With the first pick in the 2021 AFL Draft, the North Melbourne Football Club selects Jason Horne-Francis, from the South Adelaide Football Club.
We’ve known for a long time that Horne-Francis would be a Roo to start his AFL career, and we’ve known even longer just how special a talent he is.
His entire life he’s played above his age group, which all came together for him in 2021 where he played the year for the Panthers in the SANFL.
He was one of their best players for the season. In their preliminary final berth, Horne-Francis was far and away their best player. He floated through the middle of the ground to apply pressure and win clearances, then spent time forward where he kicked three goals and hit the post a couple more times.
His game was unbelievable, and it came in a losing performance where opportunities for the Panthers were few and far between.
This pick will be locked in the second North is on the clock, but what are they set to do with the rest of their draft?
2021 AFL Draft: Midfield checked off, what’s next for North Melbourne?
North Melbourne draft selections: 1, 20, 42, 47, 72, 77
A brilliant on-ball brigade has been built, so look for North to target other areas of the ground.
Pick 20 falls as the second selection on night two. A small forward has been touted here, with the Roos lacking depth in the area and two options presenting themselves.
Out of WA is Jesse Motlop – son of Daniel – who has played the second half of his season at League level in the WAFL and looked fantastic. He’s a quick-thinker with elite evasion and agility, able to wriggle out of tight spots and swoop on the ball with one-touch play.
Motlop played in a WAFL Grand Final and kicked the first goal for South Fremantle against Subiaco. He boasts all the hallmarks of a great small forward, with the Dockers unable to match a bid for their NGA product within the first 40 selections.
The other option is Victorian talent Judson Clarke, with the smart crumber having suitors early in the second round. Clarke does his best work running in with the flight of the ball where he can read the ball off packs and use his goal nous.
He’s a natural small forward, and has a beautiful left-foot set shot that will be repeatable in the AFL.Embed from Getty Images
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If it’s not Motlop or Clarke, then Arlo Draper could present as a slider that has X-factor in the forward half. He’s a taller forward than the former two, but is still brilliant below his knees and has tantalising athletic traits with good speed and agility.
If not taken at this stage, Jacob van Rooyen could be the best key position player on the board, while running defender Darcy Wilmot will be heavily considered if still available.
In the latter stages of the draft, North will have the opportunity to add key position depth and a running defender.
The ideal candidate might be Blake Schlensog, with the 20-year-old too good for the WAFL this season at South Fremantle. At 199cm and 99kg, the hulking key defender has shown an ability to lock down opponents, intercept, and also go forward and take contested marks.
He’s a teammate of Motlop – after being delisted by Geelong – and bringing the two in together could be a wise choice from the Roos.Embed from Getty Images
Another option is Sam Banks, with the Tasmanian looking good as a hard-running defender/wingman that could thrive in an AFL environment. He’s captained the Tasmania Devils and has the runs on the board over numerous years, so will be heavily considered.
South Australian duo Alastair Lord and Lewis Rayson should also be considered as half-backs, while Charlie Dean and Rhett Bazzo would be ideal key position draftees if they fell through to a later selection for North.
To round out North’s draft, they’ll be selecting the son of the Shinboner of the Century. Jackson Archer is a tough small defender who has tidy disposal and a rugged determined approach to football that you’d expect from the son of Glenn.
Archer will become just the second father-son for North Melbourne, behind Bailey Scott.Embed from Getty Images
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