Let's get one thing straight before we continue here: the Summit League is not very good. When Denver moved to the Summit League, they became the immediate favorites to win it, because the other names in the conference include such powerhouses as IUPUI, Oral Roberts and Western Illinois.
That out of the way, let's talk about Zach Bolden, who was probably the best player in the Summit League this season. From the midfield, he scored 10 goals and added nine assists in 2013, finishing off a very good career with the Pioneers. Those numbers came in only 19 games as well, giving him a lovely-looking point-per-game scoring clip for his senior season. He is great at both cutting in and drifting out, and has both a nose for goal and a very strong and accurate shot. He spent the year absolutely shredding every defense he faced.
But remember, it was the Summit League. Had he done everything he did there in the Big East, he'd be going No. 1 overall this year. Instead, he's your garden variety super-player from a lower conference who will have question marks about his ability to take it to a higher level.
He's a local boy as well, having spent time with the Rapids U-18 academy and Denver East High School, where he won the State Championship in 2008. I've got Bolden picked out as a potential surprise star candidate from the lower rounds, and the Rapids make all the sense in the world for a destination.
What Colorado will be looking for in the draft: By the time it's hit the second round of the draft, it will probably be anything goes for the Rapids, but another attacking midfielder or a center back are probably the two best bets if they're going to draft for need.
Who the experts say Colorado will pick: Alex Martinez has gotten a shout at this spot, and indeed he would be a similar choice to Bolden.
Why I'm invariably wrong: Bolden has the potential to drop even farther than the second round, so I might be throwing the dice a bit high on him here. Actual MLS scouts might not see him quite as favorably as I do, either.
Why I'm smarter than the pundits: Come on, he's a local kid! (He also avoids the 'rival brothers' mentality that they'd have if they picked Alex Martinez, since his brother Enzo was picked by Real Salt Lake in 2012.)
Full Mock Draft results (click on player names to see the profiles)
|1. D.C. United||Black and Red United||Patrick Mullins|
|2. Philadelphia Union||Brotherly Game||Steve Neumann|
|3. Vancouver Whitecaps||86 Forever||Andre Blake|
|4. Columbus Crew||Massive Report||Steve Birnbaum|
|5. FC Dallas||Big D Soccer||Christian Dean|
|6. Union||Brotherly Game||Marlon Hairston|
|7. Whitecaps||86 Forever||Damion Lowe|
|8. Chicago Fire||Hot Time In Old Town||Grant Van De Casteele|
|9. San Jose Earthquakes||Quake, Rattle and Goal||Eric Miller|
|10. Montreal Impact||Mount Royal Soccer||A.J Corrado|
|11. Colorado Rapids||Burgundy Wave||Schillo Tshuma|
|12. New England Revolution||The Bent Musket||JJ Koval|
|13. Seattle Sounders||Sounder at Heart||Aodhan Quinn|
|14. LA Galaxy||LAG Confidential||Fifi Baiden|
|15. Toronto FC||Waking the Red||AJ Cochran|
|16. Houston Dynamo||Dynamo Theory||Mamadou Diouf|
|17. Portland Timbers||Stumptown Footy||Reinaldo Brenes|
|18. Real Salt Lake||RSL Soapbox||Ben Sweat|
|19. Revolution||The Bent Musket||Marco Franco|
|20. Chivas USA||The Goat Parade||Enrique Cardenas|
|21. Sounders||Sounder at Heart||Taylor Peay|
|22. New York Red Bulls||Once a Metro||Pete Caringi|
|23. Crew||Massive Report||Pedro Ribeiro|
|24. Toronto FC||Waking the Red||Joey Dillon|
|25. Union||Brotherly Game||Jared Watts|
|26. Timbers||Stumptown Footy||Kevin Cope|
|27. Union||Brotherly Game||Kyle Venter|
|28. Earthquakes||Quake, Rattle and Goal||Mackenzie Pridham|
|29. Impact||Mout Royal Soccer||Jimmy Ockford|
|30. Whitecaps||86 Forever||Nikita Kotlov|
|31. Revolution||The Bent Musket||Victor Chavez|
|32. Dynamo||Dynamo Theory||Kristopher Tyrpak|
|33. Rapids||Burgundy Wave||Rafael Diaz|
|34. Red bulls||Once a Metro||Alex Martinez|
|35. Rapids||Burgundy Wave||Zach Bolden|
|36. Timbers||Stumptown Footy||Mark Sherrod|
|37. Impact||Mout Royal Soccer||Michael Calderon|
|38. Sporting Kansas City||The Daily Wiz|