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Your club's best recent draft steals, and worst misses

The Crows unearthed a gem in Rory Sloane but plenty of other clubs were left shaking their heads in hindsight - ${keywords}
The Crows unearthed a gem in Rory Sloane but plenty of other clubs were left shaking their heads in hindsight
WHILE a lot is made of the importance of early picks, clubs can score massive wins by finding gems late in the draft, and indeed the pre-season and rookie drafts. On the flip side, overlooking a future star can have huge ramifications.  

We look at each club's recent hits and misses for finding players at pick 40 or later in recent history (since 2008).

ADELAIDE
The Crows have managed to find some seriously solid overlooked players recently, with current acting co-captain Rory Sloane a clear and spectacular find. Of the 37 players the club has taken after pick No. 39 at NAB AFL Drafts, only 14 have made their AFL debuts. However, four (Sloane, pick 44, 2008, 86 games; Ricky Henderson, rookie pick 10, 2008, 56 games; Matthew Wright, rookie pick 33, 2009, 66 games; Matthew Jaensch, rookie pick 46, 2009, 53 games) have gone on to play at least 50 games. Emerging defenders Rory Laird (rookie pick 5, 2011) and Kyle Hartigan (rookie pick 14, 2012) are both also shaping as regular players.

BEST RECENT STEAL:
 Rory Sloane
As the reigning club champion and acting co-captain, it's incredible to think Sloane slipped to pick No.44 in the 2008 NAB AFL Draft. His desperation and grittiness is unparalleled at West Lakes and he has an uncanny ability to hit the scoreboard right when his side needs it. As one of the competition's leading midfielders, Sloane would have to rate as one of the League's best recent draft steals.

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY: Ben Stratton
The Crows overlooked the now-Hawthorn defender and took Sam Shaw with Pick No. 45 at the 2009 NAB AFL Draft, only for the Hawks to swoop up Stratton with pick No. 46. Injury has restrained Shaw from developing into a genuine starter, while Stratton has managed 80 games to Shaw's 21. He played every game last year for the Hawks, earning himself a premiership medallion. - Harry Thring

BRISBANE LIONS
The Lions have struggled to find talent late in drafts since 2008, with just eight of their 24 selections still on the list. Of that lot, only Tom Rockliff (No.5, 2009 pre-season draft), Ryan Harwood (No.47, 2009), Mitch Golby (2009 rookie draft) and recycled defender Matt Maguire (No.91, 2009) have had any substantial impact on the club. They have had good success with the rookies in that period though, with Golby, Claye Beams and promising young defender Justin Clarke coming from that pool.

BEST RECENT STEAL: 
Tom Rockliff 
After a promising junior career with the Murray Bushrangers, Rockliff somehow slipped through the national draft and into the Lions' laps at pick No.5 of the 2009 pre-season draft . He was a best and fairest winner in 2011, has been a vice-captain the past two seasons, and has developed into the heart-and-soul of the club with his tireless midfield performances. He has played 90 career games and looks set for a stellar career.

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY: Tom Lynch

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but the Lions would give almost anything now to have the highly talented Gold Coast forward. Instead they went for the most talented player left at No.5 in the 2010 draft and that was Jared Polec, which proved a fizzer with the South Australian often injured, homesick and uninspiring for much of his three years in Brisbane. Lynch went at No.11 and is rapidly developing into one of the best young forwards in the competition with his direct attack on the ball, strong hands and good leadership (he is already a vice-captain). In fairness, the Lions had Jonathan Brown, Brendan Fevola and Mitch Clark at the time, but were still in need of a long-term replacement for Brown. Lynch could haunt them from 70km away for the next decade or more.
- Michael Whiting

The Lions secured a bargain-basement beauty when they snared Tom Rockliff. Picture: AFL Media 


CARLTON
The Blues have struggled with late selections in recent times, highlighted by their efforts at the 2008, 2009 and 2010 drafts. Of their nine draft picks beyond pick 40 in that time, only Mitch Robinson (pick 40, 2008 draft) and Andrew McInnes (pick 67, 2010 draft) remain at the club. Rhys O'Keeffe, Caleb Tiller, Marcus Davies, Chris A. Johnson, Rohan Kerr, Luke Mitchell and Nick Duigan have all been and gone from the Blues. Thankfully, in recent times, the Blues have started to unearth some meaningful talent late in the draft with Dylan Buckley (pick 62 father/son, 2011 draft) and Nick Graham (pick 52, 2012 draft) testament to that.

BEST RECENT STEAL: Mitch Robinson 
Robinson has established himself as one of Carlton's key players, in terms of his attack on the footy and on the man. The 24-year-old, drafted with pick 40 in the 2008 draft, has played 94 games since making his debut in 2009, kicking 55 goals as a midfielder/forward. Robinson is regarded as the Blues' 'barometer' – when he is playing well, generally Carlton is up and firing. Still prone to inconsistency, at times, the Blues will be hoping Robinson can craft out another solid 100 games before his career is over.

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY: Ben Stratton
Given Carlton's dearth of quality tall defenders, Stratton would have been the perfect pick-up, with the Blues instead opting to take Marcus Davies with pick No. 43 in the 2009 NAB AFL Draft. The Hawks pounced on the premiership defender with pick 46 in the same draft. Stratton's dependability, as well as his work in one-on-one battles, would have added some much-needed stability to the Blues' backline. With Michael Jamison holding down the fort as the key defender, Stratton's ability to play on the talls and smalls would have complemented Carlton's defensive mix nicely. – Ben Guthrie

COLLINGWOOD
Seven Magpies who began their AFL careers on the rookie list played in the 2010 AFL premiership, testament to the club's remarkable development of late picks over the years. Dane Swan, Ben Johnson and Tyson Goldsack were also selected past pick No.50 so it's not a surprise Collingwood has several candidates as late draft finds. Marley Williams (rookie list 2012) is the pick of the recent draft steals in a list that includes Jarryd Blair (rookie list 2009), Ben Sinclair (pick 62, 2009), Paul Seedsman (pick 76, 2010), Jack Frost (rookie list 2013) and Sam Dwyer (rookie list 2013).

BEST RECENT STEAL: Marley Williams 
Williams is the pick of the bunch after being put on the rookie list with pick No.35 in 2012, although premiership player Jarryd Blair can feel aggrieved. Williams finished seventh in the club best and fairest last season, displaying his poise in heavy traffic and a tough, head-over-the-ball style. A shoulder injury interrupted his first season and then he missed the first seven weeks this season as he awaited sentencing for a fight in 2012. Coach Nathan Buckley has made no secret of the fact Collingwood is better with Williams in the team, although he is yet to hit his straps in 2014.
 
THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY: Stewart Crameri
It's hard to be critical of Collingwood given its record in recent seasons but the recruiting department might be left cursing their luck after they chose Jack Carter at pick No.34 in the 2010 rookie draft rather than seizing on a speedy forward called Stewart Crameri, who Essendon selected at pick No.43. A quick, strong forward to complement Travis Cloke might be handy right now. - Peter Ryan

ESSENDON
Essendon has used the rookie and pre-season drafts to find some terrific talents in recent years, including Stewart Crameri, Michael Hibberd, Mark Baguley and Ben Howlett. Later picks Martin Gleeson (pick 53, 2012 draft) looks to have the ability to play for a long time in the AFL, while Nick Kommer has done well having joined the club as a pick 73 in 2012. Like every club, a few later and mid-round selections from 2008 onwards haven't worked out for a bunch of reasons but Essendon has recruited well in this period.

BEST RECENT STEAL:
 Michael Hibberd
Hibberd was plucked out of the VFL with pick No.4 of the 2011 pre-season draft and immediately showed he could play at the top level. 2013 was his breakout season and he played every game, impressing with his skill and drive off half-back. His piercing left-foot and courage in the air put him in early All Australian contention.

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY: Allen Christensen
The Bombers picked up the talented Anthony Long, nephew of champion Michael, with pick 33 in 2009. Long suffered a terrible run with injuries in his three years with the club before being delisted having not played a game. Seven picks after Long, the Cats picked Allen Christensen who was a vital member of Geelong's 2011 premiership. - Callum Twomey

Essendon fans would love to see Allen Christensen wearing black and red. Picture: AFL Media




FREMANTLE
The Dockers can point to the 2011 NAB AFL Draft to highlight their success with late-round selections, with Lachie Neale (No.58) and Cameron Sutcliffe (No.71) both snared with bargain picks. When you throw in Michael Walters (selection No.53 at the 2008 NAB AFL Draft), Fremantle has definitely done enough to complement its early choices. It is at the rookie drafts, however, where the club's recruiters have excelled, snaring Michael Barlow, Matt de Boer and Lee Spurr since 2008, with all featuring in last year's Grand Final. Clancee Pearce is another rookie who has made his mark at Fremantle, while pre-season pick-up Zac Dawson has been valuable at full-back.   

BEST RECENT STEAL: Michael Barlow 
Who could forget Barlow's brilliant debut season, which saw him average more than 27 possessions and enter Brownlow Medal calculations before a broken leg ended his campaign. He was picked at No.8 in the 2010 rookie draft and after debuting as a 22-year-old, he has gone on to be an incredibly consistent midfielder, never averaging fewer than 24 possessions across a season. He enjoyed a career-best year in 2013 and is a key part of Fremantle's tall midfield, with an ability to win clearances, contested ball and kick goals.

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY: Jack Darling
Darling slipped to pick No.26 in the 2010 NAB AFL Draft because of a dip in form through his draft year and off-field issues that spooked clubs. Fremantle was one of those clubs, overlooking the key position prospect in favour of midfielder Jayden Pitt with its pick No.20. A classy, clean ball-user, Pitt would play just 10 games before a heart irregularity forced him to retire at the end of the 2013 season. Darling is now 76 games into a promising career, while the Dockers are still looking for a key forward to eventually replace captain Matthew Pavlich. - Nathan Schmook   

GEELONG
The Cats have had some hits and misses late in drafts since 2008. Some of their down-the-order draftees, like Taylor Hunt (pick 49, 2008) and Jordan Murdoch (pick 48, 2011), have already made their mark. Of the others, key position player Nathan Vardy (pick 42, 2009) has demonstrated immense talent by has had a shocking run with injuries, while little men Josh Cowan (pick 56, 2009), Jordan Schroder (pick 54, 2010) and Lincoln McCarthy (pick 66, 2011) have only enjoyed brief tastes of senior footy. One of the latest-picked of them all, Jed Bews (pick 86, 2011, father-son), made an impressive debut against Freo last weekend. Geelong has also had mixed success with the rookies that have been elevated to its senior list. Jeremy Laidler and Orren Stephenson have come and gone, Jesse Stringer, Josh Walker, George Burbury and Jackson Sheringham remain works in progress, but James Podsiadly and Mark Blicavs can be considered to have 'made it'.

BEST RECENT STEAL: James Podsiadly
After spending time at Essendon, Collingwood, the Western Bulldogs and Richmond, the 'J-Pod' was invited to Geelong to play in the club's VFL team and work in the fitness department. When the Cats made the 2009 Grand Final, Podsiadly put the players through their pre-game warm-up. However, a couple of months after the big match he was rookie-listed and made his AFL debut, at the age of 28, in round 1, 2010. Podsiadly ended up playing 83 games and kicking 169 goals for the Cats over four seasons. He was a member of the club's 2011 premiership team.

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY:
 Luke Dahlhaus 
The Cats had pick 23 in the 2011 rookie draft, with Dahlhaus, who played for the Geelong Falcons in the TAC Cup, shaping as a likely choice. But the Western Bulldogs jumped in and snared Dahlhaus with pick 22, leaving the Cats to wonder 'what if?'. - Adam McNicol

GOLD COAST
In their short history to date, the Suns have built most of their list on high-end draft picks and rarely had to delve to the back-end too often. While time will be the ultimate judge of their success, they have a 50-50 strike-rate so far. While Jacob Gillbee (No.49, 2010) and Joel Tippett (2010 rookie draft) have been chopped from the original crop, they are on track to do well with Aaron Hall (pick 7, 2011 pre-season draft) and Tim Sumner (No.55, 2012).

BEST RECENT STEAL:
 Aaron Hall 
Taken from Hobart with pick No.7 of the 2011 pre-season draft as a slightly more mature-age player (21), Hall overcame an up-and-down first season to now be a regular member of the improving Suns. The quick small forward has played the past 30 games and announced himself as an AFL-standard player with a five-goal haul against eventual premier Hawthorn at the MCG last season. He topped Gold Coast's numbers last season for both one percenters and tackles inside forward 50.

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY:
Luke Parker
Again, it's a small sample to draw from, but after dominating the 2011 draft with eight of the first 13 picks, the Suns seem to have missed out with Parker. Taken at No.40 by the Sydney Swans, Parker came just one pick after the Suns went for Jeremy Taylor, who has struggled to get senior games through a combination of injuries and inconsistent form. It's hard to be critical of a team that landed midfield fish like David Swallow, Harley Bennell and Dion Prestia in the one draft, but Parker's rugged no-nonsense midfield play can also transfer forward and kick goals and would be a welcome addition to any team. Time might tell of some bigger misses from the 2011, 2012 and 2013 drafts as the years pass. - Michael Whiting

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 
Blessed with draft riches during its entry to the AFL, GWS has barely had to concern itself with the lower rounds. Eleven of the first 14 picks in their debut draft of 2011 allowed the Giants to stock up with blue-chip talent and since then they have often passed on lower draft picks. They gave ruck project Tom Downie a chance with pick 56 in the 2011 draft and while he has only made one senior appearance to date, the 21-year-old still has time on his side. Their zone and access selections have also borne fruit, with the likes of Jeremy Cameron, Dylan Shiel, Adam Treloar and Curtly Hampton arriving via that route. They also found success in the rookie draft, where Jonathan Giles, Sam Frost and Andrew Phillips were brought on board.

BEST RECENT STEAL:
 Jonathan Giles 
For such a young club, the Giants haven't really had the time or capability of discovering their own hidden gem buried in the draft. But Sam Frost is proving a wise pick one in the 2011 rookie draft, playing every game so far this season in a key defensive post. They also nabbed Giles with the third pick in the 2010 rookie draft and he would have to be the club's best steal to date. Unable to break into Port Adelaide's side in four years on its list, Giles is currently GWS' games record-holder, brining up game No.50 against West Coast last time out.

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY: Oliver Wines 
The jury is still out on a number of GWS selections, including Jono O'Rourke and Lachie Plowman, the second and third picks in the 2012 draft. Others such as Matt Buntine (pick 5, 2011), Liam Sumner (pick 10, 2011), Kristian Jaksch (pick 12, 2012) and James Stewart (pick 27, 2012) are making solid if unspectacular progress. With the first five picks in 2011, many would view No.6 Chad Wingard as the one that got away, but he has recently admitted he informed the Giants he wouldn't have committed himself to them anyway. Instead, Wines could be one the Giants would look at longingly. GWS plumped for Lachie Whitfield – an excellent decision – O'Rourke and Plowman with picks 1-3 in 2012. Pick No.7 Wines has played 32 games already for Port Adelaide, almost as many as Whitfield (22 games), Plowman (11) and O'Rourke (3) combined. - James Dampney

It's still early days but GWS - and several other clubs - missed a ripper in Ollie Wines. Picture: AFL Media 




HAWTHORN
Hawthorn's continued excellence is partly owed to wise recruiting among the draft's lower reaches. The Hawks have only wielded two top-20 selections since 2008 but have unearthed diamonds in Ben Stratton (pick 46, 2009), Taylor Duryea (pick 69, 2009) and Paul Puopolo (pick 66, 2010). The rookie draft has been a happy hunting ground, with Luke Breust (2009) and Will Langford (2011) proving to be steals. Injuries and a gradual turnover of an ageing list will soon see more of the promising new breed such as Angus Litherland (pick 55, 2010) and the yet-to-debut Alex Woodward (pick 53, 2011) get more opportunities.

THE BEST RECENT STEAL: Ben Stratton
Pick 46 in the 2009 draft, the 25-year-old versatile defender is one of Hawthorn's most valuable assets, and could well be the most underrated defender in the competition. Smart and good with the footy, Stratton played every game in Hawthorn's 2013 premiership season, finishing fourth in the club's best and fairest and being named the Hawks' most consistent player. Luke Breust, pick 47 in the 2009 rookie draft, rates a special mention.

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY: Stewart Crameri
Crameri would look pretty good in a Hawthorn jumper. The three-time Essendon leading goalkicker was overlooked by the Hawks at the 2010 rookie draft, heading to the Bombers with pick 43 after Hawthorn opted for NSW Scholarship player Michael Johnston with pick 42. Johnston never played a game for the Hawks. Crameri is now at the Western Bulldogs and looks set, at 25, for a long career. - Travis King

MELBOURNE
It's fair to say Melbourne's success at the draft table has been less than satisfactory over the past six years. The success rate of the Demons' high draft picks have been few and far between, while a fair portion of the club's later round selections have been less than fruitful. Neville Jetta (pick 51, 2008) and Rohan Bail (pick 64, 2008) have been shown to be steady players at AFL level, while Tom McDonald (pick 53, 2010) has made a significant leap as a key defender this season. Already Jay Kennedy-Harris (pick 40, 2013) looks like being a third-round pick-up of significant value.

BEST RECENT STEAL:
 Tom McDonald 
Taken in the 2010 national draft with pick No.53, McDonald has shown substantial improvement this season, building the necessary strength to contend with some of the best power forwards in the competition. With James Frawley playing as a permanent forward, McDonald has relished the newfound responsibility of being the Demons' key back. Clubs love dependable key position players, so finding McDonald at pick 53 has been a major plus for the club.

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY: Tom Rockliff 
Melbourne drafted Liam Jurrah with the first pick of the 2009 pre-season draft after being dazzled by his precocious talent. Jurrah played 36 games and kicked 84 goals, giving Demon fans a glimpse of his ability. However, a series of off-field issues meant he fell off the AFL map. How the Demons would love to have Tom Rockliff in their midfield now. Rockliff - who trained with Melbourne after being overlooked in the national draft and was snapped up by the Lions with pick No.5 in the pre-season draft - now has 90 games to his name and would have given the Demons significant midfielder drive, and the appropriate leadership qualities to help steer Melbourne out of the most challenging period it has ever encountered. - Ben Guthrie

Demon Tom McDonald has developed into a quality key defender since being drafted. Picture: AFL Media



NORTH MELBOURNE
Since 2008, North has had 13 national draft picks at pick 40 or later, with just one, Liam Anthony (pick 43, 2008), reaching 50 games and only one other player, former Sun Taylor Hine (pick 61, 2012), playing more than 10 matches. However, the Roos have delisted just five of those draftees and still have high hopes for the likes of Cameron Delaney (pick 69, 2010), Mason Wood (No. 41, 2012), Mitch Wilkins (No. 47, 2012) and Daniel Currie (No. 56, 2012). North has also uncovered some rookie draft gems in that time in Sam Gibson (No. 63, 2012) and Aaron Mullett (No. 34, 2011), while Majak Daw (No. 9, 2010) continues to improve.

BEST RECENT STEAL
: Sam Gibson
Picked at No. 63 of the 2012 rookie draft, tte former Box Hill Hawks skipper has not missed a beat since making his AFL debut at 26 in round 12, 2012, having now played 43 consecutive games and established himself as a key member of North's midfield. Gibson is the Roos' hardest-running midfielder and his professional approach to his football was recognised when he was added to North's leadership group this season. Gibson has become a prolific ball-winner and, in 2014, is averaging 27 possessions a game and has had 30 or more possessions in all but two matches. 

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY: Rory Sloane
North took Liam Anthony as its third selection in the 2010 draft, allowing Adelaide to swoop on Sloane a pick later at No. 44 overall. Although Anthony has been serviceable over 54 games at North, Sloane has become one of the Crows' most inspirational midfielders with his fanatical attack on the ball and gut-busting running. North's midfield is already strong, but would be significantly stronger with Sloane, the Crows' reigning best and fairest winner. - Nick Bowen

RICHMOND
The Tigers might have nailed their first-round selections in recent seasons, but they have had very little success outside their prime picks. Since 2008, the club has selected 12 players with picks above No.40 and none have managed 50 games. Only five remain on the list (and four of those were selected in the past three drafts). Of the 30 players selected at the rookie and pre-season drafts since 2008, only Bachar Houli (73 games) and Robin Nahas (83) have made a meaningful impact.   

BEST RECENT STEAL:
 Bachar Houli
Originally selected with pick No.42 in the 2006 NAB AFL Draft by Essendon, Houli has been a regular senior player with the Tigers since crossing via pick No.3 of the 2011 pre-season draft. Attacking off half-back and with a piercing left boot, he is at his best when given license to run and set up play. Finished 10th in the Tigers' club champion award last year.

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY: Nat Fyfe
In a midfield that lacks inspiration and leadership beyond captain Trent Cotchin, how Fyfe could have made a difference for the Tigers. Recruited by Fremantle with pick No.20, Richmond used its selection No.19 to draft key forward Ben Griffiths, who has played 26 games in five seasons. Fyfe has played 79 games and won the Dockers' club champion award in 2013. He has averaged more than 23 possessions across his five seasons with Fremantle. - Nathan Schmook  

Nat Fyfe would have added a huge amount of class to Richmond's midfield. Picture: AFL Media





PORT ADELAIDE
As the Power looked to dig itself out of a huge hole from 2008-2012, they offered plenty of AFL opportunity to players drafted late. But reflecting the club's dismal form during the period, not one of the 37 players drafted after pick No. 39 have reached his 50-game milestone. In total, 19 managed AFL debuts, contributing 328 games. Of the 19, Tom Jonas (rookie pick 16, 2010, 41 games), Cam O'Shea (rookie pick 52, 2010, 48 games), Kane Mitchell (rookie pick 5, 2012, 14 games), Sam Colquhoun (pre-season pick 3, 2012, 10 games) and Sam Gray (rookie pick 29, 2013, 3 games) are the only four set to play a role in the club's future. If he was still alive today, John McCarthy (pre-season pick 8,2011, 21 games) might have become the first to play 50 games for the Power.

BEST RECENT STEAL
: Tom Jonas 
It's taken a little while for Jonas - pick 16 of the 2010 rookie draft - to find his feet at the elite level but he has taken his game to new heights under coach Ken Hinkley. The former rookie's no-fuss attitude to the game complements Hinkley's coaching perfectly at Alberton, a factor that helped elevate Jonas to the club's leadership group ahead of the 2014 season.

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY: Rory Sloane 
The Power drafted Mitch Banner with pick No. 42 at the 2008 NAB AFL Draft, only for the club's cross-town rival to take a guy with long blonde hair at pick No. 44. Nothing more really needs to be said; Banner's 19-game career has quickly been forgotten while Sloane has become one of the game's leading midfielders. - Harry Thring

ST KILDA
It's no secret the Saints were wounded by poor recruiting choices in the Ross Lyon era that took them to two Grand Finals. Since 2008, only three players selected beyond pick No.40 in the national draft have played more than 20 games for the club – Rhys Stanley (pick 47, 2008), Arryn Siposs (pick 75, 2010), and Dean Polo (pick 103, 2010 – no longer on the list). However, late picks from 2012 – Brodie Murdoch (No.40) and Josh Saunders (No.43) look promising, as does Jimmy Webster (No.42, 2011) and Tom Curren (No.24, 2011 rookie draft). However, they hit pay dirt in 2007 with the recruitment of reigning best and fairest winner Jack Steven (pick No.42, 2007).

BEST RECENT STEAL: 
 Rhys Stanley
The Saints have struggled to unearth late gems in the national draft since 2008. Only eight of 20 selected after pick No.40 since then remain on the list. Of those, Rhys Stanley (No.47, 2008), Tom Ledger (No.59, 2010), Arryn Siposs (No.75, 2010), Jimmy Webster (No.42, 2011), Beau Maister (No.68, 2011), Brodie Murdoch (No.40, 2012), Josh Saunders (No.43, 2012) and Lewis Pierce (No.75, 2012) are still Saints, with Stanley playing the most consistent senior football despite some limitations in his game. Webster and Saunders are considered to have plenty of upside.

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY: David Astbury
There's been a few since 2008. When the Saints recruited Tom Lynch (No.13, 2008), they left Ryan Schoenmakers on the shelf before he was snapped up by Hawthorn three picks later. Then, the following year, they picked up Nick Winmar (No.32, 2009), which left David Astbury to slip to Richmond at No.35. Lynch has since moved on to Adelaide, where he was the Crows' most prolific goalkicker last year, and Winmar played two games in three years before being controversially cut by the club with a year remaining on his contract. Both Schoenmakers and Astbury have developed into handy defenders for their respective clubs – albeit both have battled knee injuries with the latter out again for an extended period – but would have been handy given the Saints' recent issues with backline depth. - Jennifer Phelan

SYDNEY SWANS
The Swans have a remarkable ability to make the finals, doing so in 10 of the past 11 seasons. An incredible feat, it also leaves them bereft of the high draft picks afforded to clubs stuck near the base of the ladder. So the Swans have had to sharpen their gaze and find some hidden gems. Fortunately they have Kinnear Beatson at their disposal, a recruiting manager the equal of any in the AFL. Over the years the Swans snapped up Michael O'Loughlin (pick 40, 1994), Adam Goodes (pick 43, 1997), Ryan O'Keefe (pick 56, 1999) and Nick Malceski (pick 64, 2002) with low picks. More recently, Alex Johnson (pick 57, 2010) and Luke Parker (pick 40, 2010) have also proven astute selections.

BEST RECENT STEAL: 
Luke Parker 
Parker was an absolute bargain at pick 40 in the 2010 draft. The Swans used their first pick on Jed Lamb (No.21 overall), a player that departed for more opportunities at GWS last year and is still establishing himself at AFL level. They also took Alex Johnson at No.57, who quickly earned a permanent spot in the backline and played in the 2012 flag, but repeated knee injuries have limited his progress. Splitting them at No.40 was Parker, a tough, no-nonsense midfielder from the Dandenong Stingrays. So many other teams had the chance to take Parker and there's little doubt right now they would be wishing they had. Still just 21, he has played 66 games, was the sub in the 2012 premiership and is just scratching the surface with his ability. He also has leadership potential.

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY: 
Dayne Beams
In the 2008 draft, the Swans took Lewis Johnston with pick 12, a high selection for them during that stretch. Unfortunately, Johnston never made the most of his opportunity in Sydney, playing just two senior games over three years before being shipped to Adelaide. But the players taken after Johnston that year make for some impressive reading, including Luke Shuey, Liam Shiels, Steven Motlop, Rory Sloane and Taylor Hunt. But perhaps the one that could add the most polish to the Swans' midfield right now is Beams, who Collingwood got at a steal with pick 29. - James Dampney
 
Luke Parker has become one of the Swans' most impressive forward/midfielders. Picture: AFL Media




WEST COAST
The jury is still out to a degree on the Eagles' recent recruiting with late picks, with seven of the nine players selected outside pick No.40 in the NAB AFL Draft, or with pre-season selections, still on the list. There is hope Adam Carter (No.59), Brant Colledge (No.45) and mature-age recruit Mark Hutchings (No.60) can be solid contributors. The rookie draft, however, has failed to unearth any gems for West Coast, with Ashton Hams' 39 games the most of the 24 players selected since 2008. Former rookies Jeremy McGovern, Simon Tunbridge and Jamie Bennell have moved onto the senior list and may yet establish themselves.

BEST RECENT STEAL: Patrick McGinnity
McGinnity has been pushed out of the Eagles' best line-up now and is playing in the WAFL, but his tally of 72 games is the best of any late pick at the club by a significant margin. A capable run-with player or small defender, McGinnity played 21 games in 2012 – including two finals – as a defensive forward.

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY: Michael Walters
The Eagles selected Victorian defender Jordan Jones with pick No.52 in the 2008 NAB AFL Draft, but he was delisted at the end of the 2011 season with two games to his name. One pick later, Fremantle drafted local teenager Michael Walters who has established himself as one of the most exciting small forwards in the game. The Eagles have Mark LeCras, but a genuine crumbing forward would have been a great addition to their forward line. Walters has kicked 86 goals in 45 games. - Nathan Schmook 

WESTERN BULLDOGS
It has been a mixed bag for the Bulldogs when it comes to their success late in the draft, and if it wasn't for several father-son selections, they may not have had much luck. The Bulldogs used pick 41 in the 2010 NAB AFL Draft to select Tom Liberatore, and he has become one of the standout young midfielders in the competition. Luke Dahlhaus (rookie draft, 2011) and Liam Picken (rookie draft, 2009) are among the Bulldogs' best selections since 2008. However just 11 of the 21, late draft (pick 40 or later) and rookie selections the Bulldogs have had in the past five seasons, still remain on their list.

BEST RECENT STEAL: Luke Dahlhaus
After he had been overlooked in the 2011 NAB AFL Draft, the Bulldogs snatched up small forward Dahlhaus in the Rookie Draft, and he has since repaid their faith. His trademark dreadlocks and ferocious attack on the ball earned him cult status with Bulldogs fans, and his form in his debut season was rewarded with a NAB AFL Rising Star nomination. Last season Dahlhaus was the club's second best goal kicker with 28, eight goals behind veteran Daniel Giansiracusa, and he also finished sixth in the club's best and fairest. Renowned for his pressure acts, hard tackling and evasiveness around goal, Dahlhaus continues to produce impressive performances at the Kennel.

THE ONE THE GOT AWAY: Nat Fyfe
In the 2009 NAB AFL Draft, the Bulldogs had pick 15 as their first round selection, opting to draft Christian Howard to the Kennel. Five picks later, Fremantle nabbed midfielder Nat Fyfe, who has since become a star of the AFL and has recently been touted as potentially the best midfielder of the next decade. Hawthorn spearhead Jack Gunston also slipped through to pick 29 (Adelaide) in that draft, and would have been a handy recruit for the Bulldogs, who have been crying out for a key forward over the past five years. Meanwhile Howard has played just a handful of games for the Bulldogs since being drafted, and is yet to make a senior appearance in 2014. - Nat Edwards

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs