NWSL Draft 2022: Three prospects who should be picked early, including Florida State’s Jaelin Howell


The 2022 NWSL Draft is set for Saturday (2 p.m. ET on Paramount+ and CBS Sports HQ), and the player pool of eligible players for selection is now available. Formerly known as the college draft, the 2022 NWSL Draft will feature all 12 league clubs participating over four rounds of selections. 

Nearly 200 players registered for the NWSL Draft in hopes of being one of 50 selections, and several clubs will be eyeing top prospects to make an immediate impact. Let’s take a look a three players who will likely go in the first round of the draft. 

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1. Jaelin Howell, midfielder, Florida State University

Howell has been touted as one of the top midfield prospects for years now after making three NCAA College Cup appearances in four years. She played in all 25 games, starting in 23 of them for a total of 2,118 minutes, fourth-most on the team, and scored three goals while recording four assists — including the game winner in a semifinal against Rutgers. Howell has already won the MAC Hermann Trophy (given to college soccer’s top player), and has a chance to win the honor for a second consecutive time after being named a finalist once more.

A ball-winning midfielder who can play both disrupter and connector in the middle third, Howell also has senior level U.S. national team experience after spending time in USWNT camps during 2017. She made her senior national team debut in 2020 in a 2-0 victory against the Netherlands.

2. Naomi Girma, defender, Stanford University

The Stanford center-back made a huge comeback from an ACL injury in 2021. Girma started in 20 games for Stanford in her return, leading the team in minutes played with 1,745, and helped the backline secure nine shutouts while also scoring four goals. She is a two-time Pac-12 Defender of the Year (2019, 2021) and two-time United Soccer Coaches First Team All-American (2019, 2021), and a two-time Pac-12 Champion (2018-19). The defender helped lead the Cardinal to two College Cup appearances (2018-19), including Stanford’s third NCAA title in 2019. 

Girma is strong in position with good vision on the pitch, often able to read plays as they develop, and could be a big pick for a team looking to strengthen its back line. 

3. Mia Fishel, forward, UCLA

During her three-year career at UCLA, Fishel totaled 32 goals — 16 of which were game-winning goals — and recorded 14 assists while earning two All-America honors. She finished her career ranked ninth all-time at UCLA in goals scored and fifth in game-winning goals. Fishel’s movement on and off the ball make her a tough target for defenders, and her ability to score on the the ground or in the air has caused trouble for collegiate goalkeepers. 

In 2021, Fishel led UCLA to an unbeaten regular season, scoring 12 goals and 29 points. She paced the Pac-12 Conference with six game-winning goals and was selected as the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week three times. The froward is currently nominated for the U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year award along with Howell, Emily Fox, Catarina Macario and Trinity Rodman.





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