The Saints are set for a nervous wait with clubs in the first round of the 2021 AFL Draft considering one of their NGA products.
St Kilda is beginning to reap the rewards of a strong Next Generation Academy, with four prospects nominated for the club including two highly-touted prospects.
In addition, the Saints will bring in a top talent with Pick 9, so the draft will be a fruitful one and they’ll be big players on both nights.
2021 AFL Draft: Strong NGA crop gives Saints a headache
NGA prospects Josiah Kyle and Jack Peris may be rookie options for the club, but their other two will give the Saints an interesting first night.
Bids on NGA players can’t be matched within the first 20 selections on draft night from 2021. Mitch Owens hovers around that mark on a lot of draft boards, with his height, ball use, aerobic capacity and tough tackling all appealing as a modern-day midfielder.
He’s exactly what the Saints need in their engine room as a point of difference to contested beasts Jack Steele and Brad Crouch. A late call-up for a Vic Country vs Metro trial, Owens looked like one of the best prospects available with his class and overhead marking so will be in the mix in the late first round.Embed from Getty Images
Marcus Windhager should attract a bid in the second round somewhere. He needs to round out his game, but based on pure power and speed he’s within the top handful in the draft and has a sky-high ceiling on what he could become at the next level.
Windhager could start his career in the rehab group after a back injury prevented him from participating in the Vic Metro and Country training sessions last week.
Depending on where these bids come for Owens and Windhager, the Saints may need to trade future selections so they don’t go into a deficit.
There will be willing trade partners in the late-second to third round of the second night, but the Saints could face the prospect of trading out their future third-round selection if the bids come early in the second round. They own Adelaide’s 2022 fourth-rounder as well which could help at this draft.Embed from Getty Images
2021 AFL Draft: Saints tempted by (Josh) Sinn
Saints draft selections: 9, 55, 62, 66, 67, 85
Jack Sinclair did a mighty job in 2021 as the main driving force out of the back 50, but it’s an area that needs addressing and the Saints could do so with their first selection.
Josh Sinn is the premier half-back in the draft, and has been touted as a top-five selection throughout the years. The Sandringham Dragon is a local product that takes the game on with his run and carry, and has a penetrating left foot kick that bears similarities to Bachar Houli.
However, he has the frame to fill out and become a big body akin to Jack Crisp, and there could be a midfield move on the horizon for him like the Collingwood best and fairest.
Sinn could play senior football very early in his career and has one of the highest floors in this year’s crop because of his athletic traits and natural confidence as an aggressive defender.Embed from Getty Images
Another option as an outside runner is Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera, whose step-dad Terry played for the Saints. He’s the best kick in the pool and has superb evasiveness, able to pin-point passes after a side-step through traffic.
The Glenelg standout has rocketed up draft boards off the back of his State Championships and is set to be taken around this mark on draft night.
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The Saints would be quick to snap up a key position prospect if they fell out of the first few picks, with Josh Gibcus filling a need as an intercepting defender and Mac Andrew projecting to become a brilliant ruckman that could form a dynamic duo with Rowan Marshall when Paddy Ryder hangs up the boots. Additionally, Jye Amiss would go a long way to aiding the Saints’ goal-kicking; he would be a great partner for Max King up forward.
In a more likely scenario, the club will be tossing up between Sinn, Wanganeen-Milera and potentially a WA prospect that remains after the Dockers make their selections.
The Eagles would be despondent if whoever’s available of Matthew Johnson and Neil Erasmus was grabbed by the Saints before their selection. The Subiaco duo are tall midfielders who have different games. Johnson is smooth through traffic with ultra-clean hands, while Erasmus is a soaring athlete with contested ability and a knack for kicking goals.
Victorian stars Josh Ward and Josh Goater will also be considered if available.
Expect the Saints to take selections into the rookie draft and potentially the SSP as they take a good look at their NGA prospects over the pre-season. A haul of Mitch Owens, Marcus Windhager and top-11 talent could see the Saints walk away as the big winners of the 2021 AFL Draft.
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