WIth the upcoming MLS Superdraft on January 13th, it's time to start looking at a couple of the possible prospects that the Colorado Rapids might select with their 18th overall pick in the first round. I've gone around and asked a few people with the knowledge of their schools and players about the prospects I think are prime guys for the Rapids selection. Today is Jalil Anibaba from UNC, with no commentary from anyone once again because even though I contacted three separate UNC sources nobody got back to me.
The Rapids could use depth on the defense, there's really no question about that. Unfortunately their biggest holes in depth are on the outside, so if they're drafting a center-back it should either be because they are a big guy to replace Julien Baudet or a supreme talent falling to them at 18th. Michael Boxall fits the first category well but the candidate most likely to fit the second one is Jalil Anibaba from the University of North Carolina.
At only 6'0 and 160 pounds Jalil projects to be more of a Drew Moor type with probably a bit more speed than the Julien Baudet big-slow-guy archetype that we've all been predicting with the Boxall pick. He is more well-rounded talent-wise than Boxall though, being the anchor for a fairly stingy UNC defense for his entire college career. His freshman year he lead the team in minutes played with over 2000 and was promoted to team captain by last year.
He knows how to score a few goals as well, which would be a new thing for the Rapids defender corps in the center. Kosuke Kimura and Anthony Wallace are encouraged to get up, but Drew Moor and Marvell Wynne aren't exactly what we'd call offensive wizards out there. 11 points total in his 66 career games in college is a somewhat intriguing number, perhaps he could put a new shine on the offensive properties.
His U-17 and U-20 USMNT experience means he's seen time against some top competition not just in the college circuits but elsewhere as well. He probably wouldn't be needed on the Rapids his first year there if he was their draft pick with Tyrone Marshall already sitting in the center of the defense as depth. He could probably get a couple of first team appearances later in the season if Marshall got injured - since I'm sure we'd rather avoid any excuse to see Scott Palguta ever again there - and in the usual spots of Open Cup and CCL matches.
This pick is unlikely to happen more because Jalil is unlikely to fall down to the 18th pick than because he's not a fit for the Rapids. If he does it will surely be BPA for the Rapids and the most likely pick.