Well, the dust has now settled on what was an interesting yet somewhat predictable 2016 AFL Draft. 77 picks were used in last night's draft, up from 70 in 2015 - which could mean a few more mature age hopefuls are picked up by clubs in Monday's upcoming rookie/pre season draft. The title of number one went to worthy recipient Andrew McGrath hailing from the Sandringham Dragons, while the other highly fancied candidate Hugh McCluggage slipped to number 3 and the Lions picked up a bargain.
I'm here to cast my fantasy thoughts on some of the relevant players who could potentially be picked up by coaches in 2017. What we are looking for here is firstly, players that could play straight up in round one or at least within the first few rounds and mature age players that have been exposed to the rough and tumble of senior football early in their careers already and are there to fill list gaps.
READY FOR ROUND 1
Andrew McGrath | Pick 1 | Essendon FC | Position: Midfield/Small Defender
Essendon have likened their new Canadian born prized recruit to former club and Port Adelaide brownlow medalist Gavin Wangerneen. Big wraps for McGrath, although looking over his TAC cup games it's a worthy comparison. The midfield come small running defender averaged nearly 25 disposals and 3.3 marks over the U/18 championships, so he knows how to find his own ball while also having a great outside game as well. Looking over Essendon's starting 22 for round one, they are relatively strong across each line. Though he will have to show his worth, you could comfortably put McGrath ahead of Laverde, Langford, Colyer and possibly Francis. This would leave him a best 22 spot available and potentially see him as a midfield chop out player for Essendon's elite and filling a back pocket/half back flank role.
Tim Taranto | Pick 2 | Great Western Sydney FC | Position: Medium Forward/Midfield
Taranto could potentially be the answer to GWS's loss of Lachie Whitfield for season 2017. A similar height but with a better inside game in my opinion, he can win his own ball while providing pace on the outside. Averaged 19 disposals and 6 marks during the U/18 championships while swinging between midfield and forward line duties. Could have potentially averaged more possession if he was used more regularly through the midfield however. We all know about GWS's plethora of talent on offer across every line, particularly in the midfield. So it could be a case of less time on ground if he does play, unless he can prove a worthy gap fill for the outed Whitfield. I'd hold off on him with his price tag and vulnerable position in a star laden team, there will be better options.
Griffin Logue | Pick 8 | Fremantle FC | Position: Tall/Medium Defender
Big Griff! The Dockers have gone for the Red Foo look-alike in Griffin Logue, a super athletic type who ran a 15.1 beep test and sub 10 minute 3km time trial over the combine recently. A local product from Swan District, Logue only averaged a tick over 8 possessions and 2.3 marks during the U/18 champs - though not surprising for a stop defender. He capable of offering much more in terms of filling the stat sheet however, with his size in comparison to other U/18 kids he was used as that lock down defender. Ross might have other plans for him however in the Fremantle back six. I've got an inking that Freo have got him as a direct Michael Johnson replacement and apprentice to the running/intercepting type play he provides. Given Johnson's off field dramas and injuries over the past few years, Logue could easily find himself lining up in the Freo back six come round one.
Hugh McCluggage | Pick 3 | Brisbane FC | Position: Midfield
Was touted all year as the number one pick before McGrath snaffled it from under his nose on draft night. The all round midfielder can play inside and out while having the ability to be an aerial threat and kick a goal when required. Averaged 21 touches and 4 marks over the U/18 championships, cleaned up at the TAC Cup winning the Morrish Medal and was named MVP for Vic country at the carnival. Possibly the biggest lock for a round one berth given Brisbane's lack of talent and silk - in which McCluggage has oodles of. He comfortably sit in their best dozen players and provided he gets a good run at it over the pre season, he'll slot in nicely as a high half forward come winger when the season starts proper.
Jack Bowes | Pick 10 | Gold Coast FC | Position: Midfield
I've been talking this kid up for a while now, in fantasy terms he is the best chance of making my round one squad provided he is name for the Suns. Jack Bowes and the car manufacturer Rolls Royce have been mentioned in the same sentence ever since scouts caught eye of his U/18 championship performances. He averaged close to 20 disposals over his 6 games played and tallied 3.4 marks as well. What is most interesting about Bowes is the fact he has played against men in the NEAFL and handled the bigger bodies in his stride. The only thing that deters me from Bowes was the fact he was taken in the draft after Will Brodie, another midfielder in a similar mold. It may come down to who performs over the summer months as to which gun GC recruit gets the nod for a round one berth. Given the Suns lack of midfield depth with their off season departures, Eade may choose to blood these young guns early - and given Bowes NEAFL performances and experience, he could very well get first crack at it.
Sam Petrevsi-Seton | Pick 6 | Carlton FC | Position: Small Forward/Midfield
The Claremont kid hailing from Halls Creek in WA's Kimberley has come a long way to make his AFL dream a reality. Has a good head on his shoulders, knows what he wants and isn't afraid to work hard to get it. Only played the two games at the U/18 championships where he averaged 18.5 disposals with a fantasy friendly kick to handball ratio along with 2.5 marks. Wins a lot of outside ball with his electrifying pace, but it's his tackling pressure that would have won over the Carlton recruiters. In a similar mold to Cyril, Petrevski-Seton could very well be the best small mid/fwd since Rioli made his debut in 2008. Bolton will no doubt want to use his tackling inside the forward 50 to trap the ball in, while at the same time give him a run through the guts when the Blues need that spark. Carlton's best 22 says to me that he should debut come round one.
Sam Powel-Pepper | Pick 18 | Port Adelaide FC | Position: Midfield
The ready build midfielder has a frame that a second or thurd year player would be envious of already. Has a similar game style to Dustin Martin in that he loves to take on the tackler with a don't argue and burst out of a pack situation with his quick first 3-4 steps. His height, although not in the same category as a Pendlebury, is still super imposing against the smaller midfielders in the game. Averaged just over 13 posssions and 2 marks during his 4 games at the U/18 championships, so he's not going to rack up the numbers like a McGrath or Bowe, but then again he's not going to cost you the same either. He still has the ability to fill a stat sheet as was evident in his grand final appearance for his WAFL Colts team East Perth last year when he went for 22 disposals, 7 tackles and 4 goals in a game they lost narrowly. Port don't really have anyone like this kid in their best 22 at the moment, you look at who's spot he might take with names like Bonner, Impey, Young, Ah Chee and Amon being the ones most likely. With those names not being able to cement spots in recent years, Hinkley might just be inclined to start fresh and give Powel-Pepper a shot from the start if his pre season form warrants it.
MATURE AGE RECRUITS
Luke Ryan | Pick 66 | Fremantle FC | Position: Medium Defender
186cm, 83kg, 20yrs
Turning 21 in February and being overlooked in the previous two drafts, Luke Ryan could be a perfect fit for an aging Fremantle backline in desperate need of a haul over. A great intercept mark across half back that can also run and carry the ball with efficiency. Played most of his footy for the Calder Cannons, but turned to the Coburg Tigers in the VFL in 2016 for more opportunity and a fresh start with great effect. Has an elite kick and makes good decisions with the ball in hand. Averaged nearly 10 intercept disposals per game and 4 intercepts marks per game last year as he went on to win the Fothergill-Round award for best U/23 player in the VFL. Has the ability to rack up big numbers also, with a 29 disposal and 13 mark effort in his very first VFL game last season. Has the potential to play early with the likes of Ibbotson falling out of favour, Johnson in strife and Sutcliffe always being one bad game from getting the axe.
Tom Stewart | Pick 40 | Geelong FC | Position: Medium/Tall Defender
190cm, 90kg, 23yrs
Geelong clearly had a plan going into this draft and decided to bolster their defensive stocks with the departure of key figures (Bartel, Enright) most recently as well as an aging backline with names such as Mackie, Lonergan and Taylor beginning to become vulnerable. Tom Stewart is a medium sized defender that can take the talls as well as play on the quicker types in the backline, his flexibility is his greatest asset. Finished the year second in their best and fairest count, Stewart also made team of the year for the VFL. Has been likened to Scott Thompson of the Kangaroos. Will have to take the spot of Henderson in the back 6 or Thurlow if he doesn't come right after his knee injury. Could be a good bench option for your fantasy teams if playing round one, but i wouldn't be starting him on the field - not even as my D6.
Timm House | Pick 68 | Geelong FC | Position: Tall Forward/Defender
194cm, 95kg, 21yrs
A true swingman, Timm House plied his trade as a forward for much of the 2016 for Geelong's VFL team - though the Cat's GM Troy Selwood says he is more than capable of a defensive position given his ability to take a strong grab in a similar mold to Levi Casboult (though with a better kick). With his height and size I can see House playing second fiddle to Hawkins up forward now without Kersten being in the way. It really depends on whether or not Scott goes with his three talls again (Stanley, Smith and Blicavs) and plays one up forward. If he chooses to only go with two of them, then House could play as the dummy lead up for Hawkins. Has kicked a few bags against VFL team, with 5 against Sandringham last year so knows where the big sticks are. Watch how Geelong setup over the pre season games to tell if House fits into Scott's structure or not. Would only be considered as a bench forward/defender option as F7/8, but if given a round one berth could average in the 50's and make you some quick cash in a Geelong team that should win games more often than not.
Ryan Abbott | Pick 69 | Geelong FC | Position: Ruck
200cm, 99kg, 25yrs
A tough, physical type of ruckman that works hard at the stoppages and makes space for his midfielders to get their hands on the ball first. Abbott has the physical attributes to mix it at AFL level, though there is a lot of development needed - which he should get plenty of help from Geelong's current ruck line up. Really only there for backup purposes and at 25 years of age, i was somewhat surprised at this selection from Geelong given their already stacked with ruck options. Never the less, if you need some spare cash and a pulse on your ruck bench, then Abbott may fill your void at R4. Just don't expect him to play any games in 2017 unless something catastrophic happens down at the cattery.
Mitch Hannan | Pick 46 | Melbourne FC | Position: Medium Forward
187cm, 83kg, 22yrs
If you check out Hannan's highlight reel on youtube, you'll quickly see why Melbourne jumped on the 22 year old high flying forward from Footscray in the VFL. Has a similar game to previous Melbourne players Russell Robertson and Jeremy Howe in that he can take a grab while also being dangerous at ground level. Booted 19 goals from 14 games last year, while he doesn't generate huge numbers disposals wise, he can take easy grabs up the ground on the lead with his elite endurance (he was a cross country runner as a junior). At the moment, Jack Watts has the second forward role to Hogan, while Kent, Garlett and Petracca/Harmes take the small forward positions. It might be a stretch to see Hannan play early in the season given the Demons recent good form and established players. Though not a starting position for your fantasy teams, Hannan could potentially be a handy downgrade option later in the season if Melbourne encounter some injury issues.
Matt De Boer | Pick 58 | Greater Western Sydney FC | Position: Midfield/Small Defender
186cm, 86kg, 26yrs
This one was one of the few surprises on draft night, the former Fremantle tough nut taken at 58 for the Giants was well deserved however given his 2016 WAFL form for Peel Thunder. After being shunted by the Dockers selection committee for most of the season, De Boer averaged 30.12 disposals, 3.75 marks and a massive 8.18 tackles per game across 16 games for the year. His brilliant season highlighted with a best and fairest win and premiership cup. Previously, De Boer has been a solid fantasy contributer, but never quite been able to take the next step that coaches were looking for with previous season averages of 83 (2012), 72 (2013), 70 (2014), 60 (2015) and 70 over 4 games in 2016. He's had some restricting roles in that time as well, predominantly playing as a lock down forward on an attacking half back or midfielder tagger. It will be interesting to see what Leon Cameron has in store for the ex Docker, will he be given another tagging job or will he be allowed to play his own style of game and potentially show some of his WAFL form? He has a similar game style to new team mate Callan Ward which could mean he's there to give him a chop out and help him do some of the grunt work in and under. It's a super tough midfield to crack as we already know, so i'm going to keep a watchful eye over the pre season to see how he fits in. If he plays though, his price at an average of around 60 (with a discount) could mean he's a value pick as he has the potential to average 80 - could be a viable M6/7/8 and a stepping stone to a premium.
Monday will be the AFL's rookie and pre season draft where we will find out which players are in line for a second chance at an AFL club. There will be a few young players from Friday's draft that were overlooked and hoping for a rookie spot on someone's list, while quite a few mature age players from the state leagues will be crossing their fingers in the hope AFL clubs are willing to provide them with a shot at their dream. Some players to look for Monday...
Who will you be looking to draft for your team in 2017?