Essendon list manager Adrian Dodoro was delighted to secure tough midfielder Ben Hobbs with Pick 13, admitting he ‘didn’t think we were going to get him tonight.’
Dodoro and the Dons were set to play the waiting game with their selection, with the top prospects bunched up and one rumoured to get through to their selection.
“We had him ranked in the first six or seven [on our draft board],” Dodoro admitted at Marvel Stadium on Wednesday night.
“It’s quite funny because I said to Rob [Forster-Knight] today, I said ‘we’ve got to give this kid a call’, because the phone had rung a few times with a few clubs wanting our pick so I think word had got out he maybe, or someone was slipping through.
“It was a great surprise that he got through and I think he’s going to be a fabulous midfielder for us.”
Hobbs was rated in the top five of the draft throughout the season, with his contested work rated as the best in the pool.
“He’s a professional kid, he’s going to get the absolute best out of himself,” Dodoro said.
“He’s high-end in our opinion, physically ready to go. He can play inside, he can play outside, he’s going to complement what we’ve got so I think we’re really lucky tonight.”
Hobbs will join a midfield group consisting of All-Australians Darcy Parish and Zach Merrett, along with Jake Stringer, Andy McGrath and Kyle Langford.
“We’ve got a pretty strong midfield coming through, but we’ve also wanted another stronger mid, and this will give us the flexibility for Langford, Stringer to play more forward.
“It just spreads the load a bit. Truck’s rapt, he’s a good fit for us and it was a great surprise tonight.”
The 183-centimetre bull has captained sides throughout his underage football and is also rated as the best leader in the draft class.
“You can see by his reaction he’s an absolute class kid, he’s a potential leader of the club.
“To be honest we didn’t think we were going to get him tonight. The boys that we thought we would get, they got taken a little bit later on.
“We knew how good he was so it was a little bit of a surprise.”
With clubs cottoning on to the fact Hobbs could slide, the Dons were quick to knock back the multitude of offers made.
“There’s another club who I won’t mention, they made about four phone calls to try and get the deal done to swap the pick.
“It was even tempting because if you’ve got a blue chipper, you take him.”
Hobbs was the first slider of the draft, but Matthew Johnson has slid out of the first round akin to Deven Robertson in 2019.
With the Dons looking to trade into the second round, he’s a player that Dodoro could be looking to snap up.
“We rate him extremely highly and I’m sure he’ll be snapped up in the first few picks,” he said.
“We’ve spoken to a few clubs about our future second being available, and we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”
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