It’s draft day! Thirty-two collegiate athletes will hear their name called tonight on ESPNU. This class features a deep group of high caliber attackmen who will fly off the board early. I’m most intrigued by the goalies, and I’m excited to see where they land. Only two goalies have been selected in the college draft, but there are some exciting prospects like Owen McElroy, Mike Adler, and Brett Dobson who will compete for starting jobs this summer. I expect to see them drafted in the later rounds if at all. Five of the eight first-round picks in this mock 2022 PLL mock draft reside in the ACC, and interestingly enough, no Ivy leaguers are picked in this two-round mock.
I was expecting to see Arden Cohen and Notre Dame this weekend, but unfortunately that is not the case. It’s a shame we won’t be able to watch many of these prospects this weekend because the selection committee decided to throw a pity party for the Ivy league, but hey, life moves on. Remember, these predictions are a combination of what I think a team will do along with what I think they should do. That’s no simple task this year because there isn’t much certainty at the top and there’s bound to be plenty of surprises.
Last year we saw Atlas LC select Jeff Teat with the #1 pick, and he’s certainly lived up the hype. Teat won the PLL rookie of the year award and was an MVP finalist despite missing the beginning of the season due to Covid-19 restrictions. This class features players who have the potential to make similar contributions in year one.
Chris Gray – Attack – North Carolina
Vision, agility, shooting, feeding, Chris Gray can do it all. There aren’t many players who are given the keys to the offense in year one, but Chris Gray is a rare exception. Gray fills an immediate hole as an X attackman, but he possesses the skill set to be a threat anywhere on the field. Gray instantly made Boston University and North Carolina better as soon as he arrived on campus, and the same could be true with Chrome LC. This is a no-brainer, and Chrome fans finally have reason for excitement.
Matt Moore – Attack – Virginia
Matt Moore is the epitome of a “positionless” player in the modern game. He can beat you in a variety of ways – dodging, shooting, and feeding – and his versatility makes him Paul Carcaterra’s “most intriguing” prospect in this year’s draft. Moore does everything at a remarkably high level and you’ll hear analysts praise his fundamentals. Moore projects as a midfielder at the next level, and if he’s taken by the Atlas, he’ll likely begin his PLL career running out of the box due to their attack depth. Once he’s ready, Moore will start at attack and he could form one of the league’s best young attack duos alongside Jeff Teat.
Arden Cohen – Defense – Notre Dame
The draft starts at #3, and there are a few directions Redwoods could go. They can shore up the defense and draft a lockdown defenseman, or they could draft the best athlete in this class which would provide speed out of the midfield. This is a mock draft, and I’m basing this off of what I think is going to happen. The Redwoods have become a pipeline for Notre Dame alums, and I can see them continuing this tradition with Cohen. On Monday, the Redwoods announced that defenseman Matt Landis will return this summer. Landis missed the 2021 PLL season due to Navy Seal training, so the Redwoods may choose to go in a different direction in light of this recent development. Cohen to the Redwoods isn’t a groundbreaking prediction, but it’s one that’s likely to occur. Nakeie Montgomery also merits consideration at #3 overall.
Nakeie Montgomery – Midfield – Duke
There are different philosophies general managers ponder while evaluating the draft – do you draft for talent or need? Last week’s NFL draft is a great example of these opposing ideologies. The Baltimore Ravens have been praised for drafting the top prospects on their big board: Kyle Hamilton, Tyler Linderbaulm, and David Ojabo. These picks didn’t necessarily represent team needs, but they’re still great selections nonetheless. A team like the New England Patriots took the opposite approach by drafting Cole Strange with the #29 pick. Strange is a guard which fills a major need, but he wasn’t projected to be selected until the 3rd or 4th round and experts believe it was a reach.
The point is, the Archers have a big need at faceoff, but there aren’t any prospects worth drafting in the first-round. For that reason, I believe the Archers should draft the best player available. In my opinion, that is Nakeie Montgomery. The Duke graduate student has made a living off dodging to score, but he’s also proven to be one of the best passers in college lacrosse. Montgomery is a plug-and-play player for the Archers, and he’ll make an immediate impact no matter where he lands.
Ryan McNulty – LSM – Loyola
I believe McNulty will be drafted earlier than people predict. The 6-2 210lb LSM has been an impact player for the Greyhounds for his entire college career. The game is shifting towards two-way players who can make contributions on both sides of the field, and McNulty provides just that. McNulty has scored 13 goals and 15 assists over his time in Baltimore. His size allows him to matchup against bigger midfielders like Sergio Perkovic or Myles Jones, and he’d make a great LSM duo alongside Craig Chick. If McNulty isn’t the first LSM drafted, it’ll definitely be Koby Smith from Towson.
Jonathan Donville – Midfield – Maryland
If there’s one thing I’m confident about it’s that Andy Towers won’t let Jonathon Donville fall out of the first-round. The #1 pick in last year’s NLL draft has been one of the best players for one of the best college lacrosse teams ever. Maryland was really good in 2021 but they’re great in 2022. Donville is a key reason for their dominance. He fits Coach Towers’ box-style game, and he makes a lot of sense at #6. Chaos may wait to draft Donville with their second pick in the first-round, but I’m playing it safe and getting their guy here.
Roman Puglise – SSDM – Maryland
This may not be the sexy pick that some Whipsnakes fans are hoping for, but Puglise is an instant starter at the next level. He’s the best SSDM prospect in this class, and he’d join a defensive midfield group that could use some youth. If the Whipsnakes don’t draft a SSDM here, I can also envision them drafting Puglise’s teammate, Bubba Fairman, later in the draft. Fairman provides some offensive capabilities, and he was a recruited attackman out of high school. Fairman likely won’t hear his name until the third or fourth-round, but his experience playing multiple positions makes him an interesting prospect. Either way, Puglise is an elite perfect in the 2022 PLL Draft, and he’ll hear his name sooner rather than later.
Brett Kennedy – Defense/LSM – Syracuse
Kennedy is a name that has quietly risen up across multiple 2022 PLL mock drafts. Syracuse had a historically bad season in 2022, but their problems were no fault of Brett Kennedy’s. The All-American began his collegiate career as an LSM, but he also logged substantial minutes at close defense. Chaos LC needs to replace Johnny Surdick this summer because he’s missing the season due to military duties. Drafting a close defenseman is priority #1. I alluded to this issue during my segment regarding PLL team needs, and I still think Chaos should package some picks in order to move up in the first-round to draft #1 defenseman prospect, Arden Cohen. If not, Kennedy will suffice and he has plenty of experience matching up against premier talent in the ACC.
Brendan Nichtern – Attack – Army
I’m taking the “best player available” approach for this Chrome team littered with needs. PLL franchises may be more hesitant about drafting players from service academies due to required military commitments down the road – similar to what we’re seeing this summer with Johnny Surdick. Nichtern is certainly a first-round talent, but his 2022 PLL Draft stock may fall because there aren’t many teams in need of a true quarterback-like attackman. Drafting two attackmen who primarily operate from X may not be ideal, but Tim Soudan will find situations to maximize both skillsets. Chrome can address other needs later in the draft.
Brendan Curry – Midfield – Syracuse
I like the idea of pairing Stephen Rheffus with his old college teammate. Jack Hannah is probably the more polished prospect, but Curry feels like a Sean Quirk player. The Cannons lost Paul Rabil and Connor Buczek to retirement this offseason, so drafting an heir should be a top priority. Rehfuss, who was the Cannons 2nd leading midfield scorer in 2021, spent his college career behind the cage at attack. The Cannons should target natural midfielders, especially players who can contribute early. The Cannons need to fill a hole at SSDM, so Roman Puglise is another potential candidate for the Cannons if he’s available at #10.
Asher Nolting – Attack – High Point
It seems unlikely that Asher Nolting will fall out of the top ten, but it’s difficult finding a club that values his skillset. Nolting finished his High Point career as the programs all-time leading scorer, and #9 on the NCAA men’s lacrosse career points list. A big, physical attackman from Colorado balances strength with finesse. The 6-2 210lb attackman bounces off slides and wills his way to the cage. Ben Rebeor could use Nolting as an invert midfield option which should pair nicely with the Jeff Teat’s inside game. Nolting is simply too dominant to fall any lower in the 2022 PLL Draft.
Justin Inacio – Faceoff – Ohio State
Mike Sissleberger, Zach Cole, and Petey Lasalla all decided to return for a fifth-year in 2023 leaving Justin Inacio as the #1 faceoff man in this class. #12 is slightly richer than I like, but the Archers have a glaring need at faceoff and need to address the position. Inacio has finished north of 60% in all five seasons in Columbus. The Ontario native is a tremendous athlete, and he should have problems adjusting to the increased physicality in the pros. Inacio will have a chance to compete with last year’s fourth-round pick Conoor Gaffney for the starting job.
Jack Hannah – Midfield – Denver
Denver might be the next college-to-PLL pipeline if Atlas draft Jack Hannah. He’d join Trevor Baptiste, Eric Law, and Danny Logan as Pioneer alums. A first-team All American in 2021, Jack Hannah has been one of the best midfielders in college lacrosse over the last few years. His early shooting woes in the early stages of the season were well documented (3-39 7.6%), but he’s turned it around since.
Logan Wisnauskis – Attack – Maryland
The Tewaaraton is more of a team award than other sports. Maryland has unquestionably been the best team in college lacrosse, so it makes sense for their best player (Logan Wisnauskis) to win this year’s award. The Waterdogs don’t have many glaring needs, but you can never go wrong drafting an off-ball shooter. Just ask Chaos how they feel about last years’ Mac O’Keefe pick. I’ve been impressed by Wisnauskis’ feeding ability throughout this season, and he displayed that with this cross-field feed against Hopkins. Wisnauskis might not be a first-round pick, but his floor is no lower than mid second-round.
Gibson Smith – Defense – Georgetown
The Whips would be ecstatic to see Gibson Smith fall into their laps late in round 2. Smith has been a staple of Georgetown’s #1 ranked defense ever since he stepped foot on campus. The four-year starter has consistently been one of the best defenseman over his college career. Smith can lockdown opposing #1 attackmen, but he’s also a vacuum on ground balls and hasn’t committed a penalty all season. The Whips would happily build the defense with their first two 2022 PLL Draft picks.
Ryan Hallenbeck – SSDM – Notre Dame
I haven’t heard a ton of 2022 PLL Draft buzz about Ryan Hallenbeck, but his play speaks for itself. Notre Dame has a rich history of producing high level defensive talent, and Hallenbeck is another great example. Hallenbeck has been one of the best defensive midfielders under Coach Corigan’s defense over recent years. The second round may be a little early, but there isn’t a ton of SSDM depth in this class. Hallenbeck could go earlier than expected. It’s no secret Andy Towers loves targeting players with a Canadian influence and box background. Luckily, Hallenbeck attended Culver Academy, and they play as much box lacrosse in the winter months as any American school. Regardless, Hallenbeck will see the field early in his professional career, and he’d make a dynamic duo alongside Mark Glicini for Chaos LC.