Jack Lukosius is among the sought after picks for the new AFL draftThe AFL’s new X-factor of live draft trading is about to meet the richest crop of player talent in nearly two decades.
While the live trading of draft picks could be a fizzer in Thursday night’s first round, everyone agrees this is the best group of players since the famed 2001 crop.
Luke Hodge, Luke Ball and Chris Judd led the 2001 draft, which also featured Jimmy Bartel, Nick Dal Santo, James Kelly, Steve Johnson, Sam Mitchell, Leigh Montagna, Gary Ablett and Dane Swan.
This year, it is a given that Sam Walsh, Jack Lukosius, Izak Rankine and Max King will be among the top five choices.
But for the first time, clubs can trade where they are in the draft order.
For example, there has been speculation the two Adelaide drafts might try to pry the No.1 pick from Carlton or the second selection from Gold Coast, given that Lukosius and Rankine are from SA.
Apart from live trading, another innovation is that the draft will be held over two days.
Round one – 19 selections at this stage – will be on Thursday night at Marvel Stadium and the rest of the draft will be on Friday from noon.
The speculation is that there will be no movement among the top picks, with Carlton saying repeatedly that it would take something special for them to give up the No.1 selection.
“Over the course of the two days, there will be some trading – the first night, I don’t know,” said AFL talent manager Kevin Sheehan.
“The beauty of this is the clubs may well have most of the same 60 or 70 players on their boards, but the order would be so different.
“When they see someone there that they rank (highly) … they’d be really encouraged to jump up and get that guy.
“They’ll be dumbfounded he’s still there … they’ll give a couple of choices up for him, they might even give up the second round (choice) next year if they really value that player.”
Rival clubs can also make bids for father-son or talent academy players, meaning highly-rated Sydney academy talent Nick Blakey will probably go to the Swans in the top 10 because Adelaide or Port Adelaide are likely to force their hand.
Blakey is the son of two-time North Melbourne premiership player John Blakey, now coaching director at Sydney.
Whoever goes where, Sheehan is sure that this draft will be remembered fondly.
“We’re very bullish about its potential to be Super Draft Mark Two, basically,” he said.
“We’re already reflecting on 2001, saying ‘well, can you get eight 200-gamers in the top 20 … or eight 200 gamers after choice 30?'”