Gary Buckenara on what your club needs at the draft.
Gary Buckenara on what your club needs at the draft.

Buckenara: What your club needs in the draft

DOES your team need inside midfielders? Skilled outside runners? Key position players?

Respected recruiter Gary Buckenara reveals what your club's strategy should be heading into the 2019 AFL draft, which kicks off with the first round tonight.

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ADELAIDE

Speed, speed and more speed is what I'd be looking at in players who can combine that pace with classy ball use. With three picks inside the top 30 and four inside the top 40, the Crows can bring in some more nice players to add to the glut of young talent they already have in the likes of Darcy Fogarty, Chayce Jones, Ned McHenry, Wayne Milera, Myles Poholke and Tyson Stengle and help further set the club up for the future.

Draft picks: 6, 23, 28, 37, 45, 49

Chayce Jones is one of the gun youngsters we haven’t yet seen much of at Adelaide. Picture: Sarah Reed
Chayce Jones is one of the gun youngsters we haven’t yet seen much of at Adelaide. Picture: Sarah Reed

 

BRISBANE

The Lions tried to lure Magpie Jamie Elliott to the Gabba as a free agent to form a trio of dangerous small forwards with Charlie Cameron and Lincoln McCarthy, while at the same time releasing Cameron to play higher up the ground. With that in mind, and with a number of good small forwards available in this draft, expect Brisbane to draft one with an early pick. The Lions will also be in a good position with those picks to grab a draft slider, given there is always a player who drops down the order on draft night that clubs thought would have been taken earlier. The balance of the Brisbane list means they have the luxury to do that and go best available - the player they have ranked highest on their talent board when it's their pick.

Draft picks: 21, 29, 34, 48, 71

CARLTON

Carlton didn't expect to have their top-10 selection given it was earmarked to be involved in a trade for Tom Papley. There are some nice small forwards in this draft the Blues should look at, given Eddie Betts might play only one season and we don't know yet whether Jack Martin, who is more of a half forward/midfielder anyway, will get there via the pre-season draft. So that's still a glaring need. This draft is also very strong for midfielders with pace and good ball use, which is also a list need.

Draft picks: 9, 43, 57, 70, 85

COLLINGWOOD

The Magpies should look exclusively at key position players but unfortunately there aren't many on offer. That could mean they go for best available and look at an experienced key forward or defender from the state leagues with a late pick or in the rookie draft to add depth in those areas.

Draft picks: 35, 62, 74

Cody Weightman is one of the top small forwards available in the draft. Picture: Getty
Cody Weightman is one of the top small forwards available in the draft. Picture: Getty

 

ESSENDON

I'd be targeting positional needs with each pick - key forward, ruckman and a clever inside midfielder. The Bombers won't enter the draft until pick No.31 and hold just two picks (their other is pick 33) inside the top 61, which is a concern because the club needs to bring in top-end young talent to develop behind Michael Hurley (30 in June), Cale Hooker (31 this month), Tom Bellchambers (30) and David Zaharakis (30 in February). They need to start planning for the future by bringing in young key position players so they have enough time to develop so when Hurley and Hooker do retire, they're ready to go. That worry will only be compounded if Joe Daniher leaves via free agency next year.

Draft picks: 31, 33, 61, 64, 65, 88

FREMANTLE

The Dockers need to target quick and classy midfielders to replace Bradley Hill and Ed Langdon who left during the trade period. Fortunately, the draft this year is strong in that area and they should pick up very nice players with their three early picks, including two top-10s.

Draft picks: 7, 10, 22, 58, 69, 79, 83

GEELONG

Must draft a ruckman. Unfortunately, this year's draft isn't strong for the position so Geelong might have to make a sacrifice and use one of their early picks on a ruckman they like while he's still there, rather than another type of player they had ranked higher. Having three picks so close together inside the top 24 will help the Cats make that call and take the gamble - could they get a ruckman and the other player/s they liked?

Draft picks: 14, 17, 24, 36, 93

Matt Rowell (left) and Noah Anderson (right) are expected to be taken with picks 1 and 2 by Gold Coast. Picture: Tony Gough
Matt Rowell (left) and Noah Anderson (right) are expected to be taken with picks 1 and 2 by Gold Coast. Picture: Tony Gough

 

GOLD COAST

This draft is strong for classy and quick midfielders and that plays right into Gold Coast's hands because the Suns need several of this type of player. I expect each of their four top-20 picks to be midfielders with speed and who make good decisions with the ball. They could look at specific needs with their late picks if they use them, like a developing ruckman. The Suns could also look at one of the nice small forwards in this draft as they don't really have a true crumber who applies manic pressure. Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson likely to join the club with pick Nos.1 and 2.

Draft picks: 1, 2, 15, 20, 78, 90

GWS GIANTS

The departures of Jon Patton (Hawthorn) and Adam Tomlinson (Melbourne) mean the Giants have lost a little bit of key position depth, even though Tomlinson was playing predominantly on the wing and across halfback this year. This draft isn't strong for key position talent but I'd be looking at bringing in a developing key forward to add a bit more depth in that area behind Jeremy Cameron, Harry Himmelberg and Jeremy Finlayson. The Finlayson forward experiment worked this year but it's no guarantee to be a success again next year as he was still a little inconsistent. Should also look at the state leagues to find a forward-ruckman to give new recruit Sam Jacobs a chop out. Well-placed to draft a gun at pick No.4 before a bid comes for top academy prospect Tom Green.

Draft picks: 4, 40, 59, 60, 80, 94

HAWTHORN

The Hawks are positioned well for the draft and definitely have enough points to match a bid for father-son prospect Finn Maginness, who I have ranked in the top 15 players in this draft, it's just a matter of how early that bid comes. It's been a long time since the Hawks have had a first-round pick and the club will be hoping no bid comes for Maginness before their first pick, No.11, so they can draft a young gun and then use points from later selections to match the bid and effectively get two top 15-20 talents for the price of one. The Hawks are in need of a quick and clever small forward after losing Cyril Rioli and Paul Puopolo nearing the end of his career.

Draft picks: 11, 42, 50, 54, 63, 73, 87, 92

Finn Maginness is available to Hawthorn under the father-son rule. Picture: Hamish Blair
Finn Maginness is available to Hawthorn under the father-son rule. Picture: Hamish Blair

 

MELBOURNE

What stands out and worries me greatly about Melbourne is they have only one player aged 21 or under who I see as having the talent to develop into an A or B-grader. Pick Nos.3 and 8, which they got in a pick swap trade with North Melbourne, must be used on quick and classy midfielders with great skills. Clearly they've got their eye on a couple of players in particular, given the pick trade with the Kangaroos (trading their 2020 first and second-round picks plus picks 26 and 50 this year pick 8) is a huge risk.

Draft picks: 3, 8

NORTH MELBOURNE

Ball use by hand and foot remains one of North Melbourne's biggest issues all over the ground and recruiting classy distributors has to be the priority. I wouldn't be looking at bringing in any players who will just develop into good role players - they need potential stars, guys you can build your team around and have the ability to change a game. Invest in quick players who use the ball well and make good decisions.

Draft picks: 26, 27, 30, 47, 84

PORT ADELAIDE

The Power are armed with three first-round picks and there are some nice small forwards I'd look at with at least one of those early selections, given the departure of Sam Gray, midfielder-forward Robbie Gray will be 32 in March and Connor Rozee should develop into a midfielder. Overall though, the Port Adelaide recruiters can go best available as there isn't really a standout need on the list. Have enough points to match a bid for father-son prospect Jackson Mead.

Draft picks: 12, 16, 18, 52, 55, 66, 67, 68, 72, 86

Jackson Mead is the son of former Port Adelaide player Darren Mead. Picture: Simon Cross
Jackson Mead is the son of former Port Adelaide player Darren Mead. Picture: Simon Cross

 

RICHMOND

The Tigers will have four picks inside the top 41, which is very handy for a team that has just won its second premiership in three years. This is a midfielders' draft so expect the Tigers to add some players with pace and who use the ball well, while they might look for a nice rebound defender, given Bachar Houli is nearing the end of his career, Oleg Markov hasn't quite come on and Connor Menadue has been delisted. I'd also look at an experienced ruckman from a state league to add ruck depth.

Draft picks: 19, 38, 39, 41, 56, 75, 77, 95

ST KILDA

The Saints don't have a big hand this year, given how active they were in the trade period, bringing in experienced players who fill immediate needs in Bradley Hill and Zak Jones for speed and Paddy Ryder in the ruck. With just three picks, and their first not until No.51, I'd be targeting specific needs - classy midfielders who are good decision makers.

Draft picks: 51, 76, 82

SYDNEY SWANS

Sydney lost speed through the departure of Zak Jones, which is a blow given they already lack pace and creativity through the midfield and halfback. Must target pace and players who take the game on.

Draft picks: 5, 25, 32, 44, 81

WEST COAST

The Eagles won't be big players, given all their early selections were traded to Geelong in the Tim Kelly deal. Later picks are usually used by clubs to target positional needs and the Eagles will be no different. Should look at drafting a young ruckman or two to develop under Nic Naitanui (30 in May), Tom Hickey (28) and Nathan Vardy (28).

Draft picks: 46, 91

WESTERN BULLDOGS

The Bulldogs came out of the trade period still holding their first-round pick (No.13), which is massive, given they addressed their need for a key defender and forward by bringing in Alex Keath and Josh Bruce. I would go best available with that selection, given how balanced the list is and would consider a quick goal kicking small forward and/or experienced ruckman from a state league with either picks 53 or 89 (if they use it) to add depth behind Tim English.

Draft picks: 13, 53, 89