Tag: top 10

2020 AFL Draft recap: North Melbourne

NORTH Melbourne came away with one of the more significant hauls at this year’s AFL Draft, introducing a total of seven new faces to its developing list. The Kangaroos will see great opportunity in their midst having grasped an elite talent with pick three, and incoming head coach David Noble setting lofty expectations on his side’s future projection. It comes after a season which was hardly short of disastrous at most times, but the upside of a fresh start and plenty of young talent will hopefully keep supporters tuned in as North looks to head in exactly that direction.

NORTH MELBOURNE

National Draft:
#3 Will Phillips (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#13 Tom Powell (Sturt/South Australia)
#36 Charlie Lazzaro (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#42 Phoenix Spicer (South Adelaide/South Australia)
#56 Eddie Ford (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

Rookies:
Patrick Walker (North Hobart), Connor Menadue (Werribee)

The first real surprise of the draft came as North Melbourne opted to select Will Phillips with Pick 3. While the durable inside midfielder is perhaps much like what the Kangaroos already have through the engine room, he looks every bit the 250-game lock who will impact immediately at AFL level.

At 180cm, the Oakleigh Chargers graduate has a good balance of inside and outside traits; proving clean in congestion and a touch handball happy, but also boasting a zippy burst away from traffic with the ability to chain possessions. He was a key part of Oakleigh’s 2019 premiership, waxing with the likes of Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson through midfield. Being given Brent Harvey‘s number 29 only proves the faith North Melbourne has in its primary selection.

With Pick 13, the Kangaroos doubled up on ball winning midfielders with South Australian Tom Powell. The Sturt product averaged over 35 disposals per game in the SANFL Under 18s, making for a monster season in which he proved difficult to ignore. He is best suited to the stoppages with his clean hands and composure, proving arguably the best exponent of the handball in his draft class. Much like Phillips, the reliability and honesty this selection brings will go a long way to helping North Melbourne turn its fortunes around quickly and he could well earn an early berth in the senior squad.

More smalls were in the offing later down the order, but this time bringing a touch of speed and dynamism to the squad. Geelong Falcons product Charlie Lazzaro is a quality character who brings toughness and tackling pressure on-field, able to play on both sides of midfield or as a small forward at 179cm. Phoenix Spicer was somewhat of a bolter, but a prospect with clear AFL interest this year having impressed for South Adelaide’s Under 18s and Reserves. He has pace to burn and loves to take the game on, able to hit the scoreboard from a wing or more simply ply his trade as a lively small forward.

Dynamic forward Eddie Ford rounded out the National Draft intake, a bargain at Pick 56. The spring-heeled Western Jets graduate is capable of taking big marks and bombing home long goals, making for an eye-catching highlight reel thus far. He would have looked to move more permanently into midfield as a top-ager, but was denied the opportunity. Tasmanian Patrick Walker adds some outside class as a rookie option, while 24-year-old former Richmond dasher Connor Menadue was a surprise selection after being delisted in 2019. Overall, it was a midfield-first approach from North with seven overall selections, though key position pillars still require fulfilment down the line.

Featured Image: Credit: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images via AFL Photos

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 Preview: Sydney Swans

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 Sydney, a side which has been notoriously consistent in the modern era but is currently in the midst of a list rebuild. The Swans finished 16th in 2020 having slid from finals to 15th the year before, meaning they will again lay claim to a top five pick and have the chance to bring in some elite young talent. As has often been the case, Sydney also boasts a couple of high-end academy products set to garner interest in the first round; meaning pick three, Braeden Campbell, and Errol Gulden will likely make up the Swans’ total National Draft haul.

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

CURRENT PICKS*: 3, 34, 37, 43, 48, 60, 82

2021 PICKS*: SYD Rd 1 | SYD Rd 2 | SYD Rd 4

* – denotes as of December 4

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

LIKELY ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Braeden Campbell, Errol Gulden (both academy)

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

LIST NEEDS:

Long-term key position depth
Long-term inside midfield depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 3)

While the Swans recently bolstered their ruck stocks during trade period with the coup of Tom Hickey, losing versatile tall Aliir Aliir hurt their top end key position depth. With pick three, Sydney has the opportunity to bring in a genuine gun key defender in Denver Grainger-Barras; a player who can not only fill the post long-term, but who also suits the club’s style and culture. He is the best defender available and will unlikely slide much further among the top five. The West Australian also showed his wares this year against pick one fancy Logan McDonald, arguably getting the better of him in the second half with courageous aerial efforts and superior reading of the play.

Should the Swans again look to target a midfielder in the top five like they did with Dylan Stephens last year, Will Phillips will be the go-to. At 180cm, he is not exactly the big-bodied type Sydney might prefer in the long-term, but he looks every bit the 250-game player clubs look for with such lofty selections. The Oakleigh Chargers graduate joined Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson in midfield last year and largely held his own, showcasing consistent ball winning ability, toughness, and a handy step away from congestion. Dynamic midfielder/forward Elijah Hollands could be another factor in this range, while the Swans have also committed to a bid on Western Bulldogs NGA Jamarra Ugle-Hagan should that option be available. Fortunately for Sydney, a bid for Campbell is expected to arrive after pick three.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

Having already completed a good amount of work to cover high-end academy bids, the Swans would perhaps prefer to stay a touch quieter among this year’s live trading scene. The best case scenario would see a bid for Campbell come late in the top 10, or even outside it, with Gulden’s bid sliding into the second round. Obviously keen to match both, the Swans could easily avoid a points deficit and any more trading action with that type of hand. Otherwise, we may see them spring to life once a team puts them under the cosh, but it should be a relatively straightforward outcome with three overall picks taken.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Which list need will the Swans attend to with pick five?

Will a bid for Braeden Campbell come within the top 10?

Will Errol Gulden be off the board before round two?

Do the Swans have enough to match two first round academy bids?

Will the Swans pick up any more academy products in their Rookie intake?

Featured Image: Swans Academy prospects Errol Gulden (left) and Braeden Campbell embrace | Credit: Narelle Spangher/ AFL NSW/ACT

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

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: 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

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: Essendon Bombers

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

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

>> Power Rankings: November Update

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

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

ELIGIBLE ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Cody Brand (NGA), Josh Eyre (NGA)

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

LIST NEEDS:

Key position forward
Big bodied inside midfielder
Outside/rebound speed

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 6)

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

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

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

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

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

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

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Will Essendon be able to trade into the top two?

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

How many academy bids will Essendon place?

Will Essendon bid on Reef McInnes in the top 10?

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

2020 AFL Draft Preview: Collingwood Magpies

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

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

>> Power Rankings: November Update

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

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ELIGIBLE ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Reef McInnes (NGA)

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LIST NEEDS:

Key position depth
Reliable goalkickers
Skilful/efficient midfielders

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 14)

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

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

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

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

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

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Can Collingwood trade into this year’s top 10?

Will Collingwood trade its 2021 first rounder?

Will Collingwood draft a key position player?

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

Will Collingwood get a pick in before the McInnes bid?

Can Collingwood make up for its trade period mess?