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BOWEN: Is Jake Lever worth two first-rounders?

Nick Bowen  September 12, 2017 7:00 AM

Buddy's fitness, Jake's future, Heath's call Tuesday Footy Feed with Matt Thompson and Nick Bowen

ADELAIDE defender Jake Lever could cost a club up to two first-round draft picks if, as expected, he requests a trade home to Victoria.

The Crows have not given up hope of re-signing Lever, but it appears extremely likely the out-of-contract 21-year-old will seek a move at the end of the season and nominate Melbourne as his preferred club.

In his third season this year, Lever has established himself as one of the AFL's best key defenders, averaging more intercept marks (3..8 per game) than any other player.

Dogs told they're out of Lever race

If the Demons can add Lever to their talented young list in October's trade period, it could lift them from pretenders to premiership contenders.

Elite key defenders don't come cheap, however, and Adelaide will understandably demand a hefty return.

What can the Crows realistically expect?

Two rival list managers told Lever is worth two first-round picks. Quality key defenders are rare commodities, they reasoned; one of them also views Lever as a club captain in the making.

Melbourne has pick No.10 in this year's draft and could throw in its 2018 first-round selection in a bid to satisfy the Crows, presumably confident that this latter pick could fall into the teens.

In this scenario, the Demons would be entitled to ask for something back from Adelaide. When midfielder Adam Treloar moved from Greater Western Sydney to Collingwood, the Magpies chiefly gave up pick No.7 and its 2016 first-round pick (No.7) but got pick No.28 back from the Giants.

Other list managers, however, thought two first-round picks for Lever was a bit rich.

Two said packaging a second-round pick with No.10 – the Demons have pick No.27 this year and their 2018 second-round selection – would be fair, while another believed the Dees might need to find an additional late first-round or early second-round pick to get a deal done.

One thing's for sure. Melbourne rates Lever extremely highly – at about $850,000 a season, it's understood.

The Crows will expect the Demons to pay a trade price commensurate to that. And that's where things could get interesting.

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