A little bit about myself… A long time ago now, a fresh-faced Kerm in the big smoke of Brisbane, young and naive, was in the middle of completing a sports management degree. This was until I realised that the only reason I was doing the degree was because I got really inspired after watching Moneyball one night, and all of a sudden wanted to join a front office. I mean, the Suns were/are picking people up off the street - I thought I was a good chance. I didn’t complete my degree, but I’m still absolutely, unequivocally the most qualified GameDay Squad member who should try their hand at being a GM for a day. Plus, I am a Gold Coast Suns fan, so draft night is like Christmas for us! Let’s go through who I expect to be taken in the top 10 for this year’s draft. It’s important to note that the order of selections for my mock draft are altered to match bids on academy players and father-son prospects.
Pick 1 - North Melbourne Kangaroos
Jason Horne-Francis - Midfielder
Believe it or not, in the 40 years that the draft has been going on in the AFL, North Melbourne have never been first on the clock. So with that in mind, I expect North to take the safest pick that they can with the first pick - that being Jason Horne-Francis. Now, this draft has fallen victim again to covid cancellations and disruptions, so a “safe pick” should be taken with a grain of salt but, in the SANFL playing for the South Adelaide Panthers, Horne-Frances averaged 16.5 disposals, booted 15 goals and was a major factor in helping South Adelaide reach the finals. These are very promising numbers considering he’s playing against established men in one of the country’s best state leagues. He will be the first name we hear on draft night.
Pick 2 - Western Bulldogs
Sam Darcy - Ruck/Key Forward
The rich get richer again. Off the back of drafting the first overall pick last year, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan the Bulldogs may just be the last team that needs a second overall pick. But, should they match GWS’ bid, which is just about all but confirmed, they will be taking father-son prospect, Sam Darcy, who will eventually drastically improve a position of need for the doggies. The Bulldogs leant on league veteran, Stefan Martin, for much of the year including the grand final, and with Martin turning 35 this off-season it seems smart to lock in the best Ruck prospect in the draft. Darcy, who is set to become a third-generation Dog, hails from the footy factory that is the Oakleigh Chargers and starred for Vic Metro in the under 19’s champs team. He averaged 16 disposals a game for the Chargers in a disrupted season. He probably needs to be eased into a full-time ruck role but in the meantime, he has proven to be a very useful forward kicking 6 goals for Vic Metro in a game against Vic Country. He’s still raw at moment, but this is a no brainer pick for the dogs.
Pick 3 - GWS Giants
Finn Callaghan - Midfielder
I think this could almost be viewed as the pick of this class draft a few seasons down the track as Finn Callaghan is widely considered the “best of the rest” when posted up against Jason Horne-Francis and father-son picks Sam Darcy and Nick Daicos. Sandringham Dragons star Finn Callaghan should absolutely be picked here with the third pick. In the limited amount of games this draft class could play last season, Callaghan still managed to wow scouts averaging 24.3 disposals, 4.5 marks and 3.2 tackles a game. His measurables should also translate well for an instant impact at AFL level, standing at 191cm tall and 86kg. We know the demand for big-bodied midfielders in the league and Callaghan fits that mould perfectly.
Pick 4 - Collingwood Magpies
Nick Daicos - Midfielder
Is there a better situation for the son of Collingwood legend Peter Daicos to walk into? Unfortunately, we are starting to see a decline in Pies legends Scott Pendlebury and Steele Sidebottom, but where they regress in on-field production, the Pies and Daicos gain in having two of the best mentors a draft prospect could ask for. The Collingwood midfield is one of the biggest questions going into next year with how much midfield time the likes of Pendlebury and Sidebottom get going forward, so I think with the looming arrival of Daicos we could see a massive chunk of volume and opportunity for him right from the get-go. Now, make sure you’re sitting down and your socks are firmly tightened because his numbers from the NAB league are quite frankly gross. He averaged 35.8 touches, 5.8 marks and 2 goals a game - his best showing was a monster 41 disposals and 2 goals against rivals Vic Country. These are numbers that former number 1 picks Sam Walsh and Matt Rowell have put up in the same competition. A pro accumulator who can find the ball with ease and impact the scoreboard is exactly what the Pies need.
Pick 5 - Gold Coast Suns
Josh Gibcus - Key Defender
This one might surprise a few, but this is more about team need than it is about taking the best talent available. With Gold Coast’s first choice centre half-back Rory Thompson being injured literally all the time. It was up to Charlie Ballard to take on the oppositions second choice key forward. Ballard held up okay but was often outmuscled by some of the larger key position forwards in the league. Hence, the Josh Gibcus pick, who measures at 196cm and 87kg. Gibcus is currently drawing comparisons from scouts to Melbourne’s star centre half-back Jake Lever, often noting his intercept marking and aerial duel proficiency as key similarities. Suns fans would be stoked with a key defender pairing of Josh Gibcus and Sam Collins going into the 2022 season.
Pick 6 - Adelaide Crows
Mac Andrew - Ruck/Key Defender/ Key Forward
The athletic ruckman who spends time up forward and can also play down back as well? I mean what’s not to love! He can play everywhere! But seriously the Egyptian-born South Sudanese player definitely earns the ‘Unicorn’ tag this year as he comes into this draft as one of the rawer prospects in the entire class. Comparison’s to Demons most recent draft pick Luke Jackson’s movement around the ground and Essendon’s own unicorn Nik Cox for the same reasons has scouts around the country falling in love with his potential. There have even been suggestions of playing him up and down the wing, a lot like Nik Cox does. He is, however, considered a long-term project who is unlikely to have a serious impact in the league in his first one or two seasons, but for a team that can afford to be patient with a player with the potential that Andrew has, it could pay massive dividends.
Pick 7 - Hawthorn Hawks
Josh Rachele - Small Forward
The flashy, dangerous small forward hailing from the Murray Bushrangers and Vic Country has rocketed up draft boards after being named in the NAB League team of the season and rightly so. The crafty talent kicked 11 goals in just four matches with Murray this past season, he also averaged 18.5 disposals, 6.3 marks, and 3.8 tackles a game, elite numbers considering he’s playing small forward. Hawthorn also have a need for someone with a bit of spark and who can impact the scoreboard like Rachele can up forward with similar position players Luke Breust now in his early thirties and Chad Wingard not far behind.
Pick 8 - Fremantle Dockers
Josh Ward - Midfielder
The first of Freo’s two top ten picks is Northern Knights and Vic Metro hard-nosed midfielder Josh ward. Ward stacks up in the elite category for aerobic fitness, owning the fastest 2km time trial last month. Early in his development, Ward was often found occupying a wing before focussing more on his inside ball-winning work as he matured. Moreover, Ward was named captain of the NAB LEague Boys’ Team of the Year. He was named next to the aforementioned Nick Daicos in the midfield, averaging 25.2 disposals, 4.8 tackles and 5.2 marks in a disrupted season for the Knights. After Freo lost one of the best ball users league-wide in Adam Cerra, Freo could do a lot worse than to plug some of Ward’s stock into a midfield that is very young a talented already.
Pick 9 - Richmond Tigers
Matthew Johnson - Midfielder
Trent Cotchin 31, Kane Lambert 29, Shane Edwards, 33, Marlion Pickett 29, Dusty Martin 30, I know a lot of these guys are legends of the club but after what was a humbling year for the Tigers, to put it nicely, there needs to be an injection of young midfield talent. They can find that here with the classy Matthew Johnson who measures 191cm and 82kg. He often finds himself compared to Collingwood and AFL legend Scott Pendlebury because of his tendency to move the ball calmly through traffic. It’s absolutely imperative Richmond address their midfield here, and Johnson is the right pick.
Pick 10 - Fremantle Dockers
Jye Amiss - Key Forward
With pick 8, Fremantle addressed the engine room. I think they should look to add a key forward with their second pick in the top 10. Amiss was the star man East Perths WAFL colts up forward booting 51 goals in just 15 caps for the Royals. What’s even more impressive was his 38.12 conversion rate on set shots last season. His mix of marking ability, goal kicking accuracy and work rate see him compared to the likes of Jeremy Cameron and Josh J Kennedy. The Dockers desperately crave a key forward, they will not want to pass up on this opportunity to add some consistency to a position that has haunted them since quite frankly Matthew Pavlich left.
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