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Reign Add Left Back, Defensive Depth in 2016 NWSL Draft

Seattle goes for a promising replacement for Stephanie Cox and then three players that can be given time to develop (and heal).

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Before today's draft, head coach Laura Harvey said the team would be looking more to the future with their picks, and they stuck to the plan. Other than 4th overall pick Carson Pickett — who should be expected to compete for a starting left back job — the team went for high-risk, high-reward choices.

Here are some brief summaries of the players the team acquired.

Carson Pickett - D - 1st Round (4th overall)

Widely considered one of the best left-sided players in the college game and the best fullback option in the draft, Pickett is a solid two-way player on the left sideline and should be penciled in to take over for the retired Stephanie Cox on the Reign back line.

An every-game player since her Freshman year at Florida State, she finished her college career tied for 10th all time in the NCAA with 103 career appearances. In that time, she led the Seminoles to their first ever national championship in 2014. The Florida State defense was dominant in that tournament, finishing the entire 6-match College Cup run without conceding a single goal.

But she's not just a stay at home defender ... she has a deadly cross and takes a mean corner. Over her last two college seasons she accumulated 22 assists and she leaves the program second in Florida State history in career assists.

That combination of defense and service from the left side earned her a call-up to the U-23 USWNT for the Four Nations Tournament last May, where she played significant minutes in wins over England and Sweden.

If you want to know more, here's an ESPN profile from a few months ago that goes into her 2015 season and her ability to rise to the top of the game despite being born with a disability.

Paige Nielsen - D/F - 3rd Round (25th overall)

Like Reign draftee Amanda Frisbie before her, Nielsen spent most of her college career as an attacker before converting to center back her senior year, giving her the comfort on the ball that Harvey likes in her center backs. She was North Carolina's captain in her senior year, leading the team in minutes played on a team that finished the season 8th in the national rankings.

Nielsen has been training with German club Turbine Potsdam, but has been quoted as being interested in coming back to NWSL after the European season is over in the summer, and was enthusiastic enough on social media about being picked that I'd be surprised if she didn't suit up in Reign blue at some point this year.

Summer Green - F - 3rd Round (30th overall)

An ACL tear and an inconsistent couple of years at North Carolina battered the draft stock of a player who just a few years ago was one of the leading lights of the U.S. youth program. In 2012 for the U-17s she crushed the record for goals in a tournament by a U.S. woman when she scored 12 in 4 games in the CONCACAF U-17 Championship. Then she went on to be an immediate contributor on powerhouse UNC, finishing 2nd on the team in goals in 2012 and 3rd in 2013. She struggled her Junior year with only 2 goals despite leading the team in shots, and after something of a bounceback season last year with 7 goals, she tore her ACL in the loss that eliminated the Tar Heels from the NCAA tournament.

The injury will keep her out for a good portion of the season, at best, so she's another pick for the future. But the Reign have the roster strength to take a flier on a player that has the potential to be a star if she can return to her peak form.

Lindsey Luke - GK - 4th Round (40th overall)

The Reign's last pick — and the final pick of the draft — was Utah goalkeeper Lindsey Luke. In a draft where keepers were not being picked aggressively, Seattle was able to pick up one of the consensus top two at the position (the other being Abby Smith) at the last second.

Luke was a 4-year starter at Utah, earning 25 shutouts in 76 matches in one of the most difficult conferences in the country. The team waived 3rd keeper Caroline Stanley earlier in the offseason, so there's an opportunity for Luke to make an impression on a team that will be without Hope Solo for a good chunk of the season when the U.S. team is at the Olympics.

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