Well, it’s that time. Time for Mongrel writers to put their heads together and nut out (tee hee) their take on the 2023 AFL Draft.
Personally, I don’t know that much about the draft and the kids coming through. I tend to focus on the players once they make the league. Lucily, we have a team at The Mongrel that DO watch a fair bit of the Under 18s competition and have their heads around what’s what. And with that, I defer to them.
Brett Hodgson – He’s a rare breed… a Suns supporter based in WA who watches the U18s closely
Alex Docherty – The Doc keeps our AFLW content afloat and is all over the draft
Jimmy Day – Mad Cats fan, looking for a revival in 2024. Also, the man who compiles our rolling AA team
Matt Oman – Has a strange infatuation with Zak Butters and is also a lover of The Showdown
JB Eddy – Die-hard North supporter. As such, he has a vested interest in this draft.
Each Mongrel is picking as though they are in charge of the team at the time. It is not a that standard, consensus-type Mock Draft you’ll see elsewhere. They are actively operating independantly of each other and reacting to the pick before them. Just keeping it interesting.
And there we go. Let’s allow the boys to get into it. – HB
1. Harley Reid (West Coast)
West Coast kick off proceedings by resisting the temptation of local boy Daniel Curtin as well as the advances of North Melbourne and Melbourne to snag the bloke that has been announced as pick 1 for the past year. Reid will instantly lift the intensity of the Eagles midfield unit and form a compelling partnership with workhorse Reuben Ginbey and the dynamic talents of Elijah Hewitt.
Admittedly, his form in the under-18 carnival likely fell short of his lofty expectations, yet he has already proven a ready-made competitor against more advanced physical bodies. Possessing outstanding contested ball skills and evasion, legitimate forward craft and breakaway pace (not to mention a lethal, don’t argue), Reid is a carbon copy of Dustin Martin- albeit with cleaner foot skills at this early age. If this comparison is close, West Coast will be more than happy with their new weapon.
2. Jed Walter (Gold Coast) (Academy Bid)
Picks two and three should see the Roos aim for a combination of the best available and key needs. They should target one midfielder and one key position player. On my draft board, Jed Walter is seen as the best key position player in the draft and is the best available talent after Harley Reid.
He’s already got strength and a lot of talent with his overhead marking; he works hard with his defensive pressure and has shown in the championships this year that he has no trouble hitting the scoreboard. It’s a shame he’s tied to the Suns Academy. Otherwise, he could stake a claim to go number one. But North should put in a bid here, and the Suns will match.
3. Colby McKercher (North Melbourne)
Doc mentioned North’s need for a midfielder, and Colby McKercher fills that void. McKercher adds some rock and roll to the North midfield. They have some upcoming stars who can win the ball and do the bullocking work but lack some outside sizzle. The Tasmanian has leg speed, a raking left boot, and can do some damage on the scoreboard. He will complement the likes of Luke Davies-Uniacke, Jy Simpkin, and George Wardlaw very well.
4. Daniel Curtin (North Melbourne)
It’s no secret that North are desperate for talls. With McKay and Goldstein leaving and Logue likely out for the majority of 2024, North need some bigs.
Kallan Dawson hasn’t had the seasoning, Toby Pink is unproven at an AFL level, while CCJ and Xerri are likely to rotate forward for ruck duties.
It’s been said that you draft for talent and trade for needs, but Curtin is a little unique in that regard. While his primary role has been as a key defender, he’s spent most of his junior time in the midfield and some time up forward. That sort of flexibility is precisely what North needs.
While many people may put Duursma ahead of Curtin for North, I think that what Duursma brings will improve the forward line a little, but what Curtin brings will improve North’s adaptability a hell of a lot.
5. Zane Duursma (Hawthorn Hawks)
With the Hawks needing elite key position talent, I was keeping my fingers crossed the Roos would pass on Curtin, allowing him to slip into the Hawks net. Alas, we need to think about the other area of the ground that Hawthorn is lacking, and that’s up forward. Zane Duursma is an exceptional talent and will instantly add another dimension to the Hawks’ forward half. Hopefully, with some experience, he can become a Marcus Bontempelli-type midfielder. Sure, game-breaking Nick Watson is on the radar, but with Breust still performing to a high standard and having already done the hard work of recruiting Jack Ginnivan, size and versatility is the name of the game here.
6. Ethan Read (Gold Coast) (Academy Bid)
Western Bulldogs throw a bid here on talented ruck prospect Ethan Read, who heads to the Suns to develop behind Jarrod Witts, providing a different dimension to young behemoth Ned Moyle. The Suns ruck prospect has many physical traits that make him a tantalising prospect in today’s game.
Standing 202cm while running the 2km time trial in under six minutes provides an outstanding aerial base. However, he also showcased great ability in the National Championships as an accumulator (21 disposals at 76% efficiency) and a legitimate aerial threat (7.5 marks and 13 hitouts).
Read also showed some forward craft in the Suns VFL lineup – albeit in limited exposure. He shapes as a true utility and an exciting piece to the Hardwick era
7. Nick Watson (Western Bulldogs)
Nick Watson is the best fit for the Bulldogs, but it depends on the selections above. If North Melbourne decides on Zane Duursma and Colby McKercher, the Hawks will likely swoop on Watson.
He’s a man in high demand. He’s a 170cm small forward with an incredible goal sense, fantastic to watch at ground level and someone who relishes the responsibility of kicking the goals. It’d be a sweet fit for the Dogs, who don’t have many players with an established forward craft that can hang at AFL level for over a decade. Cody Weightman is there and is reliable enough as a goalkicker, but questions remain about Arthur Jones and his potency as a small forward.
8. Nate Caddy (Melbourne)
We know all about the forward woes the Demons have. And while it is a big ask for a first-year player to rise and fill the void, Caddy has, to quote Bryan Mills, “a particular set of skills” that will benefit the Demons almost immediately.
Caddy can be dynamic, leading forward and using his athleticism to his advantage. He also can push through stoppages using his size and explosiveness to his team’s benefit. He will complement the likes of Jacob van Rooyen, Harrison Petty, Shane McAdam, Bayley Fritsch, and Kysaiah Pickett very well.
Caddy adds consistency and an ability to hit the scoreboard to a Melbourne forward line that has relied on too few. He could be a part of the missing link for the Dees for many years to come.
9. Ryley Sanders (GWS)
After the whole league and every media outlet collectively clutched their pearls for North daring to ask for access to Sanders via their NGA, it may surprise some that he’s slid to nine. Some pundits had him as a top-five pick, but I can see him sliding just because he’s a Taswegian product that will be heavily pursued once the Apple Isle has a team coming in.
GWS will back their system, though, and with an already stellar midfield, Sanders will have an excellent apprenticeship and likely a chance to play finals with The Orange TeamTM. GWS will also prefer to keep some depth in their midfield while employing him on a flank early in his career.
10. James Leake (Geelong)
Now, let’s be clear on this. With Tom Stewart, Zach Guthrie and Jack Bowes already in the back half, there are other needs for the Cats if they believe they’re still in the premiership window. But you can’t go past the class of Leake, who has steadily climbed up the draft board. A good size at 187cm, with solid hands and a good football brain, Leake has been given a gift, being able to sit under Stewart’s learning tree, and will be a valuable asset to Geelong’s defence for the next 15 years.
Once Stewart has moved on, a hole instantly opens up for Leake to be a defensive leader. Still, by that stage in his career, I think Leake will be destined for another role, a general in Geelong’s highly talented new midfield brigade.
11. Ollie Murphy (Essendon)
Despite Connor O’Sullivan being on the board, I believe that Murphy provides the higher upside. With the arrival of Ben McKay, there is time for Murphy to add a bit of bulk to his 200cm frame. His defensive positioning also needs a bit of work. However, he is not a one-trick pony when going for an intercept versus nullifying an aerial contest with a giant fist.
He has experience at junior level as a ruckman and key forward- moving into the backline in the past year, the learning curve has been pretty remarkable at this level. One of his best traits is that he can also hold his own with the ball on the deck- meaning that being isolated is not game over for him. Combining the physical traits with a quickly improving disposal IQ gives the Bombers a key defender for the next decade.
12. Jordan Croft (Western Bulldogs (F/S bid))
Expect a bid to come for Matthew Croft’s son around this mark. He’s firmly entrenched within the top 15 players in this year’s draft class, but expect the Bulldogs will match the bid required to take him.
At 200cm tall, Croft has some incredible athleticism and can cover a lot of ground. He was a menace for Calder this year in the Coates Talent League, kicking 23 goals in 11 games. There’s scope for him to develop as a key defender with his athleticism and aggression towards the contest, but given his work this year, he should be set as a forward. Either way, his slender frame will mean he will most likely take time to develop.
13. Darcy Wilson (Adelaide)
The Murray Bushrangers prospect offers a well-rounded game in multiple positions. He featured in the top 10 for several key testing measures at the combine and has a definite upside in his game. He will suit the Crows gameplan with his two-way running and ability to compete on the ground and in the air.
There is a lot of upside for Wilson, and given he can play forward of the ball, on the wing, or through stoppages, he adds depth to the Crows lineup and will find opportunities to show what he’s got at the top level sooner rather than later.
14. Connor O’Sullivan (Melbourne)
This might be a contentious one for some, considering Melbourne has quite a few key defenders, but with May being 32 and Tomlinson 31 for season 2024, Lever will soon be tasked with stepping into those shoes, meaning depth will be required.
Petty has been a little light on chances but hasn’t impressed with his opportunities. Adams and Turner have been decent in the VFL without forcing the coaches into hard calls at the match selection table.
So, for my money, it makes sense to bring O’Sullivan in. He has the speed that few talls do and can play shoulder-to-shoulder. A season or two under May’s tutelage will help him develop his tradecraft as his body matures while being able to jump into the backline with some protection.
Key Defenders have become a sellers’ market in the last couple of seasons, so bringing in a player with this potential seems a wise move for the future—assuming he stays in that role. There’s no reason he couldn’t become a decent swingman and play some time up forward, too.
15. Caleb Windsor (Sydney)
Sydney has built a stacked midfield, but they need one more line-breaking outside runner to complete the set. That comes here in the form of 185cm Caleb Windsor. The Swans will quickly fall in love with Windsor, as this looks a ready-made prospect. He has already shown more than enough leg speed for the level, and his endurance will turn heads.
Windsor needs a pre-season or two to put on muscle, as he’s probably 5-10 kilograms from the ideal weight, but once he’s got the size and 50 games under his belt, look out.
16. Jake Rogers (Gold Coast (Academy Bid))
St. Kilda bid on Touk Miller 2.0 here, and the Suns nab another talent (perhaps a little later than expected).
Don’t let his size fool you, as Rogers is all heart and balls- and will provide some much-needed pace to the Suns’ engine room.
His strengths lay around the contested ball, combining clean hands with tackling pressure and moves to get through traffic. At the AFL level, he will likely need to add another string to his bow with some time as a defensive forward- though he has sometimes shown the ability to bob up and kick goals.
While it’s often a prominent call to compare draftees to Brownlow medallists, Lachie Neale comes to mind purely in his clean skills and ability to shift through traffic with straight-line or lateral movement.
There aren’t too many players with traits that make them great midfielders at 170cm, and while the Lion stands at 177cm, I see some similarities between them. However, he will need to improve his aerobic base as he is more of a speed runner at this point
17. Lance Collard (St Kilda)
Going through St Kilda’s list, I’m thinking maybe a key defender to develop, but many of the big ones have been taken off the board, so I got to thinking about small forwards, and we know Jack Higgins and Dan Butler have been solid contributors. But a player like Lance Collard could help elevate what’s already an exciting forward line, with the likes of Mitch Owens and Max King holding it up as the keys.
Collard has a hell of a lot of x-factor, is remarkably quick and agile, and has the skill set that can put you in the mind of Bobby Hill at Collingwood. He kicked 32 goals for Subiaco’s Colts in the WAFL this year, including three games where he kicked a bag of five and a game where he kicked six. This kid has a lot of scope and potential to be a big-time player, and the Saints could use someone with a severe X-factor as a mid-sized forward.
18. Ashton Moir (Adelaide)
Everyone loves a speculative pick on draft night, and Moir is that. At one stage, he was talked about as a top 10, even top 5 pick, but he has slid down the order thanks to injury and form.
The Crows always want to add South Australians to their roster, and Moir fits that bill. He has also shown many moments of outstanding skill that show he has the tools for the top flight. The big question is his consistency and confidence when things don’t go his way. If he can navigate these things, he looms as a good pickup for the Crows and adds some genuine x-factor to the forward line.
Losing Shane McAdam during the trade period, Moir can fill that void. He has a bigger body and a fantastic vertical leap and will be incredibly difficult to stop on the lead. Moir can kick bags of goals and has the potential to light up the big stage. Well and truly worth the risk and bold selection. He could have one of the highest ceilings of all players – just his best and worst need to be brought closer together.
19. Riley Hardeman (North Melbourne)
We’ve already tipped McKercher to head to North, but Clarkson is well known for his appetite for players with a raking left foot. Hardeman’s role as a medium defender is an instant upgrade on 2023, when McDonald, Ziebell and Hall regularly in that role, while Sheezel played the linebreaker.
Hardeman’s athleticism instantly improves North’s zone defence. His ability to leap and spoil is—quite literally—head and shoulders above anyone else North has used in 2023. With him on the left back pocket or flank, he can come and assist the key defender or be at the drop of the ball, hurrying away to deliver up the line.
Luke McDonald may feel a bit insecure if Hardeman comes hunting for a role he’s tried to make his own, but maybe it’ll be the sort of push that both players (and the rest of the team) need.
20. Koltyn Tholstrup (GWS)
It’s no secret the Giants love a cult figure. Cooper Hamilton, Toby Greene, Kieran Briggs. So with pick 20, and having fallen down the board just a bit, GWS swoops on forward/midfielder Koltyn Tholstrup. The perm mullet and hi-vis sunglasses will be a big hit, but Tholstrup will bring a touch of grunt to the Giants. Tholstrup loves getting his hands dirty defensively with a firm bump or tackle and loves a contested ball, whether inside 50 or in the centre square.
Tholstrup already has enough size to belong at the top level, at 186cm and 86kg, but after a few years in the system, he’ll be pushing 95 kilograms. He will have built the endurance to enter the midfield full-time, transforming himself into a Christian Petracca-type.
21. Mitchell Edwards (North Melbourne)
The Kangaroos could go many ways here, but I believe that stealing Edwards (a member of the Fremantle NGA) is a smart move. Possessing arguably the best pure ruck craft in the draft, the 206cm West Australian will also make some Roos fans reminisce of recently departed legend Todd Goldstein, as this prospect’s follow-up work is impeccable.
Edwards also holds somewhat of an advantage, having mixed ruck duties in the WAFL reserves with Peel Thunder- not looking out of place. Edwards will need to work on his tank for a while before becoming a true number-one ruck. However, Alistair Clarkson and the hierarchy will let the youngster develop at his own pace behind Tristan Xerri and Callum Coleman-Jones. He proved to be incredibly reliable, converting shots on goal, converting 80%. However, his composure seemed to disappear quickly around congestion- hopefully, this improves as he adjusts to the game’s pace.
22. Archer Reid (North Melbourne)
I’m probably looking at another best available selection here. Archer Reid has fantastic potential as a key forward and was one of the prospects to look out for heading into the 2023 year for the draft cohort. In 2022, he kicked 16 goals in 12 games for the Gippsland Power as an under-ager and featured in the championships, showing signs of his marking ability.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t been the sort of campaign he would like; he struggled with form throughout the year but was still good enough to average well over a goal per game in both the Coates Talent League and the championships. He also showcased some versatility and potential to play as the second-string ruck and being utilised around stoppages, averaging 13.1 hitouts and 13.5 disposals. He’s still a sure-fire first-round selection lock, but the consistency gap has him sliding compared to last year.
23. Charlie Edwards (Collingwood)
The Sandringham Dragons midfielder is a project player. He’s a big-bodied midfielder who has consistently improved throughout his draft year while spending time in multiple positions.
He adds depth and flexibility to the Collingwood engine room. His aerobic ability makes him a tremendous two-way option – where his flexibility will shine – while his size is also a point of difference for the Pies midfield. He is one to watch. While he may not debut early in the season (pending how his pre-season goes), if he continues his upward trajectory, he will fit nicely with what Craig MacRae and his team are building and how they play.
24. Will McCabe (Hawthorn Hawks (F/S bid))
McCabe has slid quite a bit here. Hawthorn would match any bid for him, but other teams are more likely looking to feather their own nest.
McCabe’s ability to take a contested mark at either end of the ground will make him incredibly useful to the rebuilding Hawks. I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes even earlier, but Hawthorn will match without hesitation.
25. George Stevens (Adelaide)
Size in the middle is on Adelaide’s minds here. Having missed out on Will McCabe, the Crows address their other significant need with George Stevens, the man already built like a brick, you know what. Stevens needs no time in the gym, being 100kg at 18 years old, and will add to Adelaide’s midfield right from the get-go.
Given that he endured a knee reconstruction as a 17-year-old, the Crows will likely take some time with him, but I would expect a debut to come within the first five rounds of the season.
A ready-made player, Stevens’ presence in the midfield allows skipper Jordan Dawson to play more on the outside, and his defensive attributes will help out a defence that will be depleted for most of 2024.
26. Arie Schoenmaker (St Kilda)
Saints fans get a steal here with “Shooey*
I know what you’re thinking.. why have I taken him here…
Well, the left leg of the 194 defenders is a weapon that ANY side would want, and he will provide a massive tactical advantage from half-back or a wing. With St Kilda being outstanding at scoring on the counterattack, Arie can easily unlock scoring chains and get the side burning up the turf looking to run. Like most attacking half-backs, his defensive craft does need work. However, he will have two perfect mentors in Ross Lyon and Callum Wilkie (amongst others)
Schoenmaker did show some signs of defensive ability, averaging nearly three intercept marks, three spoils, and six intercept possessions for the Tassie Devils this year. While the numbers are not eye-popping, a foundation exists to build on. He will become a much more well-rounded player, as he went by foot on 87% of his disposals in the Coates League and 75% in the National Championships.
His draft comparison is Trent McKenzie- albeit with the better defensive upside (compared to when McKenzie got drafted) and without the acceleration “The Cannon” had early.
27. Archie Roberts (Carlton)
I’m pretty surprised that Archie Roberts has slid this far down the order, so with Carlton’s selection, I don’t think there’s a pressing need list-wise, so I will go with the best available talent approach.
Roberts is a mid-sized defender with many of the attributes to be an offensively-minded rebounding defender. He’s got an innate ability to read the play, his intercept game is first-rate, and he can run all day. He’s shown wherever he’s played, whether in the championships or at the Coates Talent League, that he can provide a steady hand coming out of the defensive half, and whoever takes him will have a gem.
28. Will Green (West Coast)
The Northern Knights ruckman has lots of upside and lots to like for recruiters. He moves well, wins his footy, has been co-captain of the Knights, and possesses strong leadership traits.
He is competitive, agile for his size, and moves well. It wouldn’t be outside the realms of possibility to see Green on an AFL field in 2024 with the Eagles as they begin to strengthen their spine and ruck stocks in life after Nic Naitanui.
29. Harry DeMattia (Geelong)
DeMattia comes in as a speedy midfielder who can also be a fast defender or forward. He also has a unique addition to his resume as a high-level cricketer and can claim that he can perform at the MCG in front of a crowd after running drinks for the last Boxing Day Test.
His versatility and toe will appeal to Geelong as they look to inject some pace across every line when their legends call time on brilliant careers. I’d consider DeMattia a slider here, as he has enormous potential. It could well be considered a steal if Geelong get him here.
30. Phoenix Gothard (Carlton)
The Blues don’t need much to take them to the next level. Every box is ticked except one. A lightning-quick, eye-catching small forward can kick bags of goals from nowhere. That hole is filled by Phoenix Gothard, a player competing with Koltyn Tholstrup for the most exciting name in the draft award. Gothard possesses a good leap for someone his size and can play as a smaller marking forward or as a mosquito at the feet of the big boys.
When making this selection, I thought about the present and the future. Gothard helps Carlton’s forward line in 2024 while developing into a more diminutive outside midfielder.
31. Logan Morris (Richmond)
The 191cm Western Jet makes perfect sense here for the Tigers. While not the ideal size to replace Jack Riewoldt, Morris plays well above his height and has a great work rate, making him much more challenging to be pinned down by bigger defenders. This work rate has been boosted by a much-improved running capacity (which he will be working on continually), as movement will be critical in aiding his game.
His calling card, however, is his work in the air- possessing a great set of mitts and a clean set shot technique, Morris (if he develops) could provide an outstanding option as a second or third-tall forward. For those who have not heard of him, I urge you to watch his masterclass against Western Australia at the National Championships, where he booted four goals in an 11-mark (5 contested) effort.
With more work in the gym, Morris will also become increasingly difficult to body up. However, he already has a solid physical foundation- meaning he holds ground well when he cannot breathe.
32. Tew Jiath (Brisbane)
I’ve got Brisbane taking a player who will still need some time to develop but has produced a stunning second half to the season in Tew Jiath, the brother of Hawthorn’s Changkuoth. The Lions can afford to let him develop in the twos for the next season or two while he works on his frame, which I think is sufficient to say he is not AFL-ready.
Nonetheless, it’s a good pick-up considering his back-end to the year for the Gippsland Power. He’s seen as a rebounding half-back type with elite speed and agility and brings a sense of composure that many clubs want in a rebounding defender. If he can get through past pick 40, the Hawks can capture him as an NGA selection, but I think someone will pick him up before that mark.
33. Clay Hall (Essendon)
Clay Hall has an AFL pedigree, the son of former Eagle and Cat Derek Hall. He has been widely praised for his professionalism, size, and the way he hits the contest – and the Bombers would benefit from all these things.
He does need to work on his kicking efficiency, one of the reasons he will fall this low, but if he can put in the work, he can offer a great point of difference to the Bombers midfield and complement the players already in their engine room.
34. Taylor Goad (Collingwood)
The reigning premiers know they don’t need to improve much to keep their premiership window open. So it makes sense to look to bring in a tall that they can build up for the future.
Taylor Goad has that burst of speed that few big men have, and at 205cm, that can allow him to become a handy option for a blockade intercept role or a link-up man, as well as his ruck duties.
I’d expect him to spend a lot of time in the twos as he develops, but if he can keep his burst ability while gaining some muscle, he could be a handy player for the Pies.
35. Jack Delean (Fremantle)
Losing Lachie Schultz was a big blow to the Dockers, but they’ll rectify things by selecting Jack Delean. Having already tasted senior SANFL football in 2023, Delean is exactly what Fremantle’s forward line needs: a genuine goal-kicking forward capable of producing something out of nothing. Delean kicked 53 goals across his 20 matches in 2023 at various levels, and his talents for the mercurial were on display wherever he laced up his boots.
Delean won’t play right away, but I wouldn’t expect an AFL debut will take too long to eventuate.
36. Koen Sanchez (Essendon)
Essendon gladly continued with their affinity for drafting West Australians by taking Sanchez. In the 177cm Mid/Fwd, they get a versatile piece that has experience as a midfielder (27 disposals per game) in the WAFL Colts before playing as a forward for WA (18 disposals per game and six goals) while also getting some game time in the reserves against bigger bodies.
In my opinion, Sanchez is one of the better all-around footballers in the draft- as he isn’t precisely elite at anything, yet there is so much he can do. Sanchez admittedly could be taken a little later, mainly due to size and health concerns (bad groin injury in 2022 and often banged up in 2023). However, IF his body holds up, he holds excellent value here, as his two glaring weaknesses – durability and size are entirely out of his hands.
With the ball in hand, there is no real weakness besides kicking penetration, as he is clean, composed and can get through traffic well, looming as a great piece to play alongside the Davey twins in the future.
37. Zane Zakostelsky (West Coast)
The Eagles love home-grown talent, and I think they will want players in all areas of the ground. Here’s a player who has come to the game late due to pursuing a basketball career as a junior. But what Zane Zakostelsky has produced this year for Claremont suggests that he has a future in the game if he can put his head down and do the work.
His basketball background (yes, Scott Pendlebury) means he’s got elite athletic attributes. He’s got a great leap and good speed and has shown this year in the under-18s he can play both as a ruck and a key defender. The Eagles would love as many ready-made players out of this draft as possible, but they also need to identify players that can be in their next premiership assault. Zakostelsky is a player with tremendous upside, and given a few years, he could be a regular in their 22.
38. Joel Freijah (Brisbane)
He could be considered a smoky, but there is some severe upside with Freijah and flexibility in where and how he plays. He started the season well but faded somewhat. His size allows him to play as an inside midfielder or even a third-tall forward or defender; he’s spent most of his time on the wing, where he can use his speed and ability to spread and hit the scoreboard.
If he can get his game together, bring consistency, and become a reliable contributor, he could be a steal for the Lions. He’s worth the pick for Brisbane, as he has most lines covered and can be a project player.
39. Matthew Carroll (St Kilda)
St Kilda are a bit of an enigma in this draft. They have good players on every line, but most have asterisks on their resilience to injury, ability to play in big games, or potential they haven’t quite shown yet. If they can capitalise on the players they have, they’ll be a contender. If not, they’ll be also-rans.
Either way, they won’t be looking at making wholesale changes, so a versatile player like Carroll suits their needs nicely. He can slot right into their defence as a mobile interceptor/crumb man and stand on the toes of the big blokes when needed.
40. Will Patton (Richmond)
Richmond’s defence is somewhat of an overhaul, so it only makes sense to draft another piece of that puzzle here. In Will Patton, the Tigers are getting a highly versatile player, able to play on both talls and smalls and equally capable of being the rebounding interceptor and the lockdown stopper. At 192cm, Patton has the height but will need significant time in the gym to add to his skinny 79kg frame.
Patton is a gem this late in the draft, possessing strong leadership and a lethally accurate left foot. Like most players around this selection, Patton will take some time to get going, given he sat out the national combine thanks to a shoulder operation, but he expects to be back to full training by Christmas.
41. Nathan Philactides (Melbourne)
This guy may not go this early in the actual AFL draft; however- Inserting Philactides into the Demons’ side makes so much sense here. With some depth gone from the midfield and the foot speed of the Demons’ backline dwindling, the Oakleigh Charger is the perfect piece for the premiership contenders.
His run-and-gun style is an excellent fit in Melbourne’s back half, and he instantly offers a different dimension to how they can exit defensive 50. In the mould of Adam Saad, his speed alone could give him a chance for early action- even if he may not seem ready. The Saad comparison is apt (especially his early days) as Philactides generally is pedal-to-the-metal every time he gets the ball and has space ahead, and, like Saad, he occasionally runs himself into and out of trouble while possessing minimal opposite foot skills.
With Melbourne loving to go through the corridor on the rebound, however, this weakness hypothetically can be mitigated as he develops. Where the comparison differs (at least nowadays) is that Philactides will use his speed defensively and is not afraid of the high ball. Expect him to spend time on a wing as he fine-tunes his defensive intangibles and gets him more space in true 1v1s.
42. Will Lorenz (GWS)
With this pick, I think the Giants will look at the best available, and considering that Will Lorenz is still on the board here, I’ll select him with this pick. The Giants could build on some midfield depth and someone to look out for over the next few years as Josh Kelly, Lachie Whitfield and Stephen Coniglio all begin to kick on now.
Whilst not overly quick or decisive, Lorenz showed plenty of AFL-quality traits during the year. He has great composure, is elite with his decision-making, and has the potential to play on the inside as he develops his frame. But I can see his early days being stationed on a wing or at half-back, where he can utilise his football IQ and clean skills.