With just two weeks left before the 18 AFL clubs usher in their stars of the future on 2017 AFL draft night, The Sideline Report today looks at how the first 2 rounds may pan out on the night.
Much has changed since the October edition, with picks having been swapped between teams and picks having been awarded to some others as compensation for losing players via free agency. Keep in mind there’s still a chance the current order will change slightly on draft night, due to the ability for clubs to place bids on academy and father son prospects.
So, here is The Sideline Report’s look at the first two rounds, two weeks out from the big night.
1. Brisbane – Paddy Dow
184cm, 78kg Mid – Vic Country
This is the first time anybody but Cameron Rayner has been number 1 in The Sideline Reports Mock Drafts. The Lions show their reluctance to draft out of the Vic Metro Camp once again, instead going with the tough, skillful midfielder in Dow. Many in the scouting community believe Brisbane have Paddy Dow rated higher than Cameron Rayner regardless, which may be hard to believe for some. Draft night could get interesting.
2. Fremantle – Luke Davies-Uniacke
187cm, 85kg Mid – Vic Country
Using the pick the Dockers got from the Gold Coast, Freo are sure to spend it on whoever they deem to be the best midfielder available. LDU is almost the prototypical Fremantle midfielder in terms of physique, and he is capable of impacting the game forward of centre a la Freo skipper Nat Fyfe. A keen surfer, Davies-Unicke will no doubt acclimatise to the lifestyle in WA quickly.
3. Carlton – Cameron Rayner
187cm, 88kg Forward/Mid – Vic Metro
The Blues would not have believed three months ago that Rayner would fall to them at pick 3, but it’s a major possibility now. Described as a Dustin Martin clone, nabbing Rayner at 3 would be a dream come true for the Blues. One of only a few prospects in the draft who can genuinely impact the game from two areas on the field, Rayner would almost certainly play as a permanent half-forward for the Blues in ‘18.
4. North Melbourne – Adam Cerra
186cm, 85kg Mid – Vic Metro
North look to be on a long climb from the lower rungs of the ladder, but adding Cerra to a midfield that desperately needs class would be a great start. Has had his injury issues but has shown he has the toughness and poise to make it in the big time. Has the look of a 250-plus game player.
5. Fremantle – Oscar Allen
191cm, 83kg Forward – WA
This would be a real surprise on draft night, but Allen is obviously a local boy who fits exactly what the Dockers need; a second key forward to pair with Cam McCarthy for the next decade. Allen is not the best player available, but if Freo could come out of the draft with Davies-Uniacke and Allen from the top 5 it would be a huge win for the rebuilding Dockers.
6. Collingwood – Darcy Fogarty
192cm, 92kg Forward/Mid – SA
There are many in the scouting community who still rate Darcy Fogarty as the best player in this years draft, so grabbing him at 6 would be a steal for the Pies. Collingwood need help at both ends of the ground, and Fogarty could certainly help having experience both forward and back. Too good to pass on at 6.
7. St. Kilda – Jaidyn Stephenson
189cm, 76kg Forward/Mid – Vic Metro
If there’s one knock on the emerging Saints, it’s that they don’t have enough match winners or players with X factor in the midfield. That’s Stephenson. Quick, agile and capable of almost anything, Stephenson would be a real asset on a wing or forward flank for the Saints. Only slightly built, but Stephenson is special and will be a real handful for opposition teams in years to come.
8. St. Kilda – Andrew Brayshaw
183cm, 80kg Mid – Vic Metro
The brother of Melbourne’s Angus, Andrew Brayshaw is one of the best all-round midfield prospects in the 2017 class. A unique mix of speed and endurance and a genuine football brain, Brayshaw would be a real get for any team. With development could become a top 10 player in the league in 4-5 years.
9. Western Bulldogs – Nick Coffield
190cm, 83kg Halfback/Mid – Vic Metro
We just can’t get off this pick, it makes far too much sense considering the Dogs lost both Matthew Boyd and Bob Murphy to retirement this season. Coffield has good speed and is good in the air, meaning he can play on both talls and smalls. Can provide great run from the backline and oozes leadership. Great all-round prospect.
10. Carlton – Jack Higgins
178cm, 76kg Forward/Mid – Vic Metro
The Blues round out the top 10 by taking Higgins who, pound for pound, could be the best football player in the draft. There are knocks on his size but Higgins racks up possessions when in the midfield and knows where the goals are when forward. Could go much higher in future re-drafts.
11. GWS – Jarrod Brander
194cm, 89kg Key Def/Forward – Allies
After having Brander stripped from their academy at the beginning of the season, the Giants take him anyway at 11. Talent scouts are divided as to where he’s best suited, but there’s no doubt GWS coach Leon Cameron would love Brander’s intercept ability in his defense to compliment Adam Tomlinson and skipper Phil Davis.
12. Adelaide – Aaron Naughton
194cm, 84kg Key Defender – WA
There’s serious doubts as to weather Naughton makes it even this far on draft night, but if he does the Crows will almost certainly swoop. Reads the ball coming in superbly and is rarely beaten 1-on-1, Naughton never looked out of place in the WAFL this year. An ideal replacement for the departed Jake Lever.
13. West Coast – Hunter Clark
186cm, 79kg Half-back/Mid – Vic Country
Transformed his game this year from being a silky halfback flanker with a great kick to being an inside bull with a thirst for the hard ball. Both qualities would be welcomed in the West, particularly Clark’s hardness in the midfield with the retirements of Brownlow Medalists Matt Priddis and Sam Mitchell. As tough as they come.
14. Sydney – Ed Richards
184cm, 77kg Halfback – Oakleigh
The prospect who has come from the clouds to be in first round contention. A dashing halfback flanker with one of the best left foot kicks in the class, Richards would add some real sizzle to the Swans outside game. Great Nephew of Collingwood royalty Lou Richards.
15. Brisbane – Lochie O’Brien
184cm, 75kg Mid – Vic Country
The Lions continue their love affair with Vic Country prospects by taking the smooth moving O’Brien with their second first round pick. Another left footer, O’Brien combines class and composure by foot coupled with his natural aerobic capacity. Eric Hipwood would love leading up at O’Brien.
16. Western Bulldogs – Aiden Bonar
190cm, 89kg Forward – Dandenong
Another prospect who has vaulted his name into first round consideration, Bonar is a polarising prospect indeed. Has incredible raw strength and agility, though Bonar has suffered two knee reconstructions in his junior football days. Has shown some phenomenal glimpses, but is a boom or bust prospect in every sense of the word.
17. Richmond – Sam Hayes
203cm, 93kg Ruck/Forward – Vic Metro
Teams have shown their reluctance to spend early picks on Ruckmen in recent years, so the reigning Premiers would be thrilled to have Hayes land in there lap. May not play at senior level in 2018, but give Hayes 2-3 years in the gym and a few pre-seasons to improve his fitness and this pick could make 16 teams look very silly in 4-5 years time.
End of First Round Compensation
18. Brisbane – Connor Ballanden
199cm, 95kg Utility – Brisbane Academy
The Lions don’t let their own academy product get past their compensation pick. One of the best kicks for a key position prospect in a long time.
19. Gold Coast – Zac Bailey
180cm, 68kg Mid – Allies
The Suns spend their first pick on a semi-local product (Bailey is originally from the NT). Explosive midfielder with a knack for finding the footy.
20. Brisbane – Charlie Constable
190cm, 83kg Mid – Vic Metro
Extremely unlucky not to go in the first round in this Mock, the Lions would happily spend this pick on the big bodied midfielder.
21. Richmond – Noah Balta
194cm, 92kg Key Defender – Vic Metro
Richmond take one of the real enigmas of this years class and place him under the tutelage of Alex Rance.
22. West Coast – Callum Coleman-Jones
201cm, 98kg Forward/Ruck – SA
The Eagles help replenish their big man stocks with the promising Coleman-Jones.
23. Geelong – Matthew Ling
182cm, 74kg Mid – Vic Country
The Cats take Ling, a local boy, to add some zip to their engine room.
24. North Melbourne – Oscar Clavarino
194cm, 80kg Key Defender – Vic Country
The Roos take an intercepting key back to develop behind Scott Thompson and Robbie Tarrant.
25. Geelong – Gryan Miers
177cm, 73kg Forward – Vic Country
Another local for the Cats. Crafty small forward with unique kicking style. Kicked 7 goals in the TAC Cup Grand Final for the Geelong Falcons.
26. Richmond – Patrick Naish
183cm, 73kg Mid – Richmond F/S
The Tigers finally land their father son prospect in Naish early in the second round. Son of Chris Naish
27. West Coast – Lachlan Fogarty
179cm, 75kg Mid – Vic Metro
Small but tough and clever midfield who can also go forward and hit the scoreboard.
28. GWS – Nathan Murphy
188cm, 83kg Forward – Sandringham
Versatile, natural footballer who can go forward or back.
29. GWS – Jordan Houlahan
185cm, 78kg Forward – SA
High flying forward who would give the Giants some nice X factor in the forward line.
30. Melbourne – Joel Garner
183cm, 81 halfback – Vic Metro
Vic Metro captain. Medium defender who can also spend time in the midfield.
31. Gold Coast – Brayden Crossley (Bid)
198cm, 105kg Ruckmen – GC Academy
The Suns match the Blues bid for the big bodied Ruckmen from their own academy.
32. Carlton – Toby Wooller
193cm, 90kg Forward – Vic Metro
Lead up forward with promising physical attributes. Grandson of Geelongs 1963 Premiership captain Fred Wooller.
33. Melbourne – Charlie Spargo
173cm, 73kg Mid – Allies
Undersized, tough and classy midfielder who struggled with a shoulder injury in 2017. Son of Paul Spargo.
34. West Coast – Jack Petruccelle
184cm, 73kg Mid – Vic Metro
The Eagles add one of the fastest players in the draft to add some real speed to their midfield.
35. Sydney – Harrison Petty
194cm, 81kg Key Defender – SA
Sydney add a promising key defender who should eventually replace Heath Grundy.
36. Adelaide – Jackson Edwards (F/S)
185cm, 77kg Mid – Adelaide F/S
The Crows will be sure to match the bid for their smooth moving father son prospect, whenever it comes. Son of Tyson Edwards.
37. St. Kilda – Dylan Moore
175cm, 66kg Mid/Forward – Vic Metro
The Saints add another small dynamo to go with their collection of Billings, Gresham and Lonie.
38. Geelong – James Worpel
185cm, 84kg mid – Vic Country
Another local, and yet another inside bull for the Cats.
39. Melbourne – Andrew McPherson
186cm, 78kg Halfback – SA
Missed most of 2017 but the Dees will not have forgotten how good he can be both across halfback and in the midfield
40. West Coast – Ben Miller
196cm, 98kg Utility – WA
The Eagles take the versatile and local boy Miller to further strengthen their tall stocks.