2020 AFL Draft Preview: Western Bulldogs

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 are the Western Bulldogs, one of the big winners out of this year’s trade period after nabbing Adam Treloar, holding Josh Dunkley, paying next to nothing for some ruck experience in Stefan Martin, and bringing Mitch Hannan back to Whitten Oval. They should also prove big winners on draft day given the consensus best player available, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, is tied to their Next Generation Academy (NGA). On-field, the Dogs have snuck a game clear into finals twice in as many years, now boasting arguably the deepest midfield in the competition and plenty of stock to continue that trend in 2021.

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

CURRENT PICKS: 29, 33, 41, 42, 52, 54

2021 PICKS: WB Round 1, WB Round 4

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

ELIGIBLE ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (NGA), Ewan Macpherson (father-son), Cody Raak (NGA)

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

LIST NEEDS:

Key position forward
Small forward depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 29)

The current figure of 29 as the Bulldogs’ opening pick can effectively be ignored, as at least their first four selections will be off the board when Jamarra Ugle-Hagan is bid on within the top three. As has been widely known for some time now, the Bulldogs will not think twice in matching said bid and obtaining much-needed key forward support for Aaron Naughton. Given the strength they have in midfield, aerial dominance and dynamism will be key to the Bulldogs’ forward game with those two in the same side.

Though Ugle-Hagan will inevitably act as the Dogs’ first pick, the hand they are left with will ultimately yield their selectors’ first genuine choice in the draft. There are three scenarios likely to play out; if Adelaide bids with pick one the Bulldogs will match and have their entire hand wiped out with leftover points yielding pick 66, if North Melbourne bids at pick two the Bulldogs will match and see their first four picks wiped while obtaining pick 73 with leftover points, and if Sydney bids at pick three the Bulldogs will match and again see their first four picks wiped, but gain the equivalent to pick 53 on leftover points.

With the late picks remaining, the Western Bulldogs could target some small forward depth, or look to pick up a developable tall for the long-term. Alternatively, it provides good cover for potential bids on Ewan Macpherson (father-son) or Cody Raak (NGA), but they are likely to be available as rookies.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

Given the Bulldogs have already worked to manufacture a hand good enough to cover a top three bid for Ugle-Hagan, there is not much else they may seek to do in terms of live trading. Depending on where the bid comes and which picks they have leftover, the Bulldogs could decide to package the late selections and move slightly up the order to nab a player they are keen on. In scenario three, where Sydney is the team to bid, they could also use picks 52, 53, and 54 to trade back into next year’s draft given they only boast a first and fourth rounder there. Still, do not expect too much significant action from the Bulldogs in this department.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Will Adelaide bid on Ugle-Hagan with pick one?

How many more players will the Bulldogs take after Ugle-Hagan in the National Draft?

Will Macpherson and Raak attract bids, or slide to the Rookie Draft?

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