The fierce battle at the top of the AFL looks set to continue with the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne Football Club battling it out for top spot. At the other end of the table, it looks like being a season to forget for struggling North Melbourne and Hawthorn.
Whether it is fighting it out for the McClelland Trophy or scrapping to avoid the wooden spoon, every team in the AFL has skin in the game ahead of the mid-season draft.
Landing the next Marlion Pickett could transform a side’s season and see them shooting up the table, likewise a couple of poor picks could see a side fall right down in the betting odds.
Ahead of this year’s mid-season draft we have compiled a handy guide that answers the simple questions such as when the draft starts and how it works along with a list of players to look out for.
If you feel that there is one special player that every club should be looking to add to their ranks, let us know in the comments section below.
When is the draft?
The AFL mid-season draft takes place on Wednesday, June 2nd as a virtual event which you can watch by visiting AFL.com.au or by downloading the AFL Live Official App. The broadcast will run from 6.30pm to 8pm AEST.
Why is there a mid-season draft?
In 2019 the mid-season draft was introduced to the AFL for the first time in 25 years as a response to the increasing physical demands placed on players. The mid-season draft is therefore in place to help clubs who have suffered with the impacts of long-term injuries and/or premature retirements.
The mid-season draft is also likely to shake up the performance of some teams. For those who enjoy placing a sports bet on the AFL, the mid-season draft is definitely one to be watched to see which AFL teams sign which prospecting players. The mid-season draft can be a turning point for those teams who are underperforming due to injuries, but the signing of a new player could dramatically change their performance and increase their chances of winning the league.
How many picks will my club have?
The number of picks that your club has in the mid-season draft correlates directly to the amount of long-term injuries or retirements that you club has at the time of the draft.
Fremantle for example have the lowest number of picks with only 2 whereas Brisbane has 6 and Gold Coast have 7.
How is the order determined?
Just like the NAB AFL draft the mid-season draft is selected in reverse ladder order, so as things stand North Melbourne will have pick 1, Hawthorn pick 2 and so on. The draft is structured in this way to ensure as much competitiveness as possible.
Which players are eligible for the draft?
According to the AFL rules, clubs can recruit any player who was nominated for the 2020 NAB AFL draft or a player who was delisted at the end of the 2020 season. Players who were delisted cannot be resigned by the club that delisted them.
The rules as to who can be drafted do become a little bit more complex on an individual basis though. Geelong Football Club and Gold Coast Suns legend Gary Ablett Jr. cannot make a comeback as he has been away from the game for less than 12 months.
Kade Simpson however, can be selected by a club in the mid-season draft as he did not make the decision to retire after being delisted by Carlton. Beyond these recognised names, players in the AFL Academy can nominate themselves for the mid-season draft.
The best players in this year’s draft
Now that you know (almost) everything you need to know about the mid-season draft, let us take a look at 3 of the biggest talents that clubs will be scrambling to pick:
Club: Sandringham Dragons
Position: Key Forward/Ruck
Despite still completing his Year 12 studies at Mentone Grammar, Jacob Edwards has made himself available for the mid-season draft and is heavily tipped to join the struggling North Melbourne on an 18-month contract.
The Kangaroos can expect a deceptively mobile player with a great pair of hands in the air and a cultured left-foot kick. Mark Wheeler, the Sandringham talent manager believes it will take 3 years for Edwards to fully mature into the player he can be.
Wheeler however did say that the 18-year-old will be more than capable of holding his own when called on in the remainder of the season.
Club: Woodville-West Torrens
Position: Small forward
In the slightly older age bracket, Tyson Stengle will be turning heads in the AFL after his recent eye-catching performances for Woodville-West Torrens. The small forward has of course played in the AFL before, representing Richmond and Adelaide.
Whilst undoubtedly a good player, Stengle has had a number of off-field incidents which have perhaps led to him playing outside of the AFL. In April of 2020 he was caught drink driving and just 5 months later police found cocaine on him in a taxi.
Collingwood are thought to be weighing up a move for the 22-year-old in the mid-season draft, meaning they must be convinced of Stengle’s dedication to put his off-field indiscretions behind him.
Club: Oakleigh Chargers/Collingwood VFL
A member of the NAB AFL Academy Squad and a proud member of Collingwood’s VFL Development List, Ned Moyle appears to have the world at his feet so to speak.
The 19-year-old is a tall, dominating ruckman who averaged 9 disposals, 27.7 hitouts, 1.7 clearances and 3.7 score involvements in his first 3 games in the NAB League for the Oakleigh Chargers.
He then went on to demonstrate his ability to cut it at a higher level with some promising performances in the AFL Academy, most notably against Geelong’s VFL side.
Gold Coast are thought to be hugely interested in adding Moyle to their ranks, but the Magpies or Hawthorn could well snap up the 19-year-old ruckman before the Suns get a chance to make their pick.
Now you know how the mid-season draft works, who is eligible to be drafted and 3 of the biggest talents available why not tell us what you think below? Can Jacob Edwards inspire North Melbourne to avoid the wooden spoon? Is Tyson Stengle really worth a gamble for an aspiring AFL side? Let us know in the comments.