Cam Mackenzie, Jhye Clark and Mattaes Phillipou are all chances for St Kilda at Pick 9.

The Saints have a new (sort of) coach and a fresh mindset entering the 2023 season. How much will that dictate who they target with Pick 9 in the AFL Draft?

Ross Lyon has historically played a defensive, frenetic brand of football where pressure forwards and stout defenders shine. But it’s in the midfield where St Kilda needs the most help, highlighted by their deficiencies when skipper Jack Steele went down for a period mid-season with a shoulder injury.

With thin stocks in the engine room, a midfielder looks the target for the Saints with their first pick.

St Kilda’s draft hand: 9, 28, 32, 47, 73, 81

Could NGA star make his way to Moorabbin?

Cam Mackenzie is a Saints NGA prospect, but the only way he’ll end up at RSEA Park is with their first-round selection. 

The Dragons midfielder had a fantastic draft year, winning the NAB League premiership alongside top-five picks Will Ashcroft and Harry Sheezel. He’s proficient in the contest and has the burst to get to the outside and use tidy footskills. 

His physicality and desperation gives him a hard edge in the contest, and he’d slot into a midfield featuring Steele and Brad Crouch superbly.

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Mackenzie will need to make it past Hawthorn and Geelong for St Kilda to have an opportunity at him.

If he’s snapped up, there’s a chance either Elijah Tsatas or Mattaes Phillipou could stunningly be available for the Saints, and they’d scoop them up without second thought.

Tsatas would give the Saints the line-breaking ability that they haven’t been able to get out of Zak Jones. He’s a one-touch accumulator that can play inside and out.

Phillipou is the high-upside prototype midfielder with his 191-centimetre frame and goal-kicking appetite. There’s no one like him on the Saints’ list.

There’s a slim chance they could see Jhye Clark slip through Geelong’s grasp as well, and Jedd Busslinger warrants consideration as a key defender, but it seems likely that the choice will come down to one of Mackenzie, Tsatas or Phillipou.

Saints keeping live-trade options open

The Saints are looking for ways to get into the draft a bit earlier than their second selection at 28 and then 32. 

Packaging these picks could give them a spot to draft Darcy Jones, a West Australian midfielder that broke the agility test record at the national combine. He’s elusive and damaging with the ball, and has line-breaking pace. 

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There’s a chance he falls to 28, where they’d also be interested in half-backs Lachlan Cowan and Jakob Ryan if they slip through. Both have eyecatching flowing mullets and take the game on from the back half, and would add much-needed metres gained to a side that heavily relied on All-Australian Jack Sinclair to provide the run and carry from the back half. 

The Saints have nominated NGA prospect Angus McLennan, and he could be added to the category-B rookie list if he gets through the national draft.

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