After having limited involvement particularly in the early part of the draft over the last decade, Geelong find themselves armed with a bevy of valuable selections. What will they do?
List boss Stephen Wells is one of the competition’s shrewdest operators, and so it proved again this year.
The Cats had been preparing for Tim Kelly to leave (even if they didn’t say it publicly), and were able to extract good value for him.
They probably would have preferred to be dealing with a team that had at least one top 10 pick, but getting a deal done with West Coast early on in the piece worked in their favour.
They also committed daylight robbery when they managed to secure four-time Saints best and fairest winner Jack Steven for the pick 58 they got for trading Zac Smith to Gold Coast, which they’d be delighted with.
Josh Jenkins was a late trade, and while he polarises many people, he’ll be a good fit to at least add some depth up forward and in the ruck.
Geelong received picks 14, 24, and a 2020 first-round pick from West Coast for Kelly, which, combined with their own picks 17 and 36, gives them their best draft position for nearly a decade.
As a club who has drafted pretty well with later selections over recent years, they’d be happy to have an easier job this year and be able to get some good future talent in the door.
They took exciting prospect Jordan Clark in the first round last year, and have also drafted young talent in Gryan Miers, Quinten Narkle, Esava Ratugolea, Lachlan Fogarty and Charlie Constable over the past few years, which gives them a good foundation to build on.
It appears Geelong is one of a number of clubs looking to package up their picks to move up the order. They’ve apparently targeted Melbourne’s pick 8, but have so far been unable to agree on a deal, although this could of course happen on draft night.
Whenever a club looks to move up the order like that, they usually have a specific player in mind. In this case, I’d suspect that’s likely to be key defender Fischer McAsey.
Defensive depth is a real area of need for Geelong, and McAsey is the best tall defender in this year’s pool – he was named Vic Metro’s best player in the under 18 championships this year, in a team that included Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson, which gives you an indication of his talent.
He’s in the mix to go anywhere from 9-15 at this stage, but it’s unlikely he’d still be on the board by pick 14, with Hawthorn and Port Adelaide likely to seriously consider him with their picks 11 and 12.
Some recruiters think it’s better to take key defenders at later picks rather than using a first-round selection on them, as there’s often talent to be found later.
However, considering the position Geelong is in, both in terms of their remaining picks and their overall list, they should take McAsey and address that need on their list. He can play next year, and will find it invaluable learning from Harry Taylor next year.
If they do keep both picks 14 and 17, they’re in a good position to see who falls through to them. They could pick up some more talls here if they desire, with defender Josh Worrall probably the next best after McAsey.
They might also like Dev Robertson as an inside midfielder, or Dylan Stephens as a wingman (although it’s unlikely he falls that far).
Exciting defenders Miles Bergman, Trent Bianco, or Will Day could be around the mark, as could ruck/forward Sam de Konig and small forward Cody Weightman.
At pick 24, they might like tall midfielder Cooper Stevens, project tall forward Harrison Jones, midfielder Hugo Ralphsmith, or halfbacks Will Gould and Trent Rivers.
Dylan Williams or Cam Taheny could also appeal as players with X-factor and a lot of upside.
Pick 36 is obviously more difficult to predict, but a few names are inside midfielder Sam Philp, ruckman Nick Bryan, tall forward Charlie Comben, small forward Ned Cahill, and defender Brock Smith.