2020 AFL Draft Preview: Hawthorn Hawks

WITH the 2020 trade period done and dusted, it is now time for clubs and fans alike to turn their attention to the draft. Between now and draft day (December 9), clubs will have the opportunity to exchange picks until the final order is formed a couple of days out. While the chaos ensues, Draft Central takes a look at how each club may approach the upcoming intake opportunities with the hand they formed at the close of trade period. Obviously they are subject to heavy change, so perhaps we can predict some of that movement here.

Next under the microscope is Hawthorn, arguably the most successful team of the modern era and one which has not held a top five pick since taking Xavier Ellis third off the board in 2005. After a period of sustained success, the Hawks have missed finals in three of the last four seasons and are beginning to look back at the draft as a means of regenerating on top of their usual mature-age coups from other clubs. A 15th place finish in 2020 sees them likely to break the aforementioned top five streak, with at least one a couple of key list needs able to be bolstered at the pointy end.

>> Power Rankings: November Update

CURRENT PICKS*: 4, 24, 45, 46, 49, 72

2021 PICKS*: HAW Rd 1 | HAW Rd 2 | HAW Rd 3

* – denotes as of November 28

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

LIKELY ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Connor Downie (NGA)

>> Podcast: The best academy/father-son hauls

LIST NEEDS:

Midfielders
Long-term key position depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 4)

While placed nicely up the order, Hawthorn’s selection here still depends largely on what other clubs do beforehand. The Hawks were smashed at the contest at times this year despite boasting a strong starting midfield mix, meaning engine room depth and contested ball winners should be at the top of their wish list. Will Phillips fits the bill perfectly as a competitive and reliable midfielder with readymade attributes. He joined Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson in Oakleigh’s premiership midfield last year, holding his own as one of the competition’s premier players. The only problem for Hawthorn is that he may be snapped up by Sydney a pick earlier.

Elijah Hollands could well be in the same boat as Phillips given the interest coming from Adelaide (pick one) and North Melbourne (pick two), but would be another shrewd selection for Hawthorn. He could free up Chad Wingard to spend more time in the midfield early on, before transitioning into that position himself. As far as other mids go, Tanner Bruhn would arguably be the next best inside ball winner behind Phillips, while Archie Perkins is also said to be a surprise contented for the pick. He is an explosive type with rare athleticism and upside which will likely see him bolt into the top 10. A bid on Sydney Academy member Braeden Campbell may also be in the offing, but the Swans would inevitably match.

Should Hawthorn take the key position route, there are a couple of exciting prospects with senior state league experience up for grabs. 201cm South Australian Riley Thilthorpe is in contention to be taken with pick one, but may slide otherwise and would be a terrific fit for the Hawks as a long-term key forward option who doubles as an athletic ruckman. West Australian key defender Denver Grainger-Barras may be considered by Sydney, but is also around Hawthorn’s range. He is renowned for his intercept marking ability and has plenty of development left.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

Much of the Hawks’ live trading movement may surround where a bid comes for Next Generation Academy (NGA) member Connor Downie. The Eastern Ranges captain is a wingman/half-back who loves to take the game on and boasts a booming left boot. His range is said to be around the 25 mark, which is dangerously close to Hawthorn’s pick 24. Said pick will inevitably slide down three to five places by then, making it even more likely that another club would swoop in and bid on the Hawks’ man. Hawthorn would unlikely think twice on matching it, but would be sweating on getting a selection in beforehand. A combination of picks 45, 46, and 49 could be used to match the Downie bid after pick 24, or alternatively to move up the order and come away with three quality players overall. Pick four, 24, Downie, and one other could be Hawthorn’s ideal haul.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Will Hawthorn be tempted by the key position options available, or look for midfield depth with pick four?

Will Archie Perkins come into consideration at pick four?

Can Hawthorn find the next Hodge, Franklin, or Roughead with pick four?

Will a bid for Connor Downie come before Hawthorn’s pick 24?

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