By this afternoon, we will see over over 40 aspiring ladies achieve their dream of making it into the big league that is the AFLW. Today on Bulldogs Centre, with the AFLW draft just hours away, I reveal the the our version of the Mock Draft, covering just the first two rounds - that is the top 16 picks of the Draft.
It must be pointed out that each club has a specific pool of players to draft from, with each lady nominating their preferred zone. Adelaide will draft from the players who have requested to be in the South Australia/Northern Territory zone, Brisbane will draft from the Queensland zone, Fremantle from the Western Australia zone, GWS from the NSW zone and the four Victorian clubs will draft from the Victorian pool
Plenty of questions surround the AFLW Draft: Which female players will get drafted? Which of them will miss out? However, the question that will be undoubtedly be on the minds of many, will be who the Western Bulldogs select with the first overall pick.
With picks one, four and 11 within the first two rounds, The Bulldogs go into the draft with a very good hand and it'll be interesting to see who they will select at number one.
Will it be Chloe Molloy, who proved she could mix it with the older bodies in state level or could it be the ultra-talented forwarda Isabel Huntington, who despite her knee issues, has all the talent to succeed at the top level? Could we see the Dogs make a surprise selection and take gun midfielder Darcy Guttridge? or maybe even the electric Monique Conti?
This is my 2017 AFLW Mock Draft
The First Round
Pick 1: Western Bulldogs - Chloe Molloy (Calder Cannons/Diamond Creek) - Forward
Following the conclusion of the 2017 AFLW season, Chloe Molloy has been the talk of women's footy all year round, and it won't shock me in the least to see her be snapped up by the Bulldogs at pick one. The Bulldogs struggled to kick goals without Katie Brennan last year and Molloy has proved time and time again this year that she can find the big sticks. She dominated the TAC Cup this year, leading the league in goals and was one of two young ladies to take home the league's best and fairest. She took her form into the VFLW, winning the league's Rising Star competition and kicked 32 goals to share the league's leading goal-kicker award alongside potential team mate Katie Brennan.
Pick 2: Fremantle - Emily McGuire (Swan Districts) - Forward
Key forwards is what the Dockers are looking for after a dismal 2017 season and they should get one here with, perhaps one of the best indigenous players to come out of this year's draft class, Emily McGuire is a very powerful player and whilst the Dockers will be rueing the fact that they missed out on WA-girl Kate Bartlett to GWS, they will still have a more-than-capable goal-kicker in McGuire here at pick two. In 2017, she featured in the Swan Districts' premiership side in the WAWFL, kicking 13 goals in 13 matches. Scouts have highlighted that she is extremely mobile for someone her size and has an uncanny ability to kick goals from anywhere inside the arc.
Pick 3: Collingwood - Isabel Huntington (Sandringham Dragons/Melbourne Uni) - Forward
If Molloy doesn't go number one, then it will most likely be Huntington that gets it, such is her talent. A ruptured ACL last year meant that Huntington missed all of this year, which may have just cost her going at number one, but before the injury, Huntington was looming as a strong candidate for the number one pick. She can play the full-forward role superbly, dominating the 2016 youth girls' national championships and has even shown that she can play midfield, which would be what the Pies do need considering that there is no standout midfielder in the Collingwood side. Whether it is Molloy or Huntington here, the Pies are perfectly placed to nab a star with the third pick.
Pick 4: Western Bulldogs - Darcy Guttridge (Gippsland Power/Cranbourne) - Defender/Midfield)
With the Bulldogs forward line woes addressed for the moment, the focus should shift into getting a midfielder that can help out star duo Emma Kearney and Ellie Blackburn. With this pick, the Dogs should be looking at Darcy Guttridge, who was named the captain of the AFLW under-18 side. Seen as an intercept-marking defender who can also run and display sharp skills by hand or by foot, Guttridge has also already tasted senior experience, playing eight games for Cranbourne in the VFLW, and also was their best player in two of those eight games, which does speak volumes in where she is heading as a player. Expect her to start in defence, but with time, she will blossom into a star midfielder.
Pick 5: GWS - Kate Bartlett (Peel Thunderbirds) - Forward
I don't know how they managed it, but Greater Western Sydney have managed to snare a very talented key forward in Kate Bartlett, who I believe will work very well in tandem with Phoebe McWilliams and Rebecca Beeson, who emerged as the Giants' most dangerous players up forward. Bartlett proved to be the focal point up forward for Western Australia during the AFLW's Under-18 National Championships, kicking 13 goals in just five games, including a bag of seven goals in one game. She also has a small dose of senior experience under her belt, kicking 13 goals in just six games for the Thunderbirds in the WAWFL. The Giants should be very delighted with this acquisition.
Pick 6: Melbourne - Monique Conti (Calder Cannons/Melbourne Uni) - Midfielder
This is the most interesting pick in the draft for mine, as Monique Conti has all the tools to become a very damaging midfielder in the competition. She has incredible pace and her athleticism is first-rate, but the problem is that she is still relatively new to the game of Aussie Rules Football, having jumped over from Basketball ahead of the 2017 TAC Cup, to which she finished inside the top 10 in the competition's best and fairest. With her elite Basketball background, Conti has all the makings to be a superstar player, and if taken by the Demons, she will be working under some elite company, as she will be working under the tutelage of Daisy Pearce, Karen Paxman and Elise O'Dea - the big three inside Melbourne's engine room.
Pick 7: Brisbane - Kalinda Howarth (Coolangatta) - Forward
With Brisbane losing young gun Tayla Harris to Carlton, it would be no shock to see Brisbane pick up Kalinda Howarth - a promising mid-sized forward, who despite having strong ties with the Gold Coast Suns, will be a very adequate replacement for Harris. PLaying for Coolangatta in the QWAFL, she blitzed the competition by kicking 45 goals in 16 games in the 2016 season and played a pivotal role in Coolangatta's premiership win, kicking three goals in the Grand Final that was decided by just two points. The scouting report says that Howarth boasts a strong overhead mark, has elite evasive skills and is extremely confident in front of goal.
Pick 8: Adelaide - Eloise Jones (Morphettville Park/Glenelg) - Midfielder
Already boasting a midfield that has the AFLW's best and fairest Erin Phillips and the AFLW's Rising Star winner Ebony Marinoff, Eloise Jones could definitely add another element to a premiership-winning midfield brigade. Her ability to win the ball in tight spaces is well documented, as she dominated the under-18s league and as an added bonus to her game, she is more than capable of kicking goals, booting six goals in five senior SANFL Women's games this season. Her ability to slot goals will most likely see her play off half-forward in the 2018 season, but she will be a very good player in years to come.
The Second Round
Pick 9: Collingwood - Bridie Kennedy (Dandenong Stingrays/Cranbourne) - Ruck/Defender
It must be pointed out that Bridie Kennedy shared the TAC Cup best and fairest award with Chloe Molloy, but it's fair to say the spotlight has been less focussed on Kennedy, but it is also fair to say that she is a very fantastic prospect in her own right. After dominating in the ruck for Dandenong in the TAC Cup, Kennedy played nine games for Cranbourne in the VFLW, and developed quite nicely as a defender, and with Collingwood offloading their best defender in Nicola Stevens this past off-season, Kennedy should be picked up here and slot in quite nicely in defence, although it's not out of the question that she will split ruck duties with All-Australia ruck Emma King.
Pick 10: Fremantle - Tayla McAuliffe (Swan Districts) - Ruck/Forward
Fremantle should complete their search for key forwards here with the recruiting of Tayla McAuliffe, who is perhaps one of the better big women in the draft class. As a ruckwoman, who can also play forward, McAuliffe featured in the Swan Districts 2017 premiership team in the WAWFL, and played 13 games for the Districts this season. Her competitiveness is a real hallmark of her game as she loves to tackle and doesn't hesitate to go in hard for the ball, as well as her aggressive nature for the footy, she is very good at picking the ball up below her knees and her elite athleticism should see her in the Dockers' best 22.
Pick 11: Western Bulldogs - Eden Zanker (Bendigo Pioneers/Woorineen) - Forward
This is a pick I'm genuinely excited about. Not much was known about Bendigo Pioneers product Eden Zanker ahead of the 2017 TAC Cup women's league, but once it concluded, her name started to float around a serious draft possibility. Zanker played four of five games for the Pioneers and seriously impressed with her marking ability and extraordinary leaping ability. Scouts describe Zanker as a natural footballer despite her time away from the game. If available at pick 11, the Dogs must pounce and they will have two potential star forwards alongside Katie Brennan ahead of the 2018 season, and that will make things very very dangerous for the Bulldogs.
Pick 12: Carlton - Sophie Abbatangelo (Diamond Creek) - Forward
A mature-aged prospect who was once an ice-hockey player, 27-year old Sophie Abbatangelo enjoyed a superb first year in the VFLW for Diamond Creek, kicking 15 goals in 15 games and thrived as a small forward option for the Creekers. Her impact in the VFLW Grand Final was enormous, kicking two goals on either side of three-quarter time to keep the Creekers alive when the game was Darebin's for the taking. Carlton would love another dangerous forward to aide recruit Tayla Harris and the AFLW's leading goal kicker from this season in Darcy Vescio, and adding Abbatangelo to an already potent forward line is a very dangerous thought for rival clubs.
Pick 13: Collingwood - Ashleigh Riddell (Diamond Creek) - Midfielder
As it stood at the conclusion of the 2017 AFLW season, Collingwood's best midfielder left the club to go join Greater Western Sydney, leaving the Pies with a huge gap in the midfield as they have no superstars in their team like Ellie Blackburn is to the Bulldogs, Daisy Pearce is to Melbourne or Brianna Davey to Carlton. 21-year old Ashleigh Riddell may not solve the superstar midfield problem that Collingwood has, but she'll definitely help them a bit. Her ability to win clearances and contested ball is very well documented and Collingwood would very much welcome her into the midfield brigade straight away.
Pick 14: Melbourne - Jenna Bruton (St. Kilda Sharks) - Midfielder
22-year old Jenna Bruton has a very bright future in women's football ahead and having experienced glimpses of AFL-calibre footy, having played for Melbourne in exhibition matches in the past, Bruton would be a very handy pick-up for any AFLW side. After briefly stepping away from the game, Bruton came back bigger and better than ever for St. Kilda in the 2017 VFLW season, finding herself in the Sharks' better players most weeks, and would take home their best and fairest award. The recruitment of Bruton to Melbourne would only enhance the Demons' midfield depth, given they already possess extraordinary talent.
Pick 15: Brisbane - Jordan Zanchetta (Yeronga South Brisbane) - Midfielder
Jordan Zanchetta could very easily be Brisbane's first choice in the draft, but because of an ACL injury sustained last year, Zanchetta missed a lot of footy in 2017, but did manage to play six games for Yeronga this year, including their Grand Final triumph. Scouts describe Zanchetta as a midfielder who is extremely tough-as-nails and is perhaps one of Queensland's best draft prospects of this year's draft pool. When fully fit, Zanchetta can be a very elite inside midfielder and at 22 years of age, has plenty of time to become a force in an already talented Brisbane midfield.
Pick 16: Adelaide - Jess Allan (Salisbury/Glenelg) - Ruck
This is going to be a very interesting dilemma for the Crows as they already have a solid ruck in Rhiannon Metcalfe, but it is going to be very hard for the Crows to pass up arguably one of the best rucks in the draft in Jess Allan. At 182 centimetres tall, Allan has an extraordinary leap, which was on full display at the draft combine, beating everyone at the combine in both running and standing vertical jump. She's not bad on the field either, with her tap work at an elite level. She was vice-captain of the Under-18 National All-Australian Team and could hold her own against older bodies as she featured in Salisbury's best more often than when she played in the Adelaide Women's Footy League.