With still four months to go until the 2017 NAB AFL draft, and with plenty of water still to go under the bridge in regards to ladder position, and with the back end of the football season still there for the next crop of stars to stake their claim, we here at The Sideline Report thought now would be a great time to have a ridiculously early look at how the AFL draft may shake out in November.
With the ability for teams to now trade future draft picks during the trade period in October, there is still a chance the draft order will look very different to how it currently stands at the end of round 18. Add the unpredictability of father son and academy bids and this exercise seems fruitless. But who cares? Let’s have a go anyway.
Here is The Sideline Report AFL Mock Draft, July edition.
1. Brisbane – Cameron Rayner
(Half-forward/Mid, 187cm, 88kg)
Solidly built forward/midfielder who posseses great explosiveness out of stoppages. A very good mark and dangerous one-on-one in the forward line, Rayner has been compared to a young Dustin Martin. Would be a dream for Lions fans to be able to add Rayner to a blossoming young midfield featuring last year’s first rounders Hugh McCluggage and Jarred Berry. Odds on to play round 1 almost regardless of where he winds up.
2. North Melbourne – Luke Davies-Uniacke
(Mid, 187cm, 85kg)
The Kangas are in dire need of class and flair in their one-paced midfield, and Davies-Uniacke certainly would add that. Despite a quite National Championship carnival by his lofty standards, Davies-Uniacke showed glimpses of why he’s so highly touted. LDU posseses great movement in congestion, a knack for finding the ball and is an extremely good mark over head. He has deceptive pace, with a distinctive long striding running style similar to Marcus Bontempelli. A strong finish in the TAC cup for the Dandenong Stingrays could see his named pushed even higher up draft boards.
3. Carlton – Sam Hayes
(Ruck/forward, 203cm, 93kg)
Hayes is not the third best player in the draft at the moment, but could be the best player from this draft in 10 years time. A talented albeit skinny tap ruckman/Centre-half forward has enormous potential and would be on every teams wish list, including Carlton (particularly if Matthew Kruezer leaves via free agency). A long-term prospect for a Blues team on a long road back up the ladder.
4. Gold Coast – Adam Cerra
(Mid, 186cm, 85kg)
For the Sun’s to climb out of their never ending story of mediocrity, they have to start by drafting quality mid. Cerra is just that. A nice size for the modern mid (186cm), Cerra is a workhorse in the midfield. Wins plenty of the ball, tackles, wins clearances and is classy by foot. Has the makings of a 200 game player and could be a young man who helps change the public perception of a fledgling team.
5. Fremantle – Darcy Fogarty
(Forward/Mid, 192cm, 92kg)
Darcy Fogarty had a pretty ordinary National Championship campaign, culminating in a dreadful perforce against Vic Metro at Etihad intront of hundreds of recruiters were he gathered just 4 possessions. All that being said, you don’t lose your class or ability over night, and Freo would love to have somebody of Fogarty’s size and athleticism to play as a second fiddle to Cam McCarthy in the forward line, while also having the ability to push into the centre as a big bodied midfield. Freo have done well before when drafting South Australians in the first round (Matthew Pavlich).
6. Collingwood – Jarrod Brander
(Key Back/forward, 194cm, 89kg)
Collingwood’s main aim this off-season will surely be to find some help down back and up forward to help steady their team lead by their A-grade midfield. The jury is still out on whether Brander is a fullback or a fullforwatd, but Collingwood would love to draft him and find out. Reads the ball well in flight and is a strong mark in the air and on the lead. Would be an exciting prospect down at the Holden centre, and Eddie would love the fact the Pies drafted a talented young boy who was stripped of the Giants academy.
7. St. Kilda – Lochie O’Brien
(Mid, 184cm, 75kg)
This is currently the pick the Saints would get off the Hawks, and if they could nab someone with the class and foot skills of O’Brien, they’d be laughing. O’Brien would add real dash and class to the outside of an emerging St. Kilda midfield, and he’s precise left foot 50 metre darts wouldn’t be out of place under the roof at Etihad. Of, trading both first rounders for GWS star Josh Kelly would be great, too.
8. Richmond – Patrick Naish (F/son bid)
(Mid, 183cm, 73kg)
With two first round picks, the Tigers would have no trouble jumping from the back end of the first round up to match the Saints bid on their father son prospect. Naish is a very good decision maker and one of only a handful of prospects in this year’s draft who are considered to be elite by foot.
9. St. Kilda – Jaidyn Stephenson
(Mid, 189cm, 76kg)
With the Patrick Naish bid failed, the Saints could then decide to draft a real draft X-factor. It’s hard to pinpoint an exact position for Jaidyn Stephenson, as he is so versatile. With unique height and speed, Stephenson looks like a tall wingman/half forward. He played in a match for Vic Metro this year in which he gathered 28 possessions and snagged 5 goals. Saints fans would certainly get excited about this boy.
10. Brisbane – Connor Ballenden (academy bid)
(Utility, 199cm, 95kg)
The Lions will be sure to swiftly match any bid that comes for the talented big man from their academy. Ballenden is a giant who played in the ruck as well as forward and back for the Allies in the National Championships this year. He probably played his best down back but the Lions will surely see Ballenden as a long term replacement for Stefan Martin.
11. Western Bulldogs – Nick Coffield
(Half-back/Mid, 190cm, 83kg)
With Brisbane matching the Ballenden bid, the Dogs turn their attention to the Vic Metro half-back. Coffield would be an ideal inclusion to the Dogs backline, especially with the looming retirements of Dale Morris and Bob Murphy. Coffield is an astute footballer with high IQ and is a quint essential half-back who should be able to play as a tall midfielder in time.
12. West Coast – Jack Higgins
(Mid/forward, 178cm, 76kg)
The only thing that is pushing Higgins this far down is his height. Higgins is a nuggety midfielder who wins clearances and is always clean by hand and foot. Higgins has plenty of tricks when he goes forward and, pound for pound, may be the best “footballer” in this year’s draft.
13. Essendon – Paddy Dow
(Mid, 184cm, 78kg)
Dow would be an exciting prospect to add to an already young and promising Essendon midfield. Dow has fantastic explosiveness from stoppages and would add some real polish and toughness to the Dons engine room. His kicking can let him down at times but he’s certainly a prospect with a bright future.
14. Melbourne – Aaron Naughton
(Key defender, 194cm, 84)
This would certainly be a pick for need rather than best available for the Demons, however they would certainly be getting a promising key defender. Naughton had a fantastic National Championships for WA, winning many of his one-on-one contests in defence while providing plenty of rebound. Naughton’s kicking could use some work, but he has the look of a quality key defender.
15. Sydney – Callum Coleman-Jones
(Ruck/forward, 201cm, 98kg)
The Swans aren’t a team with a lot of needs, but the possible impending departures of Kurt Tippet and Sam Reid mean three is a need for a big man who can both ruck and go forward. Coleman-Jones had a quite Championship for South Australia, however he showed glimpses of his strengths which include his tap work and over head marking. Coleman-Jones could get a game early next season if Sam Naismith and/or Darcy Cameron don’t nail the number 1 position.
16. Richmond – Noah Balta
(Key def/forward, 194cm, 92kg)
The Tigers have very little depth behind the starters in defence and the forward line, so drafting for depth would be wise. It’s still up for debate as to where Balta’s best position is, but the Tigers would love the agility and athleticism of a young boy his size. Balta has even played in the ruck for his TAC side, such is his athleticism. (There is a chance this pick will be bumped back, depending on where the bid comes for Naish).
17. Adelaide – Jackson Edwards (F/son)
(Mid, 185cm, 77kg)
The Crows don’t muck around waiting for a bid and simply take their second ever father son prospect in Jackson Edwards (son of Tyson). Edwards had a really nice Championships with SA, continuously showing his class and poise in traffic. Edwards is a good kick and moves really nicely as a beaut sized 185 cm midfielder. He’s tough and clever and will surely play early next season in an Adelaide midfield thats often maligned for not having enough talent behind Rory Sloan.
**GWS had their first round pick stripped as a result of the Lachie Whitfield drug saga.