2021 AFL Draft review: Western Bulldogs

WITH the 2021 AFL Draft done and dusted, Rookie Me Central takes a look through each clubs’ hauls to assess the areas they bolstered and what each fresh face promises to bring to their new side. Next under the microscope are the Western Bulldogs, who paid the highest ever price for a father-son nominee, before snaring some great late value and pulling a couple of rookie surprises.

National Draft selections:

#2 Sam Darcy (Oakleigh Chargers)
#43 Arthur Jones (Claremont)
#61 Luke Cleary (Sandringham Dragons)

Rookie Draft selections:

#15 Charlie Parker (Sturt)
#24 Robbie McComb (Footscray VFL)

Category B Rookie selections:

Cody Raak (Western Jets)

While it came earlier than was ideal, the Bulldogs knew full and well that a bid for father-son nominee Sam Darcy would come with pick two. It set the Doggies list management team into action, enacting live trades to ensure they could not only match the bid, but also bolster their hand down the line to remain in the draft.

Darcy is now a third-generation Bulldog who adds to his new side’s already stacked key position stocks. With phenomenal balance and skill for a player of his 205cm stature, the son of Luke can play on all three lines and may cut his teeth in defence, before slotting into a more familiar forward-ruck rotation.

The Bulldogs then had some time to watch the selections of other clubs before reentering the intake at pick 43 on night two. Arthur Jones was the name called out, a fast-improving wingman who generates plenty of run on the outer. While skinny and raw, his blend of speed and endurance makes him an exciting and productive prospect to develop.

Rounding out the National Draft haul was Luke Cleary, a 19th-year defender who was overlooked last year, but made good on his opportunities in 2021. His 84 per cent kicking efficiency makes him a reliable distributor from the back, and he reads the play well to intercept cleanly.

Known for taking out of their own VFL squad, the Bulldogs then listed Robbie McComb through the Rookie Draft, as well as another tall defender in Cody Raak as a Next Generation Academy graduate. Sturt utility Charlie Parker came before both though, having shown glimpses of his speed and penetrative kicking at state league level.

Overall, the Bulldogs were able to obtain some defensive depth and versatility with a six-man draft haul, as well as some valuable outside run and the headline coup of Darcy. With their squad already in premiership contention and looking to remain there, they have a good blend of readymade and long-term depth to help keep selection competitive for years to come.

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