Tag: 2020

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?

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

In Contention | Outsider AFL Draft prospects to consider: Vic Country

COME the end of a year like no other, there is likely to be a greater amount of hard luck stories and near misses than ever before, especially after the recent cuts to AFL list sizes. But for all that doom and gloom, the 2020 AFL Draft intake is also poised to provide some of the best stories of positivity as elite level hopefuls rise from the adversity this year has put forward.

In Draft Central’s newest series, we take a look at some of the draft prospects who remain in contention to fulfil their draft dreams despite missing out on invites to their respective states’ draft combines. These combine lists are often the best indicators of clubs’ interest in players, with at least four nominations required for those who were not selected in the two national Under -17 showcase games last year. Outsider talent from the Vic Country regions are next to go under the microscope, and there are plenty around the mark despite missing a full year of football.

Below are pocket profiles of some players to watch, which will also feature in our upcoming annual AFL Draft Guide.

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

BENDIGO PIONEERS:

Sam Conforti | Midfielder/Small Forward
15/03/2002 | 174cm/72kg

The diminutive mover quickly established himself as a mainstay in Bendigo’s lineup last year, going on to average 17.3 disposals across 16 games. He played mostly on the wing but was looking to develop as a hard-running, creative small forward.

Aaron Gundry | Ruck
17/02/2001 | 200cm/84kg

A player who could have benefitted greatly from another year in the NAB League system, Gundry is a mobile ruckman who has also enjoyed stints up forward. The 19-year-old’s clean hands and upside are his strengths, but he has some filling out to do.

Jack Tillig | Half-Back
07/03/2002 | 186cm/84kg

Tillig could have been one to surprise this year with a full NAB League season, set to return to the Pioneers after representing GWV while boarding at St Patrick’s Ballarat for school. He is a solid rebounder who also intercepts well at half-back.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS:

Henry Berenger | Key Defender
31/01/2002 | 193cm/86kg

One who contributed a solid bottom-age campaign consisting of 15 games, Berenger showed he was capable of playing a key defensive role. His athletic profile does not jump off the page, but the 18-year-old is a readymade and versatile rebounder.

Blake Kuipers | Key Defender/Ruck
25/07/2001 | 197cm/82kg

A former high-level volleyballer, Kuipers is a player with plenty of upside who featured at last year’s Under 18 National Championships. He is quite raw, but very athletic and can fill key position posts at either end or in the ruck. Was poised for a big 2020.

Deakyn Smith | Outside Midfielder/Forward
22/08/2002 | 179cm/68kg

Part of Melbourne’s Next Generation Academy, Smith is a lightly-framed outside midfielder who can also rotate forward. He has good speed and plenty of raw talent, but is working on adding polish and consistency to his overall game.

Bayleigh Welsh | Midfielder/Forward
19/01/2002 | 180cm/82kg

Dandenong players and staff alike rate Welsh as a talent who was poised to make a real impact in 2020. He averaged a tick under 12 disposals across 14 NAB League games last year and was set for a more permanent midfield role.

GEELONG FALCONS:

Gennaro Bove | Midfielder/Small Forward
14/01/2002 | 177cm/78kg

One of two Geelong Falcons co-captains for 2020, Bove is a clean and agile small midfielder who can also get his hands dirty on the defensive end. His size and smarts bode well for development as a small forward in future.

Darcy Chrigwin | Inside Midfielder
25/07/2001 | 191cm/89kg

Another player who was poised to shift back to his native region in 2020, Chirgwin was also unlucky not to be picked up last year. The 19-year-old has grown to 89kg and would be a readymade choice as far as inside midfielders go.

Jay Dahlhaus | Small Forward
21/05/2001 | 172cm/71kg

Currently plying his trade with Southern Districts in the NTFL, Dahlhaus is an exciting small forward who brings terrific creative energy and defensive pressure to the forward half. Injury curtailed his top-age season last year and he was set to impact as a 19-year-old in 2020.

GIPPSLAND POWER:

Jai Newcombe | Inside Midfielder
02/08/2001 | 184cm/85kg

Was poised to stake his claim as one of 2020’s feel-good stories, having finally made the cut at Gippsland after being overlooked in multiple preseasons. He is an inside bull who proved hard to tackle at this year’s trials and the Power were certainly high on his potential as an over-ager.

GWV REBELS:

Isaac Wareham | Outside Midfielder
24/12/2001 | 186cm/77kg

Another who was unlucky to be overlooked last year, Wareham looked set to put injuries behind him and build on a top-age season which saw him represent Vic Country. He has plenty of development left as a December birth and makes things happen with ball in hand, playing into his overall upside.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS:

Ethan Baxter | Key Defender
31/01/2002 | 193cm/82kg

A Richmond Next Generation Academy member, Baxter was an Under 16 All Australian in 2018 and had some development left to make in 2020. He is a strong key defender who can hold his own in the back 50, especially in one-on-one and aerial contests.

Kade Chalcraft | Outside Midfielder
28/03/2002 | 182cm/79kg

Chalcraft was touted for some more time on the inside this year having already showed his worth as a creative outlet on the outer. He is an evasive small-medium type who played 16 games as a bottom-ager.

Sam Durham | Balanced Midfielder
09/07/2001 | 185cm/77kg

One of last year’s state combine invitees, Durham missed out on being drafted as a top-ager but garnered interest with his speedy adjustment to the code as a multi-sport athlete. He moves well and has good skills, but would be working on his game sense and consistency.

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

In Contention | Outsider AFL Draft prospects to consider: Western Australia

COME the end of a year like no other, there is likely to be a greater amount of hard luck stories and near misses than ever before, especially after the recent cuts to AFL list sizes. But for all that doom and gloom, the 2020 AFL Draft intake is also poised to provide some of the best stories of positivity as elite level hopefuls rise from the adversity this year has put forward.

In Draft Central’s newest series, we take a look at some of the draft prospects who remain in contention to fulfil their draft dreams despite missing out on invites to their respective states’ draft combines. These combine lists are often the best indicators of clubs’ interest in players, with at least four nominations required for those who were not selected in the two national Under 17 showcase games last year. West Australian talent on the precipice are next to go under the microscope, and there are plenty around the mark after an exciting season of WAFL football.

Below are pocket profiles of some players to watch, which will also feature in our upcoming annual AFL Draft guide.

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

DEFENDERS:

Will Collins | Swan Districts
24/02/2002 | 191cm | 81kg

Collins caught the eye towards the latter end of season 2020 and capitalised on being selected for the Under 18 All Stars games with a couple of solid performances. He is a competitive type on the precipice of key position height, able to play on medium and tall forwards.

Keanu Haddow | East Fremantle
23/08/2002 | 183cm | 83kg

Part of Fremantle’s NGA, Haddow could earn a rookie spot after proving a key cog in East Fremantle’s Colts defence this year. He is a medium height but has enough strength to play against bigger opponents, providing a safe outlet on the last line. Could also develop into a midfielder with his ability over the ball.

Tyler Nesbitt | Peel Thunder
4/07/2002 | 185cm | 80kg

Earned his way into this year’s state academy intake and showed good development as he moved from a forward role, to being used almost exclusively as a defender in 2020. He is generally a good user by foot who can also impact aerially with intercepts.

Ty Sears | Swan Districts
21/01/2002 | 187cm | 78kg

An agile outside runner who plays off half-back or the wing, Sears is a player capable of breaking the lines in transition with his speed and use by foot. When afforded the time and space, he can gain good meterage with running bounces and also hit the scoreboard.

Finn Gorringe | East Fremantle
29/05/2002 | 183cm | 77kg

A hard-nosed prospect with plenty of courage, Gorringe adjusted well this season to a defensive switch having previously cut his teeth as an inside midfielder. He is a no-frills kind of player who straight lines the ball and can split contests while also applying punishing defensive pressure.

FORWARDS:

Logan Guelfi | Claremont
29/05/2002 | 180cm | 70kg

Guelfi is the kind of player who provides real spark in attack, able to create and rack up score involvements while also fulfilling his defensive duties as a small forward. He is the brother of Essendon’s Matt and does plenty of exciting things on-field.

Nick Martin | Subiaco
3/04/2001 | 188cm | 81kg

A tall forward with good marking ability, Martin came on strongly as a 19-year-old prospect in 2020. He lead Subiaco’s goalkicking charts with a total of 13 and a full year of senior WAFL football has seen him stay in the draft conversation.

Sandon Page | Subiaco
17/04/2002 | 190cm | 80kg

Page proved a player who was hard to deny this year after a terrific season at Colts level. He booted two goals in Subiaco’s Grand Final triumph and also kicked a bag in the first All-Stars game, putting his name on the map. He is an accurate set shot who also brings others into the game and has decent athleticism.

MIDFIELDERS:

Sam Fisher | Swan Districts
03/07/2002 | 182cm | 85kg

A mature-age prospect who was previously on Sydney’s AFL list, Fisher moved to WA this year and took out the Sandover Medal in his debut campaign. He is clean at the contest and has no trouble finding the ball, but is working on his explosive burst out of congestion.

Callum Johnson | West Perth
11/10/2001 | 179cm | 77kg

Johnson is a tough ball winner who dominated the Colts competition early in the season to earn a Reserves berth. He works hard going both ways and racks up consistent numbers, but may be working on adding some polish to his game.

Max Spyvee | Claremont
176cm | 72kg

The best afield in game two of the Under 18 All-Stars fixtures, Spyvee is an exciting midfielder who zips forward as a terrific attacking catalyst. He won the 2019 Colts premiership with Claremont and impressed upon hitting the League grade late this season.

Jamison Ugle | Swan Districts
1/08/2002 | 181cm | 71kg

Ugle is a smooth-moving outside type who loves to run. He impressed enough in Swan Districts’ Colts side to earn selection in the Under 18 All-Stars games, where he provided plenty of x-factor. He comes from good footballing pedigree and is said to be a terrific character.

Lachlan Vanirsen | Subiaco
27/10/2002 | 182cm | 76kg

Vanirsen won this year’s WAFL Colts best and fairest and was best afield in the Grand Final as Subiaco earned premiership glory. He is hardly a flashy type, but adds great value as a reliable and clean ball winner who has peaked at the ideal time.

Conor McPartland | Perth
28/04/2001 | 176cm | 83kg

A midfield bull who won mountains of the ball at Colts level, McPartland proved his worth in 2020 as a 19-year-old prospect. He drives the ball forward through sheer grunt and power while also tackling hard, but may look to tidy up his disposal in future. Also fared well at League level late in the season.

RUCKS:

Solomon James | South Fremantle
3/11/2001 | 199cm | 98kg

A solidly build ruck prospect, James was a solid performer for the Bulldogs’ Colts side. Rotating forward from the engine room, James used his strong frame to impact aerially and provide first use to his midfielders. Also featured in the Under 18 All-Stars games.

Michael Mallard | West Perth
15/01/2002 | 200cm | 98kg

Mallard is a giant in the ruck and won more hitouts than any other player in this year’s WAFL Colts competition. He is a talented prospect with plenty of upside, able to mark well around the ground as one of the more impactful and mobile ruck options. Was an Under 16 and 18 state representative.

Featured Image: Max Spyvee during this year’s Under 18 All-Stars showcase | Credit: (Retrieved from) @WAFLOfficial via Twitter

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

In Contention | Outsider AFL Draft prospects to consider: NSW/ACT, NT, QLD

COME the end of a year like no other, there is likely to be a greater amount of hard luck stories and near misses than ever before, especially after the recent cuts to AFL list sizes. But for all that doom and gloom, the 2020 AFL Draft intake is also poised to provide some of the best stories of positivity as elite level hopefuls rise from the adversity this year has put forward.

In Draft Central’s newest series, we take a look at some of the draft prospects who remain in contention to fulfil their draft dreams despite missing out on invites to their respective states’ draft combines. These combine lists are often the best indicators of clubs’ interest in players, with at least four nominations required for those who were not selected in the two national Under 17 showcase games last year. Talent from the Allied states and territories (NSW/ACT, Northern Territory, Tasmania, and Queensland) on the precipice are next to go under the microscope, and there are plenty around the mark after exciting seasons around the nation.

Below are pocket profiles of some players to watch, which will also feature in our upcoming annual AFL Draft guide.

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

NSW/ACT:

Will Chandler
Murray Bushrangers | Medium Forward
13/12/2001 | 183cm | 79kg

A 2019 state combine invitee, Chandler plied his trade with the Murray Bushrangers but hails from just over the NSW border. He is an exciting forward who can leap high and possesses a smooth left-sided kicking action.

Jack Driscoll
GWS Academy | Key Defender/Ruck
8/04/2002 | 201cm | 88kg

Driscoll is a versatile tall who obviously thrives aerially, but has the point of difference in being able to rotate between key defensive and ruck posts. There is plenty of upside to the GWS Academy member, but he is not yet the finished product.

Sam Gaden
Sydney Academy | Key Position Utility
7/03/2001 | 196cm | 92kg

Gaden is a well-built key position prospect who can impact at either end of the ground or even in the ruck with his strength and smarts. He impressed last year and as an over-ager in 2020 during the Academy Series.

Harry Grant
GWS Academy | Small Midfielder/Forward
3/07/2001 | 172cm | 78kg

He may be small, but packs a punch. Grant showed some impressive form as a nuggety inside midfielder during this year’s Academy Series after missing out as a top-ager. He is a zippy, hard-working midfielder who will likely translate better as a forward.

Godfrey Okerenyang
GWS Academy | Medium Utility
8/09/2002 | 184cm | 80kg

One of the most outstanding pure athletes available in this year’s crop, Okerenyang lit up combine testing this year with his speed and explosiveness. He is still a very raw footballer but has obvious upside and has represented NSW/ACT at Under 16 level.

Kye Pfrengle
Sydney Academy | Defender/Utility
20/11/2002 | 191cm | 82kg

A high-flying type who possesses great versatility and athleticism, Pfrengle brings plenty of x-factor whenever he enters the play. He will be working on turning those glimpses into consistent form as he develops.

Pierce Roseby
Sydney Academy | Inside Midfielder
4/01/2002 | 180cm | 79kg

Roseby has proven to be a reliable inside midfielder with great tenacity and leadership qualities over his time with the Swans Academy. He is a solid ball winner at ground level with clean hands and the ability to run hard all day.

Marco Rossmann
Sydney Academy | Forward/Midfielder
12/04/2002 | 182cm | 79kg

A prospect which Sydney fans have been keeping a particularly close eye on, Rossmann is a classy midfielder who can win his own ball while also posing a threat inside attacking 50 with great smarts and agility.

Marc Sheather
Sydney Academy | Medium Utility
11/06/2002 | 185cm | 84kg

Another strong Swans Academy candidate, Sheather is a true utility in the sense that he can play both small and tall up either end, while also developing as a midfielder. He already cuts a strong figure and has handy athletic traits.

NORTHERN TERRITORY:

Tyrrell Lui
Palmerston | Defender/Utility
2/06/2002 | 187cm

Lui has plied his trade in all sorts of roles but seems to have settled recently as a tall, rebounding defender. He had the tough job of marking Joel Jeffrey in this year’s NT Under 18 All-Stars game and held his own. Currently playing for Palmerston in the NTFL.

Brandon Rusca
Southern Districts | Outside Midfielder/Small Forward
11/05/2001 | 180cm

Another NT prospect who is currently playing senior football in the NTFL, Rusca also ran out for Gold Coast in this year’s Academy Series and is tied to the Suns through the Darwin zone. He likes to take the game on with speed on the outside.

QUEENSLAND:

Riley Buckland
Palm Beach Currumbin | Outside Midfielder/Forward
9/04/2001 | 182cm

A 19-year-old prospect who has shown promising glimpses in 2020, Buckland stands out with his speed and willingness to move the ball on in the forward half. He played into some good form late in the QAFL season for Palm Beach Currumbin.

Shatner Cashen-Harris
Wilston Grange | Outside Midfielder
18/06/2002 | 180cm | 69kg

Cashen-Harris is a prospect who certainly caught the eye this season, running out for the most part with Wilston Grange in the QAFL. He also represented the Lions Academy in 2020, impressing with his explosive speed and smothering defensive pressure.

Nathan Colenso
Morningside | Forward/Midfielder
6/11/2001 | 186cm | 80kg

Colenso came into 2020 with big wraps after taking out last year’s QAFL Rising Star award. He ended up a premiership player with Morningside while also turning out for the Suns Academy, garnering attention with his big frame and strong defensive game up forward.

Josh Gore
Broadbeach | Small Forward
29/05/2001 | 178cm | 77kg

An incredibly natural small forward, Gore was one of a few unlucky Northern Academy prospects to miss out on being drafted last year. He bounced back with a terrific senior QAFL season with Broadbeach while also showing his smarts inside 50 with the Suns Academy.

Ryan Pickering
Gold Coast Academy | Key Position Utility
25/09/2002 | 200cm | 88kg

An athletic tall who can play on every line, Pickering obviously excels aerially at 200cm. He impressed this year during his time with Broadbeach and also for the Gold Coast Suns Academy, showing signs of his development.

Bailey Reeves
Gold Coast Academy | Balanced Midfielder
17/04/2002 | 184cm | 78kg

Reeves is a hard-working midfielder who can play both inside and out, as shown during his breakout Academy Series performances. He also enjoyed a solid QAFL season playing mostly on the wing, providing good grunt going both ways.

In Contention | Outsider AFL Draft prospects to consider: South Australia

COME the end of a year like no other, there is likely to be a greater amount of hard luck stories and near misses than ever before, especially after the recent cuts to AFL list sizes. But for all that doom and gloom, the 2020 AFL Draft intake is also poised to provide some of the best stories of positivity as elite level hopefuls rise from the adversity this year has put forward.

In Draft Central’s newest series, we take a look at some of the draft prospects who remain in contention to fulfil their draft dreams despite missing out on invites to their respective states’ draft combines. These combine lists are often the best indicators of clubs’ interest in players, with at least four nominations required for those who were not selected in the two national Under 17 showcase games last year. South Australian talents on the precipice are the first to go under the microscope, and there are plenty around the mark after an entertaining year of SANFL football.

Below are pocket profiles of each player, which will also feature in our upcoming annual AFL Draft guide.

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

KEY FORWARDS/RUCKS:

Ned Carey | Norwood
13/06/2002 | 198cm | 89kg

Carey has spent most of 2020 on the sidelines due to nasty injury niggles, but was a tall prospect of interest coming into the year having been included in the SA state academy hub. He can play in the ruck or at either end of the ground, is mobile for his size, and capable of taking big contested grabs.

Daniel Fahey-Sparks | Sturt
7/01/1998 | 196cm | 92kg

As somewhat of an undersized ruck, Fahey-Sparks covers the ground well and doubles as a forward threat. The 22-year-old’s strong athletic base and added League experience saw him really come into his own during 2020, proving dominant in the air and confident around the ground.

Riley Holder | Glenelg
18/12/2002 | 190cm | 84kg

The shortest and most forward-oriented player of this lot, Holder proved to be a reliable target for Glenelg and Sacred Heart in 2020. He is below true key position height at 190cm but has a strong frame and covers good ground, ensuring he is difficult to halt on the lead and in contested marking situations. Was included in this year’s state academy hub.

Zac Phillips | WWT Eagles
15/08/2002 | 200cm | 80kg

The rangy Eagles bigman made the move down to Henley High this year and performed well there while also juggling his SANFL Under 18 duties. He was his side’s primary ruck option and fared well at the centre bounces with his directional work, but is still improving on his strength, forward craft, and ability to have a greater impact around the ground.

SMALL FORWARDS/MIDFIELDERS:

Lachlan Grubb | Central District
7/12/2002 | 173cm | 69kg

Some may remember him taking out the 2019 SANFL Grand Final sprint, but Grubb is much more than merely a sprinter. His pace certainly helps when breaking lines and taking the game on, while also making for some punishing closing speed in the attacking half. As a December-birth, Grubb still has plenty of upside and development left but has already featured at League level.

Cooper Horsnell | Glenelg
19/04/2002 | 174cm | 68kg

Another who falls into the forward/wing category, Horsnell played out a full season among Glenelg’s Reserves setup in 2020 and also showed his wares by hitting the scoreboard during the Under 18 All-Stars fixture. He is a creative user on the fly who works hard up and down the ground, while also posing a threat close to goal. Had early interest as a state academy hub member.

Henry Nelligan | Norwood
7/03/2002 | 170cm | 69kg

Nelligan proved plenty of doubters wrong with his performances after missing out on a draft combine invite. The hard-working midfielder played a key role in Norwood’s SANFL Under 18s premiership and also gained senior experience earlier in the year. He is not overly quick, but is a natural ball winner who thrives at ground level and is not afraid to get his hands dirty.

Beau McCreery | South Adelaide
19/4/2001 | 184cm | 84kg

A 19-year-old prospect who has garnered attention on the back of a super SANFL League campaign which saw him boot 19 goals in 15 games. He was selected in the Under 18 All-Stars fixture come season’s end where he spent time rotating between the midfield and forwardline. McCreery gets stuck in on the defensive end and can often provide a spark just when his side needs it.

James Rowe | WWT Eagles
19/09/1999 | 173cm | 73kg

One of the most talked about mature-age hopefuls in this year’s crop, Rowe is a natural footballer who knows where the goals are. He was the equal-leading SANFL League goalkicker this year after earning a state combine invite in 2019 and played a vital role in Woodville-West Torrens’ premiership triumph. The 21-year-old looks ready as ever and would appeal to clubs crying out for a small forward.

DEFENDERS:

Dyson Hilder | North Adelaide
31/03/2001 | 196cm | 91kg

A key defender with great poise, Hilder has worked hard since missing out on draft honours last year. He again rotated between the Roosters’ League and Reserves sides after gaining some experience in 2019, showcasing some of his best attributes at senior level; namely a strong marking ability and reading of the play from behind the ball.

Rhyan Mansell | WWT Eagles
4/06/2000 | 182cm | 75kg

A small-medium defender who has come on leaps and bounds this year, Mansell allayed late injury concerns to help Woodville-West Torrens take out the premiership flag. The Tasmanian native was a key rebounder out of the back half and showed good skills with ball in hand, while also bringing a hard edge to the side. It could be his year after being overlooked twice.

Callum Park | Glenelg
19/01/2001 | 190cm | 74kg

An outside-leaning utility who can carve up the opposition by foot on he wing or across half-back, Park served a reminder of his talents in 2020 after being overlooked in last year’s draft. He is still quite lean but measures up at a good height and has great upside, with his rebounding ability particularly effective for the Bays. His versatility will also appeal to recruiters.

Luke Parks | Glenelg
18/04/2001 | 189cm | 83kg

Another who was unlucky to be overlooked at last year’s draft, Parks has taken to senior SANFL football with aplomb since making the move to Glenelg in 2020. The Sydney Swans Academy graduate impressed this year with his athleticism and courageous intercept marking in the back half, and has a good frame to keep up with the rigours of League football.

Jacob Wehr | WWT Eagles
184cm | 71kg

The stylish half-back finally broke through to the League grade in 2020 and became a hit among Woodville-West Torrens highly touted team. Kicking is his greatest asset, with the left-footer able to hit targets both short and long to act as a key playmaker in the back half. Interest has grown in the 22-year-old this year having come from a fair way back.

MIDFIELDERS:

Daly Andrews | South Adelaide
22/02/2000 | 184cm | 81kg

Andrews has made improvements after missing out on draft honours for two years running, credit to his work-rate and willingness to succeed. The Victorian moved to South Adelaide in 2020 after NAB League experience with the Western Jets and added superb midfield balance to the Panthers’ side. He is now a readymade size and has built great consistency, with speed and kick penetration highlights of Andrews’ game.

Bailey Chamberlain | West Adelaide
26/06/2002 | 179cm | 70kg

A balanced ball winner with break-neck acceleration, Chamberlain was a clear standout among West Adelaide’s struggling Under 18s side. After proving a class above for much of the season and racking up plenty of possessions, he moved up to the Reserves grade and was eventually rewarded with a League debut. He is still quite light and can improve his kicking on the run.

Nicholas Kraemer | South Adelaide
3/04/2002 | 185cm | 82kg

A strong inside midfielder who thrives in contested situations, Kraemer overcame injury troubles to make an impact in the back-end of the season. He is a leader among the Panthers’ group who bases his game on Josh Kennedy and prides himself on his defensive acumen – so much so, that he even succeeded in a move to defence. He has been working hard his speed and overall running capacity as a midfielder.

Mani Liddy | Sturt
20/02/2002 | 181cm | 79kg

A tough inside type who can also rotate forward, Liddy loves to compete and wins plenty of the ball at stoppages. He formed a near-unstoppable combination with first round prospect Tom Powell in 2020 and was consistently among Sturt’s best players at Under 18s level. His ability to stand up in tackles, shrug off opponents, and release slick handballs are all key features of his game.

Lachlan McNeil | WWT Eagles
9/02/2001 | 182cm | 80kg

McNeil is another who proved plenty of doubters wrong in 2020 after being overlooked as a top-age draft prospect last year. Since, he slotted straight into Woodville-West Torrens’ League side and became one of the competition’s best young players, adding terrific balance in his play from midfield. He is a handy ball winner who usually contributes neat disposals and can play inside or out.

Jamison Murphy | North Adelaide
9/12/2002 | 180cm | 85kg

A talented junior cricketer made of leadership material, Murphy opted to chase another type of red ball in 2020 as he committed to football. He is a solidly built inside midfielder who also plies his trade in defence, entrusted with kick-in duties on account of his composure and clean disposal. He also proved to be an apt decision maker, showing good awareness in the back half despite not being the most athletic type.

Featured Image: Nicholas Kraemer gets a kick away | Credit: Mark Brake/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?