In honor of the PLL College Draft coming up on April 26, I decided to have a little fun and look back at past drafts. Specifically, with the debates raging between Michael Sowers, Jared Bernhardt, and Jeff Teat for this year’s PLL No. 1 overall pick, I was curious to see how previous pro field lacrosse No. 1 picks fared. The results were mixed, but I thought why not create a little controversy while I’m here? So, I’ll be ranking the previous 12 years of No. 1 picks.
Now, this is the part where I clarify that we’re just talking about their pro careers. All of these dudes were amazing in college – some just didn’t work out in the pros. So, if I’ve slandered one of your favorite players, please know they’re still sick. They maybe just weren’t as sick in the pros. Also, we’re going with the PLL draft order for years the PLL existed rather than listing both the PLL top pick and the MLL one.
Ranking the Men’s Pro Field Lacrosse Number 1 Picks Since 2009
GRANT AMENT (2020) / PAT SPENCER (2019) / TREVOR BAPTISTE (2018) / DYLAN MOLLOY (2017) / MYLES JONES (2016) / LYLE THOMPSON (2015) / TOM SCHREIBER (2014) / PETER BAUM (2013) / ROB PANNELL (2012) / KEVIN CROWLEY (2011) / NED CROTTY (2010) / KENNY NIMS (2009)
#12: Pat Spencer, No. 1 overall pick for 2019
Unless Pat Spencer decides to play pro lacrosse at some point, this will always remain a great what-if. Remember, the Archers are the ones that selected him. What if they currently had Pat Spencer to go along with Grant Ament, Will Manny, Marcus Holman, and Connor Fields? Jeez. Still, with Spencer not having played pro, this is obviously the worst pickup.
#11: Kenny Nims, No. 1 overall pick in 2009
Kenny Nims remains a ‘Cuse legend. The man responsible for the game-tying goal in the natty against Cornell, Nims was a First Team All-American and the Most Outstanding Player in the 2009 NCAA Championships. His huge tournament performance vaulted him all the way up to the No. 1 pick in field lacrosse. Unfortunately for the Machine, Nims played only a single season in the pros, mustering 15 points in eight games. Even worse for the Machine, Max Seibald and Zack Greer went No. 2 and No. 3, respectively.
#10: Dylan Molloy, No. 1 overall pick in 2017
Molloy hasn’t been bad as a pro, but he’s never fully found a way to be what he was for Brown. The former Tewaaraton winner has been a solid but generally unspectacular player so far and is currently still a free agent after not being selected in the PLL Entry Draft. In hindsight, the real No. 1 player was Matt Rambo, drafted two spots later at No. 3 overall.
#9: Kevin Crowley, No. 1 overall pick in 2011
The first man to be selected No. 1 in both field and box, Crowley was definitely more successful indoors but still had a great pro career. He was a three-time MLL All-Star, and he played a part of a lot of good teams.
#8: Myles Jones, No. 1 overall pick in 2016
Jones is the guy I had the most trouble with on this list. He’s a really good player, one of the most popular guys in the PLL, and he’s a routine All-Star. But he’s also sort of not lived up to the hype, and his teams are yet to win anything of importance. He only has 11 goals so far in the PLL and 31 points overall. Again, he’s a good player, I’m just not sure he’s as good a player as his draft status would suggest.
#7: Grant Ament, No. 1 overall pick in 2020
Ament could easily end up near the top of this list in the future. In his first season, he was a nominee for best attackman, won Rookie of the Year, and finished in the top 15 on the PLL Top 50 list. Not bad for a guy fresh out of school. Due to the shortness of his pro career, I felt like it was fair to rank him pretty solidly in the middle but with the notion that he should continue rising up this list as his career progresses.
#6: Peter Baum, No. 1 overall pick in 2013
I’m still bummed we haven’t gotten to see Baum in the PLL, as he was originally selected to the Redwoods but hasn’t played yet. Baum is this far down due to the length of his career rather than his ability. In his Machine days, Baum was absolutely filthy – an All-Star from 2014-2017 for Ohio and one of the most impactful players in the game. His choice to go to law school and leave the game to practice law is fair, but I still miss him.
#5: Trevor Baptiste, No. 1 overall pick in 2018
Baptiste has been a consistent top-five faceoff specialist in the league since going pro. While he hasn’t necessarily lived up to the expectations that he would be the next Beast and go win 70+%, he’s always one of the best at his position and has done plenty to help his teammates succeed. Atlas overall not being particularly good his first two years in the PLL certainly feels like a factor.
#4: Ned Crotty, No. 1 overall pick in 2010
Crotty was one of the best players on offense in the world for almost a decade, putting up 20+ points in every single MLL season he ever played. Last season, at age 34, he put up 10 points in five games for the Chrome. Crotty has been more consistent than most of the guys on this list, and that sort of consistent longevity gets him ranked high here.
#3: Lyle Thompson, No. 1 overall pick in 2015
Well, this is a surprise. I certainly wouldn’t have considered Lyle outside the top two before this exercise, but I guess I sort of forget that he’s had times where MLL seemed to be far down his list of priorities. He’s such a good player that he’s always a threat whenever he suits up, but his consistency hasn’t been there for pro field the same way it has for the NLL or at Worlds. Still, Thompson is a repeat All-Star, the 2019 MLL MVP, and one of the best players in the world. Any doubt about that was left behind when he went No. 1 again recently, this time in the PLL Entry Draft.
#2: Rob Pannell, No. 1 overall pick in 2012
Rob Pannell doesn’t get enough credit for his MLL days. Sure, he didn’t come in and personally save the Atlas in their first season, but we’re talking about a dude who broke the MLL single-season points record twice. Only three players had 30 goals and 30 assists in the same MLL season, and Pannell is one of them. He won Rookie of the Year. He won a ring in 2015. He won Offensive Player of the Year twice, and MLL MVP in 2018. Can’t ask for much more than that out of any pick.
#1: Tom Schreiber, No. 1 overall pick in 2014
Tom Schreiber isn’t just the best No. 1 overall pick in the last 12 years, he might also be the best lacrosse player in the world right now. He won back-to-back MLL MVPs in 2016 and 2017, the latter of which he also led the Machine to a championship. Since joining the PLL, he’s won the Gait Brothers Midfielder of the Year Award in both seasons, meaning literally nobody else has ever won it. He was also voted as the No. 1 player in the PLL Top 50 for 2020, having finished No. 2 in the 2019 edition. He’s been an MVP finalist in both PLL seasons. In 16 career PLL games, he’s got 55 points. He averaged four points-per-game for his MLL career. There’s no stopping Tom Schreiber on a lacrosse field or on this list.