10 key questions ahead of the AFL Draft: Roos, Tigers ready for fruitful haul

There is just one week to go until the 2021 AFL Draft kicks off, and with it comes questions aplenty regarding the depth of this year's class, potential late-round steals and how your club could fare overall.

Here are 10 key topics and questions to keep an eye on with the two-night event fast approaching.

How is the top-end quality in this year's AFL draft?

There is a clear top-two in the highly-fancied Jason Horne-Francis and Collingwood father-son prospect Nick Daicos, both of whom would almost certainly be pick one favourites in recent drafts as midfielders who can hurt opposition teams forward of centre. Some may bundle the rapidly-developing Western Bulldogs father-son Sam Darcy in with them given the value premium often placed on quality talls. After that trio, though, there are a combination of high risk, high reward and safer but lower ceiling prospects who will fill out the rest of the first round. Given this, after those first few names, the top-end of this year's draft can be viewed as below average. There is a higher probability than normal of misses inside the first round, while there is also likely to be fewer early draft stars than we have seen in recent years.

How deep does this draft go?

This draft is one of the more even in recent years, and with its evenness comes solid depth. In most drafts, there tends to be a solid top-30 pool of prospects.

This year, there is an even group after those first few selections that carries all the way through to 40. Given this, picks inside the second round could place clubs in something of a value sweet spot in this draft, with little separating players expected to feature first round from those likely to be selected in the second round. Aside from the junior talent -- and despite the preseason supplemental selection period and midseason drafts reducing the pool of mature age talents available at the end of the year -- there still remain several capable mature-agers, only improving the depth of this draft.

Which clubs hold the strongest draft hand?

Holding picks 1, 20, 42 and 47 inside the top 50, there wouldn't be a club in the competition that wouldn't switch their draft hand with North Melbourne's. Richmond also have one of the most appealing draft hands, holding picks 7, 15, 26, 27 and 28 inside the top 30. With their concentration of picks inside the top 30, with good talent ID, Richmond should be able to add several quality young pieces this year.

Fremantle have the most picks inside both the top 10 and top 20, holding picks 6, 8 and 19. The Dockers will be hoping the high concentration of early picks help them add to their already-existing potent young core. Geelong is also well positioned, with picks 22, 30, 32 and 34 all concentrated into what appears to be the sweet spot for value this year. If the Cats retain their combination of picks, they could take advantage as they did in 2009 of having picks in the right spots in the draft if their talent ID is on point.

Who are the potential father-son selections, and where could they be taken?

Nick Daicos (son of Peter) and Sam Darcy (son of Luke) are the two big name father-sons for Collingwood and Western Bulldogs respectively. The pair will be selected inside the top five this year and could attract bids as high as Greater Western Sydney's No. 2 selection. Jase Burgoyne (son of Peter), Taj Woewodin (son of Shane) and Jackson Archer (son of Glenn) have been nominated by Port Adelaide, Melbourne and North Melbourne respectively but are unlikely to attract bids in the first half of the draft.

Jason Horne-Francis is expected to be selected first, but who are some of those next names?

Aside from father-sons Nick Daicos and Sam Darcy who are sure to attract bids soon after Horne-Francis is selected, Jye Amiss, Mac Andrew, Finn Callaghan, Neil Erasmus, Josh Gibcus, Josh Goater, Ben Hobbs, Matthew Johnson, Josh Rachele, Josh Sinn, Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera and Josh Ward are expected to be among the next players chosen.

Who increased their draft stocks during the Under-19 Championships?

Western Australian midfield trio Angus Sheldrick, Matthew Johnson and Kade Dittmar were collectively the reason for their side going undefeated and convincingly winning the midfield battle in their matches against South Australia.

Johnson is set to feature inside the first round and is a part of the top 10 conversation, while Sheldrick likely features in the second or third round and Dittmar looks a likely later choice. Playing his best football for the year in defence, Jacob Van Rooyen, who has mostly played as a key forward, looked even better in defence and should feature late first or early second round on the back of his strong performances. South Australia's best during the Under-19 Championships, Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera solidified his position as a first-round choice and enters the mix on the back of his classy play. Emerging as one of the best rebounding defenders in this year's draft, Alastair Lord's dynamic line breaking run and ball use by foot stood out and place him in the second-round conversation. Starring for the Allies during their game against South Australia, Ronald Fejo Jr with his speed, silky skills and impact per possession increased the likelihood he gets picked on the back of his freakish play.

Whose draft stocks dipped during the Under-19 Championships?

One of the big names heading into the Under-19 Championships, Matthew Roberts was unable to exert his influence during the champs and was soundly beaten by the Western Australian midfielders. Given this, he is now viewed as likely to land somewhere in the second or third round. Despite a dominant year in the WAFL Colts as a ball winning midfielder, Joshua Browne had limited midfield opportunity available due to others being prioritised. His draft stocks have taken a hit and Browne is now seen as a possible late draft consideration after being more highly touted earlier in the season.

Who are the Academy and Next-Generation Academy (NGA) players likely to be picked in the mix?

Gold Coast have already secured Bodhi Uwland and Sandy Brock as pre-listed rookies under the AFL's concessions awarded at the end of 2019. Melbourne NGA prospect Mac Andrew is likely to attract a top-10 bid. Under the new NGA rules, however, Melbourne will be unable to match bids, as bids placed on NGA prospects inside the top 20 are not eligible to be matched. Fremantle will be hoping a bid for Jesse Motlop comes after pick 40 due to the newly introduced rules that require metropolitan Indigenous players to be bid on after pick 40 to be matched. Unfortunately for the Dockers this looks unlikely with clubs as high as the latter part of the first round believed to be considering Motlop. Greater Western Sydney Academy defender Josh Fahey is expected to be bid on after their pick 13 which will allow the Giants to select two high end talents before matching any bids. St Kilda remain hopeful NGA member Mitch Owens makes it past pick 20. With Owens viewed among clubs as either a late first round or second round choice, there is some risk the Saints will be unable to match bids. The Saints have a second prospect in Marcus Windhager. Windhager has not attracted first round interest though is likely to attract a bid inside the second or third round which the Saints should match. Emerging as an athletic key forward and ruckman, Eric Benning, who is part of Fremantle's Next Generation Academy, is likely to attract a bid, though the Dockers should have no problem matching.

Who are the most likely mature age recruits?

Leek Alleer, Charlie Dean, Noah Pegoraro, Ronald Fejo Jr, Casey Voss, Bailey Rogers, Greg Clark and Felix Flockhart are among the mature age prospects most likely to get selected in this year's draft. Alleer, Dean and Pegoraro have impressed and enjoyed breakout seasons as key defenders in the SANFL, VFL and WAFL respectively. On the outside, Fejo has caught the eye of draft watchers with his elite highlight reel while Voss, the son of Carlton coach Michael, enjoyed a breakout season in defence. Rogers emerged as the premier midfielder and forward outside the AFL while fellow Western Australian midfielder Greg Clark is another midfielder to have a strong season and continue his progression. As a ruckman, Flockhart's mobility has caught the eye and could see him join an AFL list in 2022.

How does the 2022 draft compare to this year's draft and should my club trade into it?

The major advantages of the 2022 draft, as it appears at this stage, is it is likely to be a stronger top 20, giving clubs a greater opportunity up the top end of the draft to add high quality key forwards. It is unlikely however that the 20-40 range in 2022 will prove as deep or possess as many quality midfielders or defenders as can be found in this year's pool, which is the most defining strength of this year's draft.