Armchair Analyst: 2017 Mock SuperDraft v1.0

It's time for the least exact science known to mankind: Predicting the MLS SuperDraft! Below you'll find the pre-Combine version, and a week from now you'll get the post-Combine version. As always, feel free to give me the business in the comments section below.

1

MIN

Jeremy Ebobisse

Forward - Duke, USL & US u-20

Ebobisse actually left Duke after the 2015 season, and then spent the second half of this past year playing in the USL for the Charleston Battery while occasionally jetting away with the US U-20s and banging home goals (eight in nine games). He's a true target forward, and has drawn comparisons to Cyle Larin from guys who've played against both players.

It feels very much like Ebobisse is a lock to go No. 1. MNUFC aren't talking, but I will be shocked if any other name is called here, or if they move the pick.

2

ATL

Miles Robinson

center back - syracuse (ga)

Robinson makes a ton of sense for a team that's clearly going to be spending big importing talent its midfield and attack, which means they'll have to be a touch thrifty on the backline. And as it stands in MLS, there is nothing thriftier than a Generation adidas contract.

Robinson is big and athletic, and has drawn comparisons to both Walker Zimmerman and Steve Birnbaum (though he's not as dominant in the air as those guys). He's a regular in the US U-20s, competing with the likes of Justen Glad, Erik Palmer-Brown, Tommy Redding and Cameron Carter-Vickers for playing time.

3

CHI

Abu Danladi

Forward/winger - ucla (ga)

And now it's time for the only other name I've heard seriously mentioned as a possible No. 1 pick. Danladi is probably the consensus most talented player in the draft, and when he's healthy there's no question that he's the most explosive.

But he's not often healthy, and there are gigantic concerns about his training habits and overall work ethic. He is very much high risk/high reward because of all of the above.

4

HOU

Jackson Yueill

Midfielder - UCLA (GA)

Yueill, like Robinson and Ebobisse, is a regular with the US U-20s. He's a central midfielder who's moved around the pitch a little bit over his still very young career, but I think he eventually settles as a game-controlling No. 8 who can spring the occasional runner and change the geometry of his game with the ability to pick a pass. And literally everyone I talked to was impressed with how he took on more and more of the burden at UCLA this season with Danladi injured and other star players underperforming. 

I very much expect Minnesota to come in and try to trade for this pick (or maybe even the No. 3 spot) with the express intent of taking Yueill, who's a native of that state.

5

CLB

Jacori Hayes

Midfielder - Wake Forest

Darlington Nagbe light. Hayes has a wonderful first touch, and his balance and agility are both off the charts. His straight-line speed is merely "very good," but that's up for debate.

Why? Because Hayes doesn't use that speed to get behind the defense. He, like Nagbe, is wonderful at drifting around the field and helping out in possession, and can create his fair share of chances. Yet there are real concerns among teams in the top 10 that he's essentially a man without a position.

I'm not concerned about that here. I could see Hayes developing into an inverted right winger like Justin Meram, or even a No. 10 like Federico Higuain for a possession-heavy team.

6

SJ

Brandon Aubrey

center back - Notre dame

Aubrey was the most dynamic central defender in college soccer this year, and it's largely because he's spent as much time or more in central midfield as he has in the backline. So his footwork receiving the ball and vision to pick a pass from the back are both top shelf, as is his size (he's 6-foot-4) and ability on set pieces (nine goals this year!).

The Quakes have needs everywhere, but I think the most pressing is a center back who's actually under 30 years old and has upside. Aubrey fits the bill, and could end up being Clarence Goodson-esque.

Beware, though, that he's also a guy whose numbers teams want to see after the physical tests at the Combine. If he starts dropping on draft day, that's why. 

7

VAN

Chris Odoi-Atsem

right back - maryland

There are, as it stands, a pair of highly rated right backs in this year's draft. Odoi-Atsem is not a game-breaker, and his skill with the ball needs polishing. But he's an excellent defender in space, covers from endline to endline, won't be overwhelmed by the athleticism of the league, and can be counted on to show up with 100% intensity every time out.

Right back was such a hole for the 'Caps last season, I just can't see how they'd pass on a guy who can do a credible job of defending at that spot as a long-term backup or potentially even a starter. They got Sheanon Williams to occupy that spot in the first XI for the time being, but Odoi-Atsem could push him from Day 1.

8

ATL

Shamit Shome

Midfielder - fc edmonton (canadian ga)

Shome is the first of a new breed, as the Canadian GA rule is implemented. That means he won't count as an international, which means that his draft value is boosted for the 19 US-based MLS teams.

Also boosting his draft value is that he's got a couple thousand pro minutes already under his belt after coming through the Eddies' academy system. The kid has played ball against grown men before, and that could end up shooting him up the boards over the next week.

Right now he's a box-to-box midfielder whose simple passing keeps the ball moving. I think he'll eventually drift back and become more of a No. 6. 

9

CLB

Reagan Dunk

right back - denver

He had a monstrous senior season, and played his way onto draft boards because of it. Dunk can get up and down the right flank and probably serves a better final ball than Odoi-Atsem, though he lacks the 1-v-1 defensive ability.

Columbus don't ask their fullbacks to defend 1-v-1 all that much, though, so it's mitigated here. And the idea with taking Dunk would be to provide something of a like-for-like back-up to incumbent starter Harrison Afful, whose constant overlaps are a huge part of Crew SC's attack.

10

POR

Lalas Abubakar

center back - dayton

Abubakr has featured for Ghana's U-20s, and has trialed with clubs like Sporting CP, and was the PDL defender of the year. He has the kind of CV you look for in a mid-first round draft pick. He also has the size (6-foot-2) and athleticism you'd look for at this spot.

The questions about him are almost exclusively around his skillset. It's not so much his first touch -- though that can come and go -- as it is his ability to pick the right passes out of central defense.

Even with that caveat, I still think he goes in the top 15. And given Portland's needs in central defense, this makes some sense. 

11

CHI

Nick DePuy

forward - ucsb

DePuy is an enigma in that he played all over the pitch during his college career -- center back, center forward, and even some center mid. I think any team that drafts him will see him as a true No. 9 and work from there, but I also think that he has the tools to eventually become a reliable center back in the league.

The other thing that makes him an enigma is the kind of season he had as a senior. He was rightly mentioned as a Hermann Trophy candidate back in the summer, but then submitted a "meh" couple of months with the Gauchos. That's left more than one front office-type wondering if he has the kind of internal resources (drive and focus, mostly) needed to compete at the MLS level.

12

DC

Niko Hansen

winger/Midfielder - new mexico

D.C. would like nothing more than to find a back-up left back at this spot, but there's none on the board worth reaching for at this pick. So instead they'll look to Hansen, who had a good career at UNM despite not quite reaching the heights that some expected of him after his first two seasons.

He's quick and skillful on the ball, and though some see him as a winger in the league I think he's more of a second forward. With his penchant for drifting all over the field and his ability in front of goal, he's a pretty natural fit for a United team that's suddenly given their attackers all kinds of room to roam.

13

RSL

Justin Schmidt

center back - washington

RSL have a couple of needs in other spots -- including back-up right back -- that I think will be addressed elsewhere. That said, if one of Dunk or Odoi-Atsem drops in the draft, I wouldn't be at all shocked if they're picked here.

Barring that, however, I think that the safe bet is to assume they'll continue to boost their central defensive depth with a guy who's well known to GM Craig Waibel (he coached Schmidt at Washington). This is a no-nonsense pick who doesn't try to do anything he can't, and doesn't lose games for you with tactical mistakes.

14

SKC

Adonijah Reid

forward/winger - canadian u20 (Canadian ga)

Reid is a mystery man to anyone who hasn't scouted League1 Ontario or the Canadian youth national team set-up. Sporting, who are known to turn over every stone available to them, are almost certainly familiar with Reid.

And so they'll know that he's at least a couple of years away from contributing. But he's a perfect draft-and-stash candidate for their USL side, Swope Park Rangers, and will get a chance to spend his late teens trying to progress through the ranks.

He's skillful and elusive, and could end up being a quality, goal-scoring winger if he develops. 

15

COL

Russell Cicerone

winger/forward - buffalo

Cicerone is probably the guy who has the most to gain and the most to lose with the physical testing at the Combine. It's not about straight-ahead speed with him, but rather his balance and agility -- the ability to get out of tight spaces and make the daylight you find actually matter.

I'm guessing he does something close to "good enough," and then I'm guessing he starts getting some buzz as a Tommy McNamara type. He's not going wow anybody, but as one GM said to me "he's a soccer player. He's going to figure it out."

The Rapids are currently thin on the flanks, so I think this is a pretty easy pick for them to make.

16

SEA

Walker Hume

center back - north carolina

Of the three center backs on Seattle's roster, just one is under the age of 30. Depth is a big need here.

And Hume is a big player. He stands at 6-foot-5, which fits in with the Sounders' preference for size at the position, and he's played for a big-time program at UNC -- one that asks its players to do more than just hoof the ball upfield. Hume has drawn praise in that regard, and some favorable comparisons to fellow former Tar Heel Matt Hedges.

I think that's aiming a little bit too high, but I also think this kid is going to stick in the league. 

17

NY

Eric Klenofsky

goalkeeper - monmouth

Klenofsky is a local product (born on Staten Island), but not a Red Bulls Academy product. That's not to say that the team's unfamiliar with him, though -- he started for the RB U-23s in PDL play, which should give us all a hint at the club's intentions.

Klenofsky is a giant, at 6-foot-6, and as you'd expect of a 'keeper of his stature he commands his box well. He's also quicker off his line than most expect, and that can come in handy for a team that loves to press at every level.

18

DAL

Francis De Vries

Center back - st. francis

Dallas have a pretty reliable formula: Build through South America in attack, through the academy deeper in midfield, and through the draft at central defense. Wash, rinse, repeat.

De Vries is a big, left-footed Kiwi center back who fits that formula for FCD. His ability to strike the ball with that left foot is probably his best asset -- he should be able to distribute just fine from the backline after some adjustment. A bigger question is whether he'll be able to keep up with the pace and physicality of the league, as he does look kind of slow on the turn.

The Combine will be a big test for him. If he shows well both physically and in game action, he could see his stock rise.

19

MTL

Brian Wright

forward - vermont

Wright is a Canadian, but not part of the Canadian GA class. It doesn't matter for Montreal, though, as he'll count as a domestic player either way.

Wright battered mostly subpar competition throughout his college career, using his physicality and speed to put up big numbers as a forward (sometimes a pure center forward, sometimes a second striker). I think he'll probably have to translate as sort of a target winger at the MLS level, much like Andrew Wenger or Teal Bunbury, if he wants to stick around.

He has the talent to do so.

20

NE

Jordan Wilson

center back - kentucky

As it stands the Revs have one center back on the roster, and he's more of a converted right back. So they need depth in central defense, and they need it from any/every outlet available.

Wilson should provide that. He's a pure center back with no frills and no delusions of grandeur, and while he may lack a little bit of polish with the ball, he doesn't lack for the things that the Revs need most (namely, he can win a header and clear a cross).

Wilson is Scottish, but he holds a green card so he won't count as an international.

21

TOR

Colton Storm

right back - north carolina

Storm is, like Hume, a veteran of a team that plays tough competition week-in and week-out and has produced more than its share of pros over the last two decades. He's an unspectacular player, but he's reliable with his touch and positioning and has the physical characteristics to hold up in MLS.

He also fills a need for TFC, who have depth just about everywhere except at right back/right wingback. Steven Beitashour hits 30 next month, and while he held up well in 2016 there's only so much tread on the tire when you're asked to cover that much ground -- especially for a team that competes in multiple competitions.

22

SEA

Michael Amick

left back - ucla

Seattle have their starter at left back in Joevin Jones, and they're likely to sign S2's Nouhou Tolo as the back-up at that spot. But there's no danger in taking a flier here on Amick, who spent four years at a program known for producing top pros and who was, once upon a time, a member of the USYNT set-up.

Amick is a 'tweener. He played mostly center back in college, but in the pros he'll almost certainly be asked to switch back out wide to left back, and to be more of a stay-at-home player at that spot rather than an overlapping threat. That doesn't really fit Seattle's M.O., but having a little variety in the ranks isn't a bad idea.   

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