The 2022 PLL Draft has officially been set for Tuesday, May 10th at 8:00 ET on ESPNU. This year marks the first-ever PLL College Draft that’ll air on live television – another milestone for the league. This article is the first of a series covering the 2022 PLL Draft. There have been numerous big-name retirements which has generated needs for many PLL teams. The following article will analyze the biggest needs for all eight PLL franchises.
Biggest Need: Defensive Depth
Target Player: Gibson Smith (Georgetown)
The Archers currently only have three close defensemen on their roster, and two of the three are 29 years old. These players aren’t super old, but they’re not young either. Adding some youth can’t hurt, and there are plenty of prospects in this year’s draft. Arden Cohen is projected to be a first-round pick, so the Archers will need to evaluate selecting a lockdown defenseman like Cohen, or a freak athlete like Nakeie Montgomery. The Archers have the No.4 pick in draft, and there’s a good chance one of the two will be selected by the Atlas or Redwoods anyway, so the decision might be easy.
If both guys are on the board, I’d draft Montgomery because his skillset is harder to find, and there will be other defenseman available in the later rounds. Gibson Smith, Brett Kennedy, and Marcus Hudgins are names to watch. I also expect the Archers to also address the faceoff position after trading Stephen Kelly to the Cannons earlier this off-season. The Archers might also draft a goalie due to the retirement of Drew Adams. The Archers have a lot to consider with their five draft picks.
Biggest Need: Midfield Production
Target Player: Matt Moore (Virginia)
Ben Rubeor did a phenomenal job building this team in last year’s draft, and he has the opportunity to do it again with six draft picks including two in the top five. The 2021 draft class of Teat, Aitken, Carraway, Logan, Dearth, and Arceri was unarguably the best from last off-season. The Atlas went from the laughing stock of the league to a surprising 6-3 regular season. The Atlas are very well rounded, but Jeff Teat could use some help.
All of the superstars have sidekicks, and it’s time to find Teat’s number two option. Luckily, Atlas LC has the No.2 pick, and Matt Moore should be the easy answer. Moore has been one of the most productive attackmen in the country since he stepped foot in Charlottesville. He’s occasionally been overlooked thanks to first team All-American Connor Schellenberger, but Moore is the real deal. Moore also has the versatility to run out of the box and log minutes through the midfield. Aside from Bryan Costabile, the Atlas failed to have a midfielder score more than 12 points. This will change in 2022 with Matt Moore as the answer.
Biggest Need: Midfielders
Target Player: Brendan Curry (Syracuse)
At the age of 35, Paul Rabil turned back the clock and played some of his best lacrosse before announcing his retirement in September. Current Cornell head coach, Connor Buczek, also decided to retire, leaving a massive hole in the Cannons midfield. Fourth round pick Stephen Rehfuss turned out to be the steal of the draft, and the rookie finished with 14 goals and 11 assists during an impressive rookie campaign. Rehfuss spent most of his days in Syracuse as the X attackman, so the Cannons will need to prioritize adding some true midfielders.
How about Rehfuss’ college teammate Brendan Curry? Curry will likely land in the second or third round, and the Cannons have just two picks in the 2022 PLL Draft – ironically in the second and third round – so they’ll need to make sure both count. If Curry is taken, Jack Hannah or Wheaton Jackoboice would be good options. The Cannons might also go in the other direction and draft Ryan McNulty because their only LSM is Reece Eddy.
Biggest Need: Starting Defenseman
Target Player: Arden Cohen (Notre Dame)
The reigning PLL champs don’t have many needs, but they have a glaring one at close defense. Like the Archers, Chaos LC only have three defensemen on their roster, and Johnny Surdick is on military duty this summer so he’ll be out. Don’t be surprised if the Chaos dip into the player pool or makes a trade ahead of the 2022 PLL draft.
If they don’t acquire a veteran, I’d consider packaging the two first-round picks (No.6 and No.8 overall) to move up and get a blue chip prospect like Arden Cohen. Cohen is a can’t miss prospect, and he’s a proven lockdown defenseman who will succeed at the next level. The knock on Cohen is his versatility, because he’s never played LSM and is primarily an on-ball cover defenseman. Luckily, the Chaos won’t need him to run LSM shifts because they have four LSM’s on their roster. Andy Towers might be hesitant to move up, but Cohen is worth it.
Biggest Need: Elite Player
Target Player: Chris Gray (North Carolina)
Chrome is desperate to find a player to build around. With the unexpected retirements of Jordan Wolf and Ned Crotty, Chrome LC lacks a true superstar, and a go-to guy to deliver in crunch time. The Chrome have finished last in two of the last three seasons, and it’s time to hit the reset button.
Enter Chris Gray.
The good news is Chrome LC holds the No.1 selection in the draft, and it’s a no-brainer. Chris Gray is just 5 points shy of tying Lyle Thompson’s NCAA lacrosse points record. Gray is a plug-and-play guy who will likely play in this league for over a decade. The Chrome then have an instant quarterback and a player they can build around. The rebuild is far from complete, but drafting Chris Gray is a great start.
Biggest Need: Offensive Initiators
Target Player: Nakeie Montgomery (Duke)
Oh man, can you imagine Nakeie Montgomery on the same midfield line as Myles Jones and Sergio Perkovic? The sheer strength and power that Jones and Perkovic provide would mesh incredibly well with Montgomery’s speed. Which midfielder would you even pole? I pity the defensive coordinators. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Redwoods choose to add their 11th Notre Dame alum by going with Cohen, but Montgomery is the much more exciting player, and I honestly think he’s a great scheme fit.
At times, the Redwoods offense has looked slow and stagnant. Rob Pannell is 32 and doesn’t have the same burst he once had, and Garnsey and Kavanugh have never been known for their speed. There’s a real need for speed on this Redwoods offense, and Nakeie Montgomery is the perfect option.
Biggest Need: Two-way Midfielders
Target Player: Bubba Fairman (Maryland)
Aside from Stephen DeNapoli, the Waterdogs lack defensive midfielders. Matt Whitcher only played in four games in 2021, and Matt Hossack hasn’t played professional outdoor lacrosse since the Atlanta Blaze in 2017. Adding depth here should be a priority. Bubba Fairman would be a great fit because he’s seamlessly transitioned from a 26 point junior year as a starting middie, to a leader as a D-Mid for the Terps in 2022. Fairman could help spark transition for the Waterdogs this summer.
Biggest Need: Offensive Midfielders
Target Player: Jonathan Donville (Maryland)
It’s no secret that the Whipsnakes are loaded at attack. Matt Rambo, Zed Williams, Jay Carlson, Justin Guterding, and the list goes on and on. Most of the scoring production came from the attack unit, and that likely won’t be different in 2022. Brad Smith and Mike Chanenchuk were critical pieces last season, and both return this summer. Chanenchuk is 32 years old and Smith has a long history of injuries, so adding young dodging midfielders is a spot for improvement.
Jonathan Donville was drafted No.1 overall in the NLL draft, and he’s likely to go in the first-round of the PLL draft too. Will he fall all the way to No.7? We’ll have to wait and see. I think his floor will be at No.5 with Atlas’ second pick in the first round, but I don’t see Chaos passing on him twice. The Whips will be lucky if he’s still available, and Jim Stagnita should sprint to turn in his 2022 PLL Draft card if given the chance.