The 2016 MLS SuperDraft is an opportunity for the San Jose Earthquakes to add to their roster depth. With the eighth selection in the draft, it is unlikely the Quakes will find a player that can step right into the starting line-up, but it is expected that the pick will be more than a project.
In 2015, the Earthquakes selected Fatai Alashe with the #4 overall pick, and the Michigan State midfielder excelled at the professional level. In addition to scoring the first San Jose at newly christened Avaya Stadium in a home-opening 2-1 victory against the Chicago Fire, Alashe went on to receive runner-up honors in the voting for MLS Rookie of the Year. 2015 also saw the defensive midfielder's first ever call-up to the U.S. men's national team, where he featured prominently during the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament.
Previous picks by the Quakes in Round One of the SuperDraft have not always panned out. In 2010, San Jose chose defender Ike Opara with the #3 pick and in 2012 went with midfielder Sam Garza at #6. Both players were on Generation Adidas contracts, making them a bit more attractive in a salary-cap league, but neither really made an impact with the Earthquakes. Opara suffered numerous injuries and was eventually traded to Sporting Kansas City. Garza lasted a couple of seasons before being released outright from MLS.
Pre-draft speculation has predicted that the Earthquakes will look to select a defender with the #8 overall pick. Stanford University left back Brandon Vincent, a local player with a huge upside at the professional level, would have been a great choice for San Jose, but the sought after senior recently was called up to the U.S. men's national team and will likely be chosen in the top-three of the draft. It is not implausible to imagine the Quakes trading up the selection chart in order to grab Vincent -- the Quakes almost landed in the top-three in last year's draft, but a trade fell through at the last moment.
The 2016 MLS SuperDraft will be televised, but only briefly. The first overall selection will be made live on SportCenter on ESPN via a cutaway to Baltimore. The remainder of the draft will be broadcast online through the league's official website. Click here to watch the San Jose Earthquakes selections.
In addition to the #8 overall pick, the Quakes will have a second-round selection at #28. Rounds three and four of the SuperDraft will occur via conference call on January 19.
Should the Earthquakes make a trade and move up in the draft? Will the Quakes find value simply staying at #8? Who would you pick if you were playing general manager? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.