Ample could change between now and December’s national AFL draft, considering clubs now have the ability to trade picks in the lead-up to – and on the night of – the big event.

But it already seems the fortunes of the draft will be dictated by six clubs — for many different reasons.

It was announced last week that this year’s national draft would be held on just the one night, rather than across two days as has been the case in recent years. The event will also be conducted virtually.

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Grand Final

And first-up, all eyes will be on Adelaide, which holds two top-10 picks – including Pick 1.

West Australian big man Logan McDonald is the current Pick 1 favourite, after the key forward slotted 21 goals in the WAFL League competition this year to push his case as the best player in the draft pool. But whether the Crows opt for a player that’s going to be under grand pressure to return home in a few years remains doubtful.

It’s why local South Australian Riley Thilthorpe could be the more appropriate option for the Crows. Blessed with strong hands, good goalkicking accuracy and strong aerobic capacity, Thilthorpe’s mobility suggests he has all the traits to be a key figure inside 50 for an AFL club.

Jamarra to be the next Buddy?

Jamarra to be the next Buddy?

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The biggest curveball would be if Adelaide called out Jamarra Ugle-Hagan’s name with the first selection. Yet it seems more likely the Crows would select a player that could automatically join them, rather than making the Western Bulldogs bid for their star Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect.

But Adelaide’s draft influence won’t stop at Pick 1, with its next selection coming at Pick 9. Known for bidding on father-son and academy prospects to make rival clubs truly earn their selections, the Crows could make a play at Pick 9 for the likes of Braeden Campbell (Sydney academy) or Lachlan Jones (Port Adelaide NGA), who are both top 10 worthy selections.

And this is where the Crows’ already healthy draft hand could get healthier.

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As the club confirmed on Saturday it wouldn’t lodge paperwork to nominate Luke Edwards as a father-son prospect, The Advertiser reported Adelaide was considering packaging Picks 22 and 23 together and trading them to another club to get further up the draft order. Those two picks together are the equivalent of Pick 7, according to the draft value index, so could the Crows make a play for another top-10 pick?

That selection, Pick 7, currently sits with Essendon, which also holds Picks 6 and 8 in one of the juiciest top-10 draft hauls held by a club for some time.

Adrian Dodoro, Essendon’s list manager. Picture: Michael Klein
Adrian Dodoro, Essendon’s list manager. Picture: Michael KleinSource: News Corp Australia

Bombers list boss Adrian Dodoro told SEN Breakfast after the trade period it’d have to be a “pretty compelling” offer from a rival club for Essendon not to head into the draft with three top-10 selections and use them all. But, he added, the Bombers still have an “open mind” about all trade possibilities.

Essendon lost a lot of talent during the trade period, but at the same time doesn’t seem to be in rebuild mode So as tempting as three consecutive picks in the top 10 seem, how necessary is it really for them?

The Bombers are perfectly positioned to package a few of those picks together and approach a club in the top five of the draft in order to score an earlier pick, which seems a wise choice for Essendon in one of the most compromised drafts in the league’s history.

Perhaps the club that would be most open to moving on a top-five pick is North Melbourne, which has reportedly been open to trading Pick 2 for the right deal. Dual premiership Kangaroo David King last week urged the Kangaroos to look at the Bombers’ draft hand and swap their Pick 2 for Essendon’s Picks 6 and 7.

New North Melbourne coach David Noble. Picture: Michael Klein
New North Melbourne coach David Noble. Picture: Michael KleinSource: News Corp Australia

“The start of a rebuild needs volume more than it does the absolute star,” King told SEN Breakfast.

“Do you need volume at this stage? I probably think you do. If the decision were mine and it was Picks 6 and 7, I think you’d have to look at it.”

If the Kangaroos did that deal, it’d give them three picks inside the top 11 of the draft (Picks 6, 7 and 11) at a crucial time in the club’s history.

It still wouldn’t give them, though, the title for most first-round selections, which currently belongs to the Giants – thanks primarily to the compensation they received from Geelong for losing star forward Jeremy Cameron.

The Giants hold Picks 10, 13, 15, 20 and 29 – a perfect array of selections hey could package together and send to a club higher up the order.

After losing the likes of Cameron, Jye Caldwell, Jackson Hately, Zac Williams and Aidan Corr, the Giants should draft ready-made players to help the club stay in the flag window. And the closer you are to the start of the draft, the more likely you are to recruit ready-made young guns.

List boss slams Dons & Crows

List boss slams Dons & Crows

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Giants list boss Jason McCartney last week said the club’s list management team would assess its options in the coming weeks.

Across town, Sydney might have to do some pre-draft manoeuvring.

In an ideal world for the Swans, they’d walk out of December’s draft with academy prospects Campbell and Errol Gulden on their list, as well as a young star at Pick 3 such as key WA defender Denver Grainger-Barras, who’d fit into Sydney’s backline with aplomb, on their list. But it’s not that easy.

The Age last week reported Hawthorn, which has the selection after Sydney at Pick 4, is “very interested” in Campbell, who’s a classy left-footed midfielder. Should a bid come then, the Swans – who hold Picks 31, 34, 43, 58 and 62 – would have the points to match for Campbell.

What that would mean for Gulden, though, remains to be seen. He could attract attention in the back-half of the first round or early second round, which could leave the Swans short on points. The Swans could go into draft debt to get it done, or they could organise a pre-draft pick swap to save some stress. Either way, there’s ample to play out there.

And then there’s Collingwood, which could soon be in another awkward position after a devastating trade period.

Reef McInnes is tied to Collingwood through its Next Generation Academy. Picture: Daniel Pockett
Reef McInnes is tied to Collingwood through its Next Generation Academy. Picture: Daniel PockettSource: Supplied

The Magpies have an NGA prospect named Reef McInnes, who looms as arguably the most fascinating case of this year’s draft class.

A NAB League premiership player with Oakleigh that also produced the quickest 20m sprint time of all players tested at a combine last month, McInnes could earn a bid between Picks 15 and 25. But the Pies, after a disastrous trade period, hold Picks 14 and 16 before their next selection arrives at Pick 65.

So if they really want McInnes, they might have to reach out to rival clubs pre-draft to organise a deal.

Plus don’t discount Collingwood’s future first-round pick from changing hands. The Pies will have access to father-son prospect Nick Daicos – the son of club legend Peter – who’s being touted as a possible top 10, or even top five, pick. The Pies are happy to escape the early stages of next year’s draft, so their future first could become hot property in the coming weeks.

Much can happen between now and draft night. But if anything does, it’s likely any of the aforementioned six clubs will be central to any movement.

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