AFL draft predictions - this is going to be crazy

I’ve been pondering over this draft class for the past month, thinking, writing, talking, researching.

Maybe a little bit too much, and maybe to an unhealthy degree.

2020 was a weird year for recruiters and fans alike. Basically no under 18s footy happened in Victoria, while the rest of Australia also had to deal with delays, cancellations and setbacks through a good chunk of the first half of the year.

However, sport keeps on moving, and nothing could stop the AFL Draft from going ahead tonight, Wednesday the 9th of December starting at 7PM.

Here’s what I think the first round of the draft could look like.

  1. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Western Bulldogs, matching Adelaide’s bid)

  2. Riley Thilthorpe (Adelaide)

  3. Elijah Hollands (North Melbourne)

  4. Logan McDonald (Sydney)

  5. Will Phillips (Hawthorn)

  6. Denver Granger-Barras (Gold Coast)

  7. Braeden Campbell (Sydney, matching Essendon’s bid)

  8. Nathan O’Driscoll (Essendon)

  9. Zach Reid (Essendon)

  10. Lachie Jones (Port Adelaide, matching Essendon’s bid)

  11. Nikolas Cox (Essendon)

  12. Tanner Bruhn (Adelaide)

  13. Heath Chapman (GWS)

  14. Reef McInnes (Collingwood, matching North Melbourne’s bid)

  15. Archie Perkins (North Melbourne)

  16. Brayden Cook (Fremantle)

  17. Errol Gulden (Sydney, matching GWS’ bid)

  18. Bailey Laurie (GWS)

  19. Oliver Henry (Collingwood)

  20. Jack Carroll (GWS)

  21. Caleb Poulter (Collingwood)

  22. Finlay Macrae (Richmond)

  23. Kaine Baldwin (Melbourne)

  24. Brandon Walker (Fremantle, matching Melbourne’s bid)

  25. Tom Powell (Melbourne)

  26. Shannon Neale (GWS)

  27. Connor Downie (Hawthorn, matching St. Kilda’s bid)

  28. Zane Trew (St. Kilda)

This is the longest first round in history. Not only were there already 21 selections to be taken (due to various compensation picks from free agency), but also seven academy selections.

There might not necessarily be this many. I would say from Errol Gulden down, take them with a grain of salt. However, I think given each team’s needs, these would be solid times to bid on these players.

Errol Gulden already looks like a big game player, can fill in a clear gap of quality small players on the Giants list, and is a New South Wales boy. No way they don’t try and get him.

Connor Downie is one of the paciest players in this draft class, and would make an excellent half-back flanker or winger at any club who’ll take him. St. Kilda’s new run and gun style would fit him perfectly, and the Demons are desperate for pace on the wing. Hawthorn won’t let anyone touch him, and can match a bid pretty much anywhere around that late first-round mark.

For my more out-there calls, West Australian key defender Denver Granger-Barras slipping down to the Suns’ pick is based on late mail that North Melbourne are very keen on classy half-forward Elijah Hollands, shifting Logan McDonald and Will Phillips around in the early picks.

Midfield machine Tanner Bruhn falling outside of the top 10 is another big call. He’s likely to be taken by Essendon, though I believe Nathan O’Driscoll answers more of the Bombers’ midfield needs alongside the two talls at either end of the ground in Nik Cox and Zach Reid.

The Pies would be laughing if they could end up with all of McInnes, Henry and Poulter. Added midfield depth as well as a new avenue to goals would suit them amazingly given their losses this trade period.

Those picks 14 and 16 could change if they match the bid for McInnes given they don’t have quite enough draft picks to match the points required through the bidding system.

Bolter Archie Perkins is also every chance to go in the top 10, though if he does slip as low as 15, clubs like North Melbourne and Collingwood will jump on the opportunity.

It’s a big night for these kids, and for some reason a big night for all of us who have no idea how they’ll actually perform at AFL level. I’m personally just hoping and praying Adrian Dodoro doesn’t take three small midfielders with picks 6, 7 and 8.

It could still very well happen.

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