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Almost one-third done with the 2024 NWSL season, it’s a good time to take a look at the 2024 Collegiate Draft, how things panned out contract wise, the impact of teams' draft classes, and the most/least impactful trades of draft day. 

Contract Length Breakdown

The 2024 NWSL Draft had the most players drafted with expansion sides Bay FC and Utah Royals increasing the total teams involved up to 14. Of the 56 players drafted, 25% of the players drafted didn’t end up signing with the NWSL team that drafted them. Another quarter of the draftees were signed to contracts of at least three years, while the largest percentage of draftees were signed to a one year contract with an option year for 2025. 

A breakdown of the contract length given per round of draft picks can be seen below. As is roughly expected, a majority of the first round picks were signed to contracts of at least three years guaranteed. As the rounds continue, the average contract lengths reduce until the fourth and final round where a majority of the players were not signed to their drafting teams. 

The 2024 NWSL draft picks and the specific contracts per player can be found: https://www.spotrac.com/nwsl/draft/_/year/2024 

Team Breakdown of Draft Picks

Reminder: The mode is the most frequent number that appears in a set of data. It is used here to highlight the trend of teams in the length of the contracts they signed draftees. In the case of Chicago and Louisville, there was an even split so both numbers were included. 

Both Seattle and North Carolina have had 0 official minutes played by their draft picks thus far. This is more surprising for the Courage than the Reign because of the fact that all three of the Courage’s picks were signed for three year contracts compared to the fact that neither of Seattle’s signed picks were longer than a 1 year contract with an option. Maddie Mercado did play in roughly 2 minutes of stoppage time for the Reign in their latest match against Kansas City, but stoppage time minutes don’t count toward official minute stats.

Signing only one draft pick, Angel City outside back Madison Curry has truly been the most impactful draft pick of the later rounds in the draft, filling in almost seamlessly for the LA-based side after M.A. Vignola (NWSL 2023 Best XI Second team) went down injured in ACFC’s week two matchup against Orlando.

Of teams with more than one draft pick, the draftees of the Washington Spirit have averaged the most minutes played, led by midfielders Croix Bethune and Hal Hershfelt who both have played in a majority of the Spirit’s minutes. In eight games, Bethune has already scored three goals in addition to her four assists, while Hershfelt has two goals of her own and an impressive 81% passing accuracy. The Spirit currently sit in third place in the table through eight games. 

The Kansas City Current signed two draft picks, although one is a goalkeeper—and none of the four signed drafted goalkeepers across the league have played a single minute so far—the other drafted player was defender Ellie Wheeler who started in Kansas City’s first six matches, and scored a goal in her professional debut, aiding to KC’s current unbeaten run. With defender Hailie Mace building back her minutes after missing the first few games with a knock, Kansas City has good depth of outside backs as the team marches toward the mid-season break in July. 

Racing Louisville and the Utah Royals are the other two squads whose signed rookies have an average of at least 300 minutes per person, even with Racing being one of four squads with only seven matches played rather than eight. 

Both of Racing’s signings—forwards Emma Sears and Reilyn Turner—have been impactful both when starting and when coming off the bench, with Turner having two goals and two assists and Sears having a goal of her own. 

Utah’s roster as an expansion team has the most draftees signed of any squad at six, and although number one overall draft pick Ally Sentnor is leading both the Utah draftees and all of the draftees in general in playing time with 720 min, and has two goals and two assists. Four of Utah’s six signed draft picks have over 300 minutes played. 

Of teams who have utilized their draft classes less, Portland forward Payton Linnehan and San Diego defender Kennedy Wesley have really stepped up in the last few weeks filling in for injured teammates. They’ll also be players to watch develop through the year. 

Breakdown of Draft-Day Trades

Most Impactful: Washington Spirit

What will likely be the most impactful trade of Draft Day was the Chicago Red Stars trading the number three overall pick to the Washington Spirit in return for centerback Sam Staab—who recently was named to the NWSL’s March/April Best XI. With that number three pick, the Spirit chose Croix Bethune, who is currently leading the draftees in minutes played thus far this season, won March/April Rookie of the Month and made the NWSL Best XI for March/April. In hindsight, both teams have greatly benefited from the outcome of the trade. 

Least Impactful: Angel City FC

There were six trades during the draft itself, however only one team traded for a draft pick then didn’t end up signing the player: Angel City FC. The LA-based club sent $15k in allocation money to Utah for the 44th overall pick, proceeded to pick midfielder Jessica Garziano from St. Johns, but didn’t end up signing her.