With Michael Voss at the helm and the addition of Adam Cerra, Carlton will be looking to add prospects in the 2021 AFL Draft that contribute straight away.
The club had a season to forget, but there’s top-end talent on every line of the ground and a quiet confidence about what the Blues could achieve if it all comes together in 2022.
Voss spent close to a decade as the Port Adelaide midfield coach, which became a huge strength of the Power’s in their consecutive preliminary final appearances. It’s an area that has needed to be reshaped at Ikon Park.
2021 AFL Draft: Carlton in need of a Liam Jones replacement
Carlton has traded out of the first round of the 2021 AFL Draft as they did last year, with Adam Cerra its prized recruit from the trade period. Cerra adds the midfield class that the Blues have lacked in recent years, but there remains areas of need that can be addressed in the draft.
With the sudden retirement of Liam Jones and a back six that struggled to stem the flow of points against, a key defender is now a must to partner alongside Jacob Weitering. New addition Lewis Young deserves first crack at Jones’ vacant spot, but depth before the veteran’s sudden retirement was already questionable.
The Baggers will look for a crumbing forward to replace what they lost with Eddie Betts. Matthew Owies has shown promising signs and Zac Fisher – if he gets a full pre-season away – will be a best-22 lock, but long gone are the days of Carlton’s brilliant small forward fleet.
A key defender and small forward are a must at the draft, with possible mature-age prospects in their sights.
2021 AFL Draft: Will Carlton go small forward or key back first?
Carlton draft picks: 25, 64, 82
There won’t be any NGA or father-son prospects taken by Carlton at the 2021 AFL Draft, with Tom Silvagni (son of Stephen) not nominated by the club and NGA prospects Julian Janev, Regan Uwandu and Domanic Akuei not in the draft frame.
At Pick 25, the top key position players in Josh Gibcus and Jacob van Rooyen will almost certainly be gone.
However, the most ready-made key defender may still be available. Leek Alleer had a superb year with Central Districts in the SANFL as an interceptor. He broke the combine’s running vertical jump record in testing and at 20 years of age is two years further developed than the rest of the draft pool.
Joining Alleer as a mature-age key position player is the VFL’s best young player for 2021, Charlie Dean. The 195-centimetre former Sandringham Dragon is a late bloomer who was sensational across the season and can step into the AFL as an elite interceptor already.Embed from Getty Images
Alleer and Dean will likely have their names read out around that point in the draft, while West Australian Rhett Bazzo will fall in a similar position. A stout lockdown type, Bazzo was brilliant for WA in the State Championships and would be a nice selection for the Blues in the second round.
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The small forwards around Pick 25 include Judson Clarke and Jesse Motlop.
Clarke turned heads of recruiters around the country with a bag of five goals in a Vic Metro vs Country trial match, showcasing his elite goal nous and speed in the most important game of his season.
Motlop has looked the goods at WAFL League level this season, booting the first goal for South Fremantle in its Grand Final appearance and matching it with the bigger bodies despite his smaller frame.Embed from Getty Images
If the Blues decide to go key defender at 25, then Paul Curtis may appeal as a small forward from the Western Jets towards the back-end of the second night. He’s zippy and evasive, putting together quality small forward games with his high pressure and good reading of the play.
On the other hand, if it’s small forward at Pick 25 then Blake Schlensog could be the steal of the draft. As with Motlop, he starred for South Fremantle and has earned a second crack at the AFL level after a stint with Geelong as a Category-B Rookie. He’s dominant in the air and has shown potential at both ends of the ground for a 200-centimetre, 100-kilogram 20-year-old.
Could we see Bulldogs teammates Motlop and Schlensog link up at Carlton in 2022?
At a later stage – or in the rookie draft – Josh Cripps could be a nice pickup for the Blues. Brother of co-captain Patrick, Cripps missed his draft year in 2020 with an ACL tear but returned this season and was his old aggressive self. Slightly taller and heavier than his older brother, Cripps is a ruckman that can rip the ball out of stoppages and isn’t afraid to put body contact on opposition ruckmen and midfielders.
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