2020 AFL Draft Preview: Sydney Swans

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 still subject to heavy change, so perhaps we can predict some of that movement here.

Next under the microscope is Sydney, a side which has been notoriously consistent in the modern era but is currently in the midst of a list rebuild. The Swans finished 16th in 2020 having slid from finals to 15th the year before, meaning they will again lay claim to a top five pick and have the chance to bring in some elite young talent. As has often been the case, Sydney also boasts a couple of high-end academy products set to garner interest in the first round; meaning pick three, Braeden Campbell, and Errol Gulden will likely make up the Swans’ total National Draft haul.

>> 2020 AFL Draft Guide
>> Power Rankings: November Update

CURRENT PICKS*: 3, 34, 37, 43, 48, 60, 82

2021 PICKS*: SYD Rd 1 | SYD Rd 2 | SYD Rd 4

* – denotes as of December 4

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

LIKELY ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Braeden Campbell, Errol Gulden (both academy)

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

LIST NEEDS:

Long-term key position depth
Long-term inside midfield depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 3)

While the Swans recently bolstered their ruck stocks during trade period with the coup of Tom Hickey, losing versatile tall Aliir Aliir hurt their top end key position depth. With pick three, Sydney has the opportunity to bring in a genuine gun key defender in Denver Grainger-Barras; a player who can not only fill the post long-term, but who also suits the club’s style and culture. He is the best defender available and will unlikely slide much further among the top five. The West Australian also showed his wares this year against pick one fancy Logan McDonald, arguably getting the better of him in the second half with courageous aerial efforts and superior reading of the play.

Should the Swans again look to target a midfielder in the top five like they did with Dylan Stephens last year, Will Phillips will be the go-to. At 180cm, he is not exactly the big-bodied type Sydney might prefer in the long-term, but he looks every bit the 250-game player clubs look for with such lofty selections. The Oakleigh Chargers graduate joined Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson in midfield last year and largely held his own, showcasing consistent ball winning ability, toughness, and a handy step away from congestion. Dynamic midfielder/forward Elijah Hollands could be another factor in this range, while the Swans have also committed to a bid on Western Bulldogs NGA Jamarra Ugle-Hagan should that option be available. Fortunately for Sydney, a bid for Campbell is expected to arrive after pick three.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

Having already completed a good amount of work to cover high-end academy bids, the Swans would perhaps prefer to stay a touch quieter among this year’s live trading scene. The best case scenario would see a bid for Campbell come late in the top 10, or even outside it, with Gulden’s bid sliding into the second round. Obviously keen to match both, the Swans could easily avoid a points deficit and any more trading action with that type of hand. Otherwise, we may see them spring to life once a team puts them under the cosh, but it should be a relatively straightforward outcome with three overall picks taken.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Which list need will the Swans attend to with pick five?

Will a bid for Braeden Campbell come within the top 10?

Will Errol Gulden be off the board before round two?

Do the Swans have enough to match two first round academy bids?

Will the Swans pick up any more academy products in their Rookie intake?

Featured Image: Swans Academy prospects Errol Gulden (left) and Braeden Campbell embrace | Credit: Narelle Spangher/ AFL NSW/ACT

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