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A different kind of MLS SuperDraft grades

It’s become a tradition now: Immediately after a draft, there is a preponderance of “draft grades” columns as pundits rush to judgment in an endlessly futile attempt to rank each team’s draft haul.

The caveat, of course, is that it’s quite the imperfect science to assign instant grades to any draft, as none of the players have actually played a game as a professional. The only legitimate way to judge a draft is to assign grades at least two or three years after the fact.

But this is America and we want instant gratification! And, so, I’ve devised a way to actually get it: Rather than grade the drafts, I’m going to grade the mock drafts. Why wait two or three years to judge the players when we can judge pundits the very next day?

First, let’s take a look at how the first round of the MLS SuperDraft actually played out:  

1. Vancouver: USA U-20 national team F Omar Salgado

2. Portland: Akron F Darlington Nagbe

3. D.C. United: Akron MF-D Perry Kitchen 

4. Chivas USA: Akron D Zarek Valentin

5. Philadelphia: Maryland GK Zac MacMath

6. New England: California D A.J. Soares

7. Houston: Akron D Kofi Sarkodie

8. Vancouver (from Toronto): Akron MF Michael Nanchoff

9. Chicago: North Carolina D Jalil Anibaba

10. Kansas City: James Madison F C.J. Sapong

11. Houston (from Portland): Indiana F Will Bruin

12. Columbus: Indiana D Rich Balchan

13. New York: Penn State F Corey Hertzog

14. Chivas USA (from RSL): Ecuador F Victor Estupiñan

15. Columbus (from San Jose): Michigan F Justin Meram

16. Los Angeles: Uruguay MF Paolo Cardozo

17. Dallas: Stanford D Bobby Warshaw

18. Colorado: North Carolina D Eddie Ababio

Now, let’s look at some experts’ predictions for the first round. Bull’s eyes (correct player in correct slot) are in bold. If a player was not drafted in the first round, their actual draft position is in parenthesis.  

On to the grades...

A

Ahem.....nobody.

B-

Scott French, ESPN.com

1. Vancouver Whitecaps: Darlington Nagbe

2. Portland Timbers: Perry Kitchen

3. D.C. United: Will Bruin

4. Chivas USA: Jalil Anibaba

5. Philadelphia Union: Kofi Sarkodie

6. New England Revolution: Victor Estupiñan

7. Houston Dynamo: Zarek Valentin

8. Vancouver Whitecaps: Omar Salgado

9. Chicago Fire: A.J. Soares

10. Sporting Kansas City: Michael Nanchoff

11. Seattle Sounders: Zac MacMath

12. Columbus Crew: Corey Hertzog

13. New York Red Bulls: Michael Tetteh (2nd round, 20th overall)

14. Real Salt Lake: Justin Meram

15. San Jose Earthquakes: Bobby Warshaw

16. L.A. Galaxy: Cole Grossman (2nd round, 28th overall)

17. FC Dallas: Stephen McCarthy (2nd round, 24th overall)

18. Colorado Rapids: John Rooney (2nd round, 25th overall)

Percentage of first rounders correct: 14/18 - 78%

Bull’s eyes: Zero

Good call: Highest percentage correct with 14 out of 18. Of the four players incorrectly in the first round, all were snapped up pretty quickly in the second round. 

Bad call: No bull’s eyes. Otherwise, pretty solid showing from French.

Steve Davis, Si.com

1. Vancouver Whitecaps: Darlington Nagbe

2. Portland Timbers: Perry Kitchen

3. D.C. United: Will Bruin

4. Chivas USA: Kofi Sarkodie

5. Philadelphia Union: Zarek Valentin

6. New England Revolution: A.J. Soares

7. Houston Dynamo: Omar Salgado

8. Vancouver Whitecaps: Michael Farfan (2nd round, 23rd overall)

9. Chicago Fire: Jalil Anibaba

10. Sporting Kansas City: Joao Plata (3rd round, 49th overall)

11. Seattle Sounders: Zac MacMath

12. Columbus Crew: Michael Tetteh (2nd round, 20th overall)

13. New York Red Bulls: Corey Hertzog

14. Real Salt Lake: Michael Nanchoff

15. San Jose Earthquakes: Anthony Ampaipitakwong (2nd round, 33rd overall)

16. L.A. Galaxy: Stephen McCarthy (2nd round, 24th overall)

17. FC Dallas: Justin Meram

18. Colorado Rapids: Jason Herrick (3rd round, 45th overall)

Percentage of first rounders correct: 12/18 - 67%

Bull’s eyes: 3

Good call: Nailed Soares, Anibaba and Hertzog. Tied for most bull’s eyes with three.

Bad call: Plata as a top ten pick.


C+

Ives Galarcep, Foxsports.com

1. Vancouver Whitecaps: Perry Kitchen

2. Portland Timbers: Darlington Nagbe

3. D.C. United: Will Bruin

4. Chivas USA: Zarek Valentin

5. Philadelphia Union: Kofi Sarkodie

6.  New England Revolution: Jalil Anibaba

7. Houston Dynamo: Cole Grossman (2nd round, 28th overall)

8. Vancouver Whitecaps: Corey Hertzog 

9.  Chicago Fire: A.J. Soares

10. Sporting Kansas City: Omar Salgado

11. Seattle Sounders: Anthony Ampaipitakwong (2nd round, 33rd overall)

12. Columbus Crew: Michael Nanchoff

13. New York Red Bulls: Michael Tetteh (2nd round, 20th overall)

14. Real Salt Lake: Justin Meram

15. San Jose Earthquakes: Zac MacMath

16. L.A. Galaxy: Victor Estupiñan

17. FC Dallas: Stephen McCarthy (2nd round, 24th overall)

18. Colorado Rapids: Michael Farfan (2nd round, 23rd overall)

Percentage of first rounders correct: 13/18 - 72%

Bull’s eyes: 2

Good call: Pegged Nagbe and Valentin correctly. No big whiffs, as all five players he incorrectly placed in the first round were drafted in the second round. 

Bad call: Grossman at seventh overall was way too high, as he slipped into the middle of the second round.

Travis Clark, MLSsoccer.com

1. Vancouver Whitecaps: Perry Kitchen

2. Portland Timbers: Darlington Nagbe

3. D.C. United: Will Bruin

4. Chivas USA: Kofi Sarkodie

5. Philadelphia Union: Corey Hertzog

6.  New England Revolution: Jalil Anibaba

7. Houston Dynamo: Omar Salgado

8. Vancouver Whitecaps: Zarek Valentin

9.  Chicago Fire: A.J. Soares

10. Sporting Kansas City: Michael Tetteh (2nd round, 20th overall)

11. Seattle Sounders: Anthony Ampaipitakwong (2nd round, 33rd overall)

12. Columbus Crew: Michael Nanchoff

13. New York Red Bulls: Michael Farfan (2nd round, 23rd overall)

14. Real Salt Lake: Victor Estupiñan

15. San Jose Earthquakes: Justin Meram

16. L.A. Galaxy: C.J. Sapong

17. FC Dallas: Stephen McCarthy (2nd round, 24th overall)

18. Colorado Rapids: Michael Boxall (Undrafted)

Percentage of first rounders correct: 13/18 - 72%

Bull’s eyes: 3

Good call: Though they weren’t drafted by the teams originally at 14 and 15, hit Estupiñan and Meram’s draft position perfectly. Tied for most bull’s eyes.

Bad call: Tetteh in the top ten picks, undrafted Boxall as a first rounder.

C-

Ridge Mahoney, Soccer America

1. Vancouver: Darlington Nagbe

2. Portland: Perry Kitchen

3. D.C. United: Victor Estupiñan

4. Chivas USA: Jalil Anibaba

5. Philadelphia: A.J. Soares

6. New England: Will Bruin

7. Houston: Zarek Valentin

8. Vancouver: Michael Tetteh (2nd round, 20th overall)

9. Chicago. Omar Salgado

10. Sporting Kansas City: Kofi Sarkodie

11. Seattle: John Rooney (2nd round, 25th overall)

12. Columbus: Joao Plata (3rd round, 49th overall)

13.  New York: Justin Meram

14. Real Salt Lake: Corey Hertzog

15. San Jose: Greg King (Undrafted)

16.  Los Angeles: Michael Boxall (Undrafted)

17. FC Dallas: CJ Sapong

18. Colorado: Steven Perry (3rd round, 39th overall)

Percentage of first rounders correct: 12/18 - 67%

Bull’s eyes: Zero.

Good call: Had Meram and Hertzog pegged pretty well at 13 and 14 respectively. (Hertzog went 13 and Meram went 15). Predicted Sapong as a first rounder when many others did not.

Bad call: Had Estupiñan far too high, had two undrafted players and another nearly undrafted one (Plata) in his first round. 

D

Simon Borg, MLSsoccer.com

1. Vancouver Whitecaps: Perry Kitchen

2. Portland Timbers: Darlington Nagbe

3. D.C. United: Will Bruin

4. Chivas USA: Kofi Sarkodie

5. Philadelphia Union: Jalil Anibaba

6.  New England Revolution: Victor Estupiñan

7. Houston Dynamo: Joao Plata (3rd round, 49th overall)

8. Vancouver Whitecaps: Curtis Ushedo (Undrafted)

9.  Chicago Fire: Michael Tetteh (2nd round, 20th overall)

10. Sporting Kansas City: Eddie Ababio

11. Seattle Sounders: Levi Houapeu (3rd round, 41st overall)

12. Columbus Crew: Zarek Valentin

13. New York Red Bulls: A.J. Soares

14. Real Salt Lake: Paolo Cardozo

15. San Jose Earthquakes: Michael Nanchoff

16. L.A. Galaxy: Bobby Warshaw

17. FC Dallas: Stephen McCarthy (2nd round, 24th overall)

18. Colorado Rapids: Greg King (Undrafted)

Percentage of first rounders correct: 12/18 - 67%

Bull’s eyes: 1

Good call: The only person to have Ababio as a first rounder. Nagbe correctly going to Portland at number two. 

Bad call: Plata 42 spots too high, Houapeu 30 spots too high, two undrafted players in the first round (Ushedo and King), while the number one overall pick is nowhere to be found.

D- 

Jason Saghini, MLSsoccer.com

1. Vancouver Whitecaps: Darlington Nagbe

2. Portland Timbers: Perry Kitchen

3. D.C. United: Will Bruin

4. Chivas USA: Kofi Sarkodie

5. Philadelphia Union: Jalil Anibaba

6. New England Revolution: A.J. Soares

7. Houston Dynamo: Joao Plata (3rd round, 49th overall)

8. Vancouver Whitecaps: Bobby Warshaw

9.  Chicago Fire: Victor Estupiñan

10. Sporting Kansas City: Daniel Keat (Undrafted)

11. Seattle Sounders: Paolo Cardozo

12. Columbus Crew: Cole Grossman (2nd round, 28th overall)

13. New York Red Bulls: Michael Boxall (Undrafted)

14. Real Salt Lake: Michael Tetteh (2nd round, 20th overall)

15. San Jose Earthquakes: Michael Farfan (2nd round, 23rd overall)

16. L.A. Galaxy: Corey Hertzog

17. FC Dallas: Stephen McCarthy (2nd round, 24th overall)

18. Colorado Rapids: C.J. Sapong

Percentage of first rounders correct: 11/18 - 61%

Bull’s eyes: 1

Good call: Hit on Soares to Revolution at sixth overall, slotted Sapong correctly into first round.

Bad call: Missing the first, fourth and eighth overall picks entirely (Salgado, Valentin, Nanchoff), undrafted Keat in top 10, and like many, overestimated Plata’s draft position by miles.



Some leftover thoughts:

It’s pretty amazing nobody had the number one overall pick in their top six. Either the clubs did a great job holding their cards close, or everybody missed out on a major scoop. Probably a little of both.

The only first round pick that none of the seven had in their mocks was Rich Balchan.

Conversely, all seven incorrectly had Michael Tetteh in the first round.

Six out of the seven had Will Bruin going to D.C. at number three, but Bruin lasted until eleventh, where Houston traded up to get him.

Best individual prediction goes to Davis for nailing Soares to the Revolution and Anibaba to the Fire, or to Borg for being the only person to put Ababio in the first round. 

Worst individual prediction goes to Borg for the ultimately undrafted Curtis Ushedo at eighth overall to Vancouver. Runner up is Mahoney with Estupiñan at third overall.

The highest number of bull’s eyes was three out of 18, which speaks to the unpredictability of the MLS SuperDraft. Mel Kiper has been known to hit on 70-80% of first round NFL draft picks.

Then again, it might just be that MLS has no Mel Kiper - somebody who eats, sleeps and breathes draft for 12 months per year.

Let's have some additional thoughts in the comments section. 

Seth Vertelney is an associate editor of Goal.com. Follow him via TwitterFacebook or send him an Email

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