Carlton pulled off a genuine bargain with Pick 41, while the Swans could’ve picked up a future “superstar”.
Plus several possible first-rounders surprisingly slid.
Foxfooty.com.au analyses the most surprising selections of the 2019 AFL national draft.
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SLIDER — Elijah Hollands (Pick 7, Gold Coast Suns)
If both the NAB League and Under 18 national carnival had gone ahead this year — and the midfielder had been fit — Hollands could’ve been the No. 1 draft prospect. Instead, he slipped to Pick 7.
Many phantom drafts had Hollands going to the Roos. Instead, he’ll join a young, exciting midfield brigade headlined by Matthew Rowell and Noah Anderson.
AFL national talent ambassador Kevin Sheehan compared Hollands to triple premiership Cat and Norm Smith medallist Steve Johnson for his mercurial ability.
WA talent pathways manager Mick Ablett said the Suns had acquired an excellent prospect.
“I love this kid. He reminded me in the vision I saw of Marcus Bontempelli with lateral movement in the contest. He’s a genuine thinker who seems to be a step ahead in the stoppages. He’s got an innate ability to kick both sides,” Ablett told Fox Footy.
“At no stage is this kid going to sit back and not take his opportunities. I think we’ll see a lot of him in year one at the Suns.”
CURVEBALL — Will Phillips (Pick 3, North Melbourne)
Phillips was always expected to go in the top six or seven, but perhaps not this early.
The Kangaroos had been heavily linked to fellow midfielder Hollands pre-draft — and by the time their first pick came along, both Hollands and star forward Logan McDonald.
Instead, the Roos opted for Phillips — a tough on-baller and premiership player with the Oakleigh Chargers as a bottom-age player.
Sheehan said Phillips was “a very safe bet” for North Melbourne.
“He can play game one, this boy,” Sheehan told Fox Footy.
“He didn’t miss a beat in amongst (Matt) Rowell and (Noah) Anderson last year for the Oakleigh Chargers, he’s a star in the midfield.
“He’s a boy who plays with zest and courage and plays with outstanding leadership. He’s in the game the whole time.”
BOLTER — Luke Pedlar (Pick 11, Adelaide)
Loomed as an early second-round selection among experts, but not at Pick 11.
The Crows bolstered their South Australian-based talent by selecting Pedlar, who’s one of the stronger contested possessions players bulls in the draft pool after averaging 21.8 disposals in the SANFL U18s competition.
Pedlar will give the Crows grunt — and with Brad Crouch leaving to join the Saints, it’s a big win for Matthew Nicks.
“This is a draft bolter,” Sheehan said. “He had an injury in his 17th year, it’s been this year that has made him a top draft choice.
“He’s like a Jack Viney, white line fever and winning it with aggression. He’s a left footer like Jack, prolific ball winner and takes on leadership roles. A fierce competitor and a stoppage star.”
STEAL — Braeden Campbell (Pick 5, Sydney Swans)
Whispers grew louder on Wednesday that the Hawks would make an earlier-than-expected play for Campbell. That move came to fruition, but the Swans were prepared to match straight away.
A graceful mover with a pinpoint left-foot kick and the ability to burst away from stoppages, Campbell has been likened to Fremantle star Michael Walters.
“Going to be a superstar this guy,” dual premiership Kangaroo David King told Fox Footy. “He’s the (academy player) I really love outside of Jamarra (Ugle-Hagan).
“There’s bits of different players in him. The follow-up work he looks like Jackson Macrae but the kicking is different, he kicks with punch. Then he drifts forward and you think there’s a bit of Isaac Heeney.
“The Swans have got a ripper here. You just don’t see midfielders marking the ball like this. He can play anywhere, he’s got a step and some moves, he doesn’t waste the footy. He’s not accumulation, he’s damage, which is the modern game.
“I love this selection. Cue the whingeing now about the academies but the Swans have got a ripper.”
BARGAIN — Reef McInnes (Pick 23, Collingwood)
A big win for the Pies here.
There were late draft whispers that Collingwood NGA prospect McInnes would attract a bid inside the top 10, well before the Pies’ first two selections (Picks 14 and 16).
Yet the Pies were able to snare Finlay Macrae and Oliver Henry before matching a bid on McInnes later in the first round.
BARGAIN — Errol Gulden (Pick 32, Sydney Swans)
Again, this bid came later in the draft than most expected, as Gulden was initially thought to have attracted attention in the early 20s. Instead the Swans saw him slip to the start of the second round.
A small midfielder who can hit the scoreboard and find the goals, Gulden impressed for the Allies as a bottom-ager in the Under 18 carnival.
Sheehan said Gulden was a “no fuss player”, adding the Swans had got a “bargain” at Pick 32.
“A relentless runner and gatherer of the footy. He’s like Andrew Gaff, he’s a lefty on the wing that gets up and down and kicks important goals,” he said.
“All his numbers are quite staggering, he’s an elite 2km runner and game sense would be his strength also I would think. He’s only 175 centimetres but that doesn’t matter. He is definitely good enough.
“I don’t think I’ve seen him play a poor game.”
Ablett added: “He‘s exactly what you need to be at his height. He’s as clean as a whistle off the deck, he’s smart, he has a thumping left foot kick and makes the most of his opportunities inside 50.
“Obviously very important for the likes of John Longmire to be able to re-jig this list and particular players like Gulden who are already familiar with their style of play.”
STEAL — Jack Carroll (Pick 41, Carlton)
Not just any ordinary slider. The biggest slider of the night — and by quite some margin.
A classy midfielder with agility, great evasion skills and clean ball use, Carroll was rated among the top 20 players in foxfooty.com.au’s power rankings.
After a full season of WAFL Colts footy, Carroll has lifted his prospects, averaged 23.1 disposals and using it reasonably well off his left boot.
“Absolute steal. In my opinion he’s the steal of the draft so far,” Ablett said.
“Absolutely elite in the way he prepares himself.
“I’ve seen him play as an intercept defender and counter-attacker, I’ve seen him in the midfield with quality inside ball -inning traits and then he goes forward and kicks goals.
“Carlton have got an absolute steal.”
Sheehan said he was surprised Carroll was still on the board at pick 41.
“Good speed and game sense, I even liken him to a bit of Josh Kelly, a left-footer that gets out of traffic pretty easily,” Sheehan said.
“What we’ve seen we really have liked. No one can lay a glove on them and to see him go at this point – he could’ve gone at 20 in some club’s views.”
BOLTER — Ryan Angwin (Pick 18, GWS Giants)
A surprise selection at Pick 18, considering he’s still at the early stages in his development.
Despite his slim build, Angwin has elite endurance, can win his own ball, has great composure and decision-making.
“He’s the boy with the dancing feet,” Sheehan said. “He’s a left footer, plays down forward or back. He’s able to find space, he’s one of those kids really quick and smart.
“He looked in fantastic condition later in the year, tested brilliantly as an athlete, I can just see him growing in front of my eyes.”
BOLTER — Seamus Mitchell (Pick 29, Hawthorn)
Another Mitchell at Hawthorn!
A big top-30 surprise pick by the Hawks, who spent up big for pace and athleticism.
Don’t expect Mitchell to play early, but he looms as an ideal long-term replacement for the retired Paul Puopolo.
“We see Puopolo go out and retire and now they‘ve got another small, talented forward that can really impact the scoreboard,” Ablett said. “His speed and lateral movement and ability to move through traffic is very, very good.”
Sheehan also described Mitchell as a “speed machine”.
STEAL — Luke Edwards (Pick 52, West Coast Eagles)
The Eagles pounced after the Crows opted not to nominate Edwards as a father-son prospect.
Adelaide last month declared it didn’t intend to recruit Edwards — the son of a club legend and 321-gamer Tyson Edwards — at the draft, meaning he was able to be picked up by any club in the national or rookie drafts without any bids being placed on him.
And the Eagles made a move on the midfielder with their first pick.
A great night for the SANFL.
The Crows gave local SA boy James Rowe a go. The dynamic Woodville-West Torrens small forward was snapped up by Adelaide with Pick 38 after an awesome SANFL season, which saw him kick 38 goals to share the Ken Farmer medal. Not only that, Rowe was the league’s No. 1 player for average forward 50 ground-ball gets (2.8) and third for score involvements (6.5). He might be small in stature at 173cm, but he’s big in heart – and big in talent.
A few picks later, the Saints selected Tom Highmore. The South Adelaide key defender led the league for average intercept marks in 2020. It came after an impressive Under 18 carnival for the Allies four years ago and a stint in the NEAFL.
And the Giants took another mature-age SA player in Jacob Wehr. A classy distributor off half-back with a beautiful kick, the 22-year-old developed into a mainstay of the Eagles’ premiership team this season, averaging 16.4 disposals, 5.0 rebound 50s and 3.7 intercepts.