2017 National Draft Reviews: Adelaide-Fremantle

WITH the 2017 AFL National Draft done and dusted, our team takes a look at how each team fared and give an indication of how they think each player could fit into each side. This article will contain Adelaide to Fremantle, with two further articles to come regarding the other 12 teams.
Adelaide Crows
Tom Wyman
Pick 12 – Darcy Fogarty (Glenelg) 192cm | 95kg | General Forward / Inside Midfielder
Hamish Ogilvie and the recruiting team would have been ecstatic when Darcy Fogarty made it through to them. He was precisely what the Crows and their fans wanted prior to the draft. It did appear unlikely, but the boy from Lucindale will be staying in South Australia. Fogarty entered the year in the mix for the number one selection. However, partly due to injury issues, he never really got going in 2017, despite playing some league football for Glenelg. He had a disappointing National Under 18 Championships but his strength, power, foot skills and versatility could make him the best player in his draft class.
Pick 39 – Andrew McPherson (Woodville West-Torrens) 186cm | 79kg | General Defender
With their second pick of the draft, the Crows added another talented South Aussie in medium defender Andrew McPherson. The Woodville West-Torrens boy had an injury-interrupted season, missing the mid-season Under 18 carnival. However in 2016, as a bottom-ager, Andrew showed some very positive signs for the future. McPherson’s foot skills are excellent and his endurance allows for consistent rebound off the half-back line. He’s one who projects to become more of a midfielder within a few years. A real leader off the field, McPherson will likely be in the mix to fill the injured Brodie Smith’s role next year.
Summary: After losing so many players in recent times, the Crows have picked local talent this year and would be very pleased with both boys. Darcy Fogarty will add another dangerous element to the Grand Finalists side, likely starting up forward. Whilst pick 39 Andrew McPherson comes in and immediately adds depth across the half-back/outside midfield ranks. Both have the potential to play next year, particularly Fogarty, but it’s a tough side to break into.
Brisbane Lions
Tom Wyman
Pick 1 – Cameron Rayner (Western Jets) 187cm | 87kg | General Forward / Inside Midfielder
The Lions had plenty of time to think about this one and in Cameron Rayner, they have the best young player in the country. Was used up forward and through the midfield for the Western Jets and Vic Metro. He is a powerful player with strong hands overhead, ability to win the contested ball and excellent strength one-on-one. All year there have been question marks over his endurance, which will need to be addressed before he can move into a more permanent midfield role. There’s no two ways about it, Cam Rayner will be a star.
Pick 15 – Zac Bailey (Norwood) 181cm | 81kg | Inside Midfielder
Zac Bailey is one of the better inside midfielders in the draft pool. The thing that stands out with him, for me, is his acceleration out of stoppages. He wins the contested ball then speeds out of congestion before dishing it off to teammates. Bailey, who hails from the Northern Territory but boarded in Adelaide, is a nice kick and can do some real damage. Endurance will be improved in an AFL environment.
Pick 18 – Brandon Starcevich (East Perth) 187cm | 84kg | Balanced Midfielder
Some will argue this is a bit of a reach, but with three picks inside the top 20, the Lions could afford to take grab Brandon Starcevich earlier than anticipated. Starcevich is a speedy midfielder or half-back who can really inflict damage on the opposition with his foot skills and agility. Whilst he will be required to work on his consistency, the Western Australian has some very handy traits and will add to a talent-packed Lions side.
Pick 41 – Toby Wooller (Oakleigh Chargers) 193cm | 90kg | Key Forward
In Toby Wooller, the Lions have a key forward who is absolutely committed on making it in the AFL. His leadership and work rate would have been extremely appealing for Brisbane as they continue to assemble a young unit. Wooller is strong overhead and hits the scoreboard often. Although not particularly athletic, the Oakleigh Charger is a good value at selection 41.
Pick 43 – Connor Ballenden (Brisbane Academy) 198cm | 96kg | Key Position
Utility Connor Ballenden was tipped to be a certain first-rounded earlier in the year. But he hasn’t really progressed as much as he would’ve liked. With that being said, a bid for the Brisbane academy member was always going to be matched. With the ability to play in the ruck or as a tall up either end, Ballenden is a nice kick and loves to take towering contested marks. Will be interesting to see where the Lions see his future position being.
Pick 54 – Jack Payne (Brisbane Academy) 197cm | 96kg | Key Defender
In terms of one-on-one defending, there aren’t many better than Jack Payne. An academy member, the Lions did not wait to match a bid, instead using their own pick 54 to select the strong, well-built key defender. Like Ballenden, Jack Payne is a good kick and his 20m sprint time of 3.00 seconds is excellent for a player of his size. Endurance will need some attention but there is definitely something to work with here.
Summary: The Lions entered the draft with another strong hand. Whilst prized selection Cameron Rayner will get most of the attention, and rightly so, I really rate some of their other selections, particularly Bailey and Wooller. Rayner will slot straight into a role up forward, whilst Bailey should also make his debut next year. Brandon Starcevich will take some time but the Lions will be looking to get games into their youth. Wooller, Ballenden and Payne all add to Brisbane’s key position depth and balance well with the three mids taken earlier. Another very strong draft for the Lions who are assembling a threatening squad up north.


Michael Alvaro

Pick 3 – Paddy Dow (Bendigo Pioneers) 185cm | 78kg | Balanced Midfielder

One of the more consistent top prospects this year, Dow possesses the complete midfield package. He’s a great extractor of the ball and uses his hard running to explode from the contest and dominate around the ground. He’ll provide the grunt the Blues are after as a ready-made junior and contested king, while also being a classy outside player at the same time.

Pick 10 – Lochie O’Brien (Bendigo Pioneers) 184cm | 77kg | Outside Midfielder

O’Brien has been one of the more eye-catching players throughout the year with his dash and lethal left boot. While he struggled to get going at times this year, his class is undeniable and he’ll be another welcome addition to the Blues midfield with some outside polish. He will no doubt start his career off half-back and gradually move into the midfield over time.

Pick 30 – Tom De Koning (Dandenong Stingrays) 200cm | 90kg | Key Position Forward/Ruckman

A surprise pick this early in the draft, the Blues would clearly have been keen on him. A good athlete for his size, De Koning has proved his ability to both compete in the ruck and provide a flexible target up forward. He is still quite raw, but he has been gradually developing and no doubt Carlton will be looking to him as a key position player down the track alongside Harry McKay and Charlie Curnow.

Pick 70 – Angus Schumacher (Bendigo Pioneers) 191cm | 79kg | General Defender/Midfielder

Yet another Bendigo boy for the Blues, Schumacher is a tough midfielder or half back who can win the ball in spades. While he can work on his athletic traits, his skills with ball in hand are very good and he has one of the more penetrating kicks in the crop, making him an asset off half back.

Pick 78 – Jarrod Garlett (South Fremantle) 181cm | 68kg | Small Forward

Another surprise from the Blues in the form of a mature-ager coming with the final pick of the draft. The former Gold Coast Sun already has 17 games under his belt at AFL level and after impressing in the WAFL this year with his run and carry, he has been given another chance at his dream.

Summary: The Blues came into the draft looking to bolster their midfield and have done so with their two top-ten picks. Bendigo boys Paddy Dow and Lochie O’Brien respectively add consistency and pace on both the inside and outside, and should aid the likes of Cripps and Murphy in said areas. They may also have surprised a few by snapping up Tom De Koning with pick 30, who’ll add to their ruck depth while also potentially being a more athletic forward option. They rolled the dice late with yet another Pioneers midfielder in Angus Schumacher, while also taking a punt on ex-Sun Jarrod Garlett with their last pick. Overall, they’ve strengthened the area they needed most after the departure of Bryce Gibbs, while adding a bit of flair to what is already an exuberant young list.


Michael Alvaro

Pick 6 – Jaidyn Stephenson (Eastern Ranges) 189cm | 75kg | Forward/Midfielder

Stephenson has long been touted as a top-ten prospect for 2017 and despite late speculation around his heart condition, he was snapped up early by the Pies. The Ranges product can play equally well as a medium midfielder or forward with his line-breaking speed, strong overhead marking and ability to find the ball. He is an excitement machine who is sure to attract crowds throughout his career.

Pick 39 – Nathan Murphy (Sandringham Dragons) 188cm | 80kg | Utility

Collingwood will feel as if they have pulled off a massive steal with Murphy sliding to their second pick. There was speculation that he would go as early as their own pick six, but somehow the Pies managed to get the two guns they wanted. With good athletic traits and clean hands overhead, Murphy is a natural forward who has also shown his ability to run well through the midfield and off half-back. Prepare yourself for stories of his cricketing proficiency, as he chose footy over elite-level cricket this year.

Pick 50 – Tyler Brown (Eastern Ranges) 187cm | 71kg | Midfielder

The second Collingwood father-son in as many years, Tyler joins his brother Callum at the Pies. While he has had little exposure to elite junior football, his class shone through in the game time he got with the Ranges later in the year. He uses the ball well on both sides and provides some smarts on the fringes of the midfield. With more experience, he’ll grow in confidence and be able to find the ball more.

Summary: The Pies have added a bit of versatility to their ranks with their first two picks. Both Stephenson and Murphy have looked at their best in the forward half this year, but they are clearly not limited to just that. The Pies have struggled to score of late, so these two guns will provide a couple of much-needed targets up forward, while being able to impact the game wherever else they’re needed. Fans will also be happy to welcome another Brown to the ranks with Tyler coming in as a bolter late in the year. He adds some balance to their already stacked midfield and looks a real smooth mover.


Michael Alvaro

Pick 49 – Jordan Houlahan (Sturt) 185cm | 76kg | Medium Forward

With their first selection of the draft, the Bombers picked up an excitement machine. With the ability to sit on heads and kick clever goals, Houlahan is sure to give the likes of Jeremy Howe a run for their money on highlight reels. Houlahan tested really well at the Combine and has the athleticism to provide a versatile forward threat.

Pick 66 – Brandon Zerk-Thatcher (Sturt) 195cm | 77kg | Ruckman/Key Position Defender

The first of two over-age players to be picked up late by the Bombers, Zerk-Thatcher is an athletic defender who can also ply his trade in the ruck with his impressive leap. Branded as a low maintenance kid with a good work ethic, the South Australian will have to work hard to build his slight frame and compete at the next level.

Pick 76 – Matt Guelfi (Claremont) 184cm | 79kg | Inside Midfielder

With almost the last pick in the draft, the well-rounded Western Australian has made it onto an AFL list at the third time of asking. Guelfi is a versatile midfielder who loves to put in the hard yards with his toughness and good endurance allowing him to win his own ball around the ground. He also had a good knack of finding the goals and popping up when his side needs him.


Having traded out of the early stages of the draft, the Bombers will be happy to have picked up such an exciting prospect with their first pick in Jordan Houlahan. Both Brandon Zerk-Thatcher and Matt Guelfi provide a bit more of an unknown quantity as players who were overlooked in their respective draft years, but have compiled solid seasons in their state leagues. Still, they both have a decent amount of senior experience and should be able to handle the rigours and physicality of AFL football.


Michael Alvaro

Pick 2 – Andrew Brayshaw (Sandringham Dragons) 184cm | 82kg | Balanced Midfielder

The third Brayshaw brother ends up being the second to make an AFL list with the Dockers choosing him over highly touted Luke Davies-Uniacke at pick two. In Brayshaw they have a ready-made midfielder with strong hands who can do all of the dirty work, yet look so clean with his disposal. His kicking efficiency during the National Under Championships makes him one of the better ball users in the crop, and the Sandringham product is also renowned for his leadership.

Pick 5 – Adam Cerra (Eastern Ranges) 186cm | 80kg | Balanced Midfielder

Clubs throughout the top ten would have been stoked to land Cerra, with Freo tempted to secure him as early as pick two. They managed to get him at five, with his ball winning ability and clever use of the ball proving too good to pass up. Cerra has stood out since his performance as a 16 year-old in the TAC Cup finals, but was somewhat slowed by injuries leading up to his draft year. He shone during the National Championships though, with his mix of poise and grit making him a unique prospect who looks ready for the next level.

Pick 44 – Hugh Dixon (Tasmania) 195cm | 90kg | Key Position Forward

Hugh Dixon breaks Tasmania’s draft drought, and is the sole player to be picked out of the Southern state this year. He is an agile forward whose reasonably strong build allows him to mark well overhead. His performances for Tassie saw him pick up their MVP award during the AFL Academy series.

Pick 59 – Mitchell Crowden (Sturt) 175cm | 87kg | Midfielder/Forward

Crowden is a small, yet powerful midfielder who plays his best footy in contested situations. A keen tackler, Crowden is not afraid to dig in and do the dirty work, which he finds reward for through goals. His standout performance against Vic Country saw him rack up 28 disposals, five tackles, four clearances and a goal as one of South Australia’s top performers.

Pick 65 – Tom North (Eastern Ranges) 184cm | 84kg | Inside Midfielder

Tom North is a hard-working inside midfielder who can run all day and accumulate at no-end. His consistency for the Eastern Ranges was outstanding and saw him earn his spot in the dominant Vic Metro midfield. While he doesn’t possess great speed, his inside work is as good as anyone this year and his penetrating kick could prove to be a handy weapon for the Dockers. North could form a nice partnership with fellow ex-Ranges’ midfielder Adam Cerra in the West.

Pick 69 – Lloyd Meek (GWV Rebels) 202cm | 104kg | Ruckman

Meek is a hard-working ruckman who has made key improvements in his overage year, making him a better overall footballer. His rucking ability is undeniable and his strong frame allows him to bully opposition ruckmen with ease. His mobility and work at ground level were the key factors in why he was overlooked in last year’s draft, but he has made good enough progress to be picked up here.

Pick 73 – Sam Switkowski (Box Hill) 178cm | 68kg | Forward

The former-Knight finally gets his chance after throwing his name in the hat for the last three years. There’s not much of him, but he has showed an enviable amount of competitiveness throughout his three seasons with Box Hill. The slippery forward has a good eye for goal but is touted mostly for his great defensive pressure and work rate in the forward line.

Pick 75 – Scott Jones (East Perth) 204cm | 112kg | Ruckman

The Dockers picked up another mature-aged prospect with their last pick, this time in the form of another big-bodied ruckman. The East-Perth product has overcome injuries to eventually stake his claim for an AFL chance. Despite his size, he is not your typical lumbering ruckman, and has impressed with his decent endurance in the WAFL.


Fremantle held the key to the draft with two top-five selections, and they unlocked a couple of midfield gems. It would really have been hard to go wrong with any of the top five prospects, but the Dockers will be happy to have claimed two jets who can step straight into their lineup. With their later picks the Dockers solidified their midfield with Tom North, while clearly targeting good pressure players in the form of Mitch Crowden and Sam Switkowski. Their ruck spot will also be competitive with Lloyd Meek and Scott Jones fitting their trend of big-bodied rucks. Hugh Dixon is also an option there, but will more likely be used to plug a key position sized hole up forward in the coming years. Overall, the Dockers have done well to gain an edge in the midfield with competitive players who will work hard all day, while aiming for some strong mature-age bodies who can improve their side quickly.


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