If any club outside the top 10 can trade its way into the early stages of Monday night’s draft, rival teams believe it’ll most likely be Melbourne.
And should the Demons pull off such a move, they could significantly shake up the top of the order.
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It’s widely expected Aaron Cadman (GWS Giants), Will Ashcroft (Lions father-son bid matched), George Wardlaw and Harry Sheezel (both North Melbourne) will be taken with the first four picks ahead of the Bombers’ opening selection on Monday night.
Essendon has been weighing up whether to select explosive Oakleigh Chargers Elijah Tsatas on-baller or big-bodied Woodville-West Torrens midfielder Mattaes Phillipou with its first pick. But the Bombers will also listen to all offers from rival clubs that come in for that selection right up until it’s their time to draft.
Loaded with Pick 13, two future first-rounders and two future second-rounders, the Demons have already been proactive and had a couple of cracks at trying to acquire the Bombers’ top-five selection. It’s believed the Dees are keen to bring in one of the top prospects that will land outside the top four picks.
While Melbourne has done work on Phillipou, multiple industry sources told foxfooty.com.au on Monday morning the Demons are also closely eyeing explosive Gippsland Power forward-midfielder Bailey Humphrey, who’s been one of the top-10 bolters across the year.
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A genuine impact player, Humphrey possesses a penetrating kick, terrific footy smarts and an excellent overhead mark for a prospect of his size. Despite his injury-interrupted season, Humphrey had three eye-catching NAB League games — including 4.5 from 31 disposals, 12 marks and five tackles against the Northern Knights — before causing headaches at national championships level for Vic Metro’s defence.
All three of Phillipou, Tsatas and Humphrey would bring a different dynamic to Melbourne’s list. But should the Dees pull off a bombshell live trade and take Humphrey, it would significantly shake up the top of the draft order.
Gold Coast, which holds the pick after Essendon’s, has been widely tipped to recruit Humphrey after cooling on top WA prospect Reuben Ginbey in recent weeks – although the Suns recently flew to Dunsborough to interview Ginbey and his family at their home.
If Humphrey is off the board, the Suns would likely turn to Ginbey, who the West Coast Eagles have been heavily linked to with their first pick. West Coast would then turn to other WA prospects Jedd Busslinger and Ed Allan, or pounce on an interstate player overlooked by Hawthorn and Geelong, such as Phillipou or Sandringham’s Cam Mackenzie.
Essendon coach Brad Scott on Sunday night told AFL Media his club remained open to trading Pick 4 on the night, but suggested it would have to be “an extraordinary offer” for the Bombers part with the selection.
If the Bombers hold their place, though, there’s growing speculation the player they don’t pick out of Tsatas and Phillipou could slide all the way to St Kilda’s selection.
And should the Demons remain outside the top 10, they’re still tipped to be active in trying to swap picks.
Melbourne could look to get ahead of West Coast to give itself a better chance of securing WA bolter Allan, who has interest from multiple clubs with first-round picks, including Geelong at Pick 7.
But the Dees are also one of several suitors in the mix for Pick 19 – the opening selection of the second round – which currently sits with the Giants. The nature of the two-night draft event – the first round is held on one night before the second round and onwards takes place on night two – means Pick 19 is one of the most highly sought-after selections, as it gives clubs first go at pouncing on a ‘slider’ or a preferred prospect before others.
Should Melbourne get its hands on that opening second-round pick, the club is expected to look at West Adelaide’s Harry Barnett – the best ruck in the draft pool – while fellow SA prospect Jakob Ryan and exciting medium forward Brayden George could also be in its sights. Barnett and George also have first-round interest from the Giants and Swans, while Ryan has been linked to the Pies’ opening pick.
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Adelaide has also shown interest in Pick 19. The Crows, who select first at Pick 46 and are now bracing for a bid on father-son prospect Max Michalanney to come as early as the first round, are prepared to trade their future second-round pick (tied to North Melbourne’s 2023 finishing position) to get back into the early stages of this year’s draft.
The Giants hold Picks 15, 18 and 19, although it’s expected at least one of those selections will move to another club. For instance, if the Giant take players with Picks 15 and 18, they’ll almost certainly trade Pick 19. But if they trade Pick 18, it’s likely they’d hold their prized second-round selection to take a player.
Other live trade watches include Sydney and Carlton – there are suggestions the Swans could entertain moving up the order and help the Blues split their pick – while St Kilda’s interest in powerful WA on-baller Elijah Hewett has rivals thinking the Saints could end up with a late first-round pick to get ahead of West Coast, Essendon and potentially Adelaide, which could trade into the second round.
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