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Re-doing the 2010 AFL national draft

Luke Parker is 2010's number one draft pick (in hindsight). (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)
Roar Guru
25th May, 2016
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1291 Reads

We have a fair gauge on how well an AFL draft plays out once players reach the 100 game mark. So let’s revisit the 2010 draft and re-draft the first 20 picks based on careers thus far.

20. Alex Fasolo
The East Fremantle product, who was selected at number 45, has started 2016 in strong fashion and is on target to kick 50 goals this season. He has kicked 48 goals in his last 26 games, shedding some of the inconsistency that has plagued his career but not all of it; of his 20 goals this season, 14 have come in three games.

While kicking goals is his main skill, Fasolo ranked fifth in the league in goal assists in 2015 and is in the discussion when debating the better mid-sized forwards in the league. He has found his niche in this Collingwood side and looks likely to become a permanent fixture; his goal sense is a huge advantage and something he will look to translate into consistency.

19. Jared Polec
After three unsuccessful and dismal seasons at Brisbane, former number five pick Polec returned home in 2014 where his form has reflected that of the Power. When they were nearly grand finalists in 2014, he averaged almost 20 possessions and four inside 50s per game as a running midfielder.

His best four games this season have been in Power wins, and he has responded in a positive manner to being dropped earlier in the year. The Power gave up two draft picks to bring the highly-rated midfielder home, and would expect more consistency from Polec.

18. Tom McDonald
McDonald has developed into one of the more effective mid-sized defenders in the competition. Playing in the backline for 91 games in a largely deplorable team has had its benefits – McDonald has been exposed to a hectic learning environment and has handled it with aplomb.

He has ranked in the top 10 in one-percenters on three occasions, ranking second in this category in 2014. There are blue skies ahead of the Demons and the #53 draft pick gives them a consistent backman around which they can build their defence.

17. Josh Caddy
Caddy was another first round draft pick (number seven) who got homesick and returned home, and is building a very solid career for himself at Geelong. He has improved all key statistical categories in each season at Geelong and, like many middle-of-the-road players, performs far better at home than he does away.

Not only has Caddy averaged 21 possessions a game over the last two seasons, he has also ranked in the top 50 for tackles.

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16. Mitch Wallis
Taken as the number 22 pick, this father-son selection has navigated a few issues throughout his early years but has established himself as a critical player at the high-flying Bulldogs, ranking in the top 20 in both handballs and clearances.

Wallis thrives at the contest, but consistency is key. He has failed to tally 20 or more possessions just three times in his 29 games since the beginning of 2015 and has gained less than 10 contested possessions in just seven of those games. The Dogs are barking and Wallis is a huge reason for that happening, and figures to be a key part of their future success.

15. Paul Puopolo
Overlooked at the draft table, Puopolo was snagged by the Hawks at number 66 in the draft and has since developed into a key cog in the well-oiled Hawthorn machine. Statistics don’t do Puopolo justice, as his game is not based on huge numbers but rather pressure and intensity and he does both with aplomb.

Near on half his possessions are contested and he has averaged a goal and a half a game since 2014. Some commentators rank him among the very best small forwards in the competition. That’s a bit of a stretch, but he still sits inside the top 15 of the 2010 redraft.

14. Brodie Smith
Smith began as a backman and has now become a key part of Adelaide’s midfield depth. His game is based around run and carry, with a large majority of his possessions uncontested and that plays to his strengths.

Smith is the only player in the AFL who ranks in the top 25 in both inside 50s and rebound 50s. When you add an above-average effective disposal rate, the result is a player who is already proving to be well worth a top-15 draft pick after being selected at pick 14.

13. Cameron Guthrie
Guthrie has taken a step to the next level in 2016, becoming a key midfielder for a powerful Geelong side. After a slow start, he has gradually improved each year and wins the ball at the contest while also having a solid uncontested game.

Wearing Gary Ablett junior’s number 29, Guthrie looks likely to continue a rich tradition of quality Geelong midfielders.

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12. Sam Day
Day started his career as a forward but has become a backman in recent times, primarily to cover the absence of Steven May and Rory Thompson. The development of Peter Wright may enable the Suns to keep Day as a defender or for him to remain a player the side can move both back and forward.

While big men take longer to develop, the Suns would be looking for greater return on their investment in the third pick. He has not yet finished in the top 10 in the club best and fairest, a fact that he would be desperate to rectify.

11. Harley Bennell
On pure talent, Bennell is the first picked if this draft is re-done (he was the second pick in the draft proper), but he has never shown enough dedication to his craft. The Suns were happy to sell him for what amounted to pocket change, and Fremantle took a low-risk, high-reward gamble on the precocious young talent.

Speed, skill, strength; Bennell has it all. Whether or not he ever delivers on even half of his talent remains to be seen, and for now he goes down as one of the great wasted talents of this generation.

10. Michael Barlow
2016 has seen the promoted rookie struggle but it’s easy to forget just how good he was before he broke his leg. His debut season in 2010 saw him pass 30 disposals in six of 13 games, and he ranked ninth in the AFL in average disposals.

Despite being far from quick, Barlow’s ability to find space and get the ball on the outside has never been questioned. As the game has sped up it has left him behind and he may not play another game for Fremantle, but this mature-age recruit was one of the best value midfielders of recent drafts.

9. Tom Liberatore
Another youngster ravaged by injury, Liberatore is on the road to recovery having lost the entire 2015 season to a knee reconstruction. He was the 41st pick in 2010 and was mounting a case for being the best young inside midfielder in the competition.

He ranked third and seventh (2013 and 2014) for contested possessions and 14th, second and first in clearances from 2012-2014. Has started slowly in 2016 but ranks in the top 35 for contested possessions. That is likely to improve as he gets more game time under his belt.

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8. David Swallow
Swallow was the number one selection in this draft and his career arc was heading upwards before an injury-ravaged 2015. His total possessions averages, clearances averages and inside 50 averages all increased each year from 2012 to 2014 and he started 2015 in strong form.

Given a fair run with injury, Swallow remains a worthy #1 pick but the injury impact cannot be underestimated. He finished seventh in the Gold Coast club champion award in 2012 and 2013, before winning the award in 2014, and remains one of the most promising youngsters of recent times.

7. Isaac Smith
Smith was recruited at pick #19 as a mature-age player and has lived a charmed life at Hawthorn. His outside run and leg speed is the perfect match for the likes of Sam Mitchell, and he ranks among the league leaders in inside 50s as a key link man who thrives on uncontested possessions.

Smith is a three-time premiership player and starred in the 2015 flag win with 23 possessions and three goals. He will take on an increased role at Hawthorn as the Hawks’ list gets older.

6. Dion Prestia
Prestia has been a model of consistency, averaging more than 25 possessions since 2013 and ranking in the league’s top 30 for contested possessions from 2013-2015. He ranked second in clearances before injury struck in 2015, and has never returned to that pre-injury form.

Prestia has shown signs of returning to that form in early 2016, ranking high in possessions, inside 50s, tackles and contested possessions and figures to continue improving as he gets more games under his belt. His status as the seventh pick in the draft is reflected in his standing among this redrafted group.

5. Tom J Lynch
Selected at pick 11, Lynch has ranked in the top five for contested marks in every season from 2013 onwards and is on target for 60 goals in 2016. Statistically, he compares very favourably to young Melbourne superstar Jesse Hogan, ranking slightly below him in most categories but still featuring among the league leaders in those that matter for key forwards.

4. Andrew Gaff
Gaff has ranked in the top 10 for total disposals in the last two seasons and has led the league in uncontested possessions, demanding attention from opposition players but leading most on a merry dance with his elite stamina and uncanny ability to find the ball.

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He won the Eagles’ club champion award in 2015, beating the Brownlow medal runner-up and Coleman Medallist in the process. He has a limited contested game, but that is largely unnecessary as the former number four pick has carved a niche as the AFL’s best outside runner.

3. Jack Darling
Darling was overlooked by every club in the draft for perceived disciplinary reasons and it is the Eagles who have benefited from this misjudgement. Selected at number 26 in the draft, Darling hasn’t missed a beat in his career, averaging almost two goals a game and finishing in the top five in the club champion three times.

Perhaps most impressively, he still has plenty of room for improvement. Unlike many of his teammates, he doesn’t struggle away from the confines of Domain Stadium but is yet to fully impose himself on the competition the way he should.

2. Dyson Heppell
The Essendon midfielder was selected eighth in the draft and started his career as an outside player and did that very well. He has since become a top-tier inside midfielder and finished in the top 40 for contested possessions from 2013-2015.

Heppell’s inside 50 numbers have gradually declined over this time, a by-product of becoming the best midfielder at Essendon. Time will tell how the 12-month break impacts him, but expect Heppell to step right back into being an A-grade player and likely Essendon skipper in 2017.

1. Luke Parker
Parker has established himself as a top-tier player critical to the Swans’ fortunes. He has ranked in the top 12 in the league for contested possessions, the top 35 for total possessions and the top 40 for clearances in each of the last three seasons.

He has a high-quality team around him which helps, but his finals performance outline what a fantastic player Parker already is. When the Swans made the grand final in 2014 he averaged 26 possessions (15 contested), seven tackles and a goal a game. Without him, the Swans went out in straight sets last season.

Parker was a worthy club champion in 2014 and would be selected at first if the 2010 national draft was redone, a far cry from when he was originally selected at pick 46!

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So that’s the re-draft, but who missed the mark in the 2010 draft? The jury is out as these players are theoretically not at their peak yet but Reece Conca (pick six), Daniel Gorringe (pick 10) and Billie Smedts (pick 14) need to lift their game while Lucas Cook, Seb Tape and Matthew Watson are first round selections who would fill their former clubs with a deep sense of regret.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know!

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