The AFL national draft is over, with 59 players finding their way onto an AFL list for the 2022 season.
Carlton, West Coast and North Melbourne finished with a terrific haul, while Hawthorn and Fremantle took some risks.
Foxfooty.com.au analyses every AFL club’s selections at the 2022 national draft and how the new players can help your team.
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AFL DRAFT BOLTERS, SLIDERS: Battlers nab top ‘steal’ as Pies cash in; Swans surprise three rivals
AFL DRAFT TRACKER: See every pick, bid and trade by your club
Picks (at start of the draft): 46, 56, 59
Selections: Max Michalanney (17), Billy Dowling (43), Hugh Bond (50)
For a team that wasn’t expected to play a big role, the Crows were mightily active. They were well prepared for a first-round bid on father-son gun defender Michalanney, who has the ability to play on both tall and small forwards. Missed out on getting back into the second round, but struck a deal with the Suns to get their hands on local ball magnet Dowling, who’ll add midfield depth. They then traded in to get their hands on inside midfielder Bond. Picks 46, 56 and 59 turned into 17, 43 and 50.
Lions match Roos bid for Ashcroft | 01:29
Picks (at start of the draft): 34, 35, 36, 38, 55
Selections: Will Ashcroft (2), Jaspa Fletcher (12)
The Lions took full advantage of the draft points system. They gave up Pick 36 and a future third to Hawthorn, then 63 and a future third to North Melbourne to add four more picks between 40 and 52 to get their top two prospects. They didn’t have to pay full, Pick 1 price for Ashcroft — despite being widely considered the best player in the draft — and they didn’t have to go into deficit to match a mid first-round bid on Fletcher, which wasn’t too unexpected. The complete midfielder who’s been compared to Sam Walsh, Ashcroft will slot into the Lions’ midfield brigade with aplomb, for he is as ready-made as they come. Fletcher might take a little longer as he just had an injury setback, but he could one day line up on the opposite wing to Hugh McCluggage. Would’ve been an A+ if Fletcher had attracted a bid a few picks later.
Picks (at start of the draft): 10, 29, 49, 64, 74
Selections: Oliver Hollands (11), Lachlan Cowan (30), Jaxon Binns (32), Harry Lemmey (47)
Fox Footy expert Mick Ablett declared the Blues the “big winners” of the draft, adding so much outside speed to complement their array of powerful inside midfielders. The Blues got Hollands, who’s arguably the hardest working and best two-way on-baller of the class. The wing was one area the Blues needed to address in the off-season — and they’ve done that via Hollands and Jaxon Binns at the draft and Blake Acres at the trade table. They also traded back into the second round to select top Tassie’s top prospect in Cowan, who’s been likened to fellow rebounding defender Bailey Dale. Lemmey, a key-position prospect who can play at either end of the ground, at the start of the year was regarded as a top-five prospect before enduring a tough 2022 campaign. If he comes on at AFL level, the Blues’ recruiting team will look like geniuses.
Picks (at start of the draft): 16, 25, 27, 51, 79
Selections: Ed Allan (19), Jakob Ryan (28), Joe Richards (48)
Picked up the biggest first-round slider, as well as two players they’d been linked to for weeks. Allan had interest as early as Geelong (Pick 7), so the Pies were stunned yet thrilled he was available at their first pick. Allan is a great character and an athletic 194cm utility with the ability to play in any third of the ground. The Pies went for Allan over hybrid defender Ryan with their first pick, yet still got their hand on the SA product with their first second-round pick. And Richards, the mature-age country footy star, was still available late on the night, despite being linked to several clubs. They also boosted their 2023 draft hand, adding Carlton’s future second-round selection to their haul.
Picks (at start of the draft): 4, 22, 54, 61, 66
Selections: Elijah Tsatas (5), Lewis Hayes (25), Alwyn Davey (45), Jayden Davey (54)
Close to an ideal draft campaign. They weighed up several big offers from rival clubs for their first pick and settled on keeping it. Then weighed up taking Tsatas or Mattaes Phillipou with that pick and settled on Tsatas, who was seen by rivals as the safer bet over Phillipou. And rightly so, for the explosive on-baller, who’s been likened to Chad Warner and has been in the top-five mix for the past 12 months, should bring an exciting dynamic to Essendon’s midfield brigade. The Bombers then picked up one of the best key defenders in the draft class in Hayes, who had genuine first-round interest. Hayes is an elite interceptor with the ability to play on forwards both taller and smaller than him. And the Alwyn Davey bid came a lot later than most thought after speculation the Bombers would have to match in the middle of the second round. Bringing both Davey boys in via the national draft was the romantic story of night two. In Tsatas and the Davey brothers, the Bombers have acquired some much-needed leg speed.
Davey brothers complete family fairytale | 04:31
Picks (at start of the draft): 30, 43, 44, 65, 70, 77
Selections: Hugh Davies (33), Tom Emmett (41), Max Knobel (42), Corey Wagner (57)
Another year, another draft featuring some bold, left-field Dockers picks. Freo wanted a key defender and a ruck in this draft and that’s what the club landed in Davies and Knobel. Although not many clubs would’ve had Davies in the top 40 players on their draft board. The Dockers went for Davies over fellow key defenders Tom McCallum (Port Adelaide — Pick 36) and Jed Adams (Melbourne — Pick 38), who were taken after the WA product. Emmett was a genuine shock pick. A tough, powerful and physical forward similar to Sam Powell-Pepper, the Dockers had been keeping close tabs on Emmett, who tested at the SA state combine. While Davies and Knobel are more long-term prospects, Freo will be hopeful Emmett and Wagner can have a more immediate impact. Still, some risky picks by the Dockers.
Picks (at start of the draft): 7, 58
Selections: Jhye Clark (8), Phoenix Foster (52)
Win the flag then turn a future third-round pick into a former top-10 pick in Jack Bowes and a Joel Selwood clone in Jhye Clark at Pick 8 at the draft? Stephen Wells and the Cats’ recruiting team have done it again after Clark – a tough, combative midfielder with a desire to work both ways who’d been linked to Geelong for months – slid to their selection. Foster will be a long-term prospect.
GOLD COAST SUNS
Picks (at start of the draft): 5, 45, 68
Selections: Bailey Humphrey (6)
Got their man in Humphrey, despite the Bulldogs and Demons trying hard to strike a trade with Essendon to get ahead of the Suns and give themselves the option of taking Humphrey. A powerful forward-midfielder, Humphrey is a genuine impact player with his penetrating kick, terrific footy smarts and an excellent overhead mark for a player of his size. Will fit in well at the Suns, who opted not to take another player in the draft and instead focus on bringing in mature-age talent via rookie list spots.
Picks (at start of the draft): 1, 15, 18, 19, 31, 57
Selections: Aaron Cadman (1), Harry Rowston (16), Darcy Jones (21), Max Gruzewski (22), Toby McMullin (34)
Amazing to think the Giants, who had the first pick of the night and took a star key forward in Cadman, would end up with a grade of ‘C’. The Giants were hopeful a bid on Rowston would come in the second round, which would’ve given them flexibility to trade one of Pick 15, 18 or 19 to a rival keen to move up the order. But Sydney’s cheeky first-round bid on Rowston – and GWS’ decision to match it – meant the Giants’ first teens pick was swallowed up and spoiled their trade plans. To rub salt into the wounds, the Giants would’ve strongly considered drafting Victorian defender Josh Weddle with their next selection, only for the Swans to strike a trade with Hawthorn – which saw the Hawks get back into the first round and take Weddle – and dash those hopes. Jones was a mini bolter for some draft-watchers, but performed strongly at WAFL league level. He could play as a high half-forward at AFL level. Key-position utility Gruzewski can play at either end of the field, but is raw and will take time to develop at AFL level. McMullin was taken a touch earlier than most thought too, with the Giants opting for him over Henry Hustwaite and Olli Hotton — two players they’d also been linked to.
Aaron Cadman goes at #1 | 02:22
Picks (at start of the draft): 6, 24, 41, 48, 50, 52, 63
Selections: Cameron Mackenzie (7), Josh Weddle (18), Henry Hustwaite (37), Jack O’Sullivan (46), Bailey Macdonald (51)
Industry sources were left puzzled by a few Hawks moves. After losing Jaeger O’Meara and Tom Mitchell during the trade period, an inside midfield chasm at the Hawks emerged. List boss Mark McKenzie even flagged last week they’d be looking for a “big-bodied midfielder”. Gun tall on-ballers Mattaes Phillipou and Reuben Ginbey were both still on the board when it was time for the Hawks to select, but they instead went for Mackenzie. The Dragons prospect will be a star and has a strong inside class, but isn’t as big as Ginbey and Phillipou and is renowned for his class on the outside, to the point where some analysts can see him starting his AFL career at half-back. And when the Hawks traded back into the first round, most recruiters initially thought they’d pounce on slider Ed Allan. Instead they took a defender in Weddle — even though the Hawks drafted Will Day and Denver Grainger-Barras with first-round picks in past years. In order to gain Pick 18 in the first place, the Hawks had to give up Pick 27 plus their future second and third round picks. That could be a very high price, since most expect them to be a wooden spoon contender in 2023. For example if they finish 17th next year, they‘d be giving up 20, 27 and 38 and only getting 18 back – that’s like giving Sydney a late first-round pick for free, using draft points. Coincidentally, Sydney used Pick 27 it got from Hawthorn to take Hawks NGA graduate Cooper Vickery, meaning the Hawks didn’t have bidding rights as Vickery’s name was called before Pick 40. Hustwaite, though, was a steal at Pick 37, while Macdonald will provide ample dash from the back-half. Some risks that, of course, could pay off big time down the track.
Picks (at start of the draft): 13, 37, 78, 83
Selections: Matt Jefferson (15), Jed Adams (38)
Went for two bookends in key forward Jefferson and key back Adams. The Dees had interest in exciting 194cm utility Ed Allan with their first pick after the Eagles overlooked him, but Melbourne ultimately went for the tall goalkicker in Jefferson, who’ll spend most of his first two years in the VFL but learn lots under Ben Brown and Tom McDonald in the hope he’ll one day take over from them. Adams had lots of interest from clubs, so the Dees pounced on the athletic key defender. Like Jefferson, though, he’s a project player.
Picks (at start of the draft): 2, 3, 23, 40
Selections: Harry Sheezel (3), George Wardlaw (4), Brayden George (26), Cooper Harvey (56)
Love everything about North’s draft haul. Four Victorian kids with so much talent and upside. The Roos wanted a player with high skill level, speed, agility and cleanliness — traits that crafty small forward Sheezel possesses. He’s going to be a fan favourite at AFL level. Wardlaw will be a brute inside AFL midfielder, with the Roos no doubt hopeful he’ll one day take the reins from Ben Cunnington. But George, who possesses explosive power, class and great forward craft, is the kind of player who could end up being one of the best players in the draft class. A late-season ACL injury saw him slide to the second round, but he’s a prodigious talent with enormous long-term potential. Harvey is a terrific overhead mark for his size.
Picks (at start of the draft): 33, 60, 72
Selections: Tom McCallum (36), Tom Scully (53), Kyle Marshall (59)
As expected, went tall. The Power would’ve been thrilled 193cm tall back McCallum was still available at their first pick, for he’d been heavily linked to other clubs in the key defender market earlier in the order. McCallum has been compared to the McCartin brothers, but might have a bit more speed and rebound ability. Scully, a big goalkicker at SANFL Under 18s level, will need a lot of time to develop at SANFL league level now he’s at the Power. He’s a terrific size at 204cm, but recruiters during the year had question marks over his ability to compete against big-bodied defenders. Like Scully, Marshall is a project player.
Picks (at start of the draft): 53, 62, 76, 82
Selections: Kaleb Smith (49), Steely Green (55)
Pounced on a couple of WA-based sliders who should suit the Richmond style. Smith, a speedy small defender-midfielder who’s been compared to Adam Saad, had been linked to the Eagles and Dockers in the second round, so the Tigers were more than happy to pounce late on night two. Green, too, had second-round interest, but the hard-working on-baller landed at Richmond and should fit into Damien Hardwick’s system with aplomb.
Picks (at start of the draft): 9, 28, 32, 47, 73, 81
Selections: Mattaes Phillipou (10), James Van Es (31), Olli Hotton (35), Isaac Keeler (44)
Great draft for the Saints. Got the top-10 slider in Phillipou, who has the traits to be a genuine AFL star as a high-impact, versatile and competitive player who can play either inside or outside and has the nous to push forward and hit the scoreboard. Looms as a Saints fan favourite. Then got their key defensive wish in Van Es, who had been linked to the club in recent weeks. He’s not only strong one-on-one and intercepting in the air, he’s also very athletic with a high leap. Hotton is an absolute steal at Pick 35. He has great speed, composure, athleticism, strong overhead marking ability and the desire to make every disposal count. Hotton’s school footy coach Matthew Lloyd described Hotton as “one of the cleanest and best stoppage players I’ve seen at school level”. Keeler, who’ll be an excellent replacement for Paddy Ryder, could be anything. A 198cm forward-ruck prospect, he was a first-round draft prospect on freakish talent alone, but his lack of consistency turned some recruiters off. If it clicks for him at the Saints though, it’d be a major bargain buy.
Picks (at start of the draft): 14, 17, 42, 69, 80
Selections: Jacob Konstanty (20), Cooper Vickery (27), Caleb Mitchell (40)
Wow. Where to start? Perhaps the Swans’ 2022 draft will be remembered for the players they almost picked up, rather than the ones they ultimately selected. They pulled a first-round shock by bidding on the Giants’ top Academy prospect in Harry Rowston earlier than most expected followed by a bid on Crows father-son Max Michalanney. They then struck a trade with Hawthorn that allowed the Victorian club to get back into the first round. So in three picks, the Swans had a significant bearing on the draft — without taking a player themselves. A rival recruiter labelled the Swans’ first-round moves as “ruthless”. They pounced on Konstanty, who was an excellent choice. A lively small forward who brings ample defensive intensity yet possesses a deep trick bag, Konstanty looks to be a great fit for the Swans. They had two fascinating night-two picks, selecting Hawthorn NGA product Vickery earlier than anticipated — the Hawks didn’t have bidding rights as he was called well before Pick 40 — before picking hard-running winger Mitchell. Kinnear at his cunning best.
WEST COAST EAGLES
Picks (at start of the draft): 8, 12, 20, 26, 71
Selections: Reuben Ginbey (9), Elijah Hewett (14), Harry Barnett (23), Coby Burgiel (29), Noah Long (58)
Big ticks for the Eagles. Local WA products Ginbey and Hewett should be the cornerstone of the Eagles’ on-ball brigade in the future. Ginbey is incredibly strong at the coalface, while Hewett has the explosive power and frame that could have him in the Round 1 selection frame. The Eagles then went for needs at the start of the second round and got Barnett, who was clearly the best ruckman of the draft class. He’ll thrive learning from and working under Nic Naitanui. They went for Barnett over Burgiel with their first second-round pick, but the speedy and versatile Burgiel, who had been linked to the Eagles in recent days, was still available at Pick 29. Long was the second-last player taken on the night, but could prove to be a bargain buy for the Eagles. Elusive around goal, Long will complement the Eagles’ forward line superbly.
Hewett’s EPIC reaction to being drafted | 02:28
Picks (at start of the draft): 11, 21, 39, 67, 75
Selections: Jedd Busslinger (13), Charlie Clarke (24), Harvey Gallagher (39)
Had plans to pick with a ‘best available’ attitude — and it worked out well for the Dogs, who addressed three separate areas of the ground with their three selections. Busslinger, a rangy 195cm defender who reads the ball superbly in the air and has great defensive nous and composure, was widely regarded as the best tall back in this year’s talent pool. Clarke slipped to the second round, but had first-round interest. Renowned for his energy, competitiveness, goal sense and linking ability between the arcs, Clarke and Cody Weightman could be a damaging combination inside forward 50. And 19-year-old ball magnet Gallagher adds midfield depth.