When the 2022 MLS SuperDraft gets underway Tuesday (2:30 pm ET), a reality lingers in the background: the annual acquisition of talent from the collegiate level is an inexact science.
Being selected does not guarantee a prominent first-team role, and the SuperDraft has become more of a complementary roster-building mechanism than a foundational one. But history has shown that there are gems to be found that can develop into stars in MLS and even make waves with overseas transfers, with Tajon Buchanan (New England) and Daryl Dike (Orlando) the most recent examples.
In 2022, who can rise above the noise and truly impact an MLS club? The Extratime crew debated that on their latest episode, with co-host Matt Doyle declaring that Saint Louis University defender Kipp Keller is the safest bet, comparing him favorably to former Nashville SC SuperDraft pick Jack Maher.
"It wouldn't surprise me if he followed in the footsteps of what Jack Maher is doing in Nashville," Doyle said. "He barely played in year one, by the middle of the season he was starting center back and looks the part of a guy who will be a high-level starting center back in MLS for a decade. And that's if he doesn't improve at all from here on out. If he does improve another level or two, you're talking about a guy who might be sold to a European team for $5 million.
"I'm not saying that is what Keller's going to do but I think he's a very high probability outcome and I would bet on that before I would bet on any other individual specific outcome from anyone else in this class."
Co-host Michael Lahoud's pick was Notre Dame forward Jack Lynn, who he thinks has the physical profile of an attacker that can compete in MLS. He'll need to prove he can finish consistently to get there, but Lahoud believes the attributes are there.
"There's not many forwards and attacking depth in this class, but Jack Lynn, he brings something that a lot of these players don't have on the attacking side: physicality," Lahoud said. "To be a striker, to be an attacking player, a domestic attacking player in Major League Soccer, you gotta bring something else that makes you stand out in the draft, and he is a physical force.
"He's got speed, he's got goals. Consistency is what he's going to need at the next level to make an impact, but I could see him being an impact sub and a guy who gets a couple starts for teams that really thrive on physicality, like a Nashville."
Co-host David Gass cited another Saint Louis University product in Isaiah Parker, noting the player's versatility as allowing him to compete for a role at multiple positions. Parker was a forward for Saint Louis, but Gass envisions a scenario where coaches try him as an attacking fullback.
"One of the things that's been successful coming out of the draft is wingbacks and fullbacks and for some players, it's adjusting," Gass said. "For Parker, if he goes to one spot, maybe he gets an attacking role and he is good enough to succeed there. If not, every coaching staff's going to look at him and say, 'Let's him bring him in, let's see what he does.'
"You're sort of seeing that with Griffin Dorsey right now: We see the physical profile, let's roll him out there and see if he is a wingback or a fullback. So I think Parker's going to get shots because of that."
Check out Extratime's entire SuperDraft preview episode here.