With the 2016 AFL National Draft now over, we take a look at who each club took, and how well they did.
What We Said: They need burst from the midfield, and also depth. Delivery inside 50 needs
What They Got: As we suggested the Crows went with Jordan Gallucci with their first pick. The Eastern Ranges midfielder can operate on the inside or outside, but it is his athleticism which is the big tick. Gallucci dominated at the combine in the repeat sprints and vertical leap, and although his delivery inside 50 needs tidying, will provide the burst the Crows need. They added to their midfield depth with Myles Poholke, Matthew Signorello and Ben Davis. Poholke is a diligent midfielder who, although not a massive ball-winner, is highly competitive and has the ability to roll forward to impact the scoreboard. Signorello and Davis are more project picks – both a good size at 184cm and 186cm respectively, and both good, versatile athletes. The Crows also boosted their tall stocks with promising Queenslander Eliot Himmelberg. The brother of the Giants’ Harry, was touted as one the best key position talents heading into the draft, so grabbing him at 51 will have been very pleasing.
What We Said: They need outside run in the midfield, and some quality entering the forward 50.
What They Got: When you need some quality on the outside, and the best outside mid in the Draft presents themselves to you at pick three, it’s going to be a good night. North Ballarat Rebel, Hugh McCluggage, could easily have been pick one, and would have been in almost any other year, and will immediately give the Lions some class. With their other picks the Lions were very smart. With the retention issues that have plagued them over the last few years, they decide to pick up two more Rebels in the form of Jarrod Berry and Cedric Cox. Both players are athletic half-backs who are capable through the midfield, and as well as hopefully making the transition from Victoria easier, they will also help fill the void left by Pearce Hanley. Alex Witherden was a steal at 23, after a broken leg in 2016 saw him slip down the draft. An elite user of the ball off half-back, he will give the Lions drive out of defence. They also managed to add athletic utility Jacob Allison from their Academy, and Sandringham product Corey Lyons.The ball-winning midfielder is a great leader on and off the field, and with his brother Jarryd moving up the road to the Gold Coast, he is another smart choice.
What We Said: The Blues needed midfielders. A contested midfielder was the number one priority but the needed outside run too. Another tall forward a bonus.
What They Got: The Blues were very well placed at pick 5 to get a top talent, and they did just that in Western Australian Sam Petrevski-Seton. The midfielder from the Kimberley is a contested ball-winner, a ferocious tackler and an elite user by hand and by foot, and will certainly give the Blues something they are lacking in the midfield. While he has knocks on his consistency, he has the drive to succeed. With their other picks the Blues focused on outside speed. Zac Fisher and Cameron Polson both offer speed and agility on the outside of midfield and provide an attacking presence inside 50, and will complement the Blues’ developing talls. Harrison Macreadie was a major coup after the Giants decided not to match a bid on their Academy star. The 196cm running defender barracked for the Blues growing up, and is tipped to transition into the midfield in time. They rounded off their picks with a club legend’s grandson in the form of Patrick Kerr. We had him placed much higher on our draft board, and although many thought he would slide, the Blues would have been stoked to grab him so late. The key forward will develop alongside Charlie Curnow, Harry McKay and Jack Silvagni in forward line that is taking shape.
What We Said: The Magpies were in massive need for some tall talent, and particularly in defence after a mass exodus left them severely lacking. They also needed some more outside qualities.
What They Got: The Pies went straight in with big-bodied key position player Sam McLarty. The Oakleigh Chargers product has had a couple of injuries this year which had seen him down a lot of lists, but Collingwood will hope they’ve snagged a bargain at pick 30. At 197cm and 91kg, McLarty still has a bit of development to go, but will undoubtedly get a chance early with his ability to impact at either end of the ground. Two of Collingwood’s other picks were spent securing Father-Son talents Callum Brown and Josh Daicos. The sons of legends were always going to find themselves at Victoria Park, and both will add some attack from midfield and across half-forward. The Magpies also brought in exciting forward Kayle Kirby. The Powerfully built Bendigo product stands at 181cm and 96kg, and came to everyone’s attention when kicking five for Richmond’s VFL team late in the year. Kirby has had limited footy experience but just possesses a stack of natural talent that Collingwood will seek to develop – could be anything. With a few tall defenders still left in the pool, expect the Pies to take a chance during the rookie draft.
What We Said: Balanced, but could look to add some speed from defence and midfield, and a boost to their tall stocks.
What They Got: With pick one the Bombers were able to have their pick of this year’s crop of talent – but they had some big decisions to make. They opted, as we suggested, for Andrew McGrath. The line-breaking half-back/midfielder with an elite athletics background has been nothing short of superb this year. A big game player whose leadership qualities and character would be hard for any club to ignore. The Dons then went and added another athletic backman in Jordan Ridley. Although different in size and shape to McGrath, Ridley is another athletic player with great character and work-ethic. He won the kicking test at the National combine, and his ball-use out of defence will be welcomed after the departure of Michael Hibberd. Essendon then strengthened their forward line after picking up Eastern Ranges forward Josh Begley. Begley had knocks on his conditioning early in the year, but worked on his fitness to transition into a damaging forward presence. With further work he could no doubt play further up the ground and become a genuine dual threat. GWS academy midfielder Kobe Mutch was then added, along with one of the steals of the draft in Dylan Clarke. Both players are, again, hard-working players with great leadership, although both will need work to be AFL ready.
What We Said: The Dockers need depth in all areas, and will probably consider a ruck or tall talent to develop.
What They Got: The late news that the Dockers were set to swerve long time perceived target Tim English was on the money. Instead, they went for draft bolter Griffin Logue. The super-athletic tall backman had gatecrashed the top order in recent months and the Dockers saw it as a perfect chance to take him at 8. At 191cm and 94kg, Logue is ready to play immediately and will slot into Fremantle’s defence alongside new recruit Joel Hamling. They further strengthened their backline with the recruitment of two big sliders in the form of Brennan Cox and Luke Ryan. Cox, who some had suggested could be taken in the top 20, is another versatile, athletic tall, while VFL recruit Ryan, who was also touted to go high, is rebounding defender. Both players are AFL ready, and will no doubt feature early in Freo’s year. After passing on English, the Dockers did recruit a ruck, but it was Vic Country star Sean Darcy. The Geelong Falcons tall is a big unit at 200cm and 110kg, and has been likened to GWS star Shane Mumford. His ruck work is elite, and an apprenticeship under Sandilands could work wonders.
What We Said: With a Premiership window that is nearly shut, the Cats need tall forwards.
What They Got: It was very evident that Geelong recruited for now, with an emphasis on ready to go talent. Three of their recruits came straight from their VFL side, with defender Tom Stewart, tall forward Timm House, and ruckman Ryan Abbott. All three, while most likely there for depth, should be able to play a role this year as the Cats hunt a final flag before a rebuild. Their first pick was NT ball-magnet Brandon Parfitt, who averaged 29 disposals in the SANFL Under-18s for North Adelaide, while also making four appearances for their reserves. With the Cats possessing one of the most potent midfields in the competition, chances will be few in the short-term, but he looks an interesting development prospect. The same can be said for key forward / ruck Esava Ratugolea. The athletic Murray Bushrangers star, who has Fijian roots, has had obvious Nic Nat comparisons made, but is another that has shown plenty from limited footy to suggest he could have a bright future.
What We Said: The Suns needed a rebuild, especially in the centre of the ground
What They Got: With four picks in the top ten, the Suns were always going to in the box seat for some top talent and the would have been very happy with their haul. They were keen to recruit players that were already familiar with each other, and they did so by selecting the AIS Academy quartet of Ben Ainsworth, Will Brodie, Jack Scrimshaw and Jack Bowes. All offer top end talent around the ground and will no doubt form the basis of the Suns midfield in 2017. They added to this later with the recruitment of Academy star Brad Scheer. A tough ball-winning midfielder that has already tasted senior football with the Suns NEAFL side, and is another player ready to go early on. The Suns were expected to do well, and they did, and also had the bonus of avoiding going into a points deficit for next year.
What We Said: One of the few teams with no real requirements. Their job now is to continue to build for a period of sustained success.
What They Got: They Giants made no secret of their desire to nab Andrew McGrath at pick 2, but they will be very happy with getting his Sandringham teammate Tim Taranto. Taranto can operate as a contested ball-winner through the midfield, but his elite overhead marking ability combined with great goal-sense make him a massive threat inside 50. He’s not dissimilar to the Giants’ Stevie Johnson, and will develop very nicely under his tutelage. The Giants followed this by bolstering their ranks with some academy selections. Will Setterfield, Harry Perryman and Isaac Cumming were always going to be matched, and will offer some more elite talent out of the backline and through the midfield, and Lachlan Tiziani’s stunning TAC form after being overlooked last year has earned him a deserved chance. The Giants declined to match offers on Kobe Mutch and Harrison Macreadie, and instead opted to bring in ex Freo star Matt De Boer in one of the more surprising selections of the night. De Boer was unfortunate to not get much senior time last year after dominating in the WAFL, and it will be interesting to see what the Giants have in mind for him.
What We Said: The Hawks recruited via trade this year, and will look to the best available.
What They Got: Hawthorn had to wait until the night was nearly over before getting their turn, and with their first pick at 74 they took Harry Morrison. Morrison is a typical ‘Hawthorn’ player – an elite kick with good game sense, who after a few injury interrupted years has slipped down the draft. The Hawks generally take their time bringing on young players, and he could well end up being a late bargain. Their second pick became the joke of the night when they replaced outgoing champions Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis with – Mitchell Lewis. The comparisons stop with the name, however, with Lewis actually being a 196cm 95kg utility. Another elite kick that the Hawks can take time to work with.
What We Said: Melbourne were another to strengthen via the trade period, and look to be fairly well balanced. Another developing tall in defence would be useful.
What They Got: The Demons boosted their forward line with the recruitment of Mitch Hannan and Dion Johnstone. Athletic tall Hannan was a member of the victorious Footscray side that downed Melbourne affiliate Casey in the VFL Grand Final, and should be available to go in round one. The 189cm 22-year-old would operate well as a third tall option in the forward 50 alongside Hogan and Watts. Small forward Johnstone is another who may get some opportunities early. The hard at it Oakleigh product will give them some edge around goals and and provide some pressure in the forward arc, after averaging five tackles a game at TAC Cup level.
What We Said: In rebuild mode and are in desperate need of attack and class through the midfield, while their tall stocks down back need replenishing.
What They Got: The Roos first pick was Jy Simpkin, and he nailed the brief perfectly. A broken leg earlier in the year is the only reason he wasn’t top ten or even top five, and he has speed and class in spades. Simpkin has predominantly been used as a medium sized forward, but he no doubt has the scope to move into the midfield and provide the run North need. With the Suns not matching, a heap of speed also came their way in the form of Academy player Josh Williams. A very promising outside mid with elite speed and a nice set of tricks, he’s only 73kg, but poses as a good development option for a rebuilding side. North also boosted their tall stocks with Nick Larkey and a successful bid on Brisbane academy player Declan Watson. Watson was considered one of the best key defenders in the draft this year, and with the Roos bidding at 34 the Lions just couldn’t afford to match. A great talent, but he will need some time to develop. Larkey is another tall player at 198cm, and can operate at either end or in the ruck. At only 85kg he too will need time, but it certainly looks like North are in ‘long-term’ mode. The Roos should be pretty happy with their haul.
What We Said: Port need ready to go midfield depth and some extra height in the forward 50.
What They Got: Despite announcing that they would take four midfielders, Port did just what we had said and took the best key forward in the draft when Todd Marshall was available at 16. Despite not having played much footy after converting from cricket, Marshall rocketed up everyone’s draft list with his natural ability. The athletic spearhead will still take time to develop his frame, as he’s probably a good 10kg away from where he needs to be , but he will be a great player in time.. Port then invested heavily, as expected, in ready to go midfield talent. Powerful Western-Australian Sam Powell-Pepper was the first selected, and despite coming off the board earlier than many had him, the fact that he can play immediately will appeal greatly to the Power. They then added tough midfielders Joe Atley and Willem Drew to their list with their later picks. Both will add steel and depth to their midfield this year, and have the potential to develop into key players in time. Port took a risk in coughing up a top ten pick this year, but on the face of it , it looks like it may have paid off.
What We Said: The Tigers need to fill the gap between their best and their worst. They should target some speed through the middle, and some key position talent would come in handy.
What They Got: Richmond took very little in the way of picks into draft night, and the pressure was certainly on after a few years of questionable recruiting. The first off the board, and a little later than many predicted, was Western Australian Shai Bolton. Raw, but very talented, Bolton will offer some zip and x-factor to the Tigers’ midfield. His kicking has been his major knock so far, but the amount he improved from the beginning of the year to the end was very promising, especially considering his limited footy. The Tigers then picked up a bargain in Under-18 Championship MVP Jack Graham. The hard-working midfielder has had a number of injury issues this year, including a troublesome quad that kept him out of the SANFL finals, but if he gets his body right he could prove to be the bargain of the draft. Lastly, the Tigers opted for GWS academy player Ryan Garthwaite. Garthwaite emerged as one of the best one on one defenders this year, but he has also shown plenty of ability at the other end of the ground as a junior – booting 139 goals in 30 games in his last two years before switching to defence.
What We Said: One of the winners of the trade period, the Saints would likely look to add some speed to their midfield, and perhaps strengthen their tall stocks at the both ends.
What They Got: The Saints only had three picks but managed to cause one of the biggest surprises when they took Ben Long with pick 25. Despite being taken much earlier than expected, there is no doubt he fits what St Kilda needs in terms of outside run. Long was another member of Footscray’s VFL Premiership side, after he cemented his place in their best 22 at the end of the year. The cousin of Cyril Rioli has the versatility to play anywhere on the ground, but his six goals in Footscray’s Preliminary final win means we may see more of him attacking on a wing / half-forward. The Saints then picked up Josh Battle with pick 39. Battle was ranked by us as a potential top 20 selection, so looms as a great pick up. A tall forward with a massive tank, he will benefit massively under the instruction of Nick Riewoldt – a very shrewd pick. Finally, St Kilda went for Oakleigh’s hard running midfielder Ed Phillips. Phillips was another who was taken ahead of when predicted but he could turn out to be a fantastic role player for the club. Phillips showed his ability in Oakleigh’s Semi Final win over North Ballarat, where as well as keeping gun player Hugh McCluggage goalless, he collected 24 possessions and kicked two goals himself.
What We Said: The Swans need to boost their tall defenders and are in need of some genuine speed on the outside and in the forward 50.
What They Got: Whether Sydney got what they intended when they moved themselves up the Draft order or not, they will no doubt be happy with what they ended up with. In Oliver Florent and Will Hayward, the Swans have two highly talented, quick forwards who have both shown very promising skills when utilised through the middle. Haywood, in particlar, would have pleased them as many had predicted him being taken in the top ten. They then strengthened their back stocks with talented tall backmen Jack Maibaum at pick 45 and Darcy Cameron at 48. Both players read the defensive game very well and have the physiques to be able to have an impact at AFL level immediately. Sydney will no doubt be very happy with their haul after filling their needs with players that many saw as going much earlier.
What We Said: West Coast have no pressing needs, and have the freedom to think of the future and take the best available.
What They Got: Pick 13 was always going to provide some top talent and the Eagles wouldn’t have been disappointed to see Daniel Venables on offer. Venables will offer another avenue out of the Eagles midfield with his burst of pace, but it is his ability to lift when the team needs him the most that will have no doubt attracted the Eagles recruiting staff. With their later picks, West Coast took a variety including local products Josh Rotham and Jake Waterman. Rotham is an athletic backman who can provide an outlet exiting the defensive 50 while father-son prospect Waterman is a useful medium forward that will brought along in an aging forward line. South Australian mature-ager Willie Rioli was also selected to give some forward depth, and would be able to play immediately.
What We Said: The Dogs are in a prime position after winning the flag to take the best available.
What They Got: When you have the luxury of being able to take the best that comes your way, and you sit at the back end of the draft order, you don’t expect a player of Tim English’s quality to come your way. The popular aversion to drafting a ruckman in the first round meant that the Bulldogs had that bonus, and it was a no brainer for them. An athletic 205cm player, who has more than a few midfield attributes is a great win for the Dogs, and we may look back on why he was allowed to slide in years to come. They added to that pick with an early grab on talented midfielder / forward Patrick Lipinski. Lipinski demonstrates the typical clean ball use that we have come to expect from basketball converts, and backs it up with an impressive tank. His exposure in the midfield has been limited, and as such he has plenty of scope to develop. The Dogs then went with another ex-basketballer in key position prospect Luke Young, and another raw tall in Fergus Greene. Both are strong athletes that will need development – but that is a luxury the Dogs can afford.