The AFL national draft is over, with 65 players finding their way onto an AFL list for the 2022 season.
The WA clubs had terrific campaigns and the Hawks and Tigers made the most of their strong draft hands. But several clubs may have had their preferred prospects pinched from them.
We analyse every AFL club’s selections at the 2021 national draft and how the new players can help your team.
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Picks (at the start of draft): 4, 33, 74, 76, 87
Selections: Josh Rachele (6), Jake Soligo (37), Zac Taylor (44)
The Crows targeted a few smaller types that will complement their list superbly. Adelaide had long been linked to Rachele — a talented forward-midfielder blessed with goalkicking nous, strong hands overhead, x-factor and an unwavering belief in his own ability that will bring genuine spark to the Crows. Don’t be fooled by Soligo’s stature (179cm, 80kg), who’s a hard-working on-baller that’s terrific at the contest and astute at feeding the ball out to his teammates on the outside. Taylor was one of the biggest sliders of the draft, despite being one of the most well-rounded on-ballers in this year’s pool. He can kick on both sides of his body and is composed in traffic but has the ability to accelerate out of stoppages. Taylor could ultimately be a small forward at AFL level.
Picks (at the start of draft): 14, 18, 41
Selections: Darcy Wilmot (16), Kai Lohmann (20), James Tunstill (41)
The Lions got their man and snared Wilmot with their first pick — there were suggestions the club would trade up to help it secure the gun mid-sized intercept defender — then pulled a mini surprise when they took Lohmann with the last pick of the first round. Although rivals were disappointed to miss out on Lohmann, who becomes the latest Ballarat-based jet to join the likes of Hugh McCluggage and Jarrod Berry. They then finished by recruiting Tunstill — a hard-working midfielder with a good inside-outside balance. Lohmann looms as the wildcard of this haul. If it clicks for him at AFL level, Lions fans are in for an exciting ride.
Picks (at the start of draft): 25, 63, 78
Selections: Jesse Motlop (27)
Just the one selection for the night — and a darn shrewd one at that. The Blues were thin in the small forward brigade after the departure of Eddie Betts and Michael Gibbons, so they targeted Motlop — an evasive, smart, much-improved goalsneak that applies great pressure and has the potential to play AFL footy early in 2022. He also has the ability to push up the ground and play as a high half-forward.
Picks (at the start of draft): 36, 38, 40, 46, 48, 58
Selections: Nick Daicos (4), Arlo Draper (45), Cooper Murley (49), Harvey Harrison (52)
The fact the Pies only had to match a bid for Daicos at Pick 4 is a massive win for the Pies, considering many recruiters believe he was the best player in this year’s draft class. He’s more than just a big ball-winner, as he possesses exquisite foot skills, vision, run and footy IQ. Daicos looms as a genuine future AFL star and could even be tagged in his first season. The Pies then stole two draft sliders on the second night in South Australian duo Draper and Murley. Draper is dangerous in the air and possesses line-breaking speed and agility, while AFL draft guru Kevin Sheehan said Draper had “some exciting attributes and mercurial type of ability”. Murley was a bargain pick-up for the Pies after a frustrating 2021 campaign that was hampered by ankle and collarbone injuries.
Picks (at the start of draft): 11, 51, 56, 83, 88, 91
Selections: Ben Hobbs (13), Alastair Lord (49), Garrett McDonagh (50)
The Bombers had one of the first-round sliders fall into their laps in Hobbs, although it’s understood they had plans to take Josh Sinn with their first pick until the Power traded ahead of them in the draft order. Still, Hobbs looms as a big asset for the Bombers because his ability to clear stoppages and put teammates out into space via hand will help the Bombers’ outside runners. If they were after Sinn, they picked up a similar type player in the third round in Lord — the quintessential dashing, rebounding defender that has good disposal skills and composure under pressure. They then pulled a left-field pick by selecting McDonagh, who missed out on his draft year in 2014 but worked his way back into contention over many years plugging away in the VFL.
Picks (at the start of draft): 6, 8, 19, 60, 68, 80
Selections: Jye Amiss (8), Neil Erasmus (10), Matthew Johnson (21), Eric Benning (54)
A terrific result for the Dockers, securing arguably the best three WA-based players in this year’s draft class. They’d been linked for many weeks to key forward Amiss, who’ll fill a chasm at the club and bolster a forward line that already includes Matt Taberner, Josh Treacy and Rory Lobb. Erasmus is an exciting, versatile player blessed with great footy smarts and strong overhead marking ability. And after slipping through the first round, the Dockers rejected rival offers for the first pick of the second round and selected draft slider Johnson, who’s a tall, athletic midfielder with ridiculously good composure in traffic. A lovely story at the end of the draft too, selecting NGA prospect Benning before a club had a chance to place a bid on him, making it four local WA acquisitions.
Picks (at the start of draft): 22, 30, 32, 34, 50
Selections: Toby Conway (24), Mitch Knevitt (25), James Willis (32), Flynn Kroeger (48), Cooper Whyte (64)
The Cats pounced on the local boys, securing Falcons trio Conway, Knevitt and Whyte — the latter two, in particular, filling list needs at the Cats. Conway was one of the best rucks in the draft class, with recruiters comparing him to Reilly O’Brien for his competitiveness and ability to cover the ground. Knevitt will bring some much-needed young spark to an ageing midfield group, yet his strong appetite to win contested ball at 193cm will fit in right in at the Cats. They then pounced on South Australia’s Willis — a player that provide outside dash and class but also the ability to make his disposals count. Kroeger and Whyte will add midfield depth as strong, inside ball-winners.
GOLD COAST SUNS
Picks (at the start of draft): 3, 86, 90
Selections: Mac Andrew (5), Charlie Constable (63)
Ideally, the Suns would’ve loved Finn Callaghan. But Andrew looms a generational player if he gets it right at AFL level. A 200cm star with great athleticism, natural leap and strong hands, Andrew has probably been the biggest draft board bolter across the entire year. Andrew could play in any third of the ground, but his centre bounce ruckwork is elite. The Suns might’ve lost Hugh Greenwood in strange circumstances, but to get Constable — a strong inside midfielder that’s younger and cheaper than Greenwood — is a big win for the Suns. Constable struggled to get a game in Geelong’s senior side, but his VFL form was outstanding and he should get more game time at Gold Coast.
Picks (at the start of draft): 2, 13, 53, 54, 70
Selections: Finn Callaghan (3), Leek Aleer (15), Josh Fahey (42)
While there was speculation the Giants only settled on Callaghan late, it’s understood the club was sold on the Bontempelli-like on-baller months ago. Callaghan is a great size for the modern-day midfielder with terrific composure, kicking skills and drive to help his team break lines. Aleer was the first major shock pick of the draft, but the Giants love the character and improvement of the mature-age key defender, who’s just as strong one-on-one as he is reading the ball in flight playing off his opponent. Fahey, a rebounding defender with a booming left boot that’s drawn comparisons to Daniel Rich, could be one of the big draft steals of 2021, with the Giants only being forced to match a bid at Pick 42 — much later than initially anticipated.
Picks (at the start of draft): 5, 21, 24, 59, 64, 77
Selections: Josh Ward (7), Sam Butler (23), Connor Macdonald (26), Jai Serong (53)
Big ticks for the Hawks. They opted for Ward over Matt Johnson and Pick 7 — and that was arguably the right call, with Ward widely seen by rival clubs as the better, more well-rounded on-baller. Ward finds the footy both inside and outside the contest, he loves to run and carry, is a polished distributor and has the potential to play AFL footy early in 2022. They also picked up a slider in Butler — a genuine midfielder-forward that can swing games and apply great strength at the contest. Then the Hawks pinched prospects clubs with picks just behind them were interested in, snaring Macdonald ahead of Carlton and Serong ahead of Fremantle. Macdonald gives them another midfield option, while Serong is a hybrid prospect at 193cm with a high ceiling. The Hawks did try hard to get up to Pick 21 to select Johnson — who coach Sam Mitchell had interest in — but they couldn’t quite strike the deal.
Picks (at the start of draft): 17, 37, 49, 57
Selections: Jacob Van Rooyen (19), Blake Howes (39), Taj Woewodin (65)
This list team just keeps ticking boxes. The Dees snared one of the best swingmen in the draft class in Van Rooeyn on night one. He’s a Tom McDonald-type that’s impressed as both a key forward and key defender during his draft year. Howes was initially linked to the Demons’ first-round pick, yet was still available 20 selections later when their second-round pick came along. He’s a Jack Gunston-like forward at 190cm, but has the potential to be a tall midfielder at AFL level. A lovely story to finish the night as the Dees picked Shane Woewodin’s son Taj, who had a terrific back-end to his 2021 campaign.
Picks (at the start of draft): 1, 20, 42, 47, 71, 75
Selections: Jason Horne-Francis (1), Josh Goater (22), Paul Curtis (35), Miller Bergman (38), Jackson Archer (59)
As expected, the Roos took Horne-Francis — one of the best Pick 1 contenders in decades, according to North recruiter Scott Clayton — with the first selection in draft. He’s powerful, courageous and aggressive at the contest, but also possesses an awesome aerobic base and class that helps him hit targets and push forward to hit the scoreboard. The Goater selection was a beauty. He’s a high-flying, speedy, agile and versatile prospect that grew up as a mad North fan — and now Goater looms as a big fan favourite at AFL level. Curtis and Bergman provide great list depth for the Roos, who then used their final pick to select father-son prospect Jackson Archer — the son of club legend Glenn Archer who shows great composure across half-back.
Picks (at the start of draft): 12, 62, 72, 73, 85
Selections: Josh Sinn (12), Hugh Jackson (55), Dante Visentini (56), Jase Burgoyne (60)
If you’re in the premiership window, you can afford to be aggressive during the trade and draft periods — and that’s what the Power were on Wednesday night. Sensing Essendon were contemplating taking Sinn at Pick 13, Port traded with West Coast, giving up a future second-round selection in the process to get ahead of the Bombers and pick the speedy left-footer. They then had a long break between picks but were able to select a balanced midfielder (Jackson), raw ruckman (Visentini) and father-son gun (Burgoyne) in the latter stages of the draft to add list depth.
Picks (at the start of draft): 7, 15, 26, 27, 28, 79
Selections: Josh Gibcus (9), Tom Brown (17), Tyler Sonsie (28), Sam Banks (29), Judson Clarke (30)
The Tigers nailed a terrific spread of player types with their juicy draft hand. They used their two first-round picks to address their defensive stocks, with Gibcus and Brown both strong intercept players. Although the Tigers could use Gibcus as a forward next year — a prospect some recruiters believe would work well. Sonsie could be anything. On talent alone, the midfielder was arguably a top-five talent in this year’s draft class, but slid due to a lack of continuity in a Covid-interrupted season. If it clicks for him at the Tigers though, he could be a genuine AFL star. Banks gives the Tigers great dash and versatility, while Clarke is a typical Tigers draftee: A small forward that can apply pressure and play a role. Although Clarke has ample tricks and an innate, mercurial goal nous. Big ticks for the Tigers.
Picks (at the start of draft): 9, 55, 61, 65, 66, 81
Selections: Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera (11), Mitchito Owens (33), Marcus Windhager (47), Oscar Adams (51)
Ideal result for the Saints, nailing a first-round star, securing their top two NGA prospects and snaring a late bonus third-round pick to fill a list need. Wanganeen-Milera, who’s arguably the best kick in the draft pool, will give Brett Ratten’s side some genuine class on the outside and help them improve their efficiency from clearances. He’s the son of Terry Milera, who played 30 games for the Saints between 2012 and 2014. Then the Saints’ investment in their Next Generation Academy paid dividends, matching later-than-expected bids on Owens — a much-improved 190cm prospect that’s a great threat at stoppages and developed strong overhead marking skills — and Windhager — a powerful, explosive midfielder that has the invaluable knack of making his disposals count. And after the departures of Jake Carlisle, Oscar Clavarino, James Frawley and Dylan Roberton, the Saints drafted a key defender in Adams at 198cm.
Picks (at the start of draft): 16, 31, 39, 69, 84, 89
Selections: Angus Sheldrick (18), Matthew Roberts (34), Corey Warner (40), Lachlan Rankin (58)
Added some much-needed midfield depth with two ball magnets. Sheldrick, a strong, tough inside midfielder that played superbly in big games this season, was a genuine curveball selection in the first round after many rival clubs expected him to go in the second round. Although it’s understood the Swans had plans to pick defender Tom Brown at Pick 18, only for the Tigers to pinch him with the previous selection. Roberts was a safe, reliable pick in the second round as he’s a natural footballer that isn’t necessarily quick but has good endurance, clean skills and a developing inside-outside balance. After picking two slower players, the Swans really needed an on-baller with some athleticism — and Warner is a genuine athlete as a hard-running, smooth-moving and left-footed wingman that’s drawn comparisons to Eagles star Andrew Gaff. For the Swans’ sake, hopefully their first two choices work out.
WEST COAST EAGLES
Picks (at the start of draft): 10, 29, 35, 67, 82
Selections: Campbell Chesser (14), Brady Hough (31), Rhett Bazzo (37), Jack Williams (57), Greg Clark (62)
A terrific haul for the Eagles, bringing in a first-round bolter then four boys from Western Australia that address list needs. They identified Chesser — an exciting midfielder-defender that possesses line-breaking speed and an accurate right-foot kick — as a first-round target, but traded down the order to get him while also acquiring a future second-round pick in the process. They then targeted needs on Thursday night. Utility Hough will bring versatility, while Bazzo can develop under Jeremy McGovern and Tom Barrass in defence and Williams can grow under Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling. The Eagles were then part of one of the stories of the draft as they selected mature-age midfielder Clark, who finally got an AFL gig six years after he was first draft eligible. He’s a big-bodied inside midfielder that had a tremendous 2021 campaign and could play in Round 1 next year if called upon.
Picks (at the start of draft): 23, 43, 44, 45, 52
Selections: Sam Darcy (2), Arthur Jones (43), Luke Cleary (61)
Few clubs have benefited from the father-son rule as prominently as the Bulldogs over the past decade – and they’ve benefited again in 2021 through Darcy, who’s no ordinary key-position player at 204cm. He’s a terrific contested mark and an accurate kick for goal, but his superb versatility and athleticism allows him to play in any third of the ground. The Dogs then added WA prospect Jones, who’ll bring ample speed and the ability to play as an outside midfielder, wingman or small forward. Cleary will add depth to the Dogs’ list as a rebounding defender who possesses great decision making and intercept marking.