Tag: Next Generation Academy

2020 AFL Draft recap: Western Bulldogs

WITH the consensus best player available in this year’s draft tied to their Next Generation Academy (NGA), the Western Bulldogs did a heap of early work to ensure their man would arrive at the kennel, along with at least one more National Draft selection. The momentum of a bumper trade period carried on into the next intake opportunity and is set to put the Dogs in good stead for another finals push in 2021. Boasting a spine which is filling out nicely and a ridiculously deep midfield, Luke Beveridge‘s side looks primed to ascend in the coming seasons.

WESTERN BULLDOGS

National Draft:
#1 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country)
#55 Dominic Bedendo (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

Rookies:
Lachlan McNeil (Woodville West Torrens), Roarke Smith (Re-listed)

The Bulldogs were well prepared to match a bid for NGA gun Jamarra Ugle-Hagan anywhere within the top three, and did so without second thought when Adelaide put them on the board with the very first pick. Their remaining selections were effectively wiped, leaving only a late third rounder to look forward to thereafter.

Ugle-Hagan promises to form a formidable forward combination with Aaron Naughton, adding even more aerial firepower and match-winning ability. The Oakleigh Chargers graduate is quick off the mark and has a sizeable vertical leap, making him near-impossible to stop on the lead. Despite the lack of a top-age season, he has long been pegged as this year’s first choice and could quickly become one of the competition’s elites. He should be in the frame for an early debut.

With just one more point of call in the National Draft, the Bulldogs added another raw and athletic talent in Dominic Bedendo at Pick 55. The lean Murray Bushrangers product has outstanding athleticism across the board and good versatility in the the sense that he can play either up forward or as a wingman. His ceiling is quite high, but there is plenty of development left to make and strength to be added to his 187cm frame.

The only other fresh face to arrive at Whitten Oval was 19-year-old Lachlan McNeil, taken in the Rookie Draft. After being overlooked last year, the Woodville-West Torrens midfielder remained in the conversation with a quality SANFL League campaign for the eventual premiers. His inside-outside balance and running capacity would have appealed to the Bulldogs, who admittedly now have an embarrassment of riches in the engine room.

VIDEO RECAP:

Featured Image: Jamarra Ugle-Hagan was the consensus best player in this year’s draft | Credit: Western Bulldogs

2020 AFL Draft recap: Port Adelaide

HAVING obtained some of the competition’s most exciting young talent at the most recent few drafts, Port Adelaide had far less flex to get creative in 2020. This year’s minor premiers went in knowing that their star Next Generation Academy (NGA) product would attract a first round bid, and only had one more pick to make after matching in that exact range. A long-term selection rounded out the Power’s National Draft intake before a couple of familiar names, both young and experienced, entered the ranks as rookies the very next day.

PORT ADELAIDE

National Draft:
#16 Lachlan Jones (Woodville West-Torrens/South Australia)
#49 Ollie Lord (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

Rookies:
Taj Schofield (Woodville West Torrens), Tyson Goldsack

Port staff would have breathed a sigh of relief when Essendon opted not to place a bid on NGA product Lachlan Jones within the top 10, with Adelaide and GWS other suitors immediately after. Collingwood ended up being the club to pull the trigger at Pick 16, making the decision to match an easy one for Port Adelaide. The brutish defender is a readymade prospect at 186cm/89kg and is fresh off a terrific season with SANFL premier, Woodville-West Torrens. He blends attack on the ball and rebound penetration with a strong defensive acumen, making him a versatile type who looks like slotting straight into the Power’s back six.

Pick 49 was Port’s next point of call and Ollie Lord was the name called out. The Sandringham Dragons graduate is a key forward who continues to grow, with Power recruiters are high on his athleticism and competitiveness. Port’s current key forward stocks mean Lord will be allowed some time to develop and hone his craft after little exposure at NAB League level, though his APS performances for Geelong Grammar last year pointed towards plenty of promise. He is also the grandson of 1962 Brownlow Medallist, Alistair Lord.

Looking at the rookie intake, and Port pulled a surprise by announcing they were set to add formerly retired Collingwood defender, Tyson Goldsack to their list. The addition of father-son prospect, Taj Schofield was far less surprising after the Power committed to him beforehand, with his availability outside of the National Draft a nice bonus. He brings a neat set of skills on the outside and plenty of versatility to play as a half-forward or half-back given his typically clean disposal between the arcs. He is another who will be given time to develop, with durability a slight concern across his junior career.

VIDEO RECAP:

 

Featured Image: Port draftees Taj Schofield (middle) and Lachlan Jones (right) train in familiar colours | Credit: (Retrieved from) @PAFC via Twitter

2020 AFL Draft recap: Hawthorn Hawks

WITH the disappointment of a 15th place finish comes great hope via the draft and in 2020, Hawthorn came into the event holding its earliest pick since 2005. The Hawks have a history of making good on their high-end selections and filled an immediate list chasm with their first choice on the night, while also gaining some exciting long-term prospects and taking little time to match a bid on their own homegrown talent. A haul of four in the National Draft was capped by one more rookie selection the very next day, making for a handful of fresh faces set to inject even more enthusiasm to the Hawks’ developing list.

HAWTHORN

National Draft:
#6 Denver Grainger-Barras (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
#29 Seamus Mitchell (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)
#35 Connor Downie (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
#46 Tyler Brockman (Subiaco/Western Australia)

Rookies:
Jack Saunders (Norwood)

Hawthorn’s first pick hinged on much of the action amongst the top five, with the Hawks reaching a happy medium in terms of picking for list needs and the best available talent. After a failed bid on Swans Academy member Braeden Campbell, West Australian Denver Grainger-Barras was the Hawks’ man; the best defender in the draft and an athletic one at that.

At 195cm, he is a terrific intercept marker and has great versatility in the sense that he can lock down opponents or play as a loose man across the back half. The Swan Districts product could well slot straight into James Sicily‘s role from the get-go, while also freeing him up to swing forward or be let off the chain once he recovers from his long-term knee injury.

The Hawks then looked towards bolstering their small stocks with the selections of Seamus Mitchell (Pick 29) and Tyler Brockman (46). While some small forwards are picked for their defensive acts, these two will likely prove selections made on speed and upside. Both are wonderfully quick and have serious x-factor, able to ply their trade as high half-forwards or even closer to goal.

Neither are quite the finished product, but promise to put together handy highlight reels if given a chance at senior level early on. Hawthorn’s recruiting staff were obviously quite high on their talents having jumped on them a touch early, but the pair could prove well worth the price in quick time.

In between those picks came a bid on Next Generation Academy (NGA) product Connor Downie, a driven and professional character who was set to captain the Eastern Ranges this year. The outside midfielder/defender loves to take the game on and boasts a penetrating left-foot kick, allowing him to gain meterage at a good rate.

Having put four years of work into Downie through their NGA program, the Hawks were prepared to match a bid in the 25-range, so snaring him 10 picks later than that was a bonus. Another outside runner in Jack Saunders rounded out the draft as a rookie pick, adding line-breaking and ball-winning ability to the Hawks’ midfield stocks. The 180cm talent played a key part in Norwood’s Under 18 and Reserves sides this season.

Featured Image: Hawthorn’s 2020 draftees | Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

Rookie Rundown: The picks you might have missed

THE 2020 AFL National and Rookie Drafts have been run and done, with plenty of fresh faces entering the elite system despite limited exposure, opportunities, and football this year. Often times, the best gems and values picks are found in the Rookie Draft and this year is no different, with a bunch of selections not read out during the official event seeing hot prospects get their chance. We take you through some of the names who have snuck onto lists via pre-listing or Category B eligibility, perhaps flying under the radar having been confirmed away from the glamour of draft night.

>> NATIONAL DRAFT: Club-by-club picks
>> ROOKIE DRAFT: Full order

Gold Coast is arguably the team with most relevance to this kind of category, with a total of five pre-listings made as part of the Suns’ draft concessions. Top 25 talents Alex Davies and Joel Jeffrey made their way onto the primary list, with the former an academy product and the latter aligned through Gold Coast’s access to the Darwin zone. Davies is a tall inside midfielder who thrives at the contest with great poise and clean extraction, while Jeffrey is an athletic swingman who stands out aerially and has great upside.

Rhys Nicholls and Aiden Fyfe are other academy graduates who were called out during the Rookie Draft, both promising to add some outside run and class to the Suns’ squad. Their listings were somewhat of a formality, but also show the growth of Gold Coast’s talent program. International scholarship holder Hewago Paul Oea earned a Category B slot after being overlooked last year, potentially bringing great speed and excitement to the forward half. ‘Ace’, as he is affectionately known, hails from Papua New Guinea and represented the Allies during last year’s Under 18 championships.

Another Queensland academy product in Carter Michael also earned rookie selection, pre-listed by Brisbane having been an integral part of the Lions’ pathway setup. The versatile midfielder’s selection slipped under the radar and was only announced after the fact, but he has long been linked with a spot on the Lions’ list. He is a Category A rookie, while Irish convert Deividas Uosis has been listed as a Category B prospect. The Lithuanian-born athlete was announced as a Lions coup early in 2020, but will only officially join their list come 2021.

Will Shaw was somewhat of a surprise get by GWS, with Marc Sheather Sydney’s only other academy selection after matching bids for Braeden Campbell and Errol Gulden. Shaw is a former Giants Academy member who played for both Murray and Bendigo in the NAB League but was overlooked as a top-ager before getting his chance with the Giants, who value his outside run and class. He was eligible for selection as he falls in the Giants’ NSW zone. Sheather is a versatile option for the Swans who can play above his size up forward, down back, or even through midfield. He has athletic traits which appeal and a readymade kind of build. Both are said to have been put into Category B slots.

Adelaide wasted little time in announcing the Category B listings of Next Generation Academy (NGA) members James Borlase and Tariek Newchurch, who managed to slip through past the National Draft. Both are fast-developing talents, with Borlase a strongly-built defender who is the son of 246-game Port Adelaide champion Darryl, while Newchurch is a zippy small forward with x-factor and a wonderful eye for goal. They are far from the finished product, but could play a part in the Crows’ rebuild having capped off a massive overall draft haul.

Elsewhere, a couple of monster basketball converts also earned Category B selection, with Paul Tsapatolis landing at Geelong and Mate Colina snapped up by Richmond. Melbourne NGA prospect Deakyn Smith carries some interest after missing out on this intake, but will train with the club in hopes of nabbing a spot in future. Port Adelaide father-son Taj Schofield was one who did find a home in the Rookie Draft after the Power committed to him, adding great value at essentially no cost.

Featured Image: Gold Coast Category B rookie Hewago Paul Oea | Credit: SUNS Media

2020 AFL Draft recap: Fremantle Dockers

FREMANTLE reeled in an all-local haul in this year’s National Draft, including a couple of bargain Next Generation Academy (NGA) talents and youngsters with senior WAFL experience at the top end. After finishing 12th in 2020 under new coach Justin Longmuir, Fremantle looms as a fast-rising club with one of the best young midfields in the competition. That youthful exuberance should continue to shine with the latest intake, as a versatile crop enters the Dockers’ ranks looking to make an immediate impact. With a couple of starting roles arguably up for grabs, that could well be the case in 2021 as the West Australian side pushes for finals relevancy.

FREMANTLE

National Draft:
#14 Heath Chapman (West Perth/Western Australia)
#27 Nathan O’Driscoll (Perth/Western Australia)
#50 Brandon Walker (East Fremantle/Western Australia)
#54 Joel Western (Claremont/Western Australia)

Rookies:
Josh Treacy (Bendigo Pioneers), Bailey Banfield (Re-listed)

The first round of this year’s draft was littered with versatile tall options and Heath Chapman was one of them. The Dockers may have been tempted by some of the midfielders still available, but instead selected the 193cm West Perth product with Pick 14. While Fremantle lays claim to a bunch of tall defenders already, Chapman’s running capacity and marking ability have him pegged as one who could develop either as a wingman, or even a swingman.

With Nathan O’Driscoll on the board after round one, the Dockers opted to trade up and secure his services at the start of the second round. His value is something which divided clubs and analysts alike, but should prove a very handy selection. He joins his sister, Emma in purple and promises to provide a tireless work-rate to go with an excellent inside-outside balance in midfield. It may be a tough engine room to crack, but O’Driscoll is a versatile type who can fit in on each line.

Fremantle staff would have come away laughing as NGA graduates Brandon Walker and Joel Western were bid on with picks in the 50s. Both players are arguably top 30 talents and have some serious athleticism to go with their footballing nous. Walker is an attacking half-back who love to take the game on and makes good decisions by foot, with his overhead marking another handy trait.

Western was the Claremont Colts captain this year and overcame injury to cap of a stellar campaign, also claiming best afield honours in the first WA All-Stars game. His ground level work and acceleration from congestion are excellent, with clean skills and goal sense making him an option to feature on Fremantle’s half-forward line early.

Rounding out the Dockers’ overall haul, Josh Treacy proved their only fresh selection in the Rookie Draft as Bailey Banfield was re-listed. The Bendigo Pioneers product is another Vic Country selection and one who could play the role Jesse Hogan was recruited for, as a tall target up forward with good presence. Treacy is an aggressive type who loves to throw his weight around and is working on building his running game to potentially even move further afield.

Featured Image: NGA product Joel Western is finally a Docker | Credit: (Retrieved from) Fremantle FC

2020 AFL Draft recap: Essendon Bombers

ESSENDON became the first club since the expansion era to utilise three top 10 picks at this year’s AFL Draft, taking a mix of the best available players and those who can help form a formidable spine for years to come.

After finishing 13th and losing some key personnel at the trade table, incoming coach Ben Rutten will have some very handy tools to work with as he looks to steer the Bombers back into finals.

Homegrown talent of sorts in Next Generation Academy (NGA) products also entered the list, making for one of the biggest and best draft hauls of any club – as was expected with the Bombers’ starting hand. Immediate improvement may not show, but the ceiling is unbelievably high on this crop.

ESSENDON

National Draft:
#8 Nik Cox (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
#9 Archie Perkins (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#10 Zach Reid (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
#39 Josh Eyre (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
#53 Cody Brand (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

Rookies: Martin Gleeson (Re-listed), Dylan Clarke (Re-listed)

Essendon clearly favoured bolstering its tall stocks at the top end, with versatile 200cm prospects Nik Cox and Zach Reid bookending a top 10 three-peat on either side of midfielder/forward Archie Perkins.

Northern Knights product, Cox was the first option and somewhat of a prospective one in that range. The Bombers like his high ceiling as an endurance beast who kicks well on both feet and can play a variety of roles.

Reid is arguably the more nailed-on key position get and should slot into the defence for years to come. He is also an elite kick for his size and reads the play beautifully to intercept.

Perkins could be the midfield wildcard Essendon has been crying out for, with his explosiveness at 186cm a desirable trait and something the Bombers currently lack. He also finds the goals and will likely develop off half-forward before earning more permanent midfield minutes.

Then there came the two NGA selections, with a bid for Josh Eyre coming perhaps a touch early for the Bombers’ liking at Pick 39. It did not stop them from matching for the promising key forward, with his raw athleticism and high rate of improvement really impressing recruiters this year.

Essendon then placed a bid on Maurice Rioli Jnr at Pick 51 before having that matched and trading down the order, with the Western Bulldogs springing a bid on Cody Brand late in the piece. Another Calder Cannons product, Brand is a key defender who can shut down opposition forwards and has been working hard on his contested craft in order to transition that game quickly to the next level.

With Cox, Reid, Eyre, and Brand all over 196cm, Essendon has some extremely exciting tall stocks which could go on to form the base of a competition-best spine – key word, could. Throw Perkins into the midfield mix, and the Bombers are building nicely.

Featured Image: Essendon’s trio of top 10 picks | Credit: Dylan Burns/Herald Sun

2020 AFL Draft recap: Collingwood Magpies

AFTER a trade period which was nothing short of disastrous, Collingwood gained some sort of redemption by coming away from the draft table as arguably the biggest winner. It is easy to forget after all the madness of the last two months that the Magpies won a final in 2020, but messy losses of key personnel and plundering confidence from fans has seen many question the side’s top eight credentials heading into next season. Still, with six quality picks in the National Draft – the most of any club – and a couple of rookies to boot, the mood around Collingwood has again lifted substantially.

COLLINGWOOD

National Draft:
#17 Oliver Henry (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#19 Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#23 Reef McInnes (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#30 Caleb Poulter (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)
#31 Liam McMahon (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
#44 Beau McCreery (South Adelaide/South Australia)

Rookies:
Jack Ginnivan (Bendigo Pioneers), Isaac Chugg (Launceston)

Much of Collingwood’s success in this year’s draft hinged on where a bid for Next Generation Academy (NGA) member Reef McInnes would come. Essendon was one which flirted with the idea within the top 10, while Adelaide was another club with interest just outside of that range. In the end, the Magpies achieved an ideal result by obtaining two talents before that bid arrived, eventually matching for their man at Pick 23 – a bargain.

The two ‘brothers of’ in Oliver Henry and Finlay Macrae were great value selections at 17 and 19, both adding another dimension to the squad. Henry is a 187cm swingman who thrives aerially and will most likely slip into the role of Jaidyn Stephenson, while Macrae adds class and sound decision making to a midfield which has sometimes lacked as much going forward. McInnes is somewhat of a wildcard in the mix, with his athleticism at 192cm making him an ultra impressive inside type. He is also quite versatile having been squeezed out of Oakleigh’s premiership midfield in 2019 and spending time on the flanks at either end.

Potentially the best and most forward-thinking move of the night saw Collingwood trade out its future first round pick – which would likely have been wiped by a bid for father-son gun Nick Daicos in 2021 – to secure consecutive second round picks. Caleb Poulter was the first addition at Pick 30, a dynamic and balanced midfielder with plenty of weapons. At 192cm, he is a hybrid type who will put bums on seats. Liam McMahon then came immediately after, filling the need for a key forward. He is perhaps a long-term prospect, but has a great deal of athleticism and skill to go with his steep rate of development.

Rounding out the National Draft haul was Beau McCreery, a 19-year-old who impressed during this year’s SANFL season. He suits the Magpies’ need for a genuine small forward and with his tackling pressure and goal sense, could find his way into the side early on. Jack Ginnivan was another steal having slid all the way through to the Rookie Draft and could also fill that small forward void, while speedy Tasmanian Isaac Chugg was a more prospective selection with nice athletic traits and aggressive forward thinking. Overall, the Pies ticked a lot of boxes, continued their love affair with the Oakleigh Chargers, and might have nabbed a draft haul we all look back on in years to come as club-defining.

Featured Image: The Magpies’ quartet of Victorian draftees | Credit: Collingwood FC

2020 AFL Draft Preview: Western Bulldogs

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 are the Western Bulldogs, one of the big winners out of this year’s trade period after nabbing Adam Treloar, holding Josh Dunkley, paying next to nothing for some ruck experience in Stefan Martin, and bringing Mitch Hannan back to Whitten Oval. They should also prove big winners on draft day given the consensus best player available, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, is tied to their Next Generation Academy (NGA). On-field, the Dogs have snuck a game clear into finals twice in as many years, now boasting arguably the deepest midfield in the competition and plenty of stock to continue that trend in 2021.

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

CURRENT PICKS: 29, 33, 41, 42, 52, 54

2021 PICKS: WB Round 1, WB Round 4

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

ELIGIBLE ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (NGA), Ewan Macpherson (father-son), Cody Raak (NGA)

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

LIST NEEDS:

Key position forward
Small forward depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 29)

The current figure of 29 as the Bulldogs’ opening pick can effectively be ignored, as at least their first four selections will be off the board when Jamarra Ugle-Hagan is bid on within the top three. As has been widely known for some time now, the Bulldogs will not think twice in matching said bid and obtaining much-needed key forward support for Aaron Naughton. Given the strength they have in midfield, aerial dominance and dynamism will be key to the Bulldogs’ forward game with those two in the same side.

Though Ugle-Hagan will inevitably act as the Dogs’ first pick, the hand they are left with will ultimately yield their selectors’ first genuine choice in the draft. There are three scenarios likely to play out; if Adelaide bids with pick one the Bulldogs will match and have their entire hand wiped out with leftover points yielding pick 66, if North Melbourne bids at pick two the Bulldogs will match and see their first four picks wiped while obtaining pick 73 with leftover points, and if Sydney bids at pick three the Bulldogs will match and again see their first four picks wiped, but gain the equivalent to pick 53 on leftover points.

With the late picks remaining, the Western Bulldogs could target some small forward depth, or look to pick up a developable tall for the long-term. Alternatively, it provides good cover for potential bids on Ewan Macpherson (father-son) or Cody Raak (NGA), but they are likely to be available as rookies.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

Given the Bulldogs have already worked to manufacture a hand good enough to cover a top three bid for Ugle-Hagan, there is not much else they may seek to do in terms of live trading. Depending on where the bid comes and which picks they have leftover, the Bulldogs could decide to package the late selections and move slightly up the order to nab a player they are keen on. In scenario three, where Sydney is the team to bid, they could also use picks 52, 53, and 54 to trade back into next year’s draft given they only boast a first and fourth rounder there. Still, do not expect too much significant action from the Bulldogs in this department.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Will Adelaide bid on Ugle-Hagan with pick one?

How many more players will the Bulldogs take after Ugle-Hagan in the National Draft?

Will Macpherson and Raak attract bids, or slide to the Rookie Draft?

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

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

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

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

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

To listen to the discussion in full, click here.

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

Past Episodes:

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

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

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

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

2020 AFL Draft Preview: Hawthorn Hawks

WITH the 2020 trade period done and dusted, it is now time for clubs and fans alike to turn their attention to the draft. Between now and draft day (December 9), clubs will have the opportunity to exchange picks until the final order is formed a couple of days out. While the chaos ensues, Draft Central takes a look at how each club may approach the upcoming intake opportunities with the hand they formed at the close of trade period. Obviously they are subject to heavy change, so perhaps we can predict some of that movement here.

Next under the microscope is Hawthorn, arguably the most successful team of the modern era and one which has not held a top five pick since taking Xavier Ellis third off the board in 2005. After a period of sustained success, the Hawks have missed finals in three of the last four seasons and are beginning to look back at the draft as a means of regenerating on top of their usual mature-age coups from other clubs. A 15th place finish in 2020 sees them likely to break the aforementioned top five streak, with at least one a couple of key list needs able to be bolstered at the pointy end.

>> Power Rankings: November Update

CURRENT PICKS*: 4, 24, 45, 46, 49, 72

2021 PICKS*: HAW Rd 1 | HAW Rd 2 | HAW Rd 3

* – denotes as of November 28

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

LIKELY ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Connor Downie (NGA)

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

LIST NEEDS:

Midfielders
Long-term key position depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 4)

While placed nicely up the order, Hawthorn’s selection here still depends largely on what other clubs do beforehand. The Hawks were smashed at the contest at times this year despite boasting a strong starting midfield mix, meaning engine room depth and contested ball winners should be at the top of their wish list. Will Phillips fits the bill perfectly as a competitive and reliable midfielder with readymade attributes. He joined Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson in Oakleigh’s premiership midfield last year, holding his own as one of the competition’s premier players. The only problem for Hawthorn is that he may be snapped up by Sydney a pick earlier.

Elijah Hollands could well be in the same boat as Phillips given the interest coming from Adelaide (pick one) and North Melbourne (pick two), but would be another shrewd selection for Hawthorn. He could free up Chad Wingard to spend more time in the midfield early on, before transitioning into that position himself. As far as other mids go, Tanner Bruhn would arguably be the next best inside ball winner behind Phillips, while Archie Perkins is also said to be a surprise contented for the pick. He is an explosive type with rare athleticism and upside which will likely see him bolt into the top 10. A bid on Sydney Academy member Braeden Campbell may also be in the offing, but the Swans would inevitably match.

Should Hawthorn take the key position route, there are a couple of exciting prospects with senior state league experience up for grabs. 201cm South Australian Riley Thilthorpe is in contention to be taken with pick one, but may slide otherwise and would be a terrific fit for the Hawks as a long-term key forward option who doubles as an athletic ruckman. West Australian key defender Denver Grainger-Barras may be considered by Sydney, but is also around Hawthorn’s range. He is renowned for his intercept marking ability and has plenty of development left.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

Much of the Hawks’ live trading movement may surround where a bid comes for Next Generation Academy (NGA) member Connor Downie. The Eastern Ranges captain is a wingman/half-back who loves to take the game on and boasts a booming left boot. His range is said to be around the 25 mark, which is dangerously close to Hawthorn’s pick 24. Said pick will inevitably slide down three to five places by then, making it even more likely that another club would swoop in and bid on the Hawks’ man. Hawthorn would unlikely think twice on matching it, but would be sweating on getting a selection in beforehand. A combination of picks 45, 46, and 49 could be used to match the Downie bid after pick 24, or alternatively to move up the order and come away with three quality players overall. Pick four, 24, Downie, and one other could be Hawthorn’s ideal haul.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Will Hawthorn be tempted by the key position options available, or look for midfield depth with pick four?

Will Archie Perkins come into consideration at pick four?

Can Hawthorn find the next Hodge, Franklin, or Roughead with pick four?

Will a bid for Connor Downie come before Hawthorn’s pick 24?