20/04/2024
2021 AFL Draft Hawthorn

Josh Ward and Ben Hobbs are two midfield options for Hawthorn in the 2021 AFL Draft. Photos: GWV Rebels; Northern Knights

Hawthorn comes into the 2021 AFL Draft with a clear vision and Sam Mitchell at the helm. Which way will the club lean with Pick 5?

Hawthorn comes into the 2021 AFL Draft with a clear vision. New coach Sam Mitchell oversaw a resurgent outfit in the final rounds of the season, and with young talent on each line and stars returning from injury there’s a positive outlook for the Hawks in 2022.

What does Hawthorn need to do in the 2021 AFL Draft to reinforce its rise up the ladder?

READ: AFL Draft Power Rankings: The Top 50 Prospects in 2021

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2021 AFL Draft: Hawthorn – where does its list need bolstering?

A fit and firing James Sicily rights the ship in defence for the Hawks – with Denver Grainger-Barras growing into the key defensive presence he was drafted as last year. A brigade of small defenders including Will Day and Changkuoth Jiath sets the backline up nicely for the now, and the future.

The Hawks midfield is where depth could be improved. With Tom Mitchell, Jaeger O’Meara and James Worpel the club has contested ball-winners and physicality. However, there remains a need for some polish coming out of congestion and a quality two-way runner, which would allow Chad Wingard to spend more time forward.

Up forward Jacob Koschitzke was a revelation, but his help was few-and-far between with Mitch Lewis trialled in various roles. The duo of Luke Breust and Jack Gunston will – if healthy – produce goals and take pressure off Koschitzke’s shoulders, while Dylan Moore was one of the best small forwards in the league last season. 

There remains potential for a tall forward at the draft, but a medium type who can mark, crumb and apply pressure might be a quality option in the latter stages of the draft along with some class on the outside of contests.

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2021 AFL Draft: Hawthorn – is it midfielder at Pick 5?

Hawthorn draft picks: 5, 21, 24, 59, 65, 81

The Hawks won’t take any NGA or father-son prospects in the draft. The likeliest throughout the year was Louis Thompson (son of Nathan), but he hasn’t been nominated as a father-son for the national draft. Despite this, Hawthorn boasts an appealing hand to add to the youth on their growing list.

At Pick 5, the likelihood is that the Hawks will be able to choose between two high-upside midfielders – Josh Ward or Ben Hobbs

Ward hasn’t put a foot wrong in 2021, captaining Vic Metro in trial games and dominating the NAB League for the Northern Knights. At 181 centimetres he’s a tough player in the clinches that more often than not wins the ball, but his two-way running power is his real strength. He takes the game on and stands up for his club time and time again.

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In Hobbs, the Hawks would be getting the best contested ball winner in the draft. He doesn’t have the same athletic traits of Ward, but he imposes his will on every contest and will be ready to step into the side from Round 1. He’s also been a leader for the GWV Rebels and has been the most physically imposing player in the NAB League this season.

Josh Rachele, Mac Andrew and Finn Callaghan remain options – though the latter may be wishful thinking to make it to their selection. Expect Ward or Hobbs to be the player chosen here, with Ward a slightly better fit given his ability away from stoppages.

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At selections 21 and 24, Hawthorn can focus on other needs in the forward half and wing areas, though there are some exceptions in this range if they fall.

Tyler Sonsie is a player that has been heavily linked with the Hawks given his ties with Box Hill. He was previously touted as a top-five pick but injuries and inconsistent play has him sliding. On talent alone, the smooth-moving midfielder is a bonafide first-rounder, and the Hawks should be quick to jump if he’s available at 21.

WA tall Jacob van Rooyen would be an astute choice here given his swingman capabilities and his steady progression as a goal-kicker over the year at various levels in the WAFL.

Arlo Draper is a player capable of the extraordinary in the forward half, while Blake Howes finished the season with a bang as a wingman for the Sandringham Dragons and shapes as a riser into the 20s on draft night. Both of these types would suit the Hawks on the outside of contests to add some excitement and clean disposal.

Rookie Jai Newcombe is the likeliest to be upgraded to the main list for the Hawks at the national draft, who will carry a squad brimming with young talent in the New Year as they look to mount an assault on the top eight.

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