The 2021 AFL draft has been completed, with a host of the game’s newest crop of stars set to head to their new homes for the 2022 season.
While the rookie draft is still to come on Friday night, the building blocks for your team’s future success have been set in place over the last two nights, all the way from Jason Horne-Francis at pick one down to Melbourne’s father-son recruit Taj Woewodin, the final player taken.
Here is The Roar’s 2021 draft recap, where we look at each player your team has snapped up, and the biggest steals from around the country.
Draftees: Josh Rachele (pick 6), Jake Soligo (36), Zac Taylor (44)
The Crows wanted Josh Rachele from the outset, and were able to secure him with their first pick. An exciting goalsneak with strong hands and a love for the big moment, Rachele is an ideal fit for a team that has never quite replaced outgoing stars Charlie Cameron and Eddie Betts from their 2017 grand final side.
Zippy small forward-cum-midfielder Jake Soligo was also a bargain buy at 36, as was ball-winner Zac Taylor at 44. Both were seen as smokeys for the first round, so to nab them both with later picks is an ideal scenario for the building Crows.
— Adelaide Crows (@Adelaide_FC) November 25, 2021
Draftees: Darcy Wilmot (16), Kai Lohmann (20), James Tunstill (41)
The Lions have got a good one with Darcy Wilmot; the hard-running defender, who was the youngest player of the 2021 draft crop, seems a loveable larrikin who will almost certainly be a popular figure at the Gabba. Not to mention; with his line-breaking running and desire to take the game on, he looms as a long-term replacement for Daniel Rich’s laser left boot.
Goalsneak Kai Lohmann was one of the big first-round shocks, taken much higher than most anticipated; but the Lions clearly like what they see in the country Victorian’s X-factor traits and ability to make something out of nothing. Just one pick came through on the second night, with WA line-breaking midfielder James Tunstill somewhat of a surprise choice.
Draftees: Jesse Motlop (27)
Only one pick for the Blues, as they traded away several of their later selections to stock up on picks for 2022. The one they got in Jesse Motlop, though, has enough X-factor for days.
The Blues would have been gutted to miss out on the highly rated Connor MacDonald, who was poached from them by Hawthorn just one pick earlier, but the dynamic goalsneak and son of former Port Adelaide and North Melbourne livewire Daniel is just the Eddie Betts replacement the Blues were after to nip around the heels of Harry McKay.
The son of Daniel, Jesse Motlop is going to write his own story in the Navy Blue. And we can't wait to be part of the ride. ????????????
— Carlton FC (@CarltonFC) November 25, 2021
Draftees: Nick Daicos (4), Arlo Draper (45), Cooper Murley (49), Harvey Harrison (52),
Having been touted as a pick 1 frontrunner for much of the year, only needing to match a bid with pick 4 was a dream scenario for the Magpies. But the bigger dream will be seeing the future star and son of club legend Peter don his famous father’s number 35 in 2022.
"A lot of the boys called me which was nice. Fly called me, Darcy Moore, Pendles, Brayden Maynard… it was really nice – I appreciated it."
More from Nick at Marvel this morning:
— Collingwood FC (@CollingwoodFC) November 25, 2021
Throw in one of the bargains of the night in Arlo Draper, taken with pick 45 having been expected to go in the 20s, and the Pies have got the building blocks of a dominant midfield a few years down the track. Livewire South Australians Murley and Harrison will take more time, but developed right, both can slot in just about anywhere on the field.
Draftees: Ben Hobbs (13), Alastair Lord (46), Garrett McDonagh (50)
Getting Ben Hobbs with pick 13 was a dream scenario for the Bombers; the contested bull and junior ball magnet was their preferred target from the outset, but many felt he’d be snapped up on the top 10.
This what it means to become an AFL player!
Congrats to Ben Hobbs & the Bombers ???????? pic.twitter.com/65sRnPUorS
— Fox Footy (@FOXFOOTY) November 24, 2021
Pacy half-back Lord was linked to the Bombers from the outset, and could slot onto a half-back flank straightaway with a good pre-season; while mature-aged recruit Garrett McDonagh is poised to unleash his booming right boot on the AFL, seven years after first nominating for the draft.
Draftees: Jye Amiss (8), Neil Erasmus (10), Matt Johnson (21), Eric Benning (54)
The Dockers used their three picks inside the top 21 wisely. On night one, they obtained prime target and key forward sharpshooter Jye Amiss, before stealing the thunder of the Eagles by snapping up their Academy product, big-bodied midfielder Neil Erasmus. Then, with the first pick of night two, they got another WA boy in speedy winger Matt Johnson, whom they had eyed taking as early as pick 10 anyway. Talk about having your cake and eating it too!
— Fremantle Dockers (@freodockers) November 25, 2021
Add in NGA Academy prospect Eric Benning, a beanpole ruck-forward, and the Dockers might just have won the draft. Only time will tell…
Draftees: Toby Conway (24), Mitch Knevitt (25), James Willis (32), Flynn Kroeger (48), Cooper Whyte (64)
Finally, some ruck depth! He’s still very raw, but Toby Conway could be just the answer to the Cats’ famously dire ruck situation once he develops. Geelong Falcons teammate and close friend Mitch Knevitt is also a good pick-up, having won the Falcons’ B&F after racking up touches in 2021.
— Geelong Cats (@GeelongCats) November 25, 2021
Later picks Kroeger and Whyte are also long-term prospects, especially given the Cats’ famous age profile, but give the club what they badly need: some young talent coming through the ranks.
Draftees: Mac Andrew (5), Charlie Constable (63)
With pick 3 their only selection of note for the night, the Suns took a major gamble by going for developing ruckman Mac Andrew. They’ve not always been known for developing, let alone retaining, talent all that effectively, but nobody in the draft has more upside than the hard-running, deft-tapping big man.
Some words from the man himself ???? pic.twitter.com/9GHe4bJuNs
— Gold Coast Suns (@GoldCoastSUNS) November 25, 2021
Their only other pick essentially becomes a like-for-like replacement for the departed Hugh Greenwood – delisted Cat Charlie Constable will surely slot straight into the Suns’ starting midfield. Having struggled to get a look-in at the Cats despite dominating lower levels, look for Constable to become a sheriff with more opportunities at the Suns. *walks backwards off building*
Draftees: Finn Callaghan (3), Leek Alleer (15), Josh Fahey (42)
From forcing archrivals the Western Bulldogs to use maximum draft points on matching a Sam Darcy bid, to snapping up Finn Callaghan (the player they wanted most anyway), the Giants approached the first round craftily. Choosing intercept marker Leek Alleer with pick 15 was a bold move, especially with concerns over an injured ankle, but from a structural perspective, he fits the bill perfectly with Phil Davis entering his last years.
Fahey was arguably the steal of the night, the Academy prospect sliding to 42. The Giants would have anticipated him being bid on in the 20s, but by the time the Bulldogs – of course – did the honours, they were well and truly past the draft points they needed to match it.
The steal of the draft they say ????
Find out why … pic.twitter.com/aYlR8upBOR
— GWS GIANTS (@GWSGIANTS) November 25, 2021
Draftees: Josh Ward (7), Sam Butler (23), Connor MacDonald (26), Jai Serong (53)
The great-grandson of 31-game Hawk Alex Lee, Josh Ward was thrilled at being taken by the club he’s barracked for all his life. And the Hawks were just as thrilled to get the silky-smooth born leader with their first pick.
Tough as nails young gun Sam Butler is also readymade to have an AFL impact, as is Connor MacDonald, whom the Hawks stole from Carlton, who had him in their sights. Add to that the recruiting of Jai Serong – younger brother of Dockers gun Caleb – and the Hawks have nicely bolstered their midfield stocks heading into the next five years.
A smooth mover who can do a little bit of everything. ????
We reckon you'll like the look of Sam Butler. pic.twitter.com/BSZoU93S7K
— Hawthorn FC (@HawthornFC) November 25, 2021
Draftees: Jacob Van Rooyen (19), Blake Howes (39), Taj Woewodin (65)
The Dees like what they see in swingman Van Rooyen, the Western Australian tall’s versatility and pack-marking strength convincing them to snap him up over more highly-rated prospects.
A draft reaction that warms the heart. ????
The moment Jacob van Rooyen became a Demon. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/ojYGFV9NwT
— Melbourne Demons (@melbournefc) November 24, 2021
Touted as a first-round prospect, mid-sized forward Blake Howes was a bargain with pick 39, and could easily play senior footy in 2022 as the Dees put together their forward line. Finishing off the night with father-son selection Taj Woewodin, the reigning premiers were happy to sit back and see which young guns fell their way.
Draftees: Jason Horne-Francis (1), Josh Goater (22), Paul Curtis (35), Miller Bergman (38), Jackson Archer (59)
It’s all about Jason Horne-Francis at Arden Street at the moment; having finally done the inevitable and got the gun South Australian to the club with their prized pick 1, the only question is how soon they choose to play him.
— North Melbourne (@NMFCOfficial) November 24, 2021
Josh Goater is also an excellent get with pick 22 as an explosive midfielder with a handy surname; while Jackson Archer follows legendary father and Shinboner of the Century Glenn in wearing blue and white.
Draftees: Josh Sinn (12), Hugh Jackson (55), Dante Visentini (56), Jase Burgoyne (60)
The Power were keen enough on speed demon Josh Sinn that they chose to sacrifice their 2022 second-round pick to move just two spots up the order and guarantee getting him. If Sinn can become more of a ball-winner at senior level, his pace alone will make him difficult to stop.
— Port Adelaide FC (@PAFC) November 25, 2021
Jackson is an elite kick and a local boy who the Power were very keen on, while Visentini is the very definition of a project player as a ruck-forward. Port were thrilled that nobody bid on father-son talent Jase Burgoyne, allowing them to pounce on the son of Peter with their final pick of the night.
Draftees: Josh Gibcus (9), Tom Brown (17), Tyler Sonsie (28), Sam Banks (29), Judson Clarke (30)
Boasting a strong draft hand, the Tigers got their man with Josh Gibcus, an intercept king who should fit in perfectly at Punt Road in both the short and long term. Aside from the obvious meme gold his name creates, rebounding defender Tom Brown is also a sound move as they look to restock their mighty backline for the years to come.
— Richmond FC ???? (@Richmond_FC) November 24, 2021
Athletic medium defender Tom Brown is a Tiger ????
— Richmond FC ???? (@Richmond_FC) November 24, 2021
If it were possible, night two went even better. The Tigers had their eyes on elite kick and dangerous mid-forward Tyler Sonsie for a while, having featured at VFL level for Box Hill in 2021; while Judson Clarke is simply essence of match-winner as a forward. Tasmanian Banks is a rebounding defender taken in between the pair, adding to the Tigers’ backline stocks.
Draftees: Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera (11), Mitchito Owens (33), Marcus Windhager (47), Oscar Adams (51),
It’s been only seven years since Wanganeen-Milera’s stepfather Terry last played for the Saints, one of the shorter ‘father-son’ gaps in AFL history. With electrifying pace and elite foot skills, the South Australian could slot straight into a St Kilda team in dire need of both.
You're going to love watching Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera play ???? pic.twitter.com/QYziWena2T
— St Kilda FC (@stkildafc) November 24, 2021
Much of night two was devoted to matching bids for Academy prospects Mitchito Owens and Marcus Windhager, a pair of speedy outside midfielders. South Australian defender Oscar Adams is a more long-term investment as a key back.
Draftees: Angus Sheldrick (18), Matthew Roberts (34), Corey Warner (40), Lachlan Rankin (58)
The Swans’ selection of Angus Sheldrick with their sole first-round pick was one of the shocks of the draft; even Sheldrick himself was caught by surprise.
When your mate gets drafted…..???? ????
Fair to say Angus Sheldrick has some very proud friends! pic.twitter.com/LdnnWEcJSy
— Sydney Swans (@sydneyswans) November 25, 2021
The Bloods rarely put a foot wrong when it comes to identifying and developing talent, so the tough as teak contested ball-winner must have done plenty to catch their eyes. The Swans also pounced on hard-running midfielder Corey Warner, brother of young gun Chad. The ‘Warner Brothers’ puns write themselves.
— Ben Waterworth (@bjwaterworth) November 25, 2021
Rankin is versatile as they come and also possesses an outstanding kick; both attributes the Swans value above all else. South Australian Roberts spent most of his junior days playing alongside Jason Horne-Francis, but despite injuries, has been touted as a ‘footballer’s footballer’.
Draftees: Campbell Chesser (14), Brady Hough (31), Rhett Bazzo (37), Jack Williams (57), Greg Clark (62)
The Eagles were willing to move down the draft order slightly once top choice Neil Erasmus was snapped up by Fremantle; little wonder, given their choice of Campbell Chesser was seen as one of the bigger bolters of the early round. Judging by the size of the guernsey he was presented, organisers were just as surprised.
JFC poor Campbell Chesser, were the Eagles preparing to draft Shaq or something? Get him some proper kit for crying out loud. pic.twitter.com/kCTHKKGbPX
— Dean Bilton (@Dean_Bilton) November 24, 2021
The Eagles weren’t deterred by Chesser having played only six games in the past two years due to COVID lockdowns and injuries; but the speedy defender should be a great fit for the large dimensions of Optus Stadium. They’ve got a steal in key forward Jack Williams, one of the draft’s best contested marks; while a pair of other local lads in Rhett Bazzo and Greg Clark are also ideal fits. Clark in particular is one of the stories of the draft; having been dominating the WAFL for a long time, he’s been overlooked in six drafts but finally gets his chance.
Draftees: Sam Darcy (2), Arthur Jones (43), Luke Cleary (61)
The Dogs got their man in Sam Darcy – but having been forced to match a bid at pick 2, they scrambled for the rest of the draft to find a way to get an extra pick or two.
The meeting a dream was realised ????
Take a look inside the moment our recruiters told Sam the news, that he was to become a Western Bulldogs player. pic.twitter.com/lMShO7khUG
— Western Bulldogs (@westernbulldogs) November 25, 2021
Pacy wing-forward Arthur Jones is the fruit of those labours, the Western Australia the first player named Arthur to feature in the AFL for decades. Cleary is another story of persistence: overlooked in last year’s draft and in the mid-season draft, he went back to NAB League side Sandringham, finished second in their B&F and now gets his chance. Knowing Luke Beveridge, he’s every chance of an early debut if history is any guide.