WE are still just over two weeks away from the AFL draft were another crop of baby-faced stars will hear their names called. All 18 clubs have different needs entering the draft with some chasing pieces to help them stay in the premiership hunt, while others will be drafting crucial pillars of their rebuilding process and future success. Regardless of who club may chase, given their current rosters, there are definitely some types of players that each team needs more than others.

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Adelaide Crows

1. Key defenders
2. Small forward to replace Charlie Cameron
3. A successor for Sam Jacobs

THE Crows boast one of the deepest midfield groups in the comp with the addition of Gibbs and Gibson in the trade period. The loss of Lever leaves them partially exposed in the back six, but Andy Otten is a utility who could hold down a key defensive position. Speaking of Otten he and Josh Jenkins have spent time pinch-hitting for an Adelaide team that led the league in hitouts, but they lack some depth at the position.

THEY did get pick 12 from the Dees for Lever and they could choose to use that on the likes of Sam Hayes, Jarrod Brander or Aaron Naughton. Hayes looms as the best ruckman in the draft and could benefit from a year or two in the SANFL to develop into his body before taking the fulltime ruck duties when Jacobs retires. If they decide to use a later pick on a ruck prospect then Morris Medalist Jack Higgins could be the guy Adelaide takes as Charlie Cameron’s immediate replacement in the forward line.

TAC 2017 Round 02 - Oakleigh Chargers v Eastern RangesImage from aflvic.com.au

Brisbane Lions

1. Star power
2. Explosive, outside players
3. Key forward prospects

WITH prospects like Eric Hipwood, Alex Witherden, Harris Andrews, Hugh McCluggage and a few others adding a full season under their belt many are expecting them to take another step in the development and help lift Brisbane off the canvas. The Lions have three top 20 picks to help those players and they need to hit on all three to move into phase two of their rebuild. After losing Tom Rockliff and Josh Schache a star player and tall forward prospect to compliment Hipwood are high up on the shopping list.

THE coveted No. 1 pick shapes as Cameron Rayner, a talented dual-threat midfielder/forward with match-winning abilities. He will need to develop more to become a fulltime mid but is the favourite to hear his name called first. With the 15th or 18th pick an outside speedster like Lochie O’Brien seems like the logical choice, with their third and fourth picks aimed at forward marking prospects.

Carlton Blues

1. Bryce Gibbs’ replacement
2. Goalkickers
3. Depth 

BRYCE Gibbs’ departure will hurt short term for the Blues and their immediate need is for another star midfielder. Patrick Cripps and Ed Curnow’s return will help as well as adding Lang (Geelong) and Kennedy (Giants) to their depth chart, but another star midfielder is a top priority.

THAT player will likely be Paddy Dow with the Eastern Ranges prospect linked to the club in most mock drafts. They will also look at Adam Cerra or Rayner/Luke Davies-Uniacke should one of the slide to the third pick. Pick number 10 could be aimed at adding a crumbing forward to pounce at dropped marks from Charlie Curnow. Failing that they could add Sam Hayes who can serve as a forward/ruckman with Sam Rowe injured, allowing Casboult to spend more time inside 50. Pick 30 and 73 could (and should) be used with a ‘best player available’ mindset to add to the team’s depth.

Collingwood Magpies

1. Key defenders
2. Key forwards
3. Second tier midfield talent

COLLINGWOOD is suddenly very light on for key forwards and key defenders. Apparently, they are toying with playing Darcy Moore at centre half-back to start the season even though he showed promise in the forward line. Outside of that a top-heavy midfield reliant on Sidebottom, Adams, Treloar and Pendlebury needs some more classy ball users and pace.

WITH the sixth overall pick if utility Darcy Fogarty is still on the board, chances are the Magpies won’t let him slide any further. At 192cm he could play in the back or forward six right away and help. If not Fogarty, they could have their fingers crossed that Cera, Dow or one of the other big-time midfielders slip.

Essendon Bombers

1. Inside midfielders
2. Outside midfielders
3. A long-term ruck option

TRADING for the three S’s (Stringer/Saad/Smith) means that Essendon has to wait until the 48th pick to make their first selection. Therefore it’s tough to add any players that may contribute right away. Tough, but not impossible.

BEHIND Zach Merrett and Dyson Heppell the Dons are light on in the engine room after the retirement of Stanton and Watson. A big-bodied type of player will be coveted as well as someone with pace on the outside. That ‘paceman’ may be Dylan Moore who starred at the combine and that ‘inside ball winner’ could be former Docker Haiden Schloithe after a stellar year at the WAFL Failing that a future ruckman is high on the list (Jordan Stewart from the SANFL perhaps).

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Fremantle Dockers

1. Powerful key forward with a strong pair of hands
2. Powerful key forward with a strong pair of hands
3. Powerful key forward with a strong pair of hands (or an inside midfielder)

THE big thing that Fremantle haven’t landed in their rebuilding efforts yet is a key forward. McCarthy and Kerstan were brought to WA last season and looked fine in year one, but both loom as supporting pillars next to a true No. 1 guy. Holding two top five picks also means that they should look to add another stud to their midfield with David Mundy not getting any younger.

THAT ‘stud’ midfielder could very well be Luke Davies-Uniacke who seems like the most ready-made prospect in the draft. Rayner, Dow and Cera will also all remain in the mix and they virtually have their pick of the bunch after Brisbane selects first. Their fifth pick may be used on Darcy Fogarty whom many consider a key forward prospect, with Hayden McLean and Oscar Allen other options that may tempt Fremantle.

Geelong Cats

1. Defenders
2. A future tall forward prospect
3. Crumbing forwards

FOLLOWING Andrew Mackie and Tom Lonergan’s retirement there is a gaping hole in the once solid Cats back six. Harry Taylor should see a permanent move back into defense, but Geelong needs a little more class and down back. After that, another ‘X-factor’ type who can snag a few goals and emerge as Steven Motlop’s replacement would be perfect.

GEELONG has long been linked to Matthew Ling. The half-back flanker and Geelong Falcons product has been moving further and further up the board as the draft nears. Toby Wooler could also be in the mix as a forward/midfielder who is capable of providing plenty of pressure inside the attacking arc.

Gold Coast Suns

1. Midfield star power
2. Polished defenders
3. A line breaking runner

WITH the chosen one Gary Ablett and Jaeger O’Meara leaving in back to back seasons Gold Coast requires more stars in the centre of the ground. David Swallow, Will Brodie, Aaron Hall and Lachie Weller are all great complimentary pieces so not all hope is lost in the midfield. The loss of Saad’s run will also need replacing along with a composed ball user in defense.

DRAFTING their first player at 19 it’s unlikely that they will find a superstar that late in the draft. With the Suns likely to take a ‘best midfielder available’ approach they will have their fingers crossed the likes of Lochie O’Brien or Charlie Constable (who could also be that poised half-back flanker) slides to them. Ed Richards could be their first pick to address their need for pace and one of their picks in the 50’s could also be used to add a delisted player whom can provide some veteran leadership to Stuart Dew’s youthful team.

Greater Western Sydney Giants

1. Devon Smith’s replacement
2. Shane Mumford’s replacement
3. Heath Shaw’s replacement

ONE of the premier lists in the competition a few short years ago is somewhat in turmoil right now. There is a lack of depth at a handful of position and with a seemingly mass exodus each year injecting some youth into the team is critical. They could use all seven of their picks to add depth to the squad and help them remain contenders, while also planning for the future.

PICK No. 11 is the first time the Giants will draft a player in 2017 and Jack Higgins seems like the logical choice to slot into the role left by Devon Smith. Owning two other picks inside the top 30, GWS will try to plan for the future and add another half-back or ruckman. Rory Lobb is the one most likely to take Mumford’s position, but he will need support and that could come in the form of Callum Coleman-Jones. Andrew McPherson or Ryley Stoddart can expect to hear their names by the Giants too and become Heath Shaw’s long-term successor.

Hawthorn Hawks

1. Key defenders
2. A long-term ruckman
3. Key forwards

GONE are the golden years for Hawthorn as another talented crop of premiership players left last year. They are now relatively thin in the tall department with ageing key position players who they need succession plans for sooner rather than later. They need more midfield stars to support Mitchell and hopefully, O’Meara can become that, rather than the Hawks needing to draft such a player.

MUCH like Essendon, the Hawks will have to wait until the 40’s to make their first pick in this year’s draft. When it does come time to choose a player, they will likely take the best tall player available be it forward, ruckman or defender. Some players that could be around the mark include Oscar Clavarino (defender), Hayden McLean (forward) and Lloyd Meek (ruckman).

Melbourne Demons

1. A No. 2 forward next to Hogan
2. Outside midfielders
3. Small forwards

THE Demons now own one of the deepest lists in the AFL, however, they do lack some ‘headlining’ players. After sacrificing their first rounder to get Jake Lever, Melbourne has the key defender they needed and now they need another big body next to Hogan. That plus some outside run and flash could see them add to their already loaded roster.

BACK-to-back picks at 29 and 31 open their draft account and they should look no further than adding Zac Bailey, Toby Wooler and/or Gryan Miers. All three are expected to hear their names called by the end of the second round and Mebourne would be happy snaring any two of those prospects

North Melbourne Kangaroos

1. Best player available
2. Best player available
3. Best player available

THIS might seem like a bit of a copout, by their is no easy solution for the Kangaroos. They are a long way off being a contender and they need help in all areas. Most glaring is the need for a star midfielder, which they should address at No. 4. Failing that pace and a small forward could also be coveted.

THE awesome foursome of Rayner, Davies-Uniacke, Dow and Cerra are likely to be draft first through to fourth in some particular order. The Kangaroos are likely to take whoever is lift out of the bunch with Adam Cerra, a clean, composed all-rounder the favourite to go at No. 4. Lindsay Thomas’ replacement could come in the later rounds via Gryan Miers or Toby Wooler, who can push more into the midfield. Instead, they could target Dylan Moore to address the need for a line-breaker.

Port Adelaide Power

1. High risk, high reward players
2. Young midfielders
3. Key defender

THEIR first five picks come between 46 and 63, meaning that the Power could target long shot options who may pay off in a big way. They traded for Rockliff, Watts and Motlop, but lost their key backman Jackson Trengrove in the trade period. He will need replacing and could be where the first draft choice is aimed.

IF that is the route Port goes down then the key backman they select could be Harrison Petty, Oscar Clavarino or Andrew McPherson with all three likely to be in the mix in the 40’s. Other than that the Power may look at the best midfield prospects left on the board (James Worpel, Brayden Ainsworth or Kane Farrell)

Richmond Tigers

1. Tall marking forward
2. Inside midfielders
3. Outside polish and run

IT’S always tough to try and assess what the reigning premier needs to add to give themselves their best chance at repeating. For the Tigers, though another key forward would be handy to support Jack Riewoldt with Ben Griffiths failing to lock down the role. Otherwise, some more small stars to help keep the ‘small-ball’ movement alive isn’t a bad choice.

AT No. 17 Richmond should look no further than Oscar Allen to address their need for a key forward. Father-son candidate Patrick Naish will join the club via one of their picks in the 20’s providing some outside run and class and tackling machine Lachlan Fogarty could be the other second-round choice.

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St Kilda Saints

1. Outside midfielders
2. Star power
3. Crumbing forwards

BOLSTERED by the seventh and eighth pick in the draft the Saints can add two key players to their balanced list. The retirement of Riewoldt and Montagna signals the end of an era at St Kilda and as they try to find their identity there are still a few holes to fill, none greater than an outside midfielder.

ONE of the first round locks appears to be the Saints taking Jaidyn Stephenson and/or Andrew Brayshaw with their first two picks. Stephenson is a line breaking midfielder addressing an immediate need and Brayshaw is capable of playing as both an inside and outside mid. They could use one of their top 10 picks to take Jack Higgins as a forward/midfielder or instead they might use their 34th or 45th pick on a forward.

Sydney Swans

1. Outside runners
2. Young key forward
3. Rebounding half-back

SYDNEY possesses one of the best engine rooms in the competition, but since the departure of Lewis Jetta, an outside runner has been a coveted commodity. There are a few players hovering around the mark of where the Swans will be drafting first and failing that adding the key forward of the future or a line breaking half-back is another need.

CHARLIE Constable or Lochie O’Brien could become a future key contributor Sydney with the 14th pick. O’Brien is considered one of the best kick’s in the draft and Constable has the skillset perfectly suited to a taller midfielder or rebounding defender. Ryley Stoddart is another backman that could be added and Ben Miller or Toby Wooler could address their tall forward needs.

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West Coast Eagles

1. Matt Pridds/Sam Mitchell’s replacement
2. Midfield depth
3. Small forwards

TWO of the past greats from the previous generation are no longer at West Coast and they need to be replaced. There aren’t too many few candidates on the Eagles list that can step up, so adding another young star next to Yeo, Shuey, Sheed and Gaff will likely be how pick 13 is used. With a slew of selections in this years, draft other engine room prospects and LeCras’ future successor will also attract attention.

HUNTER Clark seems to almost be a certainty to land at West Coast with the versatile midfielder able to contribute right away. James Worpel, Charlie Spargo and Lachlan Fogarty could also hear their names called to add depth to the group orchestrating the play at Nic Natanui’s feet. Zac Bailey, Gryan Miers and Charlie Ballard are others who the Eagles may target with one of their five picks inside the top 37.

Western Bulldogs

1. Inside midfielders
2. Small forwards
3. Defenders

IT’S tough to pinpoint exactly what the Bulldogs need to draft in order to return to the finals next year. Offseason moves for Josh Schache and Jackson Trengrove gives them key position players and Hayden Crozier can prove to be a handy utility. That means that with pick nine and 16 they should like to add more polish to their midfield and defense.

ASIDE from their first two picks, the Western Bulldogs don’t own a pick until all the way back in the 80’s. Therefore the first two picks are likely to be used for immediate needs. Players that fit the bill include Nick Coffield a composed defender who could develop into a midfielder and/orLachlan Fogarty who is a hard-nosed inside presence. Failing that they could add a small forward to crumb at Schache’s feet and provide some extra firepower.

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