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What Will the Columbus Crew Do With their First-Round Pick?

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Where do the Crew go with their 14th-overall selection in the SuperDraft?

Ned Dishman

Thursday is the annual MLS SuperDraft, one of many ways MLS teams can acquire new talent.

The Columbus Crew initially traded their first-round pick to the New England Revolution as part of the deal that brought them Michael Parkhurst, but traded back into the round with their trade with the L.A. Galaxy the next day. As part of the Galaxy trade - which brought them Hector Jimenez - they sent their natural second-round pick.

The Crew is left with two picks heading into the draft, the 14th-overall and the fourth pick in the third round (42nd overall). The first two rounds will occur Thursday, while the third and fourth occur Tuesday, January 21.

Where do the Black and Gold go with their first pick? MLSsoccer.com's final mock draft sees plenty of options.

Simon Borg projects the Crew taking Ben Sweat, a defender out of South Florida. Sweat is a left back, making 78 appearances for the Bulls - their all-time leader - and scoring three goals and registering eight assists.

Sweat also played a season with USL PDL side Reading United AC and featured against the New York Red Bulls in 2-0 loss in last year's U.S. Open Cup.

Borg says that this is a weak left back class, but calls Sweat the best of the bunch. He is a player who likes to get forward and has good skill on the ball. At 6'2", Sweat is rather tall for an outside back and would be one of the tallest players on the roster.

Matthew Doyle predicts Columbus will take Jamaican U-20 international midfielder Andre Lewis. The 19-year old has already been called into camp for the full Jamaican squad, but is yet to make an appearance.

Doyle says that Lewis is likely a year away from becoming an MLS contributor, but says he was, "the most skilled midfielder at the Combine and has a 'Did you see that!'-level first touch."

Lewis is a creative midfielder who can play on either flank, has good ball control, and plays smart passes. Doyle believes he would work well with Federico Higuain once he develops.

Nate Sulat admits it is a reach, but he believes the Crew should select Thomas McNamara, the midfielder who attended Brown before playing at Clemson during Graduate School.

Sulat calls McNamara, " a clever, ruthless central attacking midfielder who can run guys down and connect passes well." He was a first-team All-Ivy selection his senior season at Brown and tied for the team lead in points with four goals and four assists. He had seven goals and four assists in his one season with the Tigers.

McNamara doesn't do a lot of defending but is good in the attack. He connects passes well and is a smart player. He would need to play alongside someone who would be willing to do the dirty work in the midfield until he becomes more competent defender, something he will have to work on.

TopDrawerSoccer.com's final mock draft has the Black and Gold selecting Jared Watts from Wake Forest with their pick. He is a defensive midfielder who would likely be a backup to Wil Trapp.

He won multiple First-Team All-ACC honors and at 6'1", could slot along the defensive line as well if needed.

In drafts, everything is dependent on how the picks before fall and how the team feels about each player. Of these four possible selections, McNamara or Lewis make the most sense. The Crew struggled last year trying to settle the center of the park and adding at least depth, if not a player who can contribute, to that spot would be smart.

Depth at left back is never a bad thing, as it is a position that is hard to fill, but Columbus likely didn't sign Waylon Francis to be a reserve.

If there were a proven goal scorer that was likely to be available at the Crew's spot, that would be the direction to go, but that seems unlikely at pick 14 unless Columbus strikes it lucky (and history tells us they will not).

The draft is full of tough decisions that more often than not do not pan out. The Black and Gold look to be successful as they continue to reshape their club heading into the 2014 season.