With the end of the decade upon us, we’ve been looking at each sport on the Game of Codes podcast to work out where it will be at the end of the next decade. Today, it’s the AFL’s turn.
The 2019 AFL draft has been completed over three busy days, and AFL lists are now just about complete ahead of the 2020 season, pending the supplementary selection period.
Today I’m breaking down every club’s draft haul, the players each club landed and the needs they will fill at their new homes.
6. Fischer McAsey (Sandringham Dragons)
24. Harry Schoenberg (Woodville West Torrens)
28. Josh Worrell (Sandringham Dragons)
42. Ronin O’Connor (Claremont)
48. Lachlan Gollant (Calder Cannons)
Ben Keays (Brisbane), Ben Crocker (Collingwood)
The Crows got a nice, balanced crop of players as they rebuild after their off-season exodus, addressing needs for key position players and taller midfielders.
McAsey is the best key defender in this year’s pool, and he’ll nicely complement aging key backs Daniel Talia and Kyle Hartigan.
Worrell is a versatile tall prospect who can play at either end, but produced his best form this year as an intercept defender.
It probably wasn’t intentional, but selecting two Sandy Dragons players who’ve been friends for years will likely help them settle into Adelaide life together.
Local Harry Schoenberg is a talented inside midfielder, while O’Connor is a taller inside specialist. Gollant is a wingman, but will take time to develop.
The Crows also took Ben Keays and Ben Crocker in the rookie draft, needing to add some mature talent to balance out the youth on their list.
Keays is a good pick up – he can play midfield or forward, and has had two really good NEAFL seasons.
Crocker I’m less sold on – they probably didn’t need a small forward having Shane McAdam, Tyson Stengle, and Ned McHenry on the list already, but he might play a more defensive role than those players.
22. Dev Robertson (Perth)
33. Brock Smith (Gippsland Power)
37. Keidean Coleman (Brisbane Academy)
59. Jaxon Prior (West Perth)
Redrafted Sam Skinner, Corey Lyons and Archie Smith
A bit of a mixed bag for Brisbane. I suspect that at pick 22, Dev Robertson was simply too good to leave on the board, and given they traded up to get him, they must have rated him highly.
But they took inside bull Ely Smith with their first pick last year, and have Corey Lyons on their list struggling to get a game, and signed inside midfielder Cam Ellis-Yolmen last month as a free agent.
Dev appears a better prospect than those guys, but it was a curious selection when there were other players on the board who might be a better fit for their needs.
They probably needed a small defender so Smith fits the bill, but would have been surprised a bid came as early as it did for Coleman.
They matched it, but elected not to match Richmond’s bids on Noah Cumberland and Will Martyn – surprising given they would only have had to give up their pick 59 in order to acquire one of them.
The player they took at that pick, Jaxon Prior, is an intercepting defender, so they must have identified that as a need and rated Prior.
17. Brodie Kemp (Bendigo Pioneers)
20. Sam Philp (Northern Knights)
47. Sam Ramsay (Calder Cannons)
Jack Martin (Gold Coast)
Josh Honey (Western Jets), Fraser Phillips (Gippsland Power)
Well, Stephen Silvangi certainly had a busy first night of the draft. Carlton were the most active club on Thursday, placing bids on GWS and Fremantle academy players at pick 9, then trading that pick to Gold Coast for its picks 17 and 20.
The Blues apparently tried to trade 9 for Adelaide’s pick 6 to ensure they snared defender Hayden Young before Fremantle at pick 7, but the Crows’ asking price – a future first round pick – was (pretty reasonably) deemed too high by Carlton.
The Blues apparently didn’t rate midfielder Sam Flanders, so were happy to trade down the order knowing their preferred player, Brodie Kemp, was likely to still be available.
That also allowed them to take speedy midfielder Sam Philp – he’s considered a bit of a bolter, but had a good season for the Northern Knights.
Other clubs with picks close to Carlton’s were apparently set to take him, so it made sense for the Blues to grab him here.
Sam Ramsay is a pacey midfielder from Calder Cannons, while rookies Josh Honey and Fraser Phillips are both exciting medium forwards.
After missing out on him during the trade period, Carlton finally snared Jack Martin, through the pre-season draft. He’ll add immediate class and speed to the Blues’ forward line next year.
Carlton has done well here, but Kemp is the most intriguing selection. He’s 192 centimetres, and can play anywhere, but it will be interesting to see what position he settles in.
He’s unlikely to play until at least the middle of next year as he recovers from his ACL injury.
40. Jay Rantall (GWV Rebels)
45. Trent Bianco (Oakleigh Chargers)
55. Trey Ruscoe (East Fremantle)
Despite entering the draft late, the Pies managed to nab two quality midfielders.
Rantall broke the 2km time trial record at the combine, and is an endurance beast. With Steele Sidebottom and Scott Pendlebury getting on, he’ll be eyeing a spot on the wing over the next few years.
Bianco was the steal of the draft – most pundits rated him in the top 20-25 on talent. He’s an elite kick, but slide down the order mostly likely due to his size (178cm).
A Collingwood supporter growing up, the Pies have got a classy defender to complement Isaac Quaynor off the half-back flank.
Ruscoe is a tall defender, which they probably needed, but I don’t think it was as big a need as a key forward.
I was surprised they didn’t take Werribee’s Jake Riccardi with one of their selections – and in fact traded to GWS the pick where the Giants selected him.
He would have been perfect as someone who could come in and have an instant impact next year, having won the Fothergill Medal as the VFL’s best Young Player, and kicking 38 goals in 20 games.
They’ll be relying on their suite of medium forwards and Mason Cox to have a big impact next year.
30. Harrison Jones (Calder Cannons)
38. Nick Bryan (Oakleigh Chargers)
56. Ned Cahill (Dandenong Stingrays)
63. Lachlan Johnson (Oakleigh Chargers)
Mitch Hibberd (Williamstown)
I like what the Bombers have done here.
They addressed their need for a key forward by taking Jones, a lifelong Bombers fan. He’s raw, and will need time to develop, but is very talented.
They have a few developing ruckman, but Bryan gives them more depth there and can also play forward.
Cahill also fills a need as a tenacious small forward, and they did well to nab him this late.
Johnson was eligible to go to Brisbane as a father/son selection, but with the Lions only willing to offer him a rookie spot, Essendon swooped first on their NGA Academy member.
I’m glad to see Mitch Hibberd get another opportunity after being delisted by North Melbourne at the end of 2018. He had a super season for Williamstown, and will fit in well as an inside midfielder with explosive pace.
7. Hayden Young (Dandenong Stingrays)
8. Caleb Serong (Gippsland Power)
9. Liam Henry (Claremont)
61. Minairo Frederick (Woodville West-Torrens)
Jarvis Pina (Peel Thunder), redrafted Tom North and Hugh Dixon
It’s hard to do badly out of a draft where you have three top-ten picks, and Freo’s haul this year was no exception.
Young was rated by some as the second-best player in this year’s pool (behind Matt Rowell), and he was absolutely too good to pass up at pick 7.
Serong is a small forward who’ll transition more into the midfield, and is also a super talent.
The bid for Henry came in earlier than the Dockers were expecting, which means they’ll go into deficit next year, but it was worth it – he’s one of the most exciting players in this year’s crop.
Pairing the two Vic Country teammates together was also astute work – Freo like drafting Victorians anyway, but it’ll ease the transition for Young and Serong to be heading to Cockburn together.
Frederick is a quick wingman/forward from South Australia, while new rookie Pina is a small but talented defender.
16. Cooper Stephens (Geelong Falcons)
19. Sam De Koning (Dandenong Stingrays)
41. Francis Evans (Calder Cannons/VAFA)
50. Cam Taheny (Norwood)
Brad Close (Glenelg), redrafted Oscar Brownless and Lachie Henderson
Stephen Wells doing Stephen Wells things. The Cats list manager likes drafting locals, South Australians, and is always prepared to take a smoky, and so it proved again this year.
Cooper Stephens has massive upside as a tall inside midfielder, and will complement 2018 draftee Charlie Constable.
The Cats really needed a key back to develop behind Harry Taylor, and got a good one in Sam de Koning.
Their night really got interesting, though, when they took a massive punt on forward Francis Evans, who played mostly in the VAFA this year before a two-game stint at Calder late in the year.
Only time will tell whether Evans’ selection will pay off, but I’m prepared to trust Wells’ astute judgement on this one.
Two South Australian forwards round off their list – Cam ‘Tahini’ Taheny is a good value late pick, while Brad Close joins from the SANFL.
These two South Australians bring the number of Croweaters on the Cats’ list to eight, after they took six last year.
The Cats’ best piece of business was exchanging their second-round pick (28) with Gold Coast for the Suns’ 2020 mid-first round compensation pick (currently pick 11).
This sets them up beautifully to keep regenerating their list next year – they’ll enter the off-season with three first-round picks after also obtaining West Coast’s pick in the Tim Kelly trade.
Next year’s draft is compromised with father/son and academy picks, but having those picks gives them the flexibility to trade them, package them up for a higher pick, or secure another pick for 2021.
1. Matt Rowell (Oakleigh Chargers)
2. Noah Anderson (Oakleigh Chargers)
11. Sam Flanders (Gippsland Power)
27. Jeremy Sharp (East Fremantle)
60. Jy Farrar (Scotch – SANFL)
Connor Budarick, Matt Conroy, Malcolm Rosas (all Gold Coast Academy), redrafted Josh Schoenfeld
Gold Coast was always going to take Rowell and Anderson with the first two picks, and both should have a big impact for the Suns next year.
Flanders was a great get at pick 11 – most expected him to go to the Swans at pick 5, so when he was still available there the Suns didn’t hesitate to package up picks 15 and 20 for Carlton’s pick 9 in order to claim him. He’s a powerful mid/forward who should complement their mix nicely.
Sharp was a really good get – they needed a wingman to balance out their inside players – and although they traded their 2020 mid-first round compensation pick for him to Geelong for pick 27, I don’t mind it.
They clearly rated Sharp highly (list manager Craig Cameron said they’d have taken him at pick 15 if they hadn’t traded that to Carlton), and the AFL approved them trading that compensation selection.
They may feel that next year’s draft, being compromised, won’t present as good value as they’d get for Sharp this year, so from that perspective it makes sense.
Farrar is a speculative late selection, but he’s 23, so will balance out the youth the club has taken in the past few years.
With its rookie picks, the club redrafted Schoenfeld, and then took three academy players, with Connor Budarick and Malcolm Rosas in particular looking like exciting prospects.
4. Lachie Ash (Murray Bushrangers)
10. Tom Green (GWS academy)
51. Jake Riccardi (Werribee VFL)
65. Thomas Hutchesson (SANFL)
Redrafted Jake Stein, Tom Sheridan, Zach Sproule
This year’s Grand Finalists have once again found themselves at the pointy end of the draft, and look to have selected well.
Lachie ‘Dash’ Ash is a lightning-quick half-back who was exactly what they needed to add to their list given 2020 looks like being Heath Shaw’s last year.
Getting Green at pick 10 was an absolute steal, and means the club’s deficit for next year won’t be as big as they’d originally expected when they traded up from pick 4 to pick 6 to get in front of a possible Sydney bid.
They’ve traded out their 2020 first-round pick in order to do so, so are likely to be quieter draft players next year.
It will be interesting to see what happens with the Giants’ midfield over the next few years – Green was too good not to take, but is exactly the type of player they didn’t need, having taken three inside midfielders in the first round last year.
His scope is such that he could be the best of them, but they can’t all play in the same team that already boasts Jacob Hopper, Harry Perryman, and Callan Ward, so other clubs will likely be watching closely to see if GWS can retain all that midfield talent.
I was surprised Riccardi was still on the board at pick 51, but he’s a super get for the Giants.
They don’t strictly need a key forward right now, but it doesn’t hurt to have one who can develop under Finlayson, Himmelberg, and Cameron, and pressure the latter two for a spot.
Hutchesson is a speculative selection, but the Giants wanted to round out their draft with someone who can play next year, and at 24 he fits that bill.
13. Will Day (West Adelaide)
29. Finn Maginness (father/son, Sandringham Dragons)
57. Josh Morris (Woodville-West Torrens)
Michael Hartley (Essendon)
Emerson Jeka (Western Jets)
The Hawks usually keep their cards close to their chest on draft night, and while Day had been linked to their first selection, he wasn’t invited to the draft.
He’s very lightly built, but is exactly what they needed to add to their list as a quick, rebounding defender, so they’ll be delighted to get him at 13 – a number of clubs were keen on him later in the teens.
If Maginness had gone in the open draft, he’d probably have been around the 12-20 mark, so the Hawks got him for a steal.
With James Worpel, Jaeger O’Meara and Tom Mitchell in their midfield, they didn’t exactly need Maginness, but he adds depth and will likely play next year.
Morris is a raw medium forward who’ll take time to develop, but can do some exciting things.
The Hawks would’ve been pleased to land Jeka, a versatile swingman, in the rookie draft.
He’s a bit of an enigma – super talented, but injury and lack of consistency meant he struggled to have an impact for Vic Metro this year.
In that sense, Hawthorn is probably the best club for him, as he’ll be able to develop in an excellent system.
Hartley provides some good tall defensive depth for them.
3. Luke Jackson (East Fremantle)
12. Kysaiah Pickett (Woodville-West Torrens)
32. Trent Rivers (East Fremantle)
Melbourne’s decision to take Jackson at pick three has polarised fans and recruiters, but an AFL website survey of 12 club recruiters on who they’d have taken at that pick shows at least four other clubs would also have taken Jackson.
Obviously that might partly depend on the needs of a particular club, but it shows Melbourne isn’t alone in rating Jackson that highly.
He’s a super talent, the question will be what his long-term position is – it’s likely he’ll start his career as a full-time forward who pinch-hits in the ruck.
Part of the criticism of his selection stems from the fact Melbourne already have star ruckman Max Gawn at their disposal.
Melbourne’s view is that Jackson is the long-term replacement – selecting him now means he gets to learn from and play alongside Gawn for 3-5 years, and then becomes the full-time ruckman when Gawn eventually retires.
While I’d probably have taken Hayden Young at that pick if in their shoes, I can see the merits of Melbourne’s argument.
‘Kosi’ Pickett looks an exciting talent, even if some clubs rated him much further down the order.
Sometimes in the draft you have to take a player earlier than their talent alone might suggest if you think other clubs are interested in them, which it seems was the case here.
He might take some time to develop the consistency necessary for AFL level, but he can do some special things, and fits Melbourne’s need for a small forward.
Getting Trent Rivers at pick 32 was a bit of a steal – I had him rated much higher, as did some other recruiters.
He’s one of the best kicks in the draft and is exactly what Melbourne need off half-back. Plus, he and Jackson are close friends, which will help with their transition interstate.
31. Charlie Comben (Gippsland Power)
34. Jack Mahony (Sandringham Dragons)
35. Flynn Perez (Bendigo Pioneers)
Having three selections in the 30s always meant North would need to wait and see who got through, and they’ve done well.
Importantly, they didn’t draft any more inside midfielders, which they’ve shown a penchant for in recent years.
They managed to address several needs – Comben is a key forward/ruck who can take time to develop behind Todd Goldstein and Ben Brown, Mahony fits their need for a clever small forward, while Perez has pace and excellent foot skills.
He’s a bit of an enigma, given he missed all of this year with an ACL injury, but he has massive upside, and is an exciting player who adds something a bit different to North’s list.
The Roos also did well to acquire a future second-round pick in exchange for moving their first pick down a few spots.
The main area of concern for them still remains their key defensive stocks – behind Robbie Tarrant and Majak Daw, they’ve got Sam Durdin, Ed Vickers-Willis, and Ben McKay, but none of them has come on.
I thought they might have had a looked at a key defender with one of their picks, but getting Josh Walker in as a delisted free agent will help sure up that area, although it’s something they should look to address next year if they can.
14. Miles Bergman (Sandringham Dragons)
18. Mitch Georgiades (Subiaco)
23. Dylan Williams (Oakleigh Chargers)
25. Jackson Mead (Woodville-West Torrens)
Jake Pasini (Swan Districts), Trent Burgoyne (South Australia), redrafted Riley Grundy and Boyd Woodcock
An interesting haul – the first three picks were used on talented forwards with lots of upside, but who lacked consistency this year.
But, they nicely complement the players Port brought in last year, and add some much-needed X-factor and flair to the list.
Bergman had injuries this year which curtailed much of his season, but projects as a classy wing/forward. He’s also surprisingly tall at 189cm, which increases his flexibility as a player.
Georgiades was clearly someone Port had been tracking for a while. He didn’t play at all this year due to injury, but showed glimpses of brilliance in his underage season, and should be ready to start pre-season on time. He’ll be given time to develop behind Charlie Dixon and Todd Marshall.
Williams is a bit of an enigma – this time last year he was being touted as a possible number one pick, such is his talent, but he wasn’t able to put that together consistently this year.
Port obviously saw enough to pick him earlier than many had expected, so will be hoping that in an AFL system he can put all his talent together.
Mead will slot in nicely. They also addressed their need for a developing key defender by taking West Australian Jake Pasini as a rookie.
Port was also able to leverage having the first selection of round 2, which it traded to Brisbane, moving back one selection and acquiring a 2020 second-round pick in the process, which was a good move.
21. Thomson Dow (Bendigo Pioneers)
43. Noah Cumberland (Brisbane Lions Academy)
44. Will Martyn (Brisbane Lions Academy)
46. Hugo Ralphsmith (Sandringham Dragons)
54. Bigoa Nyuon (Dandenong Stingrays)
After stockpiling inside midfielders and small forwards over the past few drafts, this shapes as a nice, diverse haul for the reigning premiers.
Their list position is such that they’ve been able to pick some players who’ll need time to develop in Dow and Nyuon.
The former is an explosive and versatile midfielder, while Nyuon, a member of St Kilda’s academy, shapes as a key defender but could also play in the ruck or up forward.
Richmond were active participants on the second night, bidding on Brisbane academy players Martyn and Cumberland, and Nyuon.
Brisbane declined to match, so Richmond have nabbed themselves a dynamic half-forward (Cumberland) and a prolific ball-winner (Martyn).
They would have been really happy to nab wingman Ralphsmith where they did, given many had him ranked as a first or early second-round talent.
52. Ryan Byrnes (Sandringham Dragons)
64. Leo Connolly (Gippsland Power)
Jack Bell (Sandringham Dragons)
It was always going to be a quiet draft for the Saints after their massive trade period haul, but they’ve done well with the picks they had.
Byrnes had a great year as captain of Sandringham, and has breakaway speed that the Saints lack with the departure of Jack Steven.
Connolly shapes as a more speculative prospect, but gives them some outside speed which is sorely needed.
My only query here is that both are only around 181cms, and the Saints could really use some taller midfielders, but at their selections they didn’t have many options.
They’d have been disappointed not to get Nyuon as an academy player, but addressed their need for a developing young ruckman behind Marshall, Ryder and Abbott by taking Bell, who has some good attributes for a player his size.
5. Dylan Stephens (Norwood)
26. Will Gould (Glenelg)
36. Elijah Taylor (Perth)
39. Chad Warner (East Fremantle)
Brady Rowles (Bendigo Pioneers)
The Swans have managed to get a good mix of players here.
Stephens is my favourite player in this year’s draft, and is the complete package as a balanced midfielder – quick, with elite endurance, excellent kicking, and can also win his own ball on the inside. I’m excited to see how he’ll complement the Swans’ inside bulls next year.
Gould is an excellent kick, and has the frame to play AFL next year, although he’ll need to seriously improve his endurance.
Taylor was an interesting selection – on talent alone he’d be in the top 10 of this year’s draft, but some clubs were worried he wouldn’t be able to cope with the demands of an AFL career.
Sydney obviously back themselves to get the best out of him, and are renowned for their ability to develop players. Their strong Indigenous culture should also be an asset there.
Warner is an inside midfielder who will bolster their stocks in that area too.
I was glad to see them take a punt on Rowles as a rookie – he’s an exciting, quick midfielder who played two games for Vic Country this year.
49. Callum Jamieson (Claremont)
58. Ben Johnson (West Perth)
Anthony Treacy (WAFL), Mitch O’Neill (Tasmania)
The Eagles’ massive trade for Tim Kelly meant they had a quiet draft night, but they managed to address some needs with their two selections.
They have a number of ruckmen on their list, but only one (Bailey Williams) is young and developing.
They clearly felt they needed someone else there behind Vardy, Naitanui and Hickey, who are all towards the back half of their careers. Jamieson fits that bill nicely.
Johnson is also a longer-term selection who shapes as a nice eventual replacement for Brad Sheppard.
Treacy is a mature-aged prospect from the WAFL who the Eagles will hope will play some senior footy next year.
I was really glad to see them take O’Neill after he was surprisingly overlooked in the national draft. His size was probably the main knock on him – he’s 178 centimetres – but to put things in perspective, that’s the same height as Matt Rowell.
O’Neill is a prolific ball-winner and a dual All-Australian who will slot nicely into the Eagles’ midfield over the next few years.
It was interesting to hear the Eagles’ list manager say that the club was actively targeting Western Australian players to add to its list.
In the past few years that hasn’t seemed to bother them too much, and they haven’t really been affected by the ‘go-home factor’, with the interstate talent on their list seemingly content to stay.
I’m interested to see how this plays out in their recruiting over the next few years.
15. Cody Weightman (Dandenong Stingrays)
53. Louis Butler (Sandringham Dragons)
63. Riley Garcia (Swan Districts)
Weightman was a great selection at pick 15 – he’s a marking forward who is also good at ground level, and should slot in nicely next to their three tall forwards.
He could really be the cherry on top of an already supremely talented list that should be contending for a flag next year.
With their later picks they chose Butler, a speedy half-back who had a great year for Sandringham, while Garcia is a small midfielder who ruptured his ACL earlier this year but can find a lot of the footy.
The Dogs seem to be one club fairly unconcerned with the size of players, instead focusing on their strengths, which has worked out well for them with Caleb Daniel in particular, so it’s good to see Garcia get a chance.