Category: AFL

2020 AFL Draft Preview: Melbourne Demons

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 Melbourne, an enigmatic side of late which narrowly missed out on returning to finals action in 2020. As they often find a way of doing, the Demons have traded back into the first round of this year’s draft, currently holding picks 18 and 19. They obtained those consecutive selections among a raft of deals made in a busy trade period, though some key list needs are still apparent. After another campaign defined by steep peaks and troughs, Melbourne fans and staff alike will be keen to again bring in a couple of first round talents who can impact in year one, much like Luke Jackson and Kysaiah Pickett did in their debut seasons.

>> Power Rankings: November Update

CURRENT PICKS*: 18, 19, 28, 50, 89

2021 PICKS*: BL Rd 2 | WB Rd 3 | NM Rd 4

* – denotes as of November 29

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

ELIGIBLE ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Deakyn Smith (NGA)

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

LIST NEEDS:

Running/outside midfielders
Dynamic forwards

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 18)

After the impending academy bids billed for round one, Melbourne’s first pick will inevitably be pushed back into the early-20s. It is the kind of range where the draft pool begins to even out, meaning a bunch of prospects could be in contention. Given the Demons still have a couple of pressing list needs to address, they have a good opportunity to do so and narrow the factor of evenness. Should a running outside midfielder be the priority, Nathan O’Driscoll may be a talent of interest. His value is a contended topic, but his work-rate, penetrative boot, and inside/outside balance could suit the Dees. Though akin to Trent Rivers, he could also end up a slider in round two.

Fellow West Australian Jack Carroll is in a similar boat as one who can develop on the outer or off half-back before moving to the inside. He may already be taken though given his suitors in the first round, but the upside is there aplenty. Oliver Henry suits a need as that dynamic marking forward who also finds the goals, theoretically taking a scoring load off Bailey Fritsch along with the inclusion of Ben Brown. The Demons could potentially kill two birds with one stone and look at Brayden Cook with this pick too, a wingman who also thrives close to goal. As one of this year’s great bolters, the South Australian managed to lead the disposal and goal charts for his side at times this season. The list goes on, but Melbourne will have great flexibility to assess what is on the board and ideally take two of their main targets back-to-back.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

Having already made their big move into the first round during trade period, the Demons may opt to stay a little quieter during live trading. There is still a bit the Demons could do though, starting with the potential to package a combination of picks 18, 19, and 28 to move up the order. Three may prove the magic number for Melbourne in terms of picks taken, so 50 could be passed on, and 28 might provide an avenue to strengthen the Dees’ 2021 hand, which currently features second, third, and fourth rounders tied to other clubs.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Which list need will Melbourne prioritise with its first rounders?

Will Melbourne fill one list need and then pick the best available?

Can Melbourne move up the order?

Can Melbourne nab a surprise slider?

Will Melbourne look to bolster its 2021 hand?

Featured Image: 2019 Melbourne draftees Luke Jackson (left) and Kysaiah Pickett | Credit: Getty Images

EXPLAINER | Pocket Podcast: Club AFL Draft previews (Part 2)

OVER the past few weeks, Draft Central launched its brand new series of pocket podcasts, a collection of short-form discussions which narrow in on a range of topics heading into the 2020 AFL Draft. In the next edition, special guest Tom Cheesman joined Chief Editor Peter Williams and AFL Draft Editor Michael Alvaro to breakdown how the this year’s draft may pan out for each club.

The clubs featured in part two are Brisbane, Fremantle, Melbourne, Port Adelaide, and St Kilda, teams which do not have overly stacked hands at the pointy end, but have some handy selections and big decisions to make. The Lions, Dockers, and Power all face dilemmas in regards to matching bids on their Next Generation Academy (NGA) talents, while the Demons and Saints will look to stock up and remain in the finals hunt.

Below are the picks held by each club, as of November 29.

Brisbane: 25, 53, 58, 66, 68, 69, 94
Fremantle: 12, 32, 55, 56, 63
Melbourne: 18, 19, 28, 50, 89
Port Adelaide: 35, 47, 57, 59, 73, 95
St Kilda: 21, 64, 67, 74, 93

To listen to the discussion in full, click here.

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

Past Episodes:

Club-by-club previews…
Club AFL Draft previews (Part 1)

The best…
AFL Draft hands
Best academy and father-son hauls
Non-aligned midfielders
Readymade prospects
Players under 175cm
Midfielders over 190cm

Player comparisons…
Logan McDonald vs. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Denver Grainger-Barras vs. Heath Chapman
Brayden Cook vs. Conor Stone
Key defenders kicking comparison

Further analysis…
Potential cult heroes
An early top 10 look
Offence from defence

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?

2020 AFL Draft Preview: GWS GIANTS

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 GWS, a team which will feature heavily in proceedings at the top-end of this year’s draft with five picks within the top 30, including four first rounders. It gives the GIANTS a terrific opportunity to again top-up with a wealth of highly touted talents, especially having just lost a raft of experienced players after finishing the season in 10th. This looms as an important intake for the expansion side, which will be looking to bounce straight back into the top eight next year. With such a flexible hand, the GIANTS could well move up the order and bring in players who can make an immediate impact on their stacked side.

>> Power Rankings: November Update

CURRENT PICKS*: 10, 13, 15, 20, 29, 52, 74, 88

2021 PICKS*: GWS Rd 1 | GWS Rd 3 | GWS Rd 4 | GEE Rd 4

* – denotes as of November 27

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

LIKELY ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Josh Green (Academy)

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

LIST NEEDS:

Speedy/outside midfielders
Long-term key position depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 10)

Pick 10 will likely slide back two spots after academy bids take place, and could even move down three or four places given the amount of club-tied talent available. Should the GIANTS opt not to trade the selection and move further into the top 10, a midfielder seems the best option. Finlay Macrae, the half-brother of Jackson fits the bill as a classy user who can play both inside and out. He would provide a handy point of difference to the GIANTS’ current raft of inside bulls. Tom Powell is another name linked to that range, an ultra-consistent ball winner who is improving his outside influence. Geelong Falcons graduate Tanner Bruhn is a similar player, though he will likely already be taken inside the top 10.

Should the Giants look at key position options, there are a few high-upside types of interest. Heath Chapman is a key defender who plays similarly to Nick Haynes, but could also be developed into a wingman given his running capacity and damaging ball use. Nikolas Cox will garner some attention too, a raw 200cm utility who is renowned for his endurance and ability to kick on both feet. He could plug a long-term gap either down back or up forward. In terms of academy bids, the Giants could realistically bid on Lachlan Jones at pick 10, though Port Adelaide would undoubtedly match. Collingwood’s Reef McInnes may also come into play if Essendon do not take a punt inside the top 10, but the Giants may also reserve a bid for pick 15, which lands in between two Collingwood selections. A bid in this range would make the Magpies sweat.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

There is plenty GWS could look to do with its current hand, whether it be to bolster this year’s stocks of its 2021 haul. With the three first rounders obtained from Geelong via the Jeremy Cameron trade, the GIANTS may see value in trading deep into the top 10. A combination of two of their top 20 picks could get the job done, depending on just how far into the top end they hope to go and which clubs arise as keen suitors. The GIANTS are expected to take four to five players this year and with academy prospect Josh Green in the frame later on, GWS may look to convert some of their five picks in the top 30 into higher selections if players they are targeting may otherwise be off the board.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Can GWS trade further into the top 10?

Will GWS maintain its current hand and pack up after pick 29?

Will GWS move up the order in live trading?

Will GWS place bids on academy prospects in the first round?

When will a bid come for Josh Green, if at all?

Featured Image: 2020 draft prospect Josh Green (right) with brother, Tom | Credit: Elesa Kurtz/The Age

EXPLAINER | Pocket Podcast: Club AFL Draft previews (Part 1)

OVER the past few weeks, Draft Central launched its brand new series of pocket podcasts, a collection of short-form discussions which narrow in on a range of topics heading into the 2020 AFL Draft. In the next edition, Special guest Tom Cheesman joined Chief Editor Peter Williams and AFL Draft Editor Michael Alvaro to breakdown how the this year’s draft may pan out for each club.

The clubs featured in part one are Carlton, Gold Coast, Geelong, Richmond, West Coast and Western Bulldogs – all teams which may not feature too heavily among action at the pointy end as it stands. The Tigers, Eagles, and Cats would consider themselves well within the premiership window and thus may not have any pressing list needs to cover at the draft, making them muted players this year. Geelong and West Coast will hope to find a gem with their respective picks 51 and 62.

The Bulldogs’ picks may be wiped off the board if Academy gun Jamarra Ugle-Hagan yields a bid with pick one, leaving little for their recruiters to work with down the line. Meanwhile, Carlton has only just gained another pick in the second round and may only make two selections overall. Gold Coast is again set to be called up in the top five, but it could prove the Suns’ only pick given Academy members Alex Davies and Joel Jeffrey will be automatically placed on their senior list.

Nonetheless, there could be some interesting plays to unfold and some exciting prospects taken with later picks by these clubs, much of which formed the basis of their previews. To listen to the discussion in full, click here.

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

Past Episodes:

Potential cult heroes
An early top 10 look
The best AFL Draft hands
Best readymade prospects
Best players under 175cm
Best midfielders over 190cm
Logan McDonald vs. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Best academy and father-son hauls
Brayden Cook vs. Conor Stone
Key defenders kicking comparison
Offence from defence
Denver Grainger-Barras vs. Heath Chapman
The top non-aligned midfielders

2020 AFL Draft Preview: Gold Coast Suns

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 Gold Coast, a side on the up after improving from last in 2019 to finish 14th this year. While the Suns will not have the power of wielding picks one and two with their upcoming intake, the opportunity snare another top 10 selection presents on top of the continued draft concessions they have been afforded. Academy products Alex Davies and Joel Jeffrey, both of whom are considered top 30 talents will automatically be placed on the Suns’ senior list, essentially granting the club three top talents at the cost of one. With a promising young list forming and an accelerated rate of improvement evident, Gold Coast could become a finals factor within the next five years.

>> Power Rankings: November Update

CURRENT PICKS*: 5, 27, 76, 84

2021 PICKS*: GCS Rd 1 | GCS Rd 2 | CAR Rd 3 | GCS Rd 4, ESS Rd 4

* – denotes as of November 26

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

ELIGIBLE ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Alex Davies, Joel Jeffrey, Brodie Lake, Rhys Nicholls, Max Pescud (all Academy)

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

LIST NEEDS:

Midfield depth
Key position depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 5)

A lot rides on which direction Gold Coast opts to go with pick five, though the selection could depend largely on what other clubs do beforehand. Growing noise has signalled that the Suns may be looking at a midfielder with their first choice, putting Will Phillips and Tanner Bruhn up as the two key names in contention. Phillips is expected to be snapped up by the likes of Sydney or Hawthorn by then, so Bruhn may be the Suns’ man. He is a 183cm ball winner out of the Geelong Falcons who gains great meterage from the contest and is all class in possession. One knock on him has been a lack of exposure, not only due to the COVID-19 situation in Victoria, but also given repeat injuries saw him manage just two NAB League outings last year.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

The Suns could be a club looking to trade out of this year’s draft after Pick 5, especially considering the depth of academy talent at their disposal. A raft of senior players have been shifted onto the extended rookie list to make room for that pick, as well as Davies and Jeffrey. A third academy pre-listing may be in the offing, but the Suns would likely prefer to snare the likes of Brodie Lake, Rhys Nicholls, or Max Pescud as rookies – if at all. That could mean that Gold Coast only takes one player in the National Draft and parts with pick 27 to bolster next year’s hand, while passing on its later picks.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

How many players will Gold Coast pre-list?

Is Gold Coast looking for an inside midfielder with pick five?

Will other clubs look at the Suns Academy players who are not pre-listed?

Will Gold Coast rookie list any Academy players who slide past the National Draft?

Will Pick 5 be Gold Coast’s only selection in the National Draft?

Featured Image: Joel Jeffrey in action during this year’s Academy Series | Credit: RF Photography

2020 AFL Draft Preview: Geelong Cats

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 Geelong, a team which has prioritised the recruitment of established talent during trade period as it looks to remain in the premiership window. While Gary Ablett Jnr and Harry Taylor have called time on their sparkling careers, the likes of Jeremy Cameron, Shaun Higgins, and Isaac Smith all come in to not only cover some losses, but arguably boost the side to new heights. With a bunch of ageing superstars hungry for premiership success, the time is now for Geelong. That means the Cats are left with a relatively lacklustre draft hand, but a decent 2021 pick haul could bring them into play. As it stands, Geelong has the second-lowest total draft points value ahead of its 2020 intake, but recruiting and list manager Stephen Wells is well renowned for unearthing draft gems.

>> Power Rankings: November Update

CURRENT PICKS*: 51, 96

2021 PICKS*: GEE Rd 1 | GEE Rd 2, ESS Rd 2, GWS Rd 2 | GEE Rd 3, MEL Rd 3

* – denotes as of November 25

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

ELIGIBLE ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Nil.

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

LIST NEEDS:

Long-term key position/ruck depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 51)

As it stands, the Cats will not enter this year’s fray until round three, boasting the pick 51 traded to them from Carlton as part of the Lachie Fogarty deal. It leaves them with relatively limited options, though Cats fans should have a good deal of faith in their recruiting staffs’ ability to extract extraordinary value at the draft table. Further to the optimism, if there is any year in which draft bargains will come aplenty, this is it.

Geelong is well known to favour its local talent and with no father-son or academy prospects to commit to, this could be the perfect year to take advantage of the regions’ rich talent stocks. Eight Geelong Falcons products were invited to test at this year’s draft combines, an equal-high haul among the talent programs nationwide. With that being the case, there could be some high-upside local talent to slide into the Cats’ third round range.

While more established rucks or key position players would prove ideal coups, the Cats have an opportunity to stock up on a couple of developable long-term prospects this year. The likes of Charlie Ham and Blake Reid are high-upside local options who may fit the bill, both as athletic smalls with plenty of promise. Henry Walsh, the 203cm brother of Sam could fill the Cats’ ruck depth in future and Cameron Fleeton would be a shrewd choice as key defensive cover. Though in this kind of range, it is ultimately a guessing game for phantom drafters. There should be a few rucks left on the board, but it seems that list need requires more pressing action than what long-term prospects could provide, so Geelong may look elsewhere. Expect the unexpected with this pick.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

Given the Cats currently hold the second-lowest draft points total, there is not much flex to be had with this year’s haul at the trade table. If Geelong is perhaps keen to pounce on a sliding talent, its 2021 picks may come into play to get into this year’s order before that pick 51. The Cats are said to be looking at bringing in two players with their 2020 intake, so adding to their current hand will obviously be necessary given they only hold pick 96 and a few triple-figure selections otherwise. With 50-60 picks expected to be taken overall, there may be some action required.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Will Geelong use its future picks to enter this year’s draft?

Will Geelong opt to go local?

Can Geelong uncover another draft gem?

Featured Image: Geelong Cats defender Jack Henry with his brother Oliver, an AFL Draft hopeful | Credit: Alan Barber/Geelong Advertiser

2020 AFL Draft Preview: Fremantle Dockers

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 Fremantle, a team which has fared phenomenally well at the pointy end of recent drafts to build one of the most vibrant young midfield groups in the competition. With sustained success among their Next Generation Academy (NGA) ranks, the Dockers again look set to bring in even more homegrown talent along with another valuable first round selection. A relatively quiet trade period has set some suspense ahead of draft night, with work to do to ensure Fremantle can extract the best possible outcome from its current hand and continue to build for the future. After a 12th place finish in 2020, the Dockers are clearly on the up.

>> Power Rankings: November Update

CURRENT PICKS*: 12, 32, 55
* – denotes as of November 24

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

LIKELY ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Brandon Walker (NGA), Chris Walker (NGA), Joel Western (NGA)

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

LIST NEEDS:

Dynamic forwards
Key position depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 12)

The fate of Fremantle’s first pick lies in some part with other clubs given there are are range of deals to be made which will help shape the top 10 picks. Sitting just outside that range, the Dockers have the terrific opportunity to snare a slider, pick the best available player, or secure a prospect which truly suits their list needs. Plenty of Dockers fans have been vocal about wanting 200cm utility Nikolas Cox with this pick, and for good reason. While their club currently boasts somewhat of an embarrassment of riches in defence, Cox looms as a long-term and genuine key position option who may also develop into the dynamic tall forward they require. Zach Reid is a similar player and former teammate of 2020 Rising Star Caleb Serong, but will likely be off the board at that stage.

Should Fremantle go down the medium-forward route, Archie Perkins would likely be a prime target. But along the same lines as Reid, he is expected to be snapped up within the top 10 picks with Essendon a prime candidate there. Oliver Henry could then be the Dockers’ man, another swingman type who thrives aerially and has a bit of x-factor. He is the brother of Geelong Cats defender, Jack and rates highly for upside. Local talent Heath Chapman is another who falls perfectly in Fremantle’s range, though the Dockers’ aforementioned defensive depth may ward them off that selection. Still, Chapman’s attacking prowess and athleticism could see him develop into a wingman or midfielder over time. Nathan O’Driscoll‘s range has gotten plenty of people talking and while he could be a good fit for the Dockers, picking him just outside the top 10 may be a stretch.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

The Dockers currently rank 11th for total draft points value and may need to get busy at the live trade desk depending on how highly other clubs value their NGA products. Their current pick 32 will slide down to something more in the 35-38 range after earlier academy bids, which puts Fremantle at risk of not being able to get a selection in before others bid on both Brandon Walker and Joel Western. Pick 32 may be one to split in order to stay away from another case of points deficit, and future picks may also come into the fold. The Dockers currently hold their 2021 selections in each round so have some flexibility. There was also talk that Fremantle would look to rocket up the order and secure Perth key forward Logan McDonald, but juggling such a move looks highly unlikely.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

What kind of player will Fremantle look for with pick 12?

Will Fremantle take any NGA players outside of Walker and Western?

Will Fremantle hold onto its current pick 32?

Could Fremantle be forced to take just one NGA player?

Will Fremantle table its 2021 selections?

Featured Image: Dockers NGA prospect Brandon Walker in action for the AFL Australian Under 17s | Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

2020 AFL Draft Preview: Essendon Bombers

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 Essendon, a team which will have plenty of say in shaping this year’s top 10. The Bombers could become the first club since the expansion era to utilise three top 10 picks, but will more likely get busy during live trading time to move even further up the order and shake things up. Despite key personnel leaving during trade period, the Bombers have somewhat covered their bases and will look towards long-term fulfilment to help the club rise from what was a disappointing 13th place finish in 2020. Under new coach Ben Rutten and with one of the most valuable hands in this year’s draft, Essendon could set up the base for its first finals win since 2004 with this intake.

>> Power Rankings: November Update

CURRENT PICKS*: 6, 7, 8, 44, 77, 85, 87
* – denotes as of November 23

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

ELIGIBLE ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Cody Brand (NGA), Josh Eyre (NGA)

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

LIST NEEDS:

Key position forward
Big bodied inside midfielder
Outside/rebound speed

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 6)

Whether Essendon retains pick six as its first choice come draft day remains to be seen, but there are options aplenty for the Bombers should they carry their current hand. Riley Thilthorpe fits the key forward need to a tee while also being able to second as a ruck option. The 201cm South Australian is also in the mix to be taken by Adelaide with pick one, but would be a terrific get for the Bombers should he slide to their first pick. A bid on Sydney Academy member Braeden Campbell may also be in the offing if no club does so beforehand, and not just to keep the Swans accountable either. Campbell fits the Bombers’ need for some outside speed and x-factor through the middle.

Gold Coast, Hawthorn, and Sydney hold the picks before Essendon’s current first and could all be in the market for a midfielder, potentially ruling out the likes of Will Phillips and Tanner Bruhn. In any case, those two are quite similar to what the Bombers already have through midfield in terms of size and inside tendencies. Denver Grainger-Barras could also still be on the table despite his top five billing, though Essendon may look at a key defender a little further down the order. With the Bombers expected to move into the top three picks (see below), Logan McDonald and Elijah Hollands are essentially the two players who will be targets one and two, but that is pending some high-stakes action at the trade table.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

Essendon arguably holds the most important hand in shaping the top 10 and could well end up right at the pointy end given it lays claim to three selections in that range. Pick two looks like being the Bombers’ primary target, with a combination of two of their picks between six and eight likely to yield that selection and a later pick in return. North Melbourne is the team to do business with in that case, and the Kangaroos’ current need to maximise incoming talent could see them keen to split high-end picks.

As stated above, one of McDonald or Hollands will likely be the go-to options if such a deal goes ahead and both are players who fill different list requirements. McDonald is the kind of contested marking key forward the Bombers have been crying out for, while Hollands is a tall midfielder who provides invaluable x-factor among the engine room and also poses a goal threat. Their choice would essentially depend on what Adelaide does with pick one, as there is no real loss in getting one over the other.

A factor which will enter Essendon’s thinking later on is when or if other clubs will place bids on its NGA prospects. The Bombers’ next pick falls at 44 and Cody Brand may attract some interest around that range, perhaps leading Essendon to proactively split that pick. Josh Eyre is the other hopeful in contention but Bombers staff will hope he can sneak through to the rookie draft despite his upside. With adjusted bidding rules in place, the Bombers also have a decent amount of late picks stockpiled if required. Ultimately, it means both players are likely to be Bombers, with two or three more picks coming out of their current top 10 hand.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Will Essendon be able to trade into the top two?

Are picks six/seven, six/eight, seven/eight too much for pick two alone?

How many academy bids will Essendon place?

Will Essendon bid on Reef McInnes in the top 10?

Will a bid on Essendon’s NGA prospects come before pick 44?

2020 AFL Draft Preview: Collingwood Magpies

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 Collingwood, a team which has already garnered plenty of attention after its dramatic trade period. Whichever way you decipher what unfolded, one thing for certain is that the Magpies’ recruiting and list management staff are under enormous pressure to absolutely nail their draft intake this year. With two first round picks to show for Collingwood’s forced exodus, squeezing the most out of that early hand will be key to getting Pies fans back onboard heading into 2021 – even after a season which saw their team win a final. That seems a world away at this point and the Magpies have plenty to do to remain a finals contender going forward.

>> Power Rankings: November Update

CURRENT PICKS*: 14, 16, 65, 70, 75, 92
* – denotes as of November 22

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

ELIGIBLE ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Reef McInnes (NGA)

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

LIST NEEDS:

Key position depth
Reliable goalkickers
Skilful/efficient midfielders

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 14)

Of late, Collingwood has often looked to trade in key position players rather than drafting them at the top end, but that strategy could shift with this year’s intake. For all of their clangers during trade period, the Magpies said they were keen to gain a greater first round presence and have been successful in doing so, with the opportunity to move even further up the board now presenting.

Should a bid for NGA member Reef McInnes, a tall midfielder with exceptional athleticism and versatility, come after their current first pick, the Pies could look towards mobile 200cm prospects Nikolas Cox and Zach Reid. Both have been billed as key defenders but can essentially play up either end and use the ball extremely well. The latter factor is something Collingwood has been crying out for on each line, and either player would provide great long-term dynamism alongside Darcy Moore. Heath Chapman would be another tall defender in the conversation around that range, potentially growing into a role similar to that of Jeremy Howe.

Collingwood also has some handy options available which will be covered in the live trade section below, with a key forward arguably the club’s more pressing list need. Should they move up the order, the Magpies will certainly have eyes on Logan McDonald but will have to pay a pretty penny to get into that range.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

With eyes on moving into the top 10, Collingwood could well package up its two first round picks in order to do so. Perhaps more realistically, one of those picks could be traded alongside the Pies’ 2021 first rounder, especially given father-son prospect Nick Daicos has already been flagged as a top five talent next year. McDonald, a key forward who will likely be off the board within the first three picks, is another name being linked with the Pies, but they will have to give up plenty to be able to reach those kinds of heights this year. In terms of live trading upon a McInnes bid, it seems Collingwood will think very hard about not matching one in the 8-12 range, so they could be a club to scramble for deals depending on how the top 10 plays out. With lofty ideas in mind, the Magpies could feature heavily at the live trading table this year and in the build up to draft day.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Can Collingwood trade into this year’s top 10?

Will Collingwood trade its 2021 first rounder?

Will Collingwood draft a key position player?

How early is too early to match a bid for McInnes?

Will Collingwood get a pick in before the McInnes bid?

Can Collingwood make up for its trade period mess?