AFL National Draft 2019 | A quick hit through the national draft? Not likely


Last season Brisbane Lions’ Noah Answerth was the only player from the 2018 national draft taken below pick 20 to play 18 games in the season.

He was also the only player who was not a mature-aged draft selection picked outside the top 20 to play more than 12 games in his first season, showing how long it takes for players chosen further down the draft to find their feet in the AFL.

Andrew Brayshaw on the turf after the season-ending hit last year.Credit:AAP

Since 2014 there have been just 13 players chosen after pick 20 in the national draft who have played 18 games or more in their first season and seven of those 13 were mature-aged recruits. Geelong’s Tim Kelly and Tom Stewart were the standout selections as both became All-Australians in just their second season on an AFL list.

Kelly returned to West Coast for family reasons during this year’s trade period.

The acceleration of trading, pick swapping and the academy bidding system meant just 11 clubs chose players inside the first 20 picks in the 2019 national draft.

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Seven clubs – the Brisbane Lions, Collingwood, Essendon, North Melbourne, Richmond, St Kilda and West Coast – made their first selection after pick 20 in the 2019 national draft significantly reducing their chances of getting a boost through the draft this season.

However the Saints have Max King and Jack Bytel from last year’s draft yet to debut after an injury-interrupted 2019 and added five players from other clubs through the trade period.

This trend of fewer clubs having top 20 picks in any given year will only increase with four clubs – Melbourne, GWS, Port Adelaide and West Coast – without a 2020 first-round pick at this stage.

Melbourne are the only club to not trade a pick in the two years with live trading allowed during the draft, however they have traded picks leading into the draft with the Demons landing pick eight from North Melbourne before the draft to land small forward Kysaiah Pickett with that selection which was eventually pick 12.

Clubs are also prepared to take players with injury histories in the national draft with three of this year’s top 20 selections – Geelong’s Cooper Stephens, Carlton’s Brodie Kemp and Port Adelaide’s Mitch Georgiades – all missing significant amounts of football in 2019.

Kemp is unlikely to play for the Blues this season as he recovers from an ACL injury, while the Bulldogs’ Riley Garcia will also be recovering from a knee reconstruction in 2020.

St Kilda faced that dilemma in 2018 when selecting King – who did not play a game in 2019 – but they are happy to play the long game with the key forward who showed his promise in the VFL before injury sidelined him.

The long game: St Kilda's Max King.

The long game: St Kilda’s Max King.Credit:AAP

It all paints a picture of patience with the efforts last year of Carlton’s Sam Walsh, Gold Coast’s Jack Lukosius, the three Port Adelaide youngsters – Connor Rozee, Zak Butters and Xavier Duursma – Sydney’s Nick Blakey, Bulldog Bailey Smith, North Melbourne’s Tarryn Thomas and Geelong’s Jordan Clark to play at least 18 games in their first season not to be underestimated.

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