1. GOLD COAST
Matt Rowell (midfielder)
Oakleigh Chargers/Boroondara Hawks/Carey Grammar 180cm, 78kg
An absolute no-brainer, Rowell is the clear standout player in this year’s draft pool. It’s hard to remember him playing a poor match, and he stands up in big games – named best afield in consecutive under-18 grand finals. A huge winner of the ball, Rowell is determined and highly motivated to get better. He should make an instant impact for the Suns.
2. GOLD COAST
Noah Anderson (midfielder)
Oakleigh Chargers/Boroondara Hawks/Carey Grammar 191cm, 87kg
What a way to double-up. Granted generous concessions by the AFL, the Suns are able to keep Rowell and bestie Anderson together. The son of dual Hawthorn premiership player and St Kilda director Dean Anderson, Noah is a noted goalkicker who can play forward and is strong overhead. His disposal has room for improvement but he complements Rowell nicely and has described himself as a very loyal person, which should please Gold Coast, who need to retain their top young talent.
Luke Jackson (ruckman/tall forward)
East Fremantle/Bullcreek Leeming 199cm, 94kg
For weeks this has been viewed as the first “live” selection in the draft given the Suns’ inevitable double-up of Rowell and Anderson. The clean-kicking Hayden Young had been linked to this pick but for at least a week rivals have expected the Dees to pounce on former star basketballer Jackson, whose athleticism has tantalised clubs. He looms as a long-term successor to Max Gawn, but industry sources expect the Dees to find Jackson a home up forward in the short term.
4. GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY
Lachie Ash (medium defender)
Murray Bushrangers/Shepparton Bears/Notre Dame College 187cm, 83kg
The Giants traded up to this selection last week in a deal with Adelaide to get ahead of a potential bid on academy midfielder Tom Green, which now doesn’t look likely to eventuate until later in the first round. In any case, with Heath Shaw coming towards the end of his career, the Giants want a half-back at this selection and the speedy Ash is expected to pip Young. GWS are big fans of Jackson, so if the Dees had a late about-face, the Giants would have to strongly consider taking the WA youngster.
Sam Flanders (medium forward/midfielder)
Gippsland Power/Moe/Lowanna College 183cm, 82kg
The Giants traded with the Crows to avoid spending their first selection on matching a bid for Green. But sources close to the situation were confident on Tuesday that the Swans – who know what it’s like to have to match bids – would steer clear of Green at this pick. Flanders and Caleb Serong have been linked to Sydney, while neither Young nor Dylan Stephens wouldn’t shock either. But the powerful Flanders, who has genuine X-factor, is the favourite in what is a rare top-five selection for the uber-competitive Swans.
Fischer McAsey (tall defender)
Sandringham Dragons/East Brighton/Caulfield Grammar 197cm, 91kg
The son of one-game St Kilda player Chris McAsey, Fischer is the clear standout key backman in this draft pool. He has also been used as a forward so has the potential to be a swingman long-term. Daniel Talia is heading towards the twilight of his career so the rebuilding Crows could do with a key defensive successor, especially having lost Alex Keath to the Bulldogs. The fact they were comfortable trading with the Giants also suggests they believed the player they wanted at No. 4 was still going to be there at No. 6. There is a reasonably prevalent view in the industry that this is a bit high for McAsey, but if the Crows are keen for a tall this is the time to pounce. South Australian Stephens has also been linked to this selection over the last 48 hours so it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Crows went that way instead, with some rivals of a view that this was a flip of the coin call for Adelaide.
Hayden Young (medium defender)
Dandenong Stingrays/Somerville/Mornington SC 188cm, 83kg
In some draft circles, Young is viewed as the second-best player in the pool. A beautiful kick and strong intercept mark, the younger brother of Western Bulldogs player Lachie has been linked to several selections earlier than here but for much of the last week rivals have been expecting him to slide to this point. Young met Carlton on Monday but it’s hard to envisage the Dockers letting a player of such quality through their grasp, even if he is perceived to be something of a flight risk.
Caleb Serong (small midfielder/forward)
Gippsland Power/Warragul/Geelong Grammar 178cm, 88kg
The Dockers had been linked to West Australian Deven Robertson with one of their two top-10 picks but rivals were increasingly of the view that the WA under-18 captain could slide out of the top 10. Serong or Stephens are fancied to head to Cockburn with Young. A tough player with clean hands and an excellent mark for his height, Serong has shone at junior level.
Dylan Stephens (medium midfielder)
Norwood/Rostrevor College 183cm, 74kg
Despite their meeting with Young earlier in the week it’s hard to envisage the Blues will be able to snap up the defender, unless the Dockers are spooked by the prospect of him returning to Victoria. Instead industry sources are of the view that the Blues will take whichever of Stephens or Serong is still on the board. Athletic midfielder Stephens is capable both on the inside and outside and looks like being the first South Australian taken on Wednesday night. The Blues’ interest in Freo Next Generation Academy forward Liam Henry contributed to Freo’s decision to trade into the top eight, so it wouldn’t be a shock if the Blues decided to bid on Henry, in which case the Dockers are widely expected to match.
10. GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY
(Matching Melbourne bid)
Tom Green (tall midfielder)
GWS Academy/Marist College/Canberra 190cm, 89kg
After all the fuss about him being bid on inside the top five, sources expect Green to slide to the edge of the top 10. The Giants would match a bid for Green anywhere after pick four but this would be a particularly good result for the expansion club as it will help restrict their points deficit for next year, potentially bringing them into the 2020 draft earlier than expected. An impressively mature character, big-bodied midfielder Green is the grandson of Richmond premiership player Michael Green.
Kysaiah Pickett (small forward/midfielder)
Woodville-West Torrens/Prince Alfred College 171cm, 71kg
The nephew of Kangaroos and Port Adelaide premiership star Byron Pickett, who also spent time at the Demons, Pickett has burst into top-dozen calculations in recent weeks. The Dees went hard after Jamie Elliott so are clearly keen for a small forward. Pickett is an aerial threat but gets the job done at ground level as well, with forward pressure a highlight of his game. The Western Bulldogs have also been linked to Pickett. Some rival clubs are of the view that pick 11 is way too early for Melbourne to take Pickett. The Dees and the Blues loom as two clubs in the top 10 most likely to trade down on draft night. Could Gold Coast be tempted to use picks 15 and 20 to trade into the top 10 to land Robertson, of whom coach Stuart Dew is a big fan? The Dees have also been linked to a possible bid on Liam Henry, so it wouldn’t be a complete shock if they forced the Dockers’ hand as well as the Giants’.
Will Day (medium defender)
West Adelaide/Sacred Heart College 189cm, 76kg
The Hawks, who haven’t ventured to this region of the draft in recent years, shape as something of a mystery club, with this selection unlocking the gate to the back half of the first round. They have been strongly linked with McAsey, so if the Crows decide against picking the tall defender it’s hard to envisage him falling below this selection. But if McAsey is off the board, Day looks as strong a chance as anyone to be taken. The speedy Day is an excellent overhead mark and neat ball user. Port Adelaide are also interested in Day and it’s very hard to see him slipping past Gold Coast’s pick 15.
13. PORT ADELAIDE
Miles Bergman (Medium midfielder/forward)
Sandringham Dragons/Hampton Rovers/St Bede’s College 189cm, 83kg
Pacy and powerful, Bergman isn’t a huge ball winner but has emerged this season as a prospect with plenty of upside after overcoming foot issues. The Bulldogs and Geelong have also been linked to Bergman so it appears Port will need to strike here as Bergman is unlikely to still be available at the Power’s second pick.
(matching Western Bulldogs bid)
Liam Henry (Medium forward/midfielder)
Claremont/Christ Church Grammar 180cm, 68kg
The Dockers had been concerned about a bid on Henry coming as early as Carlton’s pick nine, so Fremantle traded up to pick eight in a deal last week with Melbourne, leaving Freo poised to land two players before a bid for their NGA talent. Therefore it wouldn’t be a shock if a bid for Henry came as early as pick No. 9. But pinpointing just where a bid will come was proving difficult on Tuesday. Industry sources suggest he wouldn’t slide any further than Geelong’s second pick, but the Bulldogs – who have been linked to small forwards Cody Weightman and Kysaiah Pickett, appear to make as much sense as anyone. The speedy and elusive Henry shone during the national championships this year and Freo will be rapt to secure him as well as two other top talents.
15. WESTERN BULLDOGS
Cody Weightman (Small forward)
Dandenong Stingrays/Beaconsfield/Haileybury College 178cm, 75kg
Highly dedicated small forward Weightman is crafty around goal and looks like the type of player who will excite whichever set of fans get to call him their own. Bergman and Pickett are others who have been linked to the Dogs so neither would shock at this spot either.
Brodie Kemp (utility)
Bendigo Pioneers/Echuca/Geelong Grammar 192cm, 89kg
Like the Hawks, the Cats have been linked to McAsey, however unless the Cats package picks and manage to trade up on draft night they seem destined to miss out on the teenager widely viewed as the best key defender in the draft. Instead it would be hard to overlook the supremely talented Kemp, who has boarded at Geelong Grammar and can play at either end of the ground as well as through the midfield. A top-10 berth for Kemp was on the cards before he tore his ACL mid-year. Robertson has also been linked to the Cats at this selection, and would give Geelong something to think about if he’s lasted this long.
17. GOLD COAST
Deven Robertson (medium midfielder)
Perth/Aquinas College 184cm, 81kg
Robertson led WA to under-18 glory this year and also won the Larke Medal for the best player in division one at the national championships. He oozes leadership and had been linked to one of Freo’s picks inside the top 10 as recently as last week. However his kicking is a concern, and would contribute to this expected slide. Suns coach Dew likes Robertson a lot though so the building Suns would be licking their lips if a player of his character slips this far.
18. PORT ADELAIDE
Sam De Koning (tall defender)
Dandenong Stingrays/Mornington 201cm, 86kg
The widely held industry view is Port will look for at least one tall with their three picks in the back half of the second round. Therefore neither Josh Worrell nor Harrison Jones would be a surprise with this selection. But strong intercept mark De Koning, the younger brother of Carlton’s Tom De Koning, could pip the others.
Harrison Jones (tall forward)
Calder Cannons/Gisborne/PEGS 196cm, 78kg
Jones has plenty of filling out to do so is very much a long-term prospect. Fellows talls De Koning and intercept defender Worrell are all around the mark here for both the Cats and Port, who between them possess five of nine picks between 12 and 20 going into Wednesday night.
20. PORT ADELAIDE
Trent Bianco (medium midfielder/defender)
Oakleigh Chargers/Doncaster/Marcellin College 180cm, 77kg
Again, depending on what has happened in the preceding few picks it wouldn’t surprise to see any of Jones, Worrell or De Koning get to Port with this pick. But Port have also been linked to the clever Bianco who looks like a safe bet. The Oakleigh premiership captain is a terrific ball user and would help complement the three young stars Port picked early in last year’s draft. Port have also shown some late interest in left-footed forward Dylan Williams, who was being spoken about as a potential top-10 pick 12 months ago before an inconsistent year in which he was cruelled by injury. Port are expected to match a bid for father-son midfielder Jackson Mead in the second round.
(Matching Richmond bid)
Finn Maginness (medium midfielder/forward)
Sandringham Dragons/East Brighton/Scotch College 189cm, 82kg
The Hawks have been one of several clubs linked with trying to work their way further into the first round which would enable them to get a second pick in ahead of father-son prospect Maginness, who has risen up draft boards on the back of a strong year. A bid for Maginness is expected at some stage very late in the first round or early in the second round, so the Tigers could be the ones who look to keep the Hawks honest.
Cooper Stephens (medium midfielder)
Geelong Falcons/Colac 188cm, 83kg
Who to pick when your list looks to have it all, as is the case at Richmond? Midfielder Stephens’ season was ended by a broken leg but worked tirelessly back to elite fitness, to the point he was a star at October’s draft combine. Bianco is also around the mark here, while the Tigers could conceivably nab a tall as well if one of De Koning, Jones or Worrell are still on the board. Unless they trade it, Gold Coast should have the first pick of Thursday night’s second round, at which point industry sources expect them to land WA medium defender Trent Rivers. Worrell could be available on Thursday night too.
Daniel is an Age sports reporter