Prospecting the Draft - Patrick Mullins

Patrick Mullins in action for Maryland - Maryland Athletic Media Relations

Maryland's junior forward Patrick Mullins has a proven ability to find the back of the net which will make him an attractive option to a number of MLS clubs should he sign a Generation Adidas deal and be available in the 2013 SuperDraft. Add in his ability to play out on the wings and he becomes even more attractive.

Patrick Mullins has already won just about every individual award that he could in his time with Maryland. He was named ACC Freshman of the Year in 2010, All-ACC second team as a sophomore in 2011, and ACC Offensive Player of the Year and Championship MVP as a junior in 2012. He has won a pair of ACC Conference Championships but the one thing that is missing from his resume is an NCAA title.

Mullins has the chance to win that this year though as he has helped to lead the Terrapins into the elite eight with wins over Brown (2-1) and Coastal Carolina (5-1). Mullins has scored in each of the games bringing his season total up to 15 goals in 22 games so far. He has also chipped in with 8 assists this year as he continues to show thekind of versatility to his game that should allow him to contribute in a number of different ways at the next level.

Now the Terps are the top seed remaining in the tournament with #1 Notre Dame being knocked out and they find themselves favourites for the National title. To make that happen they will have to get past #10 Louisville on Saturday, December 1st at 5 EST. That match will be an interesting one for people following top prospects as it will include not only Mullins but another GA candidate in Andrew Farrell who plays CB for the Cardinals. It will be a tricky test for a Terps team that is looking to claim their first national title since 2008 and Mullins will certainly be a key figure once again.

Mullins' 15 goals this season have been a big step up from the numbers that he put up as a Sophomore when he recorded 6 goals and 3 assists. Those numbers came in his first season playing at forward though as he had begun his time with Louisville playing in the midfielder and being used as more of a winger than an out and out attacker. He had scored 5 goals and recorded 4 assists from the midfield as a junior proving that he had what it took to take on a more attacking role.

The big jump in Mullins' scoring output is primarily due to the fact that he has become a much better finisher and is far more efficient with his chances. As a sophomore he took 61 shots but only got 25 on goal and only scored 6 goals from all those attempts. That is a fairly poor conversion rate for a forward and was something that he worked to improve upon going into his junior season. This season Mullins has been even more lively taking a total of 86 shots, getting 36 on goal and scoring 15 of those. His shot conversion rate when from just under 10% up to 17% from one season to the next which is indicative of much better finishing. The percentage of shots that he was getting on goal has seen very little change but he has done much better at finding the back of the net.

In just two seasons at forward Mullins has come into his own and shown the kind of ability in front of goal that could make him quite successful at the next level. His assist totals are also impressive as has proven that he still has the skills that made him a good winger and is able to set his teammates up quite frequently. Having been directly involved in 23 of Maryland's 57 goals this season and leading the squad in both goals and assists his value to the team really cannot be overstated.

Mullins has the sort of build that you would look for in a secondary attacker. He came into his junior season listed at 6 foot 1 and 172 pounds which does not make him large for a forward but with his ability to play out wide he should not be viewed as your typical target forward. He has the ability to play in the middle and lead the line if needed but he can also play out wide and serve as more of a provider. He has all the skills that you would want in a more versatile forward as he combines his ability to finish with excellent technical ability and decent pace. His slightly smaller size and good pace make it likely that he would be better suited to a slightly less central role at the next level and would be a good addition to an attack that already possesses a strong forward in the middle.

Being a prominent player at a program like Maryland is always going to attract the attention of pro scouts and that will certainly be the case for Mullins. He has now played three seasons under one of the very best coaches that college soccer has to offer in Sasho Cirovski. Cirovski, who grew up in Windsor after being born in Yugoslavia, has been at Maryland since 1993 leading them to a pair of national titles and developing them into one of the finest collegiate programs in the nation. Since 2004, his second year in charge, the Terps have only missed the NCAA tournament on one occasion and won 5 conference tournament championships. Along with establishing an impressive winning tradition he has also turned the program into one of the top producers of professional talent. There is a long list of top players who played at Maryland which includes Clarance Goodson, Robbie Rogers, Taylor Twellman, Danny Califf, Omar Gonzalez, Jeremy Hall, and Graham Zusi.

Maryland was also the collegiate home of the last player that Toronto FC selected first overall in an entry draft, Maurice Edu. Edu spent 3 years at Maryland under Cirovski winning a national championship in 2005. His best year personally would come in 2006 though when he was named a first team all-American. Toronto fans will have fond memories of their last draft pick out of Maryland and there is no reason that Mullins could not be just as successful as a pro.

It is quite likely that Mullins will end up signing a Generation Adidas contract and be selected in the first round of this year's SuperDraft but that will only happen if the Chicago Fire are unable to put a home grown player claim on him. Mullins spent a fair bit of time in the Fire's development system playing in the Chicago Fire Juniors satellite program in Louisiana. He was with that program from 2007-2009 winning three straight State Championships before he was brought into the Fire's Super-20 team for a handful of games. It seems unlikely that Mullins will meet the criteria set forth for signing a player to a home grown contract as he was not in the Fire's actual development program but rather was in a satellite program. The Fire will almost certainly make a push to try and sign him but if that fails he should be expected to go fairly early in the draft.

Mullins also has some experience with the US youth ranks. He has been part of U18 and U17 camps in the past but has not been called in for any camps since 2010 as he has been with Maryland. Mullins was granted early enrollment to Maryland and joined the team in the spring of 2010 allowing him to get a jump start on his education and training with the Terps but it may have also cost him the chance to be involved in more US camps as a teenager. It also goes to show that not only is Mullins a talented player but he is also intelligent enough to go to college early and that should help him make the transition to the professional ranks as a 20 year old.

Mullins may not have the presence in the box of Eriq Zavaleta or the massive goal scoring numbers of Chris Thomas but he is arguably the most complete forward that could be available in the 2013 draft class. Toronto, having just resigned Eric Hassli, is not really in need of a big target forward but they would be better off looking for someone who can play off of a Hassli or a Danny Koevermans. With Ryan Johnson possibly on his way out someone like Mullins would be a good option to bring in and do that job. He might be a bit of a reach at #1 overall but he will certainly be a good pickup for some MLS team in need of goal scoring help in 2013.

Top Drawer Soccer had Mullins going 8th overall in their first mock draft which is probably about right based on what I have seen of him but if he keeps on scoring and leads Maryland to a national title their is no reason that he could not see his stock rise into the top 5.

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