It is time for the post-Combine version of the 2019 mock SuperDraft.
Bear in mind that, thanks to the infusion of Targeted Allocation Money, MLS teams are more aggressively targeting young international players from other leagues. And thanks to the growing prominence of Homegrown Players, most MLS teams are more aggressively funneling their own talent up their own respective pipelines and into the first team.
Homegrowns, TAM signings and young DPs are investments. A drafted player is found money.
That means it's harder than ever to get drafted out of college and win a regular role in MLS. It still happens – Atlanta United aren't Atlanta United without Julian Gressel – but the odds of drafted players ever making a dent in MLS are becoming longer by the year.
WINGER/FW - SYRACUSE (GA)
Everything I've heard from the past week suggests that Cincy's already made their decision. Buchanan looks the part of a high-level attacker player both on and off the ball, is one of the younger players in the draft, and has a high ceiling. Only concern is that he just wasn't that productive in college.
AM - UCLA (GA)
Amaya is actually the youngest player in the draft, and despite that has something close to the most international experience, having featured with the US U-20s. He's a compact and technical playmaker who will probably have to become more of a two-way presence to earn MLS minutes. But he's just 18, so he's got time.
CB - CHARLOTTE
It's usually a good idea to take a Generation adidas player if one's available. But also a good idea? Take the top CB in the draft if you've got that chance, since they usually work out. Montgomery is that, and while he probably won't be plug-and-play in the starting XI, he'll at least find his way onto the depth chart.
FORWARD - KENTUCKY (GA)
Dallas don't actually need another center forward – they're already three deep there, but Williams is too good an asset to pass up. I say "asset" because if they pick him here, it's a pick-to-flip proposition. Reports have FCD listening to offers for either of those picks, and happily grabbing a FB with the other.
FORWARD - DENVER
Shinyashiki looked the part of a top pick in his Combine cameo, which is another useful data point alongside his monster senior year. He's a pure center forward who can maybe play a little bit on the wing as well, and would get a chance to start right away in Bridgeveiw.
WINGER - MICHIGAN ST.
The biggest winner from the Combine thanks to his off-the-charts athletic testing and his ability to make that athleticism functional on the field. Jones might not actually last this long, but if he does TFC will glad add a bit of pace to an attack that could use exactly that.
LB - NORTH CAROLINA (GA)
Perhaps a bit of a reach as there are real questions about Nelson's ability to do the necessary defensive work to stick in MLS. But he can push up to help in possession, and really passes the ball quite well. The Loons want to be a possession team, and so Nelson fits that profile.
AM - VCU (GA)
He was expected to be in the mix for the No. 1 overall pick, but underwhelmed at the Combine and showed he's maybe less versatile than folks expected. But man can he find that final pass from central midfield... Haji makes a lot of sense as an understudy for Tomas Martinez, and because Houston's academy is barren they need to swing for the fences on a young talent.
FB - CREIGHTON
There's nothing about Ward's game that wows you, but he's a heady, two-footed player who should be able to fill in at either RB or LB. His ceiling isn't that high, but he looks the part of a guy who can be an MLS contributor for a long time.
RB - WAKE FOREST
Dallas probably want to come out of this draft with one of Nelson, Ward or Gdula. Of the three Gdula arguably has the highest upside, and he should do well as an understudy to Reggie Cannon – or perhaps a replacement should Cannon get sold on to a European team.
WINGER - INDIANA (GA)
Brad Friedel loves players who are fast and committed two-way players, and that description fits Dorsey to a tee. We've got him listed as a winger here, but my guess is that whoever takes him (and he could go as high as No. 8) immediately starts transitioning him to right back.
FORWARD - FIU
Big, productive and consistent, Patino is a true center forward who delivered both in college and in USL League Two play with the Sounders U-23s. He's potentially a perfectly useful depth piece for LA, and should be able to fill in behind either Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Ola Kamara.
Dayne St. Clair
GK - MARYLAND (GA)
So I originally had Philly taking St. Clair here, but given Wednesday night's big trade – in which the Union sold all their picks to Cincy in exchange for up to $200k GAM – it's time for a little update. And guess what? Cincy are even less likely to pass on St. Clair at this spot than the Union would've been! If he's still here at 13, this is an easy call.
LB - MARYLAND
It's not about upside with this pick, it's about depth. Gasper should be extremely familiar to the D.C. braintrust, and he should be able to slot in comfortably behind Joseph Mora at LB.
DM - UCLA
See the ball, win the ball, shuttle it to the playmakers. Asiedu is a bulldog of a No. 6 who does exactly that, and was arguably the most influential player on the field at the Combine. He's reminiscent of Micheal Azira in a lot of ways, and would help the Rapids.
FORWARD - MICHIGAN ST.
The Nos. 1 & 2 spots on the depth chart at center forward are already spoken for in Fanendo Adi and Darren Mattocks, but we know that Adi is injury prone and Mattocks misses significant time every year on international duty. Sierakowski is a good bit of insurance.
DM - WAKE FOREST
Whoever gets picked here will have their work cut out for them in terms of making the roster – RSL have already signed a slew of just-out-of-college Homegrowns for spots up and down the field. Dunwell fits with their identity, though, and should blend well with Real Monarchs.
CM - SEATTLE
Columbus are actually light on central midfielders, which makes this somewhat of a position of need (along with depth at fullback). If Rivas develops into a ball-winner, he could end up being a steal at this spot in the draft.
MF - PACIFIC
I can imagine Riley working into the depth chart somewhere in the midfield, though his long-term future might be better as a ball-playing CB. It would require a multi-year, Aaron Long-style transition, but his ceiling there is high and he's potentially worth the wait.
CB - UC DAVIS
The two-time Big West Conference Defensive Player of the Year is a throwback central defender. There's nothing fancy to his game, he just goes out there and quietly does his job week after week. It wouldn't be shocking if he went as high as No. 11.
DM - NOTRE DAME
McCabe was quiet but effective at the Combine, shielding the backline well and winning his fair share of duels in central midfield. He still needs to improve his vision, but should work well as an understudy for Ilie Sanchez in KC.
CB - UCONN
RBNY lost all their depth at center back this offseason, so it's simply a matter of identifying whoever they think the best CB in the draft is at this spot and picking him. Hauser-Ramsey is probably it – though the fact that Seattle passed on signing him as a Homegrown should raise an eyebrow or two.
RB - AKRON
Portland are suddenly a little bit thin at RB after having shipped Alvas Powell to FC Cincinnati last month. Mohamed, like so many others, would start his career in the USL and have to work his way into an MLS role.
CB - SYRACUSE
Atlanta just don't have very many needs, but wow did Atlanta United 2 have a bunch of holes. Miller will get his chance at filling those while trying to play his way onto the depth chart at CB.