Tag: afl draft preview

EXPLAINER | Pocket Podcast: Club AFL Draft previews (Part 4)

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 again joined Chief Editor Peter Williams and AFL Draft Editor Michael Alvaro as they continue to break down how this year’s draft may pan out for each club.

The clubs featured in part four are Adelaide, Essendon, and Greater Western Sydney (GWS), all of whom loom as the three biggest players in this year’s first round. The Crows lay claim to pick one and have narrowed their options down to four; bid on Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, or take one of Logan McDonald, Riley Thilthorpe, and Elijah Hollands. With Pick 9 and the first two second round selections also under their belt, this years wooden spooners comfortably hold the highest total draft points value of any side. There also looms the factor of their academy products in Tariek Newchurch and James Borlase, who they will hope can get to the club as rookies.

Then there is Essendon, who could become the first team to boast three top 10 picks since the expansion era, depending on how the pointy end plays out. The Bombers’ early hand will likely attract some live trade interest, but a great opportunity to bring in multiple elite talents presents itself. Essendon could also place bids on a couple of academy talents, with Port Adelaide NGA hopeful Lachlan Jones in that range and Collingwood NGA member Reef McInnes tempting the Bombers, who are crying out for a big-bodied inside midfielder. Like Adelaide, Essendon also has a couple of academy members of interest in Cody Brand and Josh Eyre.

GWS is the other club with a massively influential hand, largely thanks to the Jeremy Cameron trade. The Giants now lay claim to four first round picks and five within the top 30, providing a terrific opportunity to hit live trading hard or simply work with the strong haul they already have. There are a good number of options available in the teens for GWS, of which could bolster their midfield and key defensive needs in the long term. It is also a good range for sliders to come into play and the Giants may well end up as the team which shapes the late-first round to early-second round action.

Below are the picks held by each club, as of December 3.

Adelaide: 1, 9, 22, 23, 40, 80 
Essendon:
6, 7, 8, 44, 77, 85, 87
GWS: 
10, 13, 15, 20, 26, 74, 88

To listen to the discussion in full, click here.

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

2020 AFL Draft Preview: St Kilda Saints

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 St Kilda, a side which returned to finals action in 2020 under much loved coach, Brett Ratten. The Saints were again busy during trade period, bringing in a strong raft of readymade players through the door; headlined by the free agency coup of Brad Crouch, trade for Jack Higgins, and surprise recruitment of formerly retired defender James Frawley. Having addressed immediate needs for contested midfield support and key defensive depth, the Saints are well poised to challenge the top four in 2021 and can add long-term depth at the draft. Having only entered the equation at Pick 52 last year, St Kilda managed to hold onto a first rounder this time around, albeit slightly down the order, though there remains a big gap to the Saints’ next pick (64).

>> Power Rankings: November Update

CURRENT PICKS*: 21, 64, 67, 74, 93

2021 PICKS*: STK Rd 1 | STK Rd 3 | STK Rd 4, RIC Rd 4

* – denotes as of December 3

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

LIKELY ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Nil.

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

LIST NEEDS:

Outside runners
Long-term key defensive depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 21)

The Saints have an opportunity to continue their upward trend by selecting a readymade prospect in the first round to add to their strong competition for starting spots. Alternatively, a long-term developmental choice may be in the offing as St Kilda now has enough top-end mature talent to consistently contend with the top teams. Should the Saints look at bringing in some outside support, Nathan O’Driscoll would be a shrewd choice given his incredible work-rate and defensive acumen from midfield. He played senior WAFL football on the inside this season, but looks like spending his early development on a wing.

Bailey Laurie is a creative forward runner with silky skills who could also fit the bill, but would likely be a half-forward in the short term. Although, he may be off the board at that point given the mounting first round interest in him. Another West Australian in Jack Carroll could then be a viable option, with his class and agility on the inside balanced by athleticism and skill on the outer. At 188cm, he is a great size and would provide the efficiency St Kilda is looking for off half-back or the wing before again transitioning into midfield. Similarly, the Saints might look to pounce on Caleb Poulter slightly early, with his range of weapons as a versatile tall midfielder appealing to many clubs. Jake Bowey, the son of former Saint Brett Bowey, could also get a look-in. He is a crafty small with quick skills and the toughness of his old man.

Outside of those options, the Saints could realistically place a bid on other clubs’ academy talents with this pick, despite not laying claim to any of their own. Hawthorn NGA hopeful Connor Downie fits the bill as a run-and-gun half-back/wingman who loves to take the game on, while diminutive Swans Academy gun Errol Gulden could also be the hard-running type St Kilda is after. The bids would likely be matched though, potentially warding the Saints off that option.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

While Frawley covers St Kilda’s need for key defensive depth in the short term, there are many options available in the first round which could fill that void in the long-term. The problem for the Saints is that they are all likely to be snapped up well before Pick 21. Thus, St Kilda may look to trade up closer to the top 10 and have some 2021 stock which could appeal. The Saints’ future first rounder holds high value given how stacked next year’s crop looks to be, so may give them flex to conjure a trade and get into a better position to snare the likes of Zach Reid, Nikolas Cox, or Heath Chapman. Much further down the line, St Kilda’s two picks in the 60s could be packaged to move up the order and cap off a handy little draft haul, should an appealing prospect remain on the board.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Will St Kilda look to trade up and snare a key defender?

Will St Kilda look to build its midfield depth, or key position stocks with Pick 21?

How many of St Kilda’s late picks will be used?

Can St Kilda package its late picks to obtain greater, singular value?

Featured Image: 2019 Saints draftee Ryan Byrnes on the ball | Credit: (Retrieved from) St Kilda FC

EXPLAINER | Pocket Podcast: Club AFL Draft previews (Part 3)

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 this year’s draft may pan out for each club.

The clubs featured in part three are Collingwood, Hawthorn, North Melbourne and Sydney, all of whom have key decisions to make at the pointy end. The Magpies, Hawks, and Swans all have high-level academy products who look set to yield bids in tricky spots, putting their recruiting staff under the pump.

A bid for Collingwood’s Reef McInnes could come as early as with Essendon’s top 10 picks but the Pies will be sweating on him falling past their first selection (currently 14). Hawthorn is in a similar boat with Connor Downie, who will tempt clubs around the Hawks’ second pick (currently 24), especially given it is set to slide down the order on the back of other academy bids. Then there is Sydney, who is preparing to match a bid for Braeden Campbell within the top 10 and will be sweating on Errol Gulden‘s value in round two. North also looms as a key player given its rights to picks two and 11, which will undoubtedly yield a pair of elite talents. Either way, these will be some of the busier list management and recruiting teams come draft time and they each have some tough calls to make.

Below are the picks held by each club, as of December 1.

Collingwood: 14, 16, 65, 70, 75, 92
Hawthorn: 4, 24, 45, 46, 49, 72
North Melbourne: 2, 11, 30, 39, 71, 81
Sydney: 3, 34, 37, 43, 48, 60, 82

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)
Club AFL Draft previews (Part 2)

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: North Melbourne

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 North Melbourne, a side which got busy during trade period amid great overall change at the club. After finishing 17th, the Roos gained access to pick two and have plenty of options to consider in their efforts to maximise this year’s draft haul. As it stands, North lays claim to the fourth-highest total draft points value heading into this year’s intake and has a great opportunity to form the base of what looms as a long rebuild under incoming coach, David Noble – though, those at Arden Street have different ideas. As was hardly the case on-field in 2020, North Melbourne will be an important player in what goes down during the draft period.

>> Power Rankings: November Update

CURRENT PICKS*: 2, 11, 30, 39, 71, 81

2021 PICKS*: NM Rd 1 | NM Rd 2 | NM Rd 3 | BRI Rd 4

* – denotes as of November 30

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

LIKELY ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Nil.

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

LIST NEEDS:

Key forward
Midfield depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 2)

It seems North Melbourne’s options have been whittled down to three or four avenues at the top end, including the chance that the Roos part with pick two altogether. Should the draft order remain as is, Elijah Hollands seems the most likely to land at Arden Street. The dynamic midfielder/forward would add some spark to North’s engine room while also potentially developing as a forward early on. He is coming off an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear suffered during preseason, but North showed little hesitation in selecting Jy Simpkin with its first pick in 2016 when he missed his top-age year off a badly broken leg. Will Phillips is another midfielder in contention, but North may look to favour Hollands’ upside and versatility.

There is a chance that Adelaide opts to select local key forward/ruck Riley Thilthorpe with pick one, leaving Logan McDonald to be snapped up by the Roos. The West Australian key forward would suit North’s needs perfectly with Ben Brown fresh out the door, looming as a readymade option after thriving at senior WAFL level in 2020. The Roos also have Nick Larkey and are high on Charlie Comben, but the chance to snare this level of key position player does not come around often. Speaking of key forwards, the Kangaroos may well be the ones to bid on Western Bulldogs NGA talent Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, who is the consensus best player in the draft pool. A bid would inevitably be matched, but they may as well get it out of the way before snapping up their own player.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

A lot of the above discussion could be washed by North Melbourne’s potential to split pick two into a couple of top 10 picks. It is well known that Essendon is a club looking to move right up the order with eyes on McDonald and Hollands, making North a prime candidate to deal with. The Roos should be looking to maximise their hand at the top end given the state of their squad, so obtaining two of Essendon’s three-consecutive top-10’ers would be ideal. The Roos may have to give something back, perhaps pick 30 to make it a fair trade, but could extract some great value with a total of three first round selections. Should they opt against that play, the Roos might also look to package picks 30 and 39 to move up the order, or even to bolster their hand for next year’s intake.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Will North Melbourne part with pick two?

Will North Melbourne target key position stocks at the top end?

Will North Melbourne make the most selections of any club?

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

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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