2023 AFL Draft Preview: North Melbourne

WITH season proper and trade period done and dusted, AFL fans and staff alike now turn their attention towards the draft (November 20-21). The chaos has momentarily settled on player and pick swaps, and budding prospects have completed their combines, leaving a nervous wait until they learn their fate.

In the next of our club-by-club draft previews, we take a look at North Melbourne’s hand and offer insight into how the Roos may utilise the picks at their possession. After losing plenty of experience in a 13-man list turnover, the club wields five first round picks to help continue its rejuvenation.

LADDER FINISH: 17th (3-20, 71.5%)
2023 PICKS: 2, 3, 15, 17, 18, 57, 82

Picks 2 & 3

Much has been made of North Melbourne’s pursuit of pick one and Harley Reid, a venture which increasingly looks like proving fruitless. Boasting the second and third selections among five first rounders, North is rightly reluctant to trade its first two picks for a shot at the best player in the country.

That means pick two is when the Roos are likely to enter the intake, though it won’t be to select their own player. Instead, a bid on Suns Academy powerhouse Jed Walter seems imminent, and when matched, it will push North’s picks back to three and four.

The names most heavily linked with North Melbourne are Colby McKercher and Zane Duursma. Much like Harry Sheezel and George Wardlaw last year, it’s just a matter of what order they come in. Recruiting the pair would open up the Roos to select a trio of talls with their later first round picks.

McKercher, a slick stepping midfielder who placed second in the Larke Medal, is similar to the type of player North has recruited in recent years, while Duursma is a natural forward with strong aerial presence at 189cm. He has the X-factor and pizzazz to add further excitement to North’s young squad.

Elsewhere, arguably the most natural fit for a pressing need is West Australian utility Daniel Curtin. He spent most of the year as a midfielder but is best known as a key defender and is certainly in West Coast’s sights. If the Roos don’t jump at him, the Eagles may do so via live trading.

Eastern Ranges livewire Nick Watson is another option who suits the Roos’ need for an elite small forward. Pick three or four is a hefty price to pay for a 170cm player, but clubs like Hawthorn and Western Bulldogs will be in for him right after North’s picks.

Zane Duursma looks destined to end up a Roo | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central


After the array of options which have narrowed down to North at picks two and three, the club has another trio of first round picks to play with. Should the expected duo of McKercher and Duursma be snapped up, talls will almost certainly come into the Roos’ thinking thereafter.

They might be made to reach for a few key position prospects, and even bid on one unavailable to them. Namely, the latter is Hawthorn father-son prospect Will McCabe, a 197cm defender from South Australia with an outrageous athletic profile.

In terms of viable talent, key defender Ollie Murphy is one who looks to be sliding down the order, but fits the bill for North. Conversely, the likes of Wil Dawson and Zane Zakostelsky have sprung up as potential suitors for clubs dipping into the pool of long-term, developable and mobile talls.

Likewise, only in the ruck department, South Australian Taylor Goad and local talent Will Green have some interest in the same range, with the latter a particularly good chance to turn into the elite ruckman North Melbourne arguably needs. Sydney is also into the 204cm big man.

Key forward Archer Reid is a player whose draft range is wide, but could put pressure on North’s depth players in said role and help take a load off Nick Larkey. Outside of the tall bracket, Tasmanian superboot Arie Schoenmaker and West Australian outside runner Riley Hardeman could be in the frame.

All up, it looks like North will decide between taking five or six players, and still have plenty of live trading ammunition. Of course, Ryley Sanders is tied to the club’s NGA, but the Roos were not given priority access to the midfielder and won’t be able to match a bid inside the top 40 picks.


– Will North Melbourne overlook Curtin in favour of recruiting talls later in the first round?
– What can North Melbourne manufacture at the live trade table?
– Will North Melbourne end up picking the most players of any team?

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