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What Kind of Value Can the Orlando Pride Get with Their Draft Picks?

Let’s take a deep dive into the draft picks the Pride picked up from Portland in the blockbuster trade for Emily Sonnett.

SOCCER: OCT 12 NWSL - Reign FC at Orlando Pride Photo by Joe Petro/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A closer look at the draft selections the Orlando Pride acquired by trading the No. 1 overall selection to Portland for Emily Sonnett and the rights to Caitlin Foord illustrate the type of players typically expected to be available for selection. The Pride received the No. 7 and No. 14 overall picks in the 2020 NWSL College Draft as part of the deal.

Here are the No. 7 overall selections in the previous four drafts since the Pride joined the league:

2016 — Cheyna Matthews (Washington Spirit)

2017 — Darian Jenkins (North Carolina Courage)

2018 — Haley Hanson (Houston Dash)

2019 — Tegan McGrady (Washington Spirit)

Matthews — who was Cheyna Williams at the time she was drafted, before marrying NFL wide receiver Jordan Matthews — scored three goals in her rookie season of 2016, playing 17 games (eight starts). In 2016 she scored five goals with one assist in 21 games (16 starts). She sat out the entire 2018 season due to pregnancy and then returned in 2019, appearing in 17 games (nine starts), scoring three goals and assisting on two others.

Jenkins’ NWSL career got off to a rough start, as she went on the 45-day disabled list for a fibula injury in 2017 after she signed and she was never placed on the team’s active roster. She made 13 appearances in 2018 but played only 178 total minutes without scoring a goal or adding an assist. The Courage traded Jenkins to the Reign in December of 2018 and she started to produce, scoring four goals with one assist in 17 games (11 starts) with Reign FC in 2019.

Hanson played in 19 matches for Houston in her rookie season, scoring one goal and adding an assist. The midfielder got a USWNT first team cap and played in all 24 matches in 2019, starting 21. McGrady had a good pedigree coming out of Stanford but only appeared in six matches (five starts) in 2019 due to hamstring and quad injuries.

Both Matthews and Jenkins scored goals against the Pride during the 2019 season. In fact, three of Jenkins’ four goals came against Orlando last season.

Overall, the No. 7 slot has given teams opportunities to select players who can provide solid contributions, although it hasn’t spawned any outright star players over the past four drafts. However, the caveat here is that McGrady still could develop into a standout fullback.

Here are the No. 14 overall selections since the Pride joined the NWSL:

2016 — Mallory Weber (Western New York Flash)

2017 — Rachel Hill (Portland Thorns)

2018 — Taylor Isom (Utah Royals)

2019 — Lauren Milliet (North Carolina Courage)

One name among these instantly jumps off the page. Hill has been a regular contributor with the Pride since she was acquired via trade just days after the 2017 NWSL College Draft. But the Pride gave up their natural first- and fourth-round picks in 2018 to get her. The Thorns took Sandra Yu with that first-round pick and moved that fourth-rounder to North Carolina, with the Courage selecting current Pride defender Morgan Reid in that slot. Yu had some injury issues, did not play in 2018, and retired in early 2019.

Of the other three players taken at the No. 14 overall slot, one has had a decent NWSL career. Mallory Weber was traded at the start of the 2016 season to Portland by Western New York. She appeared in 44 games (21 starts) with the Thorns from 2016 to 2019, when she was selected off the waiver wire by Utah in May. Weber scored one goal in her 44 games with the Thorns and made 19 appearances (13 starts) last year with the Royals, notching an assist. Her offensive numbers are modest for a player who scored 36 goals in 100 collegiate appearances as a forward for Penn State.

Taylor Isom was a practice squad player with Utah in 2018 and then was let go prior to 2019. Milliet played in only two matches with North Carolina a year ago.

Clearly the No. 14 spot in the draft has been problematic when it comes to finding consistent contributors in the draft. Indeed, Orlando got more production out of that slot than any of the teams that have selected there since 2016. The Pride also got more production out of their third- and fourth-round selections last season than we’ve typically seen out of that No. 14 slot, as both Erin Greening and Marisa Viggiano played important minutes in 2019.

The Pride could do good things with both the No. 7 and No. 14 selections in next week’s draft. The team needs to hit on at least one of those selections to help maximize yesterday’s deal.