PLL Mock Draft: Beat Writers Predict Top 16 Selections

By PLL | May 7, 2024

The 2024 College Draft presented by Q-Collar is tonight at 7PM ET on ESPNU and ESPN+, and it’s possibly the most loaded college class in the league’s history. 

A three-man race for the No. 1 pick has been underway for months, and there’s still differing opinions on the top selection. Two of the nation’s top goalies are also up for grabs, and immense depth on both sides of the ball will be available deep into the draft.

After accepting his new role with the Waterdogs, head coach and general manager Bill Tierney talked to a number of PLL coaches, trying to get a sense of how things work. In those conversations, he said one thing became abundantly clear: The draft is always unpredictable, especially one this packed with talent. 

In our beat writers’ mock draft, two trades were made. The Utah Archers sent picks Nos. 16 and 32 to the Boston Cannons in exchange for No. 14. Utah also traded the 13th and 24th selections to the New York Atlas for the 10th pick.

With that in mind, here’s how our beat writers picked the first two rounds of the draft:

1st Round

1. Denver Outlaws: A Brennan O’Neill, Duke

We won’t know which way the Outlaws are going at first overall until the pick is made Tuesday night. Both Brennan O’Neill and Connor Shellenberger are elite, franchise-altering talents who will immediately make Denver better.

Shellenberger is the most natural fit and would instantly elevate the entire offense. But O’Neill’s talent is too tantalizing to pass up. Players with his blend of skill and athleticism are so rare. He proved at last summer’s World Lacrosse championships that he can not only compete at this level, but dominate.

The fit could be tricky on the left side with Logan Wisnauskas, but O’Neill is so good it’s worth taking the risk to make it work. 

— Topher Adams

2. New York Atlas: A Connor Shellenberger, Virginia

This pick is dedicated to Shellenberger and O’Neill, whoever doesn’t go No. 1 goes here. No matter the team, need becomes of little importance when talent like this lives on the board.

— Lauren Merola

3. Maryland Whipsnakes: A Pat Kavanagh, Notre Dame

The Whipsnakes played Jackson Morrill at X attack after trading for him at the deadline last season, but now scoop up a blue-chip X attack prospect in Kavanagh.

Kavanagh would be a terrific fit for the Whipsnakes, where he could operate at X flanked by former league MVPs in Zed Williams and Matt Rambo.

— Adam Lamberti

4. Carolina Chaos: M Jake Stevens, Syracuse

Jake Stevens can be Zach Currier-level different in professional lacrosse. That’s three-time All-Pro-level different. 

Stevens works as a roomba on the ground as part of Syracuse’s rope unit and then motors into a track hawk taking runs at both offensive and defensive midfield. Stevens’ Canadian-style background developed him into an elite finisher. At Princeton Stevens had back-to-back seasons with over 20 goals.

This year at Syracuse, Stevens has factored in on man-up goals, amassed 38 ground balls and scored 28 points – 13 goals and 15 assists. Stevens can become the next great two-way midfielder in the PLL.

— Hayden Lewis

5. New York Atlas: A Matt Brandau, Yale

Chris Gray’s replacement. Check. Plus a star feeder who can get the ball to Jeff Teat for some more shots. Last season Teat, who bears the dishing burden, had a PLL career-low 11 goals.

— Lauren Merola

6. Boston Cannons: M Shane Knobloch, Rutgers

The Cannons offense was buzzing in 2023, and adding the “most explosive dodger in the draft class” as Adam Lamberti described him will only make the Boom Squad that much more explosive. 

Boston’s midfield isn’t lacking by any means, but Knobloch’s skillset as a dodger who can muscle his way through a defense and rip off a shot with power would certainly elevate their group. 

Not to mention, there’s no harm in adding another Rutgers product to this team.

— Sarah Griffin

7. Philadelphia Waterdogs: D Kenny Brower, Duke

Kenny Brower would be the ultimate unretirement gift for Bill Tierney. He’s 6-foot-2, 215 lbs, but somehow plays like an orange house cat: quick and obnoxious, putting constant pressure on his man with checks and overwhelming physicality. Brower also touts an elite IQ and sound fundamentals to shut down every team’s top attackman. 

The Waterdogs’ biggest need is at the faceoff stripe, but that can wait until later. With his pick of the litter on defense, Tierney should get himself a big, positional stopper like the ones that defined his early success at Princeton. Brower has the talent and discipline to be just that.

— Wyatt Miller

8. Utah Archers: LSM/D Jake Piseno, Albany

The Archers sending Jared Conners to the Redwoods made this pick straightforward. Without that, Ajax Zappitello falling to eight would’ve been a boon for Utah. But the club’s need at LSM is more significant and Piseno is undoubtedly an elite, versatile talent. He’ll be a major weapon on faceoff wings, in transition, and as a caused turnover machine. 

— Zach Carey

2nd Round

9. Denver Outlaws: D Ajax Zappitello, Maryland

Brandau would be the ideal fit at No. 9, but if he’s unavailable, Denver could do a lot worse than Zappitello. He’s a dominant defensive presence and one of the best poles in this draft. 

The Outlaws are strong defensively, but Mike Manley and Jesse Bernhardt – Zappitello’s college defensive coordinator – are both north of 30. Adding Zappitello to this defensive core is a seamless fit for the short- and long-term plan.

— Topher Adams

10. Utah Archers (via New York): A TJ Malone, Penn State 

Malone feels like a perfect fit for the Archers. The lefty can play at attack or come out of the box. He can dodge from anywhere on the field, be an invert option, play in the two-man game, work off ball, and do anything Chris Bates asks of him. He’s played multiple seasons with Grant Ament and Mac O’Keefe. Malone adds depth to the offense now and could be a building block for the future. 

I’m sure many will question Utah’s management of this mock draft, and for good reason. To land the No. 10 and No. 14 picks, picks 13, 16, 24, and 32 were sent elsewhere. I’ll be the first to say that shipping off 24 and 32 to jump from 13 to 10 and 16 to 14 was too much. Other preferable moves fell through. But there was still some logic to these decisions, flawed or not. 

Utah has a stacked roster. Drafting a player at 24 or 32 only for them to be a non-30% player and get poached would be a waste. So those picks felt more expendable. I was also curious to experiment with how the draft would play out with a GM who was assertive. With enough picks and the willigness to use them, it’s possible to chase down the top guys a team wants. That comes at a price, and waiting to see who would fall could’ve been the smarter play. But Malone and who Utah picked up at 14 were both top-10 on my board. 

— Zach Carey

11. Denver Outlaws: M Graham Bundy Jr., Georgetown

Denver’s offensive overhaul doesn’t stop with O’Neill. With Brandau off the board early, the attention shifts from attack to midfield. Bundy is a goal-scoring midfielder with the shooting range the Outlaws currently lack.

Sam Handley and Justin Anderson are good players, but neither is a consistent threat from the outside. Bundy provides that field stretching ability and tertiary playmaking.

— Topher Adams

12. Carolina Chaos: M Eric Dobson, Notre Dame

Eric Dobson has the best frame of any draft pick in the 2024 PLL College Draft. Standing at 6-foot-5 235 pounds, Dobson is a matchup nightmare running out of the box, which has helped him become an All-American at Notre Dame. 

Last year Dobson likely would’ve been taken in the first round of the draft, but he was only a junior and hasn’t been the same dominant player during his senior year. Part of the issue is defenses scheming against Dobson’s game because they know how effective he is dodging by defenders with pace and power. 

On the Chaos, Dobson won’t be a primary ball-handler. With excellent players throughout the lineup, Dobson could end up matched with shortsticks early in the year, freeing up his game and giving him the confidence he needs to find success early in the year. Selecting Dobson adds more depth to the Chaos midfield room, one of the main areas that needs bolstering on the current roster. 

— Hayden Lewis

13. New York Atlas (via Utah): G Liam Entenmann, Notre Dame

Still get Liam Entemann AND another pick (No. 24)? An easy trade to make down from pick No. 10.

With Jack Concannon’s retirement, the goalies on the Atlas’ roster are last year’s backup Drake Porter and recently acquired Tim Troutner, who lost his starting gig two seasons ago on the Redwoods and instead backed up Jack Kelly.

Atlas coach Mike Pressler said he traded for Troutner to be the Atlas’ starting goalie, but oh boy should that change if Entenmann dawns the baby blue in Week 1. With the stellar pick up, it sure feels like Troutner and Porter would be in competition for that No. 2 spot.

Thanks to theoretical acting GM of the Archers Zach Carey for the assist on this one.

— Lauren Merola

14. Utah Archers (via Boston): SSDM Beau Pederson, Penn

At eighth overall, there were five players left on the board that would’ve been major additions for the Archers. The motivation for trading up to 14 was to try to get three of them. In nabbing Pederson, I accomplished that mission. Latrell Harris’ status is up in the air. He won’t be back for training camp or the early season. So Pederson is an immediate plug and play guy at short stick and is another high level individual defender who could compete for a spot on the 19-man roster. 

The Archers’ switch-heavy defensive scheme means SSDMs who can win a matchup are even more valuable. Connor Maher played a huge role in Utah’s championship run. But there were times when he struggled with surviving in matchups after switching. Best case, a Harris-Piper Bond-Pederson rope unit could be the best in the league. Worst case, Pederson fills a short-term hole and provides legitimate depth at a position where the Archers are light. 

— Zach Carey

15. Philadelphia Waterdogs: FO Luke Wierman, Maryland

On paper, the Waterdogs are only missing one piece to their gameday roster: a faceoff athlete. With the consensus top of the draft class all gone, taking the best player at the position of need seems like an easy choice here. And if faceoff guys are becoming the running backs of the PLL, the end of the second round seems like a steal for the first one off the board. 

No moment is too big for Luke Wierman. He can take over games and take matters into his own hands offensively. But more importantly, he can trust his wings and follow the game plan. Even in Maryland’s brutal 19-9 loss to Penn State in the BIG 10 Tournament, Wierman went 19-28 (68%) with a goal and an assist. His intensity and hustle would be a great fit for the ‘Dogs.

— Wyatt Miller

16. Boston Cannons (via Utah): FO Jake Naso, Duke 

Currently, the Cannons are only carrying one faceoff athlete in Zac Tucci. Head coach and general manager Brian Holman told me while Boston does not have a set plan yet at the stripe, they would without a doubt be adding another faceoff guy to compete with Tucci in training camp. 

If Wierman goes to Philadelphia, I’d expect the Cannons to take Jake Naso out of Duke. Naso averaged 58% at the stripe for the Blue Devils during the regular season this year, and a collegiate career average of 60%. 

Naso’s speedy - similar to Tucci - an attribute Holman praised aligned with his vision at the stripe. Holman said more than anything, he wants flexibility at that position. While Tucci has that physicality to his game, Naso is very skilled with his stick. The two together would provide the perfect yin-yang situation for Holman.

— Sarah Griffin