D.C. United actually has some forwards who can score goals now, but "too many good forwards" is not an actual problem. As such, we're going with Maryland forward Patrick Mullins.
A senior from Louisiana, Mullins scores just about every type of goal: Poacher tap-ins, shots from outside the box, headers, and everything in between. Over the past two seasons, he put up what are basically video game numbers: 17 goals and 10 assists in 2012, followed by 19 and 8 in 2013. He led the Terps in both categories despite the fact that every Maryland opponent built their gameplan around shutting down No. 15.
On the intangible side, Mullins is just as promising. Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski - whose ability to produce four-year players that go on to big things is incomparable among current NCAA coaches - says Mullins, like Snapple, is "made from the best stuff on earth." Cirovski has also touted his captain's coachability over the years.
The dreaded "tweener" label has been thrown around with Mullins, but it's a pretty flimsy knock. Seeing Mullins in person several times over the past few years has underlined how hard he worked on improving himself as a striker. He's physically stronger and more willing to stay central than he was in 2012, where he made a first impression as someone who was as much a left winger as he was a forward. That first impression has apparently stuck, but in 2013 Mullins was clearly focused on being a striker first, second, and third.
What United will be looking for in the draft: After a dreadful 2013, anyone that's good at soccer is welcome here. United has been a "best player available, regardless of position" team for over 10 years now, and I don't see that changing.
Who the experts say United will pick: Either Christian Dean or Steve Birnbaum. Why? Dean is said to be able to play left back as well as center back, while Birnbaum would compete with Ethan White to start alongside Bobby Boswell in central defense.
Why I’m invariably wrong: It will be awfully hard for United to resist Dean, a GA player who most people expect to spend some time at left back wherever he ends up. The likely starter on the current roster (Chris Korb) has done well enough there in the past, but it's still among United's remaining weak spots after an otherwise busy December.
Why I’m smarter than the pundits: Ben Olsen and Dave Kasper have tended to avoid high risk/high reward picks, and there is reason to question whether Dean is too reliant on the leadership of others. Besides, we already have an athletic young CB in White (who only just turned 23). Plus, United taking a player from Maryland is a proud tradition, and what is United without tradition?
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||Romena Bowie|