VERSATILITY was the key for North Melbourne in the 2018 AFL Draft period, taking players who can slot into a variety of roles on the field. The Kangaroos also stayed close to home with their selections, picking up three players attached to the club. An early bid did not scare the Roos off at Pick 8 from Next Generation Academy member, Tarryn Thomas, while they also won the rights to father-son prospect Bailey Scott, and had a free hit at talented, but unlucky Joel Crocker, as well as the slider of the draft, Curtis Taylor.
Tarryn Thomas – Balanced Midfielder/Forward
The North Launceston product has been a source of hope for North Melbourne fans for some time now, with Thomas showing his ability at a young age, playing at the National Under 18 Championships at just 16. Since then he has continued on an upward trajectory and his biggest strength is by far his clean hands. He could be a one-touch player in the middle of a hail storm, and with his clean disposal comes a touch of class and plenty of scope to improve. He is still quite lightly built, but is a good size and will likely play up forward early in his career, before naturally transitioning into the midfield. A real gift for Kangaroos fans and the club had no issues matching the bid.
Curtis Taylor – General Forward
Invited to draft night, the Calder Cannons forward was the last name to be called out of those with an invitation, lasting until the 40s in what was a genuine slide. With an invitation to the first round, it meant at least one club was considering him with a pick at that stage, but North Melbourne ended up the beneficiaries, trading up to score Taylor with a live trade. He offers strength overhead, some X-factor and a keen goal sense, as well as an ability to float through the midfield. He needs to build his consistency, but he has some nice tools to work with going forward.
Bailey Scott – Medium Utility
It was almost unbelievable to see Scott land where he did, as the medium utility was an equally as surprising slider as Taylor. Scott can play inside or outside, roam up forward or drift back, and ticks a lot of boxes across the board. He is strong overhead, uses the ball well and has a fierce attack on the footy. At the National Under 18 Championships, Scott was one of the most impressive players for the Allies, and is equally equipped with offensive and defensive traits. In many ways, Scott provides a readymade player if required, and he has the hardness that the Kangaroos midfield has, as well as the ability to create magic on the outside as well.
Joel Crocker – Tall Utility
Little would have been talked about Crocker given he has missed the entire year due to injury, but just quietly this is a steal. With the selection being the definition of a no-risk, high-reward selection, Crocker has some fantastic athletic traits and can play through the midfield, or up forward. The son of Darren who still works at the club, Crocker has a lot of work to catch up on in terms of match fitness, but the scope that the Kangaroos would see in the tall utility and former Sandringham Dragons player, is exciting.
Tom McKenzie – Balanced Midfielder
The Northern Knights midfielder slid compared to where some had him, but heads across the city to Arden Street and represents good value at this pick. McKenzie can play inside or outside, though he is lightly built so will need some more time before competing with senior bodies. He spent time at half-back for Vic Metro at the National Under 18 Championships, and followed on in that role back in the TAC Cup with the Knights.
Kyron Hayden – Balanced Midfielder
Redrafted from the senior list for list management purposes, Hayden will have a point to prove as he hopes to overcome some injury issues of the past couple of seasons. A big-bodied midfielder who can play inside or outside, we are yet to see the best of him and hopefully 2019 can be a turning point.
Tom Wilkinson – General Forward
The Southport forward has finally achieved his dream of making it to the AFL after missing out through Sandringham Dragons, and heading north. Playing in the NEAFL he was a standout in the Sharks’ premiership-winning forward line, earning praise from former Carlton forward, Matthew Lappin. It took until very late in the Rookie Draft, but Wilkinson landed at the Kangaroos and can now begin his AFL career.
This is a draft that could go down as one of North Melbourne’s best, picking up three players attached to the club, two of which were bargains, while the fourth player was a massive slider and also represents value. McKenzie and Wilkinson are free hits in the rookie draft and are seen as equally good value at those selections, with Wilkinson and the recovering Hayden, able to play once fully fit. Overall, an exciting draft for the Kangaroos who picked up players with high upside and just add class to what is a blue collar midfield.