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Bolt from the blue: Suns' shock pick at 19

Ben Guthrie and Michael Whiting  November 24, 2017 10:44 PM

Clubs react to the 2017 NAB AFL Draft Matt Thompson brings you the big news from the draft in Sydney

WIL Powell is the bolter of the 2017 NAB AFL Draft, after Gold Coast took the little-known Western Australian with pick No.19.

Powell did not make the WA state team in this year's Under-18 Championships but the skinny midfielder was invited to test at the WA State Combine.

Originally from Scarborough, Powell represented Claremont in the WAFL's colts competition, averaging 14 disposals and kicking eight goals in 18 games.

The 18-year-old was one of his team's best performers in his team's tight preliminary final victory, and was again prominent with 15 touches in the decider – despite a 54-point loss to East Fremantle.

Powell was not among those mentioned as potential top-30 picks in the lead up to the draft, with all the momentum for his selection coming late in the piece.

He was one of four Claremont draftees, but was easily the one that most surprised the club.

In a post on its Twitter page earlier that day, the WAFL club spruiked a list of players as having chances to be drafted - none of which were Powell.

Yet it was the Colts player's name that was read out first, when Gold Coast took the exciting utility with its first pick.

"We'd heard some whispers through his management that he might surprise us, but we didn't hear anything in concrete," Claremont talent manager Warren Parker told AFL.com.au.

"We weren't sure what to believe.

"You get a bolter like Wil that comes through and it's fantastic. We couldn't be happier."

The Suns had to wait until the third-round for their next pick, taking highly-rated Sturt midfielder Charlie Ballard with pick No.42. Academy selections Brayden Crossley (pick 52) and Connor Nutting (55) rounded out their draft haul.

Despite being overlooked at state level, Powell developed nicely in Claremont's Colts team and was prominent in its preliminary final win and heavy Grand Final loss.

Parker said it was the 18-year-old utility's consistency that had improved as the season wore on.

"He's that type of kid that's a project player, really clean, good skills on both sides," he said.

"It's just those one or two things he does, that clean pick up or hitting a target and you think "gee, he's a class above".

Powell is from beachside Scarborough, so should have no problems making the transition to Gold Coast, despite it being the longest trip in the country.

Claremont's night got even better after Powell's selection, with Zac Giles Langdon (pick 56 to Giants), Jake Patmore (pick 58 to Port Adelaide) and Matt Guelfi (pick 76 to Essendon) all drafted.

Five more 2017 draft night bolters

Matthew Ling
The speedy defender was considered in the 20-30 range, but went with Sydney’s first selection, pick 14.

Tom De Koning
Looked likely to fall later in the draft, but the 200cm project ruck/forward bolstered Carlton’s tall stocks via pick 30.

Bayley Fritsch
Burst into calculations with a fine season at Melbourne VFL affiliate Casey, kicking 42 goals in 19 games, and was a surprise at pick 31.

Liam Ryan
The livewire forward entered the Draft as the buzz player thanks to a WAFL season seemingly spent plucking footballs from the clouds. Missed selection in the 2016 Draft but was too good for the Eagles to resist with pick 26 this time around.

Brayden Ainsworth
One of WA’s best in the National Championships earlier in 2017, Ainsworth was rated anywhere from 45 onwards before being selected by the Eagles with pick 32.

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