With the 2012 National Draft done and dusted, the media, fans and critics begin to assess the performance of each club. Every year there are perceived winners and losers despite the players yet to play an AFL game, yet alone forge an AFL career.
Port Adelaide was a huge winner in the 2012 National Draft, selecting three players who were touted as first-round picks. Oliver Wines, a tough inside midfielder from Bendigo Pioneers was taken with its first selection at pick 7. Wines reeks of leadership, something that Port has been craving for amongst its younger players for some time now. He is also a clean user of the ball and courageous in contests.
Port’s next two picks were back-to-back at picks 29 and 30 respectively, choosing two key position players to fill spots and both ends. Tom Clurey is a strong key defender with great leadership qualities while Clurey reads the play exceptionally and averaged just under four rebounds at the Under-18 Championships playing for Vic Country.
Mason Shaw is a key forward highly regarded as a top ten pick at the start of the year, but drifted after a below par performance at the Under-18 Championships. He impressed in Western Australia at Colts level and with a beep test result of over 14, he has great endurance for a key forward. Along with Wines and Clurey, Shaw is another great pick which capped off a successful night for Port Adelaide.
The Western Bulldogs were the other major winner at the 2012 National Draft, selecting five players. With their first two picks, the Bulldogs selected Jake Stringer and Jackson Macrae, two highly-rated players for well over 12 months. Jake Stringer was considered a top three talent before a terrible broken leg saw him miss a large amount of footy. He is seen as a third tall in the forward line with the ability to play in the midfield. Stringer compares himself to Matthew Pavlich, Brendon Goddard and Dustin Martin which really portrays his versatility around the field.
Jackson Macrae is a fierce utility who primarily plays in the midfield but can also play at either end. He has terrific courage and an elite disposal efficiency which he showed at the Under-18 Championships. Macrae booted six goals against Tasmania to also promote his ability to drift forward and use his raking left foot to advantage. Along with Stringer, Macrae could expect to get games in 2013.
Nathan Hrovat was the Western Bulldogs’ third pick, overlooked by other clubs despite some positive signs by the gritty midfielder. Despite being only 175cm, Hrovat averaged over 25 disposals, 10 of which were contested, with 4.4 clearances for Vic Metro. To coincide with this, he also won Vic Metro’s Most Valuable Player award and earned a spot in the All-Australian team.
The Bulldogs also selected Joshua Prudden and father-son Lachie Hunter in the third round to conclude a strong draft period.
Aside from Port Adelaide and the Western Bulldogs, there were a vast array of clubs considered winners from the draft. Carlton managed to snare the talented Troy Menzel with pick 11, despite some believing he was headed to the Bulldogs at pick 6. Collingwood pulled off arguably the steal of the draft when they read out Brodie Grundy’s name at pick 18 with everyone earmarking him for a top three pick no less than a week ago. GWS unsurprisingly cleaned up with five first-round picks while North Melbourne and Melbourne could also consider themselves winners in a solid draft.
St Kilda was seen as possibly the biggest losers of the draft, selecting players earlier than expected which surprised many fans and critics. Nathan Wright impressed but the likes of Spencer White, Brodie Murdoch and Josh Saunders were considered a little high, especially with the likes of Sam Colquhoun and Tim Membrey still available amongst others.
West Coast and Geelong were seen as other losers of the draft, but mainly through lack of picks more than anything else. West Coast picked up three local boys in Brandt Colledge, Adam Carter and former St Kilda player Mark Hutchings. With interstate talent available, it was perceived they chose to avoid the ‘go home factor’.
Geelong had only one early pick which it used on Jackson Thurlow, a highly-rated Tasmanian who was expected to go in the early-to-mid second round. The Cats pounced on him and while he is expected to produce, they didn’t do much else, only selecting Bradley Hartman from Sturt late while upgrading Jesse Stringer.
At this stage, one cannot definitively decide on winners or losers of the 2012 National Draft. Over the next four to five years, the players will be highly scrutinised and seen as ‘steals’ or ‘blunders’. What is known is that clubs and fans can be excited by the latest draft crop to come through the ranks.