Being selected first overall in the National Lacrosse League (NLL) Entry Draft comes with a lot of expectations. Unless there is a pre-draft trade, the team that selects you usually either finished last in the standings the previous season and is looking to turn their fortunes around or is an expansion team hoping to start their inaugural season well.
Though the hype has been immense, the past Number 1 overall picks have lived up to it and have been performing near or at the top of the NLL.
Josh Byrne – 2017 by Buffalo Bandits
Byrne set the league on notice in his first season in the NLL after being selected first overall by the Buffalo Bandits in 2017. Among rookies, the New Westminster, British Columbia native and Hofstra graduate finished 1st in assists and points and 2nd in goals. The Buffalo forward was also one of six rookies selected to the 2018 All-Rookie Team.
Ryan Keenan – 2016 by Saskatchewan Rush
Keenan was selected first overall by the Saskatchewan Rush after a successful career at Penn State. The Oshawa, Ontario native was third among rookies in assists with 29. This past season, Keenan played a big role in the Rush’s third championship in the past four years as he eights in four games while shooting 21.6 percent.
Lyle Thompson – 2015 by Georgia Swarm
Thompson left the University of Albany in 2015 as the all-time points leader in Division I men’s lacrosse with 400 and was selected first overall by the Georgia Swarm. He was named to the All-Rookie Team that first year and won the MVP the following year in 2017 while leading the NLL in points (116). The Swarm went on to win the championship that year with Thompson winning Finals MVP.
Ben McIntosh – 2014 by Edmonton Rush (now Saskatchewan Rush)
A Drexel University graduate, Ben McIntosh was selected first overall by the Edmonton Rush in 2014. He led all NLL rookies in goals (37), assists (49) and points (86) his first year, leading to him being named Rookie of the Year and to the All-Rookie Team. McIntosh was t-3rd on goals last season with 46 and has helped the Rush win three of the past four championships.
Logan Schuss – 2013 by Minnesota Swarm
Logan Schuss was named Rookie of the Year and to the All-Rookie Team after being selected first overall by the Minnesota Swarm in 2013. His best season was in 2016 when he was t-14th in points with 86. The forward from Ladner, British Columbia currently plays for the Vancouver Stealth.
Mark Matthews – 2012 by Edmonton Rush (now Saskatchewan Rush)
Mark Matthews was selected first overall by the Edmonton Rush out of the University of Denver and has remained with the Rush throughout his whole career. After winning Rookie of the Year and being named to the All-Rookie Team in 2013, Matthews helped lead the Rush to the championship in 2015, 2016 and 2018, winning Finals MVP in 2015. The Oshawa, Ontario native led the league with 73 assists in 2017 and broke the record for assists in a single season with 84 this past season to help him win MVP. Matthews has been named to the All-Pro First Team four times.
Kevin Crowley – 2011 by Philadelphia Wings
Kevin Crowley was named to the All-Rookie Team after being chosen first overall by Philadelphia in 2011. Crowley has been a consistent scorer throughout his entire career with at least 70 points in every season he has played at least 16 games. This past season, he led the league with 51 goals scored and was named to the All-Pro First Team, his first such selection. Crowley currently plays for the New England Black Wolves.
Cody Jamieson – 2010 by Rochester Knighthawks
Coincidentally, in 2010 Cody Jamieson was the second straight Iroquois player from Syracuse to be selected first overall by the Knighthawks. The Six Nations, Ontario native came in second for Rookie of the Year voting and was voted to the All-Rookie Team. Jamieson went on to lead the league with 108 points (36 goals, 72 assists) in 2014 en route to being named league MVP. He also helped lead the Knighthawks to three straight championships from 2012-2014 and was named Finals MVP in 2012 and 2013. Jamieson has been named to the All-Pro First Team once and All-Pro Second Team twice and currently still plays for Rochester.
Sid Smith – 2009 by Rochester Knighthawks
Sid Smith has remained a defensive stalwart on the Knighthawks since being drafted first overall out of Syracuse University in 2009. He helped Rochester win three championships in a row from 2012-2014 and has been the team’s captain since 2013.
Jordan Hall – 2007 by New York Titans
Jordan Hall was named to the All-Rookie Team after being selected first overall out of the University of Delaware by New York in 2007. A two-time All-Pro Second Team forward and transition player, Hall was a key component of the Georgia Swarm’s run to the 2017 championship when he had 18 points (12 goals, six assists) in four playoff games. The Surrey, British Columbia native has won the NLL Sportsmanship Award twice, once in 2011 and again in 2017. Hall was recently selected by the Philadelphia Wings in the NLL Expansion Draft.
Ryan Benesch – 2006 by Toronto Rock (via San Jose Stealth)
After being selected first overall by the San Jose Stealth, Ryan Benesch was traded to the Toronto Rock where he won the Rookie of the Year Award and was named to the All-Rookie Team. A capable scorer, the Kitchener, Ontario native led the league in goals in 2011 and points and goals in 2015, both years being named to the All-Pro First Team. Benesch currently plays for the Colorado Mammoth.
Brodie Merrill – 2005 by Portland Lumberjax
In his first season in the NLL, Brodie Merrill was named Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year and was named to the All-Pro First Team, All-Rookie Team and West Division All-Star Team. Merrill has been named Transition Player of the Year three times (2009, 2010 and 2017), and has been named to the All-Pro First and Second Teams four times each. The Georgetown graduate ranks second all-time in loose balls with 2,312 and forced turnovers with 186. Merrill additionally has served as the captain of the Toronto Rock.