the struggling one West Coast Eagles are ready to add a ready-made rookie to their roster on Wednesday night, with a strong midfielder Jai Culley widely expected to be taken with Pick 1 in the mid-season draft.
As many as 15 clubs could use Wednesday night’s draft to supplement their 2022 roster with talent, with only the Western Bulldogs, Brisbane Lions and Melbourne having no roster. While some clubs that do have a choice may eventually succeed, their preferred prospects should be off the board by the time they select.
Widely regarded as the top 19-year-old in the NAB League, Culley has been one of the top mid-season candidates for months, sparking interest from early pick clubs. The 192cm tall midfielder is a stunning kicker and can push forward to hit the scoreboard with most recruiters expecting him to go bloody fast at AFL level.
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Culley admitted on Wednesday morning that West Coast had given him no indication that the club would choose him – “they didn’t really give me a bar to be honest so I don’t expect to go to the West Coast but if they did , I’ll be damn excited” – but several rival recruiters who spoke to foxfooty.com.au said they expected Culley to be an Eagle by the end of the evening.
The Eagles are also closely linked to West Adelaide’s goal-kicking midfielder Josh Carmichaelwho is also interested in Essendon and Adelaide.
North Melbourne Football boss Brady Rawlings told a club members forum last week that the club wanted to focus on mature talent, focusing on key defenders, small forwards and running half-backs. With the Roos opening second on the list this week following Tom Lynch’s retirement, they can meet two of those needs on Wednesday night.
Rival recruiters think the Kangaroos will use Pick 2 to select 194cm Williamstown backman Kallan Dawson, who has shown tremendous development this season – taking seven interceptions against Brisbane in the VFL two weeks ago – and has been nominated for 18-month contract terms. Dawson would fill their key defender gap, while Woodville-West Torrens’ Zane Williams – who has scored 15 goals this year and has been eliminated on average 11.3 times in eight SANFL games this year – could tackle their small forward hole, with the club considering him later in the draft with their second-choice.
It means Essendon, eager to add a solid baller to his roster, hence his interest in Culley, will have the option to use his Pick 3 to select Carmichael – a 189cm tall on-baller who has scored eight goals and averaged 27.2 times has thrown, 5.2 clearances and 4.3 in the 1950s from his past six SANFL games.
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However, Essendon has also been associated with South Adelaide’s Kim Kantilla – a minor striker who shone against Adelaide’s SANFL side earlier this month with 3.1 from 18 disposals, 11 points and six within 50’s, starting 2.1 over the weekend.
Foxfooty.com.au also understands that the Bombers have put work into the Bendigo Pioneers midfielder Oskar Faulkhead, which has been drawing attention to the VFL side of the Cats for the past two weeks and looming as a possible draft shooter. He kicked a goal from 16 disposals and six tackles against the Bullants before scoring two goals from 10 strikes against the Giants over the weekend. Faulkhead has also spoken to Gold Coast and Geelong with both clubs considering taking him if he’s available on their rosters.
Essendon has also reportedly put forward work in Sandringham Dragons Hugo Hall-Kahan†
If the bombers don’t choose Carmichael, Adelaide could pounce on the West Adelaide on-baller with their first selection. The Crows are also strongly linked to the 25-year-old Glenelg on-baller Brett Turner, which launched 4.1 of 38 divestments and six clearances against Adelaide’s SANFL team in mid-April. Adelaide could take Carmichael, if available, with his first choice and then Turner with his second, with not many clubs putting work into Turner. Although Adelaide is also linked to the third tall defender Mutaz El Nour of the Northern Bullets.
the giantswho only cleared a spot last week when academy graduate Josh Fahey was placed on the inactive list is believed to be strongly considering using Pick 5 to select Western Jets defender Massimo D’Ambrosio, who has impressed at every level he has played so far this season with his accurate kicks and sprint from the mid-back. D’Ambrosio also has interest from Hawthorn, Richmond, Sydney and Geelong, so the Giants could squeeze him before those clubs get into the draft – although Hall-Kahan, Peel Thunder big man Wade Derksen and North Adelaide swingman Jacob Bauer are also associated with them.
hawthorn expected to select a key-position prospect at Pick 6. The Hawks, as they did with Jai Newcombe last year, were able to pick from the inside, hence the link to 195cm Box Hill Hawk James Blanck† But rival clubs expect the Hawks to look closely at ex-Lion Connor Ballenden, who is the only prospect to have nominated additional financial terms under the AFL’s rules. The six-foot-tall man starred at the SANFL level as a ruck-forward, scoring seven goals — including two over the weekend — and averaging 16.8 disposals and 2.1 contested points from seven games. The Hawks have also been linked to ex-Giant and current Williamstown ruckman Tom Downie is also linked to it.
Gold Coast can snag a slider at Pick 7. Faulkhead would be in the mix, as would Ballenden and Derksen if they’re still on the board. If they’re looking for ruck depth, Sandringham Dragons’ Max Rushden and Frankston’s Liam Reidy it would give.
Port Adelaide put in work in East Fremantle big man Brynn Teakle† The 202cm ruck has kicked six goals and averaged 14.7 disposals, 3.6 points and 16.8 hits in six WAFL games this year. But if Ramsden and Hall-Kahan are still on the board, the Power will definitely consider him at Pick 8.
Collingwood, which targets a key player in Pick 9, would like to trap Dawson. But with the Rose likely to pounce on him at Pick 2, multiple recruiters said: foxfooty.com.au they expect the Pies to target Derksen. A 196cm prospect who is originally from the NT and also has VFL experience at Essendon, Derksen has kicked seven goals and averaged 12.3 disposals and 4.6 points from three WAFL league games playing as a roving forward.
Richmond, who is reportedly eager to add firepower to his roster at Pick 10, is strongly linked with Bauer – a former Swans Academy prospect who thrived in the SANFL this season, playing as a 191cm hybrid forward. After spending the season prep on the defensive, Bauer was hurled forward to great effect early in the season, starting 13.4 from his first three SANFL league games. Though the Tigers would also find it hard to overlook either Carmichael or D’Ambrosio – the latter has played a few games for the Tigers’ VFL team – if they were still on the board.
Sydney, which is not expected to pass Wednesday night despite Pick 11, Bauer and D’Ambrosio would also consider if they were still on the board. The Swans have also expressed interest in Hall-Kahan – an exciting hybrid striker who has great speed and stamina and could fit anywhere on an AFL pitch. Should Hall-Kahan still be in the board at Pick 14, expect St Kilda to strike as it tried to nominate Hall-Kahan as an NGA prospect after discovering late in the picture he was eligible under the rules, only for the AFL to deny the club job application.
Geelong is strongly linked to Faulkhead at Pick 12, but rival recruiters are also wary that the Cats are open to taking on a key defender, such as El Nour or Blanck.
Carlton will almost certainly take a key defender with his Pick 13. Rival recruiters believe the Blues are fond of the former Kangaroo who has become Glenelg’s key defender Sam Durdin, who has averaged 14.9 sales and 5.5 points at the SANFL level this year and recently represented the league against the WAFL. But if Ballenden were still available, he would also appeal for his versatility, especially with forward Harry McKay and ruckman Marc Pittonet out for a few more weeks.
St Kilda (Choose 14) and Fremantle (Choice 15) have the last two picks of the first round. But foxfooty.com.au understands that if their favorite prospects are not on the board, they are likely to succeed.
Of the clubs with second-round rosters, West Coast, North Melbourne, Adelaide and Hawthorn are the most likely to use two rosters. If the Eagles use their second pick, they will almost certainly choose Jake Florencawho played at WAFL level this year and impressed in his West Coast AFL debut against Brisbane after being picked off the Eagles Covid emergency list.
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