The 2021 PLL College Draft has wrapped and all eight teams were able to add impact players, fill any needs they may have had prior and also select some under-the-radar players with tremendous upside. We take a look at each of the four rounds, covering the biggest names selected, surprise sleepers and draft drama that unfolded.
The most anticipated reveal came when Coach Ben Rubeor announced that the Atlas were selecting Cornell attackman Jeff Teat with the first overall pick. The move was expected by many, despite lengthy debate leading up to the draft centered around whether Jeff Teat or Michael Sowers would be the top pick. With Atlas LC’s selection of Teat at first overall, he became just the third player in pro lacrosse history to be selected first overall in both the NLL and MLL/PLL draft, joining Lyle Thompson and Kevin Crowley as the only players to do so.
Michael Sowers didn’t have to wait long for his name to be called either as Andy Copelan and Waterdogs LC selected the Princeton/Duke attackman to quarterback an offense that was stagnant last year and recently added one of the best finishers in the game in Ryan Brown during the offseason.
The Chrome’s selection of JT Giles-Harris and Redwood’s selection of TD Ierlan followed like many predicted, but the broadcast revealed that Chrome LC head coach was very close to selecting Ierlan with the third overall pick, but wanted to fill the void on defense after it was revealed that Tom Rigney will be unable to play this summer due to military commitments. Whether Soudo was actually close to selecting TD or was simply playing coy in order to stir up a potential bidding war with the Redwoods and Archers, we’ll never know. What we do know is that Giles-Harris was on Soudan’s radar since he was hired to helm the team and will be a tremendous upgrade at the defensive end this summer.
Likewise, the Redwoods’ acquisition of TD Ierlan was a huge upgrade for a team whose only glaring weakness was the stripe. Ierlan’s ability to outmuscle his opponents and win the ball to himself has helped him become the most decorated faceoff specialist in college lacrosse history. While Ierlan has the best track record of any faceoff specialist coming out of college, we’ll be watching closely to see how he, and the rest of this faceoff class, adjust to the vastly different PLL rules. Former Redwoods faceoff specialist Greg Gurenlian says the key for Ierlan to dominate at the PLL level will be “to adapt and add to that part of his game as far as spreading the ball out and countering physically.”
Other big pickups by team’s include Archers LC adding the top LSM Jared Conners (Virginia), Chaos LC adding the NCAA Div. I leader in career goals Mac O’Keefe (Penn State), Whipsnakes LC adding another versatile threat at the midfield and the player with arguably the best range in the entire draft class in Connor Kirst (Villanova/Rutgers) and Atlas adding a versatile, two-way midfielder in Dox Aitken (Virginia).
In round 2, the Cannons, who only held two picks in the draft, added another starting defender in Notre Dame’s Jack Kielty. The move was important given Brodie Merrill’s age and Curtis Corley’s availability this summer potentially in jeopardy. Kielty has continued to impress against some stiff ACC competition this NCAA season and former Syracuse defender and two-time NCAA champion Ric Beardsley believes “he can be a very effective number one defender and shut down some of the most skilled players out there” in the PLL.
Atlas LC and Chaos LC had back-to-back picks with Ben Rubeor selecting his former St. Mary’s player and Georgetown standout Jake Carraway and Denver short-stick defender Danny Logan. On the flipside, Chaos added another faceoff man to their roster in Kyle Gallagher (Hofstra/Penn/Notre Dame) and Canadian midfielder Tanner Cook (North Carolina), who was destined to wear the red and black.
Ohio State’s Ryan Terefenko and Tre Leclaire were both touted as top guys in their position groups and were projected to potentially go in the first round. They fell to the Chrome and Archers respectively, particularly to the delight of Tim Soudan who let out a laugh on the broadcast when he realized Terefenko was still available at pick 12. And to round out the second, the defending champs landed Hofstra lefty Ryan Tierney, whose playmaking ability has been on full display this college season. Former MLL MVP Casey Powell called Tierney “electric” and expects him to be “good in the locker room and a leader on the field.”
Teams began to add more depth to their rosters in the third round, as Atlas added another D-middie in Peter Dearth (Syracuse), Chrome added another versatile midfielder in Justin Anderson (North Carolina), Archers added faceoff specialist Conor Gaffney (Lehigh), who Gurenlian had called the “dark horse” of the draft, Whipsnakes added another pole in Colin Squires (Denver) and Redwoods landed potentially the steal of the night in Charlie Bertrand, who Roy Colsey called “a matchup nightmare” and lauded for his value in the PLL as “a lefty who can play both middie and attack.”
However, the biggest news out of the third round involved a trade between the Waterdogs and Archers, which saw the Waterdogs trade the 18th pick to the Archers in exchange for defender Eli Gobrecht. The trade rounded out the Waterdogs defense with a pro-ready player and allowed the Archers to jump the Chaos and select two-way middie Jeff Trainor (UMass). The move resulted in Chaos LC head coach Andy Towers making a power move of his own and selecting Jared Bernhardt, the 2021 Tewaaraton front runner whose draft stock fell due to the announcement that he plans to pursue college football this fall and would be putting his potential pro lacrosse career on hold. Bernhardt would have likely been scooped up by the Whips or another team not long after had Towers not pulled the trigger at pick 19. Andy Towers was also able to add a steal in defender Kyle Thornton (Penn/Notre Dame), who should help stabilize a defense that gave up a lot of shots the past two seasons.
The final round of the PLL College Draft saw team’s stockpile the remaining talent available with some notable perfect fits being the Waterdogs’ selection of Ethan Walker (Denver), Chaos’ selection of Ryan Smith (Robert Morris) and the Redwoods selection of versatile faceoff specialist Charlie Leonard (Notre Dame), who should serve as a great one-two punch for the Woods at the stripe.
Additionally, the Cannons landed attackman Stephen Rehfuss who has been having arguably the best year of his career, Whipsnakes added depth on defense by selecting another Terp in Nick Grill and Atlas, Chrome and Redwoods all rounding out their roster with talented depth adds in faceoff man Gerard Arceri (Penn State), attackman Jackson Morrill (Yale/Denver) and midfielder Jamie Trimboli (Syracuse) respectively.
A notable position group lacking from the 2021 PLL College Draft was goalie. Yet, given the immense talent already in the league (and still in the player pool), it made sense that no team used their picks on a goaltender. However, that doesn’t mean a team won’t potentially scoop up a rookie goalie like Drake Porter, Mike Adler or Phil Goss off waivers.
To hear more analysis on the draft, be sure to tune in to the upcoming episode of Pro Lacrosse Talk featuring four-time MLL champion and PLL analyst Ryan Boyle and let us know what your favorite pick of the PLL College Draft was!