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2024 PLL Draft Grades by Team

The 2024 PLL College Draft is the greatest draft class in professional lacrosse history. I know that can be a crazy thing to say before any of these players officially touch the field, but looking at the selections from top to bottom, it makes you wonder why the PLL has not added another expansion team. They have mentioned multiple times how they want to expand on their terms and when it is right, but you look at the depth of this draft and it is mind boggling that there are only eight teams in the league. You legitimately could have made an expansion team with all of the selections in this draft. With that out of the way, let’s look at who each team selected and give every team a grade along the way.

Boston Cannons (Grade: C+)

1.6: Pat Kavanagh, A, Notre Dame
2.6: Alex Vardaro, M, Georgetown/Princeton
4.6: Scott Smith, D, Johns Hopkins

The Boston Cannons are coming off of a 7-3 year which ended in a blowout semi finals loss. While this team certainly didn’t need to rebuild, they needed a few extra pieces to keep the train rolling. They brought back all of their free agents while trading for Garrett Epple, Connor Kirst, and Bryce Young prior to the 2024 PLL Draft. This Cannons draft really should have been just taking the best available player on the board, and I’m not quite sure they did that. The Cannons needed some midfield depth, but were obviously surprised to see Pat Kavanagh fall into their lap. Their attack lineup is already completely set with Marcus Holman, Matt Kavanagh, and Asher Nolting. Is Pat a guy I can see coming out of the box? Not really, but I think that is the only way he sees the field. I’m not the biggest fan of the Alex Vardaro pick in the second, as I would have gone with Levi Anderson or Garrett Degnon as I feel they will have better PLL careers even if they come out of the midfield. Overall, the Cannons were already in a good spot coming into this draft, and while I don’t know if they made the right draft selections, this team is going to dominate on both sides of the ball in 2024.

California Redwoods (Grade: A)

3.2: Garrett Degnon, A/M, Johns Hopkins
3.5: Levi Anderson, A, Saint Joseph’s
4.5: Chayse Ierlan, G, Johns Hopkins/Cornell
4.8: Cole Kastner, D, Virginia

The Redwoods finished the 2023 season where they always finish, the middle of the pack. A 6-4 record and a playoff massacre has become the standard for this team, and it was time for a change. Losing major pieces like Garrett Epple, John Sexton, and Eddy Glazener left some glaring defensive needs that were partially addressed with the addition of Jared Conners from the Archers. Coach Nat St. Laurent must feel confident with Owen Grant, Arden Cohen, and Chris Fake potentially filling out the close defense unit, as he only selected one defenseman in the fourth round of this draft. Much like every year, the Redwoods offense looks loaded on paper, and they only got better with their third round selections. Garrett Degnon and Levi Anderson are fantastic selections to add depth to this offense, with both guys potentially having a day one impact pending the direction this team takes in 2024. Picking up Ierlan in the fourth also brings in a much needed second goalie, and someone who could potentially win the starting job. With all that being said, the Redwoods did the most with their late picks this year addressing many team holes along the way.

Carolina Chaos (Grade: B)

1.4: Shane Knobloch, M, Rutgers
2.4: Eric Dobson, M, Notre Dame
3.4: Ross Scott, A, Rutgers
4.4: Dylan Hess, SSDM, Georgetown

Head Coach Andy Towers is quoted as saying this team is headed in a new direction this year, and probably rightfully so. The team finished last year with a 5-5 record and seemingly have lost Dhane Smith and Ryan Smith to the holdout list. Shane Knobloch makes sense as the fourth overall pick, as he is arguably the best midfielder in a very attack heavy draft. There is going to be a lot of weight put on his shoulders as this team needs a ton of offensive help this year as they find a new identity. Eric Dobson should come in and carry some of that load. Dobson is a guy that can easily get you a point or two a game, just due to his size and ability to turn the corner on defensive midfielders. The addition of Ross Scott in the third had me slightly confused, as there were many other attackmen on the board that I valued much higher than Ross. However, pairing up two impact players from the same college on a roster where they are going to play right away brings great natural chemistry to the offense. The Chaos have an interesting projection following the draft, as I see a large gap between their ceiling and floor when it comes to the team’s potential. 

Denver Outlaws (Grade: B-)

1.1: Brennan O’Neill, A, Duke
2.1: Jake Piseno, LSM, UAlbany
2.3: Graham Bundy Jr., Georgetown
3.3: Josh Zawada, A, Duke/Michigan
4.1: Luke Wierman, FO, Maryland

The Denver Outlaws are coming off a devastating year as the worst team in the league, amassing a 1-9 record in 2023. The Outlaws entered the 2024 PLL Draft needing more help than any other team in the league. Thankfully, they had the first overall pick to snatch Brennan O’Neill off the board. O’Neill is going to be the face of this offense right away and he is going to be expected to carry a lot of the load with not much glaring helo around him. Thankfully, O’Neill is arguably the most professional ready player after securing the World Lacrosse Championship MVP over the summer as the only current college player on Team USA. Graham Bundy Jr. is a solid selection, but I love the addition of Josh Zawada. There is going to be an instant connection between Zawada and O’Neill and I think Zawada was not talked about enough heading into the draft, and that shows with his third round selection. I’m sure everyone was surprised to see Jake Piseno drop to the second round, but I’m not sure that was the pick this team needed. The Outlaws defense was non par with every other team in the league last year, and they have some really solid young guys that deserve quality minutes. Denver had a -38 score differential last year with all blame to be put on the offense who barely cracked 80 goals all last year. Even with Piseno on the board, Stevens, Dobson, or Williams could have been nice additions to this offense. Even the faceoff selection of Wierman in the fourth is questionable to me. You have Connor Farrell and this draft was loaded with offensive talent from top to bottom. Faceoffs are becoming more and more irrelevant, so why not snag another offensive threat? Boehm would have been my selection here.

Maryland Whipsnakes (Grade: B)

1.3: Ajax Zappitello, D, Maryland
3.1: TJ Malone, A, Penn State
3.6: Stephen Zupicich, LSM, Villanova/Ohio State
4.3: Adam Poitras, A/M, Loyola

Everyone thought at the start of the Premier Lacrosse League that the Whipsnakes were going to become an instant dynasty after securing the first two titles. Thankfully, every other team caught up to the Whips, and this team has barely been floating above water ever since, especially after going 4-6 last season. The departure of Michael Ehrhardt certainly impacted this defensive unit, and that hole was addressed with the third overall pick in Ajax Zappitello. The University of Maryland product stays home with the Maryland Whipsnakes. With such an offensive heavy draft following a loaded defensive first round in the 2023 PLL Draft, Zappitello is a good selection for what the team needed, but I am hesitant on what his performance will look like in the PLL. TJ Malone in the third is the steal of the century, though I’m not sure what his role is on this team. Zupicich is a great LSM addition to the Whipsnakes light room of poles and Poitras was certainly just a body to take in the fourth. You can’t say the Whipsnakes blundered any picks, as they addressed all of their needs heading into 2024. Coach Stagnitta must be confident that a 4-6 season was a fluke, and that his offseason free agency additions are going to add fuel to the flame. 

New York Atlas (Grade: A)

1.2: Connor Shellenberger, A, Virginia
1.5: Liam Entenmann, G, Notre Dame
2.2: Jake Stevens, M, Syracuse/Princeton
4.2: Tyler Carpenter, LSM, Duke

Head Coach Mike Pressler has received some slack after his first year at the helm of the Atlas. While I had high expectations for this team entering the 2023 season, they came up massively short with a 2-8 season. This team had a lot of needs coming into this draft on both sides of the ball. Pressler must have been confident that Shellenberger would fall to him a No.2 overall or else he would not have traded Chris Gray for the No.5 overall pick. I think Pressler fleeced everyone in this draft, as I feel like all of his selections were incredible. Connor Shellenberger paired with Jeff Teat is a match made in heaven, especially considering how deep this team runs at the midfield. Atlas snagged the best goalie of the draft in Entenmann, and I truly believe Entemann is a Top 3 goalie in the PLL before even facing his first shot. Jake Stevens in the second is a great pick as he is someone who can play both sides of the ball. Tyler Carpenter adds some much needed defense to a room that is very light on poles. The biggest issue for this team right now is a lack of defense as they let in the most goals in the league last year at 140. While I truly feel the Atlas nailed this draft out of the park, it will be all for nothing unless Pressler gets this defense together before the start of the season. 

Philadelphia Waterdogs (Grade: A+)

1.7: Matt Brandau, A, Yale
2.7: Kenny Brower, D, Duke
3.7: Marcus Hudgins, D, Ohio State/Army
4.7: Michael Boehm, A, Michigan

The Waterdogs on paper were already scary prior to the 2024 PLL Draft, now they are just terrifying. After going 7-3 in the regular season and coming up a goal short of another PLL Championship, the Waterdogs made sure to lock up their whole team to long contracts. Even with a loaded roster from top to bottom, you can always use some help in the draft. All of these picks are sensational picks for where they were taken. Brandau seventh overall? Sign me up. Brandau is really going to have to fight for playing time, but I’m sure Bill Tierney will find a way to make sure his talents get used properly. It is just going to be tough with such an offensive heavy team as it is. Kenny Brower was my best defender in the draft, as I feel he is the most PLL ready pole. To snag him in the second round was an absolute steal and just adds depth to an already solid defense. But then to grab Marcus Hudgins in the third solidified this team as the clear favorite to win it all in 2024. Oh sorry, forgot to mention they snagged Michael Boehm in the fourth round which was critically too low for him to fall in the first place. This is almost too much talent for one team to handle, and truly I don’t know how much playing time these guys will see in 2024, but it is fantastic depth for when injuries and other unforeseen circumstances arise. If this team doesn’t win a title in 2024 you might as well consider the season a failure. 

Utah Archers (Grade: B+)

1.8: Mason Woodward, D/LSM, Marquette
2.5: Beau Pederson, SSDM, Michigan/Princeton
2.8: Dyson Williams, A, Duke
3.8: Colby Barsz, D, Towson

Coming off of the best year in PLL history, the Archers secured many of their key pieces in the offseason, leaving very little holes to fill in the draft. As an Archers fan, I was confused by the Mason Woodward pick much like everyone else. I had heard his name and saw he was doing great things at Marquette, but with all due respect I don’t know how many people were watching Marquette games this season. I pray that this was the right selection, as passing up on Jake Piseno is a risky move and could be a generational mistake if Piseno translates his game to the PL and Woodward doesn’t. However, the defending champs are in a position to take risks like this. Beau Pederson in the second might not be the flashiest pick, but the Archers have really built their identity on defensive midfielders and added the best one in the draft to their already loaded room. Dyson Williams makes a lot of sense as selecting the best available talent on the board especially after losing some depth guys like DeSimone and Bowering. Can’t say I know much about Colby Barsz, but the Archers very much needed some more defensive depth. With all that being said, I have 100% confidence in Coach Bates’ draft day decisions as he has a way for selecting guys that fit in like a glove to the team’s schemes and culture. Not the flashiest draft in the world, but certainly puts the Archers in a position to potentially repeat titles.