AFL Draft review: Port Adelaide
PORT Adelaide certainly finished the AFL Draft with a South Australian feel even if they took just the one local with their first three picks. With the exception of Western Jets’ Zak Butters and Gippsland Power’s Xavier Duursma, Port Adelaide took six South Australians and re-rookied Cameron Hewett in what was a needs-based draft for the Power.
Connor Rozee – Medium Utility
The Power snapped up local product, Rozee with their first selection in the first round, adding skill and class to the Power’s blue collar midfield. With the loss of outside runners during the trade period, Rozee adds that run back into the team. Having played seniors for North Adelaide, eventually culminating in a premiership, Rozee can play against senior bodies despite being very light. He joins premiership teammate, Boyd Woodcock who was selected later in the National Draft. Rozee is also able to play back or forward, with strong hands given him an ability to clunk grabs in the air, or win ground balls.
Zak Butters – Outside Midfielder/Forward
The classy outside midfielder is similar to Rozee in many ways, but is a touch smaller and is more effective at ground level. He moves incredibly well and has a terrific kick that he uses to penetrate laterally through opposition defences. He knows how to weight kicks and hold off handballs until a teammate is prepared, and is always on the move. He needs to continue to build his endurance, and did miss the second half of the season after shoulder surgery, but is an exciting prospect with high scope that the Power can develop over the next few years.
Xavier Duursma – Medium Utility
One of the most consistent players available, Duursma offers great value later in the first round. He can play anywhere on the ground and win the ball in contested situations, or be on the receiving end as well. He hits the scoreboard and covers the field with ease, and is just one of those smooth movers that has a touch of grace with ball-in-hand. In 2018, Duursma captained the Gippsland Power and adds leadership to the side, but like the two selections before him, is still very light. All three are players who will need to add strength to their frames, but can play across multiple positions.
Riley Grundy – Key Position Defender
The brother of Collingwood’s Brodie, Riley Grundy is a key position defender who is still developing his game. Very raw, Grundy is a player who will likely spend substantial time in the SANFL, continuing to work on the areas to make him more consistent across the board. He has come on in leaps and bounds over the past 12 months, and Port Adelaide is going to give him time to continue that upward trajectory. Given the way his brother has shot up into the league’s elite, Port will hope Riley can do the same in time, but for now he is still developing.
Boyd Woodcock – Small Forward/Midfielder
One of the best accumulators of the football, Woodcock is small in stature but just keeps powering on. He played a pivotal role in North Adelaide’s premiership, earning his spot in the SANFL League side, then holding it for the remainder of the season following the National Under 18 Championships. He has transformed into a small forward who can still find the football, and apply scoreboard pressure. Despite his size, he is more readymade than some of the others drafted, and once he works on some of the areas required of him, could fill a role inside 50.
Tobin Cox – Small Forward/Midfielder
Overager, Tobin Cox had a lot of bad luck with injury in his top-age year, but to his credit he fought back and produced a good season which included 22 goals in 14 games for Glenelg. He seemed best suited as a forward, but loves the contested brand of football in the middle, with a knack for accumulating the footy and winning a truckload of clearances. While he might be a touch short to play inside at AFL level, he has developed that role inside 50 which could be suited for him.
Cameron Hewett – Tall Utility
Yet to play a game for Port Adelaide, Hewett earned a reprieve with Port Adelaide redrafting the versatile midfielder in the Rookie Draft. He can play forward or back as well as through the middle, but is yet to taste senior football which is something he would hope to do in 2019.
Cat B Rookies:
Martin Frederick – Small Defender
A value selection as a free hit with a pre-selection to the Rookie Draft, Frederick showed a willingness to back himself and take the game on from half-back. While he did not star at the State Draft Combine testing, his results do not indicate what he is capable of on the field. He has an explosiveness from the back half and loves to tuck the ball under his arm and take off. While he is still raw, needs to find more of the football and is still light, he has some nice traits to develop which make him a value selection as a Category B Rookie.
Kai Pudney – General Defender
Pudney plays a similar role to Frederick, but is a bit taller with better endurance. His kicking is the big question mark, making some errors by foot, but with an elite tank and an ability to find the ball, the Category B Rookie also has some foundational traits that Port Adelaide can work with. More built for senior football, just tidying up some areas of his game will be required at AFL level.
Port Adelaide addressed the need for speed during the AFL Draft period, picking up three classy ball users with their first three picks, then selecting a developing tall in Grundy, and four players who can provide run and pressure at both ends. With the picks outside the first round being later in the draft, the Power have opted for homegrown talent with a potential to improve.