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CHANGES 2016: THE WASH UP - by The Oracle

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The first day of our summer brings with the beginning of a new cycle for AFL teams. The recruiting season is over and team lists are set in place for next year. There has already been discussion about the winners and losers over the draft period in particular but the reality is that it will be years before we can identify the real winners.

I remember going back twelve months or more ago when the conventional wisdom among many observers was that the draft crop was not strong, particularly in terms of key position tall players and ruckmen. The latter group are often shunned in the main draft these days and unless they are very good, the ruck types will usually have to wait until the rookie draft. In many ways, the 2016 draft was looked upon as predominantly one for the midfield and smaller player. Moreover, there were no great standouts in contention for early selections with much wavering among the experts about who would go at number one in the AFL National Draft.

There were clubs like Hawthorn, Melbourne and Collingwood who possibly saw the writing on the wall a year ago and not only traded out of early rounds this year but made little or no apparent attempt to get back into them. The Hawks' first selection was originally listed in the 80s but, after passes and changes to the order through the bidding process, it became the 74th pick overall. They traded stars in Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis without any apparent great effort to shop them around for better picks. The Demons traded out of this year's first round to get Sam Weideman last year and the second round for Michael Hibberd which meant they waited until number 46 in the latest national draft and the Pies took their first player at number 30. All three clubs had other priorities set for this draft and determined a long way out. 

In the wash up, this year's draft intake at Melbourne is certainly unconventional. After three or four draft periods in which they reaped some good young footballing talent, the Demons went unconventional in that none of their selections in either draft featured in the many phantom drafts, two 18-year-olds were picked (of which only one played representative football in the under 18 national championships). Three more mature aged players were drafted from the second tier VFL, two of them from the Casey Scorpions. The mix of player types was good and the club seems to have covered most if not all of its needs over the trade and draft period (including a developing young ruckman who was selected in that position in the TAC Cup Team of the Year) to the extent where it can make a fully fledged assault on the finals in 2017. Simon Goodwin should be pleased.

The final pieces of the list puzzle were put in place with Monday's rookie draft. Here are the player pen pictures from the 2016 Draft Edition of Inside Football:

Lachlan Filipovic 29/8/98 Ht: 199.5cm Wt: 93kg Sandringham Dragons

"Big Sticks is a ripper of a kid, similar to Hamish Brayshaw in terms of his impact off the field in leadership. He is a very raw developing tall who has just come across to the sport from basketball. We think he competes really well and just needs to impact  more around the ground. But he came on with that in the finals and had some very good games. Given the lack of talls we think he could get a sniff late in the draft. If he doesn't get picked up we would consider him as a 19-year-old. Needs to pick up a little bit of game sense having come over from basketball. There is a lot of upside." - Dragons talent manager Ryan O'Connor

Strengths competitiveness, potential 

NTI: game sense, reading of ball in air

Declan Keilty 8/5/95 Ht: 194cm Wt: 88kg Casey Scorpions

"Athletic right-footer who kicked on in his second year at Casey, winning the club's Rising Star award and finishing third in the best and fairest. Also selected in the VFL team of the year. Spent the bulk of 2016 in defence but did some ruckwork and had some good moments when playing forward in the preliminary final against Williamstown. Came out of Gippsland Power. And with a well-rounded game he's going places." - VFL expert Paul Amy

Strengths: versatility, marking

NTI: speed, finding more ball

Tim Smith 20/2/91 Ht: 192cm Wt: 88kg Casey Scorpions

"They call him 'Bull' because of the way he goes after the ball - in the air (he took a handful of old-fashioned speccies this year) and on the ground (he enjoys a tackle almost as much as a goal). He's 25 but coming off a season in which he was named at centre-half-forward in the VFL team of the year, represented the VFL and booted 31 goals. A roughie to be a late selection in the national draft for an AFL club needing to inject some grunt." - VFL expert Paul Amy

Strengths: marking, competitiveness, tackling

NTI: running

The MFC playing list now looks like this:

PRIMARY LIST:

Angus Brayshaw Tomas Bugg Sam Frost Colin Garland Jeff Garlett Max Gawn Mitch Hannan James Harmes Michael Hibberd Jesse Hogan Liam Hulett Jayden Hunt Neville Jetta Dion Johnstone Nathan Jones Ben Kennedy Jay Kennedy-Harris Dean Kent Mitch King Jordan Lewis Heritier Lumumba Oscar McDonald Tom McDonald Pat McKenna Jake Melksham Alex Neal-Bullen Clayton Oliver Cameron Pedersen Christian Petracca Christian Salem Jake Spencer Billy Stretch Jack Trengove Dom Tyson Aaron vandenBerg Bernie Vince Jack Viney Josh Wagner Jack Watts Sam Weideman 

ROOKIE LIST: CATEGORY A

Lachlan Filipovic Declan Keilty Tim Smith Mitch White 

ROOKIE LIST: CATEGORY B

Corey Maynard Joel Smith

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