The opening round went mostly to plan – which allowed some of the powerhouse clubs to deliver on their best-paid plans.
Brisbane, Geelong and Sydney will come out of night one of the draft thrilled, while others still have work to do.
Foxfooty.com.au analyses the big talking points from the first round of the 2022 AFL Draft.
Watch the conclusion of the 2022 AFL Draft on Fox Footy and Kayo from 7pm EDT on Tuesday November 29. New to Kayo? Start your free trial today >
ROUND 1 RECAP: Swans chaos after bid frenzy, shock trade as Giants get their Cad-man
TRACKER: Every pick and trade so far – and the selections remaining
TOP 50 RANKINGS: Fox Footy’s ranking of the best AFL Draft prospects, 1-50
Hewett’s EPIC reaction to being drafted | 02:28
BRISBANE’S BARGAIN BOYS
The Lions took full advantage of the draft points system, happily matching bids for Will Ashcroft (at Pick 2) and Jaspa Fletcher (at Pick 12) to land their two top targets.
They were fortunate with the former, gaining a 386-point discount when GWS opted to simply draft Aaron Cadman at Pick 1, instead of bidding for the widely-regarded top prospect Ashcroft.
But their tense trade with the Western Bulldogs seemed to come back to bite them with Fletcher, after Luke Beveridge’s side was the one to bid for the son of Lions champion Adrian.
The Lions and Bulldogs went down to the wire during the trade period but eventually got the Josh Dunkley deal done – perhaps the Dogs remembered it when deciding whether to bid on Ashcroft.
But keep in mind Brisbane had thought ahead, making two trades as soon as Ashcroft didn’t receive a bid at No.1.
Giving up pick 36 and a future third to Hawthorn, then 63 and a future third to North Melbourne, the Lions added four more picks between 40 and 52.
That ensured they would not go into draft deficit when matching the Ashcroft and, ultimately, Fletcher bids, keeping their 2023 picks as high as possible.
“The Brisbane Lions get two players inside the top 12 in this year’s draft and they’re two exceptional young players that could step in almost immediately into this Brisbane Lions side that’s already stacked with talent,” Saints champion Leigh Montagna told Fox Footy.
“It’s great for Chris Fagan, who’s got plenty to work with.”
SYDNEY: THE BID AND TRADE KINGS
Call them the Australian Democrats, because the Swans were keeping the … well, the other teams honest.
Recruiting boss Kinnear Beatson had flagged a willingness to trade out one of their two first-round picks, and in the end Sydney did just that, but not before forcing Adelaide and GWS to pay up.
The Grand Finalists came on the clock at pick 16, knowing their cross-town rivals were picking next, and made things extremely difficult for them by bidding for Academy prospect Harry Rowston.
The Giants were forced to match the bid, but they paid full value, giving up pick 17 – instead of using a bunch of second and third-round picks to match it, as Brisbane did for Will Ashcroft and Jaspa Fletcher.
The exasperated reaction of Giants recruiter Adrian Caruso, captured on Fox Footy’s cameras, explained it all.
But the Swans weren’t done there, bidding for Adelaide father-son Max Michalanney, after the South Australian side had hoped he would slide into the second round.
Perhaps Beatson and the Swans had in mind the great deal the Crows got for Jordan Dawson during the 2021 trade period, and wanted to make it a bit more even in retrospect.
And then after all of that, Sydney struck a deal with Hawthorn, sending out pick 18 in exchange for pick 27 plus the Hawks’ future second and third-round picks.
That could be an incredible deal for the Swans, given most expect the Hawks to be a wooden spoon contender in 2023. Sydney may end up giving away 18, but getting roughly 20, 27 and 40 – which would be a huge return.
“It’s amazing the impact a club can have in the modern way of trading and bidding on players,” Fox Footy talent guru Mick Ablett said.
“They haven’t made a selection yet, but they’ve significantly changed the outcome of the first round of the draft. They’ve affected ongoing picks of the GWS Giants and the Adelaide Crows.
“The beauty of the Swans is they’re not in a hurry. They’ve got a very young side and they’re set up well for the next three to five years. So they’re making some very calculated moves and ensuring that clubs pay what they should for the quality of player they are.”
Having gotten the absolute most out of their first selection, the Swans used their second a few slots later to nab Gippsland Power forward Jacob Konstanty – an aggressive medium forward who’s happy to lay a tackle and models his game on Tom Papley.
Quite the night.
Aaron Cadman goes at #1 | 02:22
‘WELLS DOES IT AGAIN’
Win the flag then within two months get a former top-10 pick in Jack Bowes and a Joel Selwood clone in Jhye Clark at Pick 8 at the draft – all for a 2023 selection that could be in the 50s.
Stephen Wells and the Cats’ recruiting team have done it again after Clark – the tough, combative prospect that’d been linked to Geelong for months – slid to Pick 8 on Monday night.
The Cats last month were handed Bowes – and his wage – and Pick 7 as part of a salary dump deal from the Suns, who were happy to acquire a future third-round pick in return.
Pick 7 has now turned into Clark – and the Cats have got a beauty.
A highly-regarded leader coupled with a desire to work both ways, Clark captained the Geelong Falcons for the 2022 NAB League Boys season, as well as Vic Country during the national championships where he finished runner-up to Will Ashcroft in the Larke Medal.
He’s ready-made and could make an immediate impact at AFL level.
“Combative, consistent and character – he does all the tough stuff, he does both sides of the ball,” Montagna said. “It’s why he’s got the Joel Selwood comparisons, and maybe even an Andy Brayshaw – he just does everything really well.”
“The Cats are just going to continue to roll on. They’ve got a beauty.”
Ablett added: “They worked really well during the trade period and changed tact a little bit and got players who’d gone through their AFL apprenticeship and were ready to make their mark at senior level.
“To be able to end up with Pick 8 as well as bring in Jack Bowes, it’s just remarkable isn’t it? Stephen Wells has done it again. They lose one leader but bring in a future reader.
“I think there’s 17 other teams looking for the handbrake.”
BOMBERS’ ‘TIGHT CALL’ X 2
All eyes were on Essendon heading into Monday night’s draft, for it was considered it had the first ‘live pick’ of the draft due to the predictable nature of the top four.
Ultimately, Adrian Dodoro and his team held their nerve, held their pick and selected an elite talent with match-winning capabilities in Elijah Tsatas, who had been in the top-five conversation all season.
Several offers from rival clubs came for Essendon’s first pick – Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs came hard while there was also interest from the Suns late – and “intense” trade discussions, according to Dodoro, were had at the Bombers. But they held onto their selection as the offers were not “compelling” enough to pass up on Tsatas.
The Bombers list boss said it was a “tough” and tight call between Tsatas and Mattaes Phillipou, with the club opting for the former.
“You do form relationships with all of the kids and he (Phillipou) is a beautiful young man. He’s going to have a great career at St Kilda,” Dodoro said.
“It was a tough call for us and we were considering him … It was close, (in) the last 24 hours we made our decision.
“But at the end of the day, we think Elijah is a perfect fit for us and is going to be a really good footballer.”
The Suns, Hawks, Cats and Eagles then all overlooked Phillipou, leaving the Saints to pounce at Pick 10 in what might be seen as a top-10 steal.
“For me he could have the most upside of any of the top 10 that have been drafted … he’s still quite young and raw, but some of his attributes are enormous,” Montagna said.
“He’s 190cm, can mark overhead, can kick long goals – Ross Lyon has got plenty to work with.”
EAGLES’ BIG TRADE RISK PAYS OFF
Many West Coast fans were left puzzled, perhaps concerned, last month when their team traded away its top selection (Pick 2) as part of the four-way mega trade and split it into two (Picks 8 and 12).
Many believe the Eagles were prepared to trade down as the best WA-based prospects would likely be still available at those selections in a year where the ‘go-home factor’ has never been more highly discussed.
Six weeks later, the move has appeared to pay big dividends
West Coast on Monday night pounced on big-bodied midfielder Reuben Ginbey at Pick 9 – a touch later than many anticipated a few weeks ago – then powerful on-baller Elijah Hewett at Pick 14 – a touch earlier than many anticipated as recently as the weekend.
Ginbey, who added 15kg to his frame in the past two years, had interest from the four clubs that had picks before the Eagles – Essendon, Gold Coast (in particular), Hawthorn and Geelong – but he still slid
“When it comes to character and leadership, this young man would be captain of the marbles team, the knitting club – you name it. He’s a great pick-up,” Fox Footy draft expert Mick Ablett said.
“I’m sure West Coast were a little bit worried they’d lose him, but they get their man.”
Saints champion Leigh Montagna added: “This is a big midfielder who’s going to be great for the West Coast Eagles as they start their rebuild … he’s a great size for the modern-day midfielder.”
Many rival recruiters expected Hewett to be considered by the Eagles with their third selection (Pick 20). But after it emerged St Kilda was warming to the Swans Districts star and the Crows and Bombers were also keeping close tabs on him, the Eagles pounced with their second pick.
“He doesn’t lack any confidence at all,” Ablett said of Hewett. “His agility is elite and he does get forward and hit the scoreboard.
Hewett’s EPIC reaction to being drafted | 02:28
“He was a player that was touted as a top-five or top-10 potential draft pick – and he hasn’t gone too far outside that in what’s a really even draft.
“West Coast has brought in two absolutely elite WA talents.”
There weren’t any dramatic sliders throughout the night, but Ed Allan went a little later than first thought.
When the Eagles opted for Hewett at Pick 14, there was a sense the Dees could pounce at Pick 15, for they had been long-time admirers of his. Instead, they went for Matt Jefferson.
The Swans, who’d also been linked to Allan, then snubbed the WA prospect. Not only did they launch two bids on Harry Rowston and Max Michalanney, they then struck a deal with Hawthorn, which was keen to get into the back-end of the first round.
Surely the Hawks would pounce on Allan, the son of premiership Hawk Ben Allan, now?
Nope, they went for versatile defender Josh Weddle instead.
It left the Magpies to snaffle up Allan with Pick 19 – a fair distance from Geelong, which was the club with earliest interest in him, at Pick 8.
A 194cm prospect that can play in any third of the ground, Ablett said Allan had the capacity and size to be a “beast”.
“He’s one to genuinely watch over the next few years, because his ceiling … he could be anything.”
“He won’t be an instant hit, but give him a little bit of time and maybe we do see another Western Australia similar to Patrick Cripps.”
Players still on the table that were in first-round selection include South Australian duo Jakob Ryan and Harry Barnett, small forward Charlie Clarke, powerful mid-sized goalkicker Brayden George, Sandringham’s Olli Hotton, top Tassie prospect Lachie Cowan and gun key defender Lewis Hayes.