2024 NWSL Draft Preview: Position group cheat sheet

As you get ready for Friday night's draft, here's a list of players to know broken down by where they play on the pitch.

2024 NWSL Draft Preview: Position group cheat sheet

Hello again. We’re hours away from the 2024 NWSL Draft. If you want all the info on what it is about, where to watch it as well as a speculative prediction of the 1st Round then check out my article from yesterday.

READ: 2024 NWSL Mock-Draft predictions, thoughts & nonsense

Today, this is about having a handy resource to glance at as you try to make sense of over 200 names to keep track of on Friday night in Anaheim, CA.

So, what I’ve done is broken down players by position group and then listed my personal “Notable 4” in each group. This should help you have an idea of who could be next as the draft progresses.

I’m mostly using my own eyes, plus data from WyScout and the NCAA. Do not think of my cheat sheet as gospel. More just a handy tool to make it easier to follow the draft. I hope that is okay.


1: Madison White — Texas Tech (5’10”)

Helped lead an upstart Red Raiders team, that was built on a strong defence, to a Big12 title and an unbeaten regular season. Had the fewest goals conceded per90 (0.44) and the best save percentage (85.71%) in this draft class in 2023.

2: Cristina Roque — Florida State (5’7”)

The slightly undersized Puerto Rican international was a consummate professional and serial winner in Tallahassee. Has the most clean sheets (14) in 2023 while also ranking low in goals prevented1 (-1.65). But she faced the fewest shots, so concentration is impressive, and the defence in front of her was elite.

3: Halle Mackiewicz — Clemson (5’10”)

Was named the starter in South Carolina for final two years, and beat out Roque to win 2023 ‘ACC Keeper of the Year’ gong despite having one clean sheet fewer (13). This past season, Mackiewicz has much better goals prevented (4.28). Rarely left her box (0.66).

4: Sam Estrada — SMU (6’0”)

With Canadian Melissa Degenais opting out of the draft, Estrada is now the tallest player remaining. Likes to rush off her line, in 2023 she ranked second for exits p90 (2.44).


1: Savy King — UNC

In her debut NCAA season, the 18-year-old U.S.A. youth international had the best defensive duels won ratio (81%) of any defender in the draft. She’s also top three for aerial duels (74%) and a comfortable passer of the ball. Played left and right side.

2: Lauren Flynn — Florida State

The NCAA tournament MVP has just about more winning experience than anyone else. Feels like a highly reliable start on day one player. Has experience playing left and right side. Top (or very near top) of the class for p90- number of passes (61), pass completion (86%), and lateral pass completion (97%).

3: Kennedy Wesley — Stanford

Very very little to separate Wesley and Flynn. Another leader on her team that has competed consistently at the top of the NCAA. Versatile in the middle of the defence, good with both feet, and really happy to get on the ball (87% pass completion) and start attacks.

4: Maycee Bell — UNC

More of an athlete than some others who can add some height in the middle of the defence, which also means more of a threat on set pieces. In 2023, had a high xG (3.39) for her position. Stands out scanning the pitch and finding players up the pitch.

Full backs

1: Makenna Morris — Clemson

Wild attacking numbers in 2023, with 10 goals and five assists from an xG of 7.09 and xA of 4.18. Plays high up the pitch. Doesn’t mess about, always trying to make things happen. Good at cleaning up and getting back when she gambles. Right-sided.

2: Emily Moxley — UNC

Maybe more of a wing-back or inverted full back, could be a target for anyone playing a back-three with wing-backs. Right-sided, even though she only had three assists in 2023 her xA of 6.25 was a standout. Excelled at playing smart passes (67% completion) and through balls (34% completion) down the line.

3: Olivia Smith - BYU

Loves to hug the touchline, and overlap when the players in front of her cut inside. A difference maker when beating players (68% dribble success) and running into the box, then cutting back or crossing on her right foot. Covers a lot of ground. 74% forward pass completion.

4: Alyssa Bourgeois — Santa Clara

Although she didn’t register an assist in 2023 (xA 3.84), no full back produced more crosses p90 (5.84). Does her service need to improve, or did her teammates not convert enough chances? The truth might be somewhere in the middle, but an interesting attacking option who has solid defensive numbers too.

Defensive mid

1: Hal Hershfelt — Clemson

The clearest memory in people’s minds will be how Hershfelt performed when marking the NCAA Player of the Year, Onyi Echegini. The first meeting saw Echegini score two goals and lift Florida State to a 2-1 win. Both times the Clemson defensive-mid could be seen not quite being able to stay tight enough.

But a month later in North Carolina, Hershfelt put in an inspired display and did a job on the Nigerian international. An 88% duel win ratio (7/8) alongside eight interceptions and 17 loose ball recoveries. Even though FSU still won, Echegini’s quiet night was a small vicotry. victory

I watched back some of both games this week to see how Hershfelt was able to contain the best players in the NCAA and it’s hard to immediately think of another elite screener who has consistently faced top players as much as she.

2: Jamie Shephard - BYU

The Utah team’s impressive attacking numbers, especially in the Big12, always make it feel it is hard to read the true quality of their players. But Shephard is a standout deep passer of the ball and will get a lot of attention for her metronomic, attack-starting, style at the back of the midfield. Loves to receive the ball from the defence, confident with back-to-play. The most forward passes p90 (18.74) of any midfielder.

3: Maya McCutcheon — WVU

Really nice ball-winner who has a brilliant sense of when to time a challenge and get a foot in. Anyone watching the Big12 knows that WVU produces some of the most competitive and feisty players. McCutcheon consistently broke up play and made life difficult for opposition stars. Recovery speed on counter attacks a plus.

4: Ally Lemos — UCLA

At 19, with just two seasons under her belt, she’s maybe more of a project than some of the more experienced players. Whilst her attacking numbers in the final third declined in 2023 (from nine assists to two), she remained spry on the ball. A vital builder in front of the defence who has played a lot of minutes (3,562).

Centre mids

1: LeiLanni Nesbeth — FSU

I said it in my piece from yesterday, but she remains an absolute favourite pick in this draft. Loves to muck in for duels, cover ground, intercept the ball (11.74 Possession-adjusted interceptions p90), and is more than happy to take a crack from outside of the box with a right-footed laser. With the right landing spot, rookie of the year.

2: Sam Meza — UNC

On pure talent, Meza has so much to offer. Silky touch. Great vision (76% accurate passes in the final third). Chill in tight spaces. A smooth operator who makes her teammates better but certainly is less flashy than some other players in this draft. Sets the tempo. Top of the class in recoveries too (10.03 p90).

3: Bea Franklin — Arkansas

Not a consensus high pick in this draft but her 2023 performance levels were so high that I think there will be people feeling like she’s on an upward trajectory as a developing talent, even at 23. Nine goals and nine assists from midfield speaks for itself. Set piece danger woman.

4: Kiki Van Zanten — Notre Dame

Not one but two great feet. Likes to play balls into space and has a good head on her shoulders to scan. Tends to favour the left side of the centre of the pitch, but is good at using her body to open up passing lanes either way. Chipped in with an impressive seven goals, and can beat players on the dribble (2.72 progressive runs p90). Has experience on the World Cup stage with Jamaica.


1: Brecken Mozingo — BYU

Hard to not be impressed with a player who can score out of nowhere. Mozingo makes her own chances (4.08 shots p90). Taking players on with a delicate dribbling style and then hitting shots from wherever she likes. She also makes plenty of chances for others (4.94 crosses p90) and has a great corner delivery.

2: Avery Patterson — UNC

A left-winger who can play left wing-back, as UNC tends to set up that way. Patterson scored nine goals from 6.82 xG, which could hint that her finishing is a cut above as she likes to invert and shoot. The number of touches she got, cutting in from wide areas, for a dominant North Carolina team will endear many coaches and GMs to buy into her. Strangely effective on set pieces too, with many of her goals coming from cleaning up corners.

3: Landy Mertz — Pitt

West’s teammate on the right wing, Mertz is also coming off a record-breaking 2023 season where everything seemed to go right for her. 10.11 successful attacking actions p90 and near non-stop threat from both crosses and short cutbacks into the box. She changes up her delivery style often and likes to break into the box. The most 2023 assists of any player in the draft.

4: Mya Jones — Memphis

Not necessarily a pure winger, but a player who finds herself in goalscoring positions in the box by starting in wide areas and curling her run. Follows the play really well, and has devastating crossing ability. One of the most productive players in the draft with 22 goal involvements in 2023, but playing for Memphis in the American Conference could knock her down a peg.

Attacking mids

1: Croix Bethune — Georgia

What I keep coming back to with Bethune is just how easily she takes a step past players who try to get close to her, and then how quickly you see her brain working as she decides what sort of pass to select. Magical at slipping in a teammate, from inside or outside the box. Square or in-behind.

2: Ally Sentnor — UNC

Hard to know if Sentnor will be considered more of an attacking-mid, ‘number 10’ or a true centre forward. The way she can break into the box and find shots from 12-18 yards out makes me think she won’t be seen as a centre forward, even if she has often flitted in and out of the role in North Carolina. Great geometry.

3: Maya Doms — Stanford

At some point, the ball will clatter into the back of the net after leaving Doms’ foot. And there will be some serious celebrations. Raucous, audacious scenes. She has such good energy and loves “the moment.” A really safe bet to come in and compete in the NWSL, loves a hit from the edge of the box. Oof.

4: Felicia Knox — Alabama

Another player whose numbers dropped significantly in 2023 (20 (TWENTY) assists in 2022, down to six) — and that could affect where people view her. Knox has a big right foot and could be a huge benefit to any team look to upgrade their set pieces and crossing.


1: Reilyn Turner — UCLA

I like to think of the Bruins’ No.66 as the most classic forward in the draft. She’s a box presence but she can also make chances for herself. Especially on counterattacks. One touch and Turner’s away. An opportunistic striker who never let a tough angle get in the way of firing a shot or cutting it across goal. 12 goals from 13.56 xG in 2023.

2: Gianna Gourley — Grand Canyon

40 goals over the past two seasons is an incredible return from the 22-year-old from Las Vegas. Gourley is great at beating her defender to the ball. It sounds simple enough, but she has a habit of always being there tuck it away in the box. Can she shake off playing for an unfashionable school and show she’s a top finisher?

3: Jaida Thomas — Tennessee

Missed the majority of the 2023 season so most teams will be looking back to her impressive trio of seasons in Knoxville between 2020 and 2022, where she scored 28 goals in 47 games. The top attribute will be how she finds separation in the box. Often looks more open than most when she finds space, also happy to do dirty work and press.

4: Amanda West — Pitt

Had the pleasure of speaking to her last week, and was struck by how calm West is as a person. On the pitch, West is someone who likes to make things happen. Massively productive with 4.51 shots p90. She probes the backline constantly always trying to get an edge on her defender and presses whenever possible. Predominantly left-sided can play centre forward.

  1. This is calculated by looking at the number of goals a keeper has conceded against the xG allowed. It gives an idea of how many goals a player “should” have let in.

    Although there are mitigating factors. No stat is perfect. And context can help pick numbers apart.