INDIANAPOLIS – New England surveyed the SuperDraft landscape early this week and came to a conclusion: picking fourth wasn’t going to be good enough. Not if they wanted to get the player they truly coveted.
So the Revolution made a move, swapping picks with Toronto FC to move up to No. 1 and take Louisville defender Andrew Farrell. It was a scenario head coach Jay Heaps candidly said he didn’t think was possible early in the week, but it's one New England fans hope pays dividends in the years ahead.
“We just felt that he was consensus No. 1 across [the board] from a lot of different feelings going into the draft. In college a lot of people were labeling him as the No. 1 pick when we were No. 4, but we still went to watch and see,” Heaps said. “He carried that pressure well, and I think those are important things. Then he also backed it up with a solid Combine. When you’re asked to perform at the level he’s had to perform in the spotlight, I think that also shows a little bit of character.”
Farrell’s not afraid to show off a little character either, sporting a blond streak in the Mohawk running down the middle of his head. And while he was clearly elated to be picked when he did, the versatile defender wasn’t too wrapped up in his top-pick status.
“You never know until they call your name,” Farrell said. “I’m grateful for that. Obviously, there are a lot of top guys that are here. You just never know, so I’m excited for the opportunity to be in New England.”
And the Revs are certainly excited to have him, although Heaps was sure to make sure expectations won’t be out of control when the No.1 overall pick reports to camp on Monday.
“You can’t expect the guy to come in and be Omar Gonzalez,” he said. “By no means do we think he’s going to come in and be a starter from Day 1. There is going to be a learning curve here. There is going to be some competition.”
Namely, A.J. Soares, Stephen McCarthy, Darrius Barnes and recent signing José Gonçalves, a group that could force Farrell to start his professional career at right back. Heaps said he’d likely start his top pick in central defense, while evaluating his potential on the right flank.
Ideally, Farrell would follow college teammate Austin Berry’s lead. After being drafted ninth by the Chicago Fire in last year’s SuperDraft, Berry was named MLS Rookie of the Year and has been mooted as a future US national team prospect.
“I talked to Austin last night,” Farrell said. “He just said to enjoy the experience being down at the Combine and being here. Come Monday, you’ve got to start working. It’s a tough business. You’re playing against veterans who have families to feed and are playing for the same spot.”