2023 AFL Draft Preview: Western Bulldogs

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 Western Bulldogs’ hand and offer insight into how the club may utilise the picks at their possession. Virtually every selection has come in during trade period, including pick five, and a bunch which will help match an early father-son bid.

LADDER FINISH: 9th (12-11, 108.7%)
2023 PICKS: 5, 48, 50, 52, 53, 56, 67
CLUB-TIED PLAYERS: Jordan Croft (F/S), Luamon Lual (NGA)

Pick 5

The Bulldogs traded for Gold Coast’s tabled first round pick, with many believing it would be early enough to land electric small forward Nick Watson. Instead, it seems Tasmanian midfielder Ryley Sanders is the man, with Hawthorn set to swoop on Watson at pick four.

Things also hinge on where North Melbourne goes with picks two and three, and the Roos are expected to select Zane Duursma and Colby McKercher. Of course, West Australian utility Dan Curtin is also in the frame, but will likely be overlooked by the Bulldogs if he slips through.

Having drafted tall over the last few years, particularly in the first round, a small or midfielder makes sense this time around. Watson would have been it as a similarly mercurial type to Cody Weightman, though midfield depth is likely in the offing via Sanders.

The Dogs also have father-son Jordan Croft in the pipeline – another tall – so the key position options are just about no chance here. Sanders, this year’s Larke Medallist, is a consistent ball winner who is expanding his outside game, and will be the heir apparent to Tom Liberatore.

Jordan Croft will attract a first round bid | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central


The Bulldogs are expected to make four live selections at this year’s National Draft, while also committing to rookie listing the recently delisted Taylor Duryea and Lachie McNeil. After nabbing a top-end talent with pick five, the club’s second selection will be a matched bid.

Croft, a father-son nominee (son of Matthew), is yet another key forward set to yield a very early bid for the Bulldogs to match. He’s a touch more raw than the likes of Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and Sam Darcy before him, but has just as much athletic upside at 200cm.

Sydney looks like the team set to force the Bulldogs’ hand with pick 12, which will be moved back after bids on Suns Academy trio Jed Walter, Ethan Read, and Jake Rogers. Upon matching the bid, the Bulldogs will be left with two late picks to extract value from.

There have been constant links to GWV wingman Joel Freijah, a 190cm running machine who was once considered a first round chance. The Bulldogs have also been willing to select mature-agers out of the VFL, most out of Footscray, but perhaps Werribee mid-forward Shaun Mannagh will appeal.

Elsewhere, tall depth may be an area the Bulldogs look to dip into, while running utility types lie late in the order to take a chance on. NGA talent Luamon Lual is also available to match for after pick 40, though the small defender is unlikely to remain on the board at that point.


– Is Ryley Sanders the lock at pick five?
– Will Sydney be the team to place a bid on Jordan Croft?
– Could NGA talent Luamon Lual last past pick 40?

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