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MLS Mock Draft: San Jose Earthquakes select Eric Miller with No. 9 pick

Photo courtesy of Creighton athletics

As is custom at the start of every new year at SB Nation, the writers from each of the 19 MLS blogs convened to hold an MLS Mock Draft. Forgoing a long and drawn out process of drafting players in all four rounds, the group stuck with the first two. In the first round, the San Jose Earthquakes selected Eric Miller, possibly the best fullback available in the draft.

The San Jose Earthquakes enter 2014 with question marks at key positions in their projected Starting XI and plenty of space on the roster to accommodate new faces. And so, with a bevy of college players to choose from in the 2014 MLS Draft next week, the Quakes will first look for a wide defender, someone who can contest for minutes from the outgo, a player that can make fans forget the impending departure of All-Star right back Steven Beitashour.

So with the ninth selection in the first round of the SB Nation MLS Mock Draft, the Earthquakes select Creighton University defender and Generation Adidas signing Eric Miller.

Miller, arguably the best outside back available in the draft, decided to forego his senior season to sign with MLS as part of its seven player GA class. At 6'1" and 175 lbs, Miller has the size to play defense, but it is his versatility at playing midfielder as well that will make him an easy choice for the Quakes technical staff. From the wing, Miller scored 4 goals and collected 4 assists in three seasons with the Blue Jays. In addition to his exploits in college, Miller was a member of the U.S. Men's National Team U-20 squad last year.

What the San Jose Earthquakes will be looking for in the draft: Defensive help, at all four positions along the back line, is a priority for general manager John Doyle and head coach Mark Watson to add to the roster. In addition to the expected exodus of Beitashour, the Earthquakes have traded away Justin Morrow and released Dan Gargan and Nana Attakora. The four man departure accounted for 69 appearances in 2013, a number that will have to be replaced by new acquisitions such as Miller.

Who the experts say the San Jose Earthquakes will pick: With a top-ten selection in the first round of the draft, the onus on Doyle and Watson is to pick a player that can compete for significant minutes this season. Most of the other mock drafts have the Earthquakes picking a player, like Miller, that can fulfill that role. If the Creighton product is not available at #9, expect San Jose to select another of the top defenders, perhaps a centerback, instead.

Why QRG will invariably be wrong: Miller certainly fits a need for defensive depth, and with a GA contract makes himself an attractive target for a budget-conscious club like San Jose, but those same qualities are likely to see him coveted by one of the teams ahead of the Quakes in the selection order. It is by no means a reach for the Earthquakes to select Miller, but a paucity of quality outside backs in this year's pool may make him too attractive to another suitor.

Why QRG is smarter than the pundits: The Quakes need to build back the depth in their roster they enjoyed for much of last season, and that begins with the wings. With scant attention often paid to the college game, it can be very enticing to simply pick the best available player left on the board when the clock is on, and this year that seems to be at centerback. The Earthquakes can feel comfortable with their depth at that position, making Miller the logical choice to make the move to San Jose.

Full Mock Draft results (click on player names to see the profiles)

First Round

Team Blog Pick
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

Second Round

Team Blog Pick
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

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