Wondering what the stories are coming into the draft on Monday night? Too lazy to try to find the information yourself and want it handed to you in a neat package?
Well no worries, I have you covered!
There’s still bound to be some news popping up in the days after writing this on Thursday night, so don’t be surprised if some other storylines pop up. For this, however, we have the big stories as we get into the weekend before the draft:
Where does Daniel Curtin go?:
Key defender Daniel Curtin has been the odd guy out when it comes to the top prospects, and what happens to him is now the pivotal question of his draft. While the Mongrel Punt mocked him to North Melbourne, the latest mail is that they’ll go for Colby McKercher and Zane Duursma while using their later picks in the first round to shore up key position depth.
Hawthorn are also candidates and even interviewed Curtin again this week, but sources indicate that they’re more likely to draft small forward Nick Watson. The Bulldogs won’t be a candidate, but after that comes the trade offers.
Multiple teams are known to be trying to trade with Melbourne or GWS. West Coast has dangled its 2024 first round pick to Hawthorn and onwards in order to get Curtin to the club, while Adelaide has been in talks with GWS to try to move up to their #7 selection in the event Curtin falls. It’s also perfectly conceivable that Melbourne or GWS simply take Curtin themselves.
And, of course, just to muddle the whole thing up some more, North Melbourne are still candidates as they haven’t ruled out Curtin just yet…
Where do the trades come in?:
We covered a few above when it comes to trades, but we know there are certainly some things to keep track of:
North Melbourne and Sydney have a standing offer in place, where Sydney hand over their #12 to North for #17 and #18. Sydney are said to have 12 prospects on their board (including Gold Coast academy prospects), and are happy to make the trade if there’s nobody they like still on the board. This would give them two picks later on, while North will get four picks inside the top 15 for its rebuild (#2, #3, #12 and #15).
Adelaide are aggressively trying to trade into the top 10 and aren’t stopping at GWS. Essendon and Geelong have also been contacted, as the Crows want to bring in Daniel Curtin or Xavier O’Sullivan to shore up its key defensive stocks.
Essendon are the most likely of the teams to trade back from the top 10, and they have interest in Adelaide’s #14 as they like WA prospect Riley Hardeman. Could #9 and #31 for #14 and #20 do it?
The first pick of Day 2 always gets major trade interest as prospects slip past the first round. West Coast own the pick, and the big question is will they trade out for more picks to boost the rebuild or take a prospect?
Fremantle are casting an eye on the draft too and might dangle its own first round pick. Lance Collard is a favourite of the club, and they’d need to get in front of the Eagles #23 pick as they also have interest.
Finally, all eyes are on West Coast at #1. It seems more unlikely by the day that they’ll move off Harley Reid and Melbourne’s offer of #6, #11, #42 and a 2024 first-round pick hasn’t moved them, nor has North’s offer of #2, #15, #17 and #18. That being said, West Coast have reportedly slightly lowered their asking price to #2 and #3, so it’s up to North whether or not to take that plunge.
Where could a team make a big surprise pick?
Eyes are on both Melbourne at #6, Geelong at #8 and GWS at #9 here. Tasmanian defender James Leake has a lot of admirers at Melbourne and might not make it to their #11, and could definitely be a surprise selection at #6.
Victorian midfielder Caleb Windsor meanwhile has catapulted himself up draft boards off the back of a stellar season and excellent AFL Draft Combine, and both Geelong and GWS are said to be keen on the Eastern Ranges product.
Where do the Suns need to match their bids?
The Gold Coast Suns have a bumper academy crop to come in along with their new coach in Damian Hardwick, but it’s going to be an expensive crop (although much worth it).
It would be a shock if key forward Jed Walter wasn’t bid on by North Melbourne at #2 or #3. Ruckman Ethan Read is also likely to be a top 10 pick. Jake Rogers is sure to be a teen and while Will Graham has mostly been considered a later prospect, the fact he was invited to the opening night of the AFL Draft indicates there must be some interest in him late on the opening night.
It would not shock when all is said and done, that we see two bids in the top 10 and all four prospects within the top 25.
How many picks will be used?
The smart money is on between 50-60, probably closer to the latter than the former. Teams are more likely to pass if they aren’t keen given the multiple pathways to finding players nowadays, such as the midseason draft, but the overall number should be in that 50-60 ballpark.
Will teams be reluctant to take Tasmanian talents given the spectre of the Tassie AFL team entering in 2028?
For the top prospects no, but it might be interesting to see how the other Tasmanian prospects fare.
The midfield duo of Colby McKercher and Ryley Sanders are going to be one of the first names off the board. McKercher is almost certain to be a Roo, while the Bulldogs have huge interest at #5 in Sanders. The Tasmanian AFL team isn’t going to affect that.
The other prospects will bear watching. On my own Facebook page where I did a final top 75 big board, I had three other prospects from Tasmania. Defender/winger Arie Schoenmaker (#26) and small forward Jack Callinan (#46) should be drafted, while medium forward Heath Ollington is draftable for me (#74).
It’s not a big deal if they slide, but if Schoenmaker in particular falls outside the top 40 then an eyebrow might be raised. Overall though, the Tasmanian AFL team shouldn’t be making teams hesitant if the draft news is to be believed.