2021 AFL Draft Preview: Richmond
WITH the 2021 trade period done and dusted, it is now time for clubs and fans alike to turn their attention to the draft. Between now and draft day (November 24/25), clubs have had the opportunity to exchange picks with the final order formed just over a week out. While the chaos settles, Rookie Me Central takes a look at how each club may approach the upcoming intake with the hand they formed at the close of trade period.
Next under the microscope is Richmond, a club with five top 30 picks and the chance to forge a quick regeneration after missing finals.
CURRENT PICKS: 7, 15, 26, 27, 28, 79
2022 PICKS: RIC Round 1, RIC Round 2, NM Round 2
+ Inside midfielder
+ Key position depth
+ Rebound/outside runners
FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
Luckily for Richmond, its ball-winning woes can be immediately addressed via a draft lauded for its midfield depth, and while there are elite engine room operators available, the Tigers may also look towards a couple of key position options with pick seven. Of course, the selection is set to slide down to number nine once early father-son bids roll in.
Arguably front and centre for Richmond’s pick are Victorian midfielders Ben Hobbs and Josh Ward. Hobbs is perhaps the one who would better address the Tigers’ need for contested ball winners, with his toughness and desire to compete unmatched among his peers. Ward is similarly reliable and hard-working, but has a point of difference with his clean skills by hand and foot.
Should Richmond instead look towards key position talent, the fast-developing Mac Andrew will undoubtedly be of interest. Given the ruck-forward stocks lost of late, he suits a need well and has incredible athletic upside which the Tigers can enhance. Jye Amiss could be the long-term key forward replacement in line for selection, with the East Perth spearhead a deadeye goalkicker who has also shown marked improvement in 2021.
A couple of potential sliders may make the Tigers think even harder on their choice. High-marking key defender Josh Gibcus has been linked with GWS and Gold Coast’s early picks, but would be hard to overlook if he got through, while mercurial small forward Josh Rachele has had time put into him should he be overlooked by the Giants, Adelaide, and Hawthorn.
With arguably the best overall haul of any club this year, the world is Richmond’s oyster beyond its first pick. Another first rounder (pick 15) is ideal, but the Tigers’ three-consecutive second round selections are what could really open up their hand, especially with live trading in the mix. They invested in this draft, and will surely reap the rewards.
Pick 15, which will slide down to 17, still holds great value for Richmond. There should still be some high-level midfielders available and depending on what they do within the top 10, the Tigers could nab one in Neil Erasmus. The tall West Australian workhorse will also be of interest to local clubs, but may be the slider this year if others appeal more to Fremantle and West Coast.
Tyler Sonsie is another intriguing case, having once been considered a top 10 talent. He may well slip right towards the end of round one and that leaves him within striking range for Richmond, who could add some class to the midfield-forward rotation along with someone like Hobbs up front. His best is damaging and ridiculously good, but was not found consistently enough in 2021.
Outside and rebound run may also be in the offing for Richmond, and Campbell Chesser fits the bill well. The Sandringham Dragons product is an elite sprinter with line-breaking speed and the skill to match, offering scope to also play on the inside. Northern Knights dasher Darcy Wilmot may be another on the Tigers’ list, with said region a highly fruitful one for the yellow and black. His blend of flair and tenacity suits the Richmond style well.
In terms of key position fulfilment, Jacob van Rooyen is arguably the only one in the Tigers’ first round range, as a physically ready swingman who steps up on the big stage. With that being the case, Richmond could look to target 205cm ruckman Toby Conway in round two, along with intercept marking defender Rhett Bazzo or ruck-forward Jack Williams – depending on its earlier haul.
For more midfield depth and around-the-square runners, there is plenty available in the 20s. Jake Soligo earned a VFL berth with the Tigers and may be of interest, while Giants Academy product Josh Fahey impressed against Richmond’s twos and may attract a bid. Elsewhere, Angus Sheldrick would be a shrewd package option should Richmond nab other West Aussies, while the crafty Zac Taylor is right within reach and both could play early.
> Can Richmond package its second round selections to nab another first-rounder?
> Will Richmond prioritise midfield, or key position options in round one?
> Will this intake be the one which puts Richmond quickly back on track?