5 Players for Portland Thorns: 2023 Draft Discussion

2023 NWSL Draft Discussion – Portland Thorns

After the massive trade that saw Yazmeen Ryan traded in a four-team deal, Portland acquired the #5 overall pick from Angel City.

Newly appointed Head Coach Mike Norris and second-year General Manager Karina Leblanc head into today’s draft with 5 selections: 5,12, 24, 36, 48.

With the Portland Thorns being one of the teams most effected by the Women’s World Cup, they are in need of depth.

Each NWSL team has made big trades and signings to overtake the reigning champions. Leblanc will need a strong draft to replenish their talent.

This NWSL draft has over 250 registered players available for selection, and is the deepest draft in the league’s history. There will be players who are drafted late, or go undrafted that will be absolute steals for teams.

In this draft, but particularly the first round, the Portland Thorns need immediate contributors as they are in their championship window.

5 Players to consider with Portland’s #5 pick (in no particular order)

  • Jenna Nighswonger, MF, FSU
    The 2022 MAC Hermann Trophy Finalist led Florida State to the championship in 2021, and a final four appearance this year. Nighswonger is a magician with the ball and a world class creator. She constantly picks out passes that find her teammates for goals, and is dangerous as a finisher too. She is projected to be picked in the top 5.

  • Penelope Hocking, FW, Penn State
    Before heading to Penn State, she broke the record for most goals at USC, which stood for 21 years. She led the Nittany Lions to a Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA tournament. Hocking’s collegiate dominance is unheard of which consisted of 61 goals and 33 assists.
    She is able to play across the frontline. Her consistency makes her a perfect fit for any team and there aren’t more players who command the attention that she does. There aren’t any glaring weaknesses to her game. Hocking is a top player on each team’s draft board.

  • Emily Madril, DF, NWSL/BK Häcken FF
    Madril opted to forgo her remaining year of eligibility to sign with the NWSL and play a year with BK Häcken FF in Sweden. Her ability to anchor a defense is second to none. She led a FSU defense near the top in least goals allowed. Madril’s ability to dribble, attack, and read the game makes her the top CB on every team’s draft board. She will go in the top 5 of the draft with her floor being #4 to Racing Louisville.

  • Reyna Reyes, LB, Alabama
    The Mexico Women’s National Team has found their left back for the next decade in Reyes. In today’s modern game, she can do it all: superb defender, passer, and attacker. This season for the Alabama Crimson Tide, she scored 8 goals with an assist, and led her team to the NCAA Final Four. Reyes is dangerous on set pieces and in front of goal. Could be the best LB available in the NWSL draft ever. Reyna Reyes could go as high #3 to Orlando.

  • Izzy D’Aquila, FW, Santa Clara
    D’Aquila is one of the best pure goal scorers available in this draft. She came up huge for the Santa Clara Broncos on countless occasions. Her ability to come up clutch makes her one of the best players in the draft. She scored 50 goals and recorded 16 assists in 78 career games; with 19 goals and 5 assists this past season representing her career highs, respectively. There aren’t many that can score in the variety of ways, she can. In any other year, she would be a lock for the top 3, but in this deep class, her draft range will be top 3-12.

Best Fit: Reyna Reyes

Likely Pick: Jenna Nighswonger

Highest Ceiling/Potential: Izzy D’Aquila

Could one of them drop to Portland’s first round pick at #12? Yes, but not likely.

Final Important Notes:

– This Draft will truly begin when the Orlando Pride is on the clock at #3 overall. They could go several directions that will have ripple effects the rest of the first round. 

– Racing Louisville traded the #4 pick to Gotham for Paige Monaghan and $150k in allocation money. RL has been a lock to take Madril at that pick if they thought she would be available. It looks like she’ll be going top 3. 


Phuoc “Francis” Nguyen

Portland Thorns & Portland Timbers #BAONPDX #RCTID