CenterLine Report: Top five Quakes' draft picks

With Thursday's upcoming SuperDraft, CenterLine Report looks at the Quakes' top five picks

With the MLS Combine wrapping up in Florida, attention turns to Thursday’s SuperDraft in Indianapolis. Coaches and GMs from all 19 clubs will assemble to select the college players they hope will make a difference for their teams in this season and beyond. Some picks will pan out while others will be soon forgotten, as the SuperDraft has proven year after year that predicting future impact from the majority of the college player pool is all but a crapshoot.

In San Jose Earthquakes history, the club has made a total of 57 selections in the primary college draft. Some names are highly recognizable, like Caleb Porter, Todd Dunivant, and Wojtek Krakowiak, though not necessarily for their contributions to the Quakes. Others, too many to name in fact, remain as nothing more than footnotes in MLS lore.

However, from the mass of anonymous college talent to shake the commissioner’s hand each year on draft day, a special few have proven to be shrewd selections that have shaped the fortunes of the franchise. Their performances on and off the field have propelled them toward the top of the list of the greatest Earthquakes SuperDraft picks of all time.

#5 Wade Barrett (1998, round 1, overall pick 12) — The second of two first round selections by the Quakes in the 1998 College Draft — defender Ben Parry was the first — Barrett was an immediate success in his rookie campaign, making 22 starts in 26 appearances. He became a dependable member of the Earthquakes backline early in his career and really broke through in the 2002 season when he was named an MLS All-Star, chosen the Quakes Defender of the Year, and selected to the MLS Best XI. After trying his luck abroad, Barrett retuned to San Jose in 2005 and captained the defense as the team captured the Supporters’ Shield. He stayed on with the franchise after it was moved to Houston and added two more MLS Cup championships to his resume.

#4 Justin Morrow (2010, round 2, overall pick 28) — After two seasons when the team was stingy making picks in the SuperDraft, the Earthquakes captured quite the haul in 2010. With the second of three picks in round two, a draft pick that was secured from Real Salt Lake in exchange for forward Pablo Campos the year before, San Jose welcomed midfielder Morrow into the fold. The Notre Dame product was initially seen as a project that could eventually blossom into an effective left-sided wingback. Sure enough, with tutelage from Quakes legend Ramiro Corrales, Morrow quickly learned the nuances of playing both as a defender and midfielder. In 2012, forced into action at centerback, Morrow continued to show his accelerated development and earned his first MLS All-Star selection and invitation to a U.S. Men’s National Team training camp. Already a dependable left back, Morrow’s performance ceiling has yet to be scratched at the domestic and international level.

#3 Steven Beitashour (2010, round 2, overall pick 30) — A relative unknown out of San Diego State, Beitashour was not even invited to the MLS Combine that January, but the San Jose native was well respected by the Quakes technical staff. The third of three second round selections by the Earthquakes in 2010 — a draft pick thrown in from Houston in the now infamous 2009 trade that sent Cam Weaver to the Dynamo in exchange for Chris Wondolowski — Beitashour came to preseason camp with one thing on his mind: prove the doubters wrong. Like Morrow, Beitashour was an accomplished midfielder at SDSU, but the Quakes saw him more as a wingback. He scored his first MLS goal in only his third professional start, and has since steadily become a fixture as San Jose’s right back. Always active in the attacking third as well, Beitashour has contributed 13 assists over the past two seasons. Continuing his meteoric rise, 2012 saw the 25-year-old named an MLS All-Star and invited to his first USMNT training camp.

#2 Eddie Lewis (1996, round 3, overall pick 23) — The second-ever draft pick of the franchise — first pick Darrick Brownell never played a minute for San Jose — Lewis joined MLS in its inaugural season and would quickly establish himself as a guiding presence in the midfield. In four seasons with the club, Lewis totaled 35 assists, the third best overall total in franchise history, and 9 goals. A regular starter by his sophomore season, and still in the top-ten list for all-time team appearances, Lewis capped off his San Jose success in 1999 as an MLS All-Star and MLS Best XI selection. As a fixture on the U.S. Men’s National Team for over a decade, Lewis was an influential player on the 2002 team that reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup.

#1 Richard Mulrooney (1999, round 1, overall pick 3) — The earliest draft selection on this list, Mulrooney was expected to be an impact player for San Jose, and he did not disappoint. As a rookie, he was the only player on the team to play in all 32 games that season, notching 1 goal and 3 assists. Mulrooney was the team’s MVP in 2000 and an integral part of Earthquakes two MLS Cup championships squads in 2001 and 2003. An MLS All-Star selection in both 2002 and 2004, Mulrooney would finish his Quakes career with the second most assists (44) and third most appearances (163) in club history. For impact and accolades, Mulrooney was the best player ever acquired by San Jose in the MLS SuperDraft.

Honorable Mention — Ian Russell (2000, round 5, overall pick 52), Arturo Alvarez (2003, round 2, overall pick 13), Eddie Robinson (2001, round 2, overall pick 20), Shea Salinas (2008, round 2, overall pick 15).