Photo by ISIPhotos.com
With the 2012 MLS Draft now less than a month away, I have unveiled my first Fox Soccer 2012 MLS Mock Draft in an attempt to give people a sense of how things just might shake out when teams start making their selections in Kansas City four weeks from now.
My first Fox Soccer MLS Mock Draft didn’t have many surprises, though I did leave in all the top draft prospects, including players who could very well still bolt to Europe. Players like Darren Mattocks, the best bet to pass on MLS and head overseas, as well as Kelyn Rowe, who is in position to make a move to Europe as well. As players sign with MLS, or pass on MLS, the draft board and subsequent mock drafts will be adjusted accordingly.
The first mock draft should look different from what the final mock will ultimately look like in the day or two before the January 12th MLS Draft, but what the initial mock draft should do is provide you with a sense of just where players are being valued by MLS scouts at the moment. Those valuations will change and adjust as we draw closer to the draft, particularly after teams get a closer look at the draft’s best prospects in next month’s MLS Combine. The Combine isn’t the only tool teams use to rank players, but a great combine showing, or a shaky one, can definitely impact draft value.
Here are some more thoughts on the Mock Draft, the potential draft pool, as well as a look at the Generation adidas class as it projects at the moment:
What you will notice about the mock draft is the abundance of attacking midfielders in the first round. This is unique for an MLS draft because the reality is MLS teams haven’t really tapped the college player pool for playmakers with any real frequency. This year’s draft pool is different though, with Kelyn Rowe, Enzo Martinez, Nick DeLeon and Luis Silva all being top quality midfield prospects. The fact that more teams are focused on playing possession soccer should bode well for this group as well.
DeLeon and Silva are among the top seniors MLS is already working hard to sign to pre-draft guaranteed deals. That select group also includes UNC centerback Matt Hedges (pictured above), UConn winger Tony Cascio and Louisville striker Colin Rolfe. The group of senior MLS targets hasn’t changed much, and at the moment, I haven’t been notified if any official signings as of yet, though it appears the senior group has less of the “European clubs are sniffing around” element going on as the Generation adidas standouts.
So what’s the next strongest position in the 2012 draft after attacking midfielder? While it could wind up being forward if Mattocks, Billy Schuler, Chandler Hoffman and either Dom Dwyer, David Opoku or Sam Garza wind up signing, a good position to find value at in this draft is right back, where there are several intriguing prospects. Mykell Bates, Aubrey Perry and R.J. Allen are all highly regarded, and a right back I think has great potential, West Virginia’s Raymon Gaddis, didn’t even make the MLS Combine roster.
The Generation adidas class is far from a finished product, and with top targets like Mattocks and Rowe potentially heading to Europe, we could see a serious shake-up. For one thing, if a player like Mattocks leaves, it could actually free up the money for two players to be added to the class. There is also the almost annual occurrence of late inclusions. We are always good for at least one last-minute addition, like Michael Tetteh last year, so you always have to be ready for a surprise.
As things stand now, here is how the Generation adidas targets stack up based on my conversations with people with knowledge of the selection process (UPDATED-includes which players have been offered GA contracts already, including Sam Garza, the first to accept a GA offer):
- Andrew Wenger…………..Offered
- Darren Mattocks………….Offered
- Kelyn Rowe……………….Offered
- Billy Schuler………………Offered
- Enzo Martinez…………….Offered
- Chandler Hoffman………..Offered
- Sam Garza………………..ACCEPTED
- Dom Dwyer……………….Not Offered
- Brian Span………………..Not Offered
- Dillon Powers…………….Not Offered
- Andrew Jean-Baptiste……Not Offered
- David Opoku……………..Not Offered
You may notice this list already varies from my mock draft’s projected GA class, with Jean-Baptiste dropping. The word I’m getting is that Jean-Baptiste and Opoku have seen their stock drop a bit. If you consider that the GA class should be 6-8 players, both could miss out. That would be a shame, particularly in the case of Opoku, a raw forward who for my money has more upside than most of the other players in the GA prospect pool. I am not nearly as sold on Jean-Baptiste, who for me is still too much of a liability with the ball at his feet. That isn’t stopping prospect from falling in love with his size and athleticism.
Of the very top prospects, it’s safe to say that Wenger will sign with MLS. He hasn’t officially yet, but I would consider it a miracle if he didn’t wind up signing as the top Generation adidas target. The rest of the top prospects aren’t as sure bets. Mattocks, Rowe and Schuler all have European clubs expressing interest, and other prospects such as Opoku and Garza could find opportunities abroad as well, with Mexican clubs already expressing interest in Garza.
There are other GA candidate players who have been mentioned in the past, such as West Virginia’s Eric Schoenle, SMU’s Robbie Derschang, Creighton’s Tyler Polak and Maryland’s Taylor Kemp, but as things stand right now, it would be a serious long shot if any of those players made the final GA cut. That isn’t stopping players from preparing to leave school though. Sources tell me Polak, one of the best left back prospects in the nation, is preparing to leave Creighton. If that is true, just what his next move will be remains a mystery. We could see a situation where a player like Polak winds up signing with MLS after the draft and being allocated via a draft (like David Bingham and Soony Saad). This doesn’t mean that will happen specificially with Polak (who could also transfer schools), but if MLS changes its tune on a player, or finds serious interest post-draft in a prospect, we could see another lottery.
What do you think of the latest MLS draft developments? Which players are you hoping your team can land in the draft? Which prospects are sparking the most interest in your mind?
Share your thoughts below.