You can see my final 2016 Mock Draft here, and over the next 24 hours you can all get a good chuckle at how much the analysis changes and how inevitably wrong the mock will be.
Why will it be wrong? Because teams are wheeling and dealing, because teams are keeping it close to the vest regarding which talent they like and which they don't, and because at least three teams have, this year, had their own private combines that included guys who weren't at the official adidas MLS Player Combine.
And there are other reasons like cap space, Homegrown kids taking up end-of-the-roster spots (RBNY, Vancouver and Sporting KC each have a full complement of 28 players already), international roster spots being at a premium, and under-the-radar signings about to happen that can drastically change team needs.
With that in mind, here are five predictions for what will change the shape of the 2016 MLS SuperDraft over the next 36 hours:
1. Chicago trade the No. 1 overall pick
Here are two relevant tweets about Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez:
NR has one offer for 1st pick that was rejected. Has received 2 other offers. More discussions ongoing. #cf97— Guillermo Rivera (@FireConf) January 12, 2016
NR says they've signed 2 MLS free agents. Announcement in less than a week. Also agreed to terms with Euro CB. Second offer out for CB #cf97— Guillermo Rivera (@FireConf) January 12, 2016
If Chicago have offers out for two starter-quality center backs, that means they don't see presumptive No. 1 pick Josh Yaro as a central defender, but rather as a right back. And I suspect that they're reluctant to spend such a valuable asset -- that No. 1 pick -- to fill the right back spot.
There's also the stark truth that in two years at the most, Yaro almost certainly will have graduated from the Generation adidas program, and will be a hefty cap hit. For any team that's not sold on him, that's no bueno.
Fortunately for Chicago, there are a number of teams that are sold on him. Three coaches said to my face that they're trying to trade up and get him, and according to other folks who've been beating the bushes, there are at least that many more out there doing the same.
So the Fire will shop the pick and take the best offer. Bear in mind they have a ton of TAM because of the Didier Drogba deal, something that allows them to do things like absorb larger contracts (check out the next prediction for that) and be a little more selective in what they're looking for.
2. NYCFC will move heaven and earth to try to get Jack Harrison
They already had a Homegrown claim denied, but Harrison's still the guy they want, and there's still only a slim, slim chance that they'll be able to do that with the fourth pick. It's time for something bold.
In this case, it could be packaging the No. 4 pick with an asset the Fire covet and moving up to No. 1. Harrison is one of three guys (Yaro and Stanford's Brandon Vincent are the others) who could realistically go first overall, so this wouldn't be totally out of the blue.
The trick is to figure out what the Fire covet, and what NYCFC would be willing to part with. There are a number of good, young attacking options that NYCFC could dangle, but because of Chicago's boatlad of TAM, they could actually go for one of the bigger fish, like Mix Diskerud. Yes, he's a national teamer, but he didn't really have a spot in that NYCFC midfield last year, and I struggle to see where he fits in this year. Trading him would open up a ton of cap space for the Light Blues, giving them the flexibility they need to fix their back line.
Please understand that this trade is entirely made up. I haven't heard a damn thing about Diskerud being on the block.
But it's a move that makes sense for both clubs and the player. Chicago get a starter and a high first-round pick, while NYCFC get the prospect they want and cap space.
3. Multiple teams will pick guys who weren't at the Combine
As I said above, a bunch of teams had their own, private Combines over the last couple of weeks, and everybody is better at scouting the lower divisions of college soccer these days. There's also the PDL and NPSL to keep track of during the summer, and guess what? Teams are better at scouting that, too.
Here's a video of the University of North Florida Ospreys' Alex Morrell:
Morrell was quietly effective at the Combine, and could go at the tail end of the first round. And the team that pushed to include him are actually kicking themselves for doing so, since if he hadn't been invited he'd have remained completely under the radar and available for selection in the second or even third round.
Other teams were playing that game already with the prospects they've identified. Don't be surprised if there's an early-ish pick that leaves all of us providing analysis on the live stream absolutely stumped.
4. The Colorado Rapids will pick a GA kid at No. 2
Their cap situation is not great, which means they need to get somebody whose contract is off the books. That could be Yaro or Harrison, which would push Vincent down to No. 3 (Philly would be fine with that, even if by all accounts Harrison is their favorite player in the draft).
The other thing to bear in mind is that Colorado could be on the verge of some serious moves (plural).
They're also No. 2 in the Allocation Order, and there are indicators that's going to be meaningful in the not-too-distant future. Plus I think it's telling that Dillon Powers went on trial with Reading with Colorado's blessing. Trades could very well be made as the roster rebuild continues in earnest.
The upshot of all of this is that if they pass on Vincent, they probably have to make Dillon Serna a full-time left back (finally). Serna has all the tools to be a game-changer at that spot, and his defensive instincts are better than people realize. All he needs at this point are reps.
5. New England make draft trades every year... can they get into the Top 5?
Really, I think they're trying to get into the top 1. I do not have this from the Revs or anybody else, but I suspect that they'd like to get Yaro and move Andrew Farrell back outside to right back.
Barring that, however, I could see them trying to push up and get Omar Holness, a Jamaican international midfielder who's bounced from spot to spot but is best as a field-covering No. 8. He's skillful, tough and athletic, and while he's obviously not as good as Jermaine Jones he brings a lot of the same things to the table. "Fit" is important in any team, and Holness would fit perfectly into that central midfield for the Revs.
The key, though, is that they need to go the Generation adidas route. Like Colorado, they're not in a great spot cap-wise, but still have significant depth needs at various spots and not much wiggle room with which to address them.