I wasn't even halfway through working on a 'Draft Night Winners and Losers' piece to share with you today here on Bulldogs Centre, but then I suddenly realised something. The winners were too obvious and it's harsh to call any team a loser so far when most of - if not all of - the recruiters walked out of the draft happy with their choices.
So an idea came into my head. Instead of labelling winners and losers, I instead went with a ranking from 18-1, with 18 being the side I'm most concerned about with their draftees to number one being the side that should benefit the best out of the draft.
They essentially gave up almost every draft pick, plus two star aging midfielders, to get Jaeger O'Meara and Tom Mitchell over to Hawthorn during the trade period, and found themselves with two extremely late draft picks – 74 and 76, but They used pick 74 on Murray Bushranger Harry Morrison, who is a cousin of Brisbane captain Tom Rockliff, but unlike the midfielder, Morrison plays more of an intercept marking role across half-back. Nobody really expected Rockliff to make it at AFL level, so anything's possible with Morrison.
Their last pick took sent social media into a frenzy, drafting Mitchell Lewis after they gave away both Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis for next to nothing in the trade period. Lewis is a key forward who is able to pinch-hit in the ruck at times. He is expected to take time to develop, but the potential is there for something special.
With only two live selections in this years draft, with their first one not until pick 46, Melbourne sprung a surprise with their first selection by drafting mature-aged forward Mitch Hannan from VFL team Footscray. Hannan has an exceptional leap and has goal-kicking capabilities, he can also push up in the midfield at times and make an impact.
Their second and last selection was used on small forward Dion Johnstone from the Oakleigh Chargers. He captained Scotch College this year and is a constant threat near goal with his defensive pressure and pinpoint kicking skills.
16. St. Kilda
With their first selection until the 25th pick, it was a massive shock that they drafted Footscray player Ben Long. Considered as more of a third-round pick, this is a big punt on the nephew of Essendon great Michael Long, who despite his inconsistencies, has versatility, great pace and has the potential to be a match-winner.
Drafting key forward Josh Battle with their next selection at pick 39 might sound like a little bit of head-scratcher to some, but with Nick Riewoldt nearing the end of his career and Paddy McCartin often seen on the injury list, the addition of Battle makes a little more sense, he was a consistent goal-kicker in TAC Cup level and is hard-working on the lead, whilst their last selection Ed Phillips (Pick 56) is a half-back option that can not only win his own ball, but push up the ground to be another midfield option.
After falling a game short of playing in another Grand Final, Geelong looked to draft for the now, with half of their six draftees coming in from their VFL team. These draftees were defender Tom Stewart, key forward Timm House and Ruckman Ryan Abbott. But the big question is, will it pay off?
They kicked off their draft night with a bit of a shock, drafting Brandon Parfitt at pick 26, when he probably could've been available a bit later, but his upside his enormous, he's tough, he's quick and he's skilled when he's got the ball in hand. Esava Ratugolea is a key forward who can also play ruck and has drawn comparisons to West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui, but is more of project player right now, whilst Quinton Narkle is a small forward who can also push up the ground and win his own ball.
14. Western Bulldogs
The Bulldogs looked at draft night, with an eye to the future, selecting various young players who can play a role somewhere down the road. Whilst Bulldog fans should rejoice at taking a potential top-10 pick in Tim English with the 19th pick, the reality is he will probably spend most of next year playing in the VFL. For a ruckman, he's got an excellent skill-set, but will need a lot of work in the gym. Likewise to both key position prospect Lewis Young and forward Fergus Greene, both show good potential, but will need time to develop.
I was a little shocked to see Patrick Lipinski taken earlier than predicted (Pick 28), but I think he looms as the one who could make his debut first. He can play both as a forward and as a midfielder, can take a good contested grab and has the ability to win his own ball.
Collingwood came and did what they needed to do, and that was to land Father/Son prospects Callum Brown and Josh Daicos. Brown, the son of premiership star Gavin Brown, is a ball-winning midfielder who has capabilities of pushing forward at times, whilst Daicos, the son of Collingwood champion Peter Daicos, has the potential to be one of the best small forwards in this year's draft, he has the ability to be smart and creative around the big sticks, much like his father.
Collingwood were able to get a pick in before a bid came for Brown (Pick 35),. They needed key defenders, and got one with Sam McLarty (Pick 30), who despite being diagnosed with profound deafness, boasts really strong hands and does well when the footy is in the air, whilst taking big-bodied small forward Kayle Kirby with the 50th pick is a little bit of a gamble, but shows a bit of promise, kicking nine goals in two VFL games – five on debut and four a week later – and 32 goals in 13 TAC Cup games this year.
12: West Coast
West Coast took a bit of a risk with their first-round selection, settling on Daniel Venables at pick 13, but he's got aggression and athleticism, which seemed to appeal the Eagles most. Some compare Venables to Luke Shuey and Patrick Dangerfield with how they manage to burst out of stoppages. They also took a gamble on Willie Rioli with their third selection (Pick 52) after shedding 16 kilos before the 2016 season. Rioli starred for Glenelg in the SANFL, given that small forward Mark LeCras is entering the twilight of his career, it's a gamble that could pay off next year.
They also managed to draft tall defender Josh Rotham, who has got good pace on him and can use the ball well by foot, and should be delighted with taking father/son prospect Jake Waterman with their last pick (Pick 77) who is considered more of a half-forward type of player.
Port had two picks in the top 20 on draft night and opted to use them on the best key forward in the draft in Todd Marshall (Pick 16) and big-bodied midfielder Sam Powell-Pepper (Pick 18). Marshall has great skills, but needs to work on his frame but is a logical choice here, given that Jay Schulz is now retired and Justin Westhoff is in his 30s, whilst Powell-Pepper should see some game time next year given his ability to take the game on with extreme ferocity.
Joe Atley and Willem Drew are also hard-working midfielders who could see some action at AFL level next year. Atley, who is the younger brother of North Melbourne player Shaun, averaged over 20 disposals in the under-18 championships this year and loves a contest, whilst Drew can play either as an inside or outside midfielder, who's got neat skills by foot.
10. North Melbourne
North continued their off-season rebuild in the draft, and North fans should be delighted with picking up Jy Simpkin with their first pick at pick 12. Simpkin has some elite pace and if it wasn't for a broken leg this year, he would've been gone inside the top 10, and with the likes of Wells, Dal Santo and Harvey gone now, he'll should get his debut early next year.
They then went on a bit of a bidding frenzy, successfully bidding for Brisbane academy player Declan Watson at pick 34, they then failed to land Father/Son prospect Callum Brown with the next selection, before successfully bidding for Gold Coast academy player Josh Williams with their 36th pick. Watson is a tall defender who can take a good contested grab and can see himself playing as an intercept defender in years to come, whilst Williams has got unbelievable pace to burn and has the ability to hit the scoreboard. They ended their night by selecting key position prospect Nick Larkey with the 73rd pick, but he'll need plenty of work before he gets an opportunity at AFL level.
Personally, I like who Richmond have brought in via the draft this year. Selecting Shai Bolton with their first selection at pick 29 looks like a decent pick. Bolton has electric pace and brings in something different to their forward line, when he develops over time, he could see himself more as a midfielder with his capability to weave through traffic.
Snaring inside midfielder Jack Graham at pick 53 could be one of the bargains of the draft. He was awarded the Larke Medallist at this year's under-18 championships for the best player in division one. He's tough, always attacks the ball hard and is very reliable, whilst taking GWS academy key defender Ryan Garthwaite with their last pick (Pick 72) is a solid get, but he'll need to build on his size if he's to make it at AFL level.
Carlton headed into this draft looking for midfielders to aid their stars in Patrick Cripps and Marc Murphy. Landing Sam Petrevski-Seton with the sixth-overall pick looks like a great hit, given he's got very good pace and an even better skill set. They took a small on-baller in Zac Fisher with their second pick (Pick 27), but his height doesn't stop him from finding the ball, averaging 21.5 disposals in the under-18 championships and is also a neat user of the footy.
The addition of key defender Harrison Macreadie from the GWS Academy looks promising, Cameron Polson and Tom Williamson are probably going to be development players next year whilst drafting Patrick Kerr with their last pick caps off a great story, given that his grandfather Laurie is a Hall of Famer at the Blues.
I expected the Dockers to land WA ruckman Tim English with their first-round pick, but was surprised when they took key defender Griffin Logue with the eighth pick. Nonetheless, it's a very good selection, given the Dockers are short on key defenders. Logue can take a contested grab and has the ability to run it out of defence, he should play round one and form a solid partnership with Joel Hamling next season. They selected another key defender in Brennan Cox with their third selection (Pick 41) and also could see some game time next year.
But the Dockers looked to have found their heir to Aaron Sandilands in Sean Darcy with their second-round pick (Pick 38), but despite being compared to GWS ruckman Shane Mumford, Darcy is expected to take time to develop. Taking mature-aged defender Luke Ryan at pick 66 might be considered a draft bargain considering he starred for Coburg in the VFL this year.
Adelaide's key need in the lead-up to the draft was midfield depth and by their first two picks in the draft, had it covered with the selections of Jordan Gallucci and Myles Poholke. First-round selection Gallucci has the ability to burst out of the stoppages and provide electric run where necessary, whilst Adelaide insiders believe they've got themselves a draft gem in Poholke, who at pick 44, can play as an inside midfielder that can push forward and take a good overhead mark.
With their last three picks, the Crows selected key defender Elliot Himmelberg, small forward Matthew Signorello and a mid-sized forward in Ben Davis. All three are expected to be project players and are unlikely to feature for the Crows in 2017, but overall, Adelaide fans should be happy with the outcome.
They addressed their key concerns in this draft, which Sydney fans should be happy about. They identified their lack of outside run as the biggest problem and selected guys who can run with Oliver Florent (Pick 11) and Will Hayward (Pick 21) with their first two picks. Not only are both of these guys quick, but they both have a nous for the goals.
Selecting key defender Jack Maibaum is a smart choice, given that Ted Richards is retired and Heath Grundy is nearing the end of his career and the only other notable key defender for the Swans is Aliir Aliir, whilst selecting mature-aged ruckman Darcy Cameron with their final live selection will fill in the void left by Toby Nankervis, who departed the Swans for Richmond in the trade period last month.
4. Greater Western Sydney
The Giants had the second-overall pick in this year's draft and selected midfielder Tim Taranto. I'm not sure how he'll be able to squeeze himself in GWS' engine room, given the elite talent they already possess, but when Taranto gets his chance, I have no doubt he'll make the most of it, being able to play either contested footy or being able to win it on the outside.
Other than that, GWS' draft night was focussed on getting as many academy prospects to the club as possible. It was always expected they'd get bids for Will Setterfield (Pick five) and Harry Perryman (Pick 14) in the top 15, both men should play senior footy at some stage next year. They also matched a bid for mid-sized defender Isaac Cumming at pick 20 and selected another talented academy prospect in Lachlan Tiziani with the 54th pick. Caused one of the big draft shocks by taking discarded Docker Matt De Boer with their last pick. What do the Giants have in store for him I wonder?
Essendon had the first pick in the draft for the first time in the history of the club, and decided to go with defender Andrew McGrath. With his ability to run and carry and his body ready-made for the rigours of AFL, he should play right away, but with McGrath aside, they should be very happy with their outcome.
Jordan Ridley is another half-back who is highly-skilled and could see some game-time in 2017, Josh Begley is a big-bodied, mid-sized forward that impressed during the year for the Eastern Ranges in the TAC Cup, nearly averaging two goals per game, whilst both Kobe Mutch and Dylan Clarke are both very good at winning the contested possessions. Essendon should be happy with who they drafted as they look to quickly ascend up the ladder in 2017.
2. Brisbane Lions
The best case scenario to happen for Brisbane eventuated on Friday night, when Hugh McCluggage, who had been tipped for so long to go number one overall, slipped to Brisbane at pick number three. His silky skills, plus his ability to the hit the scoreboard with regularity should see him in Brisbane's 22 come round one. He doesn't come to Brisbane alone. His team mates from North Ballarat in Jarrod Berry and Cedric Cox will be heading over as well. Berry shows a lot of courage and leadership and Cox showcases class coming from half-back. Alongside McCluggage, these two should feature prominently in Brisbane's 22 next year.
A massive problem for Brisbane over these last few years has been player retention, so having those three young men who have played footy together already is a massive win. They'll also hope talented Victorians Alex Witherden and Corey Lyons will commit to the Lions long-term as well. They should also be happy with taking academy player Jacob Allison as late as he did (Pick 55) after North snared their other academy player in Declan Watson earlier.
1. Gold Coast
It was an obvious choice at number one. Gold Coast had four picks in the top 10 and they couldn't go wrong with any of them, given the talent that was on offer, and for them to take Academy selection Brad Scheer at such a late pick (Pick 72) is a bonus as so many experts had him going by the second round.Expect Ben Ainsworth, Jack Scrimshaw, Will Brodie and Jack Bowes to all feature for the Suns early next year if they don't play round one.
Brodie and Bowes should develop into midfielders for the future and will fill the void in the engine room left by the likes of Jaeger O'Meara and Dion Prestia. Ainsworth will start his AFL career as a small forward, crumbing to Peter Wright and Tom Lynch, but should push into the midfield in time and Scrimshaw, who some have compared as a blend of Grant Birchall and Marcus Bontempelli, should see some serious game time at half-back next year.
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