Always active and capable of a surprise, Sydney enters the 2021 AFL Draft with a nice hand and another academy product.
The Swans have three top-40 selections – with Pick 39 coming as compensation for George Hewett’s move to the Blues.
Kinnear Beatson’s team has been linked to numerous prospects in that late-first range, and could also be willing participants at the trade table on the first night.
With picks including the Dogs’ 23 and potentially the Tigers’ second-rounders available, look for the Swans to be offering future selections to move up.
2021 AFL Draft: More academy talent on the way for Sydney
The Swans have produced one of the most fruitful crops of academy players since their introduction. In 2020 they matched bids on Braeden Campbell and Errol Gulden, best friends who had played football together through the Swans academy for close to a decade.
In 2018 they got first dibs on Nick Blakey, while in 2015 they had access to top-three prospect Callum Mills who has since developed into an elite midfielder.
In 2021, they look set to grab Angus Anderson. The Swans academy captain is a contested midfielder that puts his head over the football and won’t shirk a contest. He averaged 24 touches and a goal in three NAB League games this year.
Anderson isn’t rated as highly as the likes of Campbell, Blakey and Mills in their draft years, but he didn’t have much opportunity to rise up draft boards this season given the lockdowns in New South Wales.
Expect a bid to come late in the draft for Anderson, or possibly not at all.
The Swans also have rights to five other academy prospects in William Edwards, Kye Pfrengle, Liam Puncher, Felix Rogers, and Pierce Roseby, though this crop appears more likely to be options in the rookie draft.Embed from Getty Images
2021 AFL Draft: Should Sydney go key defender first?
Sydney draft selections – 16, 31, 39, 70, 88
Sydney moved back a few spots in its trade for ruckman Peter Ladhams, which will see the club enter the draft at Pick 16 (which will be 18 on draft night).
Since the loss of Aliir Aliir the club has sought out a myriad of options alongside Dane Rampe, with Tom McCartin impressing. However, Rampe is into his 30s and there remains a lack of depth at the position. Paddy McCartin will train with the club over the pre-season in search of a supplementary selection period list spot – and Sam Reid may shift back in 2022 – but there is an option at this selection that could tempt the club.
Leek Alleer offers shades of Aliir with his athletic ability (broke the combine record for the running vertical jump) and his contested intercepting. For Centrals in the SANFL, Alleer became a brick wall in the second half of the season, with teams needing to plan around him.
At 20 years of age, Alleer has built his body and refined his ball use to a point where – pending a full pre-season – he could play senior football early in his career. There’s little chance Alleer is available at their next selection with the Blues, Tigers, and Cats all in the market for his services.
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Jacob van Rooyen is right up there with Alleer as the best key position talent at this range, and the WA prospect can play at either end of the ground. His physicality and reading of the play could lend himself to being a very good defender at the next level.
It’s possible that the club goes a different route with its first selection, and instead targets a player like Rhett Bazzo with Pick 31. The WA full-back locked down opposition forwards all year and was a dominant force in the State Championships.
Charlie Dean, the VFL’s best young player, will join the illustrious list of award recipients by having his name called out in the draft, and it should come around that Pick 31. The 20-year-old is more of an intercepting defender at 195 centimetres, but does it as well as anyone in the pool.
If the Swans do opt for a key defender in the second round, their first-round selection could be a midfielder.
Geelong Falcon Mitch Knevitt has continued to rocket up draft boards given his spectacular finish to the season, accompanied with his elite speed and endurance testing at the Vic Country combine. His draft range is in that late first/early second area and the Swans won’t hesitate to grab him if his size and contested ability appeals.
Around this mark is also a powerful athlete in Campbell Chesser, who hasn’t been able to show off his wares too much this year given injury and lockdowns. However, clubs know the level of talent he has, being a co-captain in the U16s Championships and an All-Australian to boot.Embed from Getty Images
Chesser could play off a half-back to start his career, as will Darcy Wilmot who fits the Bloods culture to a tee. He’s vocal and uncompromising on the field, a brilliant one-on-one defender for his size and a player that tucks the ball under his arm and gains meterage for his side.
Chesser and Wilmot are two players who could replace the run-and-carry of new Crow Jordan Dawson.
Late on in the draft, Sam Banks is a player who shares a lot of similarities to Dawson and could end up being one of the steals of the draft. The Tasmanian has been on the radar of clubs for years after previously winning the State Championships Division 2 MVP, and looking the part in the NAB League.
Banks is a hard runner who is intelligent about his ball use and can feature on a wing or half-back. Corey Warner has elite endurance, and the brother of Swans’ Chad is aggressive in contests. Warner has consistently put together good performances on the wing and through the middle of the ground.Embed from Getty Images
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