Many factors contribute to a player's final position on the draft board. Current performance merits significant weight in the overall decision, but other traits such as character, fit, position and potential also warrant some consideration in the overall calculus.
Eighteen teams will spend the next 36 hours or so trying to construct their draft boards in preparation for Thursday's draft. Each of those boards will look slightly – and, in some cases, significantly – different based on a team's particular approach to scouting and talent evaluation.
This projected draft board does not serve as a mock draft, nor does it necessarily try to encompass the inevitable variations imposed by familiarity and geography. Instead, it merely tries to use the instant base of knowledge – college and Combine performance – to evaluate the talent pool present in the SuperDraft.
For consistency purposes, players excluded from the Combine process are generally omitted from consideration here. MLS coaches will not exhibit the same reticence when it comes to picking from off the board and off the radar, but those picks do not feature here.
On a broad-based level, it's fair to say the talent level drops off significantly after the top two selections. Teams will have to weigh their own preferences carefully as the first round progresses because the difference between one selection or another is fairly thin. This draft isn't a particularly deep or rich one, but there are players available throughout the draft who can slide into particular systems and take the field with some proficiency.
This board offers a quick evaluation of each of the first-round players and a straight list of second-round choices.
* - Generation adidas
^ - Senior signed to MLS contract
Italics - Foreign player
1. Perry Kitchen, Akron midfielder*
- This cookie-cutter pro has the ability and the temperament to succeed in MLS for a long, long time.
2. Darlington Nagbe, Akron forward*
- Push the peculiar Vancouver imbroglio to one side because Nagbe is the most dynamic attacking option available in the draft.
3. Kofi Sarkodie, Akron defender*
- The drop off is steep from two to three, but this adventuresome right back is the best choice as the plateau filled with similarly talented options commences.
4. Jalil Anibaba, North Carolina defender^
- The best player in the MLS Player Combine watched his stock rise considerably in Fort Lauderdale due to his careful defensive approach and his tidy distribution.
5. Omar Salgado, U.S. U-20 forward*
- Potential is the buzzword here, as the young striker will need considerable time to develop. When he does, he could excel at the professional level.
6. Zarek Valentin, Akron defender*
- A solid defensive option at right back for those teams willing to sacrifice a bit of endeavor going forward.
7. Corey Hertzog, Penn State forward*
- The prolific Nittany Lion is a natural poacher, but he'll have to continue to hone his technique to thrive at the next level.
8. Michael Farfan, North Carolina midfielder^
- A poor Combine may see his stock drop much farther than this location, but the silky midfielder possesses a skill set designed to translate to the next level.
9. Will Bruin, Indiana forward*
- There should be questions about his ceiling and his movement, but Bruin offers the best target option available in this draft and should stick in MLS for several years.
10. Michael Nanchoff, Akron midfielder*
- Although he did not play in the Combine, the midfielder's body of work with the Zips reveals a player with a deft touch and an eye for the right pass.
11. Zac MacMath, Maryland goalkeeper*
- Sterling goalkeeping prospects have a tendency to slip down draft boards, but MacMath should provide a good backup option immediately to any team willing to take the plunge.
12. Michael Tetteh, UC Santa Barbara defender*
- The blinding pace and the considerable potential make the former Gauchos defender an enticing option for a club willing to wait for him to round out his game.
13. A.J. Soares, California defender^
- It wasn't the best of Combines for Soares, but his overall resume has kept him in good stead with MLS coaches.
14. Stephen McCarthy, North Carolina midfielder^
- Size and versatility make the former Tar Heel an attractive option toward the end of the first round.
15. Bobby Warshaw, Stanford defender
- Positive work at the Combine underscored the versatile defender's ability with the ball at his feet.
16. Anthony Ampaipitakwong, Akron midfielder
- Some club will take a reasonable gamble on the key to the Zips' attack. Given his technical ability, it might be one worth taking despite his apparent lack of a natural position at the MLS level.
17. Victor Estupinan, LDU Quito forward
- The quick forward may deserve a higher spot on this board, but his body of work at the Combine only showed flashes of his potential. Some coach will gamble on him, though it remains to be seen whether he can deliver the required consistency.
18. John Rooney, midfielder
- While the highly publicized midfielder may slip into the second round, his earnest and influential efforts at the Combine mean this position is not one afforded to him by his surname.
19. Cole Grossman, Duke midfielder
20. Paolo Cardozo, Quilmes midfielder
21. Justin Meram, Michigan forward
22. Levi Houapeu, UMBC midfielder
23. Joao Plata, LDU Quito forward
24. Michael Boxall, UC Santa Barbara defender
25. Jason Herrick, Maryland forward
26. C.J. Sapong, James Madison forward
27. Eddie Ababio, North Carolina defender
28. Ryan Kinne, Monmouth forward
29. J.C. Banks, UW-Green Bay forward
30. Greg King, UConn defender
31. Hector Jimenez, California midfielder
32. Daniel Keat, Dartmouth midfielder
33. Dustin McCarty, North Carolina midfielder
34. Curtis Ushedo, UAB defender
35. Chris Korb, Akron defender
36. Jeb Brovsky, Notre Dame defender
Kyle McCarthy writes the Monday MLS Breakdown and frequently writes opinion pieces during the week for Goal.com. He also covers the New England Revolution for the Boston Herald and MLSsoccer.com. Contact him with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org follow him on Twitter by clicking here.
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