Who should Chrome LC draft first overall in 2024?
By Nick Zoroya | Aug 31, 2023
The Chrome's offense has struggled all season. The lack of touches, ability to win matchups on offense and specifically the lack of a ball dominant X attackman have all played a role. With the first pick of the draft I’m torn between taking the best player available (Brennan O’Neill) or addressing the need at X (Connor Shellenberger or Pat Kavanagh).
Best Available: Brennan O’Neill
He is a generational talent that proved himself on the world's largest stage last summer, on the back of a Tewaaraton trophy. There is no doubt that O’Neill is the most talented offensive player in the draft and there’s even less doubt that he would help the Chrome offense. The conversation becomes more nuanced when we look at how O’Neill fits into the current roster.
Could he play X? It’s safe to say that he can play anywhere but the truth is he’s most comfortable as a lefty wing. PLL offenses are more fluid than ever and its not uncommon to see multiple players attack the defense from below GLE. The X position is clearly defined for certain teams while others constantly rotate through. O’Neill can certainly attack the cage from X but he wouldn’t fid the mold of a traditional quarterback.
That leads us to the next question: If you draft O’Neill, what do you do with Logan Wisnauskas? Chrome doesn't need two left-handed attackmen that don’t naturally play X. So does Chrome trade Wisnauskas, the former first overall pick, one-year removed from an incredible 35-point rookie season or does Chrome consider that one of these guys will play midfield next year? The league is filled with midfielders who are converted attackmen (Ryan Drenner, Jules Heningburg). I think that it’s ok to draft O’Neill and keep Wisnauskas without knowing exactly how things shake out. There’s also a chance that the Chrome draft or package their draft picks and move up to grab another attackmen that can thrive from below GLE (paging Matt Brandau).
Perhaps O’Neill and Wisnauskas both stay at attack and the offense is adapted to have them both spend time at X. The fact that they’re both left handed isn’t a problem as O’Neill has had plenty of success playing with left-handed Dyson Williams at Duke.
Brendan Nichtern was the answer at X but with his future unclear it’s time to move on. With the right strategy and some savvy draft picks, the Chrome will be better in 2024 with O’Neill leading the way.
Seamless Fit: Connor Shellenberger
Shellenberger is the X attackmen in this draft. His ability to create his own offense while simultaneously directing the entire offensive end are otherworldly. Chrome needs to get better everywhere on offense, something all three players on this list accomplish, but when it comes to addressing their most glaring need at attack, Shellenberger allows you to keep your other young pieces in place and insert him directly at X.
He can create his own offense, he doesn’t need a lot of room to get his shot off, and he can beat a settled defender one-on-one which was a major struggle for Chrome this past season. At Virginia Shellenberger can choose his spots and play conservatively at times because he has so much talent around him, if drafted to Chrome he’s going to have to play more selfishly and take more risks.
He doesn’t solve every problem but he checks the biggest one off of the list and allows the team to turn their focus to improving the midfield. Shellenberger has the chance to make Brendan Nichtern’s 2022 Rookie of the Year campaign a distant memory.
Dark Horse Pick: Pat Kavanagh
Kavanagh is an intriguing pick because he’s a two-handed threat that is equally as dominant at X as he is from the wing. Like Shellenberger, Kavanagh doesn’t require the shuffling of any other pieces of the offense. Assuming the Chrome sticks with Wisnauskas and Ferrara on the wings, Kavanagh would instantly make them both better, drawing a ton of attention and the occasional PLL slide.
The question I have with Kavanagh, and all rookie attackmen, is can they continue to dominate at the pro level? It’s well known that the PLL defenses ehr on the side of not sliding, making it more difficult to find seams off-ball. You’re also going up against [insert All-American] here every time you dodge one-on-one. All signs point to Kavanagh being able to continue his success, but if the Chrome don’t add some major help through the midfield, Kavanagh will find himself on an unfamiliar island. Every step of his college career he’s been a part of a talented offensive unit where options were seemingly limitless, on the Chrome those options become a bit harder to come by, putting more and more responsibility on the attack.
The X-factor that separates Kavanagh from the others here is his personality. This is a guy that will do anything to win and his exploits during the 2023 NCAA tournament made that clear. He puts everything on the line every time he steps on the field, a trait he’s no doubt inherited from his older brothers. Chrome’s culture is solid in terms of a strong locker room, but it isn’t a culture of winning, and fresh off of a national championship Pat Kavanagh knows how to win.
All three players make Chrome better but the ultimate choice comes down to Coach Soudan’s larger vision. This draft night could be one of the most electric in league history.