Breakdown | 2022 AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft
NOW that the dust has settled on last night’s AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft, we take a look back at how each club fared, the way every pick dropped, and what the 17 selected players promise to offer their new sides. 14 clubs opted to bring in fresh faces, though one targeted two players with previous AFL experience.
West Coast surprised absolutely nobody by taking Jai Culley with pick one. The Dandenong Stingrays graduate was one of six 19th-year prospects to be taken within the first 11 picks, and is the prime example this year of a player who improved rapidly after being overlooked as a top-ager.
Having cut his teeth as a medium forward in his first campaign at the Stingrays last year, Culley transformed into a damaging midfielder-forward whose running capacity caught up to his skill and dynamism. At 193cm, he has the size to compete on-ball, but also the forward craft to impact inside 50.
Next off the board was Kallan Dawson to North Melbourne. Having struggled to crack the VFL grade last year, the fast developing 194cm key defender is another who came on strongly this year. He suits a need for the Roos, who were heavily linked to him at pick two, so this was no surprise either.
Essendon’s pick three proved the pivot point, and the Bombers put some late work into the man they eventually picked. Massimo D’Ambrosio was the choice made, perhaps a third crack for the club at picking up a rebounding defender with elite kicking skills. He is currently nursing an injury, but has been in ripping form this season for the Western Jets and Richmond VFL.
Seeking a point of difference in midfield, Adelaide looked local and snaffled up Glenelg on-baller Brett Turner. The 25-year-old made good on the perfect audition against the Crows’ reserves in this year’s SANFL season, and looms as a readymade option at 25-years-old.
Their pick put the Greater Western Sydney on the clock, and Wade Derksen was the Giants’ man. Now a key position swingman after going through a massive growth spurt, the sample size is small for this Northern Territory native, but he attracted massive club interest for his start to the year with Peel Thunder.
His selection meant Hawthorn could bolster its ruck stocks, opting to take childhood Hawks fan Max Ramsden. The 202cm ruck from Sandringham Dragons joins a slew of fellow Melbourne Grammar School graduates in brown and gold, having impressed with his mobility and upside in key position posts. Another 19-year-old off the board.
They kept coming too, as Gold Coast made arguably a best-available selection in the form of Oskar Faulkhead. With Geelong lurking down the order, the Suns took the opportunity to bring in their own 19th-year talent, and Faulkhead is one who has taken his classy game to new heights in midfield this year.
It was back to the mature-age state leaguers at pick eight, as Port Adelaide opted for East Fremantle ruck
While Collingwood had a couple of list needs to address, Josh Carmichael proved impossible to deny any longer at pick nine. Arguably one of the top five prospects coming into the draft, the West Adelaide midfielder is a big body on the inside who can mark around the ground and hit the scoreboard. He’s had a hell of a rise from country footy.
A trio of excitement machines were picked up with the next three selections. Richmond pounced on highly touted forward Jacob Bauer after his hot start to life at North Adelaide, before Sydney took in versatile goalkicker Hugo Hall-Kahan, and Geelong secured Tyson Stengle’s Woodville-West Torrens apprentice, Zane Williams.
The selection of Hall-Kahan meant St Kilda’s narrow list of options was exhausted, and the Saints opted to pass with pick 14. Before that, Carlton selected one of two players with previous AFL experience in Glenelg defender Sam Durdin. He could serve as a quick fix to the Blues’ key defensive needs, having been a first round pick at North Melbourne.
Seeing off the first round was somewhat of a surprise selection, as Fremantle looked local for some tall forward insurance. East Perth’s Sebit Kuek was their man, a 195cm 21-year-old who has averaged more than three goals per his five WAFL games this year.
Only three picks were used in the second round, with a handful of clubs opting against taking a second player. Essendon, Hawthorn, and Carlton made full use of their options though, rounding out a draft which saw 17 of a possible 23 selections put into action.
Despite its sameish midfield mix, Essendon addressed its small forward stocks with a fast improving Tasmanian in Jye Menzie. The goalsneak moved over to South Adelaide this year and enjoyed a terrific first few SANFL games, doing enough to catch the Bombers’ attention.
Executing the perfect draft strategy, Hawthorn nabbed one of its own in Box Hill product James Blanck. The mobile lockdown defender has worked hard to develop his size and craft out of the NAB League, and will look to make a similar impact to Jai Newcombe, who blazed a similar trail in brown and gold.
Carlton made the final call at pick 22, bringing in the second previously listed player of the draft in Will Hayes. Coming out of the Blues’ VFL program this year, the former Western Bulldogs midfielder has dominated the state league and proved undeniable. With his running power, he could serve as wing depth, or even as a pressure forward.