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2017 NWSL Draft Rankings: Nos. 1-10

Article Written by Travis Clark
Published: January 11, 2017

Wrapping up the Top 40 players available in the NWSL draft, with a look at the Top 10 prospects that have submitted their names for this week's draft.

MORE: Nos. 31-40 | Nos. 21-30 | Nos. 11-20

1. Christina Gibbons – M/D – Duke

Stats: 88 games, 10 goals, 19 assists

The looming departure of Kadeisha Buchanan to France leaves Gibbons as the top defender on the draft board, and the top prospect in the draft pool. Capable of playing a number of spots, whether as a center back, left back, wide midfielder or even in the middle, Gibbons is an excellent player that could be well on her way to a national team career. A clean player with good technique, her leadership abilities and youth national team experience add extra intangibles to a well-rounded player. The only knock on Gibbons is the lack of a true, clearly defined position at the next level. She’s talented enough that it shouldn’t be an issue.

2. Rose Lavelle – M – Wisconsin

Stats: 84 games, 22 goals, 24 assists

One of the Big Ten’s best players over the past four seasons, Lavelle narrowly sits behind Gibbons for top spot in the pool. A cultured midfielder, a deeper role in 2016 hampered her offensive output, albeit refining her into a more complete midfielder ahead of a move to the next level. Lavelle’s a superb player that can be dropped into the mix from the first day of training camp, and has the highest upside, provided that she continues growing in all aspects of the game, on and off the field. Boston is reportedly on the hunt for a midfielder and she’s a strong candidate to come off the board first.

3. Savannah Jordan – F – Florida

Stats: 94 games, 81 goals, 27 assists

While reports suggest that Jordan may look elsewhere to start her career – considering former Gator Claire Faulknor moved to Bayern Muncih last year it wouldn’t be a huge shock – the senior narrowly edges Ashley Hatch as the top forward in the draft. She finished her college career with a glittering strike rate, pouring in goals with her pace, movement and finishing. Concerns could follow her after a slight drop off in her senior season, though the sophistication of Florida’s system leaves her in position to make a big contribution right away.

4. Ashley Hatch – F – BYU

Stats: 74 games, 47 goals, 21 assists

Injuries may have limited Hatch during the 2015 season, though she bounced back in a big way during her senior season, finishing in the running for top scorer in the nation. A goal-poacher extraordinaire, Hatch’s athleticism is at the requisite level for a player looking to make a front-line impact in the NWSL. Just how good she becomes will be determined by how her tactical understanding of the game evolves and grows in the pro ranks.

5. Mandy Freeman – D – USC

Stats: 89 games, 2 goals, 8 assists

Part of USC’s sensational spine, Freeman anchored her team’s back line during its title-winning campaign. With her athletic abilities, she could afford to make slight mistakes given her ability to make up ground and recover. The tactical side of her game could limit her potential at the pro level, though she’s plenty capable of picking things up and excelling, especially considering the lack of center back options in the draft pool.

6. Rachel Hill – F – Connecticut

Stats: 89 games, 61 goals, 18 assists

While Hill was a second fiddle of sort to teammate Stephanie Ribeiro in 2016, she’s knocking on the door of being one of the top forward options in this class. With a good soccer brain and a motor that can thwart pro defenders, Hill’s accomplishments at UConn and as a youth international can’t be overlooked.

7. Morgan Andrews – M – USC

Stats: 91 games, 35 goals, 18 assists

Few players in the draft have earned the accolades that Andrews has, whether as a youth talent or in college. A notable offensive force that tends to show up to score or create in big games, the knock on Andrews (as it is for a number of players in the senior class) is how her athleticism translates to the NWSL level. There’s little doubting her quality, nose for goal and the impact she’s made when given a chance.

8. Alexis Shaffer – M – Virginia

Stats: 97 games, 37 goals, 29 assists

After three years of deferring to a supporting role to the likes of Morgan Brian, Makenzy Doniak and Danielle Colaprico, Shaffer took the controls at Virginia last fall. She thrived enough to earn ACC Offensive Player of the Year honors, and has the skill set to land on a roster at the next level. Given her ability to combine with teammates, a decent level of athleticism and technical ability, Shaffer is a player that may lack a high ceiling, through is a safe pick and someone that can make a contribution this season.

9. Kayla Mills – M/D – USC

Stats: 89 games, 8 goals, 19 assists

Bouncing between an outside back role and a defensive midfield spot during USC’s championship run, Mills’ key standout trait is her athleticism. A likely candidate for an outside back role at the pro level, Mills can get up and down the flank, shut down defenders and create while getting forward.

10. McKenzie Meehan – F – Boston College

Stats: 70 games, 58 goals, 7 assists

If not for a freak accident in 2014, Meehan would already be a pro somewhere, likely scoring goals for fun. That’s what she’s done at every stop at her career, and while there are possible concerns about her game, Meehan’s talented and athletic enough that finding her goal-scoring groove for an NWSL team seems like a question of when and not if.

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