AFL Draft preview: Geelong

AFTER a disappointing campaign that saw the Cats sneak just inside the top eight, fans were keen to see what their side could do come trade period and now, draft time. Having targeted elite midfield talent in the past, they look set to continue down that path with their first pick, while bids for their father-son and Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospects will both come later on. To get the most out of their haul, the Cats will have to get creative and look towards the future with who they select.

List Needs:

  • Best available but looking at:
    • Midfield depth
    • Ruck/Key Forward
    • Key defenders
    • Running defenders

DRAFT SELECTIONS: 12, 50, 51, 70, 87

While there are not any glaring holes in Geelong’s best 22 on paper with the recruits of Luke Dahlhaus and Gary Rohan as pressure forwards, they will look to add depth to many positions with the future firmly in their focus as some of their brightest stars age.

The Cats look destined to select a midfielder with their first pick, and South Australian Jackson Hately looks a good fit at this stage. The 190cm contested ball winner had an outstanding National Championships in the star-studded SA midfield, but also showed he can play his trade on the outside if required. A ready-made prospect, Hately can match it with the bigger bodies having played 12 SANFL League games this year, and could well make it past picks nine and 11 held by the respective Adelaide sides. Tasmanian Chayce Jones and Vic Metro representative Riley Collier-Dawkins are well in the mix for top 10 honours, but would also be suitable picks for the Cats should they slip down the rankings. Both Jones and Collier-Dawkins have high ceilings and have proven they can play forward which could be handy as Geelong’s star midfielders move on in the coming years. Morrish Medallist Liam Stocker is the other pure midfield option at the high end of the draft, and is right in the top 15 mix. A potential draft bolter could be Western Jets’ excitement machine Zak Butters who they might consider at the pick.

The Cats then have a break until Round 3 action, where they hold picks 50 and 51. The pick swap for number 51 with Collingwood allowed the Pies to gain points for their own NGA and father-son nominees, but will provide good insurance for the Cats if a bid comes early for Oscar Brownless. The son of Billy, Oscar has a great tank and tackles well as an outside midfielder who can move forward. Geelong’s remaining Round 3 pick could be used on a fellow Falcons product, with the likes of Brayden Ham and Charlie Sprague adding x-factor and continuing the Cats’ good relationship with their TAC Cup affiliates. Should they look to add defensive depth, the dynamic Connor Idun is another Falcon who represented Vic Country and positions himself well at either end.

On the topic of key defensive depth, TAC Cup graduates Kyle Reid and James Blanck are prospects who had impressive National Championships with Country and Metro respectively. Gippsland’s Reid is more of a traditional defender who does all of the right things in the defensive 50 and rebounds calmly, while Eastern’s Blanck has great closing speed and can dominate in the air. Both could be available up to pick 70, and would be safe bets at that stage. The Cats may also be interested in South Australian Callum Wilkie, who was a prolific junior. The North Adelaide best and fairest was outstanding in his side’s premiership year, averaging 25.5 disposals and 8.6 marks as a third-up defender who can also play forward.

The Cats should then be left with a free shot at NGA prospect Blake Schlensog with pick 87 – another Geelong Falcon. Schlensog plies his trade as a ruck/forward and while he may be slightly undersized in the ruck at the next level, he showed his best form there.

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