A bright spark in what can be a dull AFL offseason has arrived with the 2018 draft upon hours. Tonight a bunch of young studs will have their AFL dreams realized with close to 100 other budding prospects following in their footsteps over the following days. The addition of live pick trading makes writing an accurate mock draft a near impossible task, but I tackled the challenge making my predictions for the first round of what should be a captivating draft.
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Pick #1 Carlton Blues – Sam Walsh, Midfielder, Geelong Falcons
THERE’S no reason for Carlton to overthink this one, with Sam Walsh long linked to the club after their woeful 2018. Izak Rankine has been generating buzz in this spot over the past week or so, but Walsh’s high floor makes him a can’t miss prospect. A potential 200+ gamer and future captain of the club, who is capable of winning a ton of the footy is a fairly safe way to use the top selection. Barring anything crazy Carlton will look to add the creme of the crop to their budding engine room.
Pick #2 Gold Coast Suns – Jack Lukosius, Key Forward, Woodville-West Torrens
SOME uncertainty remains around the Gold Coast Suns’ early picks and whether they will hold onto them or potentially move back in an attempt to snag more assets. However, spending a pick on potentially the next Nick Riewoldt, given the loss of Tom Lynch, sounds like a solid game plan. With consecutive selections, the Gold Coast could very well take Max & Ben King, with a pressing need to add reliable key position guys. If key guys are really what they covet then Jack Lukosius is the answer.
Pick #3 Gold Coast Suns – Izak Rankine, Half-Forward/Midfield, West Adelaide
THIS is where things start to get interesting. I’m a fan of Izak Rankine, with the excitement machine establishing a reputation as a game-changing talent and it seems like the popular, sexy pick. It’s not farfetched for the Suns to consider moving back from this slot if they find someone willing to overpay for Rankine. That being said, Gold Coast lacks fan favourites who can put bums on seats, so Rankine probably won’t slide past pick No. 3.
Pick #4 St Kilda Saints – Connor Rozee, Half-Forward/Midfielder, North Adelaide
THERE are a ton of different directions the Saints could go with the first three picks and potential trades likely to determine how their night unfolds. Should things pan out this way, then the temptation to add some tall timber (most likely Max King) might be too good to pass up. My guess is St Kilda uses their pick on the versatile Connor Rozee, who is a smart user of the footy and one day can develop into a full-time midfielder.
Pick #5 Port Adelaide Power – Max King, Key Forward/Ruck, Sandringham Dragons
PORT Adelaide would be chuffed if they could land Max King at five. Honestly, they probably would be happy to take King or any of the top-4, with three South Australian’s who, I’m sure, would happily stay home. An ACL tear in April halted King’s chances of becoming the first overall pick, but with great agility and poise beneath his knees, the powerful, high-marking forward shapes as a legitimate partner in crime/successor for Charlie Dixon.
Pick #6 Gold Coast Suns – Ben King, Key Defender, Sandringham Dragons
THEY addressed their need for a key forward, now it’s time to look down back. Steven May joining the Demons leaves Gold Coast’s key defensive stocks trending downwards, something that landing Ben King could change. King has shown the ability to play both forward and down back, meaning he isn’t pigeonholed as a key defender. Still, if that’s what Gold Coast needs him to do, he can do just that putting his size and athleticism to good use.
Pick #7 Western Bulldogs – Bailey Smith, Midfielder, Sandringham Dragons
PERSONALLY, I think Bailey Smith has future AFL superstar written all over him, he’s that good. A talent-rich top order pushes him back in the pecking order a hair though with the Bulldogs the lucky beneficiaries from Smith’s slide. There’s a realistic chance that another prospect tickles the Western Bulldogs’ fancy here, but snarring Smith with the 8th pick is about as good as it gets.
Pick #8 Sydney Swans (BID MATCH) – Nick Blakey, Forward/Midfielder, Swans Academy
REGARDLESS of where this bid comes, there’s no way the Swans won’t match it. Nick Blakely’s season was interrupted through multiple injuries, but he has shown the ability to leap at the footy as a marking forward and has had flashes of promise in the midfield. Having been linked to Sydney for years, with his father John an assistant at the Swans’ academy, Blakely will become a Swan with the position of the bid the only real question at hand.
Pick #9 Adelaide Crows – Jye Caldwell, Midfielder, Bendigo Pioneers
THE eight players above seem all but certain to be the first eight off the board, meaning the draft really begins when the Crows make their pick. Holding a handful of early picks, nothing is out of the question for Adelaide, who will more than likely add some depth to their midfield. Should things unfold this way it’ll be hard for Adelaide to pass on the powerful ball-winner in Jye Caldwell.
Image from foxsports.com.au
Pick #10 GWS Giants – Jordan Clark, Defender, Claremont
ROUNDING out the top -10 is one of the draft’s late bolter’s, Jordan Clark, whose stock continues to rise, seemingly with every day that passes. Great awareness and kicking precision have Clark shaping up as an A-grade rebounding defender in the modern AFL. With Heath Shaw nearing the final days of his career, Clark can act as his replacement.
Pick #11 North Melbourne (BID MATCH) – Tarryn Thomas, Midfielder, Roos Academy
NORTH Melbourne will surely match a bid for their talented academy prospect similar to the Swans with Blakely. The question is which club places a bid on Tarryn Thomas, a well-rounded prospect, with the ability to play a number of roles for the Roos. Shaping up as more of a project than a ready-made AFL star, this bid could come later in the teens, but once again Thomas will leave the night as a member of the Kangaroos.
Pick #12 Port Adelaide Power – Jackson Hately, Midfielder, Central Districts
A ready-to-go mid like Jackson Hately doesn’t seem like the most pressing need for Port Adelaide, but he is too good to pass up. In fact, there’s a realistic scenario where Hatley finds his name called in the top-10, depending on how draft night unfolds. A package of their picks could be used to grab one of the sliding stars, but adding someone who can accumulate a ton of the ball isn’t the worst move for the Power.
Pick #13 GWS Giants – Riley Collier-Dawkins, Midfielder, Oakleigh Chargers
MIDFIELDERS are going to be in high order for the Giants this period and Riley Collier-Dawkins might just own the highest ceiling in this class. Having shot up 7cm this year, Collier-Dawkins has been likened to Marcus Bontempelli with the ability to break the lines with his speed and still win his share of the ball. While he might take some time to pan out, the upside Collier-Dawkins possesses warrants an early-ish selection being used on him.
Pick #14 Geelong Cats – Chayce Jones, Midfielder, Launceston
WHILE the midfield is Chayce Jones’ natural position he has the versatility to play a wide range of roles. Jones can be a pinch-hitting smaller forward/defender type if need be, but where Geelong could use some depth is in their engine room. Maybe that forces them to go with a more traditional mid, however, the Tasmanian products’ elite endurance and ability to get his hands on the footy makes him a nice fit for the Cattery.
Pick #15 Adelaide Crows – Zak Butters, Midfielder, Western Jets
ZAK Butters makes a lot of sense for the Crows at No. 15, especially with his ability to be utilised as a smaller forward. Eddie Betts isn’t getting any younger and they lost Charlie Cameron last off-season, so while Butters may develop into a full-time dynamic winger one day, he can have an immediate impact for Adelaide in front of the sticks.
Pick #16 Fremantle – Ian Hill, Midfielder/Half-Forward, Perth
GREEDILY I would love for one of the aforementioned midfield guns to slip to Freo and replace Lachie Neale, but there’s no guarantee that’s the route they would take even if someone did slide. However, it’s not every day you can snag someone with Hill’s upside outside the top-15 (just), but injury issues and a small build might see that occur for the Dockers. With cousins Stephen and Bradley already on the roster, a third Hill would be an exciting prospect for Fremantle fans and front office guys alike.
Pick #17 Collingwood Magpies (BID MATCH) – Isaac Quaynor, Half-Back, Oakleigh Chargers (Pies Academy)
WHILE Collingwood’s commitment to Isaac Quaynor isn’t as strong as some other bids I’ve already mentioned, there’s little doubt over him becoming a Pie by night’s end. If a bid emerged for Quaynor inside the top-15 though, then his place at Collingwood might be under duress. The speedy rebounding back seems to be carved from the same mould as premiership Bulldog Jason Johannisen and wouldn’t be out of place in the Pies’ best 22.
Image from twitter.com
Pick #18 Port Adelaide Power – Xavier Duursma, Midfielder, Gippsland Power
IT’S tough to peg an accurate landing spot for Xavier Duursma, who boasts a wide variety of skills. The potential stardom that the Gippsland mid owns could see him vault into top-10 consideration with plenty of clubs eager to get him on their list. He can use his speed to burst away from packs, which could lead to the Power using him in a half-back role earlier in his career to replace Jasper Pittard, who fled via trade. If Port can land a traditional ball winner (see pick 13) early in the piece, they might have a steal on their hands just a few picks later.
Pick #19 Adelaide Crows – Ned McHenry, Midfielder, Geelong Falcons
WITH the midfield addressed the Crows will probably look to turn their attention elsewhere, especially if they take Butters earlier in the piece. However, Ned McHenry is high up on their shopping list and it may be tough to pass on him at pick 20. The hard running, pressure forward is capable of playing in the midfield but is best suited closer to the goals, which could give Adelaide yet another string in their standout offensive bow.
Pick #20 Western Bulldogs (BID MATCH) – Rhylee West, Midfielder, Western Jets
FATHER-son prospect Rhylee West could be forced to wait until day two to hear his name called, but there’s little doubt over which club he will land at. The son of 7x best and fairest winner and Bulldogs legend Scott West, Rhylee will be eager to carve out a reputation of his own at Whitten Oval with his ferocious attack on the footy giving the Dogs some extra bite (pun intended) and toughness entering 2019.
Image from afl.com.au
Pick #21 Richmond – Liam Stocker, Midfielder, Sandringham Dragons
THE Tigers seem set to bolster their midfield after losing several depth pieces this year, paving the way for Liam Stocker to being taken 21st overall. A bullocking midfielder who is a star around the stoppages could complement this Tigers roster nicely and that’s exactly what Stocker brings to the table. The reigning Morrish Medalist will hope to have an immediate impact like last year’s Richmond first rounder, Liam Higgins, which isn’t out of the question.
Pick #22 Brisbane Lions – Luke Valente, Midfielder, Norwood
IF the Lions want to take another step forward next season then hitting on this pick will be super important. Enter Luke Valente, the captain of the victorious South Australian NAB AFL under-18 championship, who can play both as an inside or outside midfielder. Valente showed off his ability to win loads of the ball, but if he can have a scoreboard impact for Brisbane as well, things will be trending in the right direction.
Pick #23 GWS – Curtis Taylor, Half-Forward/Midfielder, Calder Cannons
A lot of players have found themselves rising throughout the draft process, but one name who is slipping ever so slightly, through no fault of his own, is Curtis Taylor. The classy forward can hold his own in the middle, but his goal kicking and marking prowess should see him used inside 50 more often than not. A good get for a Giants forward line that needs more firepower.
Pick #24 West Coast Eagles – Sam Sturt, Half-Forward, Dandenong Stingrays
AND then there was one. If I was a betting man, I would guess that the West Coast Eagles take a best player available approach, with their compensation pick to close out round one. Their premiership roster doesn’t have many glaring holes but a Mark LeCras replacement would be in high order. With Sam Sturt up for grabs, they’d be crazy not to draft the agile forward who is an incredible athlete with oodles of potential.
Banner from theroar.com.au
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