While it's easy to see that the MLS SuperDraft is less impactful now than at any point in league history - strip-mined, as it is, of its best and brightest by the Homegrown Player rule, among other factors - it's still one of the most affordable ways to build a balanced roster.
Maybe it's no longer 'Super,' but it's still relevant, especially for teams like our Chicago Fire. Messrs. Yallop and Bliss have thrown themselves into the offseason with gusto, with nine newcomers already inked for 2015, but holes still remain on a roster that redefined 'threadbare' after a close-season purge. There's only three centerbacks. Central midfield is a bit thin. Patrick Nyarko's rehab means that there's minutes to be won on the wing. And so on.
In an effort to anticipate the thought process of our front-office braintrust, Hot Time's writers have spilled some photons on who they'd like to see picked with the Fire's first pick, the seventh overall. Of course, you likely have a better idea; for that, there's the comments section!
John Jenzeh: Nick Besler, DM, Notre Dame
I'm usually not one to be in favor of drafting to make up for past mistakes. Recent history hasn't seen the Fire draft anyone useful since arguably Patrick Nyarko (also in the 7th spot) almost a decade ago. After last year's abysmal miss in what was deemed a pro ready prospect in Marco Franco, the Fire need to select a player who is ready to contribute.
With the heavy roster turnover, holes in defense, and lack of depth at central midfield, Nick Besler would be an ideal pick. At the moment, the roster is devoid of a true holding midfielder, especially if Jeff Larentowicz is to reprise his role at center back as expected. Besler should in no way be expected to start every game or instantly become an elite player, but he does have the IQ to learn on the fly and the physical tools to be an MLS player. Much like big brother Matt, the younger Besler measures in at roughly 6 feet in height. A gradual shift to central defense at some point in the future might be in the cards, and that wouldn't be a bad thing.
Dan Paulmeyer: Axel Sjoberg, CB, Marquette
When looking at the recent signings made by the Fire along with who has departed the club, the major area of need is center defense. Adailton has been brought in but the position still lacks depth. Now that Patrick Ianni has retired, who doesn't come as a shock to many, the position remains an area of need.
In the first round of the draft, the Fire should address this need with Axel Sjoberg from Marquette University. At 6'7'', Sjoberg would immediately add height to the backline and also some much needed youth. Adailton and Larentowicz are both 31-years-old so time isn't on their side. Eric Gehrig has been added and hopefully can contribute too.
The MLS season is a long haul and if the Fire want to compete, a fourth centerback is necessary. There will always be the option to loan him out for playing time if he takes some time to adjust to MLS. As the Fire go through more transformation, a young prospect to the backline would be a welcomed addition.
Braulio Antonio Diaz: Dzenan Catic, F/M, Davenport University
I'm not up to speed on the draft, but after doing some poking around, I'm going to try and make a case for FWD Dzenan Catic. He's a Michigan kid who went pro after high school, but didn't cut it in Germany. Came back to the states and played for Davenport University in Grand Rapids, which is just an hour from where I am. I'd have him as a midfielder for the Fire, to add depth to the wings.
Adam Merges: Tim Parker, CB, St. John's
Since the Fire seem to be going young with all of the offseason changes and are lacking in the defensive department, I think they should go with Tim Parker, a central defender at St. John's. At 6'2" and close to 200 pounds, word on the street is that he has all of the attributes to be a lockdown defender but like all draft prospects has some developing to do. He could be one of those players that is sent to the USL Pro for a year and then returns after playing time in the lower leagues to be a piece to build around in the back for years to come. This pick would signify from the Fire that they are willing to develop a team rather than buy a team.
Sean Spence: Fatai Alashe, DM/CB, Michigan State
Two things make me select Fatai Alashe of Michigan State for our mock first-rounder here: His upside, and his flexibility. Alashe's muscular, battering-ram midfield game could use some refining, but one isn't named first-team All-American just by being physically overwhelming (although he sometimes was with Michigan State). His flexibility, though, could be the key to sticking with the Fire; while his first touch concerns me as a midfield prospect, it's de-emphasized if Fatai is considered as a potential centerback.