As the draft quickly sneaks up on us, we asked you to submit any questions you want with a good old-fashioned Q&A session. You guys asked your questions, and I’ve answered them!
No point beating about the bush, let’s begin:
Josh Hobson asks: How good is (Zane) Duursma?
There are no two ways about it. The kid is very, very good. So good in fact, that he’s one half of the duo that’s going to almost definitely make North Melbourne abandon its intention of taking the best key defender in the draft despite publicly stating its intention to bolster its key defensive stocks (although, it’s trio of late first-round picks and several prospects in that area did help too).
While his brother and now-Bomber Xavier was exclusively a winger at Port Adelaide, Zane is an excellent medium-sized forward at 189cm. His forward craft is easily the most developed of the unattached draft crop (I’m omitting Jed Walter here since he’s off to the Suns). His marking and aerial ability are outstanding for some of his size as well, which is helped by his athleticism.
Hawthorn were begging for Duursma to fall to them at #4. It’s not happening anymore.
Nathan Koehler asks (or demands): Give us your phantom 1st round
The good people at the Mongrel Punt are working on that as we speak, but it’s not ready yet and I don’t want to intrude on their project by making my own. But I will say that in my opinion, we can essentially lock in the top six picks in real life pending something changing:
Eagles: Harley Reid
Suns (matching bid): Jed Walter
Roos: Colby McKercher
Roos: Zane Duursma
Hawks: Ryley Sanders
Bulldogs: Nick Watson
Of course, there’s always going to be due diligence done and every team there still has some others in play, but that’s the current six that seems to be the combination for now. We’ll see if that prediction holds up.
Greg Oates asks: Who is in the best position to trade with West Coast for Pick #1?
In terms of draft capital? North. In terms of desire? Melbourne.
North Melbourne knows it has the pieces needed to make the trade, but they also know they’re required to pay a lot. The Eagles want #2, #3 and a third first-round pick to make the swap which would be insane if the prize wasn’t Harley Reid. The Eagles also know they have a better offer from the Demons, so the Roos have to pay up at least something more than what is currently offered.
Melbourne have #6, #11, #42 and a 2024 first-round pick on the table for the Eagles. Given West Coast want Daniel Curtin as a consolation for giving up Reid, and I would consider it more likely than not Curtin now slides that far, the Eagles might very well consider that more down the line.
Let’s continue on the North Melbourne-Harley Reid vein:
Nathan Dryden asks: Will North cave to WC demand for 2,3 and another later 1st rounder for pick 1?
In short, no.
Now don’t fall for the reports that the Roos have bowed out of the Harley Reid race. There’s still scope for a trade with the Eagles, but it won’t be for both #2 and #3.
Could the Roos offer #2 and maybe bundle two of their later first-round picks to move up? It would give Daniel Curtin to the Eagles and a few to select a WA talent or two like Riley Hardeman, Koltyn Tholstrup, Lance Collard or Mitchell Edwards. I’m not sure it would beat #6, #11, #42 and a future first-round selection from the Demons though given it could net them Curti,n anyway.
Russell Green asks: What is Reid really worth? What would you give up to get him?
I think Melbourne’s offer of three first-round picks plus a sweetener in #42 is very generous and the best in terms of being ‘overs’ enough to satisfy West Coast while not being so one-sided that Melbourne fans would be horrified with it.
If I pretended I was North Melbourne, I would see if #2 and all of my later first-round picks is enough to make the Eagles consider the offer. It gives Daniel Curtin to the Eagles and there are plenty of WA prospects as noted above. It’s more than the offer I gave Nathan, but I personally would be prepared to offer four first-round picks given they’re going to be pushed in the 20s anyway thanks to matched bids. It would give North both Reid and presumably Zane Duursma (they wouldn’t need to take Colby McKercher if they take a midfielder in Reid).
Okay, this following one is the last Reid question I promise:
Glen Marriott asks: Is Harley Reid that good?
Every day of the week this is a yes, and twice on a Sunday.
Look, I get it. People see the media hype someone to the moon and they get really suspicious about it. I’ve even seen some people say that Reid isn’t even that good. These people are idiots, to put it mildly.
But it isn’t stupid to ask if Reid is really that good, given the hype around him. And the first thing to say is it isn’t the media that’s hyping it up, it’s the list managers and recruiters around the AFL.
Reid has been called the best prospect to come through the draft, which has been a permanent fixture since 1987 and also had occurred in 1981 and 1982. Let’s ignore the first two for the sake of continuity and just say Reid is the best prospect to come through in the 35+ years of the draft.
Actually, think about that, and think of all the talents that went #1 overall. Legends like Luke Hodge and Nick Riewoldt went #1 overall. Add in Nick Daicos, who was not the #1 pick and inexplicably fell in the draft.
If you put every #1 prospect into a draft right now (I don’t mean Daicos now or Riewoldt/Hodge as legends of the game, but their 17-year old versions) across every draft, Reid is the guy that list managers would take #1.
Think of Reid as a goalscoring midfielder who combines the best physical attributes of Dustin Martin with the best athletic abilities of Patrick Dangerfield. Someone with the versatility to play anywhere (even off half-back) and the X-Factor and game-winning ability to be a difference maker when the chips are down. He’d been saddled as the best player in this draft for two years, and he didn’t shrink under the pressure.
So yes, he’s that good. There’s a reason why the Roos and Demons are so aggressively going after him.
Robert Cotgrove asks two questions: Who’s the best key position defender in the draft? & How good would Nick Watson be at AFL level?
It’s still Daniel Curtin who’s the best defender in the draft for me, and someone who is #3 on my own draft board. He’s such a smooth operator down back and could play forward or even in the middle too. He’s been likened to Matthew Pavlich, one of the best utility prospects in the history of the AFL.
As for Nick Watson, he’s probably the best small forward prospect I’ve seen since Izak Rankine. ‘The Wizard’ has every intangible skill you want from an elite small with his crumbing ability, speed, goal sense and his footy IQ. He does have some problems with consistency, but that’s something that comes more with experience than anything else (it took Rankine some time to find his own feet at AFL level).
Michael Mills asks: Who is Mrs Mongrels favourite player in the draft…and by that I mean who has the funniest name?
I can’t speak for Mrs Mongrel as I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting her, but I’m going to concur with HB Meyers and say Phoenix Gothard. The low-hanging fruit doesn’t pick itself you know.
We got essentially the same question here, so I’ll bundle the following together:
Mat Coultas asks: Was Daniel Curtin only rated so high just because he was linked to West Coast trading Pick #1?/Dean Bourne asks: If Daniel Curtin wasn’t from WA would the reports of West Coast looking at him be so out of control?
Is Daniel Curtin being overrated because the Eagles are high on him (whether because of the Eagles being higher on him than most or because the Eagles are targeting WA prospects)? The answer, in my evaluation of Curtin as a prospect, is no. The industry reaction might suggest yes, however.
Curtin is #3 on my board for a reason. Such diverse talents are very rare, especially when you’re being compared to Matthew Pavlich. It’s more a question of fit than anything else. But I can’t ignore that Curtin is on the outer for subsequent picks despite making a lot of sense. Let’s take a look at the top five outside of the Eagles:
North Melbourne: Curtin is still in the race and North are definitely going to be taking talls at some point, but on the outer now to Duursma or McKercher for #2 and #3. Hawthorn: Curtin is in the running for the pick as the Hawks are high on him, though behind Duursma and Sanders (and possibly Watson). Bulldogs: Not here, Watson and Sanders are the firm favourites here. Melbourne: No whispers, but it makes sense given the aging backline and Harrison Petty being courted by the Crows. That being said, nothing has been said that would make people think the Demons will be taking Curtin.
Despite Curtin making a lot of sense almost everywhere in the top five or six selections, the other teams seem to like someone a little bit more. It’s my firm belief he’s going to make teams regret passing on him.
Trisha Dixon asks: Who do you think the Western Bulldogs will pick up?
Nick Watson is the firm favourite, as the team would love to pair him with Cody Weightman. If Hawthorn decides on Nick Watson, however (not out of the question), Ryley Sanders looms as the choice. It’s unlikely in the extreme that the Bulldogs would have to choose between them unless Hawthorn takes Curtin, but I think the Dogs prefer Watson at this stage.
Matt Bellman III asks: Who will be the first surprise pick going earlier than expected?
They’re not as much surprises anymore but Caleb Windsor and James Leake are the guys that seem to have come out of nowhere for top-10 contention, and the Demons are very interested in both of them. James Leake has fast become a popular pick at #6 in particular.
Windsor may not get to their #11 selection, however, as he has been linked to the Cats at #8.
For the players that don’t currently have the rocket strapped to their back, Sydney are reportedly looking closely at ruckman Will Green with their first-round selection.
Evan Immelman asks:Is there one player you think will be the slider this year? And why?
Western Australian ruckman Mitchell Edwards is #18 on my draft board, but it wouldn’t shock me if he slides into the second round given how rucks tend to only be picked by teams that need them and it seems Will Green has supplanted him for some. He has an underrated marking game and could easily go forward too.
Rich Anderson asks: Are there any really obvious comparisons between some of the kids and current players?
A few, although I tend to avoid them a lot as they can be a little problematic since people make the mistaken assumption that it means they’re going to be as good as the players they’re compared to as opposed to just describing how they play.
So keep in mind, this is just for how they play:
Harley Reid: Dustin Martin/Patrick Dangerfield
Daniel Curtin: Matthew Pavlich
Nick Watson: Jeff Farmer
Colby McKercher: Zach Merrett
Jake Rogers: Touk Miller
Lance Collard: Bobby Hill/Shai Bolton
Will Graham: Jack Steele
Luamon Lual: Adam Saad
There are more of course, but those are the ones that immediately came to mind.
Jonnie Edwards asks: Which team have they all grown up supporting?
I won’t go into too much depth as it’d be too long, but here are a few of the top prospects: