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The later rounds of the MLS SuperDraft continue to atrophy

The MLS SuperDraft's first few rounds have diminished in importance slowly in the past few years, but the later rounds have diminished so quickly that they're nearly useless at this juncture. Here's the reason why.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Rounds three and four of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft will be today, but there's probably no real use paying much attention to it. Over the past few seasons, the SuperDraft has started to lower in overall importance and quality, even though there are still starters and fantastic developable players to be had in the mix as it stands today. The rounds after the second round, however, have atrophied at an astonishing rate.

It seems that the era of late-round steals in the MLS SuperDraft has come to a close. Several years ago, teams were finding gems like Jeff Larentowicz and Chris Wondolowski in the Supplemental Draft rounds, simply because there was a lot more overall talent from top to bottom throughout the draft. Homegrown contracts didn't exist yet, the US' lower leagues weren't really an option for kids to jump to if they didn't think they'd hack it in MLS immediately, and rosters simply weren't as good back then, which meant that even the lower draft picks on a team's board would often get some minutes occasionally.

Things have changed for the better in MLS though, and the Draft is what has taken the biggest hit. The draft has always been top heavy, but it's gotten worse as the more fringe players (think Jordan Murrell this season) have started to test their luck in lower leagues or overseas rather than risk MLS teams taking them late and not playing them. Teams are finding their depth in new ways now: homegrown players are taking up roster spots with increasing frequency, young players from overseas are starting to come to MLS with more frequency, and there's just a bit too much talent on every team to justify sticking a Tolani Ibikunle or Albert Edward (Colorado's two late-round picks from last season, neither of whom lasted to the regular season) to rot on the bench.

That is to say, it's not that there aren't talented players out there in these later rounds, it's just that there is no reason to allow the 'toolsy' (baseball term!) and raw prospects that are available take up a roster spot when there are likely just as many good options of that sort of player in the homegrown academy ranks or in the form of 18-year-olds (differing from the 20-somethings that are getting out of college) that can be snatched in their youth from teams in South or Latin America.

This may change a bit now with the introduction of USL-PRO "farm teams" in Major League Soccer, but even with that, I wouldn't expect to have to put much thought into the players that the Rapids pick up on the third round of the draft. Think of it this way: they had their chance at any of the players that are currently on the board early in the second round, but instead went with a guy who is nearly guaranteed to have to spend two full years with the Navy before playing, instead.