Then Wells used pick 10 in the 2014 national draft on the explosive Nakia Cockatoo, despite the Darwin-raised teenager playing just one game for the year after breaking his leg.
The Cockatoo selection has been less successful, as he has managed just 34 games in five seasons with knee and soft-tissue injuries keeping the obviously talented midfielder grounded.
Now it is Stephens’ turn, with the youngster testing well at the draft combine. He shapes as a big-bodied midfielder who can play off half-back, with progress expected to be gradual at a club with talent on every line.
Geelong’s pool of picks means less rests on Stephens, with the Cats adding young tall Sam De Koning to their list with pick 19, the brother of Carlton’s Tom and the son of former Bulldog Terry offering depth to their backline. Some good judges have compared him to Brisbane Lions defender Harris Andrews.
The Cats had hoped they might be able to package their two picks to get inside the top 10 with Fischer McAsey in their sights, however they headed to stumps on night one happy with their haul and able to head into the second night with two second-round picks and two future first-round picks in their hand.
All their activity happened after Carlton had livened up the night with bids and pick swaps to keep Stephen Silvagni interested in what might be his final draft as list manager.
The Cats watched Hawthorn use their rare first-round selection to make an astute choice with Will Day, a rebounding South Australian who will provide the run from defence they lacked last year when Grant Birchall was sidelined and Ryan Burton was plying his trade at his new home, Port Adelaide.
The Western Bulldogs did not surprise either, choosing small forward Cody Weightman, who had been spotted touring Whitten Oval during the week with list manager Sam Power.
Weightman will have plenty to talk about with the coach Luke Beveridge, his love of surfing and the small-forward craft ideal conversation starters, while the premiership coach will enjoy Weightman’s view on the world given meditation is a key part of his preparation.
With the draft now split over two nights, meditation will be what most recruiters do overnight and on Thursday morning, reassessing their strategy and which picks they need.
Only Fremantle, who nabbed Lachie Young, Caleb Serong and Liam Henry with three consecutive selections between seven and nine, will sleep easily knowing that the bulk of the work that began in August when the coach and the CEO were sacked is done, and they can attack 2020 with renewed hope.
Peter Ryan is a sports reporter with The Age covering AFL, horse racing and other sports.