“This is the best win I’ve been involved with [at] Port Adelaide, including finals. Best win.”
After drafting three future stars in Connor Rozee, Zak Butters and Xaiver Duursma last year, Port Adelaide are set to figure heavily in the action again this year, having secured three more top 20 selections.
Port’s draft bounty this year boils down to two deals, the first of them a trade with St Kilda which saw Dougal Howard and Paddy Ryder depart in exchange for pick 18. Billy Frampton was their other departee, joining cross-town rivals Adelaide in exchange for a late pick.
Their next move was a more recent one, a pick swap with Brisbane earlier this week that saw the Lions give up their first pick next year and pick 29 this year to gain pick 16 this year, as well as swapping some later picks.
On face value, this looks a decent move by both clubs. Port’s pick 29 would have been subsumed by a bid for father-son player Jackson Mead, so this helps them get ahead of it.
Next year’s draft appears likely to be compromised by father-son and academy players, so giving up a first-rounder there isn’t as bad as it might seem.
Of course, as always with these sort of trades, how well Brisbane come out of it depends on where Port finish on the ladder, but having two first-rounders next year and two top 20 picks in an even draft is a good result.
Port will be one of the most influential clubs in shaping the first round of the draft. Armed with picks 12, 16, and 18, they can either try to package up two of those to move up the order, or can grab another three players for a total of six first-round picks in two years, which is pretty impressive by anyone’s standards.
If they do move up the order, it’ll likely be to Carlton’s pick 9, or Melbourne’s pick 10. Like some other teams, I’d suspect the player they have in mind is key defender Fischer McAsey – losing Howard has meant that, while Port’s backline is fairly young, there aren’t too many taller defenders developing behind Ryan Burton, Tom Clurey, and Tom Jonas.
McAsey could also play as a forward, an area where Port would love to add another prospect as Charlie Dixon enters the twilight of his career, so his versatility would be an asset.
There’s a chance that McAsey may be available at pick 12 without them needing to trade up, but given their crosstown rivals Adelaide have been linked to him as early as pick 6, this appears unlikely.
Local midfielder Dylan Stephens is one they will find hard to pass up if he remains on the board at their first selection.
The prolific winger looks certain to be the first South Australian talent taken (though he originally hails from Mildura), and his athleticism and ball-moving ability would add significant balance to what can be at times a one-paced Port Adelaide midfield.
Others in the mix for that first selection could be tall utility Brodie Kemp, whose height and athleticism make him make him a tantalising if hard-to-forecast prospect, exciting half-forward Miles Bergman, or high-flying small forward Cody Weightman.
Any of them would add another dynamic talent to Port Adelaide’s list.
At picks 16 and 18, there will be some nice players still available if Port still retain those selections.
Tall defender Josh Worrell could be an option if they miss out on Fischer McAsey earlier on, and they’ve been linked to another local option, Kysaiah Pickett, in this range.
Pickett is of course the nephew of former AFL player Byron, who was part of Port Adelaide’s 2004 premiership side. The 171cm small forward has the same aggression which characterised his uncle’s successful AFL career, and looms as a future cult figure.
Port have also been linked to small defender/midfielder Trent Bianco, who is one of the best kicks in the draft and a premiership captain this year in the NAB League, and Will Day, a very skinny and raw halfback who will take time to develop, has great skills and athleticism.
A bid for Mead isn’t likely to come until the 20s, and Port’s clutch of late picks will be enough to manage it so long as it doesn’t come any earlier than pick 21.
As such, they should comfortably get four top-30 prospects onto their list in this year’s draft.