AFL Draft Preview 2008
In what will be the 2nd last of the ‘regular’ drafts before the Gold Coast team enters the competition (Gold Coast will have 8 out of the first 24 picks in the 2010 draft), all first round picks were kept by their respective clubs during trade week.
As of last year (and as I reported early this year) there was a teenager by the name of Nicholas Naitanui who was setting the WAFL on fire. He had already cracked the first team of the Swan Districts and was only ineligible by a few days of being able to be nominated for last year’s draft.
Flash forward to now and it’s a completely different story. On top of the fact that the Melbourne Demons de-listed their number 1 ruckman in Jeff White, they also lost their key forward David Neitz to retirement. So one could say Melbourne is definitely in the rebuilding phase.
There is any one of three players that Melbourne could choose as their first pick.
First, a Key Position player by the name of Jack Watts. Jack burst into the spotlight after a dominant display in the Under 18 Championships last season. Whilst Melbourne is in the market for some ruck stocks (they missed out on acquiring Robert Warnock in trade week), they will probably choose forward pressure instead. He finished 2nd overall in both sprints and agility at the recent draft camp, suggesting he could be moved into the midfield if need be, indicating he may be a player in the mould of Matthew Pavlich.
Nicholas Naitanui, who was touted at number 1, still has a slim chance of heading to Melbourne. As previously stated, the large ruckman has been playing senior football for a while and that is a huge plus. With strong agility, his talent and game would be in the mold of West Coast’s Dean Cox, which would be his destination if he was picked at number 2. If he were to drop to 3, then he would be heading to Fremantle, who in my opinion has the best tap ruckman in the game (Aaron Sandilands), however the pace of Naitanui would be too much to pass up.
Last but not least is midfielder Daniel Rich. He has an enormous amount of accolades and could easily fit in the starting lineup of any of the top 3. Fremantle picked up the rookie of the year in midfielder Rhys Palmer last season and if Rich is available will add to the bursting pace through the middle. Daniel is another player already playing at senior level in the WAFL, and it is quite possible he may stay in his home state.
This will be the first time in a few years that there hasn’t been a ‘standout’ number 1 pick as the above three will all make an immediate impact on Melbourne.
In terms of players who are looking for a second chance after being cut there are quite a few who will still be playing next season.
Former Swans forward Nick Davis still has plenty to offer a club on the cusp of a Premiership. He has trained with Brisbane in order to prove himself of being picked up.
Ben Cousins, who will return to the game after 12 months out is receiving interest from a wide range of clubs. The 30 year old former Brownlow Medalist is still in peak fitness, and Brisbane and St. Kilda have emerged as likely favourites to pick him up.
Aaron Fiora and Shane Birss, who were both cut by St. Kilda would still offer plenty to other clubs. They both have a vast amount of playing experience and would be welcome additions at clubs who need some extra firepower.
The drafting of de-listed players may prove to be a highlight of the draft, as there are players dropped from almost every club that have the potential to play on.
A full list of de-listed and retired players are here.
The draft is held on the 29th of November.