AFL draft analysis: Carlton Blues

Maddy Friend Columnist

By , Maddy Friend is a Roar Expert

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    After bottoming out in recent years, Carlton are starting to show some promise for the future. With two picks in the top ten and another coming at No.30, the draft will give them a chance to continue the rebuild.

    Outlook
    Draft picks: 3, 10, 30

    Click here to see the rest of Maddy’s draft analysis.

    Carlton lost one of their star midfielders in Bryce Gibbs, which was disappointing for the club, and will leave a gaping hole in the midfield next season. However, it did well to redress this through bringing in inside midfielder Matt Kennedy from GWS, as well as the zippy Darcy Lang.

    Both players add something to the Blues’ side, and should be in the mix for Round 1 next year. The Blues also acquired ruckman Matthew Lobbe from Port Adelaide as a depth player.

    Bryce Gibbs Adelaide Crows AFL

    (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

    In exchange for Gibbs, the Blues managed to snare pick 10 this year as well as Adelaide’s 2018 first-round pick, which was an excellent result for a player who will be 30 next year. This puts the Blues in an enviable position heading into draft night, and should allow them to add some more top-end talent to their young list.

    What they need
    After turning over nearly two thirds of the list in the past few years, there are a number of areas the Blues still need to address on their list. Most notable among these is the need to bolster their forward line – they were one of the lowest scoring teams in the competition in 2017, largely due to their defensive mindset, but also largely necessitated by not having a forward line capable of kicking big scores.

    Depending on how the Blues’ structure their team this year, they could also do with a genuine, crumbing small forward, as well as more outside midfield run.

    Who they might consider
    At Pick 3, the Blues are almost guaranteed of netting a future gun. They’d happily snap up any of Cam Rayner, Adam Cerra, Paddy Dow, Andrew Bradshaw, Luke Davies-Uniacke or Jaidyn Stephenson. They’re in a great position to wait and see who falls through to them.

    Pick 10 is an interesting one – the Blues really just need to wait and see who falls through to them here, which will likely be predicated on what Collingwood does at pick 6 and the Bulldogs at pick 9.

    If Jarrod Brander or Darcy Fogarty are still available, I’d expect the Blues to take either one, but if both are gone, they could look at midfielders such as Hunter Clark and Charlie Constable or defender Nick Coffield. If Jack Higgins is available, they’d have to look at him, because he definitely won’t be available at their next pick.

    Pick 30 will be another waiting game, but they’ll still get a good player here. Medium forward Jordan Houlahan, smalls Gryan Myers and Dylan Moore, or half-back Riley Stoddart, would all be good choices here.

    Draft/trade strategy
    I mentioned before the Blues’ recent list overhaul. That continues this season, and this may be one of the last drafts in which the club invests heavily before looking to free agency to bolster its list. It goes without saying, but the club needs to maximise its selections this year if it wants to continue moving forward.

    Two picks inside the top 10 is a windfall, and there’ll still be some good players around at pick 30, including some who may fall, as is inevitably the case.

    With their first two picks, I expect them to take best available, although if a tall forward like Brander or Fogarty is available at pick 10, they’d be hard pressed to pass them over. With their later picks, they can look to address needs, and give themselves the best possible position to move up the ladder again next year.