ESPN's very own AFL Draft expert Chris Doerre has run his eye over every club's draft haul and graded their performance with some club's setting themselves up well for the future, while other clubs missed the mark.
While there is hope on the horizon at last for the Gold Coast with another strong crop of draftees, Melbourne's strategy was questionable including some reaches for players they perhaps could have waited on, see how your club fared.
Gold Coast made the right choices with their first two selections by securing close friends Matthew Rowell and Noah Anderson. As school mates at Carey Grammar and teammates for Oakleigh Chargers, they have developed a great chemistry on and off the field and appear to be key building blocks for the future. Gold Coast's trade of picks 17 and 22 for 11 and 62 was excellent with Sam Flanders a third potential star for the Suns out of this draft. Gold Coast gave up a lot in pick 64 and their 2020 pick 11 which they received through the AFL's assistance package to secure Jeremy Sharp. Though Sharp is a strong list fit and represents strong value at 27, the Suns overpaid. With the Suns last selection, Jy Farrar is a speculative mature age choice who is breaks the lines and displays x-factor but will take time to develop. Farrar is a low production player who struggled to find the ball averaging just six disposals across his two SANFL League matches which suggests he may have been more suitable for selection as a rookie.
Fremantle traded up wisely from pick 10 up to pick 8 so that neither of their top-10 picks would need to be used on Next-Generation Academy prospect Liam Henry. Their other trades were made with a focus towards adding the most picks possible in this year's draft to minimise the points deficit going into next year's draft. Hayden Young and Caleb Serong both are solid choices and ready-to-go selections who should be among the most immediate performers from this pool. Young is likely to take Fremantle's kickouts from defence for the next 15 years as arguably this draft's best kick. Serong on the other hand adds both through the midfield and up forward as a strong bodied ball winner and who is difficult to match up on with his one-on-one and marking capabilities as a forward. Late draft Minairo Frederick is a suitable choice a speedy, instinctive and skilful outside type with scope to develop.
Improved their draft hand slightly in the latter half of the draft to increase their involvement without losing a lot. Jay Rantall represents strong value as a basketball convert with elite endurance who does his best work inside winning the contested ball, distributing by hand and moving through traffic. Oakleigh premiership captain Trent Bianco is a second selection who represents strong value as one of the best kicks in the draft and the most advanced outside player in the pool. Trey Ruscoe at 192cm with his versatility to play defence, midfield or forward, is a third solid selection with his skills, mobility, ball winning capabilities and the way he reads the ball in flight and takes marks. Though the question of whether Collingwood should have retained pick 51 to draft key forward Jake Riccardi rather than trade it to GWS who used the pick to draft the VFL's Fothergill-Round-Mitchell Medal is a question that will be asked given Collingwood's lacking key position stocks.
Sydney strayed away from the script by selecting Dylan Stephens at 5 but found a suitable list fit in the hard-running midfielder who is accustomed to playing against bigger bodies and should earn senior games in season 2020. The Swans patiently traded their picks up to improve their draft hand and in the second round moved up slightly to secure Will Gould and Chad Warner. While Elijah Taylor was their other second round selection. Gould is one of the draft bargains as one of this year's most ready to play, best and most penetrating kicks and most imposing physical presence with the way he bumps and tackles to hurt. Warner will help Sydney's midfield as an aggressive ball winning midfielder who wins a high proportion of ball in contested situations. Taylor as a forward is one of this year's most talented forwards with how quick and clean he is and how it feels like he will make something happen every time he gets his hands on the ball.
Cooper Stephens adds to Geelong's midfield as a physically very mature ball winning midfielder with explosiveness out of stoppages and excellent endurance. Geelong took a chance by drafting late blooming project key defender and younger brother of Carlton's Tom, Sam De Koning. De Koning if given enough time he could develop either as a key defender or as a ruckman. Geelong traded very well, securing the Suns 2020 pick 11 via the AFL's assistance package and pick 64 at the time of the trade in exchange pick 27. The Cats also made their own trade up to secure dangerous forward Cameron Taheny with pick 50, who represents strong value. The surprising speculative selection of Francis Evans is Geelong's most questionable decision as someone who was more suitable for selection as a rookie. Evans based off the small sample size of two NAB League games where he averaged 2.5 goals but struggled to find the ball averaging just nine disposals. making him more suitable for selection as a rookie until there is more football against good competition to base an evaluation on.
Through trade, Brisbane improved their 2020 draft position and made a point of moving up on the second day of the draft to pick 22 in order to secure Deven Robertson, as Port Adelaide may have traded that pick onto another club who may have selected Robertson otherwise. Robertson at 22 represents excellent value and is one of the best performed midfielders in the pool. He won the Larke Medal for the best player during the Under-18 Championships after averaging a competition high 30 disposals. Brock Smith as a medium defender is a solid choice and a capable role player who can intercept and compete against his direct opponent. A bid came earlier than expected for speedy and damaging Academy product Keidean Coleman. 37 is a fair amount to spend to match bids on Coleman, but with his speed and skills and having trained with the club throughout the year and as part of their NEAFL premiership team they know what they're getting. Earning two WAFL League games late in the season and holding his own, Jaxon Prior is a solid choice late. Prior generates drive from defence, intercepts and plays a courageous brand of football.
St Kilda selected arguably the bargain of the draft first up in Ryan Byrnes. Byrnes is one of the best ball winning midfielders in the draft and combines that with explosive pace, agility and a damaging kick. St Kilda's second selection was however a surprising one selecting Leo Connolly as a speedy outside midfielder. With Connolly winning a low percentage of 27% his ball in contested situations, Connolly looks more suitable for selection as a rookie. What was disappointing from St Kilda was that they did not match Richmond's bid on talented Next-Generation Academy key defender Bigoa Nyuon.
Adelaide traded well and with a focus on capitalising on rival clubs overpaying to target specific players which Adelaide capitalised on by improving their 2020 draft hand as a result. With Adelaide's first two selections they secured two Under-18 Championships MVPs in Fischer McAsey (Vic Metro) and Harry Schoenberg (South Australia). Fischer McAsey as a key defender represents suitable value at 6 with Adelaide's first selection a is strong list fit who will be developed to succeed Daniel Talia and Kyle Hartigan. McAsey intercepts and competes well one-on-one. Harry Schoenberg represents good value at 24 and is a strong selection as a ball winning midfielder who displays a high work rate and displays a burst of speed with ball in hand. Josh Worrell as a tall utility is an impressive athlete and intercept mark who may develop into a second key defender. The only thing holding Adelaide back from an A-grade is their last two selections in Ronin O'Connor and Lachlan Gollant who are speculative choices as a tall inside midfielder and a tall outside midfielder respectively were on performance more suitable for consideration as rookies rather than inside the top-50.
Greater Western Sydney
Lachlan Ash at pick 4 fills a pressing list need and is a suitable list fit off half-back with the run and drive he generates. The Giants paid a lot to move up two places inside the first round and surprisingly in the end the Giants unnecessarily gave up their 2020 first round pick, with Academy product Tom Green attracting a bid a lot later at pick 10 than was expected at the time of the trade. The Giants 2020 draft hand now is greatly compromised not only due to the loss of their first-round choice but also because of the points deficit they have amassed. While worth a pick around 51, it was a surprise to see the Giants trade for Collingwood's pick 51 to add mature age key forward Jake Riccardi to an already potent group of key forwards. Thomas Hutchesson feels like a further doubling up of what the Giants already have as a small outside midfielder/forward with speed who applies strong forward pressure but is not a huge accumulator or goalkicker. If not for the sheer value Green represents anywhere after pick 3, the Giants grade would be much worse than this.
Essendon traded up to secure key forward Harrison Jones, with the club lacking key forwards and aware they may require a Joe Daniher replacement if Daniher walks at the end of next offseason. Jones will add an athletic, strong marking key forward, though will take time to develop physically. Nick Bryan as a ruckman adds to the club's thin ruck stocks as a mobile ruck who is clean at ground level and strong mark but will take time to develop physically. Adding speed to the club's front half, Ned Cahill is a classy small forward with speed, agility, evasion and the capacity to turn opponents inside out. The one relative surprise was Essendon was taking Lachlan Johnson, a Next-Generation Academy prospect in the national draft, as a small defender/forward who hasn't starred and tore his ACL this season. Johnson, the son of Brisbane premiership player Chris and eligible to Brisbane as a father-son, Essendon decided to take the chance first.
With Carlton not liking the players available to them at pick 9, they bid on Liam Henry (Fremantle Next-Generation Academy) and Tom Green (Sydney Academy) respectively in a stall in order to have enough time to complete a trade with Gold Coast. Carlton landed Brodie Kemp and after a minor pick swap with Port Adelaide securing Sam Philp with their second selection. Brodie Kemp represents strong value at 17 as a high risk/high reward selection who could be one of the very best in the draft at 192cm as a midfielder or key position player with his explosiveness, damaging kick and cleanness over his feet. Sam Philp on the other hand is a reach at 20 as a strong inside ball winner who distributes effectively by hand but does not have as many ways of impacting games or to the same extent as other midfielders available at this position. Sam Ramsay is a second questionable selection as a productive midfielder, but one who lacks the impact on games most of the other midfielders selected manage.
The Power prioritised adding to and enhancing their hand in this draft while ensuring they had enough late picks available to match a bid on Jackson Mead without going into a pick deficit next year. Miles Bergman, a strong marking flanker with the longest kick in the draft is a solid choice and has the attributes to develop at either end of the ground. Port Adelaide's second selection, Mitch Georgiades while athletic and a strong mark was among the highest risk and most questionable. Georgiades is an undersized key forward at 191cm who missed the season due to injury and averaged less than one goal per game in the 2018 Under-18 Championships which makes him more a very speculative choice so early on. Dylan Williams at pick 23 was a solid selection as someone coming into the season was a possible top-five choice. Williams is a talented medium forward and has drawn comparisons to Steve Johnson for his goal sense and how dangerous he is forward of centre. Port Adelaide father-son selection Jackson Mead (the son of Darren) attracted a bid earlier than expected. Mead is a capable ball winner who is a strong mark overhead and uses the ball reliably.
Richmond reached with their first selection, picking athletic midfielder Thomson Dow. The younger brother of Carlton's Paddy, Thomson is a project midfielder and a surprise selection given the quality of midfielders still available at pick 21. Richmond with their next two selections made equally interesting decisions by bidding on and securing Brisbane Academy selections Noah Cumberland and Will Martyn. Cumberland while low production possesses is an aggressive tackler and is a strong aerial mark with excellent athleticism including a high leap and line-breaking speed. Martyn on the other hand is a high production player who struggles to impact games and is unreliable by foot. As an athletic forward, Hugo Ralphsmith has speed and is a strong mark aerially but has struggled for consistency this year and a component of that is a lack of a contested component to his game. Arguably Richmond's best selection was their last in Bigoa Nyuon who St Kilda chose not to match a bid on. Nyuon may be one of the best value selections in this draft as a freakishly athletic key defender with similar capabilities to Aliir Aliir with comparable athleticism and intercept marking capabilities.
Hawthorn traded to move back in the draft and improve their draft hand next year without securing much value in the deals as some other clubs who made similar trades had. Will Day at 13 is a questionable choice by Hawthorn as a tall half-back flanker to a team that appears well stocked and to have other more pressing needs. Day possesses clean skills, composure and speed and once he becomes stronger Hawthorn may develop him to push up through the midfield. A bid on father-son selection Finn Maginness (son of Scott) at pick 29 is an excellent outcome for the Hawks with Maginness at 189cm a ball winning midfielder with athleticism, good skills and the capacity to hurt rival teams forward of centre. Hawthorn's third and final selection Josh Morris while inconsistent during the year and quiet during the Under-18 Championships is a strong marking medium forward with good speed and athleticism who kicked an impressive 11 goals from five SANFL Reserves games.
Traded wisely and secured value in their trade with Fremantle. The move back allowed Melbourne to add pick 28 and a future fourth round pick without a meaningful move back down the order from pick 8 to 10. While Melbourne's trade looks on paper like value was acquired, their first two picks of ruckman Luke Jackson and small forward pressure specialist Kysaiah Pickett are arguably reaches. Jackson, a sub 200cm ruckman is athletic, plays with aggression and follows up well but was arguably not the best available player. Similarly, Pickett while the forward pressure he applies is of a best in draft standard and he has speed and is damaging with ball in hand, his low scoreboard impact and product makes him a difficult sell so early on. Trent Rivers, who Melbourne secured thanks to their trade with Fremantle represents strong value at what after bidding became pick 32. Rivers is a classy ball user off half-back who moves well and can push through the midfield as a ball winner.
West Coast's first pick Callum Jamieson is a mobile project ruckman who finds a lot of the ball around the ground but will take time to develop physically. Ben Johnson while short at 178cm and light bodied generates significant drive from defence with one of the longest kicks in the draft and line-breaking speed. While neither player is necessarily a reach at their respective selections, with West Coast in win now mode, neither player is likely to earn senior games while their premiership window is open.
Western Bulldogs selected small forward Cody Weightman with their first selection. Weightman while arguably a reach here but can provide another avenue to goal. Louis Butler was drafted to generate drive off half-back with his speed and run and carry his greatest strengths. While the Dogs traded into pick 62 to secure midfielder Riley Garcia before another club took him there is the query as to whether he fills a need. Garcia, a 177cm ball winning midfielder with good speed and skills is coming off an ACL and while suitable for selection in this range, is surplus to the midfielders the Dogs already have.
North Melbourne through their exchange of picks with Essendon slightly worsened their draft hand but improved their draft hand for 2020 by securing Essendon's 2020 second round choice. Charlie Comben with the club's first selection is a speculative choice given the attributes he possesses as a 199cm, strong marking key forward, but with his injury history and averaging less than one goal per game in the NAB League and Under-18 Championships it is a hard sell taking him so early. Jack Mahony is the more solid of North Melbourne's selections as a ready-to-go small forward who can crumb and play a role from season one. Flynn Perez is a second speculative selection and a second prospect arguably taken too early. Perez missed 2019 having torn his ACL during the preseason and while quick and a good ball user he plays a very outside game and struggles to win his own ball.