On Sunday Footy Prophet conducted its annual Live Mock Draft, with footy writers and Draft buffs from around the country putting their list manager hats on and trying to navigate their way through this year’s top Draft talent. In a little over two hours the team had given AFL list spots 96 players, with plenty of surprises along the way.
The team comprised of FP Draft writers Matt Palf, Craig Byrnes, Dan Batten and Harrison Reid from Victoria; and Jason Harris and Lenny Fogliani from WA. AFL Tasmania and soon to be Adelaide Crows Digital Manager Alex FitzGerald from Tassie. FP Editor Matt McGrath from Queensland, and former FP stalwart, and now editor on The Roar, Josh Elliott.
Each ‘list manager’ took the reins at two AFL clubs, and selected the players that they would pick if they had the big job next Friday. Here are the club by club results, with a word from each manager on their decisions:
Adelaide – Alex FitzGerald
12: Jack Higgins | Oakleigh Chargers | Fwd/Mid | 178cm | 77kg
41: Brayden Ainsworth | Subiaco | Mid | 184cm | 79kg
74: Tom Schmusch | Woodville-West Torrens | Def | 193cm | 83kg
94: Lloyd Meek | GWV Rebels | Ruck | 202cm | 106kg
For a team that finished second in 2017, the priority was to look at filling the gaps left by the departing Charlie Cameron and Jake Lever, as well as add some midfield depth and bring in a ruckman to develop under the tutelage of Sam Jacobs.
Jack Higgins is a gun small forward with the ability to play in the midfield, despite standing just 178cm tall. A prolific ball-winner at the Under 18 Championships, Higgins’ ability to read the play and convert chances on goal sees him slot into arguably the most dangerous forward line in the AFL at the feet of the talls alongside Eddie Betts. After the bid for GWS Academy midfielder Nicholas Shipley was matched, classy WA onballer Brayden Ainsworth was the next selected at pick 41. Ainsworth gives the Crows midfield depth, with his ball use and determined attitude a good fit for any club. While some might view Tom Schmusch as having been picked up too early, the South Australian product has the potential to fill the void left by Lever in defence, alongside Tom Doedee. A long kick and strong intercept mark, Schmusch is the ideal project player at pick 74. With Ned Reeves already snapped up by the Swans, over-age ruckman Lloyd Meek was next on the list, with the big-bodied 19 year old likely to benefit from an elite environment as he learns his craft.
Brisbane – Harrison Reid
1: Cam Rayner | Western Jets | Fwd/Mid | 186cm | 87kg
15: Lachie Fogarty | Western Jets | Fwd/Mid | 179cm | 76kg
18: Nathan Murphy | Sandringham Dragons | Gen Fwd/Def | 188cm | 80kg
35: Connor Ballenden (after bid) | Lions Academy | KPP | 198cm | 96kg
Given the Lions’ young key position stocks are just about filled to the brim, it was more midfield depth and some class that I targeted being the list manager for the Lions.
With the first pick it was impossible to look past Cam Rayner (pick 1). Too good to consider flight risk, because he can do things most AFL established players cannot. Will start as a forward for the Lions but add some dynamic power to their midfield in time. Lachie Fogarty (pick 15) and Ethan Floyd (pick 53) add some more class and poise to that midfield; Fogarty, in particular, is one that can add the inside prowess of a clearance king, and the outside composure of a meticulously clean mid. I’m also happy with snatching James Worpel at 45 for my Lions midfield, not as classy as the former two, but is a readymade bull in the guts. Nathan Murphy (pick 18) is a good fit for the Lions as a medium sized swingman who plays his best footy as an intercepting defender – a cricket convert who has so much scope for improvement. Lastly I was happy with a bid coming for Connor Ballenden all the way down at 35 – as I said the Lions are blessed with great tall timber talent, however they did just delist Michael Close and Matthew Hammelmann so there’s a spot on the list for sure for the 199cm Brisbane Lions Academy key forward who possesses an elite kick.
Carlton – Matt McGrath
3: Paddy Dow | Bendigo Pioneers | Mid | 185cm | 78kg
10: Adam Cerra | Eastern Ranges | Mid | 186cm | 80kg
30: Gryan Miers | Geelong Falcons | Fwd | 177cm | 77kg
71: Matthew McGannon | Gippsland Power | Mid | 183cm | 71kg
82: Ethan Penrith (after bid) | Northern Knights | Def/Fwd | 179cm | 78kg
85: Cam O’Shea | Northern Blues | Def | 193cm | 89kg
Going into the draft, my priorities were to pick up at least 2 top-end midfielders who’d complement the existing engine room of Cripps, Murphy, Curnow and Kennedy. Paddy Dow was an obvious choice after Rayner and LDU had gone and will bring speed, contested ball and excellent character to a talented crop of kids already at Ikon Park. I nearly fell off my chair when Adam Cerra was still on the board at 10, so was the easiest choice anyone would make all day. In this duo, the Blues’ midfield would be set – both Dow and Cerra could play early in 2018 and add different elements to its existing strengths. Dow with his burst speed and toughness and Cerra with his class and vision would make Brendon Bolton an even happier man than he already is. Gryan Miers was next at 30, who has a distinctive look and elite goal sense. He’s someone who could factor into the Blues’ forward 50 well into the future. Matthew ‘Moose’ McGannon plays for Gippsland and is a rangy, smooth moving, versatile wingman with plenty of scope due to his 27th December birthday. The massive draft was topped off by picking up Next Generational Academy member Ethan Penrith and Northern Blues defender Cam O’Shea, who is training with the club with hopes to be given a second chance at the AFL level.
Collingwood – Matt Palf
6: Aaron Naughton | Peel Thunder | Kef Def | 194cm | 85kg
39: Toby Wooller | Oakleigh Chargers | Key Fwd | 193cm | 90kg
57: Liam Ryan | Subiaco | Fwd/Mid | 179cm | 70kg
61: Tyler Brown | Eastern Ranges | Mid/Fwd | 187cm | 71kg
My main aim for the Draft was to boost the Pies talls stocks down back and also strengthen their forward line. I went in with the intention of boosting the latter first with the acquisition of gun South Australian forward/midfielder Darcy Fogarty, but he was snapped up by Freo at pick 5. This meant that key defender Aaron Naughton was available, however, and I gladly snapped him up. I’ve been big on him all season, and his elite play reading and intercept skills will be a massive boost to the Collingwood backline, improving their transition out of the back half – a major issue last year. He’s from Victoria originally, and is a huge Pies fan, so it was an easy decision. I was equally pleased to grab key forward Toby Wooller at pick 39. As well as booting 43 majors from his 16 TAC Cup games this year, Wooller has an immense tank, and his hard running link play and sacrificial leading will immediately make their forward line more dynamic, and take the pressure off Darcy Moore. I then selected human highlight reel Liam Ryan at 57. The Western Australian can be considered a steal here, and he will add plenty of X-Factor inside 50 – if you haven’t checked out his ‘best of’ video, then do yourself a favour and give it a watch. Finally, I picked up Tyler Brown as a father/son. Tyler is set to join his brother Callum as a Magpie, and was a no-brainer here. Slightly taller, and not quite as precocious as his sibling, he will need development. His ceiling is potentially higher, however.
Essendon – Harrison Reid
49: Matt Day | Oakleigh Chargers | Mid | 189cm | 79kg
66: Bailey Henderson | Bendigo Pioneers | Gen Def | 188cm | 76kg
80: Alex Federico | Northern Knights | Mid | 184cm | 80kg
Having being bullied in the contest at times during the year – no more so than in the elimination final – it was big bodied, inside midfielders that I targeted as list manager of Essendon. Their first pick isn’t until 48 (49 here because of bid for Ballenden), so many of my priorities were already off the board, but I still found some good sized mids with great scope for development.
At 49 I took a punt on former basketballer Matt Day. At 189cm he is the size of midfielder the bombers are crying out for, but still needs to put some extra weight on his 79kg frame. Once he does, however, his elite inside work paired with good hands above his head and ability to hit the scoreboard will bring something different to the Bombers’ centre square. With pick 66 I followed the same strategy in taking another big mid in Bailey Henderson. Another one who is still lightly framed for a 188cm midfielder, but one that uses the ball well by foot, moves well and can be a forward option. With my last pick (80) I took Northern Knights best and fairest winner, Alex Federico. Federico is elite in close with little time to make decisions, is another one who can take a good grab over his head for his size and he eats clearances for breakfast. Had 15 clearances one game against Murray. I like the look of Essendon’s midfield in time a lot more with these three additions.
FREMANTLE DOCKERS – Lenny Fogliani
2. Luke Davies-Uniacke | Dandenong Stingrays | Mid | 187cm | 85kg
5. Darcy Fogarty | Glenelg | Forward | 192cm | 92kg
43. Callum Coleman-Jones | Sturt | Ruck/Key Fwd | 201cm | 98kg
60. Mitch Podhajski | Calder Cannons | Key Defender | 191cm | 82kg
65. Kyron Hayden | Subiaco | Midfield | 185cm | 88kg
69. Scott Jones | East Perth | Ruck | 205cm | 109kg
76. Cody Ninyette | Perth | Half-forward | 175cm | 62kg
79. Gordon Narrier | Perth | Wing | 187cm | 75kg
89. Mitch Crowden | Sturt | Midfield | 175cm | 88kg
2017 was a much kinder year for the Dockers than 2016 was, but it is still clear that they are in a rebuilding phase. The Dockers had an excellent trade period that saw them net Nathan Wilson and Brandon Matera, along with pick #2 in exchange for Lachie Weller.
With David Mundy (32) close to the end of his football career, the Dockers would be wise to use pick #2 for Luke Davies-Uniacke, an inside midfielder from the Dandenong Stingrays. Like Sydney star Josh Kennedy, Davies-Uniacke is a big-bodied midfielder who boasts pace, skill, size, and strength, and is an elite decision-maker.
Pick #5 caused a bit of a surprise with Glenelg’s Darcy Fogarty, but Fremantle does need to bolster its forward line, and Fogarty is a star forward. Very much like Jake Stringer, Fogarty is a powerful forward who loves to crash and bash, but also has very good skills, making him a dangerous player in the front half.
They will be licking their lips when they select Callum Coleman-Jones from the Sturt Football Club. With Aaron Sandilands (35) in the twilight of his career, and with Zac Clarke and Jonathon Griffin no longer at the club, Coleman-Jones would be the perfect selection at this choice.
At pick #60, I’ve got them picking up Mitch Podhajski from the Calder Cannons to be the ideal replacement for Michael Johnson (33). Podhajski is a developing defender, who has a strong marking ability and has excellent skills. With picks #65, #69, #76, and #79, I have the Dockers taking some home grown talent in Kyron Hayden, Scott Jones, Cody Ninyette and Gordon Narrier.
Hayden and Jones could play from round 1, while Ninyette and Narrier may need a bit more time to develop, but both provide pace and an x-factor.With their final pick, I have them selecting Sturt’s Mitch Crowden to further bolster their midfield.
Geelong – Craig Byrnes
22: Harrison Petty | Norwood | Key Def | 195cm | 82kg
25: Sam Hayes | Eastern Ranges | Ruck/Key Fwd | 203cm | 93kg
36: Zac Bailey | Norwood | Mid | 181cm | 81kg
58: Tom McCartin | Geelong Falcons | Key Fwd | 193cm | 84kg
70: Callum Porter | Gippsland Power | Mid | 182cm | 76kg
86: David Handley | Geelong Falcons | Fwd/Mid | 183cm | 79kg
At the end of the trade and free agency periods, Geelong was left in its best draft position in years with three second round draft picks. It gave the opportunity to go best available and assess needs.
With the loss of Tom Lonergan and Harry Taylor nearing the end, Geelong had to use one of its early second rounders to ensure it snagged one of the best KPDs available. That turned out to be South Australian Harrison Petty, who provides a balanced mix of quality 1:1 and intercepting traits. Two selections later Geelong couldn’t resist sliding ruckman Sam Hayes, who is a dual All-Australian and clearly regarded the best tap exponent in the draft. After overlooking Brodie Grundy late in the first round a few years ago and having no developing rucks, it is a good opportunity to add a potentially elite one. Zac Bailey joins fellow Norwood graduate Petty as a talented inside midfielder with elite speed and line breaking ability.
As the Cats usually do, it reached into the local talent pool by selecting two Falcons kids with late picks in developing key forward Tom McCartin and clever forward/mid David Handley, while Gippsland Power’s Callum Porter will add further midfield depth and be a standard setter in the mould of Joel Selwood.
GWS GIANTS – Craig Byrnes
11: Aiden Bonar | Dandenong Stingrays | Fwd/Mid | 189cm | 87kg
27: Matthew Ling | Geelong Falcons | Def | 183cm | 75kg
28: Charlie Spargo | Murray Bushrangers| Fwd/Mid | 172cm | 70kg
40: Nick Shipley (Matched Bid) | GWS Academy| Mid | 188cm | 93kg
85: Charlie Thompson | Oakleigh Chargers| Fwd/Mid | 184cm | 82kg
93: Joel Amartey | Sandringham Dragons | Ruck/Key Fwd 196cm | 85kg
96: Jackson Hille | Sandringham Dragons | Def /Mid | 188cm | 80kg
It is unusual to see a draft without GWS holding a strong hand of top ten selections, but it was still well placed with pick No.11 and two opportunities in the 20s.
The Giants have been strongly linked to Jack Higgins at No.11 due to its depleted small forward stocks, but the opportunity to recruit Aiden Bonar was too good to pass up despite coming off two knee reconstructions. The physical specimen could develop forward or in the midfield and has the potential to become the best player in the draft.
Picks 27 and 28 presented the opportunity to add a couple of quality needs based picks, with running half back Matt Ling an outstanding alternative and developing option for the loss of Nathan Wilson, while the forgotten Charlie Spargo could have an immediate impact inside 50 next year as a goal sneak who provides pressure and can rotate through the midfield. The selection of Charlie Thompson late in the draft further enhanced the small forward depth.
Nick Shipley is a big bodied inside midfielder with amazing athletic traits for his size, who had to be matched despite creating a deficit of 70 points next year. The Giants last two picks were used on speculative types that could become anything. Joel Amartey is an undersized ruckman with a huge leap and brilliant athleticism, who is capable of developing into a KPP, while Jackson Hille is an underrated utility with smarts who can play back or midfield and is coming off an injury interrupted year.
Gold Coast – Jason Harris
19: Ed Richards | Oakleigh Chargers | Def | 185cm | 78kg
41: Jordan Houlahan | Sturt | Fwd | 186cm | 76kg
50: Brayden Crossley | Suns Academy | Ruck | 198cm | 101kg
54: Andrew McPherson | Woodville West Torrens | Def | 186cm | 79kg
73: Cassidy Parish | Geelong Falcons | Midfielder | 191cm | 87kg
88: Sam Davidson | Suns Academy | Midfielder | 181cm | 73kg
Gold Coast has leaked players over the last 3-4 years, so the national draft presented itself as an opportunity to replenish their stocks. They gave up their No 2 selection to Fremantle for home town boy in Lachie Weller in the draft period. That may have raised eyebrows, but in hindsight is a wise decision especially as Weller is a ready made player and wanted to be at the club.
They looked to pick players that could play multiple positions, and hence took Ed Richards and Jordan Houlahan with their first two picks. Their draft team was very happy that both players were on the board when it was their time to pick. Gold Coast were looking to reward players from their academy and duly took well built ruckman Brayden Crossley at pick 50, and speedy midfielder Sam Davidson with their final pick (No 88). Using their academy is vital for a club like Gold Coast especially with the go home factor that they have to face year upon year.
In between those picks, they picked up Andrew McPherson from Woodville-West Torrens and Cassidy Parish from Geelong Falcons. Having being burned so many times over the years by their top tier draft picks, Gold Coast are quietly confident about their ‘under the radar’ selections this time around.
HAWTHORN – Lenny Fogliani
44. Trent Mynott | Eastern Ranges | Midfield | 185cm | 75kg
67. Haiden Schloithe | South Fremantle | Midfield | 183cm | 86kg
72. Tom De Koning | Dandenong Stingrays | Ruck-Key Fwd | 200cm | 90kg
77. Hamish Brayshaw | Sandringham Dragons | Midfield | 187cm | 91kg
91. Changkouth Jiath | Gippsland Power | Forward | 185cm | 74kg
Hawthorn doesn’t enter the draft until pick #44 but will land a beauty in Trent Mynott from the Eastern Ranges. With Jaeger O’Meara’s knee flaring up, the Hawks will be very keen to add a midfield stoppage specialist, which is exactly what Trent Mynott is. He isn’t a huge boy, but he usually gets the ball inside the stoppage and then finds the outside runner. His acceleration from the stoppage is excellent, as he can get good distance between himself and others when bursting from the congestion.
At pick #67, the Hawks could look to a mature ager like Haiden Schloithe, who will also bolster their midfield and forward line stocks. The Sandover Medallist is an explosive goalkicking on-baller who could immediately play from round 1.
At #72, they should look to Dandenong’s Tom De Koning as a key position/ruck player. The Hawks are light on in terms of both ruckmen and key forwards, and De Koning would be an outstanding choice. Up forward he is a dangerous marking threat and he is a reliable set shot for goal, while his ruck craft is improving.
With their final picks, I have them taking Hamish Brayshaw and Changkouth Jiath to help improve their midfield and forward stocks respectively.
Melbourne – Dan Batten
29: Bayley Fritsch | Casey Demons | Fwd | 187cm | 80kg
31: Oskar Baker | Aspley | Mid | 182cm | 76kg
37: Ryley Stoddart | Eastern Ranges | 185cm | 74kg
48: Ben Paton | Murray Bushrangers | Def | 186cm | 78kg
I attempted to channel the Melbourne recruiting team in picking mature agers, and while I went a bit early on Bailey Fritsch (due to having no internet connection in a foreign country, cheers Harrison for the chop out), he is one who should definitely find his way to the Demons in the draft. The crafty forward won the ‘Fothergill Round Medal as the most talented young VFL prospect – an award the likes of Luke Ryan, Nic Newman and Kane Lambert have won in recent years.
NEAFL mature ager Oskar Baker has been linked with the Dees in the second round and I went with him at 31. Formerly cut from Brisbane’s academy, the 19-year-old starred for Aspley this season and will provide outside run in the midfield – an area the Dees don’t bat deep in.
Ryley Stoddart was another slider, with the running defender expect to be picked up in late 20s – and I couldn’t resist him at pick 37. Melbourne’s outside run from defence is probably one of the few areas they need to patch up, and Stoddart’s run and gun mentality coupled with his elite skills off half-back are a match made in heaven for the Dees. Jack Petruccelle was another I was going to take a punt on with their first selection, but he was taken just before my pick. I chose Murray over-ager Ben Paton with my last pick, who will be a good fit at the Dees with his tidy ball use from defence.
North Melbourne – Josh Elliott
4: Jaidyn Stephenson | Eastern Ranges | Midf/Fwd | 188cm | 85kg
24: Jack Petruccelle | Northern Knights | Fwd/Mid | 185cm | 78kg
64: Adam Sambono | NT Thunder | Fwd/Mid | 182cm | 63kg
75: Jack Payne | Lions Academy | Key Def | 196cm | 96kg
87: Alex Martini | Glenelg | Mid | 181cm | 77kg
My first pick here is probably a little controversial as most expect Stephenson to go a few picks later on the night, but personally, I think his ceiling is as high as any of the best players in the draft. Players with his combination of height, speed and attacking football are very rare, and he could be a unique, game-winning weapon for whichever team picks him up.
North’s recent draft efforts have shown a desire to bring speed into the club and so that was the appeal to me with Petruccelle at the second pick, and there’s a bit more of that in Alex Martini with the last pick as well. Sambono has promise as a goalkicker and Payne gives the club another tall defender prospect to work with.
Port Adelaide Power – Matt McGrath
47: Dylan Moore | Eastern Ranges | Fwd/Mid | 176cm | 66kg
50: Jackson Ross | Eastern Ranges | Fwd | 193cm | 94kg
59: Brandon Starcevich | East Perth | Mid | 187cm | 84kg
62: Nathan Kreuger | South Adelaide | Utility | 196cm | 89kg
63: Ben Miller | Subiaco | Ruck/Fwd | 196cm | 93kg
81: Dom Barry | Glenelg | Mid | 179cm | 76kg
89: Tom North | Eastern Ranges | Mid | 184cm | 84kg
Having to wait until the third round to get on the board for Port, it was very much a waiting game. With the Power already boasting a strong, balanced list, it was a case of trying to pick up as many talented players as possible – hoping that a few highly rated picks slipped through. Endurance machine Dylan Moore was a steal at 47, who – despite his small stature – put together an excellent U18 season, culminating in All-Australian selection. A true four-quarter player who is an accumulator with a knack for goal, the Eastern Ranges midfielder could slot into the Power’s attack as early as 2018. Elite tennis convert Jackson Ross has been linked to Port and was snapped up here. An athletic tall forward with versatility that could be a surprise packet and definitely worth the risk here. In a draft that went very deep on the day, I rounded out the group by grabbing WA inside midfielder Brandon Starcevich and raw, 195cm, home-grown utility Nathan Kreuger before doubling down on Ben Miller – a tall forward/ruck from Subiaco with pace, a good vertical leap and plenty of upside. Ex-Demon Dom Barry and Eastern Ranges big-bodied midfielder Tom North round out a big draft class for Port Adelaide in 2018.
Richmond – Dan Batten
17: Oscar Allen | West Perth | Key Fwd | 191cm | 82kg
20: Noah Balta | Calder Cannons | Utility | 195cm | 95kg
23: Patrick Naish (Matched Bid) | Northern Knights | Mid | 181cm | 69kg
54: Will Walker | Sandringham Dragons | Fwd | 186cm | 78kg
56: Hayden McLean | Sandringham Dragons | Fwd | 196cm | 93kg
For the Tigers, the number one priority was nabbing a key forward, as I’m not sure a team of small forwards will be enough for them maintain the success of 2017. It would have been difficult to resist Jarrod Brander if he was still there at their first pick at 17, but he was selected with the pick before mine. This was a blessing in disguise, as it allowed me to pick Larke Medallist Oscar Allen, who looms as a perfect fit at Tigerland. A boost to the key defensive stocks was another thing I wished to add, and Noah Balta should do just that. Possessing unbelievable athletic traits for a big man, Balta could be anything at AFL level. There’s an element of ‘boom or bust about him, but I think he is worth the risk. Unfortunately, Patrick Naish was bid on before Richmond’s third pick at 25, which I matched. It may not go down this way on draft night, with speculation a bid will fall after that stage for the father-son. With the two later selections I went with the best available, and I feel like Will Walker will fill an outside midfield/half forward role in time. Hayden McLean is a bit of a steal at 56, but is a fairly raw key forward product who will take some time. The one thing the Tigers also need is a ruckman, but I expect them to pick up East Perth monster Scott Jones – weighing in at 109kg and standing 205cm – in the rookie draft.
St Kilda – Alex FitzGerald
7: Andrew Brayshaw | Sandringham Dragons | Mid | 187cm | 82kg
8: Hunter Clark | Dandenong Stingrays | Def/Mid | 186cm | 80kg
34: Charlie Ballard | Sturt | Mid | 195cm | 82kg
46: Hugh Dixon | Kingborough | Fwd | 195cm | 90kg
Draft bolter Brayshaw was eagerly selected at pick 6, and while Adam Cerra and Nick Coffield were both heavily considered, the Saints have been linked with Hunter Clark and he was nabbed with the following pick. Brayshaw’s testing at the Draft Combine was impressive enough for the balanced midfielder to find his way to St. Kilda with their first selection, while Clark should develop into a great inside mid or rebounding defender, having played well for Vic Country at the Under 18 Championships. Charlie Ballard adds some run and size to the Saints outfit, with the tall midfielder the modern-day ball-winning prototype, standing at 195cm. With Nick Riewoldt finally vacating the side he has led for so long, Tasmanian tall forward Hugh Dixon was a no-brainer selection at pick 46. Dixon boasts a strong pair of hands in marking contests and a beautiful left foot kick for goal, with his hard work in the second half of the year paying off as he returned from Allies and State representative duties to star for TSL side Kingborough Tigers in their last four matches.
Sydney – Josh Elliott
14: Charlie Constable | Sandringham Dragons | Mid | 191cm | 86kg
33: Oscar Clavarino | Dandenong Stingrays | Key Def | 196cm | 85kg
52: Brent Daniels | Bendigo Pioneers | Fwd | 171cm | 70kg
84: Ned Reeves | Oakleigh Chargers | Ruck | 208cm | 95kg
92: Jordon Butts | Murray Bushrangers | Key Pos | 196cm | 82kg
Sydney’s first pick ultimately became a best available situation – although Constable may wind up going later than this on draft night, I liked him better than any other prospect on the board at this point. He’s a tall inside mid who can be mentored by and eventually replace Josh P Kennedy.
With the remaining picks I took a small forward in Brent Daniels, and a handful of tall prospects that Sydney can look to develop for the future in Clavarino (196cm defender), Reeves (208cm ruckman) and Butts (196cm utility). Those guys aren’t likely to make an immediate impact, but they can be developed and hopefully are ready to step in when the current mainstays of Sydney’s spine finish up.
West Coast – Jason Harris
13: Lochie O’Brien | Bendigo Pioneers | Mid | 184cm | 77kg
21: Tim Kelly | South Fremantle | Mid | 182cm | 81kg
26: Joel Garner | Eastern Rangers | Def | 184cm | 83kg
32: Jake Patmore | Claremont | Mid | 181cm | 72kg
37: Sam Taylor | Swan Districts | Key Def | 196cm | 87kg
68: Bailey Banfield | Claremont | Mid | 189cm | 86kg
83: Aaron Redhead | East Perth | Ruck | 203cm | 90kg
It was always going to be fascinating how the Eagles were going to go in this year’s draft especially as they had five picks in the top 40, at the end of the day they walked away confident each of their recruits will make a positive impact.
They had big plans on taking Aiden Bonar or Jack Higgins with their first pick, but when they were snapped up with the two picks before No 13, it became a case of thinking on the spot and working out another plan of action. Despite the passionate local calls to take Oscar Allen, the midfield remains the main hole to fill, especially with the retirement of Matt Priddis and Sam Mitchell. In the end, they were very happy to get a classy outside runner in Lochie O’ Brien, with their first pick.
Ideally, their two selections in the 20s were going to be Noah Balta and Tim Kelly addressing a need with their key defensive stocks and adding speed and class around the packs. Once again they were edged out when Balta was snapped up by the Tigers at pick 20, however, they were delighted to seize on the mature age midfielder Kelly at 21, especially as it was a pretty good chance he wouldn’t be there at 26.
With their third pick, they took Joel Garner. While they have had a swathe of half backs over recent times, in the off season they lost a couple due to retirement (Sam Butler) and a delisting (Sharrod Wellingham). There is also the added factor of Shannon Hurn now in his early 30s and Liam Duggan’s evolution into a full time midfielder. Garner certainly has a wise old head on young shoulders and could slip into the side early in the season.
Jake Patmore may be seen by some as a stretch at 32, but his prolific second half of the season in the Claremont Colts simply couldn’t be ignored and he has an insatiable work ethic and appetite for the contest. In many ways the Eagles drafting team see Sam Taylor as the steal of the Draft at pick 37. They were delighted he was still on the board, and see him as a KPD for the next decade. With Eric Mackenzie and Will Schofield no longer locks in the starting 18, don’t be surprised to see Taylor have a sizeable impact in the seniors in 2018.
Like Tim Kelly, Bailey Banfield’s WAFL form had to be rewarded and that is why the Eagles selected him at No 69. Having been unlucky to miss out on being drafted in 2017, Banfield responded in fantastic fashion winning the Claremont Best and Fairest in his first senior season. He also presents as a big bodied mid, which is something the Eagles do not have a lot of.
With their final pick at 83, the Eagles initially selected Ethan Penrith, but had to rethink their planning when Carlton claimed him as he is part of their next-gen academy. However every cloud has a silver lining, and with their ruck stocks still something of an unknown quantity with key players Nic Naitanui and Scott Lycett returning from long term injury, Aaron Redhead presented as a sensible pick. The young ruckman had a very impressive second half of the season in the Colts at East Perth, and can play as a key forward as he is very mobile for his size.
While slightly frustrated with their plans not coming to fruition early on, the draft team recovered well. With five locals picked up with seven selections, it is also an impressive tick for the current state of WA footy.
Western Bulldogs – Matt Palf
9: Nick Coffield | Northern Knights | 191cm | 82kg | Def/Mid
16: Jarrod Brander | Bendigo Pioneers | 195cm | 92kg | KPP
78: Bailey Morrish | Dandenong Stingrays | 185cm | 78kg | Def/Mid
My main aim for the Dogs was to fill the huge gaps left by Bob Murphy and Matthew Boyd, and I certainly felt like I went a large way with my first pick – Nick Coffield. The Northern Knights captain is a superb playmaker out of the backline, and already has an old head on young shoulders when it comes to footy smarts, leadership and application. He also has the potential to grow into a very good midfielder, with his breakaway speed and superb agility. My second pick at 16 was a little more contentious. While I didn’t necessarily think the Dogs need a key position player, Jarrod Brander was too difficult to turn down. Although a ‘best’ position hasn’t really been figured out yet, at 195cm and blessed with elite agility, Brander has the versatility to be effective at either end and even up the ground. On scope alone, I felt he deserved to be picked. Finally, I snapped up Bailey Morrish for the second year in a row, after taking him for Sydney in last year’s Mock. Morrish was looked over in the 2016 Draft despite an impressive year and a superb effort in the combine. A year on, he’s matured as a player, and has not looked out of place during stints for Williamstown and Casey Demons in the VFL this year. A great reader of the play, the athletic defender/midfielder is a great kick and has pace to burn, and could prove an absolute steal if someone takes a punt.