Friday, June 14, 2024

AFL Mid-Season Draft: Top picks and draft bolters

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The mid-season draft has become a regular fixture in the footy calendar, and its next instalment arrives on Wednesday.

North Melbourne hold the number one pick, with 28 picks available across 15 teams, though fewer players will be selected in a relatively shallow talent pool. Twenty-four prospects of interest to multiple clubs undertook medical testing last week, and a slightly higher number than the 13 selected in 2023 are expected to be given an AFL-list berth this year given the number of injuries on lists across the country.

The 2024 AFL Mid-Season Draft is scheduled to commence at 7pm AEST, Wednesday May 29th on, and these are the names in contention for your club.

Pick 1: North Melbourne

The Roos are still in talent accumulation mode, and Tasmanian Geordie Payne is widely regarded by recruiters as the best talent in the nominated pool. A move from halfback to the midfield has ignited his game, kicking 12 goals in his five Talent League games this season. Payne won the Devils’ best and fairest in a team including Ryley Sanders and Colby McKercher, and was held over from the Allies’ first champs game in a sure sign that he’s set to be picked up on Wednesday.

WAFL key forward Jasper Scaife is also on North’s radar, who are yet to find a long term partner for spearhead Nick Larkey. The 20-year-old has booted 11 goals in seven games for West Perth.

With later selections dashing halfback Matt Ling — who was previously a first round pick for Sydney — and former Sun Jez McLennan would provide much-needed competition for those distributing roles.

Pick 2: Richmond

The Tigers’ injury crisis worsened over the weekend with Tylar Young suffering an ACL rupture in the VFL, meaning the club has four selections. They’re only set to use two of those picks, however.

Payne should be considered if North surprise at pick one, but it’s more likely that Scaife or Jacob Blight are targeted here. Scaife would add much-needed key forward competition given Noah Balta’s move to defence and Jacob Koschitzke’s successful defensive swing in the VFL. Jacob Blight is the best key defender in the pool, with the 23-year-old Peel product taking 13 marks against the SANFL state side two weekends ago.

Former Power big man Brynn Teakle would provide ruck depth given Sam Naismith’s heartbreaking knee injury, but the Falcons’ Joe Pike could prove the better long-term prospect to eventually usurp captain Toby Nankervis.

Pick 3: West Coast

Noah Long’s long-term knee injury opens up a spot for the Eagles. West Coast has put a lot of time into Pies VFL high-flyer Jack Hutchison who conducted a medical last week. The 190cm forward is regarded as one of the best prospects available.

Milan Murdock has rocketed into calculations with a best on ground performance for the WAFL state side, booting two goals from his 25 disposals through the midfield, but it may be too early at this stage. Scaife will be considered if North doesn’t snap him up, but the Eagles have shown little interest in Blight.

Pick 4: St Kilda

The Saints are committed to drafting a Sandy Zebra each season, and Maxwell Benier was brought into the Zebra’s fold for the Saints’, but remarkably returned to the VAFA on the weekend meaning he hasn’t fulfilled the requisite the games for MSD eligibility.

Pick 5: Hawthorn

The Hawks have a need for key position depth and the WA talls Blight and Scaife should be considered. Closer to home, Dragons key back Lachlan Voss has attracted interest. The 199cm 19-year-old has overcome injury struggles to prove his consistency this year.

Geelong Falcon Will McLachlan has been ultra-impressive booting 26 goals from his six games, playing above his 185cm height as a marking option across half forward. McLachlan will be considered at the pointy end of the draft and Hawthorn is right in the frame.

Pick 6: Brisbane

The Lions will be active on the night with up to four selections. McLachlan is a big chance at the Lions’ first pick, with his style of play bearing similarities to the injured Lincoln McCarthy. They’ve requested access to former Giant Daniel Lloyd, who has only played two of a requisite three VFL games with the club.

Kyle Dunkley is a familiar footy name who has impressed for the Lions VFL outfit and could get another chance on Wednesday, and young SA key forward Noah Howes has had a brilliant year in the SANFL, undergoing a medical for clubs last week.

Pick 7: Adelaide

Of the three spots available, Toby Murray looms as the most likely target for the Crows. Brother of Nick, the 200cm ruck-forward would provide welcome relief for the injury of Riley Thilthorpe on the eve of the season, and has shown upside in his aerial work.

Defender Will Patton captained the AFL Academy last year and is putting together a consistent SANFL campaign, while Jack Hutchison is in the frame at this point. Does highly-touted 2023 SA draft hopeful Kobe Ryan get his breakthrough at this spot? The attacking midfielder’s gut running and skill execution projects well to the next level.

Former Sun and current Central Districts star McLennan has also been linked to the Crows here, with his dash off halfback a highlight.

Pick 8: Western Bulldogs

With two spots available, the Dogs could turn to their VFL where former Pie Trent Bianco has hit the ground running. His polish through the midfield has stood out at the lower level and his ability to play on a wing or half forward will appeal to Luke Beveridge. McLachlan has suitors in this range, and Coburg’s Caleb Ernst is a powerful half forward that boasts AFL traits.

Pick 9: Gold Coast

The Suns hold one pick, but may not take a player at the draft. They have done their due diligence on Geordie Payne but the Tasmanian is a very slim chance to be available at this stage.

Pick 10: Fremantle

The Dockers have interviewed Caleb Ernst as the Coburg forward looks to break into the AFL, while Will McLachlan’s aerial ability and ground level proficiency in the forward half is much-needed. Fremantle is blessed with strong tall stocks and have Brennan Cox to look forward to in the second half of the season, so will likely opt for more running power with their selection. Essendon’s Oskar Smartt and WAFL star Milan Murdock will be in contention.

Pick 11: Carlton

The Blues have two spots available, and tall forward Liam McMahon is under their nose in the VFL program. The athletic goal kicker spent two years on the Pies’ list and has built consistency for Carlton. Will McLachlan would add immediate competition for small forward spots at the Blues but is unlikely to be available here, while Oskar Smartt has the point of difference in power and aggression that the Blues’ small forwards sometimes lack.

An interesting watch here is Riley Collier-Dawkins with the ex-Richmond inside midfielder proving his credentials in the VFL this season for Williamstown. He would add midfield depth for the Blues’ finals charge.

Pick 12: Collingwood

The unlucky man from the Pies’ SSP spree was ruckman Brynn Teakle, who could get his shot here. With Aiden Begg and Oscar Steene both injured, and pending Mason Cox’s knee scans, Collingwood is barebones in the ruck department and Teakle adds immediate depth for Darcy Cameron.

WA key defender Jacob Blight has long been touted at this spot given the retirement of Nathan Murphy, while VFL excitement machine Jack Hutchison could still be on the board.

Pick 13: Melbourne

The Demons may not select a player in the draft, but have been linked to Lachlan Voss who they spoke to last week. Voss has built consistency for the Dragons after an injury-riddled top-age campaign; the 199cm defender has his suitors higher than Melbourne too. Cooper Trembath is another standout defender in the Talent League that the Dees have put time into.

Pick 14: Port Adelaide

The Power interviewed Caleb Ernst last week, and with Sam Powell-Pepper’s vacant list spot could recruit the Coburg forward who plays with similar power and aggression. Smartt comes into consideration at this point, as does SANFL rookie Logan Evans who has impressed rebounding out of defence for their reserves.

Luke Beecken is another SANFL defender who’s attracted ample interest and projects well with his dare and ability to accumulate.

Pick 15: Essendon

The Dons have had success at the mid-season draft in the past with Sam Durham the crown jewel. They’ve met with 206cm ruckman Ajang Kuol mun, a fast-developing South Sudanese ruckman who’s turned heads in his first season with Geelong VFL. It would be the best story to come from the mid-season draft if he were to get an opportunity on an AFL list.

The Bombers have taken three Richmond VFL prospects in the last few years and running defender Mutaz El Nour had been right in the draft frame until a shoulder injury cruelled his chances. Could they consider his wingman teammate Austin Johnson, who’s running power and scoreboard impact have caught the eye? Smartt has turned heads in their VFL program and would add to their small forward depth too.

Sydney, GWS and Geelong do not have a selection to use in the mid-season draft.

The 24 players to have undertaken AFL medicals in the past week:

Ajang Kuol Mun (Geelong VFL)
Ben Hopkins (Dandenong Stingrays)
Brynn Teakle (East Fremantle)
Caleb Ernst (Coburg)
Corey Ellison (Williamstown)
Dayten Uerata (Bendigo Pioneers)
Geordie Payne (Tasmania)
Iliro Smit (Eastern Ranges)
Jack Hutchinson (Collingwood VFL)
Jacob Blight (Peel Thunder)
Jasper Scaife (West Perth)
Joe Pike (Geelong Falcons)
Kelsey Rypstra (North Adelaide)
Lachlan Voss (Sandringham)
Luke Beecken (WWT Eagles)
Matthew Ling (Norwood)
Max Hall (Box Hill)
Noah Howes (South Adelaide)
Oskar Smartt (Essendon VFL)
Remy Maclean (Eastern Ranges)
Toby Murray (Adelaide Crows SANFL)
Tobyn Murray (Geelong VFL)
Will McLachlan (Geelong Falcons)
Will Patton (West Adelaide)

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