Author: Peter Williams

AFL Draft review: West Coast

REIGNING premiers, West Coast Eagles were able to top up certain areas across the ground, picking up an outside midfielder, inside midfielder, small forward and a couple of key position forwards who can pinch hit in the ruck. They also managed to snatch readymade Collingwood defender, Josh Smith who has experience he can add to a young group in defence.

 

National Draft:

 

Xavier O’Neill – Outside Midfielder

Oakleigh Chargers’ midfielder, Xavier O’Neill was an initial surprise invite to the National Draft Combine, having missed selection for the National Under 18 Championships. The disappointment for O’Neill was quickly put aside as he put together a very consistent season along the wing and through the midfield, then showed off his top athletic abilities at the combine. He shared the kicking test honours and was terrific in the 20m sprint as well, with West Coast likely to use his speed and skill through the midfield. He might have been a surprise bolter on the night, but speed and skill has been a key focus for clubs in recent years, and O’Neill certainly ticks those boxes.

Luke Foley – Inside Midfielder

An overager who did not even nominate for the 2017 AFL National Draft after a disappointing top-age year, came back and pieced together a really impressive season which shot his name up into draft calculations. He earned a spot in Western Australia’s state side for the National Under 18 Championships, and then dominated the Colts for Subiaco, also slotting into the WAFL Colts Team of the Year. He was predicted to go in the first two rounds and it was no surprise to see the local clearance winner and accumulator plucked out by the Eagles, as a readymade player who can walk into the premiers’ midfield, or forward line, if fit.

Bailey Williams – Key Position Forward/Ruck

Touted as a first round prospect at the start of the year, Dandenong Stingrays tall, Bailey Williams slid to the Eagles’ third selection in the second round. He has primarily played as that key position forward this season, while pinch-hitting in the ruck. He has an enormous vertical leap and a booming kick, he just needs to iron out his goal kicking which he seemed to lose confidence with over time. Williams is capable of dominating games in the air, and is a great value pick at the selection, and fits a need for West Coast.

Jarrod Cameron – Small Forward

The Next Generation Academy forward lands at the Eagles and joins brother, Charlie in the AFL. While they are on opposite sides of the country, Jarrod has similar exciting traits, and is further developed at the same age than his brother. He seemed a long shot to be drafted 12 months ago, but with a five-goal haul against Vic Country at GMHBA Stadium, and a consistent back-end of the season in the WAFL, Cameron put his best foot forward and impressed the Eagles recruiters enough to match a bid. He might take some time as he fills out, but he is an exciting long-term prospect.

 

Rookie Draft:

 

Harry Edwards – Key Position Forward/Ruck

Local talent, Harry Edwards is a perfect rookie selection for the Eagles, as he is a long-term prospect. At 195cm, Edwards is undersized for a ruck, and is more likely to develop into that key position forward who can assist the number one ruck. He is quite raw and needs to develop further physically, weighing in at around 80kg. He is mobile for a ruck and has some nice athletic traits, and unlike many talls, applies defensive pressure to opponents. Edwards will need patience from fans, but is a low-risk pick in the Rookie Draft and one that could be developed further in the elite environment at Optus Stadium.

Josh Smith – General Defender

The former Pies defender only played the first game of the home and away season this year before making way for others and not being able to squeeze back into the side. Drafted as a mature-ager from Queensland initially, Smith dropped out of Collingwood’s plans as they stormed to a surprise grand final berth. Little would Smith know that the disappointment of both missing out on the decider and the disappointment for his side’s loss that day towards the opposition side, would change as the premiers would throw him a lifeline. He adds experience to the defence and puts selection pressure on other players in that group.

 

Summary:

When a club wins a flag, there are no major changes needed, but the Eagles went about plugging holes in areas they felt they could improve. They picked up a couple of midfielders and a couple of developing talls, while matching a bid on their talented NGA player, and adding experience to their squad with Smith in the Rookie Draft.

AFL Draft review: St Kilda

ST KILDA targeted ready-made players at the 2018 AFL National and Rookie drafts, bringing in an elite tall, followed by players who can slot straight into the best 22 from round one if needed. Around the ground they picked up two general forwards, two defenders and an inside midfielder to go with a key position forward, covering a lot of bases and depth at Moorabbin.

 

National Draft:

 

Max King – Key Position Forward

The standout key position forward from Victoria and up there in contention for the number one pick until a knee injury ruined his year, King made his way to his supported club with their first overall selection at pick four. At 200cm and with a sub-three second 20m sprint, King is an unbelievable athlete, taking contested grabs at the highest point, and has a unique ability to take the game by the scruff of the neck and have an impact. He might not have been out on the field much this season, but his work off-the-field was just as influential, showing how highly rated his character is as well.

Jack Bytel – Inside Midfielder

The inside midfielder was believed to be hunted by Richmond with their second round pick, but the Saints snapped up the Calder Cannons co-captain with the selection before, adding him to their long list of big-bodied onballers. With a penetrating kick, strength overhead and a knack of retrieving the ball from contested situations, Bytel not only adds another ready-made midfielder to the fold, but natural leadership that will strengthen the Saints’ culture. He is that prototype midfielder size, and being good friends with King also helps as the pair end up in the red, white and black.

Matthew Parker – General Forward

A mature-ager who stepped up in the absence of Tim Kelly this year, Parker became a nuisance for opposition sides inside 50. The South Fremantle forward booted 27 goals from 20 games, while averaging 13 disposals and three marks per game in 2018. His breakout season has earned him a place on St Kilda’s AFL list, and along with SANFL premiership player, Robert Young, will add serious competition to the Saints’ forward half spots.

Nick Hind – General Defender

The speedy Ballarat plumber enjoyed a huge season at Essendon in the VFL in 2018, and now finds himself on the Saints’ senior list. He was best known for the semi-final winning sprint down the middle of the ground against Richmond in the dying seconds which delivered the ball to James Stewart for an upset Essendon win. He will offer that blistering speed on the outside from half-back and along the wing, which is what the Saints crave, and will provide them with an outside runner for their hardened inside midfielders to find.

Robert Young – Small Forward

After just managing the six SANFL League games with Port Adelaide Magpies last season, Young moved to North Adelaide where he became a crucial member of the Roosters’ forward six. He booted 19 goals from 19 games with the premiers, including a haul of six majors against Norwood early in the year. He has that keen goal sense and X-factor up forward, and will cause serious damage if given time and space. Another mature-age player who is ready to go and offer a battle-hardened body to the lighter Saints forward line.

 

Rookie Draft:

 

Callum Wilkie – General Defender

The sole Rookie Draft selection was North Adelaide defender, Callum Wilkie. He joins teammate, Robert Young on the Saints list after an ultra impressive season as an intercept defender. He has been gradually improving each year, and was a key cog in the Roosters’ premiership this year. He will develop into that Sam Gilbert role at half-back, being a rock taking grabs off opposition forward entries. He can also drift forward if required, and reads the ball in flight really well and is clean above his head, taking contested grabs.

 

Summary:

St Kilda clearly targeted players that will challenge for roles in the best 22 from round one, if fit. They picked up four mature agers, with Parker and Young capable of slotting into attack, while Hind and Wilkie could become crucial intercept players in defence. Throw in the big body of Jack Bytel in midfield and the key target of Max King inside 50 once he has recovered from his season-ending knee injury, and the Saints have six players who could immediately add to their side.

AFL Draft review: Richmond

RICHMOND headed into the 2018 AFL Draft Period with the aim of improving its side across the board, hopefully picking up some inside strength, which it did with its first two selections. They then picked up some outside runners, and capped off the day with a small pressure forward from the Tigers’ own backyard, and by redrafting a pair of delisted Tigers for list management purposes.

 

National Draft:

 

Riley Collier-Dawkins – Inside Midfielder

Richmond addressed its need for an inside midfielder with its first selection in the National Draft. After Carlton traded into the first round to snatch up Liam Stocker the pick before, Richmond grabbed slider, Riley Collier-Dawkins who offers great upside for the team. Already a great size at more than 190cm and ready to go, Collier-Dawkins has a fantastic burst of speed out of a stoppage, and is capable of having an impact up forward in the air. He can hit the scoreboard and play a multitude of roles which would have enticed the Tigers in picking him up at Pick 20.

Jack Ross – Balanced Midfielder

Fellow Oakleigh Chargers’ teammate, Jack Ross was the Tigers next selection in the National Draft, with Ross not quite having the upside that Collier-Dawkins has, but instead has very few flaws in his game. He is a good kick, wins the ball inside or out, tackles hard and spreads well, with most boxes ticked for the natural leader. He played very well in the APS vs AGS match and continued that form throughout the TAC Cup season, remarkably taking home Oakleigh’s best and fairest despite missing a number of games due to school commitments. He did not play at the National Under 18 Championships, but enjoyed a good 2018 season that was ultra-consistent.

Fraser Turner – Outside Midfielder

A hard outside runner, Turner offers great spread and a versatility to play in all thirds of the ground. Expect him to be a winger in time, with some similarities to Jared Polec in the way he is able to cover the ground and get the ball forward. Turner was predicted to go earlier than the Tigers’ third selection, and the Clarence product became the third Tasmanian drafted in the National Draft. He just adds that extra ball-winning ability on the outside and is a different mix to the Tigers’ midfield group.

Luke English – Balanced Midfielder

The hard-running ball winner from Perth earned a place on Richmond’s senior list late in the draft. He has also enjoyed a consistent season over in the west, and was one of Western Australia’s most consistent performers during the National Under 18 Championships. He is not a flashy player, but English offers a consistent work rate each and every game, and Tigers fans can expect him to be running from the first bounce to the final siren given his huge endurance base. He can play forward as well if required, so it could be a role Damien Hardwick might have in store for him.

Rookie Draft:

 

Jake Aarts – Small Forward

Richmond did not have to look too far for its first selection in the Rookie Draft, selecting small forward Aarts, from the Tigers’ VFL side. After putting in a great season as a pressure forward, Aarts earned a State Draft Combine invite, and in the end, was rewarded with a spot on the senior list. He does not have to move from Punt Road, but will be one who looks to continue his form to try and achieve an AFL call-up during the season as a readymade player.

Jacob Townsend –  General Forward

The former GWS GIANTS’ forward was the fairytale story of 2017, coming into the team late in the season and booting a swagger of goals to retain his place in Richmond’s side for the 2017 AFL Grand Final. He became a premiership player and turned his career around, though his 2018 season saw him play just the 10 games with the rise of Jack Higgins and the like. Townsend sought out the market, but in the end was re-rookied by Richmond and offers good depth on the Rookie List.

Mabior Chol – Key Position Forward

Another Richmond player who was re-rookied, Key Position Forward Chol has bulked up further in 2018, but did not manage a senior game to add to his one AFL game in total. He had some highlight-reel moments in the VFL for the Tigers, and expect more of the same in 2019 after Richmond continued their faith in the big man as a long-term prospect.

Summary:

Richmond took home four midfielders in the National AFL Draft, bulking up the area that lost players over the off-season, and struggled at the coalface in 2018. The Tigers did not need too much improvement across the field, so had the flexibility to go best available along with inside bodies, and they have achieved what they hoped, also re-rookieing two players and picking up a big improver from their VFL side.

AFL Draft review: Port Adelaide

PORT Adelaide certainly finished the AFL Draft with a South Australian feel even if they took just the one local with their first three picks. With the exception of Western Jets’ Zak Butters and Gippsland Power’s Xavier Duursma, Port Adelaide took six South Australians and re-rookied Cameron Hewett in what was a needs-based draft for the Power.

National Draft:

 

Connor Rozee – Medium Utility

The Power snapped up local product, Rozee with their first selection in the first round, adding skill and class to the Power’s blue collar midfield. With the loss of outside runners during the trade period, Rozee adds that run back into the team. Having played seniors for North Adelaide, eventually culminating in a premiership, Rozee can play against senior bodies despite being very light. He joins premiership teammate, Boyd Woodcock who was selected later in the National Draft. Rozee is also able to play back or forward, with strong hands given him an ability to clunk grabs in the air, or win ground balls.

Zak Butters – Outside Midfielder/Forward

The classy outside midfielder is similar to Rozee in many ways, but is a touch smaller and is more effective at ground level. He moves incredibly well and has a terrific kick that he uses to penetrate laterally through opposition defences. He knows how to weight kicks and hold off handballs until a teammate is prepared, and is always on the move. He needs to continue to build his endurance, and did miss the second half of the season after shoulder surgery, but is an exciting prospect with high scope that the Power can develop over the next few years.

Xavier Duursma – Medium Utility

One of the most consistent players available, Duursma offers great value later in the first round. He can play anywhere on the ground and win the ball in contested situations, or be on the receiving end as well. He hits the scoreboard and covers the field with ease, and is just one of those smooth movers that has a touch of grace with ball-in-hand. In 2018, Duursma captained the Gippsland Power and adds leadership to the side, but like the two selections before him, is still very light. All three are players who will need to add strength to their frames, but can play across multiple positions.

Riley Grundy – Key Position Defender

The brother of Collingwood’s Brodie, Riley Grundy is a key position defender who is still developing his game. Very raw, Grundy is a player who will likely spend substantial time in the SANFL, continuing to work on the areas to make him more consistent across the board. He has come on in leaps and bounds over the past 12 months, and Port Adelaide is going to give him time to continue that upward trajectory. Given the way his brother has shot up into the league’s elite, Port will hope Riley can do the same in time, but for now he is still developing.

Boyd Woodcock – Small Forward/Midfielder

One of the best accumulators of the football, Woodcock is small in stature but just keeps powering on. He played a pivotal role in North Adelaide’s premiership, earning his spot in the SANFL League side, then holding it for the remainder of the season following the National Under 18 Championships. He has transformed into a small forward who can still find the football, and apply scoreboard pressure. Despite his size, he is more readymade than some of the others drafted, and once he works on some of the areas required of him, could fill a role inside 50.

 

Rookie Draft:

 

Tobin Cox – Small Forward/Midfielder

Overager, Tobin Cox had a lot of bad luck with injury in his top-age year, but to his credit he fought back and produced a good season which included 22 goals in 14 games for Glenelg. He seemed best suited as a forward, but loves the contested brand of football in the middle, with a knack for accumulating the footy and winning a truckload of clearances. While he might be a touch short to play inside at AFL level, he has developed that role inside 50 which could be suited for him.

Cameron Hewett – Tall Utility

Yet to play a game for Port Adelaide, Hewett earned a reprieve with Port Adelaide redrafting the versatile midfielder in the Rookie Draft. He can play forward or back as well as through the middle, but is yet to taste senior football which is something he would hope to do in 2019.

 

Cat B Rookies:

 

Martin Frederick – Small Defender

A value selection as a free hit with a pre-selection to the Rookie Draft, Frederick showed a willingness to back himself and take the game on from half-back. While he did not star at the State Draft Combine testing, his results do not indicate what he is capable of on the field. He has an explosiveness from the back half and loves to tuck the ball under his arm and take off. While he is still raw, needs to find more of the football and is still light, he has some nice traits to develop which make him a value selection as a Category B Rookie.

Kai Pudney – General Defender

Pudney plays a similar role to Frederick, but is a bit taller with better endurance. His kicking is the big question mark, making some errors by foot, but with an elite tank and an ability to find the ball, the Category B Rookie also has some foundational traits that Port Adelaide can work with. More built for senior football, just tidying up some areas of his game will be required at AFL level.

 

Summary:

Port Adelaide addressed the need for speed during the AFL Draft period, picking up three classy ball users with their first three picks, then selecting a developing tall in Grundy, and four players who can provide run and pressure at both ends. With the picks outside the first round being later in the draft, the Power have opted for homegrown talent with a potential to improve.

AFL Draft review: North Melbourne

VERSATILITY was the key for North Melbourne in the 2018 AFL Draft period, taking players who can slot into a variety of roles on the field. The Kangaroos also stayed close to home with their selections, picking up three players attached to the club. An early bid did not scare the Roos off at Pick 8 from Next Generation Academy member, Tarryn Thomas, while they also won the rights to father-son prospect Bailey Scott, and had a free hit at talented, but unlucky Joel Crocker, as well as the slider of the draft, Curtis Taylor.

 

National Draft:

Tarryn Thomas – Balanced Midfielder/Forward

The North Launceston product has been a source of hope for North Melbourne fans for some time now, with Thomas showing his ability at a young age, playing at the National Under 18 Championships at just 16. Since then he has continued on an upward trajectory and his biggest strength is by far his clean hands. He could be a one-touch player in the middle of a hail storm, and with his clean disposal comes a touch of class and plenty of scope to improve. He is still quite lightly built, but is a good size and will likely play up forward early in his career, before naturally transitioning into the midfield. A real gift for Kangaroos fans and the club had no issues matching the bid.

Curtis Taylor – General Forward

Invited to draft night, the Calder Cannons forward was the last name to be called out of those with an invitation, lasting until the 40s in what was a genuine slide. With an invitation to the first round, it meant at least one club was considering him with a pick at that stage, but North Melbourne ended up the beneficiaries, trading up to score Taylor with a live trade. He offers strength overhead, some X-factor and a keen goal sense, as well as an ability to float through the midfield. He needs to build his consistency, but he has some nice tools to work with going forward.

Bailey Scott – Medium Utility

It was almost unbelievable to see Scott land where he did, as the medium utility was an equally as surprising slider as Taylor. Scott can play inside or outside, roam up forward or drift back, and ticks a lot of boxes across the board. He is strong overhead, uses the ball well and has a fierce attack on the footy. At the National Under 18 Championships, Scott was one of the most impressive players for the Allies, and is equally equipped with offensive and defensive traits. In many ways, Scott provides a readymade player if required, and he has the hardness that the Kangaroos midfield has, as well as the ability to create magic on the outside as well.

Joel Crocker – Tall Utility

Little would have been talked about Crocker given he has missed the entire year due to injury, but just quietly this is a steal. With the selection being the definition of a no-risk, high-reward selection, Crocker has some fantastic athletic traits and can play through the midfield, or up forward. The son of Darren who still works at the club, Crocker has a lot of work to catch up on in terms of match fitness, but the scope that the Kangaroos would see in the tall utility and former Sandringham Dragons player, is exciting.

 

Rookie Draft:

Tom McKenzie – Balanced Midfielder

The Northern Knights midfielder slid compared to where some had him, but heads across the city to Arden Street and represents good value at this pick. McKenzie can play inside or outside, though he is lightly built so will need some more time before competing with senior bodies. He spent time at half-back for Vic Metro at the National Under 18 Championships, and followed on in that role back in the TAC Cup with the Knights.

Kyron Hayden – Balanced Midfielder

Redrafted from the senior list for list management purposes, Hayden will have a point to prove as he hopes to overcome some injury issues of the past couple of seasons. A big-bodied midfielder who can play inside or outside, we are yet to see the best of him and hopefully 2019 can be a turning point.

Tom Wilkinson – General Forward

The Southport forward has finally achieved his dream of making it to the AFL after missing out through Sandringham Dragons, and heading north. Playing in the NEAFL he was a standout in the Sharks’ premiership-winning forward line, earning praise from former Carlton forward, Matthew Lappin. It took until very late in the Rookie Draft, but Wilkinson landed at the Kangaroos and can now begin his AFL career.

 

Summary:

This is a draft that could go down as one of North Melbourne’s best, picking up three players attached to the club, two of which were bargains, while the fourth player was a massive slider and also represents value. McKenzie and Wilkinson are free hits in the rookie draft and are seen as equally good value at those selections, with Wilkinson and the recovering Hayden, able to play once fully fit. Overall, an exciting draft for the Kangaroos who picked up players with high upside and just add class to what is a blue collar midfield.

AFL Draft review: GWS GIANTS

IF the GWS GIANTS were looking to build a strong culture and form the foundations of a future leadership group, then they nailed the 2018 AFL Draft. On night one, the GIANTS picked up the Vic Country co-captain, the Vic Metro captain, and one of the South Australian vice-captains, before calling out West Australian leader, Ian Hill early on day two.

National Draft:

 

Jye Caldwell – Inside Midfielder

With the GIANTS’ first selection in the National AFL Draft, they pounced on Vic Country co-captain and inside midfielder, Jye Caldwell. While he loves winning the ball at the coalface, Caldwell also has the athleticism, class and skill to hurt opposition sides on the outside as well. A natural born leader, Caldwell is a player who while he has had his troubles with injuries, will always contribute to the team. His upside is as high as anyone else in the draft, and could slot into a midfield role or up forward, or even down back if required such is the high calibre of his skills and speed.

Jackson Hately – Balanced Midfielder

A really consistent performer, Hately is underrated in this year’s draft despite being an AFL Academy member. He can win the ball on the inside or outside, go forward and kick goals or find space around the ground. He uses the ball well by hand or foot, extracts it out of a stoppage and can penetrate beyond 50m. Another natural leader, Hately is a readymade midfielder who has played senior football with Central District’s League side this year. With the midfielders lost to the GIANTS this off-season, Hately and Caldwell could both slot into that Dylan Shiel-Tom Scully dynamic.

Xavier O’Halloran – Inside Midfielder

An elite athlete, O’Halloran was chosen as Vic Metro’s captain ahead of a number of worthy players. His leadership speaks for itself, but his impact on the field is also as influential as any others. He has terrific speed, agility and endurance which makes him a damaging player around the ground. He was a surprise first round selection after not being invited to the draft, but was always around the mark and the GIANTS showed clear interest in the midfielder. He can also play forward and take contested grabs, with his goal sense quite impressive as well.

Ian Hill – Outside Midfielder/Forward

The second pick of the second day saw West Australian star, Ian Hill head west to the GIANTS after GWS traded up to secure the small forward/midfielder. He is class personified, and while his season has not been ideal, Hill has plenty of upside for the future. He rarely fumbles and loves to move the ball along a wing or inside 50. A keen goal sense and a natural nous when it comes to creativity, Hill can create something out of nothing. A touch of class to go with the inside ball-winning capabilities of the previous two picks.

Kieren Briggs – Ruck

The standout ruck prospect in the 2018 AFL National Draft ended up at his home in orange. Briggs is a 200cm ruck who had a standout season from start to finish, taking home the GWS GIANTS’ Most Valuable Player (MVP) and Allies’ MVP awards following the National Under 18 Championships. With the GIANTS losing Rory Lobb over the off-season, the inclusion of Briggs, and imminently Shane Mumford will add to the depth in that position. With a high endurance base and strong contested marking ability, Briggs looms as the natural successor in the role.

Connor Idun – Tall Defender

With their late selection in the draft, the GIANTS picked up tall defender, Connor Idun. The Falcons defender has played key position roles this season, but is more likely to be a third tall defender, who can also play forward if required. In his bottom-age year Idun also played through the midfield, with his defensive pressure and ability to stick to a task, important. He is still raw and developing, but a player who will fill a need in western Sydney.

 

Rookie Draft:

Nil.

 

Summary:

The GWS GIANTS targeted midfielders with their first four picks, though most can play forward which gives them great versatility. Given their relative depth across most areas, the GIANTS were able to hit the draft with a notion of picking up ‘best available’, and added to the club’s growing bunch of leaders. Caldwell, Hately, O’Halloran and Hill were all leaders in some capacity for their respective states at the National Under 18 Championships, while Briggs and Idun add to the depth of the club, with Briggs the successor long-term to Mumford, and Idun able to play a multitude of roles.

AFL Draft review: Hawthorn

HAWTHORN caused a minor stir at the National AFL Draft when they elected not to match Essendon’s bid for Irving Mosquito. Instead they held firm and selected a much needed key position switchman and another forward, both of whom could have impacts early in their career. They then used the rookie draft to snatch two sliders who will take time but come with high approval ratings from us, as well as an insurance policy down back.

National Draft:

 

Jacob Koschitzke – Key Position Utility

Hawks fans would have bided their time between Hawthorn not matching the Irving Mosquito bid and their first selection in the draft. With so much excitement over the small forward, the Hawks faithful were seemingly gutted missing out on him. Instead though, they gain a very underrated key position option. An All Australian player, Koschitzke can play at either end, but is more suited to defence. He is great one-on-one and is able to match it with both the athletic types and stronger ones. In a draft that was devoid of too many key position options, Koschitzke was a good selection at this pick, and one that Hawks fans should be pleased with given he does meet a desperate need.

Mathew Walker – General Forward

One of the strongest overhead marks, Walker joins triple teammate – Murray Bushrangers, NSW/ACT Rams and Allies – at the Hawks. Walker is a readymade forward with a body that would have no trouble matching it with senior players. He is clean in the air or at ground level and has good smarts inside 50. A member of GWS GIANTS’ Next Generation Academy, the GIANTS chose not to match much like the Hawks did with Mosquito. So while they are different types of players, Hawthorn still gains that general forward who can create scoring opportunities inside 50.

Rookie Draft:

Damon Greaves – General Defender

Potentially the pick of the draft in terms of value. Rated as a top 50 pick, even pushing towards top 40 by AFL Draft Central, Greaves is a player who adds class and poise off half-back. He could be that replacement for Grant Birchall in time. Still is quite raw, but has plenty of potential, and this looms as a really savvy pick that Hawks fans should get excited about. West Australian runner who can use the football well.

Will Golds – Outside Midfielder

Another good ball winner and slider lands at the Hawks with their second Rookie Draft selection. Golds is another member of grand finalists, Oakleigh Chargers, and is an outside runner who is exactly what the Hawks are looking for. He will need to build further consistency, but is a player who was tipped to go in the National Draft, but landed here instead. Both Greaves and Golds fit needs for Hawthorn, and both are incredible steals given their upside.

Tim Mohr – Key Position Defender

Readymade key position defender who can slot straight into the side should injury strike the Hawks, and provides some good strength to a defence that needs some handy additions. Raised a few eyebrows with the selection, but it is a no-risk selection this deep in the Rookie Draft.

Will Langford – Inside Midfielder

Will not play in 2019, having been delisted and retired, but the Hawks did a ‘Kurt Tippett’ and redrafted the father-son prospect and premiership player for list management purposes.

Summary:

Hawthorn fans might be disappointed on missing out on Mosquito, but the names they picked up are very good for the selections they had. Koschitzke, Greaves and Golds were all plucked out later than anticipated, while Walker was in the mix for that late selection, which Hawthorn had to use, as GWS GIANTS could well have picked him up for free as a Category B rookie. Mohr is a player who can at least slot straight in if required and cost next to nothing. Overall the Hawks did not have a lot of picks to work with, but made the most of their opportunities.

AFL Draft review: Gold Coast

AFTER a brutal off-season that saw both club captains walk out and a number of other players shipped off, Gold Coast Suns went back to the draft, having three selections in the top 10. The Suns picked up high school teammates and friends, Jack Lukosius and Izak Rankine, before picking up best available with Ben King at pick six. They swooped with a live trade to secure Jez McLennan, and picked up Academy prospect, Caleb Graham with their final selection.

National Draft:

Jack Lukosius – Key Position Utility

The standout key position player in the draft crop, Lukosius is arguably the most talked about draftee of the past 12 months. Since bursting onto the scene with a mesmerising preliminary final in the SANFL League as a 16 year-old, Lukosius has long been talked up as a prestigious talent. He can play at either end, but has predominantly played forward, with the Woodville West Torrens tall set to replace Tom Lynch inside 50. He has that senior experience and should be ready to go from Round 1, with fellow top 10 prospects, Izak Rankine and Ben King also likely to line-up in the red and gold.

Izak Rankine – Small Forward/Midfielder

The most exciting player in the draft, Rankine adds a touch of class and X-factor to the Suns’ forward line, and joins Henley High teammate, Lukosius at Gold Coast. He will likely buzz around Lukosius’ feet and then create his own opportunities, as a player who can draw a crowd to their feet. A lot was talked about his desire to stay in South Australia, but like any player the preference is to remain home, and Rankine now has an opportunity to at least be interstate with a couple of South Australian teammates. He is a player who should be in the team from Round 1, and is a player that will be eye-catching and have a number of highlight reel moments.

Ben King – Key Position Utility

After brother Max ended up at St Kilda, Ben King was drafted by Gold Coast two picks later. As the second highest performing key position player available – given Max missed the top-age year – Ben was a no-brainer for the Suns. Much like Rankine, the murmurs started early – even by the St Kilda social media team – about the uncertainty of breaking up the brothers interstate. But just focusing on the football, King will likely slot into centre half-back replacing Steven May, but could swing forward to team up with Lukosius as well.  An unbelievable athlete who will play plenty of games next season.

Jez McLennan – General Defender

After finding replacements for Lynch and May, Gold Coast picked up a Kade Kolodjashnij replacement in Jez McLennan. Unlike many others, McLennan said he would love to end up on the Gold Coast, which would have no doubt factored into the Suns’ thinking. They had to trade up to secure him, but McLennan joined Lukosius and Rankine as the South Australian flavour. He has had SANFL League experience, so is a fourth player who could slot straight into the side if required.

Caleb Graham – Key Position Utility

After picking up interstaters, Gold Coast looked to its own backyard for its final selection. The Suns picked up switchman, Caleb Graham as a long-term prospect for the club. He has settled into defence, but has also shown an ability to play forward, and with Queensland his native state, provides some security in that department. The Suns have looked to grab talls in this draft, and they have done just that, with Graham a work in progress, but one that will likely bare fruit in a few years.

 

Rookie Draft:

Michael Rischitelli – Balanced Midfielder

The ‘retired’ midfielder might have been the punchline of the night at the Brownlow Medal when his highlights package was included in the retirees slideshow, but Rischitelli is most certainly returning to the Suns for season 2019. Delisted and redrafted as a rookie like all three selections, Rischitelli adds vital experience to the young squad, especially through that midfield.

Jack Leslie – Key Position Defender

The former Gippsland Power tall was delisted and was redrafted as a rookie to provide good depth in the key position area. Along with King and Graham, he will likely continue his development in defence, but has experience through the ruck as well.

Brad Scheer – Inside Midfielder

The former Gold Coast Academy member is the third Suns player to be delisted and redrafted, and like the others, provides good depth in his positional area. A hard-nosed inside midfielder and accumulator, he will look to prove a point having gained a lifeline through the Rookie Draft.

 

Summary:

The Gold Coast Suns needed to go tall and they did just that, picking up Lukosius, King and Graham to replenish the stocks after co-captains, Lynch and May left. They also picked up the exciting Rankine in the forward half, and the composed McLennan in the back half. Along with three senior listed players moving onto the rookie draft, the Suns will be hoping this is the draft that turns the club’s fortunes around.

AFL Draft review: Geelong

GEELONG addressed its need for outside run and pressure with its draft, while also strengthening its ruck stocks. The Cats used their first selection on a West Australian bolter, while picking up a Norwood pair, including a sliding outside midfielder. With a couple of rucks and a pressure forward added to the mix, as well as a household Geelong name, the Cats have a number of inclusions who will strengthen the depth and push for roles in 2019.

National Draft:

 

Jordan Clark – General Defender

Clark was regarded as a potential top 10 pick, and had bolted from obscurity into the first round,  having received a draft night invitation.  With both Port Adelaide and GWS GIANTS keen, the aforementioned teams went for other players, allowing Geelong to pounce with their selection. Clark provides some speed off half-back and clean skills, which he can adapt to a midfield game down the track. A player who has developed rapidly in the second half of the season, he will be one the Cats look to develop into a key playmaker over the next few years.

Ben Jarvis – Ruck/Tall Forward

There is a bit of a smaller type Mark Blicavs about Jarvis, in the sense that at the National Under 18 Championships, he chopped out in the ruck and rotated forward despite being just 188cm. He knows how to compete in a ruck stoppage and could be the next ‘Grigg’ who just relieves a number one ruck. While he did not get to taste action at League level in the SANFL given Norwood’s strength, Jarvis has plenty of athletic attributes that would have attracted the Cats to him. The big question is where does he play? Possibly as a third tall dynamic forward who takes ruck stoppages in the forward 50.

Jacob Kennerley – Outside Midfielder

It is always a thrill when junior teammates manage to be reunited at the elite level, and both Jarvis and Kennerley are just that. They not only both played for Norwood in the SANFL Colts and Reserves, but they attended the same boarding school together. Now they catch the same flights to and from Adelaide to Kardinia Park. Kennerley is a skilful outside midfielder who was one of the sliders, and while still raw, like Clark offers good skills and outside run. He took out the 2km time trial, indicating his gut-running ability. He adds a different element to Geelong’s mix.

Darcy Fort – Ruck

Hedging the bets with fellow South Australian, Jarvis, the Cats selected another ruck in Fort who is more likely to develop into a ruck, standing at 204cm. Originally from the Geelong Falcons having now spent three seasons at Central District, Fort became the number one ruck in the league. He will offer serious competition to the likes of Rhys Stanley and Zac Smith in an area that has long been Geelong’s achilles heel since the days of Brad Ottens. A readymade ruck who can slot straight into the side if needed.

Jake Tarca – Small Forward

Despite obtaining Gary Rohan and Luke Dahlhaus in the off-season, Geelong added another small forward to its ranks in Jake Tarca. The pressure forward missed out on initial selection in the South Australian side for the National Under 18 Championships, but was included by the final cut-off date. A long-term prospect, Tarca is one likely to lay plenty of tackles in the forward 50 and create turnovers and scoring opportunities.

Oscar Brownless – Inside Midfielder/Forward

Billy’s son made it to the Cattery without Geelong having to match a bid. The big-bodied inside midfielder is likely to play more forward than through the midfield, which might be ideal for the Cats. He’s an elite runner with clean hands and great vision, who just drifted to the back-end of the draft due to his speed. One of the smarter players inside 50, Brownless has no trouble pulling off the unbelievable with some highlight-reel worthy goals this season.

 

Rookie Draft:

Tom Atkins – Inside Midfielder

The Geelong Cats’ VFL side will be looking for a new skipper in 2019 after 2018 appointed leader,  Tom Atkins was called up to the senior side in the rookie draft. After a magnificent season which included a ridiculous 23 tackles in one game, the hard-nosed midfielder finally got his reward for effort with the Cats’ only selection in the rookie draft. A readymade midfielder, he will provide support to the midfield and enable the likes of Patrick Dangerfield and Gary Ablett to spend more time forward.

Cat B Rookie:

Blake Schlensog – Ruck/Key Position Forward

Geelong chose to nominate local talent, Schlensog prior to the draft and added him to the Cats’ list. The developing tall has mixed between ruck and up forward, and despite being undersized at times, has always thrown everything into it. A Vic Country representative, Schlensog has plenty of scope for the Cats to work with despite being raw.

Summary:

Geelong addressed its need for speed and skill in obtaining both Clark and Kennerley who will run on the outside and do it over four quarters. They picked up a couple of talls with readymade ruck, Darcy Fort meeting an obvious need, as well as Jarvis fitting the bill as a back-up ruck and third tall forward. Late in the day they added pressure forward, Tarca and father-son prospect, Brownless to make the most of what was not the greatest hand, having just the one pick inside the first round.

AFL Draft review: Carlton

CARLTON took an aggressive approach to the off-season, and carried that through to the National and Rookie Drafts. The Blues took their man they had long being linked to in Sam Walsh with pick one, then stunned the crowd and those watching at home with a trade that in the future could be considered make or break. Either way, it was refreshing to see the Carlton list management team say enough is enough, grab themselves another top 20 pick and add to their midfield stocks immediately rather than waiting 12 months.

 

National Draft:

 

Sam Walsh – Balanced Midfielder

Walsh is the perfect selection for the Blues, and a no-risk pick. The Geelong Falcons midfielder could develop into a star regardless of where he went, and he will only improve the training standards at the Blues, as he would at any club. He has very few flaws to his game, and those he does he will continue to work on, and expect him to be right in contention for the Rising Star Award next season. He can slot straight into that midfield to give Patrick Cripps and Marc Murphy some relief, and is a future captain with he and Cripps driving that standards for the next decade through that onball division. A logical selection at pick one, and Blues fans should not fear, there’s no way this selection was ever going to be a mistake, especially not with this man now in the navy Blue.

Liam Stocker – Inside Midfielder

If Walsh was a perfect fit for the Blues, Stocker is the next perfect fit. He is built like Patrick Cripps and share the hits that the Carlton co-captain cops. Stocker had more than his fair share of whacks this season, missing the Naitonal Under 18 Championships, but is as resilient as any other player the draft crop. Carlton paid what could be a high price for him to snatch him from arch-rivals, Richmond but fully fit he slots straight into the side. Another player with not too many flaws to his game, just needs to build his tank and get his body right.

Finbar O’Dwyer – Medium Forward

The surprise pick of the draft without question, as O’Dwyer had only player the three games for Murray Bushrangers and was already preparing to head back as a 19 year-old next season. Those plans were happily changed, with O’Dwyer’s name read out late in the draft to head to Ikon Park next season. O’Dwyer spent his time as that pressure forward with a neat bag of tricks, but also a player who can play in defence. Very raw, Carlton fans need to be patient with him, but he is a low-risk, high-reward selection. As we mentioned on the live AFL Draft Chat – will be the most googled player from the draft, and he certainly was the most searched player on AFL Draft Central.

Ben Silvagni – Key Position Utility

The father-son key position prospect made his way to the club to join brother Jack and follow in the Silvagni legacy. Now stretching over three generations, Ben joins an illustrious club, and while he will take time, has some traits that Blues fans will enjoy. He is taller than Jack and can clunk marks, it is just getting the consistency together and becoming more of a well-rounded player. Another tall who is a blank canvas as such, and could play forward as he did for Oakleigh, or back as he did for Vic Metro.

 

Rookie Draft:

 

Hugh Goddard – Key Position Utility

In a way, Goddard is a no-risk insurance policy, lasting until the Rookie Draft for Carlton to snap him up. The former St Kilda tall has had his injury concerns, but at this selection he could be a value pick-up. Goddard certainly has plenty of scope for the future, and is more readymade than Silvagni to assume a role should the Blues require it. Won the nod over Kieran Collins who will play for the Northern Blues instead.

Tom Bugg – Midfielder/Forward

An antagonising and polarising figure, Bugg will not be afraid to put it all on the line out on the field, and the Blues will be better for it. He is a depth player, but is more readymade than a skinny kid, and can play against bigger bodies should Carlton hand him a call-up.

 

Summary:

Carlton’s draft period was aggressive and exactly what they needed. For too many years they have gone to the well and picked up talented kids, but with the trade period they brought in readymade players, then bit the bullet and traded out a potential top five pick next year to grab Stocker this year and immediately improve their midfield. They are essentially backing themselves in to have a good season, and that must put a smile on Blues’ fans faces. After grabbing two readymade prospects in Walsh and Stocker, they plucked out two developing ones in O’Dwyer and Silvagni, before dipping into the AFL experience pool in the Rookie Draft, taking Goddard and Bugg. Could the aggressive nature backfire for the Blues? Yes. Was it worth taking the punt? Absolutely yes. You might not agree with what they have done, but instead of holding, they have gone all-in for this rebuild and are looking to accelerate it to give the restless fans some joy sooner, rather than later.