Like previous years, several father-son and academy prospects will feature prominently in the 2022 AFL draft, which will commence on Monday November 28.
And there’s a chance we could see as many as four players attract rival bids on the opening night.
Ahead of the draft, foxfooty.com.au breaks down the draft value index, what happens when a bid is launched on draft night and where this year’s top prospects might attract bids.
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What is the AFL draft value index and bidding system?
After Sydney snared gun academy prospect Isaac Heeney for Pick 18 in 2014, the AFL created the draft value index – a system that allocated a points value to the first 73 picks in the draft.
Pick 1 is worth 3000 points, while Pick 73 is worth nine points. Picks from 74 onwards are worth nothing.
It essentially means clubs that have existing links to draftees, either via their academy or father-son eligibility, must ‘pay’ to secure these players via multiple picks and give rival clubs the chance to bid on these players.
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For clubs to secure their linked talent, they must pay and match a bid by using the draft picks/points they already hold. If they don’t have enough points at the time, they can enter draft deficit, which means their hand at the following year’s draft will take a hit. If the club opts not to match, the player goes to the club who made the bid.
If a club went into points deficit after matching a first-round pick bid, it would mean their first selection for next year’s draft would be pushed back. How far that future selection slides would depend on the leftover points value.
For example, when the Dockers in 2019 matched a bid on Liam Henry at Pick 9, they went into deficit by 245 points for the 2020 draft. Their natural first-round selection should’ve been Pick 7, but the deficit meant the pick slid by three selections – and, ultimately, they didn’t end up entering the draft until Pick 14 due to free agency compensation picks given to the Bombers and Giants, followed by early bids on Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Pick 1 – Western Bulldogs) and Braeden Campbell (Pick 5 – Sydney Swans).
So, ideally, you don’t want to go into draft deficit.
It’s why the likes of Brisbane and Adelaide recently used the recent trade period to accumulate draft picks and points as they anticipate matching early bids on their gun prospects.
There are three player categories that force clubs to launch – and match, if they can – bids on eligible prospects:
— Father-son: Players can be drafted under the father-son rule if the prospect’s father played 100 or more AFL games for that team. Famous examples include premiership players Gary Ablett Jnr (Geelong), Jonathan Brown (Brisbane Lions) and Jack Viney (Melbourne).
— Northern club academies: The Giants, Swans, Suns and Lions all have club-based academies that help develop talented athletes, sometimes from before they’re teenagers, into AFL prospects in markets where the code isn’t seen as the No. 1 sport. The four clubs have priority access to those. Recent examples include Isaac Heeney (Sydney Swans), Tom Green (GWS Giants) and Eric Hipwood (Brisbane Lions).
— Next Generation Academies: Clubs outside of New South Wales and Queensland have established academies with players from multicultural and Indigenous backgrounds, meaning they have priority access to the players they’ve developed. Recent examples include Tarryn Thomas (North Melbourne), Isaac Quaynor (Collingwood) and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Western Bulldogs). Note: Clubs that have existing links to NGA players are now unable to match bids inside the top 40 selections on the prospects they’ve developed due to a recent AFL rule change.
How does the AFL draft value index and bidding system work?
The best way to explain is to walk you through an example.
So let’s use Lions father-son star Will Ashcroft for this year’s draft …
— North Melbourne bids on Will Ashcroft at Pick 2 (2517 points), meaning the Brisbane Lions must now match the Kangaroos’ bid using the draft picks they already hold if they want their father-son gun (they definitely want him).
— The Lions firstly receive some assistance via a 20 per cent discount, which is automatically given to clubs for father-son bids inside the first round. It means the Lions must now find 2014 points to secure Ashcroft.
— To match the bid, the Lions use Pick 34 (542 points), Pick 35 (522), 36 (502), 38 (465), equating to 2031 points, which is enough to cover the Kangaroos’ bid.
— As the value of those four picks is more than the discounted Pick 2 value, the Lions have 17 points left over. This means the last selection the Lions used to match the Ashcroft bid (Pick 38) turns into a pick closest to the 17-point value, which is Pick 73. That selection, though, moves up to Pick 70 as the Lions’ four picks disappeared but every other team in the order moves down one spot due to the Lions’ Pick 2 bid.
— The bid is successfully matched and Ashcroft is officially selected by the Lions at Pick 2, but it costs the club their first four picks.
— Despite missing out on Ashcroft, the Kangaroos retain their place in the draft order and select again at Pick 3, with the predetermined draft order continuing from there but adjusted after the Lions’ loss of selections.
If any club doesn’t have enough points at the time, they can enter draft deficit, which means their hand at the following year’s draft will take a hit. If the club opts not to match, the player goes to the club who made the bid.
Who are the prospects to watch – and where could they attract bids?
If it isn’t the Giants at Pick 1, it’ll be the Kangaroos at Pick 2 that force the Brisbane Lions to pay up for Will Ashcroft, who’s widely considered the best player in this year’s draft class. Ashcroft, the son of triple premiership Lion Marcus Ashcroft, is the complete midfielder as he’s just as adept at bursting away from stoppages as he is winning the ball on the inside. He barely put a foot wrong during his draft year, winning almost every award possible – Larke Medal, NAB League premiership captain, best on ground in the NAB League grand final and NAB League Team of the Year captain – and dominating at every level, including a couple VFL games for Brisbane.
The Lions could then return to the action quickly, with fellow father-son gun Jaspa Fletcher — the son of Adrian Fletcher — expected to attract a bid from Pick 11 (Carlton) onwards. Fletcher is renowned for his agility, willingness to take the game on and ability to penetrate the lines, but he’s is also skilful and a great decision-maker that uses the ball shrewdly between the arcs. He won the Hunter-Harrison medal for the best player of the Academy series then made the Under 18 All-Australian team after booting three goals and averaging 22.7 disposals and 9.7 contested possessions for the Allies at the national championships.
Rival clubs also wouldn’t be surprised if key defender Max Michalanney (Adelaide father-son) and forward-midfielder Harry Rowston (Giants Academy) receive attention from rivals late in the first round, with all eyes on the Magpies and Swans to see if they bid on any of the two players.
Michalanney is father-son eligible to Adelaide as his dad Jim played in four SANFL flags across 211 games for Norwood. A mobile yet disciplined defender with strong intercept ability, Michalanney was named in this year’s Under 18 All-Australian team after an impressive campaign for South Australia. He played three SANFL league games for the Redlegs this year as a lockdown defender, while he also showed off his ability to rebound off half-back at reserves and, most prominently, Under 18s level.
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There’s a sense Essendon might get its draft wish and be able to select two players in the open draft before a bid comes on father-son prospect Alwyn Davey Jnr, who’s now expected to attract rival club attention in the middle stages of the second round. North Melbourne will take three players in the open draft and use their fourth selection to match a bid on Cooper Harvey, the son of dual premiership Kangaroo and VFL/AFL games record-holder Brent Harvey.
Essendon will be hopeful NGA prospect Anthony Munkara doesn’t attract a bid until later in the draft, or they can even pick him up as a Category B rookie.
Versatile Gippsland Power prospect Cooper Vickery, who’s tied to Hawthorn’s NGA, could also be around the Pick 40 mark, while the Demons are closely monitoring the interest in their NGA prospect Finn Emile-Brennan – a damaging wingman/half-back player with lovely kick.
Other players that should come into consideration after Pick 40 – possibly in the rookie draft – include Jayden Davey (Essendon father-son), Shadeau Brain (Brisbane Academy), Josh Draper (Fremantle NGA), Jasper Scaife (Fremantle NGA), Conrad Williams (Fremantle NGA), Ted Clohesy (Geelong NGA), Nick Madden (Giants Academy), Nathan Barkla (Port Adelaide NGA) and Tyrell Dewar (West Coast NGA).
Full Draft Value Index
Pick 1: 3000 points
Pick 2: 2517
Pick 3: 2234
Pick 4: 2034
Pick 5: 1878
Pick 6: 1751
Pick 7: 1644
Pick 8: 1551
Pick 9: 1469
Pick 10: 1395
Pick 11: 1329
Pick 12: 1268
Pick 13: 1212
Pick 14: 1161
Pick 15: 1112
Pick 16: 1067
Pick 17: 1025
Pick 18: 985
Pick 19: 948
Pick 20: 912
Pick 21: 878
Pick 22: 845
Pick 23: 815
Pick 24: 785
Pick 25: 756
Pick 26: 729
Pick 27: 703
Pick 28: 677
Pick 29: 653
Pick 30: 629
Pick 31: 606
Pick 32: 584
Pick 33: 563
Pick 34: 542
Pick 35: 522
Pick 36: 502
Pick 37: 483
Pick 38: 465
Pick 39: 446
Pick 40: 429
Pick 41: 412
Pick 42: 395
Pick 43: 378
Pick 44: 362
Pick 45: 347
Pick 46: 331
Pick 47: 316
Pick 48: 302
Pick 49: 287
Pick 50: 273
Pick 51: 259
Pick 52: 246
Pick 53: 233
Pick 54: 220
Pick 55: 207
Pick 56: 194
Pick 57: 182
Pick 58: 170
Pick 59: 158
Pick 60: 146
Pick 61: 135
Pick 62: 123
Pick 63: 112
Pick 64: 101
Pick 65: 90
Pick 66: 80
Pick 67: 69
Pick 68: 59
Pick 69: 49
Pick 70: 39
Pick 71: 29
Pick 72: 19
Pick 73: 9
Picks 74 and onwards: 0