Elijah Tsatas (right), Cameron Mackenzie (centre), and Mattaes Phillipou (right) are all in the frame to be drafted by Hawthorn with its first selection in the 2022 AFL Draft. (Photos: AFL.com.au and SANFL)

With Hawthorn in the midst of a list overhaul and shift in direction under Sam Mitchell, the 2022 AFL Draft shapes as an important time in the club’s pursuit to craft a premiership-winning team. 

A combination of retirements and off-season trades of experienced personnel mean the Hawks have committed to their youth in order to climb back up the ladder. Now boasting seven selections ahead of this year’s draft, Hawthorn have ample opportunity to add high-end talent to its playing list. 

It’s unlikely that the Hawks will use all of their picks, however nailing their early selections will undoubtedly be a key focus leading into Monday night. 

The Inner Sanctum takes a closer look at how Mark McKenzie and his recruiting team may approach the 2022 AFL National Draft. 

Hawthorn’s draft hand: 6, 24, 41, 48, 50, 52, 63

Likely targets with Pick 6

Much has been made of Hawthorn’s decisions to offload some of its hardened ball winners in Tom Mitchell and Jaeger O’Meara during the recent AFL Trade Period. In light of these departures, the club’s first selection will likely be aimed at adding depth to the squad’s midfield stocks.  

There’s certainly no shortage of options in this department, with a midfield-heavy top-10 likely to come to fruition on Monday night. However, the uncertainty surrounding both Essendon and Gold Coast’s preceding selections mean that a number of players may or may not still be on the board when Hawthorn’s time arrives. 

South Australian prospect Mattaes Phillipou has been strongly linked with the Hawks in recent days. A 192cm midfield-forward hybrid, Phillipou oozes x-factor and shapes as a player with huge upside.

His height and ability to push forward and kick goals will be appealing to Sam Mitchell and his coaching group. The Hawks’ current midfield mix of Jai Newcombe, Josh Ward and James Worpel aren’t renowned for their ability to hit the scoreboard.

Phillipou offers a more flexible dynamic to a team’s midfield rotation, capable of impacting games both in the air and on ground level. 

Another likely around the mark is Cam Mackenzie, who presents as a balanced midfield option. Not afraid to put his head over the footy, Mackenzie can influence games both on the inside and outside, has breakaway pace from congestion and routinely hits targets by foot.

He stood up in the Sandringham Dragons midfield alongside Will Ashcroft on their way to a NAB League premiership, then backed it up the following week against Vic Country in the State Championships’ unofficial final.

Should Elijah Tsatas slide down the pecking order Hawthorn will be hard-pressed to overlook the Vic Metro prospect. Tsatas is an accumulator, with clean hands and impressive speed. He was the Charger’s best and fairest in the NAB League and a star for the Vic Metro.

Finally, Gippsland power product Bailey Humphrey will likely be on the radar of Hawthorn recruiters but may not be available after Gold Coast. Humphrey’s big frame, ball-winning capabilities, and aerial prowess could add a different dimension to Hawthorn’s existing playing group. Across 11 NAB League games, he averaged 19.8 disposals and 1.9 goals. 

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Second and third round options

It’s always difficult to forecast which young prospects will still be on the draft table come the second and third rounds. Nevertheless, Hawthorn’s list needs likely indicate that they will look to add even more midfield talent to its AFL program.

Henry Hustwaite firms as an outside chance to still be available for selection with Hawthorn’s pick 24. Standing at 194cm, Hustwaite is another taller midfield option, capable of also slotting down back in an intercepting role. The 18-year-old’s poise and class by foot will likely appeal to Sam Mitchell, two traits which the now Hawthorn coach displayed consistently throughout his decorated playing career. 

Gippsland Power’s Coby Burgiel could also be in the frame for Hawthorn’s second or third round selections. Burgiel’s burst of pace and ability to impact the scoreboard saw him string together a fine NAB League campaign. Interestingly, Burgiel’s father Hayden was in fact drafted by Hawthorn in 1997. 

Alternatively, should the Hawks aim to bolster their key position stocks, Max Gruzewski presents as a possible option. Gruzewski’s main strength lies in his capacity to read the ball in the air and mark strongly overhead. He can play up forward or down back, and can provide highlight-reel hangers.

Having lost the services of Jack Gunston to Brisbane, this 193cm Oakleigh Chargers prospect may just be a long-term candidate to fill the void left by the departing three-time premiership star. 

Father-son/NGA selections

A member of Hawthorn’s Next Generation Academy, Cooper Vickery is expected to be part of Hawthorn’s draft plans. Vickery is unlikely to be picked up by rival clubs inside the first 40 selections, meaning the Hawks can either use one of their later picks or if necessary, match a bid from an opposition club. 

A strong NAB League campaign from Vickery for Gippsland Power saw him earn recognition in the Team of the Year. Despite spending the majority of his time in the backline for the Power, he also offers versatility. The 17-year-old averaged 17.3 disposals, 4.5 marks and 4.4 rebounds per game in the NAB League. 

Potential father-son selection Jerome Lawrence may also enter Hawthorn’s calculations. The son of 1991 premiership player Stephen Lawrence is more of a project player, and will need time to develop as a versatile tall. Will the Hawks take a punt on him?

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