Given that the National Draft is the main avenue onto an AFL list, we’ve just been introduced to close to 80% of the fresh meat available for DT selection in 2013. It’s very early days yet, but there already some players on the radar, primed for consideration over the pre-season and NAB cup.
But first, a note on what we should look for as DT coaches at this very early point in the off-season. Two things are foremost; Value and Job Security. Job security goes without saying – but I will anyway – we need to identify the rookies that are likely to earn early games. Whether they be ready-made for AFL, meet their host club’s needs or they have been ‘lucky’ and been drafted to weaker or rebuilding club (Port Adelaide, Gold Coast, GWS, Melbourne, Bulldogs, etc.) it doesn’t matter; as long as you can find an angle as to why they could possibly play senior footy next season. This is just a watchlist, not a binding contract.
As for value, we are looking for players with DT upside that we can steal at a lower price. Coniglio was clearly a highly-skilled player leading into 2012, and his season average of 79.4 was fantastic for a rookie, but was he worth paying the extra $70k or so? Probably not, especially with guys like Devon Smith (67.9 avg for $50k less) and Tory Dickson (67.8 avg for $75k less) fulfilling the same function at a cheaper price.
The first two players I’m looking at are guys who will fall outside of Virtual Sports’ premium pricing criteria for rookies. In the recent past, the 1st pick has been given a huge premium (Patton was $179,700 in 2012), with each successive pick dropping in price by around $5k until the 19 pick, where it plateaus at the base draft price ($98,700 this season). So, if we’re looking for players drafted 19th or later…
178cm – 80kg – 18yo – MID
Lots has been said about Jack Viney given the large amount of publicity he attracted through being a Father/Son selection, especially with the talk that GWS or GC were considering taking him inside the Top 3 (back when GC had one of those selections), so it should come as no surprise that this kid can play footy. Like Tom Mitchell last year, he slid into the 20’s solely due to the Father/Son clause, but was a consensus Top 10 pick on the open market. Luckily for us, dropping down the order allows us to pick up Viney at base draftee price, rather the pay the premium that a top 10 selection attracts.
What I like about Viney is that he’s gone to Melbourne. He probably needs a bit more development to make it at AFL level, but because he’s at the rebuilding Dees, we might see him awarded games earlier than if he was elsewhere. There’s no doubting he has excellent size for an 18 year old, and is not short on courage or hunger for the footy; attributes that theDemons were clearly lacking last season.
My early concerns are that Melbourne has protected their early picks in the past (such as Jack Watts being wrapped in bubble wrap, physically and emotionally), which could mean Viney is shelved until a later date. Additionally, he’s is not a huge ball-winner (averaged 17 disposals for Vic Metro at this year’s Champs), so he’ll need to make up for modest numbers with promising job security for mine… But let’s be honest, how good does he look in that clip?!
175cm – 79kg – 18yo – MID
If the above article is correct in saying that Hrovat is anything like Toby Greene, then count me in! Thankfully, being taken at pick 21, we won’t have to pay the extra for the diminutive midfielder like we did for Greene. Being vertically challenged is seen as a distinct disadvantage in the AFL these days, but players like Murphy, Gaff and Prestia have shown to various degrees that you can buck the trend at a young age.
Hrovat is one pacey, hungry little dude. He averaged 25 disposals at this year’s Championships, so we know he can find the pill. And despite his height, he is stocky enough that you can feel safe unleashing him onto the field and knowing he’ll hold his own (much like this effort from Gaff).
While the Bulldogs are rebuilding, which generally bodes well for a ready-made prospect, do they have the space for him in their young midfield? Aside from mainstays in Boyd and Cross, the Doggies have Liberatore, Wallis, Clay Smith and Koby Stevens all contesting for a spot in a similar age bracket. Regardless, I’m excited for Hrovat’s prospects this season, and I will be keeping a close eye on him over the pre-season.
Any semi-aware football fan will have noticed the huge influx of mature-age recruits over the past half a decade. With expansion teams entering the fray, clubs looked to unrealised gems hidden at state or regional level for that extra edge. On behalf of the DT community, thank you. This recruiting drive has delivered Barlow, Podsiadly, Curnow, Mzungu, I. Smith, Zorko, Sam Gibson and many others in recent years, which is why our eyes should be wide open for the next aged DTer. The Pre-Season and Rookie drafts are perfect for clubs this kind of recruit, but there were a couple I noticed given chances on Thursday:
186cm – 85kg – 22yo – DEF
Terlich was once on Sydney’s list, back in 2008, so we know that he’s been close to AFL standard for a while; apparently, he is now. We’ve seen Melbourne undertake a massive recruitment drive this season, delivering underappreciated commodities such as Rodan, Dawes, Byrnes, Pedersen and Gillies to strengthen the club in the short term, but the Demons were yet to address their glaring hole in the 21-23 year old age bracket. Enter Dean Terlich at Pick 68.
With the Demons list turning over, there is plenty of opportunity for a shake-up to the first 22 with a promising pre-season, and if Terlich can do that, he might be one of the mature-age players that get a crack in Round 1. He has plenty of attributes that Neeld will be looking to inject after a weak 2012 – discipline, footy smarts, uncompromising attack at the footy and quick & decisive hands.
The best thing about Terlich is that he will most likely be classed as a Defender, where he played most of his footy this season, or even possibly (or additionally) as a forward where he has played for most of his career. I look at Melbourne’s list and I can’t see too much talent of the half-back flank, and this could be where Dean makes a name for himself in the AFL, and maybe your DreamTeam.
(Note: Also keep an eye out for Matt Jones, another mature-age pick at 25 years old. The versatile midfielder was also taken by Melbourne, at Pick 52.)
189cm – 88kg – 22yo – DEF
Essendon raised a lot of eyebrows when they cut a handful of fringe senior players from their squad this post-season, seemingly opening up their list to newer talent. Included in the new crop of Bombers is mature-age Defender Dylan Van Unen, taken at Pick 51. The Bombers must have seen something they liked at this year’s Draft, because they used six live picks, and three after Van Unen.
Interestingly, this is the third season in a row in which Essendon has hunted a Defender from Frankston, with Hibberd and Baguley recent alumni of the same football club. Thankfully, at 189cm, it’s unlikely that these two fellow ex-Dolphins that will be Van Unen’s main competitors in realising a senior berth. He’s perfect for a third tall role, meaning that players like Pears, Myers, Hooker and Hardingham will be his main foes in playing games this season.
He’ll need to have an excellent pre-season to earn early games for mine, but I’m still keeping a close eye on him and blindly hoping. With the undrafted O’Meara and Crouch front-runners for midfield rookie slots, I’m actively seeking out forwards and defenders who could play games this season. That probably won’t be Van Unen – but it could be.
We’ve been spoilt the last couple of seasons. With Gold Coast and GWS entering the competition, we’ve been blessed with hordes of cheap rookies and their guaranteed games and as a result, cash generation has been a cinch. As such, my general rule to avoid Top 20 picks to dodge paying a premium for rookies has kept me in good stead… Until now.
Without any expansion clubs this season, rookies don’t go on trees any more Neither does job security. So I’ve taken a look at those inside the Top 18 (read: those who we will have to pay extra for), and this is who I like:
187cm – 89kg – 18yo – MID
Notice which players from last year’s first round in the Draft were successful DTers? The ready-made ones. The kids with stronger bodies that can hold their own against men with years in the system. Greene, Conigilio, Adams, Ellis, Clay Smith – these guys were all ready to go. Oliver Wines is that guy.
Based on increases to the salary cap this season (roughly 7%) and the price of the 7th pick last season, we can expect to pay around $163k for Wines, around about $58k more than base-priced draftees using past pay schemes. Why should you consider paying that much extra? Two reasons.
Firstly, he’s going to Port Adelaide. God knows they coulddo with some positive news, such as a much-liked rookie coming in a playing a significant role for them in 2013. Let’s not forget that they are one of the current bottom-feeders at the moment, a club who has just sustained a mass exodus and would benefit from getting games into a sure thing as soon as possible.
Secondly, he defines ready-made. He has a head like a stack of bricks, and a body than looks like he could run through one. Of the players taken in the first round, he’s in the top 4 for weight-to-height ratio, and in the Top 2 for non-key position players, – so we know he can handle to rough-and-tumble of AFL footy. Additionally, he averaged 24 disposals at the State Champs this year, so finding the red thing isn’t an issue for Ollie.
Is he worth the extra $60k though? I guess we’ll see, but he’s looking promising so far.
182cm – 92kg – 18yo – MID
DT Talk’s own, Jesse Lonergan, is another strongly-built draftee that deserves your attention over the pre-season. Like Wines, he’s built like a small tank – he has the second highest weight-to-height ratio of the first round, second only to mammoth ruckman Brodie Grundy.
He’s also headed for the Gold Coast, which means opportunities are plentiful for a youngster like Jesse who can handle the rigours of senior footy. And if that footage above is anything to go by, he’s very capable forward of centre and north of the ears – meaning that he could easily hold down a half-forward flank if you’re sceptical of whether he can co-exist in a midfield boasting talents like Ablett, Rischitelli, Swallow, and O’Meara.
Taken at Pick 13, he’ll be priced around $135k, which is roughly $30k more than the base draftee price. That’s the same sum we paid for Toby Greene last year, and in the neighbourhood of fellow successful DTers like Devon Smith and Brandon Ellis. Add in the fact that this kid’s clearly a top bloke, and Lonergan should be near the top of your watchlist heading into 2013.
Realistically, we’re basically in the dark until the NAB Cup comes along and we can start to evaluate all these fresh-faced draftees against AFL-quality opponents. But don’t forget we still have the Pre-season and Rookie Drafts to come, which usually include players who are brought in to meet immediate needs as opposed to the long-term mentality of the National Draft. Add into the equation zoned selections, mini-draft picks (O’Meara and Crouch) and untried second or third year players scattered across AFL lists and we still have plenty of rookies vying for a berth in our DT sides.
Who else do you think deserves attention heading into pre-season 2013? Are you sceptical about any of the players covered above? Let us know in the comments!
Catch me on Twitter at @Tbetta9.