2023 AFL Draft Review: West Coast
WEST COAST was the centre of attention in the to open the first two rounds of the 2023 AFL Draft, and ended up sticking to its guns. With a total of six fresh faces entering the club, more young talent is on the way to help scrape the Eagles off the bottom of the ladder. We recap the club’s draft haul.
>> UPDATED: Every Pick in the 2023 AFL Draft
>> ANALYSIS: Big winners, bolters & sliders
While several clubs tabled their offers and plenty of conjecture came their way throughout the year, the Eagles held firm and went into the draft with pick one. The inevitable choice was that of Harley Reid, who despite baseless suggestions on the contrary, was keen to head over to Perth.
The Bendigo Pioneers standout has been labelled a generational talent and was considered the leading prospect for this year’s draft with overwhelming consensus. He handled the hype of his top-age season with aplomb in the face of fierce pressure and a couple of setbacks.
Reid came into the National Championships underdone but earned All Australian honours at full forward, having done so as a back pocket last year. He’ll more than likely be a rotating mid-forward throughout his career, with serious power and contested ball nous blended with eye-catching athleticism and X-factor.
Fittingly enough, West Coast also maintained its grip on the highly sought after opening pick of round two, and selected another Reid – this time Harley’s Vic Country teammate, Archer. The Gippsland Power product is the brother of Essendon key defender Zach, but shapes as a forward/ruck.
Reid got going in the middle part of the year with a run of 11 goals in three Talent League games, while also breaking out on the representative stage to register seven marks and two goals against Vic Metro. His draft range was wide but at his best, he has great mobility, dexterity and aerial ability at 203cm.
The Eagles’ lone local selection at the National Draft was Clay Hall, a 189cm midfielder out of Peel Thunder. West Coast was firmly into selecting the best available young talent in this draft, so Hall fit that criteria in the second round. Along with Harley Reid, he adds size and contested nous to the on-ball mix.
One of Hall’s points of difference is his running capacity. While capable of being a go-to at the stoppages, he also racks up possessions on the outside, breaks the lines, and is a good user by foot. His senior experience would have also appealed having performed consistently across nine League games.
West Coast rounded out its National Draft haul with another midfielder, Harvey Johnston. While boasting a sharp turn of speed and great evasive skills up forward, the Sandringham Dragons graduate is also capable of winning clean possessions at stoppage and dishing out in no-frills fashion.
He accumulated disposals in rather unassuming fashion at times this year, but has moments of flair at his fingertips. Johnston was one of the ones to watch early in the year and delivered on the pre-season hype to play a part in Sandringham’s premiership, as well as representing Vic Metro.
Another pick one was in the offing for West Coast in the rookie draft, which was used to snap up South Australian talent Loch Rawlinson. A 178cm small forward, Rawlinson recognised the role he’d be suited for at the top level and worked hard to master it during his top-age campaign.
The Sturt product has serious speed at his disposal and showcased it with a 2.894 seconds at the state draft combine. On-field, he uses it to take the game on and has a penchant for popping up with important goals – as per his efforts in the Double Blues’ run to this year’s SANFL Under 18s decider.
The Eagles also placed Next Generation Academy member Coen Livingstone on their Category B rookie list. A raw, but physically strong ruck-forward out of Perth, he has great presence around the ground and was a joint winner of this year’s Jack Clarke Medal. He’s the nephew of former-Hawk, Chance Bateman.
It would have been difficult for West Coast to come away as losers from the 2023 AFL Draft, and while a move for local utility Dan Curtin was dashed, the best player in the country is now an Eagle. Six developable young talents have entered the club, offering depth in a good variety of roles.