Who could your team be targeting in the 2022 AFL Draft?

Groundbreaking headlines are few and far between in the AFL world right now, as players enjoy some well-earned downtime. The front office personnel from all 18 clubs haven’t switched off though, primarily focused on the upcoming draft at the end of November. Each team will enter the 2022 draft with different ambitions depending on which picks they hold, and with another star-studded batch of juniors set to join the AFL ranks, every club will have a wish list of players they can hopefully select.

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Adelaide Crows

Draft picks: 46, 56, 59
Acquiring Izak Rankine in the trade period saw Adelaide give up their top-5 selection, with a handful of additional trades leading to their first selection falling at No. 46. It’s virtually impossible to predict who they will target with this third-round pick, but with the Crows committing to father-son prospect Max Michalanney, they may have to sacrifice their entire draft hand if a bid falls inside the early part of the second round for the Norwood defender. Failing that, they could always take a late flier on a developmental ruck project such as Max Knobel out of Gippsland Power.

Brisbane Lions

Draft picks: 34, 35, 36, 38, 55, 73
It’s no secret that Brisbane’s trade period revolved around fetching draft points to match incoming bids on touted talents Will Ashcroft and Jaspa Fletcher. There’s a world where GWS bids on Ashcroft with the first pick of the draft, but either way, the Lions will have to give up most of their points to snag the Vic Metro midfielder early on. We may also see a team force Brisbane’s hand in the back half of the first round by bidding on Jaspa Fletcher. The club is set up to make sure the pair of father-son prospects end the night in Lions colours, and it’s unlikely they’ll make many other moves.

Image from foxsports.com.au

Carlton Blues

Draft picks: 10, 29, 49, 66
Will Setterfield went out and Blake Acres came in, but the Blues managed to hold on to some significant picks heading into the draft. Their first selection could go in a variety of ways, and it’s likely that Carlton will see who falls to them and act accordingly. Injecting some class and pace across their half-forward line in the form of Ollie Hollands, the younger brother of Gold Coast’s Elijah, wouldn’t be a bad route to go down.

Despite an unreal 2022 season, the previous health issues of Charlie Curnow may cause them to look at another key forward like high-flying Oakleigh Charger Matthew Jefferson, who is shaping up as a future star playing out of the goalsquare. Entering this draft, the Blues have the luxury of targeting the best available talent thanks to their well-rounded roster and they can utilise their latter picks to target high-risk, high-rewards draftees.

Collingwood Magpies

Draft picks: 16, 25, 27, 51
Their surge up the ladder last season will fill Magpies fans with optimism, and a solid trade period only enhances that belief. Even though they lack a traditional “Coleman Medal threat” in front of goal, their forward line still gets the job done, which may lead Collingwood to target a backman with their early pick. Looking at a key defender in the form of East Perth’s Jedd Busslinger or Lewis Hayes our of the Eastern Rangers makes sense, allowing them to round out their list with the rest of their selections inside the top-30.

Essendon Bombers

Draft picks: 4, 22, 54, 62, 68, 72
The Bombers really need to hit a home run in this draft. Luckily for them, even after an Ashcroft bid, there are some franchise-altering talents up for grabs. Harry Scheezel has long been linked to North Melbourne, which means they’ll probably get to choose from ball-winning maestros George Wardlaw and Elijah Tsatas with the 4th pick. Essendon’s later picks will be sacrificed to land Alwyn Davey’s offspring Alwyn Davey Jr and Jayden Davey as father-son choices, both of whom have the skill set to emerge as crafty, crumbling forwards in the front-6. A lot has been made about the Bombers’ lack of reliable key defenders, so I won’t be shocked if they did some maneuvering to secure another backman as well.

Image from foxsports.com.au

Fremantle Dockers

Draft picks: 30, 44, 67, 76
One of the most active teams in the trade period, Fremantle are now left with a lean draft hand in 2022. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t still enhance their promising list with a pick in the back half of the second round the first chance they have to do so. Sticking with a similar theme they’ve displayed in recent drafts, the Dockers will turn their attention to local prospects, with speedster Kaleb Smith one to monitor.

Having failed to lure Jeremy Sharp home this offseason, Freo could snare the East Freo product, who won the 20m sprint at the WA combine and placed 3rd in the agility test. Edward Allan, the son of former Hawk and Docker Ben, is another potential target who covers a lot of ground and accumulated possessions at ease with Claremont this past season as a skilled, mobile tall. He may be gone by the time their pick rolls around, but Fremantle would love to see him slide and pounce on the WA local.

Geelong Cats

Draft picks: 7, 58, 64
Snagging the 7th overall selection from Gold Coast allows the reigning premiers to keep bolstering their list, and their sights are apparently set on one player. Local young gun Jhye Clark should still be available when it’s Geelong’s turn in the draft and the last time they drafted a player at No. 7, they selected Joel Selwood. There are eerie similarities between the duo, with Selwood mentoring Clark at times this year, and there’s a possibility that the Geelong Falcons talent can develop into a long-term midfield replacement for the retiring champion. 

Gold Coast Suns

Draft picks: 5, 45, 71, 74
Multiple deals led to Gold Coast giving up their picks in the middle portion of the draft, but they still have a top-5 pick to utilise. Assuming the draft goes according to plan, they’ll be selecting from Elijah Tstas, Bailey Humphrey or Mattaes Phillipou at this spot, all of whom can provide the Suns with an elite-level player who can have an instant impact. If I had the choice out of those three, I’d lean towards drafting powerful mid-forward hybrid Bailey Humphrey. Although, as we all know, who Gold Coast picks doesn’t matter, keeping them beyond their rookie deal is the real priority.

Greater Western Sydney Giants

Draft picks: 1, 15, 18, 19, 31, 57, 61
Trading up to secure the first overall selection in the draft gives GWS all the power at the top of the order. They could choose to put Brisbane under the pump and make a bid for Will Ashcroft, but regardless of if their pick falls at No. 1 or No. 2, everyone believes they’re taking Aaron Cadman. The Vic Country key forward turned heads with his three-goal cameo in the U-18 Championship game, and the Giants are hoping he can fill the void left by Jeremy Cameron in 2021 in front of goal.

Additional wheeling and dealing and losing Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper to Richmond leaves GWS with a handful of extra picks in the top-20, which will likely be used on the next available midfielder. Olli Hotton, Coby Burgiel, Lachlan Cowan and Henry Hustwaite are hopeful targets that can help Adam Kingsley commence a new era at Greater Western Sydney.

Hawthorn Hawks

Draft picks: 6, 24, 41, 48, 50, 52, 65
Having lost established stars including Jack Gunston, Tom Mitchell and Jaeger O’Meara, while also seeing Ben McEvoy and Liam Shiels retire means the rebuild is well and truly on at Hawthorn. There are already some pieces in place and the Hawks can afford to be patient who whomever they select 6th overall, with list manager Mark McKenzie crossing his fingers hoping that Elijah Tsatas is still on the board at their selection. It’s very possible that Tsatas will have already been snapped up, meaning they may need to turn their attention to Bailey Humphrey, Cam Mackenzie or Jhye Clark. Following their first-round pick, Hawthorn could consider strong-bodied key Brayden George, rebounding defender Lachlan Cowan or, freakishly talented forward Isaac Keeler in round two.

Melbourne Demons

Draft picks: 13, 37
Granting Luke Jackson’s trade request helped the Dees move into the top-15 and thanks to their premiership window being wide open, there’s no pressure with this selection. The core of their midfield are tied to long-term deals, meaning Melbourne could look towards the best possible prospect on the board, while also possibly making life hard for their peers by placing bids on the likes of Jaspa Fletcher and/or Alwyn Davey Jr. A few names to monitor include, Ollie Hollands, Cam Mackenzie and Elijah Hewitt, but to be honest, the Demons can’t really lose when it comes to making two picks in this year’s draft.

North Melbourne Kangaroos

Draft picks: 2, 3, 23, 40, 43, 70
A pair of picks inside the top-3 will be crucial for North Melbourne’s rebuild and it looks like they are going to secure some serious talent with those selections. Harry Sheezel is a starting point, with the dynamic half-forward one player that the Roos are reportedly zeroing in on. He will provide North with a match-winning talent and it’s likely that they’ll target a ready-made MID with their other pick.

George Wardlaw fits the bill despite hamstring injuries plaguing his final junior season with Elijah Tsatas another potential choice. Outside of the first round, Cooper Harvey, the son of AFL games record holder and club stalwart Brent, is set to join the Kangaroos too, with the possibility they look at the best ruck prospect in Harry Barnett as Todd Goldstein’s successor.

Port Adelaide Power

Draft picks: 33, 60
Trading for Junior Rioli and Jason Horne-Francis leaves Port Adelaide with just two picks this offseason, but there are still options that can bolster their list. The writing is on the wall for the Power to target key defender Ethan Phillips, the most recent winner of the Fothergill-Round-Mitchell Medal as the VFL’s most promising young talent. An elite intercept mark out of Port Melbourne, Phillips’ ability to read the ball in flight could see him instantly slot into the backline as a ready-made tall. Port could also choose to stay local and go for Jaiden Magor, Jakob Ryan or Isaac Keeler if someone beats them to Phillips.

Image from portadelaidefc.com.au

Richmond Tigers

Draft picks: 53, 63
Richmond spent five picks inside the top-30 a season ago and netting Tim Taranto + Jacob Hopper via trade has all but ruled them out of this year’s draft. With the top picks they do have, the Tigers could hope to take a flier on some lesser-known talent and develop them, or they may even be inclined to give a discarded AFL player a lifeline. Either way, the draft wasn’t a priority for the Richmond hierarchy this offseason.

St Kilda Saints

Draft picks: 9, 28, 32, 47
The tweaks and changes made to the drafting rule surrounding Next Generation Acadamey prospects could hurt the Saints this offseason, with Cam Mackenzie in their sights, but unlikely to still be on the board when they pick 9th overall. Something tells me that St Kilda will be the team that pounces on the ultra-confident Mattaes Phillipou who is the self-proclaimed “best player in the draft”.

Boasting the ability to hit the scoreboard and contribute in the midfield, Phillipou may be the perfect addition to the Saints’ list, with the likes of Bailey Humphrey and Ollie Hollands bound to be on their radar as well. Blessed with a few extra draft picks in the second round, St Kilda could look long and hard at picking mature-age key defender Ethan Phillips, stoppage specialist Mitch Szybkowski or the gut-running Jaxon Binns. Landing two of those players as well as Mackenzie or Phillipou would be a great haul for the Saints.

Sydney Swans

Draft picks: 14, 17, 42, 75
Some swift trading in 2021 results in Sydney owning to picks in the first round, both of which could be utilised to add some exciting talent to a list that reached the most recent Grand Final. The Swans have proven they can find diamonds in the rough previously and perhaps dangerous small forward Jacob Konstanty could be their man, giving Sydney another dimension in their forward line. Some of the mainstream names are bound to slide on draft night too, meaning they can bide their time and potentially add key forward Matthew Jefferson, contested bull Henry Hustwaite or the versatile Olli Hotton.

West Coast Eagles

Draft picks: 8, 12, 20, 26
In a perfect world, the Eagles would land two top-tier WA talents with picks 8 & 12, and it’s very possible that they manage to do so. Western Australia’s MVP from the U-18 Championships Rueben Gibney is atop their wish list with the big-bodied MID an ideal inclusion to West Coast’s engine room. They would likely settle for either key defender Jedd Busslinger or big game performer Elijah Hewett with their next selection, both of whom could be important pillars in their rebuild.

Blessed with a pair of choices in the second round, the Eagles may be intrigued by ruckman Harry Barnett out of SA who could become the long-term replacement for Nic Naitanui. Failing that, there are a handful of other candidates who West Coast may turn to in the 20’s, including, local line-breaker Kaleb Smith, outside midfielder Darcy Jones or high leaping, marking tall Max Gruzewski.

Western Bulldogs

Draft picks: 11, 21, 39, 69
The Western Bulldogs find themselves in an interesting position with their draft hand this offseason. Despite losing Josh Dunkley and Lachie Hunter during the trade period, the Bulldogs still have a very capable on-ball unit, however, when they pick at No. 11 there are bound to be some attractive midfield options available. Murray Bushrangers talent Oliver Hollands seems to be their preferred choice here, with West Aussie Elijah Hewett another possible player they have in their sights. Another crumbing forward could be what they seek with their second selection, leading to the Dogs picking Olli Hotton or Jacob Konstanty at 21. 

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