Widely pegged as a candidate for the top selection, Mullins watched as Andre Blake earned that distinction. Then the No. 2 pick went by. And the third and fourth and fifth. As the top 10 names were called, it became more and more stunning that the Maryland product remained available.
Then, with the Colorado Rapids on the clock at No. 11, there was a flurry of activity on the draft room floor. New England Revolution coach Jay Heaps made the rounds before striding toward the stage, and it became apparent his side had traded for the selection.
Mullins was headed to the Revolution. So was he surprised by the turn of events?
"Surprised? No, this is draft day," Mullins exclaimed with a laugh. "Anything can happen."
For Mullins, it was worth the wait. With a contract signed before the draft, the New Orleans native didn't have to worry about his paycheck growing smaller with each spot he dropped. In the Revolution, Mullins joins a playoff team sparked by a pair of talented, young playmakers in Kelyn Rowe and Diego Fagundez.
"I wanted to go to the best fit," Mullins said. "Honestly, I'm excited. I think New England is the best fit for me. It's a great place to go as a forward, and they've got creative players to set you up [with] the ball."
Another skilled player in that midfield will be Steve Neumann, the No. 4 selection out of Georgetown. After Neumann famously scored a hat trick to bounce Mullins' Terrapins from the 2012 College Cup semifinals, the D.C. college scene standouts roomed together and were teammates during the MLS combine this past weekend.
"We were talking afterwards about how fun it was playing with each other and kind of wish we played on the same team during our college years," Neumann said. "I guess we get that opportunity in the pros now, which is even better. I think we're both level-headed and very mature and professional acting, and I think we're definitely going to play well together and form a friendship."
Although New England had to part with two first-round picks (Nos. 12 and 19) to merely move up one place for Mullins, Heaps had no qualms about the price paid.
"We showed today that we're aggressive," Heaps said. "It's not always laid out there in front for you, so sometimes you have to be aggressive."
While it would be asking a lot of Mullins to say he will replace Europe-bound striker Juan Agudelo, the player could be key to helping fill that void as he competes for minutes with Jerry Bengtson, Dimitry Imbongo and Charlie Davies.
In Heaps' 4-1-4-1 formation, Agudelo played as a mobile lone striker, often swapping positions with New England's wingers. As a player who split his college career between roles on the left flank and up top, Mullins offers similar versatility — making him an enticing fit.
Plus, New England has a decent track record when it comes to tabbing prolific Maryland strikers, seeing as the Revs selected eventual MLS MVP Taylor Twellman with the second pick 12 years ago.
"I'm a different player," Mullins said, "but I hope to have similar success there."