AFL Draft

AFL Draft Preview: GWS Giants

List Breakdown by position:

Key Def Gen Def Mid Mid/Fwd Gen Fwd Key Fwd Ruck Total
8 6 7 3 5 5 2 36

 

Average Age: 24.8

Players In: Lachlan Keeffe

Players Out: Devon Smith, Matthew Kennedy, Nathan Wilson

Retired/Delisted: Shane Mumford, Tom Downie, Steve Johnson, Tendai Mzungu, Sam Reid

Draft Picks: 11, 27, 28, 57, 65, 85, 93

What They Got/Lost:

The Giants headed into 2017 looking like an unstoppable juggernaut, after being perhaps the only 2016 finalist to seemingly strengthen their side in the off-season. Injuries cruelled their side at crucial times once more, however, and for the second year in a row they were dumped out of the competition at the Prelims.

The trade period once again saw another churn of their players, albeit smaller than previous years, with some genuine star quality in Nathan Wilson and Devon Smith leaving, along with the promising Matt Kennedy. It also saw some of their experienced recruits call time on their career, with Stevie J and Shane Mumford both leaving big gaps.

They certainly scored a major win in securing a new contract for superstar Josh Kelly, and although losing players at the trade table they strengthened their draft position, moving from no picks under 30 to three.

The biggest loss, however, will no doubt be their access to the rich stream of talent from the Riverina area via their academy. The AFL decision to cull the region from the Giants’ catchment zone has meant they have lost access to some top talent in this year’s Draft – most notably potential top ten Key Position talent Jarrod Brander.

What They Need:

Some success. The Giants are in danger of treading water at the moment, and as their experienced heads at the top have either retired, or are entering the end of their career, you get the feeling the time is now if they are to get their maiden Premiership. Heath Shaw, Brett Deledio and Ryan Griffen are all over 30 and, especially in the case of the latter two, are struggling in terms of their body.

In terms of what they need on the ground, we just need to look at who has left through the door. In Stevie J and Devon Smith, they have lost a significant amount talent in the forward half, and they will need to remedy that if they are to go at least one further in 2018. In Cameron and Patton, supported by Lobb, they have a strong presence in the air, but it’s the smaller forwards that will really need boosting. In Toby Greene, they have one of the best small/medium forwards in the comp, and Tim Taranto will take the next step after a promising debut year, but they will still look to strengthen this area. In terms of the ruck, Lobb will likely take on the lions’ share of the workload now Mumford has gone, and the picking up of Lachie Keeffe from will provide cover.

In Nathan Wilson, they have lost one of the best ball-users out of the back half in the league. Just like in the forward half, they are well stocked for talls, with Phil Davis and Nick Haynes, along with Aiden Corr and Adam Tomlinson; it’s the run and carry that they will need. They do still have talent back there in the form of Shaw, Zac Williams, Matthew Buntine and Harry Perryman, but they are more hard-nosed defensive types. Adam Tomlinson is one who could be used in a more offensive role. He’s shown in the NEAFL that he can be a major ballwinner pushing up the ground and on a wing, and has the tank to offer the end to end running that a more involved role would require. He certainly doesn’t replace Wilson’s distribution, however.

On the Radar:

With their three top 30 picks, the Giants are very nicely placed to fill their needs with immediate affect. At pick 11 they may be in position to grab ready to go Northern Knights captain Nick Coffield. A standout in the TAC Cup and for Vic Metro in the U18 Championships, Coffield can not only offer speed and delivery out of the backline, but he has an old head on his shoulders that would be a perfect fit for a side that has lost a lot of on field experience. There is every chance Coffield is off the board at 11, in which case the Giants may look for a player like Jack Higgins. The Morrish Medalist is the embodiment of workrate and dedication, and his starring performances as a small forward, and through the midfield, for Oakleigh and Metro, would make him an ideal option to slot straight into the Giants’ forward 50.

Picks 27 and 28 would give them the option to strengthen even further, with likely options to fill their needs abundant around that mark. Geelong flankers Matthew Ling and Ethan Floyd could both potentially be available around this mark, and would offer the penetration from the half back line that will go some way to replacing the hole left by Wilson, while their Falcons team-mate Gryan Miers would be a possible inclusion to boost their forward line. Miers has been one of the best small forwards this year, highlighted by his incredible seven goal haul in the TAC Cup final at Etihad in September, and could play a part in their forward line immediately. They will also likely look at getting the highly rated small forward Charlie Spargo who has dropped off the radar after an injury earlier in the year. Spargo was a member of the Giants Academy until the re-zoning, and has already got senior experience in their NEAFL side.

Later on, I’d love to see them take a punt on Higgins’ teammate Charlie Thompson, who has gone largely unmentioned in the lead-up to the draft. A very hard working, strong half-forward/midfielder, Thompson continues to fly under the radar despite a string of stunning performances this year including a massive 43 possession, five goal effort for Oakleigh against Bendigo.

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