AFL draft: First round analysis

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No. 1 pick Rowell: Pressure is privilege (0:28)

Matt Rowell won't let the tag of number one draft pick stop him from working hard at his new club Gold Coast. (0:28)

Throughout 2019, ESPN.com.au AFL draft expert Chris Doerre has cast his eye over the country's best junior footballers to give readers an early insight into the next generation of AFL stars.

As well as attending live games, Doerre pores through match vision, analyses the stats and talks to industry sources to ensure he can offer the most insightful draft analysis.

This is his analysis from Wednesday night's first round of the draft.


First round selections

Pick 1, Gold Coast: Matt Rowell
Doerre's Power Rankings: 1
Doerre says: Rowell immediately improves Gold Coast's midfield as a high-volume ball winner who wins it inside and works hard on the outside to present up at the football. A potential future captain and is ready to impact games from Round 1. Expect a similar season one impact to 2018 Rising Star winner Sam Walsh.
If I was Gold Coast list manager: I would also take Rowell here. He is a safe choice and is likely to have the most immediate impact in the pool. He will play a significant midfield role for a long time and could be a future captain in waiting.

Pick 2, Gold Coast: Noah Anderson
Doerre's Power Rankings: 2
Doerre says: Anderson is a match-winner who breaks games open in the matter of minutes. He is one of the most influential in the pool whether he's used as a midfielder or forward. With Rowell and Anderson not only playing together at Oakleigh, but also at Carey Grammar, they have developed chemistry on and off the field.
If I was Gold Coast list manager: An easy decision to secure Anderson given he is the next best in the pool and already has a close friendship and rare on-field chemistry established with Rowell.

Pick 3, Melbourne: Luke Jackson
Doerre's Power Rankings: 13
Doerre says: A questionable decision to take Jackson so soon. Jackson is the first pure ruckman taken inside the top 10 since Billy Longer in 2011 and the highest a ruckman has been taken since Nic Naitanui in 2008. With Max Gawn still at the peak of his powers, expect Melbourne to develop Jackson as a key forward who rotates through the ruck before looking at him as an eventual successor to Gawn five or six years from now.
If I was Melbourne list manager: I'd be bidding on Greater Western Sydney Academy midfielder Tom Green. Green is a clear third on my draft board and is of comparable quality to Rowell and Anderson. Had a bid come for Green here, it is unclear whether GWS would have matched given their depth of quality midfielders and more pressing list needs. Had the Giants matched the bid, Sam Flanders would be my choice.

Pick 4, Greater Western Sydney: Lachlan Ash
Doerre's Power Rankings: 9
Doerre says: A well rounded defender who intercepts and hurts the opposition with his run and hurt-factor by foot from defence. Fills a pressing list need for the Giants given their aging defence. A likely successor for Heath Shaw who will over coming years be relied on to provide comparable run and drive from defence.
If I was Greater Western Sydney list manager: Although Ash is a pressing list need here, Sam Flanders is my best available and someone I would draft with the intention of developing as a forward. While Flanders has spent much of the year playing as a midfielder, forward of centre he is this year's most dangerous and would add yet another weapon into the mix. Of the two, Flanders is more ready to impact games as the more physically advanced of the pair whereas Ash is not as strong in regards to the contested component to his game.

Pick 5, Sydney: Dylan Stephens
Doerre's Power Rankings: 8
Doerre says: Midfielder with speed and endurance who can play outside or inside. While lightly built, his SANFL League form suggests he can play in 2019 and provide Sydney's midfield with much needed run sooner rather than later. Flanders was considered favoured for this selection, but Stephens was another contender and Sydney's choice based on list need. The relative surprise is Sydney's lack of interest in placing a bid on Tom Green. With Green a local product, arguably the best available and able to fill a pressing list need as a ball-winning midfielder, the lack of a bid on Green was arguably the more surprising part of Sydney's decision at 5.
If I was Sydney list manager: I'd bid on Green. GWS had made it clear as soon as they moved up to pick 4 that any bid afterward, they would match. Given this, Flanders would have been my selection. While Flanders in my view is best suited as a forward, he's also an excellent midfielder and would have added much needed ball winning and explosive power around the ball.

Pick 6, Adelaide: Fischer McAsey
Doerre's Power Rankings: 6
Doerre says: Adelaide arguably could have traded down and still secured McAsey, but after Sydney took Dylan Stephens -- who Carlton appeared to have targeted -- no deal could be competed and Adelaide took their preferred player. McAsey fits Adelaide's rebuilding plans and is a key defence pillar who the club can build around for a long time. McAsey won Vic Metro's MVP and is the premier key defender in this draft.
If I was Adelaide list manager: I like the fit of McAsey here and feel pick 6 is a suitable price to pay, but I'd be placing a bid on Tom Green here. As a bid on Green would be matched, Sam Flanders would be my choice as the best available player and someone who can offer Adelaide a significant boost both as a forward and midfielder.

Pick 7, Fremantle: Hayden Young
Doerre's Power Rankings: 10
Doerre says: Seen by the Dockers as a best available choice, Young provides consistent drive from defence with his work by foot a highlight. He has a penetrating and precise kick and is likely to take over the kick-in duties from defence for the Dockers sooner rather than later. Young is ready-to-go and is likely to receive senior opportunities early and often in 2020.
If I was Fremantle list manager: With Tom Green the best available player and Fremantle needing a midfield boost, a bid is the obvious decision. With a bid on Green to be matched here, Sam Flanders is the best available player and would be my choice. Flanders would add considerably both to Fremantle's midfield as a ball winner and front half as a marking target.

Pick 8, Fremantle: Caleb Serong
Doerre's Power Rankings: 11
Doerre says: Another selection Fremantle view as a 'best available.' Serong will add both to Freo's midfield as a ball-winner who has an impact at stoppages and as a forward. While Serong is only 178cm, he plays taller than his height as a high leaping, strong marking forward and possesses one-on-one power. Like Young, Serong is ready-to-go, having a physically very mature body and should receive senior opportunities early and often in 2020.
If I was Fremantle list manager: Same as before.

Pick 9, Fremantle: Liam Henry (Fremantle Next-Generation Academy) - matching Carlton's bid
Doerre's Power Rankings: 12
Doerre says: It was an obvious decision after making their first two selections to match bids to secure their next-generation academy prospect. Henry is a freakish talent who in the air, at ground level and with ball in hand, hurts the opposition with his ball use, whether he's used as a forward or through the midfield.
If I was Fremantle list manager: Matching bids is a no-brainer for the talented Henry. He's too good to pass up and thanks to the points-based bidding system Fremantle didn't need to use an early selection to secure him.

Pick 10, Greater Western Sydney: Tom Green (Greater Western Sydney - Academy) - matching Carlton's bid
Doerre's Power Rankings: 3
Doerre says: The bargain of the draft. Tell me at any time this year that GWS would only need to match a bid of pick 10 for Green and I wouldn't have believed it. Green is the best first possession winner at stoppages I've seen in my 11 years watching the Under-18s. While he does not have as complete of a game as Rowell or Anderson, he is so dominant at stoppages that he belongs in the same conversation. A clear top-3 player on quality with everyone else a clear tier or two down.
If I was Greater Western Sydney list manager: I would match bids on Green and start thinking about how the Giants can exchange some of their surplus midfielders for players from rival clubs who can fill more pressing list needs.

Pick 11, Gold Coast: Sam Flanders
Doerre's Power Rankings: 4
Doerre says: A powerful medium forward who takes advantage of opponents one-on-one inside 50m and combines that with contested ball-winning capabilities and explosiveness through the midfield. His finals performance against Oakleigh -- where he outplayed the first two picks and now teammates Matthew Rowell and Noah Anderson -- reminded recruiters that despite playing mostly midfield this year, Flanders is arguably this year's most damaging forward of centre.
If I was Gold Coast list manager: The Suns made the right call adding Flanders who not only gives them a boost to their front half, but also their midfield. In adding Flanders to Jack Lukosius, Izak Rankine, Ben King, Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson, Gold Coast, in the space of two years, have drafted what appears a potential 'big 6' if the Suns can turn around their player development.

Pick 12, Melbourne: Kysaiah Pickett
Doerre's Power Rankings: 33
Doerre says: Melbourne wanted a small forward with speed who applies heavy forward pressure and that's what they got. Pickett is a small, low production forward who averaged less than one goal per game during the Under-18 Championships and SANFL at League level, but the forward pressure he applies influences the outcome of games and can turn the momentum. He's one-touch at ground level and freakish with ball in hand. With Melbourne needing what Pickett offers, expect to see him playing senior football next season.
If I was Melbourne list manager: Brodie Kemp is my best available here. If not for an ACL tear he likely would have been selected by this point. Kemp at 192cm is among the players with the greatest upside in the pool but is a high risk/high reward player as he has for the most part shown glimpses and had moments rather than consistently producing strong, complete games through the midfield. Kemp made big plays in big moments during the Under-18 Championships and with his explosive speed, one-touch ground ball pickups on the move and damaging skills, he has the attributes to be a monster and inject much needed speed into Melbourne's midfield.

Pick 13, Hawthorn: Will Day
Doerre's Power Rankings: 40
Doerre says: Lightly built medium defender who shows class and composure with ball in hand. The cousin of Gold Coast's Sam Day, Will's grandfather Robert Day coincidently is a Hawthorn premiership player, taking part in Hawthorn's 1971 flag victory. While Day is likely to start his career in defence, if he develops physically, he may in the future mature to have the scope to push through the midfield. Day is a developing player who will take time to find his feet at AFL level.
If I was Hawthorn list manager: Brodie Kemp would be my choice here. Kemp will take time in his own right to develop the scope to play at AFL level as a midfielder, but having the extra height, better ball-winning capabilities, the versatility to play as a key position player and arguably even greater hurt-factor, is the stronger choice.

Pick 14, Port Adelaide: Miles Bergman
Doerre's Power Rankings: 19
Doerre says: An athletic tall flanker who leaps high, takes strong marks and possesses the longest kick in the draft. Bergman at 189cm is still growing and having struggled throughout much of the year and trained very little due to a foot injury, is a selection with upside. While Bergman has played most of his football as a forward, with his mix of attributes I find him most intriguing as a defender.
If I was Port Adelaide list manager: Brodie Kemp is my best available choice here and would again be my pick. Kemp can do a lot of the same things as Bergman as a similarly dangerous marking forward but has more tricks. Kemp possesses greater explosiveness, a more reliable kick, greater ball winning capabilities and capacity to roll through the midfield.

Pick 15, Western Bulldogs: Cody Weightman
Doerre's Power Rankings: 27
Doerre says: Athletic forward who averaged 2.3 goals per game during the Under-18 Championships. Weightman has speed, is a high leaper and is a difficult-to-contain aerial mark. Weightman is likely a pure forward and may take some time to develop but will be able to provide the Dogs with another much-needed avenue to goal.
If I was Western Bulldogs list manager: Brodie Kemp remains the best player available and would again be my choice. Due to the stacked midfield the Dogs have, Kemp would be an ideal fit either as a key forward or key defender. He is comfortable playing in either position and when holding down a key position post does so to as high of a standard as anyone in the pool. The bonus with Kemp is he not only has the strength and marking but he has the skills, explosive speed and ground ball-winning of a much smaller player.

Pick 16, Geelong: Cooper Stephens
Doerre's Power Rankings: 21
Doerre says: Geelong have a history of drafting local talent and they did again here in selecting Stephens. Sitting out most of the season with a leg fracture, the selection of Stephens came earlier than expected. A very physically developed and powerful contested ball-winner, Stephens explodes out of stoppages and possesses excellent endurance. With Geelong's midfield aging, Stephens fills a pressing need and is good enough to earn games next season.
If I was Geelong list manager: Brodie Kemp would be my selection here. Kemp is the best available talent and either through the midfield or as a key position player would represent strong value to Geelong.

Pick 17, Carlton: Brodie Kemp
Doerre's Power Rankings: 5
Doerre says: A high risk/high reward choice who was in the conversation with Carlton's pick 9 before they bid on Henry and Green, and eventually traded back in the draft. Kemp made big plays in big moments during the Under-18 Championships and with his explosive speed, one-touch ground ball pickups on the move and damaging skills, he has the attributes to be a monster and inject much needed speed into Carlton's midfield.
If I was Carlton list manager: I wouldn't have traded Carlton's pick 9. I would have bid on Tom Green then would have drafted Sam Flanders who as a forward and midfielder is ready to go and impact games next year. With pick 17 though with the players available, Brodie Kemp is the player I'd select.

Pick 18, Port Adelaide: Mitch Georgiades
Doerre's Power Rankings: 60+
Doerre says: A surprise selection. Georgiades is an athletic key forward who is a high leaper and strong mark. He missed the season after showing signs of promise in 2018 during the Under-18 Championships. The selection is a risky one given Georgiades is a relatively short key forward at 192cm and has only mild performance behind him averaging less than one goal per game during the 2018 Under-18 Championships. Georgiades was considered a likely second round choice but proved a surprise first round bolter with Geelong believed to have also had an interest.
If I was Port Adelaide list manager: Deven Robertson is my best available talent, rated 7th in my November Power Rankings, and the last of the players I rate inside my top 10. Robertson, who won the Larke Medal for the best player during the Under-18 Championships, is a ready-made midfielder and his output exceeded that of Rowell and Anderson while his influence was also arguably greater.

Pick 19, Geelong: Sam De Koning
Doerre's Power Rankings: 38
Doerre says: A late bloomer who has grown a lot in recent years. A project player, De Koning at 201cm is a key defender who is still growing. Of genuine ruck height, De Koning has substantial scope to improve. Key defence looks like his best spot, but if he struggles to develop it wouldn't be unreasonable to think he could transition into the ruck in the future.
If I was Geelong list manager: Deven Robertson is the best available and would be my choice here. Although Geelong already took a midfielder with their first selection, the Cats need more young midfielders to replenish their aging midfield.

Pick 20, Carlton: Sam Philp
Doerre's Power Rankings: 57
Doerre says: Given some of the midfielders still available, specifically Devon Robertson, Hawthorn father-son prospect Finn Maginness and Trent Rivers, it was surprising to see Philp selected here. A good inside distributor, Philp does his best work in-and-under. He won the 20m sprint at the draft combine but arguably doesn't use his speed often enough on matchday.
If I was Carlton list manager: Devon Robertson would be the selection as a more ready-to-go midfielder. Robertson is a more prolific ball-winner and someone who moves the ball the more aggressively of the pair.

Pick 21, Richmond: Thomson Dow
Doerre's Power Rankings: 60+
Doerre says: Another surprise. Those linked to Richmond's first selection in Cooper Stephens, Sam De Koning and Sam Philp had all been taken and there was likely no time to orchestrate a trade back even if Richmond wanted to. Thomson, the younger brother of Carlton's Paddy, is a quick, light-bodied midfielder who can win his own ball. He has shown glimpses but ultimately is a project player who will take time to develop physically. He is a much less physically developed player by contrast to Paddy at the same age and has yet to impact games like Paddy did in the junior ranks.
If I was Richmond list manager: Devon Robertson being the best available player would be my choice here. His ball winning capabilities far exceed that of Dow and unlike Dow he has the capability of playing early and often in 2020.

Trade notes

Picks are listed as they were at the time of the trades.

Trade 1:

Port Adelaide receive:

Picks 16, 52, 55 and 72

Brisbane receive:

Picks 29, 71 and Port Adelaide's 2020 first round selection

Doerre says:

Port Adelaide prioritised involvement in the first round this year and adding a combination of late selections to help towards matching a bid for father-son selection Jackson Mead which is expected to come somewhere in the second round. The value secured by Brisbane in this deal was excellent with Port Adelaide's 2020 first round selection appearing the most valuable pick exchanged while pick 29 could yield a similar quality prospect to pick 16 with little separating the prospects in that draft range and some good players expected to slide through to into the middle portion of the second round.

Trade 2:

Greater Western Sydney receive:

Pick 4

Adelaide receive:

Pick 6 and Greater Western Sydney's 2020 first round selection

Doerre says:

Greater Western Sydney paid a price premium which as it turns out was unnecessarily to move up in the draft to acquire pick 4. It seemed the wise thing to do at the time for the Giants with both Sydney and Adelaide both needing midfielders but as it turned out the pick was not necessary to acquire Tom Green. The value secured by Adelaide was excellent, not moving down far in the first round and securing the Giants' 2020 first round selection which will be helpful for next year as Adelaide will have a father-son choice in Luke Edwards (son of Tyson) in the first-round mix.

Trade 3:

Hawthorn receive:

Picks 50, 73, and North Melbourne's 2020 second round selection

North Melbourne receive:

Pick 30

Doerre says:

A trade by North Melbourne to improve their draft hand this year inside the first two rounds while giving up two later picks they don't need. Hawthorn on the other hand secured value, by acquiring North Melbourne's 2020 second round selection and will be hoping a player they have targeted slides through to pick 50.

Trade 4:

Collingwood receive:

Pick 48 and Brisbane's 2020 third round selection

Brisbane receive:

Collingwood's 2020 second round selection

Doerre says:

With Brisbane possessing three picks inside the top 35, they could afford to give up pick 48 in order to improve their draft position for 2020. Collingwood on the other hand elected to improve their draft hand this year at the cost of moving down next year as they would only have had one pick inside the top 50 otherwise.

Trade 5:

Adelaide receive:

Pick 22 and Collingwood's 2020 third round selection

Fremantle receive:

Picks 28, 49 and Carlton's 2020 fourth round selection

Doerre says:

Fremantle prioritised points maximisation in this draft to go towards the matching of bids on next-generation academy forward Liam Henry. Adelaide on the other hand secured the value in the deal moving up into the early 20s and slightly improving their draft position for 2020, with the loss of pick 49 inconsequential given their five selections inside the top 45.

Trade 6:

Fremantle receive:

Pick 8

Melbourne receive:

Picks 10, 28 and Carlton's 2020 fourth round selection

Doerre says:

Fremantle paid a price premium to move up to pick 8, but for good reason as they were able to secure two top-10 selections in Hayden Young and Caleb Serong aside from Liam Henry. Melbourne from this deal secured strong value and improved their draft hand this year by adding a third selection inside the top-30 and next year through adding a future selection, without moving down far.

Trade 7:

Collingwood receive:

Pick 60

Greater Western Sydney receive:

Picks 62 and 70

Doerre says:

Greater Western Sydney secured more points to go towards matching bids on Tom Green while Collingwood moved strategically up the draft to move ahead of Essendon.

Trade 8:

Fremantle receive:

Picks 52 and 55

Port Adelaide receive:

Pick 66 and Fremantle's 2020 second round selection

Doerre says:

Fremantle made the trade securing two picks in the 50s to be converted to points to go towards matching the Liam Henry bid while Port Adelaide capitalise on the value on offer to move up in next year's draft.

Trade 9:

Gold Coast receive:

Picks 11 and 62

Carlton receive:

Picks 17 and 22

Doerre says:

With Carlton hoping Dylan Stephens, Hayden Young or Caleb Serong slip through to their pick and having no interest in the surprise slider Sam Flanders, the Blues smartly placed bids on Liam Henry and Tom Green to allow themselves enough time to finalise this deal with Gold Coast. The Suns secured terrific value in adding Flanders, creating a potential 'big 6' for the future while Carlton added Brodie Kemp and pick 22 which was later traded. It is believed that had Carlton been unable to trade pick 11 that Kemp would have been among those considered.

Trade 10:

Carlton receive:

Pick 20

Port Adelaide receive:

Picks 22 and 55

Doerre says:

Carlton moved up one position, potentially thinking Richmond were looking at speedy, ball-winning midfielder Sam Philp. Port Adelaide on the other hand felt comfortable moving back two spots with neither Carlton nor Richmond considering players the Power are looking at with pick 22. Port Adelaide have the benefit in this deal of adding an additional late pick to go towards matching bids on Jackson Mead and will have until the draft resumes to either trade the pick 22, which is in hot demand or use it.