When we look back at the 2018 AFL Draft, it’s amazing how opinions have changed. Just who is the best of that class?
For a while, there was little dispute that Sam Walsh was the rightful pick one. His debut season was fantastic, as his elite running capacity became something Carlton supporters hoped would elevate their team to finals, and possibly more.
Yes, those were heady days, indeed.
But some pointed to the form of Connor Rozee. Elusive, mercurial, and playing in a tougher position, his five-goal outing in just game three whet the appetite for Port fans and indicated great things to come. Whilst Rozee is now one of the best players at the club and a prominent part of a midfield that is in metamorphosis, there were others who would eye the crown.
Izak Rankine promised plenty and, despite a delayed start, showed plenty of brilliance in flashes. Yet, until 2023, there were often times where the sizzle took priority over the steak in his game.
Bailey Smith shot to the forefront of the discussion with a brilliant run through the 2021 finals. The man with ice in his veins became a star on and off the field with some in-game performances to match his off-field status.
The King Brothers took turns in looking like the next big things in their respective forward lines, but with each undergoing a knee reconstruction, things halted somewhat.
You had Nick Blakey, whose ups, downs, and re-ups have seen him become a weapon for Sydney as a punishing half-back.
And then there is Zak Butters.
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