Going into the draft the preparation it was important to look at the needs of the Montreal Impact since they had the 4th and 7th picks; they could acquire someone who could make an immediate influence. Looking at the draft class and the ones that were predicted to be picked early, there were many feasible options for the Impact.
4th Overall Pick: Francis Atuahene (Michigan)
The first pick for the Impact (fourth overall) was a player that is expected to go in the top four and it would be fortunate for the Impact if they could get him in the draft. Francis Atuahene from Michigan is a speedy winger who has probably been one of the most impressive players at the combine. While Tomas Hilliard-Arce a centerback is expected to be the first pick he has been somewhat of a deception during the combine. It would not be surprising for Atuahene to be drafted earlier by teams above the Impact but this would be a quality and valuable pick up.
In his 3 seasons at Michigan he has put up some impressive statistics as a winger. In 49 games (42 starts) he has 24 goals and 11 assists. One of the main reasons that Francis is so dominant at getting beyond defenders is his speed and control with the ball at his feet. His finish ability is there but to succeed in the MLS he will need to continue developing this aspect of his game.
7th Overall Pick: Tristan Blackmon (Pacific)
The following pick (7th overall), was one that is more of a necessity pick than a value one; while he remains to be a very valuable asset. Tristan Blackmon out of Pacific is the top rated right back in the draft and was impressive during the combine. Having to battle against Atuahene he held his own and managed to keep up with the speed being thrown at him. The Impact is lacking depth at the right back position and that is exactly what they get out of Tristan.
In his 4 season at Pacific he had an interesting path moving from forward to defender two years into his college career. His stats as a forward are still worth mentioning netting 10 goals and 2 assists; it wasn’t for a lack of production but rather for his position to match all his abilities. After being moved to right back, he stilled managed to help the offence quite a bit in 2 season netting 6 goals and 7 assists. Blackmon fit into the position change quite well. His one issue is fitting into a specific system. Given that he is one of those wing backs that will produce offensively he needs to be given that freedom. His defensive game is still there but his abilities are better suited as a winger that joins the attack.
Overall, the Impact has a chance of acquiring two great players with their positions in the draft. A lot of their decision making will come down to who gets picked up by other teams. They should be using their picks to fill needs instead of just picking the best player on the board given that they have such early picks and that many options will likely be available to them. Players like Joao Moutinho, Jon Bakero, and Ema Twumasi will likely be in the options of the Impact but they would be more of value picks than filling any immediate needs. If by some miracle Tomas Hilliard-Arce does slip to fourth, given his disappointing performance in the combine, the Impact would get away with a steal.
The 2018 MLS SuperDraft will take place this week with the first and second rounds of the draft on Friday January 19th.