The SB Nation MLS mock draft is one of the highlights of the blogger calender for myself (Dave) as it gives me the chance to take on the role of Toronto FC's general manager/president/coach or whom ever it is that actually does the drafting around here. This year it was even more exciting considering the fact that with Toronto holding the first and third selections in 2013 we have a real chance to shape the entire draft and land two top prospects.
There were certainly some interesting developments on the draft board this year including a pair of players who probably slipped lower than most would have expected, a lack of love for a Canadian that most think will go in the first round, and another canuck going in the top five. There was certainly no lack of talking points in this year's mock draft.
For Toronto FC the two selections that I made were Andrew Farrell with the 1st pick and Eriq Zavaleta with the 3rd. In my eyes they are both players who are ready to contribute in 2013 and can continue to contribute for a long time to come. They also represent two of the most talented players in the draft class who both are good in a variety of different positions.
1st overall - Andrew Farrell: The University of Louisville defender had some shaky moments at the combine but it certainly will not be enough to scare teams off from taking him very early in this draft. Toronto may now have a fairly large number of central defenders on the roster but that is no reason to pass up on the top player in the draft. Farrell, a powerful player, is capable of playing in at least three different positions and could even contribute as a holding midfielder (and not in the Aaron Maund model either) if that was where he was needed.
His biggest assets are fairly plain to see for anyone that has ever seen him in action. He has the power to win the battles against any forward that he might come across and he compliments that physical game with strong pace, good leaping abilities, and solid technical abilities. If he were to be used as a defender by TFC he would certainly be a more athletic option than either Danny Califf or Darren O'Dea.
The question with drafting Farrell first overall is whether you think he is actually the best defender in this draft class. Based on current ability he almost certainly is but Walker Zimmerman is not far behind him and both could well turn into very solid pro's as they have the leadership and intelligence that should help them succeed. Neither would be a bad option but Farrell is much more ready to contribute right now and TFC needs all the help they can get for 2013.
Plus, Farrell seems like just the kind of player that QPR's Ryan Neslen would love to work with.
3rd overall - Eriq Zavaleta: He is a forward, forget what people are suggesting him playing as a defender because that would be a waste of a very special talent. Getting him at third overall could be a huge boost to a TFC attack that is in need of a player like him. Zavaleta is capable of leading the line and being a goal scorer just like he is capable of being a decent central defender but neither is his best position.
The best place for Eriq is actually working as a true number nine. he showed it early on in the combine when he was coming a bit deeper to work interchanges with the midfielders and it was his solid work that made Carlos Alvarez look like a standout on the first day. Put him there and he is willing to take a beating to hold the ball up and wait for a midfielder to run off of him or a forward to find some space and then he is more than capable of picking them out with a solid pass.
He needed to play forward at Indiana because they needed his goal scoring abilities and it paid off with a National Championship but at TFC he would not have to do as much of the scoring. He could turn into the setup man for the big forwards that the clubs has that are all good at finding open spaces in the final third. With Eric Hassli, Justin Braun, and eventually Danny Koevermans making runs off of him it could turn into a very dangerous attack. Having him at the 9 spot would also allow Luis Silva more freedom to move around in the middle of the park and join the attack when needed.
Zavaleta has been groomed to be a professional player through stops at various MLS academies and then at Indiana. He has the build, the skills, and the confidence to be a big game player very early in his career and that is just what Toronto is in need of. He would make the attack better in 2013 and for a long time to come.
The full mock draft ended up going as follows: (click here for the full version, where everyone explains their picks)
1st: Toronto FC - Andrew Farrell
2nd: Chivas USA - Carlos Alvarez
3rd: Toronto FC - Eriq Zavaleta
4th: New England Revolution - Jason Johnson
5th: Vancouver Whitecaps - Kyle Bekker
6th: Colorado Rapids - DeShorn Brown
7th: FC Dallas - John Stertzer
8th: Montreal Impact - Ryan Finley
9th: Columbus Crew - Mikey Lopez
10th: Vancouver Whitecaps - Jonathan Mendoza
11th: Chicago Fire - Walker Zimmerman
12th: Real Salt Lake - Kekuta Manneh
13th: Houston Dynamo - Dylan Tucker-Gangnes
14th: Sporting KC - Dillon Powers
15th: San Jose Earthquakes - Eric Schoenle
16th: Seattle Sounders - Eric Hurtado
17th: DC United - Jose Gomez
18th: Montreal Impact - Tommy Muller
19th: LA Galaxy - Donnie Smith
20th: FC Dallas - Blake Smith
21st: New England Revolution - Jimmy Nealis
22nd: New York Red Bulls- Marc Cintron
23rd: New England Revolution - Ashton Bennet
24th: LA Galaxy - Kory Kindle
25th: Colorado Rapids - Ian Christianson
26th: Philadelphia Union - Dylan Remick
27th: Montreal Impact - Taylor Kemp
28th: Columbus Crew - Joe Franco
29th: Philadelphia Union - John Gallagher
30th: Colorado Rapids - Jose Diaz
31st: Real Salt Lake - Nicolas Clavijo
32nd: Montreal Impact - Greg Cochrane
33rd: San Jose Earthquakes - Devon Sandoval
34th: San Jose Earthquakes - Dan Delgado
35th: Seattle Sounders - Machael David
36th: New England Revolution - Chris Thomas
37th: Houston Dynamo - Emery Welshman
38th:LA Galaxy - Michael Bustamante
Certainly a few surprises in there but then again not every one of the SB Nation blogs did their pre-draft homework quite as thoroughly as we have at Waking the Red. Still, I am stunned to see Walker Zimmerman falling out of the top 10 and Mikey Lopez lasting until 9th overall. Both of those are actually even less surprising than where Emery Welshman ended up going. Montreal and Vancouver had plenty of opportunity to take him, the Impact in particular, with picks 18, 27 and 32 and I am sure one of them would have done well with adding the Canadian who has shown at the combine that he is certainly capable of being one of the top forwards in this draft.
So what do you think of the selections that I made for Toronto and what surprised you in the rest of our mock draft? Think we are anywhere near being right on the order?