Lachie Whitfield. Photo: Wayne Taylor
Emma Quayle, Fairfax Media’s resident expert on the AFL draft, predicts how Thursday night's opening round may pan out.
Give us your thoughts on Emma's predictions — and your personal hopes for your AFL team. Leave a comment here.
(Dandenong Stingrays. 18, 184cm, 77kg)
Smart, versatile onballer with exquisite skill who can shape games.
THE RATIONALE: Whitfield is the best player on offer, and one the Giants have been waiting a long time for.
THE COMPLICATION: None. Whitfield has been locked in at No.1 all year.
The pick of the crop at the AFL draft
Taking a closer look at the best young players who are certain to be selected at the 2012 AFL draft. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo and Joe Armao
(Calder Cannons. 18, 184cm, 73kg)
Ducking, weaving skilful wingman boasting one of the best kicks in the draft.
THE RATIONALE: O’Rourke is one of the best onballers in the draft, with arguably the best kick. Will complement Toby Greene, Dom Tyson and others nicely.
THE COMPLICATION: Lachie Plowman, Jimmy Toumpas and Troy Menzel are others who have been linked to the Giants in the past few weeks.
(Calder Cannons. 18, 192cm, 84kg)
Close-checking, key backman who reads the play brilliantly.
THE RATIONALE: If there’s one area of the Giants’ young list that needs some boosting, it’s their backline. Plowman’s the best defender of the lot and won’t make it to pick 12.
THE COMPLICATION: As mentioned above, O’Rourke, Toumpas and Menzel are also players the Giants like. Do they go two Victorians, two South Australians or a combination?
(Woodville-West Torrens. 18, 182cm, 78kg)
Goal kicking wingman who likes to run.
THE RATIONALE: Toumpas is a class act; a humble, hard-working player able to cut teams up with his skill and scoring ability. He’s just what the Dees need.
THE COMPLICATION: Melbourne has been watching Ollie Wines, a diligent, competitive onballer for a long time. He’d be a good choice here too.
5: WESTERN BULLDOGS
(Oakleigh Chargers. 18, 189cm, 76kg)
Clever, quirky half-forward/midfielder capable of some freaky things.
THE RATIONALE: Macrae is many people’s favourite player in the draft. He has skill, instinct and kicks goals. The Dogs’ young group could do with a bit of polish, and he could help deliver it.
THE COMPLICATION: There are plenty. The Dogs have also been linked with Jake Stringer, Menzel, O’Rourke and Plowman. Wines is a chance to go here too, should the Demons overlook him.
6: WESTERN BULLDOGS
(Bendigo Pioneers. 18, 191cm, 94kg)
Powerful midfielder who can go forward and take marks.
THE RATIONALE: Stringer has been one of the Dogs’ favourites for a while and is just what coach Brendan McCartney likes: big-bodied and hard at it. Can play as an onballer and take marks in the forward line.
THE COMPLICATION: The Dogs may face a choice between Stringer and Wines, should Melbourne pass on Wines, with Menzel a big chance also.
7. PORT ADELAIDE
(Bendigo Pioneers. 18, 188cm, 90kg)
Competitive inside midfielder who plays well no matter what is going on around him.
THE RATIONALE: Wines is a super solid, very reliable midfielder. He always plays well and challenges Melbourne’s father-son pick Jack Viney in the gusto stakes. Port need boosting in most areas but more than that, some desperate competitors.
THE COMPLICATION: Locals Sam Mayes, a midfielder/half-forward, and Brodie Grundy, a ruckman, are also chances here. Should the Bulldogs not take Stringer, he’s a chance to go at this pick too. Macrae is another possibility, if available.
8. BRISBANE LIONS
(North Adelaide. 18, 187cm, 78kg)
Smart lead-up forward who is also able to get up and play in the midfield. One of the best few kicks in the draft.
THE RATIONALE: The Lions are looking for both an onballer, and a tall. They are big fans of Mayes, and have been hoping he’d get past Port Adelaide. With pick 24 also up their sleeve, they’ll get another shot at a good tall player.
THE COMPLICATION: Wines could go here, should he get past the Bulldogs and Power. Kristian Jaksch and Macrae are others the Lions have shown interest in.
(Northern Knights. 18, 187cm, 86kg)
Determined, hard-at-it midfielder who loves contested footy.
THE RATIONALE: The Tigers have been linked to ‘‘Tigger’’ for a long, long time. He would be another hard, reliable addition to their young midfield group.
THE COMPLICATION: There was some late mail for Brodie Grundy, should Port Adelaide let him through. The Tigers also have some interest in defender Aidan Corr.
(Calder Cannons. 18, 201cm, 89kg)
Tall forward who can also play in the ruck. Arguably the most promising player in the draft pool given his size, competitiveness and overall ability.
THE RATIONALE: The Bombers secured him, the son of former full-back Anthony, as a father-son pick two years ago.
THE COMPLICATION: None. Daniher has already spent much of this year training at Windy Hill while completing his year 12 studies.
(central Districts. 18, 187cm, 78kg)
Highly talented utility who can shape games like few others in the draft.
THE RATIONALE: Menzel just gets too hard to pass up on at this stage. Some clubs with early picks have been scared off by his history of knee injuries (he had LARS surgery at 16) but the risk is worth it at this point, and Carlton is looking for runners rather than talls.
THE COMPLICATION: The Blues would love Macrae to get through to them and could consider key forward Jaksch. Nathan Hrovat is another possibility.
(Northern Knights. 18, 195cm, 86kg)
Competitive, key defender able to starve opponents of the ball.
THE RATIONALE: The Giants are big fans, and bringing him in with Plowman allows them to start building some depth in their defensive stocks. Picking Corr here also keeps him out of Gold Coast’s reach.
THE COMPLICATION: Menzel will be picked here, should the Blues overlook him.
13. GOLD COAST
(Launceston. 18, 182cm, 91kg)
Powerful, explosive midfielder who can play both inside and outside the packs.
THE RATIONALE: Having lost Caddy, the Suns could do with slotting another inside midfielder into its young team. Lonergan fits the bill.
THE COMPLICATION: Josh Simpson is a player the Gold Coast has been keen on for a long while. Corr, Garner and Hrovat are others who could appeal at this pick.
14 GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY
(Oakleigh Chargers. 18, 194cm, 83kg)
Key forward who can also play back and who boasts a nice, long kick.
THE RATIONALE: With this many picks, this year and last, the Giants won’t be wanting for anything by now. Jaksch would arrive as another versatile tall option who could handle big opponents at either end.
THE COMPLICATION: Grundy must surely be a consideration here. Also, should the Giants get Menzel at 12, they should be able to draft Corr with this pick.
15. NORTH MELBOURNE
(Northern Knights. 18, 175cm, 79kg)
Hard-working midfielder, and possibly the best stoppage player the draft.
THE RATIONALE: There has long been mail linking Hrovat to the Roos. He’s an organised, motivated and reliable player who would make a positive addition to their midfield group.
THE COMPLICATION: The availability of Brodie Grundy would make for a massive decision for the Roos. Others to come into the mix will be Taylor Garner and Ben Kennedy.
(Launceston. 18, 189cm, 80kg)
Running defender able to win a lot of the ball and set up play.
THE RATIONALE: Thurlow is one of a handful of players the Cats have been considering for this pick, and would help them continue succession planning for their backline.
THE COMPLICATION: Brodie Grundy will be considered, while others in the mix include Mason Wood, Jesse Lonergan and Josh Simpson.
(East Fremantle. 18, 184cm, 73kg)
A fast and exciting midfielder/forward.
THE RATIONALE: Simpson is super talented, and a player the Dockers have been hoping would reach their pick.
THE COMPLICATION: He may have been picked, with Gold Coast at 13 interested. At least five clubs were waiting to interview him Thursday morning after recently learning he had a child at the start of this year. Stringer and Tim O’Brien are also in the mix here, as well as Gippsland onballer Nick Graham.
(Glenelg. 18, 193cm, 80kg)
Athletic, marking forward who attacks the ball in the air.
THE RATIONALE: The Pies could do with getting one or two more young talls in. O’Brien could end up playing at either end for them.
THE COMPLICATION: Fremantle or Geelong may have taken him already. With three of their next four picks, the Pies could mix and match a bit.
(Dandenong Stingrays. 18, 187cm, 77kg)
Courageous half-forward capable of unexpected things.
THE RATIONALE: He’s talented and in the mix for a handful of clubs up the order. Is courageous and a competitor, qualities the Collingwood recruiting team likes.
THE COMPLICATION: He may have been snapped up already. Simpson, Kennedy and Lonergan are others who could slot in at this pick.
(Sturt. 18, 202cm, 100kg)
Aggressive, competitive ruckman who can go forward and take marks.
THE RATIONALE: He's simply to good to leave sitting there. As a bonus, the Pies' ruck stocks could do with an addition or two.
THE COMPLICATION: He could have gone anywhere from 14 onwards. If Grundy isn't there, Western Jet Spencer White could be the big bolter. Collingwood would like him at 39, but may get nervous that Richmond will pinch him at 34.
21. WESTERN BULLDOGS
(Glenelg. 18, 174cm, 74kg)
Busy, skilful midfielder/small forward who likes to create play.
THE RATIONALE: Kennedy’s in the Dogs’ mix for this pick and, like Macrae, would add a bit of outside flair and nice ball use to their group of young midfielders.
THE COMPLICATION: Hrovat is a major chance to go at this pick, if available.
(Geelong Falcons. 18, 192cm, 80kg)
A quick-off-the-mark, hard-running, key forward.
THE RATIONALE: He’s one on a list of several players the Swans have in mind for this pick, and a player the club could afford some time to develop.
THE COMPLICATION: He could be gone, with Geelong in particular interested. Tasmanians Thurlow and Lonergan as well as Simpson are chances here too.
23. BRISBANE LIONS
(18. 196cm, 87kg)
Tall, close checking defender with good closing speed.
THE RATIONALE: The Lions got their midfielder at pick No.8. Smith would become the tall they're after.
THE COMPLICATION: Others may appeal, with Tom Clurey and Tim Membrey still chances to be on the board.
THE DRAFT CLUB BY CLUB
Adelaide Crows 3 PICKS 62, 81, 95
Brisbane Lions 5 PICKS 8, 23, 32, 86, 99
Carlton 7 PICKS 11, 35, 54, 69, 74, 89, 102
Collingwood 6 PICKS 18, 19, 20, 38, 80, 94
Essendon 8 PICKS 10*, 34, 51, 53, 73, 88, 101, 106
Fremantle 5 PICKS 17, 36, 39, 78, 93
Geelong 3 PICKS 16, 77, 92
Gold Coast 4 PICKS 13, 55, 57, 58
GWS Giants 10 PICKS 1, 2, 3, 12, 14, 27, 63, 67, 83, 97
Hawthorn 3 PICKS 28, 66, 70
Melbourne 7 PICKS 4, 26*, 48, 52, 68, 71, 72,
North Melbourne 9 PICKS 15, 37, 41, 47, 56, 61, 76, 91, 103
Port Adelaide 5 PICKS 7, 29, 30, 82, 85
Richmond 6 PICKS 9, 31, 33, 42, 87, 100
St Kilda 6 PICKS 24, 25, 40, 43, 75, 90
Sydney 8 PICKS 22, 44, 46, 64, 65, 96, 104, 107
West Coast 4 PICKS 45, 59, 60, 79
Western Bulldogs 8 PICKS 5, 6, 21, 49*, 50, 84, 98, 105