2021 PLL College Draft Prospects: Attack

2021 PLL College Draft Prospects: Attack

The 2021 PLL College Draft is right around the corner! To prepare, we’re spotlighting the top prospects in each position group and sharing former pro lacrosse players and coaches’ thoughts on the top PLL prospects.

One of the more polarizing discussions this year ahead of the PLL College Draft has centered around who Ben Rubeor and the Atlas will select with the first overall pick. Will it be Michael Sowers? Could it be Jeff Teat? Could there be someone else who jumps up draft boards? 

One thing most can agree on is that we will likely hear an attackman's name called with the first pick on Monday night.  There is no shortage of offensive threats available in what some have marked as one of the most loaded drafts in professional lacrosse history. Names like Bernhardt, Sowers, Tierney, O’Keefe and Teat have dominated the college lacrosse landscape the last few years and are finally set to make the jump to the next level after the COVID-19 pandemic granted an extra year of eligibility. 

Lacrosse Playground connected with one the best offensive players in professional lacrosse history, Casey Powell, to get his take on some of the top attack prospects available in the upcoming PLL College Draft.

Note: The outlook for the top pick got a little bit of a shakeup on Thursday night when the news came out that Jared Bernhardt was planning to use his final year of eligibility to play college football instead of joining the PLL. Before the news, Bernhardt was considered one of the top attack prospects in the draft who Casey Powell considered "an absolute weapon" and his personal #1 pick. Due to this news, we expect Bernhardt to fall to the last round or potentially go undrafted. However, should a team draft the Maryland product, they would retain his rights for two seasons.

Michael Sowers - Princeton/Duke

Photo courtesy of Duke Athletics

Many debated whether or not Sowers would have been the first overall pick last season had he joined the PLL. Instead, he transferred to Duke and has only gotten better while playing for Coach Danowski. There’s not much to be said about Sowers that hasn’t been already said, but he can do it all offensively. After scoring 302 points during four years at Princeton, becoming the Tigers’ all-time leading scorer, Sowers has continued his assault on the NCAA career leader board with 60 points for the Blue Devils moving up to 4th all-time, with the opportunity to pass Connor Fields for third the next time he takes the field. 

Sowers brings speed, a play-making ability and, as he reminded people against Notre Dame, the ability to shoot the ball all wrapped into a perfect little package. He’s PLL-ready and can run the offense at X, while creating opportunities for the rest of whatever attack line he plays with. Sowers creates a matchup problem and will be able to slide right into a top role in the PLL.

Casey Powell’s Take: He’s the closest thing to my brother Mike that I've seen. He plays fast as lightning, yet he remains composed under pressure. Sowers is a true offensive quarterback with fantastic vision and unreal change of direction. To think that he will have a better supporting cast at the next level than at Duke is scary, but as a PLL fan, extremely exciting.

Jeff Teat - Cornell

Photo courtesy of Cornell Athletics

When the attackman returned to Cornell with hopes of playing one final season for the Big Red he was third in program history with 268 points. Before taking him in the 2020 PLL College Draft, Andy Towers referred to Teat as a “All-World Attackman at 20 years old” who might not be as appreciated as he should. Teat might be a smaller guy, but he’s been highly touted for his high lacrosse IQ and ability to make things look easy by current several PLL pros.

Even though Teat hasn’t had an opportunity to play this season with the Ivy League deciding to cancel the 2021 season there shouldn’t be any fear of rust or Teat being a step behind due to the layoff. The four-time All-American will become the first player ever selected twice in the PLL Draft after being taken by Andy Towers’ Chaos in the second round of last years’ draft.

Rest assured, Teat will not be a second round selection this year and is in the conversation of who might be the top pick in the draft. Teat is no stranger to going first overall; the New York Riptide selected the lefty with the top pick in the 2020 NLL Entry Draft. If the Atlas select Teat at #1, he'll become just the third player in pro lacrosse history to go first overall in both the NLL and MLL/PLL Draft, joining Kevin Crowley (2011) and Lyle Thompson (2015) as the only players to do so.

Casey Powell’s Take: He has the feel of the game down to a science.  He lets it come to him and has a knack for being on the move and slipping into threatening areas. He watches the game unfold and encourages off-ball action. He's battle tested and he's up for any challenge at the next level. Teat will no doubt be very effective in putting the ball in the stick of the world's best scorers. 

Mac O’Keefe - Penn State

Photo courtesy of Penn State Athletics

To put it simply, Mac O’Keefe knows how to find the back of the net. The NCAA’s all-time leading goal scorer in Men's Division I history, O’Keefe has been lethal since arriving at Penn State. When it comes to NCAA and Big Ten goal scoring records, O’Keefe either holds the record or he can be found very close to the top. The Syosset, NY native has record 217 goals to go along with 46 assists during his 64 game career with the Nittany Lions. The more impressive stat though just might be the fact that in those 64 games, O’Keefe has only been held without a goal in two of them, both during the 2018 season. 

This season O’Keefe seems to have silenced any questions that might have floated around about whether or not he could still repeat his success without Grant Ament feeding him the ball, scoring 25 goals in 9 games so far. Will we see an O’Keefe-Ament reunion with the Archers? Only time will tell but either way with the worlds best feeding him the ball don’t expect him to just stop scoring once he reaches the professional level. 

Casey Powell’s Take: He is a flat out goal scoring machine and he has a lot more in him. Mac is a kid who will thrive under a good offensive scheme. He’s the type that if you give an inch he'll take a foot. He’s got a quick, deceptive release that rocks the cage as it whizzes by the goalies ear. Will he reunite with Grant Ament? That would be cool to see what they do at the PLL level. 

Ryan Tierney - Hofstra

Photo courtesy of Hofstra Athletics

If there’s one player that you could say has really taken advantage of the extra year of eligibility and shot up draft boards this season, it’s been Ryan Tierney. The son of Hofstra head coach Seth Tierney has been putting up highlight reel goals all season long, scoring 38 goals in 10 games, and having a pair of eight goal games this year (yes, you read that right, EIGHT goals). His talent hasn’t been doubted during his tenure with the Pride having been named all CAA in every season and a Tewaaraton Watch list member in each of the last three seasons. The lefty has shown that he can create high quality chances on the run and brings a pro ready dodging and shooting skillset to the PLL.

Casey Powell’s Take: I used to see him when he was a little boy and would run around with the Long Island Lizards, shooting in between timeouts. I knew he was going to be good, but not THIS good. He is electric and can flat out finish. I don't know if anyone's draft status went up higher in a year than Tierney’s did this year. He’s good in the locker room and a leader on the field. He will instantly make any team better. 

Jake Carraway - Georgetown

Photo courtesy of Georgetown Athletics

Jake Carraway, like Tierney, doesn’t quite get the credit he deserves in a draft class surrounded by names like Sowers, Teat and Bernhardt. Carraway is a lethal shooter and has the numbers to back it up. This year through nine games with Georgetown, he’s scored on 35.8% of shots that he has taken.

During his career, Carraway has scored 178 goals in 64 games, including a career high 57 goals in his junior season. He’s gotten better with age too, increasing his offensive output each season. Simply, he’s a big bodied, consistent offensive threat who will add an extra weapon to whatever team gives him an opportunity.

Casey Powell’s Take: He doesn't have the cache as some of these other names, but Carraway has all the tools: good size, good speed, he can stick shots from the outside. He takes it to the cooker and I love his emotion. Dare I say, he’s Pat Spencer-ish?

Tre Leclaire - Ohio State

Photo courtesy of Ohio State Athletics

Tre Leclaire’s big frame mixed with his athleticism makes him a dangerous prospect. He provides coaches with a player who can really slot in at attack of midfield depending where the needs are. With a box lacrosse background, Leclaire has been a force any time he gets the ball, even when he has the slightest opportunity to make something happen. The Buckeyes all-time leader in goals is a versatile and athletic player who will be another guy that utilizes his size to create a mismatch against short stick matchups, but can also burn you with in other ways as well.

Casey Powell’s Take: I first met Tre at a camp on the west coast when he was 12. As soon as I walked up to the field, I knew he was special. His consistent game impact will be of value in the pro's. He has superior fundamentals, he is a big body and takes it to the cage hard. Even if you think you have him guarded, he finds a way to tickle the twine.

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