The 2020 MLS Draft doesn’t boast a wealth of players who should be considered opening day starter types, but it could very well be a draft that sees some teams clean up on inexpensive talent in a year when more and more teams are reducing their focus on the draft.
The MLS Draft is known for traditionally producing solid defensive options, and this year’s draft pool is no different. Right back is particularly stocked with players who could play their way into roster spots, though there are also a good number of intriguing central defenders.
Positionally, the draft will continue to be a mechanism where teams look to load up on defenders, goalkeepers and wingers (though increasingly we will see MLS teams looking to convert elite college wingers into fullbacks). Central midfielders will continue to struggle to generate interest as teams increasingly focus on foreign signings and homegrown players to fill attacking midfielder and defensive midfielder roles.
The big thing to watch at the draft will be at which point in the draft teams decide to take chances on international players. The increased value of international roster spots — made more precious by the increased amount of resources teams have to sign better foreign players — has made international draft prospects less and less appealing.
Players such as Aaron Molloy, Manuel Ferriol, Noah Billingsley and Patrick Nielson would be candidates for the top half of the first round if they weren’t international players, but the ability to draft a foreign player and stash them on a USL roster will lead some teams to grab those talents at some point in the first round.
Knowing teams will largely avoid foreign players in the top half of the first round, the SBI MLS Draft Big Board doesn’t have any international players in the Top 20. The reality is none of the international players available are the type of prospect that teams would go after early, like 2019 MLS Rookie of the Year Andre Shinyashiki, who was drafted fifth in last year’s draft. It should be noted that Shinyashiki was the only non-domestic draft pick to be carried on an MLS roster for the full 2019 season.
The Generation Adidas class will lead the way, with all five signings (once Daryl Dike’s signing is formally announced) expected to be taken in the top 10 of Thursday’s draft. Robbie Robinson and Jack Maher are the top contender to be chosen with the first pick by Inter Miami, while Daryl Dike and Dylan Nealis are two players who could be targets of teams looking to trade up.
The GA class is now at five, but not every player targeted by the league was signed. Sources have confirmed to SBI that Virginia midfielder Joe Bell has passed on a Generation adidas offer to sign with an unidentified European club. Sources tell SBI that Akron forward David Egbo is still a candidate to be added to the Generation Adidas class between now and Thursday’s draft. If Egbo is signed he would be a candidate for a Top 10 pick.
We published our first SBI MLS Mock Draft on Monday, with a final Mock Draft set to run on Wednesday. The Big Board is more a measure of how players are being ranked, with a consensus established by surveying team officials and scouts, as well as college coaches.
Every player on the SBI MLS Draft Big Board is eligible for the MLS Draft according to the information SBI has received, including New Hampshire junior Josh Bauer (a redshirt junior) and Loyola forward Brian Saramago (a New York Red Bulls academy product who has not been signed to a homegrown player deal). The final official list of draft-eligible players is set to be released on Tuesday, which should help provide more clarity when the final Big Board is published on Wednesday.
With all that in mind, here is the first SBI’s 2020 MLS Draft Big Board (We will post a more detailed final MLS Draft Big Board on Wednesday):
($=Generation adidas Player, @ International Non-Domestic Player)