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The AFL draft’s priority pick rule has caused plenty of confusion for fans since it was introduced in 1993. Fortunately, The Roar is here to make sense of the damned thing!
Gold Coast are the most recent team to receive a priority pick, having received a comprehensive assistance/rescue package by the AFL after a dreadful run in their first years in the comp.
Recently, Carlton were pressured externally to apply for a priority pick in light of a horrendous 2018 campaign, but their bid to receive one was rejected by the AFL Commission.
The Brisbane Lions were awarded a priority pick ahead of the 2016 free agency and trade period – an end-of-first-round pick, No. 19 overall in the draft.
So what are priority picks?
Put simply – they are additional draft picks, which are designed to give a boost to the poorest performing teams to help improve on-field performance.
How does a team receive a priority pick?
Previously a priority was given based on final finishing positions of teams. In 2012 the system was tweaked when all 18 clubs voted to revamp the criteria of priority picks in an attempt to avoid corruption.
The final decision is now at the complete discretion of the AFL as opposed to relating purely to finishing position.
Several factors determine whether a club is offered a priority draft pick:
The number of premiership points that a club has received over a period of years is taken into consideration, with greater weight being offered to more recent seasons.
A club’s point percentage (points for/points against x100) over a period of years is also taken into consideration. Again, there is an emphasis on recent seasons for weighting.
Finals appearances and premiership wins in recent seasons are also taken into account.
The AFL will also consider a club’s injury rates in each relevant season.
To eliminate tanking, the formula for priority picks is kept confidential by the AFL Commission.
The AFL may also offer priority picks to newly established expansion clubs to fast-track the club’s development. Clubs are typically required to apply for special consideration for the priority pick through the AFL commission.