AFL Draft

AFL Draft Preview: West Coast Eagles

List Breakdown:

 

Key Def Gen Def Mid Mid/Fwd Gen Fwd Key Fwd Ruck Total
4 6 7 5 6 5 3 36

 

Average Age: 24.9

Players In: Brendon Ah Chee (Port Adelaide)

Players Out:

Retired/Delisted: Paddy Brophy, Jonathan Giles, Sam Mitchell, Drew Petrie, Sam Butler, Matt Priddis, Josh Hill, Tom Lamb, Simon Tunbridge, Jordan Snadden, Tom Gorter, Sharrod Wellingham


Draft Picks: 13, 21, 26, 32, 37, 69, 83

 

What They Got/Lost

After the retirements of stalwarts Sam Mitchell and Matt Priddis, the Eagles immediately targeted midfielders and were delighted when Port Adelaide’s Brendon Ah Chee nominated them as his club of choice.

In Ah Chee, the Eagles have acquired a young, bullocking, contested ball-winning midfielder who has lightning speed and elite skills. He has the ability to slot straight into West Coast’s starting 22 from round one next year.

However, the Eagles have lost a host of experience. Sam Butler (166 games), Jonathon Giles (63), Drew Petrie (332), Mitchell (329) and Priddis (240) have all moved on, meaning the Eagles will most likely be getting games into their young stars in 2018.

 What They Need

Since the retirements of Sam Mitchell and Matt Priddis, the Eagles will be desperate to bolster their midfield – especially with potential “A-Grade” midfielders who boast speed and explosive power. West Coast has high hopes for their top 2016 draftee Daniel Venables – but the powerful youngster will need someone else to help shoulder the load.

The Eagles are also crying out for a small forward who is a proven goalkicker. In 2017, Jamie Cripps (26 goals from 21 games) and the now delisted Josh Hill (16 goals from 12 games) struggled to hit the scoreboard, and the Eagles will be keen for a player who can address this deficiency.

Other players West Coast could target are ruckmen and key forwards. The Eagles only have three genuine ruckmen in Nic Naitanui, Scott Lycett and Nathan Vardy, and will be keen to add a talented youngster on board.

It was also apparent that the Eagles need to secure another young key position prospect. When Josh Kennedy went down with injury, the Eagles struggled with their scoring power. Between rounds 11 and 16, the Eagles only scored on average 86 points. While down back Eric Mackenzie (29 years of age) and Will Schofield (28) aren’t going to be around forever, and that leaves only Tom Barrass and Jeremy McGovern as the true key defenders.

On The Radar

High on the Eagles’ priority list is to attain a midfielder who is damaging and boasts explosive pace. With their first pick (#13), the Eagles could take Victorian Hunter Clark. The Dandenong Stingrays’ product can play half-back, midfield and half-forward, and has a great mix of inside grunt work and run, damage & class on the outside. Other players that the Eagles could look at with this selection include Aiden Bonar, Charlie Constable, Nick Coffield and Jack Higgins.

During the Trade Period the Eagles gave up pick #50 and their 2018 first-round draft selection that saw them secure picks #21, #26, #37 and a 2018 second round selection. A move that indicates that they could be on the rebuild.

With pick 21, they could look at West Perth product Oscar Allen. The club’s key forward stocks are thin (this was evident when Josh Kennedy went down with injury), and he would be a welcome addition to the line-up. The 2017 Larke Medallist is athletic, agile, versatile, is an excellent decision maker and has clear leadership qualities – making him an attractive option.

Their next selection is at pick #26 and they could be looking at someone like Timmy Kelly. The mature-age prospect would be a huge addition to the Eagles’ on-ball division. He is a clearance king who has the explosive power to burst clear from stoppages and he can also hit the scoreboard – this was evident when he kicked seven goals from 35 possessions against East Fremantle in round 11.

At picks 32 and 37, the Eagles could look to home-grown talent in midfielders Brayden Ainsworth (Subiaco) and Brandon Starcevich (East Perth). Ainsworth is a graceful player who has elite skills, while Starcevich is a midfield bull who thrives on the crash-and-bash style.

With their later picks, the Eagles should look at Perth’s Cody Ninyette and/or Subiaco’s Liam Ryan to fill their need for a small forward. East Perth’s Scott Jones would appeal to help alleviate their ruck stocks.

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