Prospecting the SuperDraft: New Mexico senior defender Kyle Venter

Photo courtesy University of New Mexico Athletics

With just weeks until the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, and with our own Black-and-Red holding the first pick, we are looking over the top prospects that will be available for selection. Today we turn west, to the desert of New Mexico.

We'll get back to today's regularly scheduled Re-Entry Don't-Call-It-A Draft this afternoon, once the all-important conference call has been completed and the results announced. In the meantime, though, let's look at the actual draft that MLS undertakes each year and continue our SuperDraft player profile series. Today, we turn back to defense as we look at New Mexico's Kyle Venter.

Like the other players we've profiled, Venter is a senior and a semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Award, given to the nation's best player. (We'll be turning our attention to underclassmen soon enough, I promise.) And speaking of semifinals, Venter will lead his Lobos into tomorrow's College Cup semifinal against Notre Dame in Philadelphia, also the home of the upcoming SuperDraft.

MLSSoccer.com says George John of FC Dallas is the best MLS analog to Venter, and Ives describes him as a strong, physical, aerial presence. All good things in a center back. But neither have him at the very top of their draft lists, with MLSS mock picking him for Chicago at #8 and Ives slotting him at #11 on his big board. Top Drawer Soccer, however, lists him among the four top seniors who will be in the draft (now that Harrison Shipp's homegrown claim has been confirmed), and so that's why we're talking about whether D.C. United should use their #1 overall pick on him in next month's SuperDraft. Well that and my SBN colleague Drew Epperly is very high on him, and he knows college players much better than I do, so I took his tip and ran with it.

Venter's a solid 6'3" and 190 pounds, size that should lessen any transition issues into the physicality of MLS from the college game. The redshirt senior is durable, too, breaking New Mexico's team record for career minutes this season. He led the Lobos D to 9 regular season clean sheets (10 if you don't count a 1-0 overtime loss), and they have yet to concede a goal through three games in the NCAA tournament. We know Ben Olsen loves a "gamer," and Venter appears to be the type to step up when the lights are at their brightest.

The usual caveats apply: he would count against the salary cap, unlike Generation adidas signings, and as a fifth-year senior, Venter might have less room to grow than an underclassman signed to a GA deal. But unlike some of the other seniors we've looked at so far, Venter doesn't have the same injury concerns - at least not in his past.

Personally, I think Venter might be a reach at #1, but if Ben Olsen & Co. trade down a few spots, he'd be a very solid pickup if we can get him later in the first round. Let us know your take in the comments.

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