The Gold Coast Suns will headline this year’s draft on the back of the generous priority assistance given to them by the AFL.

In the shadow of last year’s “Superdraft 2.0” it is easy to underestimate the strength of the 2019 draft crop, but rest assured it does have its fair share of talent and some, especially at the top end. Indeed, some recruiters rate Oakleigh Chargers duo Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson higher than last year’s pinnacle selection Sam Walsh, who is already a Rising Star winner one year on. Gold Coast shaped their request for an extra pick atop this year’s draft to the AFL on the basis that it will be used to select best mates Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson with Picks 1 and 2. Rowell and Anderson would almost certainly be selected with these picks regardless of the team, but the coupling of best mates is appealing to the Suns – and by extension the AFL – as a way of countering the retention issues that have plagued the club for its entire existence.

Twelve months ago, Gold Coast did a similar thing when it picked Henley High school mates Jack Lukosius and Izak Rankine with Picks 2 and 3 respectively. It could well do the same later in the draft as well as it is also considering pairing close friends, and Oakley Chargers co-captains Trent Bianco and Dylan Williams with Picks 15 and 20 respectively. If this were to come to fruition, the Suns could draft four prospects from the Oakley Chargers with their four first selections. However, Gold Coast are no certainties to hold on to Picks 15 and 20 (which is another priority pick of course). Gold Coast are seeking to obtain a third top-10 pick through packaging up Picks 15 and 20 and have zeroed in on Melbourne’s Pick 8. If the Suns were able to pull the trade off, it would be in an attempt to draft Deven Robertson, the Western Australian captain who won the Larke Medal as the best player in the U18s Championships. Robertson’s position in the draft has been somewhat polarising amongst recruiters, especially regarding whether his skills by foot are at the level required of a top-10 pick. Nevertheless, Robertson is attracting interest from clubs inside the top-10 including Fremantle (with Picks 7 and 10) and Melbourne (with Pick 8).

The fact that Gold Coast have committed to taking Rowell and Anderson means Melbourne’s Pick 3 has gained even greater significance. GWS, in particular, are desperate to secure it and are willing to trade their future first rounder to do so. The reason behind this is because the Giants want to draft a player before the bid is placed for their academy prospect Tom Green, who is a big, superstar mid in the making. Yet, the belief among most clubs is that a trade with Adelaide for Pick 4 is more likely to be agreed upon. However, this may not be worthwhile for GWS, as Melbourne is considering bidding on Tom Green at Pick 3. At this point, GWS are not necessarily guaranteed to match it. Melbourne are also considering ruckman Luke Jackson and half backer flanker (and the best kick in the draft pool) Hayden Young at this point.

The AFL are encouraging trades to be completed on draft night itself in order to add to the theatre of the coverage. However, one trade has already occurred between Port Adelaide and Brisbane. This trade is sparking further discussions about even more significant deals.

In the trade, Port Adelaide notched up a third first round selection for the second year in a row. While, the Brisbane Lions strengthened their 2020 draft hand by obtaining Port’s future first round selection as well as Pick 29 for this year. The trade is beneficial for both clubs as the Lions needed to shed its number of picks as it did not have sufficient list spots. Whereas, the Power had its father-son prospect Jackson Mead in mind when ditching Pick 29. And in regards to its 2020 first rounder, that would likely have been eaten up by the expected high bid for Taj Schofield, son of premiership star Jarrad, anyway.

But Port Adelaide also agreed to the trade as it bolstered its position to negotiate a deal for GWS’ Pick 6. The bid for Tom Green, which is expected to come at Adelaide’s Pick 4 at the latest, would mean the Giants’ Pick 6 would be used as compensation if they match the bid. Port could be in a position to select its no.1 target, Dylan Stephens if they successfully secure a deal with GWS for Pick 6 or even Fremantle’s Pick 10, depending on when the bid comes for their academy prospect Liam Henry. Stephens is viewed as Norwood’s finest prospect in over a decade and is also attracting interest from Adelaide who still hold Pick 4. Hayden Young is also appealing to Adelaide if he slips past Melbourne at Pick 3. Sam Flanders is also in their considerations if they keep Pick 4, as some clubs have the forward in the top-5 of their rankings.

In regards to Liam Henry, Fremantle (who currently have Picks 7 and 10) are seeking to move up the order in an attempt to beat the bid. The bid, that they ultimately match regardless, is not expected to come before Pick 7 but Melbourne and Carlton are contemplating forcing Fremantle’s hand at Picks 8 and 9 respectively. This means that Fremantle are still a chance to draft local ruck talent Luke Jackson at Pick 7, who they are set to select if still available. But this is no guarantee as Jackson is attracting interest from Melbourne (Pick 3), Adelaide (Pick 4) and Sydney (Pick 5); meaning Lachie Ash remains a prospect of interest.

Yet, if Fremantle are unable to trade up, they could trade down. This could even take place when the bid comes from Liam Henry in real time. This is where the Port Adelaide trade scenario is relevant. Port could trade Picks 16 and 18 for Fremantle’s Pick 10, so the Dockers would only have to use Pick 16 to match the bid and could still draft another first rounder with Pick 18.

Kysaiah Pickett, nephew of Norm Smith Medallist Byron Pickett, is shaping as the draft bolter of this year’s crop largely because of the courting from the Western Bulldogs (Pick 13). But the Gold Coast Suns are also interested at Picks 15 and 20. However as discussed, Gold Coast are hoping to package up these picks in order to receive Melbourne’s Pick 8. The Dees are also interested in Pickett if they do in fact slide down the draft order.

Melbourne are also looking at the possibility of taking Cody Weightman with Pick 8. While, the Demons rate Weightman higher than any other club, the small forward is no certainty to be available if Melbourne’s second pick shifts to Pick 15 as Geelong and Gold Coast also have him on their radars.

Finally, Bendigo Pioneers’ Brodie Kemp has been identified as a likely draft slider due to a mid-year ACL rupture. However, Kemp still has his fair share of clubs with picks in the pointier end of the draft including Sydney (Pick 5), Melbourne (Pick 8) and Carlton (Pick 9) keeping an eye on him.