It's pretty clear that the Rapids need help in the 2013 MLS Draft. In fact, they could probably use even more than the three picks that they currently have. Heck, they might even get one if they pull off a trade with someone, but draft pick trades for known commodities aren't very common around here. Anyway, that's another story.
There has been a lot of talk about how the Rapids might go for another playmaking attacker in the midfield -- both TopDrawerSoccer in their first mock draft and WVHooligan have said that more bite in the midfield could help out Colorado's attack -- which could be a good move if the kid turns out to be another Martin Rivero. Unless they decide to pick up a lot of players through other means during the off-season though, I think there are far more important things to focus on.
Dillon Serna seems very, very likely to get signed on to a professional contract this off-season as well. That should add a little something to the midfield and could dissuade the team from going that direction with another youngster in the draft.
The three spots that I think need the most help are pretty essential spots, and, if they use their picks shrewdly, I think they can probably grab someone to fit all three needs. Here's the three spots, in the order that I would be picking them if the Rapids were dumb enough to hand me the GM keys for a day.
(Reminder, the Rapids have the 6th overall pick in both rounds along with the 11th overall pick in the second round, received for Wells Thompson from the Fire.)
First Round No. 6: Center Back - I really wanted the Rapids to pick a right back here. I really, really did.
Drew Moor remains one of the best center backs in MLS, and even in a down year he was still pretty damn good for the Rapids in 2012. Losing the captains armband next year to Hendry Thomas -- a move that might not happen, but one that I'm gunning for -- will allow him to focus on just keeping his defensive corps in order instead of being the team's main leader, and with Marvell Wynne by his side we know this team can win games.
So, CB is not be the biggest point of interest for the Rapids, not by a long shot. Meanwhile, the right back scenario seems to be Hunter Freeman followed by a large sequence of sobbing question marks.
Problem is, there just don't seem to be all that many good outside backs at the top of the draft. Walker Zimmerman, Top Drawer Soccer's top pick in their mock draft, is a center back. Eric Schoenle is another top prospect, but he's also a center back. Past that, the defensive options are sparse and their mock draft doesn't have an outside guy going until pick No. 19. Teams always routinely 'reach' in the MLS Draft, but the last thing the Rapids want to do is gamble in an incredibly important year with their No. 6 pick.
So the team might as well go with the next best thing, a top center back that they can use for spot starts, which could come in handy if Oscar Pareja decides that Drew Moor needs to be a right back or left back for a game or two.
Second Round No. 6: Forward - Considering the fact that the Rapids seem hell-bent on picking up a Designated Player forward this off-season, I doubt that anyone they pick in the SuperDraft will immediately be a starter on the front line. Indeed, I expect a forward in the second round, since early second-rounders pretty much have the same prestige as late first-rounders to MLS executives most of the time. (Take Eddie Ababio and Michael Tetteh, for instance. One was supposed to be a late first-rounder, one an early second-rounder, and you know the rest.)
If you've been hearing my inane ramblings on the Thugcast this year, you already know that I'm intrigued by one particular guy, Senegalese forward Mamadou Doudou Diouf of UCONN.
His stock has fallen quite a bit over the year, but he still showed some skill for the Huskies (15 goals, two assists) and is a former teammate of Tony Cascio's as well. Wouldn't be a bad guy to throw down a flyer on. He could also fill the big Senegalese hole in our hearts that was left when Macoumba Kandji was traded. All good things for a second rounder!
But then, knowing how well Mock Drafts and stocks seem to rise and fall, the guy might end up being a top 10 guy by the time January hits.
Second Round No. 11: Right Back - Compared to the first round, this should be a much easier choice. Most second round picks aren't used with much of an eye for a rookie of the year candidate, but for a guy they can work on and perhaps hype up for the future. Example: New York Red Bulls, 2011 Draft, John Goddamn Rooney.
They don't need to go out and get the next Austin Berry in the draft around here, they can probably just be OK with getting the next Eddie Ababio. (Hopefully, though, not the next Colin Givens.)
There are plenty of solid right backs who will probably be around in the second round, and whoever they pick will probably get a full season to learn the tricks of the trade without being foisted into 2000 minutes of playing time. (I'm assuming that the Rapids pick up someone else to either back up or usurp Freeman as the starter, because it would be absolutely clownshoes if they didn't.) It's the old 'draft a quarterback and groom him for league play for a year' analogy from handegg. And if he doesn't work out? Well, just a second round pick. You can find RB depth elsewhere, as sad as it would be.
Of course, with the sixth and 11th picks so close together, those two could be flipped if they saw a 'must have' guy five picks earlier at right back.
What positions do you want to see the Rapids focus on in the 2013 Draft?