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2016 AFL Draft Verdict

Our verdict on how clubs fared at the 2016 AFL Draft - who comes out on top?

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Now that the hype of the draft has worn off, we can all sit and reflect on who were the winners and losers on draft night 2016. It always cheeses me off when I see an "A" grade given to the teams with top selections, and an "D-" to the teams that only have later selections, so the following analysis doesn't just look at which players a club ended up with - this analysis measures how well each club used the selections that they had at their disposal.

Consider the following examples:

Example 1 - Essendon selected Andrew McGrath with Pick 1: This is a good (but not a great) draft selection, as although McGrath was a standout player, they would have been better served selecting the superior Hugh McCluggage, who took himself out of contention by over-performing early in the year (rather than improving as the year wore on as McGrath did). I rate this selection a B. Essendon had the entire draft pool to select from and were always going to get one of the best three players; they didn't stuff it up, but they also didn't maximise the opportunity.

Example 2 - Port Adelaide selected Todd Marshall with Pick 16: A great selection by Port Adelaide, he was one of the highest potential players in the draft, and getting him late in the first round is a steal. I rate this selection an A+.

Example 3 - North Melbourne selection Jy Simpkin with Pick 12: A risky selection given Jy missed the season with a broken leg. His talent won't have disappeared, but this was an unnecessarily risky pick, given Marshall, Perryman and English were still on the board. I rate this selection a D+.

I won't be rating each player individually as I have above, but I will be using this method of analysis throughout to assess a club's draft performance. I will be rating all players matched as academy or father-son selections as a C, as these selections do not require any real drafting skill by the clubs that choose to match.

Clubs are ranked from worst performance, to best:

GEELONG

Who they picked: Brandan Parfitt (26), Tom Stewart (40), Esava Ratugolea (43), Quinton Narkle (60), Timm House (68), Ryan Abbott (69)

Rating: F

Why: No need to beat around the proverbial bush here, Geelong stuffed up this draft. Obviously looking for a flag this year, Geelong loaded up with three Geelong VFL players in Stewart, House and Abbott. I can see the temptation when champions like Enright and Bartel retire to replace them with ready-made players, but this is a folly. Some of them may play games in 2017, but the national draft is the place where you improve your future team, not your current one (for which you have trade and free agency). Narkle is about the only selection that I think could work well for them.

NB: Geelong is a team that regularly recruits well, and leaves draft reviewers (and other recruiters) with pie on their face. I’m confident it won’t happen this time, but I’ll still keep a face washer on me just in case.

MELBOURNE

Who they picked: Mitchell Hannan (46), Dion Johnstone (64)

Rating: E-

Why: I don’t know exactly what Melbourne were thinking with these selections. These are players that no other club was going to touch, and who they could have easily taken as rookie selections. This was compounded by Melbourne having traded away it’s 1st and 2nd draft selections (although that decision doesn’t effect their grading). There were a couple of high-potential players still on the draft board, and Melbourne should have gone for at least one of Harrison Macreadie, Dylan Clarke or Jack Graham.

NORTH MELBOURNE

Who they picked: Jy Simpkin (12), Declan Watson (34), Josh Williams (36), Nick Larkey (73)

Rating: E

Why: Simpkin’s selection started what would continue to be an odd draft for North Melbourne. I don’t think anyone expected that North would be selecting these Queensland Academy boys so early (I thought that neither would be taken in the national draft). I worry about where North will go from here.

COLLINGWOOD

Who they picked: Sam McLarty (30), Callum Brown (35), Kayle Kirby (50), Josh Daicos (57)

Rating: E+

Why: Now I have already mentioned this with Geelong, but some clubs have a knack for finding talent in the draft, and the Pies are one of them. That said, Collingwood were saved by father son selection "C"s, because the other two selections were both "E"s. Josh Battle would have been a good fit in the black and white stripes, and Brennan Cox or Macreadie would have slotted in nicely down back. Pies fans would be hoping that Derek Hine knows something that we don’t (unlikely, we know a lot at Lystics).

GWS GIANTS

Who they picked: Tim Taranto (2), Will Setterfield (5), Harry Perryman (14), Isaac Cumming (20), Lachlan Tiziani (54), Matt de Boer (58)

Rating: D

Why: Taranto with Pick 2 is a fail pick. He should turn out to be a good player, but he is nothing on the quality of Hugh McCluggage or Andrew McGrath, and given they didn’t get either of those players, they get an F for this selection (worse still is that they traded up to this pick, they could have landed Taranto or an equivalent player at their original pick 7). The three academy players in Setterfield, Perryman and Cumming were no brainers that saved them from a lower rating. They should have matched the bid on Macreadie, but I won’t take points off for that. Taking former Fremantle midfielder Matthew de Boer as a mature-aged player in the draft, rather than as a delisted free agent, was a clever way to take additional draft points into the draft (you can only take in the amount of pick that you have open list spaces, taking de Boer before the draft would have costed them a pick that they could use for matching academy players).

WEST COAST

Who they picked: Daniel Venables (13), Josh Rotham (37), Willi Rioli (52), Jake Waterman (77)

Rating: D+

Why: Venables is a risky selection, but makes sense if you consider him as a Dangerfield type - he’s an explosive midfielder. But, coupled that with the selection Mature-aged Willi Rioli who seems like a ’here and now’ type prospect, and it’s obvious the are loading up to win the flag inside the next 2 years. None of the selections are particularly bad, it’s just inherently riskier playing the short game as it can burn you twice (if you don’t win now, you won’t win later).

ADELAIDE

Who they picked: Jordan Gallucci (15), Myles Poholke (44), Elliott Himmelberg (51), Matthew Signorello (62), Ben Davis (75)

Rating: C-

Why: I would have loved to have seen them invest in the future, and pick Tim English. Alas, the Crows instead made five C grade selections. None were good and none were bad. They took no risks, got no rewards. Because of this nothing drafting, the sum of the whole is less than the sum of it's parts. 

HAWTHORN

Who they picked: Harry Morrison (74), Mitchell Lewis (76)

Rating: C

Why: The hardest club to judge, as they had the very least to work with. They did OK under the circumstances, nothing really more to say on this. 

WESTERN BULLDOGS

Who they picked: Tim English (19), Patrick Lipinski (28), Lewis Young (49), Fergus Greene (70)

Rating: C+

Why: What a steal - English at Pick 19; he’s a great fit for their game style and list build. However, the Dogs came a bit unstuck with their next few selections - Lipinski and Young weren’t very good selections, as the Dogs should have turned their attention to their ageing defence. What was an A+ start ended up fading away quickly.

ST KILDA

Who they picked: Ben Long (25), Josh Battle (39), Ed Phillips (56)

Rating: C+

Why: Though they scored two good selections in Long and Battle, anyone reading the draft would tell you that they should have been selected in the reverse order - Battle is significantly better than Long, even when you consider that his size as a forward is reminiscent of Membry. This hurts St. Kilda's rating (and there are no extra points for luck). Ed Phillips is a tough selection to judge. He could be ok, or could do nothing be delisted in 2 seasons.

ESSENDON

Who they picked: Andrew McGrath (1), Jordan Ridley (22), Josh Begley (31), Kobe Mutch (42), Dylan Clarke (63)

Rating: B-

Why: Andrew McGrath at Pick 1 is a nice selection, a bid on Will Setterfield would have served them well, and getting McCluggage would have been maybe a slightly better pick. Kobe Mutch and Dylan Clarke (brother of North Melbourne’s Ryan Clarke) are big ball winners are good later selections for Bombers, but one would have thought John Battle would have been a better side-kick to Joe Daniher than Josh Begley. Ridley also went a bit early, and Battle, Alex Witherden, Cedric Cox and Shai Bolton would have been better selections.

SYDNEY

Who they picked: Oliver Florent (11), Will Hayward (21), Jack Maibaum (45), Darcy Cameron (48)

Rating: B-

Why: I like what Sydney did in this draft, they took some interesting, calculated risks. Florent is a gun midfielder, but given his size may take a year in the gym to become a regular senior player. This is a good investment for a good kid who has shown he has the tools. Hayward is a high potential player and a reliable goalkicker. Sydney will be preparing for life after Buddy and Tippett with this selection, and Hayward has as higher ceiling as any. Jack Maibaum is a really a good defender, but I’d have like to have seen them bid of Harrison Macreadie with pick 45.

CARLTON

Who they picked: Sam Petrevski-Seton (6), Zac Fisher (27), Harrison Macreadie (47), Cameron Polson (59), Tom Williamson (61), Patrick Kerr (65)

Rating: B

Why: They got Macreadie, and you can tell that I rated this kid. In 2016 he moved away from his family to be closer to GWS, he played in Division 2 and Division 1 state football, he played with the NEAFL UWS Giants team, and was in his final year of school. Then, Macreadie was judged harshly due to his inconsistency (like Todd Marshall), but as a talented developing tall living through a lot of change, some inconsistency is par for the course. Sam Petrevski-Seton and Zac Fisher are two solid selections with their first picks, and overall Carlton brought a lot of talent onto their young list.

FREMANTLE

Who they picked: Griffin Logue (8), Sean Darcy (38), Brennan Cox (41), Luke Ryan (66)

Rating: B

Why: Griffin Logue is a great long-term selection. It was probably a bit overs for him at Pick 8, but Freo had no further selections until after 38 so they need to pay overs to get him. Sean Darcy is an inspired pick, a huge bolter (huge and a bolter). It’s great to see the Dockers investing in the future, as Darcy could be a really handy ruckman. Brennan Cox and Luke Ryan were both good value picks and will help to rebuild the Dockers defence.

GOLD COAST

Who they picked: Ben Ainsworth (4), Jack Scrimshaw (7), Will Brodie (9), Jack Bowes (10), Brad Scheer (67)

Rating: B+

Why: Ainsworth endured a tougher year than his exceptional 2015, and at Pick 4 is a very good selection. He probably should have been a top 3 selection had GWS not gone for Taranto. I think that the Suns would have selected Will Brodie next if they were ranking the players from best to worst, but they knew Fremantle wanted either Scrimshaw or Logue. The took Scrimshaw, a long term high potential player, and then got a natural footballer Will Brodie at Pick 9. Brodie could be the steal of the draft. Matched bids for Bowes and Scheer followed and capped off a great night.

RICHMOND

Who they picked: Shai Bolton (29), Jack Graham (53), Ryan Garthwaite (72)

Rating: A-

Why: Bolton is a ripping selection. "He does things on the football field that I've never seen another player do," a player development manager said, and I couldn't agree more. He's quick, and the Tigers need a bit of speed. Grahram was a really smart selection this deep in the draft. He’ll be ready to play and make an impact this year. Garthwaite is a solid recruit with 72 and has potential, but it’s hard to judge this deep into the draft.

PORT ADELAIDE

Who they picked: Todd Marshall (16), Sam Powell-Pepper (18), Joe Atley (32), Willem Drew (33)

Rating: A

Why: Port Adelaide nailed it. Todd Marshall is one of the highest potential players in the draft, and getting him late in the first round is a steal. Sam Powell-Pepper is the only thing that stopped them from getting an A+, and while I think he’s a very good selection, they should have gone with a bit more flair at this pick and landed Bolton or Alex Witherden. Joe Atley, unlike his brother Shaun, will be a midfielder, and it would be easy to picture he and Willem Drew lining up at the centre square together for years to come.

BRISBANE

Who they picked: Hugh McCluggage (3), Jarrod Berry (17), Alex Witherden (23), Cedric Cox (24), Jacob Allison (55), Corey Lyons (71)

Rating: A+

Why: McCluggage was the best player in this draft pool and was exceptional from start to finish. If he had started the year slower and built towards the finish, he would have gone at Pick 1 (but he was too good the whole way through). At Pick 3 he was the first A+ selection in the draft. Berry is a future captain, Witherden's injury saw him slide and is an A+ selection at 23, and Cedric Cox was a smart pick for his speed and versatility. Corey Lyons brother Jarryd took a little while to come on, so expect him to spend some time in the 2s building his game (and he shouldn’t feel homesick with his brother now at the Suns). This was another great draft for the Lions, as they craft their return to the top.

If you'd like to know more about how we came to the grading for each club, or for a detailed assessment of each player, contact me at John@Lystics.com.

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