AFL Draft

AFL Draft 2017: Club By Club Review


What We Said: The Crows were in need of cover for Brodie Smith, and also flexibility to cover the loss of Jake Lever and Charlie Cameron.

What They Got: We suggested that the Crows would be ecstatic if Glenelg star Darcy Fogarty slipped to their pick twelve, and he did just that. The bullocking half forward/midfielder was a standout heading into 2017, but some indifferent form and some niggling injuries saw him fall out of favour. He’ll offer an immediate focal point in their forward line, potentially allowing Adelaide to use the likes of Mitch McGovern and Andy Otten in the backline to fill the gap left by Lever. They followed it up with another local talent in the form of Andrew McPherson. The running half-back is a perfect addition to cover the recent exodus of rebounding talent from the Crows, and also help cover the loss of Brodie Smith next year



What We Said: The Lions need ready to midfielders, and need to improve their scoreboard impact.

What They Got: It wasn’t a surprise to see Brisbane take Cam Rayner with pick one. The Western Jet has been well regarded as the number one pick in this year’s crop, and offers something truly special. Although he doesn’t have the endurance to impact in the midfield yet, he’ll offer another string to the Lions’ forward line. They did surprise a few with their second pick, selecting NT star Zac Bailey. Bailey is an impressive inside midfielder with a good set of wheels, and looks to be a player that can impact in 2018. They then added some more midfield leg speed in the form of Western Australian Brandon Starcevich with pick 18. Starcevich may need a little more time to get going, still being a more ‘raw’ prospect, but he has huge upside as an explosive big midfielder. Key position Academy prospects Connor Ballenden and Jack Payne were selected later, along with impressive Oakleigh forward Toby Wooller. Wooller has an impressive tank, and can offer the Lions an outlet similar to that of the Crows’ Tom Lynch. Along with Rayner and trade acquisition Charlie Cameron, Wooller immediately makes the Lions’ forward line look infinitely more potent.



What We Said: Midfielders, midfielders and more midfielders, with a focus on speed and outside possession.

What They Got: Exactly that. Paddy Dow was long believed to be Carlton’s preferred choice at pick 3, so there was little surprise when he headed to Princes Park. In Dow they have a player with elite inside traits and agility with a burst of acceleration that can see him create separation – something they have truly lacked since the retirement of Chris Judd. He still has scope to develop further, but shapes as a player with the potential to be anything. They then surprised a few by taking Dow’s Bendigo teammate Lochie O’Brien with pick 10. The outside midfielder / half-back has a devastatingly accurate left boot and will offer the class, delivery and penetration that the Blues desperately need from the flanks. Tom De Koning was a big shock at pick 30, with many pundits feeling he’d slide to the fourth round or beyond. He was highly regarded as a top key prospect heading into 2017, however, and has the potential develop into a potent forward target at the next level. A smart player, who was a midfielder before he grew. The Blues kept their focus on the Pioneers, selecting Angus Schumacher with another fairly surprising pick at 70. The tall rebounding defender has the scope to develop into a midfielder in time, and shapes more as a longer term prospect. With their final pick, Carlton threw a lifeline to former Sun Jarrod Garlett. Garlett, who walked away from the AFL to spend time with his sick brother in 2014, was a former first round pick and will offer the Blues plenty of impact in the forward 50.




What We Said: The Pies need goalkicking power, and improved ball use out of the back half

What They Got: After the reports of a potential slide due to a heart condition, it was great to see Jaidyn Stephenson selected in the top 6 – a place he well and truly belongs. Stephenson has been in pick one consideration since he tore the 2015 TAC Cup final apart as a 16 year old, and although he has excelled on the wing and through the centre this year, he is an elite prospect inside 50. He could be the best from this year’s draft when we look back in years to come. With pick 39 Collingwood picked up one of the bargains of the night in Nathan Murphy, after the former star cricketer was tipped as a potential top 10 in recent weeks. Despite limited footy, Murphy had some superb outings for the Dragons in both the forward line and in defence, and has significant upside. With their last pick the Magpies snagged father/son selection Tyler Brown. Brown has shown plenty of talent through the midfield this year for the Eastern Ranges, but will take a little time to develop.



Houlahan flying for SA       Photo: AFL Media


What We Said: Inside mids, improved ball movement, and perhaps some support for their rucks.

What They Got: The Bombers didn’t go how everyone expected them to, and opted for the smart, high flying Jordan Houlahan from Sturt. Houlahan burst into recruiters radars with a string of impressive performances at the National Championships in South Australia’s forward line. Easily comparable to Jeremy Howe due to his incredible leap, he may also follow the Magpie into developing as a defender. They stayed in SA for their second pick, grabbing key defender Brandon Zerk-Thatcher in a surprising pick. He’s a more long term prospect, as he is still very much developing. The Bombers did look to their midfield with their last pick, however, selecting Claremont inside midfielder Matt Guelfi. Guelfi was surprisingly looked over in last year’s Draft, but now finally gets rewarded for his strong form and development in the WAFL. A strong, contested ball winner, who has really improved his scoreboard impact over the last year.



What We Said: Bolster their midfield, and add support for Sean Darcy in the ruck. A key defender would be a bonus.

What They Got: The Dockers went into the Draft with a fine selection of picks, and they hit the mark bagging gun midfielders Andrew Brayshaw and Adam Cerra with picks 2 and 5. Both players offer a great balance of inside and outside ability, and can slot immediately into their midfield rotation. They are both highly professional, smart footballers and shape as potential 200 gamers. With their next pick at 44, they opted for Tasmanian key position player Hugh Dixon. Primarily a forward, Dixon impressed in the backline in the All Stars game at the end of the year, and has plenty of scope to develop. Tall, agile and deceptively quick, he could be one we look back on as a real steal. With their later picks the Dockers snagged combative small forward Sam Switkowski as a mature age recruit from the Box Hill Hawks, and consolidated their ruck stocks with local talent Scott Jones, and the big bodied Lloyd Meek. Switkowksi is a ready-made long-term replacement for Hayden Ballantyne, while mature ager Scott Jones can offer AFL ready ruck cover while Darcy and Meek develop.



What We Said: Key Position defensive stocks and midfielders to develop.

What They Got: Coming into the Draft with one the best group of picks they’ve had in years, the Cats didn’t disappoint on Draft night. They kicked off selecting Western Jets’ Lachie Fogarty at pick 22. The small forward / midfielder is a tackling machine who was very impressive for Vic Metro in the U18 Championships, and is a good chance to feature in 2018 as a defensive forward. With their second pick, the Cats snagged Tim Kelly from under the nose of the Eagles. Kelly was high on the list of a lot of clubs this year after a superb year in the WAFL, and the 23 year old inside midfielder/forward is ready to go in terms of AFL footy. It was with their later picks that the Cats truly got the cream. Charlie Constable at pick 36 is an absolute bargain, with the midfielder one of the most gifted inside talents in the Draft. Poor endurance and leg-speed saw him slide, but they said the same about Patrick Cripps a few years back – a player Constable is not dissimilar to. With their last pick, Geelong picked up gun small forward Gryan Miers. The Geelong Falcon finished top of the TAC Cup goal kickers table, and his virtuoso seven-goal performance in the Falcons’ TAC Cup Final win, saw him talked up as a second round prospect. Another steal at 57.


Gold Coast

What We Said: Stability and a big boost to their midfield stocks

What They Got: The Suns, without doubt, caused the biggest shock of the night after selecting Western Australian Wil Powell with their first pick at 19. The Claremont midfielder ticks a lot of boxes in terms of raw attributes, but is a player that will take time to develop. The Suns recruiters are obviously impressed with what they saw to take him so early, as few had him pegged as high as even the third round. With their next pick, they took another rangy player with a lot of physical develop ahead of him in Charlie Ballard. The 195cm wingman is another player with strong fundamental attributes, who will take time. It’s clear that the Suns are focusing on the long term. With their later picks they took Academy prospects Brayden Crossley and Connor Nutting. Mumford-like ruckman Crossley has two years of senior NEAFL experience under his belt, and can play in 2018, while rebounding defender Nutting will be brought on gradually.


GWS Giants

What We Said: Small/Medium forward to replace Smith and Johnson, and some run and carry out of defence.

What They Got: The Giants will have been very pleased to have the likes of Aiden Bonar fall to them at their first pick. The Dandenong Stingray has had one of the more testing routes to the Draft, having to endure two knee reconstructions, but is undoubtedly one of the premier talents in this year’s crop. A powerful player that can compete in the forward half or as an inside midfielder, look for him to be among the competitions elite in a few years. With their next picks the Giants snagged Bendigo small forward Brent Daniels and Swan Districts’ Sam Taylor. Daniels has the versatility to also fill roles through the midfield and at half back, and looms as a perfect replacement for Devon Smith. Taylor impressed in the U18 Champs for WA and also looked at home playing senior WAFL football. A super composed, intercepting defender that could potentially allow Adam Tomlinson to be released further up the ground. With their later selections, they picked up ready to go mature ager Zac Langdon and Academy prospect Nick Shipley. Defensive forward Langdon can come straight in as a Stevie J replacement, while inside midfielder Nick Shipley will take time to develop.



What We Said: Fix their depth and deficiencies through the midfield and forward line

What They Got: Heading to the Draft with limited currency in terms of picks, the Hawks should be very pleased with what they achieved. Despite not entering the proceedings until the third round, the fact that they were able to snag two U18 All-Australians with their first two picks is staggering. TAC Cup winning captain James Worpel joined them first at 45, while Eastern Ranges’ hard running small mid/fwd Dylan Moore followed at a surprisingly late 67. In Worpel they have a ready to go midfielder with the attitude and aggression at the contest to become a cult player among the Hawks faithful. With Moore, they have a player that, although small, will leave everything out on the ground with pressure in the forward half. They followed this with another pick that can be considered a bargain, taking Moore’s Eastern Ranges teammate Jackson Ross at pick 71. The former tennis star has shown flashes of brilliance on a wing and in the forward line this year, and although inconsistent, has plenty of upside.



What We Said: Balanced list that perhaps needs some outside speed and depth.

What They Got: The Demons will be hoping to push towards a tilt at a flag in the near future and so were clearly going for players that could impact straight away. With a strong balanced structure, they also had the luxury of going for ‘point of difference’ players. They picked one of those players up with their first pick, in the form of Charlie Spargo. The former Giants Academy member has had an injury interrupted year, but prior to that was one of the most exciting prospects in this year’s group. A smart small forward with tricks, he already has senior NEAFL experience under his belt and can play a part immediately. They bolstered their forward line further with the selection of the exciting Casey forward Bailey Fritsch, before adding an astute selection in South Australia’s Harry Petty. The key defender has flown under the radar despite an impressive U18 Championships, and can offer cover to Melbourne’s talls, whilst allowing the likes Tom McDonald to relocate forward. With their last pick, they grabbed Oskar Baker. The former Lions Academy member has torn up the NEAFL this year, and has speed to burn – he can offer an extra dimension to the Dees’ bullish midfield.



North Melbourne

What We Said: Speed and class through the midfield, with scoreboard impact

What They Got: With pick four, the Roos were always in a position to fill their main needs, but even they probably wouldn’t have expected that they could get Luke Davies-Uniacke. The explosive, big-bodied midfielder is a perfect fit in their midfield unit, offering genuine speed with the ability to impact going forward. At 23 they went with Sandringham Dragons’ soccer convert Will Walker to offer some outside class and X-Factor, before they added the bullish Western Australian Kyron Hayden late. Developing ruck/forward Tristan Xerri was snapped up with a late pick to add depth to their tall timber, and former Hawk Billy Hartung was given a late AFL lifeline. He didn’t ever really reach his potential at Waverley Park, and has the outside zip that the Roos crave.


Port Adelaide

What We Said: Did most of their recruiting at the trade table. Ready to go types to help for a Premiership tilt along with some outside speed would be handy.

What They Got: Another to enter proceedings late, and with no pressing list needs, the Power were able to see who fell in their lap. It turned out to be the only dual All-Australian in this year’s crop – ruck/forward Sam Hayes. A massive slider, Hayes was considered a top ten player on talent at the start of the year, and while unlikely to impact any time soon, could form a major part of Port’s future. With a quick flurry of picks, they then picked up Bendigo’s Kane Farrell, Claremont’s Jake Patmore and Vic Metro captain Joel Garner. Farrell and Patmore will likely both start as running defenders, with Patmore, in particular, showing plenty as a midfielder. Stout half-back Garner was another major slider on the night, and will offer leadership as he matures. A late punt on former Demon Dom Barry was a smart move. He’s excelled in the SANFL since returning to footy, and will provide linebreaking outside run to Power’s tough core.



What We Said: Boost their tall stocks including some ruck cover

What They Got: After a stunning Premiership win, and subsequent ‘last place’ when it came to the Draft, it seems astounding that the Tigers were able to snap up the best Champion Data rated player in years – Jack Higgins. Hardly top of Richmond’s need’s, but impossible to turn at pick 17, Higgins slipped due to his height, and his scope for improvement. Incredibly talented, and determined with a high footy IQ, he could be considered a steal. The Tigers went tall with their next two picks, grabbing South Australian Callum Coleman-Jones and Calder Cannon Noah Balta. Coleman-Jones is a talented All-Australian ruck who has perhaps showed that his best position could be as a key forward, while Balta is a highly athletic utility that can be used at either end or even in the ruck. Probably the biggest win for the Tigers, however, was that it took until pick 34 for talented father/son winger Patrick Naish.


St Kilda

What We Said: Class and speed through the midfield. Perhaps a developing tall.

What They Got: With two top ten picks, the Saints were in a great position to net some talent. They will have been disappointed that classy midfielders Adam Cerra and Andrew Brayshaw were off the board, but will have been very happy with Nick Coffield and Hunter Clark. Both are players that have made their way primarily as attacking half-backs, but both have shown plenty of scope as midfielders – with Coffield’s outside work and Clark’s inside work complimenting each other. They followed up with impressive key defender Oscar Clavarino at 35 and rebounding half-back Ben Paton at 46. Clavarino has developed well as an intercept marker, and is able to quickly launch offensive attacks thanks to great vision and a long raking kick. Paton returned to the TAC Cup as an overage player this year and had a superb season after switching into the backline – earning an All-Australian nod in the process.



What We Said: Some tall defensive options to develop and some outside midfield class.

What They Got: The Swans didn’t take a defensive tall, and instead opted to boost their forward stocks by taking Tom McCartin, the brother of former number one pick Paddy, with their second pick . Not as tall as his brother, McCartin makes up for it with his athleticism, which makes him a potentially more flexible player down the line. With their first and third picks they went for outside run by selecting Geelong’s Matt Ling at pick 14 and Eastern Ranges Ryley Stoddart at 53. Ling’s selection at 14 was pretty surprising but there’s no doubt the talented rebounding half back will fit in perfectly the Swans. Quick, a great decision maker and a big kick. Stoddart is in a similar mould, an athletic rebounding defender that will provide run and penetration.


West Coast

What We Said: Big needs in the middle of the ground, and also a small forward. Developing talls would be a bonus

What They Got: After stocking up with second rounders, the Eagles had put themselves in a great position to fill their requirements this year, and especially for home-grown talent. They kicked off their night, however, with former GWS Academy player Jarrod Brander. The athletic key position talent was tipped for pick one earlier in the year, and has the flexibility to be developed at either end of the ground. Their second round picks, as predicted, were used to snap up some quality WA talent in the form of Oscar Allen, Liam Ryan and Brayden Ainsworth. Key forward Allen won the Larke Medal as the best player at the U18 Championships, and offers intelligence, leadership and endurance in the forward line. Small forward Liam Ryan has had a sensational year in the WAFL and can offer them some immediate impact and X-Factor in the forward 50, while U18 All-Australian Ainsworth is a very clean and strong inside midfielder that has the maturity to play in 2018. At pick 38 they added more excitement in the form of lightning quick former AIS basketballer Jack Petruccelle. Petruccelle is likely to start as a tackling forward, but has the agility and spatial ability in congestion to develop as a midfielder with more footy experience. A late pick up of Hamish Brayshaw rounded out a very good night for the Eagles. Brayshaw has excelled in the TAC Cup as an over-ager, and also in the VFL, and will join his brother Andrew over in Perth.


Western Bulldogs

What We Said: Class through the midfield, some depth at half-back and perhaps another medium/tall forward.

What They Got: One area we thought the Dogs really didn’t need bolstering was their tall stocks down back, but when Aaron Naughton fell to them at 9 they duly snapped him up. Naughton has stamped himself as the clear best intercept defender in this year’s Draft class, and has the professionalism and body to play immediately – proved by his form against AFL listed players in the WAFL this year. He is also capable in the forward 50, and could develop as a prototype swingman down the line. With 16 the Dogs went Oakleigh Charger Ed Richards. One of the big draft risers this year, Richards has been a consistent point of quality in the Chargers’ backline this season, with his dash and vision from half-back. He’s a natural at the contest too, and has shown genuine inside traits that give the impression a midfield role in the future could be on the cards. With their last pick they grabbed Gippsland midfielder Cal Porter, in what could be a great get. Porter is a great leader, with a balanced inside and outside game, and has turned in some of the best performances at TAC Cup level this year.

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