With four picks inside the top 20 and seven throughout the night, the 2022 draft is exactly what the Giants need to put their rebuild into gear. Do they play it safe with ready-made talent? Or take the risk on X-factor stars?
2022 was a miserable campaign for GWS, their first Premiership push officially slamming shut. Falling back down to 16th place, problems extended further than just on-field – a messy departure of Leon Cameron had obvious effects on the motivation of players.
In a draft brimming with top-end talent, the Giants will have a host of names to consider in the 15-20 range. They hold the strongest hand in this year’s draft, having four picks inside 20 they’re sure to walk away with a host of talent that will strengthen their side for next season.
The Giants have a multitude of positional needs, so won’t be too upset by missing out on the midfield heavy talent that makes up the elite top 12. The players that land in their late first-round range covers a wider variety of positions and talents.
The biggest question around GWS’ draft plan remains, what name do they read with the first pick?
GWS’ draft hand: 1, 15, 18, 19, 31, 57, 61
2022 AFL Draft: What do they do with pick one?
The most anticipated draft storyline each year, this year’s first pick houses more strategy than just taking the best player of the draft. There’s no prize for guessing the first two names announced are Will Ashcroft and Aaron Cadman.
Inaccessible to 17 clubs, Ashcroft will be a Lion in 2023, the only details are what selection will be next to his name. The Giants can force Brisbane into a pick-one bid for Father/Son prospect Will Ashcroft.
It’s widely accepted the Giants will end up with key forward Aaron Cadman.
Earning comparisons to Jeremy Cameron, Cadman is an athletic and mobile forward who is happy to hunt for his own ball. Over 12 games in the NAB league he averaged 16.8 disposals and 2.8 goals per game, he is easily the premier key forward in this year’s draft.Embed from Getty Images
A strong contested-marker at just 18 years old, he pulled down 5.5 marks a game, almost a third of those contested. He has elite strength compared to other players his age and will be an instant addition to the GWS forward line.
When confident, Cadman can win games off his own boot, but often needs to start well to be a threat. He had multiple weeks kicking three or more behinds, but often followed those with straight-shooting performances.
Local talent or run the risk?
After the dramatic exits from Jason Horne-Francis and Tanner Bruhn in the latest trade period, clubs will have the homesick factor in the front of their minds on Monday night.
New coach Adam Kingsley has spoken about the problem that faces interstate clubs. He’s aware of the parity issues it creates, but is adamant the club isn’t going to change their draft approach based on a player’s likelihood to go home.
He has faith in his clubs’ ability to shift the culture so incoming players feel the desire to stay. Kingsley told media that in his short time at the club, he was surprised any would want to leave that environment.
Fortunately for GWS, Cadman is a Vic Country boy out of Darley who possibly won’t have the same desires to return home as some Vic Metro prospects.
Similarly, there’s a selection of Vic Country and interstate prospects around the mark of their 15, 18 and 19 selections should the Giants choose to avoid any flight risks.
Which players will kick-start the rebuild?
There’ll be plenty of options for the Giants to pick up at the later end of the first round, with a good variety of positions and game styles. GWS will almost certainly find any pieces they’re looking for to address on-field gaps.
The 2022 trade period saw a host of both forward and midfield talent leave the Western Suburbs of Sydney, despite the inclusion of Toby Bedford the Giants will be looking to add talent forward of centre.
A perfect situation would see Oliver Hollands land in GWS’ lap at pick 15. Brother of Suns’ forward Elijah, Oliver is a two-way midfielder who excels in applying pressure while gathering the ball for himself.
He averaged 23.8 disposals and six tackles over his five games for the Murray Bushrangers in the NAB league. He also displays an elite running capacity to accompany his work rate, Ollie has a tank very few prospects can match, and he would make an excellent addition to the run-heavy offence Adam Kingsley is building.Embed from Getty Images
His stoppage craft and ability to win the football is a huge factor in his game, he may find issues at AFL level until he develops the strength to compete with bigger bodies. Despite this, he’s touted as the best two-way runner in the draft pool, a quality often lacking in the GWS engine room.
His Bushrangers teammate Brayden George should also be on the Giants board for draft night. He endured an ACL tear late in the season which will see him miss most of 2023. However, comparisons to Toby Greene and an average of 2.2 goals a game as a medium forward is more than enough reason to take a risk.
He shows elite decision-making under pressure and excellent skill execution in tight spaces, an impressive talent for a 186cm forward. His explosiveness and speed out of contests means he is one of few players below key forward size that can command a forward 50 with an AFL-ready level of confidence.Embed from Getty Images
Sticking with the Country trend, Jacob Konstanty will be considered highly as a small forward that potentially fills the void that Bobby Hill has left.
While the return of Brent Daniels will be welcomed by Kingsley, Konstanty offers the best tackling rate for a forward in the NAB League and converts his opportunities when they present. He has a suite of clubs interested late in the first round so the Giants may need to grab him early.
After seeing GWS’ revolving door of ruckman, they could take a chance on a developmental player in Isaac Keeler. The Giants used four ruckmen last season and none stood up and made the position their own, a few years into Keeler could see GWS unlock a generational talent.
Keeler boasts the mobility and ground skills of a midfielder. Standing at 198 centimetres, he creates a problem for opposition defenders when he drifts forward.
Other prospects that will fit the bill include ruckman Harry Barnett, tall midfielder Henry Hustwaite and Metro defensive pair Josh Weddle and Lewis Hayes.
Expect the Giants to entertain a host of trade offers for Pick 19 – the first selection on night two. They will pull the trigger on a deal if they can gain a valuable future first-rounder for the prized selection.
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