20/04/2024

Bulldogs have their sights on Ed Allan, Charlie Clarke and Jedd Busslinger for Pick 11 and 21. (Photos: AFL/Supplied)

It’s a different position for the Bulldogs than it has been over the past couple of years, with no father sons or Next Generation academy players in this draft.

 It’s a different position for the Bulldogs than it has been over the past couple of years, with no father-sons or Next Generation Academy players in this draft.

The Bulldogs will have draft points at the back of their minds, having brought in Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Pick 1) and Sam Darcy (Pick 2) over the last two seasons with complicated calculations and deals.

The Bulldogs will come into the draft at Pick 11 with the side looking to fill some of the voids left by outgoing players as well as looking to rejuvenate the list for another finals campaign after a disappointing exit in 2022. 

The Bulldogs had success in the past from first-round selections with the likes of Bailey Smith, Aaron Naughton, Cody Weightman and Ed Richards all coming to the club in the last five years. 

Bulldogs’ draft hand: 11, 21, 39, 67, 75

READ: AFL Draft Power Rankings: The top 50 prospects in 2022

First Pick: Setting the tone for the future

National Recruiting Manager Dom Milesi has said last week that the club will be looking to take the best available player when Pick 11 rolls around, with Jedd Busslinger being one of the players that is expected to be available at Pick 11. 

The Western Australian is potentially able to fill a void for the Bulldogs down back. Busslinger is touted as one of the best key defenders in this year’s draft pool with his read on the play and willingness to back himself in to take the intercept mark.

It’s no secret that the Bulldogs were lacking down back last season and while they’ve brought in Liam Jones over the Free Agency period, Busslinger would be a long term option for the club and at 196cm will add more height down back for the Bulldogs. 

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Another prospect for the Bulldogs would be another Western Australian in Ed Allan, who is a midfielder/defender. Despite missing the first half of the year due to a stress fracture in his foot, Allan quickly made up for lost time, with his versatility catching the eye of Bulldogs recruiters which could see him potentially playing a similar role to Mark Blicavs at Geelong. 

With the loss of Lachie Hunter who made the move to Melbourne over the trade period, Allan could fill that wing role that Hunter leaves,  as well as having the flexibility to play in defence or up forward. 

If Oliver Hollands slips past Carlton, he would be another potential pick up with the Bulldogs first round pick who is a hard-running midfielder that could also fill that wing spot left by Hunter. 

Who will the Bulldogs take in the second round? 

If the Bulldogs don’t go with Busslinger with their first selection, they’ll be looking for a defender to join the Kennel in 2023. Lewis Hayes could be that option, a lockdown defender who’s started to bring intercept marking into his game this season. 

Having another lockdown defender on the list would be a great option to have going into the future with Alex Keath and Ryan Gardner currently playing those lockdown roles; adding Hayes to the mix would be a good option in the long-term.

The Bulldogs could also look to the forward half of the ground, with the club in need of a small forward to complement their tall forwards and work alongside the likes of Weightman. 

Darcy Jones is one of those potential pickups who’s a high pressure small forward/ midfielder with a need for speed, making it extremely hard for opposition defenders to catch him. With one thing the Bulldogs love being versatility, having Jones come into the side playing the forward role who can run through the midfield when needed would be a great option in the future. 

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Charlie Clarke is a forward who can spend time in the middle, being one of those players who will hurt the opposition on turn over and can create opportunities out of nothing. His clean ball and ability to win the hard ball creates opportunities for his teammates and after a strong, consistent season with the Sandringham Dragons, he’ll be looking to take his game to a new level in the AFL system. 

Will the Bulldogs x Footscray pipeline feature again? 

Over recent years, the Bulldogs haven’t been afraid to look to their VFL affiliate side in Footscray when it comes to recruiting players through the draft/ rookie draft. With Robbie McComb the most recent example, coming to the Bulldogs through the 2021 rookie draft. 

While Gardner and Mitch Hannan are the others having played for Footscray in the VFL and are now on the Bulldogs AFL list. There’s a chance this could happen again with one of the Bulldogs later picks or through the rookie draft. 

Captain Lachlan Sullivan could be the next player from Footscray to make his way onto the Bulldogs list with a strong season in the VFL, taking out the side’s best and fairest award. 

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The Bulldogs will be looking to add depth to the midfield after the loss of reigning Charles Sutton Medalist in Josh Dunkley over the trade period. Sullivan is potentially an option having averaged 28 disposals and seven clearances across the VFL season in 2022.

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