The New England Revolution walked away from Friday’s draft with a pair of athletic attackers. With the 9th overall pick, the Revs added Tajon Buchanan of Syracuse University. Two picks later, they selected DeJuan Jones of Michigan State.
Of course it will take some time for us to fully know how the Revolution did in the 2019 SuperDraft, but waiting is no fun. With that in mind, here’s our draft day grades.
I think if we were just basing this grade off of the two first round selections, the Revs would at least be in the “B” range. Having Tajon Buchanan drop to #9 and getting a versatile wide player in DeJuan Jones was positive for the Revs, as both players fit the pressing style that Brad Friedel wants to play. However, like 2018 the Revs selected two similar players and last year only one (Brandon Bye) got significant minutes. Had New England gotten Buchanan for value and then one of the many solid fullbacks in the first round draft class, I still might’ve put this in the “B” range. If the Revs are going to improve this grade, they’re going to have to find ways other than first team MLS minutes to develop Buchanan and Jones and there are questions as to whether they can or will do that.
What really drags down this grade for me is the second round trade. Basically the Revs punted away next year’s 3rd and 4th round picks on the slight chance they might be better than DC United this year. With DC starting a full USL II team in Loudon County VA this year, those picks will likely end up boosting that team for basically free and that makes this trade one of the worse from a Revs front office that usually dominates such moves in MLS.
The Revs took the “best available” approach when they drafted at the 9th and 11th spot. Tajon Buchanan was a top five pick for many pundits, so the Revs were certainly excited when they saw the 6’0 attacker fall to them. DeJuan was also highly touted, as he’s an attacker that can burn players on the wing.
People will hate me saying this, but these two picks were the right moves because they’re both athletic. DeJuan was first in the speed and agility tests at the Combine and third in the power test. Buchanan was top ten in both speed and power. Last year Brandon Bye was the only player in the top 10 of the three tests. He went on to play over 1,000 MLS minutes, a rarity for a drafted rookie.
No one knows how Buchanan and DeJuan will transition to the professional game. That said, their athleticism will certainly help. In a time where the importance of the SuperDraft is undeniably declining, I think the Revs had a pretty good day.
The Revs weren’t going into the draft expecting to take players that will have an immediate impact on the squad heading into next season. But with the 9th and 11th overall pick, decent selections could be made to help the depth of this Revs squad. With that being said, I think the Revs selected the best available, athletic players in Tajon Buchanan and DeJuan Jones.
Assuming they won’t have a large impact on the Revs this season, it’s important to look for skillful, athletic players that can help play a part in rotation for the Open Cup and options off the bench for weeks with a midweek match.
These picks are also encouraging because of the fact this shouldn’t affect any potential new signings. Signings to shore up the defense and midfield are still very much possible. This draft most likely won’t prove to influence the Revs much at all this season, but with our picks, I think they did the best with what we have. Having two picks, the Revs could’ve opted to use that as a trade piece but hopefully at least one more addition comes to the Revs squad outside of the draft.
Barring a tilt in the SuperDraft’s axis, fans simply can’t expect their team to draft a game-changing player out of the college ranks. Rather, a realistic and tempered hope is to get players with high upside, ones who have the athletic traits and technical skills to impact a MLS roster. That’s exactly what the Revs did with their No. 9 and No. 11 picks, as Tajon Buchanan and DeJuan Jones carry enough promise, as combined with a proven track record in high-end college conferences, to contribute in some form or another.
Now, it’s entirely another question as to whether Buchanan and Jones will get proper opportunities in the infrastructure the Revs currently employ. There is no formal USL partnership and domestic attackers often struggle to get minutes as MLS clubs, as a whole, further invest Targeted Allocation Money and Designated Player funds into the final third. So, it’s up to Buchanan and Jones to seize their chances when they arise, then turn that into a role. It’s exactly what Brandon Bye did in 2018 after getting picked in the first round.
The final portion to consider is these moves likely have zero impact on the Revs’ plans on the international market. Neither will constitute a major cap hit – Buchanan, as a Generation adidas signing, won’t have any detraction – so the funds are still available to make headways on the transfer front. Doing exactly that is an entirely different proposition, one that shouldn’t impact how the Buchanan and Jones selections are assessed. Could they have gone for some depth at outside back or center back? Sure, and there were plenty of cheap, promising options available. But by going for two high-potential players in the attacking third, the Revs emerged from the 2019 SuperDraft with one of the biggest bounties across all 24 clubs.