It was quite clear heading into draft day that Toronto FC were going to target some defensive depth and they did just that by trading up to grab Nick Hagglund. They made the move to grab the 10th overall pick from the Philadelphia Union moving up from 15th which allowed them to get the defender who they seemingly wanted.
The selection of Hagglund was a bit off the board though with a number of defenders still on the board who were higher rated heading into the draft. TFC must have seen something in the player to move up to grab the Xavier senior ahead of the likes of Kyle Venter or even Generation Adidas players like AJ Cochran.
Hagglund may not have been widely considered to be one of the top CBs in the draft but he was probably rated in the top 5 by most clubs. With TFC unlikely to be able to trade up to the top three to get Christian Dean or Steve Birnbaum they had to decide which of the remaining defenders they liked the most.
There is a case to be made for Hagglund being a good selection though as he has the kind of raw potential needed to be developed into a solid defender and he will have the chance to do just that working under Ryan Nelsen and Steven Caldwell. His 6 foot 1 inch, 187 pound frame is certainly attractive in a CB as he should be more than capable of handling the physical play that he will encounter at the next level.
Hagglund combines that big body with some decent athletic ability that allowed him to be a commanding presence in the college game. He has the pace to make sure that forwards are not able to blow pass him and he has the size and strength to win every ball that comes near him in the air.
The knock on Hagglund is that sometimes he can rely on his physical gifts more than on technique and playing smart. He was not afraid to step in on attackers knowing that he had the speed to catch up should he get beat. If he can develop a better sense of when to wait and when to step in on attackers it would be a big improvement to his game as his athleticism alone will not be enough in MLS.
Coming out of Xavier, Hagglund does not look like a player who is ready to start but he has everything you look for in a CB so given the right time to make the required adjustments to the MLS game he could prove to be a solid contributor.
Hagglund should have the luxury of working with solid defenders on a daily basis at Toronto FC and that should help his learning curve. He will also be familiar to Tim Bezbatchenko as he was considered for inclusion in the Generation Adidas class last season.
TFC gave up allocation money to move up in the draft to grab Hagglund at 10th overall.