2008 AFL national draft review, club by club

Whodathunkit, it turns out that the media gets it right once in a while. The much-hyped late switch of Fremantle’s #3 pick from Daniel Rich to Stephen Hill took place as advertised, leaving Brisbane to get an early Christmas present. Those poor old stupid Dockers, when will they ever learn?!

Let’s look at each club and where the draft leaves their new recruits in terms of short-term opportunities, referring back to the holes identified in this positional drill-down post. The codes after each name are the expected Champion Data classifications, followed by the expected VirtualSports classifications.

Adelaide
10 – Phil Davis – Def-Tall-Key, BAC
28 – Shaun McKernan – Utility-Tall, RUC/FWD
44 – Rory Sloane – Def-Med-Gen, BAC
60 – Thomas Lee – Fwd-Tall-Key, FWD
72 – Will Young – Def-Tall-Key, BAC

After many years of being a fantasy footy wasteland for rookies, 2008 saw a sudden commitment to playing draftees. You could argue that Neil Craig’s hand was forced by injury, I suppose. This year’s crop look decidedly tall, which is never a good sign for round 1 of the new season. I don’t think we’ll see any of these five front up in the first month of the season. That’s what the SANFL is for, after all. Davis will probably be blooded just in time for the winner of the current battle between Greg Galllman and Aaron Kite to get tired after his debut run.

Brisbane
7 – Daniel Rich – Mid-Med-In, CTR
25 – Jack Redden – Mid-Med-In, CTR
41 – Todd Banfield – Mid-Med-Out, CTR
57 – Aaron Cornelius – Fwd-Tall-Key, FWD
69 – Bart McColluch – Ruckman-Tall, RUC/FWD
81 – Kieran King – Mid-Med-Out, CTR

Santa must have had some glowing reports about the saintliness of Michael Voss, because he’s got a lovely new toy to play with! Two inside mids in the top 25 shows that Voss knows exactly where the Lions have been deficient in recent years. Redden is described as a “midfielder/forward”, which is the sort of player the Lions could do with to bolster the Brownshaw attack since the loss of Anthony Corrie. Rich will play round 1, and possibly Redden too.

Carlton
6 – Chris Yarran – Fwd-Med-Gen, FWD
40 – Mitch Robinson – Mid-Med-Out, CTR
65 – Rhys O’Keeffe – Utility-Med, CTR/FWD
80 – Caleb Tiller – Fwd-Med-Key, FWD

Perhaps the biggest hole in any depth chart going into this draft was Carlton’s list of small forwards, which started and ended with Eddie Betts. Yarran is just the sort of player they need to feed off Brendan Fevola and Brad Fisher, just as Cyril Rioli fed off the Buddy/Roughead/Rifleman combo this year. As one of two clubs to announce their 22s prior to the 160 minutes of maelstrom before round 1 in 2009, Carlton’s draft looks even more important. Little ROK might find his way into a few teams if he gets named in round 1 purely as a defensive move by fantasy coaches.

Collingwood
11 – Steele Sidebottom – Mid-Med-Out, CTR
29 – Dayne Beams – Mid-Med-In, CTR
45 – Jarrad Blight – Def-Tall-Gen, BAC/CTR
46 – Luke Rounds – Mid-Med-Out, CTR
73 – Leigh Brown – Fwd-Tall-Key, FWD

The Pies needed some runners, and in Sidebottom and Beams they have a couple of likely prospects. One might question the seemingly inexhaustible demand for midfielders who run forward of the play in the Collingwood structure, but Mick Malthouse has found a way to make that work in certain types of games. Beams may end up becoming more vital to the team’s drive out of the middle in the long term, as Sidebottom fights for the pill on the forward 50 arc with Didak, Davis and Thomas. I suspect, however, that the constant Malthouse rotations will limit the pointscoring capabilities of the top two mids here. As for Brown, if he fronts up in the seniors then you know Mick’s in trouble.

Essendon
5 – Michael Hurley – Def-Tall-Key, BAC
23 – David Zaharakis – Mid-Med-In, CTR
55 – Michael Still – Fwd-Tall-Key, FWD
67 – Tyson Slattery – Def-Med-Gen, BAC

Hurley is a definite Super Coach prospect, though I wouldn’t touch him for Dream Team. He’s highly likely to score in the range of Harry Taylor and Nathan J. Brown from this year. Not hugely excited about the rest.

Fremantle
3 – Stephen Hill – Mid-Med-Out, CTR
21 – Hayden Ballantyne – Fwd-Small-Gen, FWD
24 – Nick Suban – Def-Small-Gen, BAC
37 – Zachary Clarke – Ruckman-Tall, RUC
53 – Michael Walters – Fwd-Small-Gen, FWD
56 – Ben Bucovaz – Fwd-Med-Key, FWD
68 – Tim Ruffles – Mid-Small-Out, MID/FWD
77 – Chris Hall – Mid-Small-Out, CTR

At least you can say the Dockers are going to commit to youth in 2009, with zero players over the age of 28. That means Hill plays in round 1, and probably Ballantyne, Walters and Suban as well if fit. Hill will be a DT specialist, whereas Sandover medallist Ballantyne will probably go a touch better in SC with his goalscoring abilities. Suban will be okay in his first year but probably merge into the blancmange of Freo backs thereafter. Even Clarke is worth a look due to the paucity of backups for Aaron Sandilands… especially as a handcuff if you buy 211. There will be plenty of value at this club for fantasy this year, even if (or maybe because) the team doesn’t win many games.

Geelong
15 – Mitch Brown – Fwd-Tall-Key, FWD
33 – Tom Gillies – Def-Tall-Key, BAC
39 – Steven Motlop – Fwd-Med-Gen, FWD
49 – Taylor Hunt – Def-Med-Gen, BAC

Comments by Geelong recruiters on SEN after the draft indicated that none of these players would have immediate impact. Look elsewhere, the Cats aren’t playing the kids.

Hawthorn
16 – Ryan Schoenmakers – Fwd-Tall-Gen, FWD
34 – Liam Shiels – Mid-Med-Out, CTR
50 – Jordan Lisle – Utility-Tall, BAC/FWD
63 – Luke Lowden – Ruckman-Tall, RUC
75 – Shane Savage – Mid-Med-Out, CTR

Evil genius Chris Pelchen allowed SEN an audience after the draft, where he revealed that he was going to wave his magic wand and turn Schoenmakers from a forward into a defender (or failing that, a newt). He expressed surprise that Lisle dropped so low – speculation pre-draft had the Hawks using their first-rounder on him, and Pelchen said he was in their top 25. Part of Pelchen’s fiendish plan is to warehouse 17-year-old talent for the GC17 years, so I think most of these players are going to be “Box Hilled” while the Hawks chase flags.

North Melbourne
9 – Jack Ziebell – Utility-Med, CTR/FWD
27 – Sam Wright – Fwd-Med-Gen, FWD/CTR
43 – Liam Anthony – Mid-Med-Out, CTR
59 – Nathan O’Keefe – Fwd-Tall-Key, FWD
71 – Warren Benjamin – Mid-Med-In, CTR

Oh well, we can forget about Ziebell. Run away, run away!

Melbourne
1 – Jack Watts – Fwd-Tall-Key, FWD
17 – Sam Blease – Mid-Med-Out, CTR
19 – James Strauss – Mid-Med-In, CTR/BAC
35 – Jamie Bennell – Fwd-Small-Gen, FWD
51 – Neville Jetta – Fwd-Small-Gen, FWD
64 – Rohan Bail – Fwd-Med-Gen, FWD/CTR

Watts will be Hogwarted in ’09, making him an iffy fantasy buy for anyone but the most passionate Melbourne fan. Blease could be a fantasy crowd-pleaser, though, and if Strauss somehow snags back eligibility then he could join Ricky Petterd and Jack Grimes in a lot of demonised fantasy defences. Jetta might take a while to come on, but when he does debut he’s every chance to pull out a Wonaeamirrian run.

Port Adelaide
4 – Hamish Hartlett – Mid-Med-Out, CTR
22 – Jackson Trengove – Def-Tall-Key, BAC
38 – Matthew Broadbent – Mid-Med-Out, CTR
42 – Mitch Banner – Mid-Small-In, CTR/FWD
54 – Jarred Redden – Ruckman-Tall, RUC
66 – Glenn Dawson – Fwd-Med-Gen, FWD
78 – Jason Davenport – Mid-Med-Out, CTR

Hartlett’s probably going to be a touch too expensive now to be wildly popular, barring a hot NAB run. He’s well worth looking at in SC with his quality disposal ratings. Also with SC potential is Trengove, who now gets a bargain pricing, which will be a boon for those casting about for back bench options and not liking the look of many draftees.

Richmond
8 – Tyrone Vickery – Ruckman-Tall, RUC/FWD
26 – Jaydyn Post – Def-Tall-Key, BAC
58 – Tom Hislop – Mid-Med-In, CTR

This is all about Vickery. His deflation back to a price much closer to basement than had been projected makes him very likely to be the most popular #3 ruck. Be warned, though, that during his interview on SEN post-draft he didn’t sound all that positive about getting early games, which is credible since he’s been training with the club for a while now. If you stick with Simmonds this year then you MUST get Tyrone on the phone (or you’ll be boned).

St Kilda
13 – Tom Lynch – Utility-Tall, BAC/FWD
47 – Rhys Stanley – Ruckman-Tall, RUC
48 – Nick Heyne – Fwd-Med-Gen, FWD
62 – Alistair Smith – Mid-Med-Out, CTR
74 – Paul Cahill – Fwd-Tall-Key, FWD
83 – Colm Begley – Def-Med-Gen, BAC

This draft wasn’t looking particularly noteworthy for fantasy purposes until Heyne bobbed up late in round three. The Saints haven’t got much cover for Steven Milne and Adam Schneider on their small forward depth chart, so Heyne will be given games reasonably early. Don’t get too excited though, as this year proved that St Kilda is not a great place for fantasy for first-year draftees.

Sydney
12 – Lewis Johnston – Fwd-Tall-Key, FWD
30 – Dan Hannebery – Mid-Med-In, CTR
61 – Campbell Heath – Def-Med-Gen, BAC

Urgh. Johnston is only relevant if Micky O or Hall are out for extended periods, and then only for SC. To be fair, Sydney’s development will probably come more through its extended rookie program.

West Coast
2 – Nick Naitanui – Ruckman-Tall, RUC
18 – Luke Shuey – Mid-Med-In, CTR
20 – Tom Swift – Mid-Tall-In, CTR
36 – Ash Smith – Mid-Med-Out, BAC/CTR
52 – Jordan Jones – Def-Tall-Key, BAC

The Eagles had a pretty good draft, all things considered. Their upside is enormous, not only NicNat but Swift could be anything as well. In Shuey they have a Rich Lite, which they need to support Daniel Kerr. Much will depend on the pre-season and round 1 selection as to how popular their new mids are. NicNat’s fantasy stocks have probably fallen somewhat with Vickery’s discount, which is probably just as well because he’s likely to start slowly, especially in SC. I can just see him lolling about like a cross between Buddy and Shaq in his first games, wearing out the umpire’s whistle as he gets used to the pace of the seniors. Buddy was no great shakes in his first 50 games for fantasy, let us remember.

Western Bulldogs
14 – Ayce Cordy – Ruckman-Tall, RUC/FWD
31 – Jordan Roughead – Ruckman-Tall, RUC/FWD
32 – Liam Jones – Utility-Tall, FWD/BAC

Tall, tall, tall. Good for the Dogs, bad for fantasy coaches. Avoid.

For a more generalist look at the day’s events, check out our forum thread: 2008 national draft review.