Birds of a feather swoop in for draft steals

After all the coverage and talk about who won or lost the 2013 National Draft, very few look to the Rookie Draft to see whether they have done well. Most players are considered speculative and bargains if anything becomes of them. Clubs like Brisbane, St Kilda, Hawthorn and Adelaide were talked about as the big winners of the National Draft, but it is the latter two that have shared the spoils in the Rookie Draft.

Hawthorn already impressed with their bargain selections of Billy Hartung, Dayle Garlett and James Sicily. Those three selections at their relevant picks are like shooting a three point buzzer beater from half court. The Hawks have backed it up with selections that include Dallas Willsmore and Zac Webster. Those two players could very well have gone in the main draft and Hawthorn have not only picked up one, but two gems, making it five talented players with immense potential.

Hartung is a kid who has about as much hurt factor as anyone in the draft. If he can work on his defensive side, he’ll be a real game breaker with his incredible endurance and burst speed. Dayle Garlett has all the silky skills to become a top player and with his mistakes behind him, he’s easily a top ten pick on his day. James Sicily is an underrated strong marking medium forward who can out-mark guys much taller than himself. Dallas Willsmore might be an undersized key forward but he’s a reliable mark and kick for goal which will provide another option up forward for the Hawks. Zac Webster has fantastic agility and while he needs to work on his consistency, he has all the characteristics to make it at the top level.

Hawthorn fans might not know it yet, but they may very well have uncovered a draft similar to that of Geelong in 1999 where every pick was a huge tick. It’s obviously too early to be predicting too much, but on exposed junior form, these kids could be something very special.

Adelaide’s draft campaign was best recognised by being able to snag Matt Crouch in the second round to join his brother in South Australia. It was an incredible steal considering Crouch should never have slipped outside the top 15 let alone first round. While his weaknesses have been well documented, he is a ball magnet with elite vision and could be a very good player in the mould of a Luke Ball or Brad Sewell. While he might not come with the bells and whistles, he’ll be the nuts and bolts of a resurgent Crows midfield.

Adelaide’s performance in the rookie draft was nothing short of phenomenal, selecting four players: Charlie Cameron, James Battersby, Jake Kelly and Alex Spina. With all the talk about Darcy Cameron, the West Australian ruck, many forgot his namesake Charlie, the dangerous small forward. He’s a raw talent but has plenty of X-factor and speed to burn. James Battersby should have been taken in the second round of the National Draft. The fact he slid so low would have made a good dinner joke for the Crows recruiters. He’s a fantastic utility who has performed well across a number of positions and could be upgraded next season if the timing is right.

Jake Kelly is someone who the Pies looked long and hard at given his bloodlines, but decided to re-rookie Corey Gault instead, leaving the Crows to pounce on Craig’s son. Alex Spina is another one who could very well have been taken in the second or third rounds of the National Draft but instead, the Crows couldn’t believe their luck, snagging him with their fourth selection in the rookie draft. Again, it’s hard to predict how the players will develop, but the Crows have rummaged through a bargain basement and somehow found diamonds hidden amongst rocks.

While it is far too early to predict for sure how clubs fared in the draft; on exposed junior form, the Hawks and Crows have nailed their selections. It’s scary to think two teams who played in an epic Preliminary Final and one that is coming off a magnificent premiership, could do so incredibly well. The recruiting staff of both clubs and indeed all clubs, need a pat of the back for their incredible work throughout the season to pluck the best young kids from around the country.

One comment

  1. Saints’ rookie draft was nothing to sneeze at. Many experts had Eli Templeton as a top 30 pick, and Saints themselves rated him highly – very surprised to see him slide through the whole draft. And Mav Weller is an AFL ready player with a booming kick and elite fitness. coming from several years development on the Gold Coast. If he’s hungry to get back on a main list, he’ll have worked on his deficiencies and be ready to go.

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