Tonight's the night so many young men had been dreaming of since they started playing this great game that is Aussie Rules Football.
Tonight, as many as 70 draft hopefuls will be brought into the AFL system and with it, there are a lot of questions to be asked - None more so than who will be the number one overall selection in this year?
Will Essendon select Hugh McCluggage? The talented goal-kicking midfielder who had been widely tipped to go number one for a most of the year, or will they pull a big surprise of the draft and go with a highly-rated rebounding defender in Andrew McGrath?
Today, I reveal my mock draft for this year. It was originally going to be just first round, but because the draft is a very deep one this year, I decided to extend it to the top 50 picks of the draft.
So without further ado, let's go through the first round:
1: Essendon – Andrew McGrath - Defender, 179cm, 74kgs
Over the last couple of weeks it's been a decision of McGrath over McCluggage or vice versa. I eventually decided to go with McGrath. What seperated him from McCluggage is his leadership, his competitive nature and the fact that the Bombers are low on rebounding defenders will appeal the Bombers in selecting McGrath more. If selected at number one, then it's expected that McGrath will slot straight into Essendon's line-up for the 2017 season.
2: Greater Western Sydney – Hugh McCluggage - Midfielder, 185cm, 75kgs
The word going around is that the Giants would rather have McGrath over McCluggage, but the talent that this guy possesses is hard to ignore. A midfielder that not only wins a stack of the ball, but shows extreme composure for a kid his age, is really clean by hand or by foot and is a proven goalkicker. If the Giants don't take McCluggage here, then there's a big chance Brisbane will pass him up and could slide down to Carlton, who hold the fifth overall pick.
3: Gold Coast – Jack Bowes (Academy Selection - Matches Brisbane's Bid) - Midfielder, 187cm, 78kgs
Expect Brisbane to launch a bid for Gold Coast academy prospect Jack Bowes here, and expect the Suns to match it with their fourth-overall pick. Bowes is an extremely classy midfielder and classy midfielders are something the Suns are currently lacking. Another midfielder that shows neat disposal by foot and has excellent decision making skills, Bowes captained Queensland during the under-18 championships and was named as the carnival's best player.
4: Brisbane – Ben Ainsworth - Forward/Midfielder - 179cm, 74kgs
Brisbane have been set on taking Ainsworth for quite some time, and Ainsworth himself has openly said that he would love to pull on the Brisbane colours for 2017. A small forward that has shown at times this year that he can push up into the midfield, Ainsworth is a smart user of the footy and has the ability to make things happen. It's more than likely he'll start his AFL as a small forward, but his aggressiveness and energy is a major positive in his game. In time he's got the potential to be a star in the midfield.
5: Greater Western Sydney – Will Setterfield (Academy Selection - Matches Gold Coast's Bid) Midfielder. 190cm, 79 kgs
It's likely that Carlton will put a bid on one of GWS' many prized academy selections this year. This will cost the Giants their 15th pick in the AFL draft as well as a second-round selection, but it's well worth it. Setterfield is a tall midfielder who is mobile, hard-at-it and has an outstanding skill-set. Some have already began to compare him to Marcus Bontempelli, which is a massive call so early in his career. The only question mark that dangles over this prospect is how will his body hold up next year? Setterfield has had a bad run of injuries throughout the past two years.
6: Carlton – Sam Petrevski-Seton - Midfielder, 180cm, 73kgs
Possibly the best draft prospect to come out of WA this year, Sam Petrevski-Seton has all the makings to be a superstar in years to come, and with Carlton lacking midfield options, they'll be delighted to have him on board. Despite an injury-interrupted 2016, Petrevski-Seton has shown at times that he's got electric pace, has the ability to kick on either foot and has the uncanny ability to make things happen. He was only 16 when he got his first taste of senior football in the WAFL, to which he adjusted well, which is always a massive plus with recruiters.
7: Gold Coast – Tim Taranto - Midfielder, 186cm, 82 kgs
The Suns should continue to draft midfielders given their losses over the last few years. Tim Taranto is the next best midfielder in this draft. Taranto excels in the stoppages, has a good contested mark and has the ability to push forward and kick goals. He played a big role in Sandringham's TAC cup success this year. He kicked four goals in the preliminary final and followed up with a 30 disposal effort in the Grand Final. Him and Bowes should fill in the void left by Dion Prestia and Jaegar O'Meara nicely in the years to come.
8: Fremantle – Tim English - Ruckman, 203cm, 86kgs
I'm interested to see what Fremantle do with this pick here. They've been strongly linked to WA-product Tim English for quite some time, and if Fremantle are serious about their rebuild, they'll take him. Freo's best ruckman right now is 33 and entering the twilight of his career, so selecting English as a long-term replacement sounds the most logical idea. He'll need to build on his slender frame , but for a man his size, he has very good skills and his ability to hit targets isn't to be underestimated.
9: Gold Coast – Jack Scrimshaw - Defender/Midfielder, 194cm, 80kgs
The Suns should draft best available at this position. Jack Scrimshaw can play midfield, but might just start his AFL career at half-back, where his ability to hit targets and create can be used to full-effect. Many have compared Scrimshaw to Hawthorn premiership defender Grant Birchall with the way he brings the ball up the ground, but in the future, could be seen as a midfielder who already possesses elite evasiveness.
10: Sydney – Griffin Logue - Key Defender, 194cm, 92 kgs
With Ted Richards now retired and Heath Grundy at 31 years of age, Sydney's big need is another key defender. We know Aliir Aliir will be there in the future, but after him, there really isn't another key defender that stands out. That's where Griffin Logue comes in. At 194 centimetres and already a solid build, Logue should be an excellent choice if he makes it this far. Logue possesses great athleticism for a key defender and has shown at times that he can intercept mark and send the ball out of defence with limited issues.
11: Gold Coast – Will Brodie - Midfielder, 189cm, 82kgs
Another midfielder that should help the Suns rise up the ladder, Will Brodie is seen as a tall midfielder who excels on the inside, but has got to work on his outside game, but with that said, should get drafted around the midway mark of the first round. Brodie is a proven clearance winner, always backs up with second, third and fourth efforts and likes to burst out of the stoppage. If drafted to the Gold Coast, could be one that gets game time almost immediately.
12: North Melbourne – Oliver Florent - Midfielder, 183cm, 74kgs
North has been heavily linked with Florent over the past couple of weeks, and given that North are looking to rebuild their list, he should be a perfect fit at the Roos, given that the likes of Dal Santo, Wells and Harvey were given the flick this past off-season. Florent's evasiveness is well documented – he makes sidestepping opposition seem like a piece of cake. His skills by hand and by foot will appeal North, given that they're on the hunt for kids with excellent disposal.
13: West Coast – Jy Simpkin - Forward, 182cm, 72kgs
Had it not been for a broken leg he sustained earlier this year, Simpkin could've gone as high as top-five. Classified as a small forward, Simpkin possesses elite pace and has the ability to both kick sensational goals, as well as set up his team mates inside the forward 50. He should also be able to push up and play a significant role in the midfield when he builds a big enough tank, but a small forward to replace Mark LeCras – who turns 31 next year – would probably be the ideal scenario for the Eagles.
14: Adelaide – Daniel Venables - Midfielder/Forward, 186cm, 81kgs
Adelaide's key need right now would have to be midfielders, given that they failed to make a play for Bryce Gibbs and lost a promising mid in Jarryd Lyons. Selecting Daniel Venables here might sound like a bit of a risk given his injuries this year, but his upside is enormous. He has very good strength, very good speed, loves to take the game on and when he gets going, he's pretty hard to stop. Some have compared him to Patrick Dangerfield. If he's half as good, it'd be worth the selection.
15: Greater Western Sydney – Harry Perryman (Academy Selection - Matches Port Adelaide's Bid) - Utility, 184cm, 75kgs
Clubs might place a bid for Harry Perryman earlier, but I see him going around this mark, but regardless of what pick he goes at, GWS will take him. Perryman is incredibly versatile, almost capable of playing any position around the ground, but it looks as if his best position is across the half-back line, where he displays his elite kicking skills. He's also shown toughness around the ground and is cool and collected under pressure.
16: Port Adelaide – Will Hayward - Forward, 186cm, 76kgs
Port should see themselves take South Australian prospect Will Hayward with their first pick in the draft. Personally, this is a selection I like for them, Hayward possesses some very impressive athleticism, can take a big mark, can kick goals as a half-forward and has proven to be a match-winner for North Adelaide this year – more notably his nine-goal effort in the SANFL under-18 preliminary final and then backed that up with four goals in a Grand Final loss the following week. A serious draft smoky.
17: Brisbane – Jarrod Berry - Utilty, 191cm, 80kgs
Another versatile player who can play nearly anywhere on the ground, Jarrod Berry could possibly go earlier, but I see him going late in the first round due to a 2016 season hampered with injury. He's got a very good skill set, genuine athleticism, attacks the ball with unbelievable ferocity and displays courage and leadership beyond his years. Brisbane would love to get their hands on a player like this late in the first round. If Berry does go before pick 17, then they may just swoop on Alex Witherden.
18: Port Adelaide – Todd Marshall - Key Forward, 198cm, 87kgs
With Port delisting Jay Schulz this year and Justin Westhoff not getting any younger (turned 30 in October), Port could swoop on what some consider as the best key forward in this year's draft crop in Todd Marshall. Whilst an inconsistent 2016 season might not have him in top-10 calculations anymore, his elite agility, his marking ability on the lead and ability to make things happen at ground level cannot be ignored and should go somewhere late in the first round.
19: Western Bulldogs – Alex Witherden - Defender, 186cm, 80kgs
The Western Bulldogs may look to find another defender who has the ability to create and make things happen from half-back. Alex Witherden should be around this mark and if available at pick 19, the Dogs should pounce on him. He possesses one of the best kicks of the draft and will add composure to what is already a very solid back-line , but what's set him back so far is the broken leg he sustained earlier this year, but is almost ready to get back up and running. With further development, Witherden could be seen as another midfield option.
20: Sydney – Jordan Gallucci - Midfielder/Defender, 183cm, 75 kgs
Aside from a key defender, the Swans should also look at drafting players blessed with speed, and Gallucci fits the bill perfectly. He is also blessed with terrific athleticism, breaking the all-time record for the standing vertical jump and dominated the repeat sprints test. I see him play half-back a fair bit next season given his ability to run and break the lines similar to premiership Bulldog Jason Johannisen, but his use of the ball by foot is possibly the only weakness in his game so far.
The Next 30
21: Essendon – Josh Battle – Key Forward, 192cm, 90kgs
22: Brisbane – Jordan Ridley - Defender, 192cm, 79kgs
23: Gold Coast – Brad Scheer (Academy Selection) – Midfielder, 184cm, 83kgs
24: Brisbane – Shai Bolton – Forward, 178cm, 68kgs
25: St. Kilda – Sam Powell-Pepper – Midfielder/Forward, 186cm, 83 kgs
26: Greater Western Sydney – Zachary Sproule (Academy Selection) – Key Forward/Defender, 197cm. 87 kgs
27: Geelong – Patrick Kerr – Key Forward, 194cm, 93 kgs
28: Carlton – Luke Ryan – Defender, 185cm, 82kgs
29: Greater Western Sydney – Harrison Macreadie (Academy Selection) – Key Defender, 196cm, 89kgs
30: Western Bulldogs – Cedric Cox – Defender, 184cm, 70kgs
31: Richmond – Josh Rotham – Defender, 192cm, 75kgs
32: Collingwood – Brennan Cox – Key Forward/Defender, 194cm, 90kgs
33: Essendon – Alex Villis – Midfielder, 182cm, 70kgs
34: Port Adelaide – Jonty Scharenberg – Midfielder, 185cm, 77kgs
35: Collingwood – Callum Brown (Father/Son Selection) – Midfielder, 177cm, 69kgs
36: Port Adelaide – Sam Walker – Defender, 187cm, 80kgs
37: North Melbourne – Dylan Clarke – Midfielder, 187cm, 85kgs
38: Greater Western Sydney – Isaac Cumming (Academy Selection) – Midfielder, 183cm, 72kgs
39: North Melbourne – Zac Fisher – Midfielder, 175cm, 61kgs
40: West Coast – Taylin Duman – Utility, 193cm, 75kgs
41: Fremantle – Kobe Mutch – Midfielder, 187cm, 84kgs
42: St. Kilda – Brodie Romensky – Utility, 189cm, 88kgs
43: Geelong – Jack Graham – Midfielder, 183cm, 83kgs
44: Fremantle – Ryan Garthwaite – Key Defender, 192cm, 84kgs
45: Essendon – Corey Lyons – Midfielder – 182cm, 78kgs
46: Brisbane – Declan Watson (Academy Selection) – Key Defender, 194cm, 80kgs
47: Collingwood – Josh Daicos (Father/Son Selection) – Midfielder/Forward, 178cm, 69kgs
48: Geelong – Joe Atley – Midfielder, 186cm, 84kgs
49: Adelaide – Patrick Lipinski – Forward, 189cm, 79kgs
50: Sydney – Elliot Himmelberg – Key Forward/Defender, 196cm, 84kgs
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