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MLS Mock Draft: Timbers select Kevin Cope with No. 26 pick

After the team's off-season changes, the Timbers could use some backup along the back-line so the Michigan State center back made the most sense.

Photo courtesy of Michigan State athletics

A highly regarded centerback prospect, Kevin Cope is everything that the Portland Timbers could want coming out of the draft, especially if he falls to the Timbers with the 26th pick. A tough, precise player who will work his butt off for his team and will not be afraid to step onto the pitch, Cope is one of the few centerback prospects in the 2014 MLS Superdraft pool ready to take the pitch from day one.

Michigan State's captain for the last three years, and a Senior CLASS Award finalist, Cope has been the bedrock on which one of the nation's best defenses has been build. In 2013, the Spartans allowed only 15 goals, posted a goals against average of 0.64 goals per game, and completed 13 shutouts. During the team's run in the Big 10 Tournament, Cope reportedly played several games with broken ribs.

While it remains to be seen if Cope has the mindset to succeed in the short-passing, possession-based game that the Timbers want to play, he does have the skill. Confident with the ball at his feet and technically sound, Cope could easily make the transition to Caleb Porter's style of play.

What the Timbers will be looking for in the draft: With both of the Timbers' young centerbacks from 2013, Andrew Jean-Baptiste and Dylan Tucker-Gangnes, no longer with the team, only Mikael Silvestre, Rauwshan McKenzie, and the Great Wall of Gambia (Futty Danso and Pa Modou Kah) remain on the roster. That may be a solid a corps of defenders, but the average age of that group is 31 years-old. The Timbers have said that they are looking to bring in another defender this year, but they would have to be under 24 to put the average age of the team's centerbacks below 30.

Who the experts say the Timbers will pick: Taylor Peay, Reinaldo Brenes, and Mark Sherrod have all been mooted as potential early second round picks for the Timbers. With the team having few pressing needs to address, the best player available has generally been a common theme. That or whatever player from Akron is still on the board.

Why I’m invariably wrong: With Bryan Gallego waiting in the wings as a potential homegrown player signing, the Timbers may not need to add a centerback through the draft. It may also tempt the team to bring in a fullback, like Peay, to provide depth for Michael Harrington, Jorge Villafana, and Jack Jewsbury.

Why I’m smarter than the pundits: Even if Gallego does sign, Cope falling to the Timbers with the 26th pick would be a big get. A well regarded prospect that is ready to step in and play if necessary is not something to pass over easily and if Cope does fall to the 26th pick, the Timbers should pick him up.

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

Who would you have taken with the 26th pick?