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MLS Mock Draft 2015: Real Salt Lake picks Eric Bird with 16th pick

With the 16th pick in the 2015 MLS Mock Draft, we've selected Eric Bird, a creative midfielder who just won the College Cup with Virginia.

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake has a growing need for creative box-to-box midfielders following the absences of key figure Ned Grabavoy this season, and with that in mind, Eric Bird was our man.

Graduating from the University of Virginia, Bird was captain of this year's NCAA College Cup winners and 2013 semifinalists. He played 73 matches across the five years, and in 2013, he led the team in goals (7) and tied RSL midfielder Jordan Allen in assists (5).

He's a crafty kid, but he's also not the sort to provoke a highlight reel of stepovers and Cruyff turns — or at least that's the impression one gets from watching Virginia match highlights. (Scouting these players is difficult. It's more that he legitimately fits the Grabavoy mold: He's a little on the shorter side, but his control is excellent and he seems to have a good awareness of what's happening around him. He sits a little deeper in the midfield, dictating play more than anything, but he also shows well with late runs.

Bird, however, might not be quite ready for the big time. It's difficult to tell how skills like this translate, but it's no less difficult than figuring out how a purely creative player works out. It's unclear whether he'd be the best pick for Real Salt Lake, but with defenders starting to line up, Bird's midfield play wouldn't go amiss for a team needing midfield reinforcements.

Our selection wasn't because he has experience with Allen, although that doesn't really hurt anything. And it's not because we're hoping he'll bring Riggs Lennon along with him, a Real Salt Lake academy graduate and a player we've had our eye on — but so have Aston Villa. (That's tangential at best to this, of course.) But hey, those things are nice to think about, and Bird ticks a lot of boxes for us.

Below: Complete SB Nation mock draft selections.

Pick Team Player
1 Orlando City SC Cyle Larin
2 New York City FC Cristian Roldan
3 Montreal Impact Khiry Shelton
4 San Jose Earthquakes Ramon Martin del Campo
5 Portland Timbers Conor Donovan
6 Toronto FC Leo Stolz
7 Chicago Fire SC Fatai Alashe
8 Houston Dynamo Oumar Ballo
9 Toronto FC Alex Bono
10 Sporting Kansas City Nick Besler
11 Toronto FC Romario Williams
12 Sporting Kansas City Otis Earle
13 Vancouver Whitecaps Skylar Thomas
14 Columbus Crew SC Aaron Simmons
15 FC Dallas Dan Metzger
16 Real Salt Lake Eric Bird
17 D.C. United Andy Thoma
18 NY Red Bulls Tim Parker
19 Colorado Rapids Boyd Okwuonu
20 Sporting Kansas City Andy Craven
21 LA Galaxy Tyler Miller
Pick Team Player
22 Orlando City SC Andrew Wolverton
23 New York City FC Ricky Garbanzo
24 Portland Timbers Seth Casiple
25 Orlando City SC Jose Ribas
26 Colorado Rapids Jordan Murrell
27 Seattle Sounders Dzenan Catic
28 Chicago Fire SC Saad Abdul-Salaam
29 Toronto FC Adam Montague
30 Sporting Kansas City Luke Mishu
31 Philadelphia Union Manolo Sanchez
32 Portland Timbers Andy Bevin
33 New England Revolution Sergio Campbell
34 Portland Timbers Anthony Manning
35 Columbus Crew SC Axel Sjoberg
36 Houston Dynamo Kyler Sullivan
37 Toronto FC Dennis Castillo
38 Vancouver Whitecaps Tyler Arnone
39 NY Red Bulls Connor Hallisey
40 Seattle Sounders Spencer Richey
41 Philadelphia Union Alex Shinsky
42 D.C. United Akeil Barrett