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Looking at Sky Blue FC's draft possbilities

New Jersey team can walk away with valuable pieces of the puzzle for 2016 season.

Sky Blue FC's brand new coach Christy Holly gets to make his first  big-time decisions - on the clock, no less - as he directs tomorrow's National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) 2016 College Draft.

Promoted just yesterday from assistant to head coach, Holly has been taking care of personnel issues for three months, so Sky Blue FC should have a solid plan in Baltimore.

And with Sky Blue FC missing out on the playoffs the last two years and the team making almost no player moves in the off-season, the draft is looming very important for the New Jersey side.

The good news:  Sky Blue has five picks - the 3rd , 13th, 23rd, 33rd and 36th - barring any trades on or before draft day.

The bad news: This year's crop of draftees is not nearly as deep as in previous years, especially compared to last year.

Of all the NWSL teams, Sky Blue was the quietest during the off-season. No new players were signed.  No blockbuster traders. They lost a starting defender/midfielder in Cami Levin and their backup goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe  to the expansion draft.

If anything, injuries dominated the off-season. Since November, three internationals - Australia's Sam Kerr and Caitlin Foord and former US captain Christie Rampone - have all suffered injuries that required surgery.

With all three questionable to start the season and with US national team player Kelley O'Hara projected to miss a portion of the season to the Olympics, Sky Blue's needs could literally be al love the field.

Portland has the first two selections tomorrow and are expected to draft Virginia's defender Emily Sonnett and forward Makenzy Doniak .

With so many needs to fill, draft day strategy historically suggests taking the best athlete available. But Sky Blue needs to take the most exciting player available. And that's Penn State's Raquel Rodriquez.

The Costa Rican international is listed as a midfielder or forward, but what is important is that she loves to attack.  She led the Nittany Lions to their first NCAA title in 2015, scoring the game's lone goal in a 1-0 win over Duke. She had more assists than goals for her career.  More than her scoring, she has a flair and edge to her play that fans will love.

Put her on the outside midfield and let her join Nadia Nadim on the attack. With Kerr still questionable for the start of the season followed by the Olympics, Rodriquez could be the one draft pick that could help Sky Blue through the Olympic break.

With the 13th pick, go with defense. Foord will miss time for international duties. Rampone might as well.  Pick the local girl - Rutgers defender Erica Skroski. She had a solid season as a central defender for the Scarlet Knights Final Four side. Her teammate and central defending partner Brianne Reed is being ranked a little higher in the draft but Skroski has the potential to be the better pro, mostly because of her size.

Backup goalkeeper is another slot that needs to be filled but it's not crucial with Brittany Cameron back after and MVP-type season. With the 23rd pick, go with Utah keeper Lindsey Luke. Luke played at Wake Forest her freshman season before becoming the starting goalkeeper for Utah the last three seasons.

With two fourth-round picks, it becomes a guessing game among what's left to choose from.  Some draft boards list midfielder Hayley Katkowski of Rutgers, forward Paige Nielsen of UNC, defender  Candace Johnson of Missouri-Columbia and forward Brittany Ratcliffe of Virginia.

Keep in mind that there is a good deal of trading spots on draft day that often shred the mock drafts to pieces.