The 2021 AFL Draft has been run and done over two nights, with 65 prospects taken by AFL clubs.
The Inner Sanctum analyses each pick and the types of players your club has picked up.
Adelaide started its draft with first round pick Josh Rachele, adding an electric small forward into their mix. He kicked 11 goals in four games for the Murray Bushrangers, the standout small of the draft pool, and is also capable of finding the footy.
The Crows’ next pick came as a bit of surprise, adding hard-nosed midfielder Jake Soligo from the Eastern Ranges. He’s tough yet intelligent with his ball use, and while he might not play games straight away with the likes of Rory Laird, Matt Crouch and Rory Sloane around him, he’s a strong investment for the future.
They then wrapped up their draft with three Victorians from three, taking Zac Taylor as he slid all the way to Pick 44. He’s got scope to play both on the half forward and through the midfield, an exceptional player at evading pressure from opponents.
Coming into the draft with two picks in the first round, the Lions have continued their regional Victorian streak with Kai Lohmann from the GWV Rebels joining best mate Harry Sharp. Their first pick Darcy Wilmot boasts similar character, perfectly fitting what Chris Fagan and the recruiting team have identified in what they want from their club culture.
Wilmot could slot in from Round 1, looking to be a Daniel Rich protege for the future. He averaged 15.1 disposals, 3.6 rebound 50s and 2.7 marks as a rebounding and lockdown small. Lohmann averaged 4.7 marks and kicked five goals in nine games as a forward that flies well above his height up forward.
They then came to the third round with a bolter in James Tunstill. The hard-nosed midfielder plays primarily inside, and is capable of performing tagging roles.
Having not a lot of picks heading into the draft, the Blues weren’t expected to make a lot of shockwaves in this year’s draft. Did fill a need in midfield/forward by bringing in the very talented Jesse Motlop, who, like his father Daniel, brings class and speed to either midfield or up forward.
The Blues traded out their third-rounder, having not been able to select another player in the draft this year.
It wasn’t expected to be a big draft for the Magpies, but they got their main man in midfield with Nick Daicos. The second of Peter’s sons was a dominant force nearly flawless in the NAB League, averaging 35.8 disposals, two goals and 5.4 inside 50’s in five games for Oakleigh Chargers.
They also picked versatile mid/forward Arlo Draper at a bargain, with many Phantom Draft’s putting him up putting him in the mid 20’s. He also adds class, agility, a good forward craft and the ability to play as a tall forward to the Collingwood forward line.
They followed Draper up with another SA prospect Cooper Murley who is a small midfielder that has a bunch of talent but hasn’t been able to play much football. Finally, they took Harvey Harrison, a speedy midfielder with creativity going forward.
The Dons went best available at Pick 13, securing the services of contested midfielder Ben Hobbs. The GWV Rebel was prolific in the NAB League averaging 29.2 disposals in full games played. He also has some of the best leadership qualities in the draft pool.
They backed it up later in the draft with Alastair Lord, a run-and-gun defender that takes on opponents and beats them with his pace. Finally, a mature-ager made his way to the Dons with Garrett McDonagh from the Richmond VFL side.
Fremantle went local across the 2021 AFL Draft, taking Western Australian talent with their opening three picks. The Dockers took sharp-shooting tall forward Jye Amiss with pick 8, and took tall midfielder/forward Neil Erasmus with pick 10.
It was a nervous wait for fellow big bodied on-baller Matthew Johnson, who was the biggest slider of the draft, but the Dockers took him with the opening pick of night two. Not only do all three selections fill a pressing need for Freo, the Dockers will not have to worry about the go-home factor in the years to come.
It was a long wait until their next pick at selection 54, but the Dockers will be hoping the NGA raw ruck prospect Eric Benning can develop into a quality AFL player.
The Cats had to wait until the second round before making their opening selection but they’ll be happy they picked up promising young ruckman Toby Conway. A Geelong Falcon, Conway was rated as one of the top ruck prospects in the 2021 pool. Geelong then took Conway’s teammate Mitchell Knevitt, a tall on-baller who put together a solid season with the Falcons after recovering from an ACL injury.
The Cats then took James Willis with their next selection, a tough on-baller from South Australia. Despite missing the final five games of the season, Willis showed enough in the opening half of the season to suggest his speed and endurance will hold him in good stead at the next level. Finally, at pick 48 they took Flynn Kroeger, an Eastern Rangers on-baller.
The Suns got their business done early and late in that draft. With Pick 5 they took a swing at Mac Andrew, a ruckman with the best upside in the entire draft due to his incredible athleticism and soft hands. Andrew is a project player right now, but has the potential to develop rapidly like Luke Jackson has done with Melbourne.
Late in the piece, the Suns took a punt on Charlie Constable, who gets his lifeline after being delisted by the Cats. His bigger body through the midfield could become valuable for the Suns in 2022.
Greater Western Sydney
The Giants made an unsuccessful bid on Sam Darcy, but were able to secure the second best midfielder in the draft in the form of Finn Callaghan at pick 3. Possessing silky skills and the versatility to play multiple positions around the ground, the Giants will be expecting him to line up in their round one side.
GWS had a second first round selection in 2021 and elected to take Leek Aleer at 15. A tall defender, Aleer has incredible athletic ability, as evidenced by his record-breaking vertical leap at this year’s draft combine.
Rounding out their 2021 haul was NGA product Josh Fahey, who is a rebounding defender/midfielder that has an ability to step through traffic deftly and utilise his elite footskills.
Hawthorn had a lot of space to rebuild in coming into the 2021 AFL Draft, and the club chose to fill out its brigade of midfielders in what is slowly becoming an aging bunch.
Ward was exactly the type that Hawthorn needed, a gut-runner that will move from contest to contest and continually throw himself both at the ball and his opponents. He’s got the skills on the outside alongside his ball-winning skills, and is one of the best pure midfielders out of this draft pool.
Sam Butler, brother of St Kilda’s Dan, was up next in the second round. He’s got similar traits to his sibling at ground level, but holds more of a midfield presence, averaging 16.7 disposals in the NAB League this season.
Connor MacDonald is then a midfielder of the contested variety, similar to current mid James Worpel in his explosiveness and ability to burst out of the pack. He didn’t drop below 24 disposals a match for the Dandenong Stingrays this campaign, showing off his consistency.
Another brother in Jai Serong rounded out the selections, the tallest of the group selected at 192cm. He’s shown a strong marking presence up forward, but can also be a threat through the middle of the ground, averaging 17 disposals and four tackles for the Stingrays.
When you’re the reigning premiers you don’t lack for much, but the Demons still managed to bring in some quality talent to add to their star-studded list.
Melbourne entered the draft late in the first round at pick 19 and swooped on this year’s best swingman, Jacob van Rooyen. Standing at 194cm and possessing strong hands, van Rooyen has taken strong contested marks up forward, while also intercepting down back. He looked comfortable at league level in the WAFL, while starring in the Colts for Claremont, where he kicked seven goals in two games in the finals.
On night two, the Dees failed to move up when a trade with the Crows was rejected, but they still got a talented player at pick 39 in Blake Howes. The club has added to its outside midfield stocks in recent years, and Howes will slot in seamlessly there. An athletic wingman from the Sandringham Dragons, his 190cm frame and big tank also allows him to drift between the forward line and backline.
Melbourne finally took father son prospect Taj Woewodin at pick 65, one of this year’s biggest improvers. The son of Brownlow Medalist Shane, the classy midfielder captained East Fremantle’s Colts side and grabbed everyone’s attention with his impressive draft combine, where he recorded the second fastest 20m sprint.
The Roos grabbed Jason Horne-Francis with the first pick of the draft. Touted as a superstar years ago, the SA gun is a midfielder that imposes his will on the contest, and can also go forward to kick bags of goals and excite fans.
Horne-Francis was fantastic at SANFL level to solidify his standing in the pool this season.
Josh Goater fell to the club at Pick 22 after being discussed as a first-rounder, the Roos set to trial him on a half-back flank. He’s aggressive with ball in hand and has superb athletic traits at 190 centimetres.
At Pick 35 they took Paul Curtis, a smart small forward that applies a lot of pressure and can hit the scoreboard. This was a need-based pick for North, and Curtis projects to become a nice piece.
After Curtis came Miller Bergman, the brother of Miles from Port Adelaide. He’s a medium forward that can shift up to a wing or even in defence and play as an outside ball user.
Finally, the club took Jackson Archer, the son of Glenn. Like his dad, Archer is a hard-nut defender who doesn’t shirk a contest and has bravery in spades.
Coming into the draft with pick 14, the Power were looking to add some pace and outside run to their midfield mix. The Power moved up the draft order, trading pick 14 and a future second-round pick to West Coast for pick 12 so they could pick up Josh Sinn.
Sinn, a halfback/midfielder who has pace to burn and a powerful left leg. Port Adelaide fans should look forward to watching Sinn running out of defensive 50 at Adelaide Oval.
It was a long wait for their next pick at selection pick 55, but at that pick they selected local talent Hugh Jackson, adding much-needed midfield depth. The North-Adelaide midfielder displayed his balling winning ability in the SANFL U18s competition, averaging 29 disposals per game.
The Power selected Dante Visentini with their next selection, replenishing their tall stocks after the departure of Peter Ladhams. Visentini is a competitor who provides versatility at any of the key position spots, he averaged 10.3 disposals for the Sandringham Dragons along with 8.5 hitouts in six NAB League games in 2021.
In the end, the club wasn’t required to match a father-son bid for Jase Burgoyne, picking him up with pick 60, their last selection in the draft.
Burgoyne impressed at both senior and U18s level in the SANFL rotating through the backline and midfield. Burgoyne has x-factor and is a clean user of the footy and will likely look to operate in his favoured halfback position while also potentially moving up to a spot on the wing. Port fans should be excited to see the son and nephew of premiership stars Peter and Shaun Burgoyne.
The Tigers grabbed five quality players in the first two rounds and finished their draft first of any club.
With Pick 9 they went tall with Josh Gibcus. The premier key defender of the pool, the 195-centimetre prospect has an incredible vertical leap and will become one of the league’s best intercept defender in due time.
They followed Gibcus up with a running partner for Jayden Short in Tom Brown. With elite pace and composure off the backline, he’s set to play senior football early on.
With three top-30 selections in a row, the Tigers took Tyler Sonsie, Sam Banks, and Judson Clarke. Sonsie has incredible talent but struggled with consistency this year, Banks is the best Tasmanian in the pool with elite running capacity off a back flank, while Clarke is a smart small forward who is agile, quick-thinking and a great set shot.
The Saints took the best ball user in the draft in the first round which will complement their ball-winning ability nicely. Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera bolted into contention, with the South Australian sharing similarities with Lachie Whitfield.
Mitch Owens and Marcus Windhager – their NGA prospects – got through the first 20 selections and the Saints were then able to match their bids. Owens is a big wingman that has endless courage, and Windhager is a prime athlete with explosive traits.
Finally, mature-age key defender Oscar Adams was selected, and his friends and family celebrated in style.
The Swans were thrown a curveball in the first round after being rumoured to take Tom Brown. That didn’t eventuate with the Tigers getting in beforehand, but they were quick to move to their next option in Angus Sheldrick, the WA midfield bull who ripped apart the State Championships.
In the second round, they took Matthew Roberts, another inside midfielder who had slipped down rankings. Roberts had some great duels with Sheldrick in the championships and has all the makings of a high-floor prospect.
They took brother of Chad, Corey Warner who is a wingman and high-end athlete, then rounded out the hand with Lachlan Rankin who is one of the best small forwards out of the NAB League.
The Eagles found real value in the second round after trading down two spots in the first round to grab a future second selection. They picked up Vic Country star Campbell Chesser first, who adds elite pace and kicking penetration to the outside of their midfield.
In the second round they took Brady Hough who is a clean outside midfielder/forward with good skills and a brilliant marking target for his size. They backed that up with another local talent Rhett Bazzo, who has been a premier defender throughout his junior years.
They then took local talent Jack Williams, with the big man able to play across all three levels of the ground.
Finally, Greg Clark joins as a ready-made midfielder who won a flag with Subiaco this year.
Sam Darcy is a Dog, with the club matching the Giants’ bid at Pick 2. He’s the best tall in the draft with incredible contested marking and the ability to play at both ends of the ground.
The Dogs then went with a bolter in the late rounds with WA boy Arthur Jones. He’s an outside type that has speed and flair, and a brilliant work ethic. Finally, Luke Cleary joined the Dogs after being overlooked last season. He’s a running defender that can intercept.
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