and might be a contender to be one of the A-Sun’s best players ever by the time she’s done with the Lady Bucs. Technically proficient yet able to hold her own physically, eight goals and eleven assists might just be the tip of the iceberg for the Austrian.

32. Kala Faulkner – D – Auburn

Move from full-back to center-back in the middle of her freshman worked a treat, as the Georgia native has turned into one of the SEC’s best defenders after just two seasons. She’s probably not going to be playing in the middle at the next level standing at just 5’5″, though it’s unlikely she’ll be shifted back wide given her success so far for the Tigers.

33. Merel van Dongen – MF – Alabama

Dutch midfield maestro was snakebitten in 2013, as she suffered a serious injury on international duty that KO’d her for the rest of the season after just six games, with Alabama suffering accordingly. not a particularly prolific scorer from midfield, though she wasn’t afraid to take shots as a rookie and had four goals in six as a sophomore. Could yet be a factor if she returns healthy for next two years.

34. Liana Salazar – MF – Kansas

Club career appears to be drowning on a waterlogged Kansas side. Colombian made a big impact as a rookie in 2011 in the Jayhawk midfield but was academically ineligible a year after following her sojourn with the Colombian WNT to the Olympics. Having to bear too much of the scoring load on a toothless KU attack. Still a key to her country’s future though.

35. Nicole Waters – MF – Dayton

Hey, where did that come from? The Canadian had certainly looked a nice player as a rookie, but the mojo with Ashley Campbell was definitely working in 2013, with Waters chipping in with an absurd seventeen assists, including twelve in the team’s last nine games. Needs to do it against better competition but will be a small conference terror at the least for two more years.

36. Diamond Simpson – MF/D – Memphis

Another of the Canadian legion to have taken root in Memphis, Simpson may not get as many of the plaudits as some of her goalscoring compatriots, but she’s still largely lived up to her early promise coming into the college ranks. She’s a 5’3″ center-back with the Tigers though and will almost assuredly have to move back into midfield at the next level.

37. Christiane Endler – GK – South Florida

Yeah, I’ve seen the goal she gave up against Texas. But the Chilean colossus still has as much upside as any goalkeeper on the planet with her size and shot stopping ability being on display in Tampa for two seasons. Still very raw and may be more of a project for the future than anything else, but has a chance to develop into a top notch keeper with the right guidance.

38. Haley Washburn – MF – Harvard

There’s nothing flashy about Washburn, a youth international mainstay who has done her job quietly and efficiently for the Crimson through two seasons thus far in the midfield. With Harvard likely to make waves with strong sides the next few years, she could be one of the board’s fast risers before 2016’s draft.

39. Kinley McNicoll – MF – Wisconsin

Canadian had a breakout 2014 season after beginning impressively as a rookie in 2013. Benefitting greatly from having the likes of Cara Walls and Rose Lavelle to work with in front of her and reeled in thirteen assists as a sophomore. Badgers haven’t lived up to expectations as of late, but if she can spur them back to the NCAA Tournament, McNicoll’s profile should rise higher.

40. Cali Farquharson – F – Arizona State

Had a smashing debut season in 2012 and looked like one of the nation’s best attacking threats through mid-September with nine goals in seven games. And then it all went cold for the sophomore, as she netted just once in the club’s last twelve matches. With Devin Marshall graduating, the offensive pressure is squarely on her shoulders in 2014.

41. Emma Newins – GK – Georgetown

I feel like I’ve been drowning in hype about this goalkeeping class for ages, but Newins has been one of the steadiest on the pitch through her first two seasons in D.C. Plays bigger than her 5’7″ frame and seems likely to be a four-year starter by the time she graduates, though it remains to be seen how she does without Menges organizing the defense in front of her.

42. Mary Kathryn Fiebernitz – D – Michigan State

It’s been pretty depressing in East Lansing over the past few years, but the presence of center-back Mary Kathryn Fiebernitz has been at least one bright spot. Besides anchoring the backline, she led the team in goals with six (three penalties), which may say more about MSU than her, but regardless, the Spartan sophomore has impressed thus far.

43. Isabel Farrell – MF – Seattle Pacific

Shock decision to transfer out of Washington took just about everyone by surprise, as in many ways, the sophomore had looked to be the club’s standard bearer after Lindsay Elston’s graduation. Profile slipped a bit since being youth international mainstay and was good but not great for Huskies and will need to dominate at lower level to stay this high.

44. Allie Stephenson – MF – Oklahoma State

OSU’s been caught between generations for a few seasons now, but Stephenson’s rise may help take them out of the wilderness. Still has a bit too quick of a trigger, but budding chemistry with Dike and Madison Mercado could be something to watch in Stillwater.

45. Sophia Maccagnone – MF – Butler

If Butler is contending for trophies in the Big East the next few years, there’s a good chance Maccagnone will be a big reason why. Already looked like a recruiting coup after a blazing rookie season and netted ten goals and eight assists as a sophomore. Stock will continue to rise with Bulldogs’ fortunes next two years.

46. McKenzie Berryhill – D – Arizona State

ASU’s not exactly a school known for its robust defense, but Berryhill might be a catalyst for change in the desert. Slipped into the starting lineup as a rookie and had a breakout year on the backline in 2013. Might not be an elite talent but could move her way up these rankings as defensive depth lacking in this class.

47. Laura Liedle – D – Stanford

Was supposed to be the next big thing for the Card in defense coming into last season as a rookie. Hasn’t embarrassed herself as Stanford’s full-time left-back in two seasons but has perhaps not hit the heights once expected of her as of yet. Should be on the U20 World Cup roster, and a strong 2014 could have her shooting up the list in a weak draft class.

48. Ally Kasun – MF – Florida Gulf Coast

Diminutive midfielder shocked everyone by immediately turning into one of the best freshman midfielders in the country in 2012. Showed it was no fluke this year with another brilliant season for the rampant Eagles. At a program that should continue to dominate at this level and has a chance to be one of A-Sun’s best ever.

49. Stephanie DeVita – F – Furman

Remember the name. Probably going to end up as the mid-major striker du jour that everyone falls in love with a couple of years from now. Was seen as a recruiting coup for Furman after signing before 2012 and is now the cornerstone for a side that can contend for SoCon silverware and potentially an NCAA Tournament win. Needs to show well in rare chances against top competition and improve usage stats.

50. Crystal Thomas – F – Notre Dame

Looked to be on a fast track to stardom after a great rookie season for the Irish in 2012. This season? Eh, not so much. Thomas regressed a bit, only starting about half of the Irish’s games, and her usage stats on the season were pretty unimpressive for a forward. She still led the club in assists though and has plenty of time to get back on track, though 2014 could be a make or break season for her stock.

4 thoughts on “NWSL – 2016 Draft Class Snapshot – Roccaro Leads Underwhelming Class

  1. Rdalford

    Good info (as usual). Appreciate the frank appraisals. Only a few strong star (should be stars if they stay healthy and continue to play well) players, but 2 years does allow time for some others to surprise.

    Reply
  2. Dillon77

    Chris:

    An Irish — and Waldrum — fan here. I agree with you on Waldrum’s propensity for putting his best players at the D-Mid slot. With Katie Naughton at center D, that would be putting two of your three best players (Morgan Andrews being the other) at Center D. It will be interesting to see what the new coaching staff decides to do. Speaking of that, any news on the coaching search? It’s been a month.

    Reply
  3. Kara

    I think Ratcliffe is really good. Her foot speed is impressive and she’s a fighter. Hope she sees the field more in 2014.

    Reply
  4. William

    All acc center back Casey Morrison boston college is back from acl tear and will be playing her senior season this fall.

    Reply

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