The 2023 NWSL Draft takes place today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania starting at 3 PM PT, and for the first time since 2020, the draft will be held in person. The 12 teams will make 48 selections over 4 rounds. OL Reign currently holds three picks — 23rd, 32nd and 46th overall — but there have been several high-profile trades of picks in the days leading up to the draft and we might see yet more moves as the day unfolds.
This draft class is considered quite deep, with a number of likely star talents coming out of college, or in some cases, directly from high school to register for the draft. Recent USWNT call-up Alyssa Thompson, from Harvard-Westlake High School in LA, is widely expected to be selected first overall to Angel City FC, with most mock drafts predicting Duke’s Michelle Cooper as the second pick by Gotham FC. Other names to keep an eye on in the first round include Florida State’s Jenna Nighswonger and Emily Madril, Penelope Hocking from Penn State, Messiah Bright from TCU, and Alexa Spaanstra from Virginia. (Note: since the mock drafts linked below were published there have been additional trades, so some picks are now out-of-date.)
OL Reign traded all of their picks in this draft in various moves before acquiring three picks in other trades. They sent their first-round pick to Gotham FC in order to make a selection in the first round of last year’s draft. Their second-round pick was sent to Orlando as part of the swap which brought Phoebe McClernon to the Reign in exchange for Celia and Leah Pruitt. Their third-round pick went to Houston for Veronica Latsko, and their fourth-round pick was dealt to Louisville as part of the trade for Tobin Heath’s rights. They received Houston’s third-round pick for Ella Dederick, they got back their own fourth-round pick from Louisville for the rights to Wang Shuang, and on Wednesday they received Kansas City’s second-round pick along with Elyse Bennett.
OL Reign are likely to use the draft to bolster their defensive depth, which is particularly thin at fullback, and in the past they’ve also gone after local talent which they’ve had an advantage of scouting more thoroughly. Some local names in the draft include University of Central Florida midfielder/defender Kelis Barton (Renton), Harvard forward Sophie Hirst (Seattle), University of New Mexico forward/mid Jadyn Edwards (Mill Creek), and a number of players from UW, including goalkeeper Olivia Sekany; defenders Mary Johnston, Kala McDaniel, Shaye Seyffart and Shae Holmes; and forwards McKenzie Weinert and Summer Yates.
Current and former Reign players who were selected at a similar stage of prior drafts include Paige Nielsen (25th overall in 2016), Veronica Latsko (28th in 2018), Dani Weatherholt (31st in 2016), Sam Hiatt (33rd in 2020), Olivia Van der Jagt (33rd in 2022), and Kristen McNabb (37th in 2017).
As in prior years, teams will have five minutes to make their selections in the first round and three minutes in each subsequent round. Each team is also permitted to take up to three timeouts for further discussion, to discuss potential trades or request rule clarifications.
The 2023 NWSL Draft starts at 3 PM Pacific. It will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network for the first hour, and on Paramount+ for the full event for US viewers. International viewers can watch on the league’s website or YouTube page. If past drafts are any indication the final pick will likely be made some time after 7:30 PM.