THE AFL Draft has almost arrived with another near 100 hopefuls about to have their footballing dreams realised. All 18 clubs will have their own ideal scenario of how this year’s draft will unfold, with some coveting academy/father-son prospects and others looking to wheel and deal to move up or down in the order. Here’s how each AFL club can aid their offseason changes by realising their best-case scenario.
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Best Case Scenario – Restock the talls without making moves
THE mass exodus that was being reported out of Adelaide this offseason never turned out to be as bad as first thought. Losing a lot of veteran experience is less than ideal, but with six Crows departing, opportunity arrises for plenty of others. Seeing tall timber like Sam Jacobs, Alex Keath and Josh Jenkins leave will hurt the Crows’ depth so adding some lanky youngsters will be a priority come this week. Adelaide would love for Luke Jackson to slide to pick No. 6, even though Reilly O’Brien showed he can be a starting calibre ruck in today’s AFL, although that seems nearly impossible. Key defender Fischer McAsey could also be in their sights, however, taking him with their first selection would be considered a reach. Owning picks No. 22 and 23 means SA natives Will Gould and Will Day could come into play as well.
Best Case Scenario – Midfield help arrives in the second round
THANKS to smart drafting and free agent/trade work in the past few summers there aren’t many holes in Brisbanes roster right now. They traded away their first-round selection with Port Adelaide last week, but there is a lot of belief that the talent level is relatively even between the late teens and early 30’s in this year’s player pool. Following the exit of depth pieces like Ryan Bastinac, Lewis Taylor, Ben Keays and Tom Cutler adding some midfielders with their three picks in the second round would be a perfect scenario. Cooper Stephens is a popular name that the Lions would love to secure, but the likes of Jay Rantall, Sam Philp and Thompson Dow could also help fill the void.
Best Case Scenario – Caleb Serong is still on the board when it’s their turn
THERE are a number of different routes that Carlton could go with their first selection and a lot will depend on how the draft unfolds before pick No. 9. Despite owning bulldozer Patrick Cripps and the classy Sam Walsh, adding a versatile midfielder would still make a lot of sense, especially with Marc Murphy on his final legs. Some would like to see the Blues chase Dylan Stephens or even Brodie Kemp, both of whom are good fits, but they could create a three-headed midfield monster by adding Caleb Serong to their unit in the middle of the ground. There are no certainties he’ll still be available at their pick, but if the Vic Country MVP is around I don’t think Carlton can pass up the opportunity to grab him.
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Best Case Scenario – Adding a young key forward
AFTER their pursuit of Dayne Beams and Isaac Quaynor/Will Kelly last year, the Pies will have to wait until the 35th pick to make their first selection in this week’s draft. At that selection, Collingwood would love to get their hands on a key forward that they can play a versatile role between the attacking 50 while pinch-hitting in the ruck to spell Brodie Grundy. Unfortunately, these types of players don’t grow on trees and the Magpies will hope that Darcy Cameron can become one such player, easing the pressure on Mason Cox. The chances of finding that type of talent in this year’s draft pool is slim, with WA native Mitch Georgiades the one likely guy Collingwood will have their sights set on. Buoyed by three other latter selections, packaging them with pick No. 35 to move up and secure Georgiades’ services could help them address their need.
Best Case Scenario – Someone helps them move up
ESSENDON enters this year’s draft in an interesting spot, with 2019 marking the third consecutive draft without a top-30 selection. Much like Collingwood, they’d love to add some key forward depth following the delisting of Mitch Brown and Joe Daniher’s unlikeliness to return in 2021. The one young gun the Bombers would love to land is Cooper Stephens, however, he’ll all but certainly be gone by the time they start their draft at No. 31. Moving up the order to nab Stephens or even big forward Mitch Georgiades, who missed all of last season with a quad injury, would be on the agenda for Essendon.
Best Case Scenario – A Liam Henry bid comes after their first two selections
SOME savvy trading and pick swapping has helped Fremantle turn an awkward situation into a glass-half-full instance. Having lost pacy midfielders Ed Langdon and Bradley Hill in free agency, the Dockers now enter the draft with picks No. 7 & No. 8 and there’s a chance they add another top tier youngster after those selections. No matter which pair they choose inside the top-10, the Dockers will have their fingers and toes crossed that no-one places a bid on Next Generation Academy prospect Liam Henry before their selections. If that is the case then Fremantle will be able to draft two talented players AND match a bid for Henry whenever it falls. They can’t instantly replace the playmakers in Hill and Langdon, but netting essentially three first-round talents is a good start.
Best Case Scenario – Cooper Stephens and Josh Worrell become Cats
WITH Geelong forced to trade Tim Kelly back to Western Australia the Cats will enter the draft with three selections inside the top-25. Following the delisting of Lachie Henderson and given Harry Talyor’s age, addressing their key defensive stocks would be a wise choice for at least one of those selections. The same could be said for the midfield with Joel Selwood and Gary Ablett in the twilight of their careers, forcing Geelong to start thinking of a succession plan in the middle. Enter Josh Worrell and Cooper Stephens, who shape us as the perfect options to solve those problems for Geelong. Worrell, much like Taylor, has the versatility to play at both ends of the ground and can be an impact player from day one. For the third time already this article Cooper Stephens’ name is being mentioned, but if the Cats were able to land the Geelong Falcons co-captain it could be one of the feel-good stories of the draft. Regardless of which two out of their three picks they need to use to land these two, if Stephens and Worrell are in navy hoops by the end of the draft, Geelong will be chuffed.
Gold Coast Suns
Best Case Scenario – The Suns hit on picks #15 and #20
WE all know how the first two selections of the draft are going to unfold with Gold Coast all but certain to take Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson first and second overall. More importantly for the Suns, picks No. 15 and 20 need to become winners as well. They could choose to nab a key defender with the likes of Josh Worrell, Fischer McAsey and Brodie Kemp all making sense. It can’t hurt to add some more class to their engine room either, meaning Trent Bianco or Jeremy Sharp could be on their radar. Gold Coast hasn’t ruled out moving either pick to gather more assets, but the Suns need to start fixing their problems by investing in talented youngsters rather than more picks in future drafts. Adding a key pillar and a good ball-user to complement their first two picks would be a real win for Stuart Dew and Co.
Greater Western Sydney Giants
Best Case Scenario – Luke Jackson and Tom Green go back-to-back
THE best-case scenario for GWS hinges on what Melbourne does at No. 3. Should they take Luke Jackson, the Giants wouldn’t be extremely bummed, in fact, GWS probably won’t mind which product comes off the board at three. As long as it’s not a Tom Green bid. The Giants academy prospect is all but certain to stay associated with the club and they’ve smartly moved as high up the draft order as possible to ensure they get another bite at the cherry after adding another talented youngster at No. 4. Chances are Jackson will be the third name called on draft night and if that’s the case, GWS could choose to target a Heath Shaw successor. Both Hayden Young and the speedy Lachie Ash make sense for the Giants and they can instantly aid the club off the half-back line.
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Best Case Scenario – A bid for Finn Maginness comes as late as possible
IT’S unlike Hawthorn to own their first-round pick after wheeling and dealing in recent times to get ready-made players rather than dip into the draft to build their roster. 2019 marks the first time they’ve held a pick higher than 45 in the last four seasons and the Hawks will be hoping they can use it the way they want to. For that to happen Hawthorn will be hoping nobody places a bid on father-son prospect Finn Maginness before their first selection at No. 11. Maginness has climbed mock drafts throughout the year with the aggressive ball-winner shaping as a great addition to the Hawks’ list. The football heads at Waverly have been trying to play down Maginness’ ability so they can use their first-rounder to add another capable youngster to their mix. Having addressed some of their key defensive concerns already, Hawthorn is in the luxurious position of being able to take a ‘best player available’ approach at 11 with Dylan Stephens someone they would love to still be on the board.
Best Case Scenario: Three picks = Luke Jackson, Cody Weightman and Kysaiah Pickett
FLUCTUATION all over the draft board has left the Demons with three draft picks in this year’s player selection period. No. 3, 10 and 28 are all valuable picks and given the fact they’ve traded away their first, second and fourth-round selections in 2020, nailing their trio of picks this time around will be crucial if Melbourne wants to spring back up the ladder. The ideal instance would see them land touted ruck/forward Luke Jackson at No. 3 and then hopefully dynamic small forward Cody Weightman will be up for grabs when their second choice at No. 10 comes. If that comes to fruition, pick 28 could go in a number of different directions, but the Demons should look to add another small forward in the form of Kysaiah Pickett. Oozing with x-factor potential, Pickett shapes as a special type of player that puts bums on seats with his natural goal sense and netting him with Jackson and Weightman would see the Dees leave the draft as big-time winners.
North Melbourne Kangaroos
Best Case Scenario – Boosting their defensive stocks
THE Kangaroos will have to wait until pick No. 26 to make their first choice this year after dealing away pick No. 8 to Melbourne, who on-traded it to Freo. That’s not the end of the world though, with plenty of talent still up for grabs inside the top-30. As it stands right now, Robbie Tarrant is one of the elite key backs in the game, but aside from him, the Roos are thin when it comes to A-grade defenders. There is a surplus of backmen who are expected to be first-round or second-round selections and luckily for North Melbourne they have three selections right in the middle of round two. The likes of Will Day, Trent Rivers, Sam De Koning, Will Gould and/or Brock Smith could slide and still be up for grabs around this area and getting their hands on a few of those aforementioned defenders would make North very happy.
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Port Adelaide Power
Best Case Scenario – Replicating their 2018 draft success
AFTER picking Connor Rozee (5th), Zak Butters (12th) and Xavier Duursma (18th) last season, Port once again hits the draft with three picks inside the top-18. That trio of rookies combined to play 61 of a possible 66 games in their first AFL season and I’m sure they’ll only improve once they get another pre-season under their belts. Juggling a few picks leaves the Power well-poised to add another group of quality youngsters, with father-son prospect Jackson Mead potentially rounding out the group of four. A bid for Mead won’t likely fall inside the top-20, meaning Port Adelaide should be able to use all of their first-rounders. If they can find players who will contribute right away it’ll go a long way to helping them return to the finals in 2020.
Best Case Scenario – Acquiring future assets by facilitating trades for other clubs
GIVEN the depth across their entire squad Richmond is spoilt for choice ahead of this year’s draft. One of the current powers of the competition won’t need to nail their picks and while I’m sure they’ll still want to add some youth, trading out of their current slots could be a smart play. Currently holding eight picks in the draft I’d be stunned if the Tigers chose to use even half of those and if they can land some 2020 selections for their troubles, they might want to look long and hard at parting with some of their draft capital. The Bombers and Magpies are just two clubs who could be tempted by Richmond’s first selection currently slated at No. 19 and there are bound to be clubs who come calling in need of additional late selections to match bids. Stashing some future assets up their sleeve might just help extend their premiership window and help them land the players they covet in upcoming drafts.
St Kilda Saints
Best Case Scenario – Somehow a tantalising key forward comes to Moorabbin
VIEWED as the big winners of the trade period by many, St Kilda will enter the draft with just three picks, none of which are higher than No. 51. With Paddy McCartin stepping away from the game and Josh Bruce’s departing to the Bulldogs, the Saints would love to nab another key forward as unlikely as it seems. Max King will return to the field in this upcoming season after rehabbing from an ACL tear in 2019, forcing him to miss his rookie campaign, while raw NextGen academy player Bigoa ‘Biggy’ Nyuon should become a Saint this week as well. The thought of plugging Charlie Dean, Emerson Jeka or Cooper Sharman into their list of offseason additions would help the Saints complete a near-perfect summer.
Best Case Scenario – Force a GWS (Tom Green) bid and draft Hayden Young
THE real best-case scenario would see Sydney somehow land Luke Jackson with the 5th overall pick, but I can’t see a world in which he falls through both Melbourne AND GWS’ fingers. There aren’t many other ruckmen worth taking that early and there are plenty of other options to address the need with one of their picks later in the draft. For that reason, forcing their crosstown rivals to fork up their assets for Tom Green is the way to go at No. 5, which then paves the way for Sydney to draft Hayden Young. The talented intercept marker and clean ball user would be a huge plus for the Swans’ back-six, especially after the loss of Zak Jones, Jarrad McVeigh and Heath Grundy this offseason.
West Coast Eagles
Best Case Scenario – A Shannon Hurn successor is unearthed
AS a Freo fan it pains me to write this, but the West Coast Eagles may have the most balanced list in the entire AFL. For that reason, there’s no pressure on the Eagles to have a blinder of a draft, especially given the fact that they only have two picks following the Tim Kelly trade. While some think a small forward should be in their sights, Jeremy Cameron and Jack Petrucelle have shown enough to fill Willie Rioli’s shoes if the dynamic small is whacked with a ban from ASADA. For that reason, West Coast should start to plan for the future and look at a rebounding defender with a penetrating kick to one day take the reigns from skipper Shannon Hurn. Will Schofield and Lewis Jetta are in the twilight of their careers as well, so someone like local prospects Jaxon Prior or Ben Johnson landing at the club would be ideal.
Best Case Scenario – Landing a small forward with the coveted 13th overall pick
THEY’LL have to fight off the likes of Carlton, Melbourne and Port Adelaide, but if they can do so the Bulldogs could find a gem in front of the sticks at No. 13. They fought hard to hold onto their first-round choice and still managed to land the players they wanted in the trade period, so if a small forward also comes to the Kennell, the Bulldogs could give their offseason a massive tick. Pocket rocket Kysaiah Pickett might have to be their choice if Cody Weightman is off the board already, but a goalkicking small is still the coveted type for Footscray. Their second selection doesn’t come until pick No. 53, so while taking Pickett at No. 13 would be viewed as a serious reach by some, if they are infatuated with the dynamic forward, they shouldn’t hesitate for a moment.
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