In a draft pool lacking in the tall forward department, and with various different clubs and needs holding draft picks throughout the first round, it makes it more difficult to judge just where Kristian Jaksch is going to fall.
Jaksch enters the draft as the best pure key forward up for selection – Joe Daniher excluded, being locked to Essendon – having kicked 1.5 goals per game for the Oakleigh Chargers in the TAC Cup throughout the year.
What makes that figure more impressive is his defensive roles, having played on Daniher late in the year and holding him to two goals, despite conceding three inches on him.
Jaksch is only 194cm but can play above that, with strong arms and hands on a lead or through a contest and an ability to pinch-hit in the ruck. Add that to a skilful style around the ground and he’s a mobile tall forward suited to the fast pace of the game nowadays.
Off that, for him not to be drafted in the first round would take a scenario that sounds too ridiculous. However, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the clubs that should suit his range may just not need a player of his mould.
A move up north to Brisbane looks like the earliest he could go, with the Lions holding pick 8. However, form late in the season from Jordan Lisle that showed enough to suggest he’s worth persisting with, plus the recruitment of Stefan Martin who will jump straight into a forward/ruck role, adds to that being an unlikely move.
Richmond’s keenness on midfielders and depth in key position players also warrants another pass, with enough talented ball winners around the mark.
Carlton then holds pick 11. The Blues may well jump and earmark him as the gun key forward for the next decade and a bit. They may also look at Jarrad Waite, Luke Mitchell, Levi Casboult and Lachlan Henderson and see that their tall stocks are currently healthy.
It’s expansion clubs with the next three picks from 12 to 14, falling as GWS, Gold Coast and GWS once again.
It’s arguable that the strong point of the Giants’ list, at least apparently so after the drafts, will be their key forwards. Jeremy Cameron and Jonathan Patton are two superb youngsters, Kurt Tippett looks a likely addition through the Pre-Season Draft, and chances are they won’t pass on ruck/forward Brodie Grundy. From that, it’s hard to see a pick 12 or 14 going towards someone who’s fourth or fifth in line.
The Suns don’t bat so deeply but Tom Lynch, Charlie Dixon, Sam Day and Steven May are four touted youngsters and key position players who the Suns would trust can all play AFL for the next ten years, as well as Nathan Bock who can play at both ends.
Where Gold Coast currently struggle is down back, as Bock and Matthew Warnock hold senior roles, but with Seb Tape, Rory Thompson and better defenders such as Tom Clurey floating around their pick 13, it’s hard to see a reason why he’s necessary to be picked for a permanent defensive role.
North Melbourne fall next with pick 15 and its triple-pronged tall forward line is well-noted. With Drew Petrie on the way out, there is potential room for Jaksch, although Lachie Hansen and Robbie Tarrant should steer the path for the next few years, as well as the promising Majak Daw.
Geelong has enough forward depth through Tom Hawkins, James Podsiadly as well as the younger crew featuring Shane Kersten, Mitch Brown and Josh Walker, so its pick 16 is unlikely.
Pick 17 belongs to Fremantle and it’s more probable still that they’d prefer Mason Shaw, a local boy and a strong-marking key forward at that.
That leaves Collingwood’s three picks of the next four. With the exodus of Chris Dawes and the passing on father-son James Stewart leaves room for another talented key forward to join Travis Cloke in a side where he can develop and learn with comfort.
It is possible that Jaksch could slide down to pick 18 or 19, though you never know with the draft, but where he should fall is where teams currently don’t have a necessary requirement for a key forward, or even a key position player at all.
It’s something that will be interesting to note, as Jaksch has a genuine ability to become a top-level forward. What team he may do that for is too hard to pick.