FOR the first time in a long time, Carlton heads into the draft without a stacked hand, featuring only one in the first round and re-entering in the third with a few later picks. A year on from the much-publicised live trade which saw them land pick nine and Liam Stocker, the Blues have hinted they will go in targeting the best available at each pick despite having some holes to plug.
CURRENT PICKS: 9, 43, 57, 70, 85
NOMINATED ACADEMY/FATHER-SONS: Nil
FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
The openness of the first round means that the Blues’ current first selection will come largely at the mercy of those with picks before them. The player currently in the frame is big-bodied Bendigo utility Brodie Kemp, who unfortunately will not be available for most of his debut year after tearing his ACL late in the season. While his talent is undeniable and he would provide the perfect midfield fold for Patrick Cripps in the future, Carlton looks to still be at the stage where its high-end picks need to be making an impact straight away given the slow development of previous early selections. Elsewhere, Caleb Serong would be a great choice if he slides to pick nine, able to make an impact up forward or win contested ball through the midfield. The same goes for his Gippsland teammate Sam Flanders, but he may well be off the board and would be more of a forward at AFL level. Lifelong Carlton fan Dylan Stephens is a balanced midfielder with senior experience who fans would welcome with open arms, while the Blues are also said to be considering a bid for Fremantle Next Generation Academy (NGA) member Liam Henry – a lively small forward. Fellow West Australian Luke Jackson is the best ruck in the draft, and would be an ideal replacement for the ageing Matthew Kreuzer if available.
LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:
The Blues could do worse than to split pick nine and pick up players which suit their needs at a more correct value. While they hold pick nine in high regard and have some great options there, exciting small forwards Cody Weightman and Kysaiah Pickett will come into contention with picks amid the teens, and they could even pair their choice with a player like Josh Worrell depending on what they trade for. Miles Bergman is another forward option around the 15-mark, while Dylan Williams and Elijah Taylor would be high-upside choices in the 20s. Given a lack of their own NGA and father-son options, the Blues will not have to stack up on picks, but could rather spurn the plans of others in that department.
Outside class is an area the Blues could look to prop up with pick 43, with Tasmanian Mitch O’Neill one who may slide and provide terrific value in that range. Midfield depth will be the other priority, with the Sandringham pair Ryan Byrnes and Darcy Chirgwin options around the mark alongside Sam Philp and Daniel Mott. A small forward/midfield like Ned Cahill could also pique Carlton’s interest as a safe choice for his position. The Blues often opt to package or go with project players with their late picks, and GWV trio Toby Mahony, Isaac Wareham, and Mitch Martin are all players with great potential who fit the bill. 194cm midfielder Mahony could be of particular interest, while delisted train-on players Josh Deluca and Lukas Webb could also be taken late or with rookie picks.