During the week, many of you probably saw the annual influx of “draft ratings” that attempt to rank how well every team performed at the draft.
Yep, the same old thing was rolled out by those at Fox Footy and ESPN, amongst others, telling us all how well teams drafted, despite there being zero evidence of it. I mean, really… all they’re doing is allocating a grade between A and C and slotting everyone in there. Even teams that basically opted out of the draft scored a C+ in the Fox Footy analysis.
I’d love to see their formula.
Anyway, as pointless as those articles are, they are made worse by some of the explanations accompanying them.
In 2018, ESPN’s Chris Doerre had this to say about Essendon’s draft haul.
“The Bombers used the 2018 AFL Draft to focus on solidifying their front half. Selecting Noah Gown with Pick 60 was a bargain, as he may become the best key position player selected outside the first round.”
“Irving Mosquito from Hawthorn’s Next-Generation Academy adds speed, energy and excitement as a small forward, while Brayden Ham further improves the Bombers’ front half with his hurt-factor and finishing around goal. As a rookie, Thomas Jok is an athletic mature-age defender with role-playing capabilities.
Grade – A
Get excited, Bomber fans! A bloody A-Grade draft In 2019!
How’d that work out? Eek!
Big thanks to fellow Mongrel, Trent Adam Shields, who did the research on those predictions.
Clubs love selling hope, and websites don’t mind it either, but the above illustrates just what a crapshoot these articles are. To assess talent, you need time. You need to sit back and watch how they develop, if they develop at all, and get a glimpse of the ceiling as opposed to staring at the ground floor of a player.
And after that drive-by on Mr Doerre, who in fairness, is one of many who get it very, very wrong, it’s probably time to look at that draft with the benefit of hindsight – granted, he was making speculative comments… always dangerous.
It’s been four years since the 2019 draft crop got the chance to strut their stuff. With years in the system, we now have a good understanding of how well that cohort is performing, and who the standouts are.
And for the record, Mr Doerre rated Collingwood’s draft as an A and Melbourne as a C in 2019. The equal lowest that year.
Let’s see how that worked out for him.
FREMANTLE – HAYDEN YOUNG (7), CALEB SERONG (8), LIAM HENRY (9), MINAIR FREDERICK (61)
Top ten picks are rare, so when you have three of them, you have to make them count.
And Freo did. The selections of Young and Serong are pivotal in terms of the future of the club. Serong looks to be a viable contender for the captaincy, whilst Young suffered early injury issues before settling in as a rebounding defender who might eventually move further up the ground.
I know Liam Henry flew the coop, but he was coming along nicely, whilst Michael Frederick’s pace has been incredibly important for the Dockers, as well, particularly if he gets good delivery on the lead – no one is going to match him stride for stride.
It’s hard not to love what Freo have done, here. Four picks – all hits. It doesn’t happen that often, but when it does, it is sometimes the catalyst for something big.
GOLD COAST – MATT ROWELL (1), NOAH ANDERSON (2), SAM FLANDERS (11), JEREMY SHARP (27), JY FARRAR (60)
They also picked up Conor Budarick and Malcolm Rosas (Academy) in the Rookie Draft
Okay, nailed their first three picks and then got the rare win at 60 with Farrar, and added Rosas via the rookie draft. The only thing they didn’t do right was get Jeremy Sharp to fit on a wing, because when he was motivated, he looked great.
Alas, the Suns will have to content themselves with drafting two potential captains, a ball magnet that really took until 2023 to blossom, and two versatile players that can bob up and have combined for 47 games. Plenty more to come from them, as well.
Also, when he gets an injury-free run, I reckon Conor Budarick is a best-22 player, as well. Excellent draft from the Suns, made all the better due to the big re-signings they’ve had.
Why not A+ then?
Well, when you get a priority pick at number one, it’s a leg-up and you cannot cock that up. Having the whole field to choose from, they chose wisely, but most team would have picked that way, too. An A was a little too rare when I was in school – take it.
MELBOURNE – LUKE JACKSON (3), KYSAIAH PICKETT (12), TRENT RIVERS (32)
Luke Jackson may have departed to work a little closer to home in Fremantle, but the Dees nailed their selections in this draft. Three picks – three hits, and given they didn’t have the luxury of the whole field to choose from, there is an argument that they did better than Gold Coast.
But you won’t hear that argument from me!
Pickett is a complete firecracker, and can change the game in a heartbeat, Rivers is ultra-dependable at half-back, whilst Jackson has proven to be a match winner both for the Dees and the Dockers.
Yep, so this was the C+ class.
Nope, they’re way better than that. Way better.
PORT ADELAIDE – MILES BERGMAN (14), MITCH GEORGIADES (19), DYLAN WILLIAMS (23), JACKSON MEAD (25)
Dylan Williams is exactly the reason you don’t rate kids when they’re first drafted. Or even a year later.
How would you have rated Williams this time last year? He had one game to his name and looked to be on the verge of being a former AFL player. But with 21 games in 2023, his work across half-back was excellent. Late bloomers… gotta love ‘em.
Mitch Georgiades’ knee injury obviously sets him back 12 months (maybe longer, considering he’s a run and jump player – ACL injuries make you a little tentative), whilst Miles Bergman – The Bergasm – continues to grow as a solid defender and interceptor.
Then there’s Jackson Mead, who continues to bob up here and there for the Power, as well. Their forward half is a tough one to crack into – he probably needs 10+ games in 2024.
They traded up at the commencement of the second round to get Dev Robertson, and now we’re starting to see why. He made a mature decision to stay with the Lions when home beckoned after the 2023 season, and will likely emerge as a leader of the club over the next couple of years.
Brock Smith is a miss, and Jaxon Prior could go either way, but the big win is snagging Keidean Coleman at 37.
Kiddy started to come into his own in 2023 and was a revelation during the finals series. His run from half-back is going to be huge for the Lions for years to come.
So, a bust, a maybe, and two gems. Given they did not have a first -round pick, this is a good haul for Brisbane.
GWS – LACHIE ASH (4), TOM GREEN (10), JAKE RICCARDI (51), THOMAS HUTCHESON (65)
I love the way GWS uses the draft. They’re just so good at it. They traded up here to ensure they could get a pick before a team bid on Tom Green. Carlton made that bid at 10 and the Giants smiled, knowing they’d picked up a star from their academy, and added some great running from Ash, as well.
With Ash, I reckon he is a midfielder playing other roles, due to how tight things are, and always have been, in the GWS midfield. He has plenty left to offer over the next few years and could move into the midfield at some stage. Meanwhile, Green is fast becoming a star of the game. No one has cleaner hands – no one. Howard Hughes-like.
The Giants also have the rare 50+ win, with Jake Riccardi this year turning his back on interest from other clubs to re-sign with GWS. You have to love seeing that – he thinks they’re going places, and they just may be, at that.
HAWTHORN – WILL DAY (13), FINN MAGINNESS (29 F/S), JOSH MORRIS
Well, Day won his first Peter Crimmins Medal as the best and fairest at Hawthorn this year, so that 13th pick was a ripper, and with Finn Maginness emerging as the best midfield tagger in the competition this season, it’s difficult to fault the Hawks’ first two rounds.
Josh Morris was the miss, but at pick 57, you’re not exactly playing high stakes in drafting him.
GEELONG – COOPER STEPHENS (16), SAM DE KONING (19), FRANCIS EVANS (41), CAM TAHENY (50)
They also snagged Brad Close in the rookie draft… I love the way that bloke goes about it
Cooper Stephens is now on the rookie list at Hawthorn, so to say he failed to live up to expectations at the Cattery would be a pretty decent understatement.
The Cats nailed it with De Koning, though. He has been wonderful in defence for them, and will remain a pillar of this team for years to come. Would be interesting to see where he’d fit in a redraft. Francis Evans looked handy and is now at Port, whilst Taheny couldn’t get a look in.
The big win here is the addition of Brad Close via the rookie draft. He has been sensational for the Cats and has worked in concert with Gryan Miers to give Geelong a solid one-two punch with their high half forwards.
CARLTON – BRODIE KEMP (17), SAM PHILP (20), SAM RAMSAY (47)
Also grabbed Jack Martin in the Pre-Season Draft
This is why you wait. Had we jumped the gun on this and assessed the Blues this time last year, they would have been heavily marked down due to Kemp having just six games to his name, Jack Martin struggling greatly, and Sam Philp managing just two games, as well.
Fast forward 12 months , and though Philp is gone, Kemp has become a fixture in defence, and Martin has started to look dangerous again, as opposed to looking like he was a dangerous investment for the wrong reasons, at points.
Sure, Sam Ramsay was a bust, but you can’t win ‘em all.
Oh, that pick six… with Hayden Young and Caleb Serong taken immediately after Fischer McAsey, the Crows would love to have their time over again.
Alas, they picked the bloke that wasn’t really cut out for the AFL life and bailed after ten games. What could have been…
Still, three of the next four have all shown a bit. I like Schoenberg, despite him playing just 11 games in 2023. As Rory Sloane transitions out, you’d expect Harry to muscle his way back in and add to his 57 games at the club.
Josh Worrell got healthy in 2023 and started to look like the player the Crows were hoping he’d be. His work across half-back was excellent in the second half of the year, whilst Lachie Gollant is playing the role of fourth marking forward behind Tex Walker, Darcy Fogarty, and Riley Thilthorpe. Something tells me this is the year he has to break out and either make a statement up forward, or shift to become an intercepting defender. Maybe he can make a run at Doedee’s vacated position.
O’Connor managed three games in 2021 before being delisted.
The addition of Keays is great and would have had hem higher, but let’s be honest, that pick six is a huge blow.
WESTERN BULLDOGS – CODY WEIGHTMAN (15), LOUIS BUTLER (53), RILEY GARCIA (63)
Hmmm, I do like the pick up of Weightman, here. He has been an influential presence up forward for the Dogs, and has made the transition from being lumped in with Jack Ginnivan as a bit of a stager, to a legitimate player in his own right.
Riley Garcia is managing to carve a little niche for himself, as well, working on the flanks and the wing, however, with just three games in 2023, things may be looking a little more dicey. Still, at pick 63, he is a steal.
SYDNEY – DYLAN STEPHENS (5), WILL GOULD (26), ELIJAH TAYLOR (36), CHAD WARNER (39)
Hmmm, you’d consider this a real hit and miss year for the Swans, dragged down by Dylan Stephens never really hitting the heights they’d hoped, and then being bolstered by the exploits of Chad Warner, as he barged his way into the midfield rotation and is now a star of the competition.
Elijah Taylor’s career was over rather quickly, thanks to off-field efforts, whilst Will Gould promised a heap and never really delivered, delisted after the 2023 season and fourtotal games.
So, you have the three disappointments (though Stephens was okay) and one big win. That win is enough to bump them up a bit.
Rantall – gone, Bianco – gone, Ruscoe – gone. Either Collingwood are doing some special after-class favours (wink wink), or the A-Grade rating was a little off.
The latter two names could have been something, but in a team where competition for spots was hot, they just weren’t warming to the task. They might bob up somewhere else eventually, but with 46 games between them, this was a cohort of players expected to excel, and they fell flat.
ESSENDON – HARRISON JONES (30), NICK BRYAN (38), NED CAHILL (56), LACHLAN JOHNSON (63)
We’ll disregard the late picks, because, for the most part, anything at pick 50 or above is a shot in the dark.
Instead, we look at Harrison Jones – the perpetually injured Harrison Jones – and the perpetually absent Nick Bryan.
Look, there is still the possibility of these two making a big splash, but with just five games in 2023 (Jones) and eight for Bryan, they’d want to start pulling their fingers out.
RICHMOND – THOMSON DOW (21), NOAH CUMBERLAND (43), WILL MARTYN (44), HUGO RALPHSMITH (46), BIGOA NYUON (54)
What could Noah Cumberland be? He strikes me as someone who can do it all, but talks himself out of it too often. Some of us have a little man who sits on our shoulder and tells us we can’t do something – maybe Noah has one on each shoulder? Players like him are the difference between a team playing well and a team playing poorly.
Thomson Dow has continued getting some time in 2023, playing four games but he needs to bed down a permanent place. 17 games in four seasons… that’s delisting area if hes not careful.
Hugo Ralphsmith has looked good at points and average at others, whilst Biggie Nyuon is off to play with North Melbourne.
ST KILDA – RYAN BYRNES (52), LEO CONNOLLY (64)
Look, it’s not really the Saints’ fault, here; they had very little to work with and would have had to have been very lucky to get a gun with picks starting in the fifties, but this isn’t a charity and they’re not going to get a participation medal.
They did get something decent in Byrnes, who now has 48 games to his name, but Connolly managed just seven back in 2021 and was delisted just this year.
NORTH MELBOURNE – CHARLIE COMBEN (31), JACK MAHONY (34), FLYNN PEREZ (35)
Three second round picks for the Kangaroos have amounted to bugger to all to this point in time.
Charlie Comben is quickly becoming one of those “what if…” types, as he cannot string games together without long periods on the sidelines. If there was one piece of dog shit on a ninety mile beach, I reckon Charlie could step in it, slip over, and tweak a knee. Fingers crossed he can avoid that dog shit in 2024,
Flynn Perez and Jack Mahony were both shown the door following the 2023 season, with Mahony getting another chance with the Suns.
With Chad Warner on the board and picked three places after Perez… hindsight is a killer, huh?
WEST COAST – CALLUM JAMIESON (49), BEN JOHNSON (58)
Jamieson remains on the fringes of the Eagles’ list, with 13 games over the last two years, but I have doubts that he can force his way into the team as it starts to grow and take shape. Can play as a second ruck, or as a defender, but with Matt Flynn and Bailey Williams available, he’ll struggle to get a run.
As for Johnson, he was delisted after the 2021 season. No games for him. not a great draft year for West Coast
And that be about it. I am sure some of you disagree with the grades and that’s fine. I’m all ears as to what you think, as always.
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