ONE OF the AFL's key equalisation measures is about to come around again, with the 2023 National Draft less than a week away.
Since 1986, the draft has been a key tool for clubs to build their lists, with those at the bottom of the ladder getting first pick of the country's best young talent in the hope it will help them climb the ladder again.
But just how important are high draft picks to premiership success, and are some clubs better at picking and developing young talent than others?
We've taken a look at the past 10 National Drafts, back to 2013, to determine how your club has fared when it comes to picks inside the top 10.
Chayce Jones (Pick 9, 2018) - 76 games in five seasons
Fischer McAsey (Pick 6, 2019) - 10 games in three seasons, quit the AFL in 2023
Riley Thilthorpe (Pick 2, 2020) - 46 games in three seasons
Josh Rachele (Pick 6, 2021) - 34 games in two seasons
The Crows weren't involved in the top end of the draft in the first half of the last decade, but three of their four top-10 picks in recent years are all viewed as key parts of their push to return to finals. Jones and Rachele signed long-term deals this year, while Thilthorpe is contracted until the end of 2025. McAsey was never able to establish himself at the top level and stepped away from the game earlier this year at the age of 21.
James Aish (Pick 7, 2013) - 32 games in two seasons for Lions, traded to Collingwood in 2015, traded to Fremantle in 2019
Josh Schache (Pick 2, 2015) - 27 games in two seasons for Lions, traded to Western Bulldogs in 2017, traded to Melbourne in 2022
Hugh McCluggage (Pick 3, 2016) - 155 games in seven seasons
Cam Rayner (Pick 1, 2017) - 113 games in six seasons
Will Ashcroft (Pick 2, 2022) - 18 games in one season
McCluggage and Rayner have both played a key part in Brisbane's recent run of finals campaigns, while Ashcroft has already established himself as a star of the future. The recent draft success stories follow disappointing returns from Aish and Schache, who both requested a trade after just two seasons and have since moved on to a third club.
Jacob Weitering (Pick 1, 2015) - 159 games in eight seasons
Harry McKay (Pick 10, 2015) - 107 games in eight seasons
Sam Petrevski-Seton (Pick 6, 2016) - 94 games in five seasons for Blues, traded to West Coast in 2021, delisted in 2023
Paddy Dow (Pick 3, 2017) - 73 games in five seasons for Blues, traded to St Kilda in 2023
Lochie O'Brien (Pick 10, 2017) - 66 games in six seasons, delisted in 2023
Sam Walsh (Pick 1, 2018) - 99 games in five seasons
The Blues have had mixed results with their recent top-10 picks, with three players keys to their recent finals surge and another three no longer at the club. Weitering and Walsh have already justified the hype that comes with being a No.1 pick, while McKay is a Coleman Medal winner, despite his struggles in front of goal in 2023. Dow and O'Brien both departed the club at the end of the season, while Petrevski-Seton was delisted by the Eagles this year.
Matthew Scharenberg (Pick 6, 2013) - 41 games in seven seasons, delisted in 2020
Nathan Freeman (Pick 10, 2013) - zero games in two seasons for Magpies, traded to St Kilda in 2015, delisted in 2018
Jordan De Goey (Pick 5, 2014) - 158 games in nine seasons
Darcy Moore (Pick 9, 2014) - 150 games in nine seasons
Jaidyn Stephenson (Pick 6, 2017) - 54 games in three seasons for Magpies, traded to North Melbourne in 2020
Nick Daicos (Pick 4, 2021) - 47 games in two seasons
No club sums up the lottery of high picks more than the Magpies in 2013 and 2014. The club had two top-10 picks in each of those years and while De Goey and father-son selection Moore are now stars of the competition, the Pies didn't get much out of either Freeman and Scharenberg from 12 months earlier. Stephenson made an early impact before being shipped off to the Kangaroos, while father-son Daicos is already one of the best players in the competition.
Darcy Parish (Pick 5, 2015) - 150 games in eight seasons
Aaron Francis (Pick 6, 2015) - 54 games in seven seasons for Bombers, traded to Sydney in 2022
Andrew McGrath (Pick 1, 2016) - 134 games in seven seasons
Nik Cox (Pick 8, 2020) - 33 games in three seasons
Archie Perkins (Pick 9, 2020) - 62 games in three seasons
Zach Reid (Pick 10, 2020) - 8 games in three seasons
Elijah Tsatas (Pick 5, 2022) - four games in one season
The Bombers have had a solid return from their recent top-10 picks, with only Francis considered a miss. Parish and McGrath are established regulars, with Parish signing a new-long term deal this year. Cox, Reid and Tsatas have all battled injuries early in their careers, so the jury is still out on them, while Perkins has shown plenty of promise as a young developing forward who can spend time in the middle.
Griffin Logue (Pick 8, 2016) - 64 games in six seasons for Dockers, traded to North Melbourne in 2022
Andrew Brayshaw (Pick 2, 2017) - 123 games in six seasons
Adam Cerra (Pick 5, 2017) - 76 games in four seasons for Dockers, traded to Carlton in 2021
Hayden Young (Pick 7, 2019) - 57 games in four seasons
Caleb Serong (Pick 8, 2019) - 80 games in four seasons
Liam Henry (Pick 9, 2019) - 43 games in four seasons for Dockers, traded to St Kilda in 2023
Jye Amiss (Pick 8, 2021) - 25 games in two seasons
Neil Erasmus (Pick 10, 2021) - 19 games in two seasons
The Dockers have selected well with their high picks in recent drafts but have had some trouble holding onto their top-end talent. Henry's departure this year follows those of Logue and Cerra, with the trio all important players at their new clubs. Brayshaw and Serong are stars already and form the nucleus of the club's midfield, Young is a key player down back while Amiss and Erasmus have already shown plenty of promise.
Nakia Cockatoo (Pick 10, 2014) - 34 games in six seasons for Cats, traded to Brisbane in 2020, retired in 2023
Jhye Clark (Pick 8, 2022) - one game in one season
Geelong's dominance in the past decade means they've had just two top-10 picks in the past 10 national drafts. Cockatoo had a horror time with injury at two clubs before retiring this year at the age of 27, while Clark is viewed as a key part of the Cats' new midfield group.
Kade Kolodjashnij (Pick 5, 2013) - 78 games in five seasons for Suns, traded to Melbourne in 2018, retired in 2020
Peter Wright (Pick 8, 2014) - 66 games in six seasons for Suns, traded to Essendon in 2020
Callum Ah Chee (Pick 8, 2015) - 45 games in four seasons for Suns, traded to Brisbane in 2019
Ben Ainsworth (Pick 4, 2016) - 117 games in seven seasons
Jack Scrimshaw (Pick 7, 2016) - four games in two seasons for Suns, traded to Hawthorn in 2018
Will Brodie (Pick 9, 2016) - 25 games in five seasons for Suns, traded to Fremantle in 2021
Jack Bowes (Pick 10, 2016) - 83 games in six seasons for Suns, traded to Geelong in 2022
Jack Lukosius (Pick 2, 2018) - 85 games in five seasons
Izak Rankine (Pick 3, 2018) - 48 games in four seasons, traded to Adelaide in 2022
Ben King (Pick 6, 2018) - 73 games in five seasons
Matt Rowell (Pick 1, 2019) - 62 games in four seasons
Noah Anderson (Pick 2, 2019) - 81 games in four seasons
Elijah Hollands (Pick 7, 2020) - 14 games in three seasons, traded to Carlton in 2023
Mac Andrew (Pick 5, 2021) - 21 games in two seasons
Bailey Humphrey (Pick 6, 2022) - 19 games in one season
Of Gold Coast's 10 top-10 picks between 2013 and 2018, a staggering seven have ended up at rival clubs, underlining the club's much-publicised struggle to keep hold of its top talent. The task for the Suns now is to convince their more recent top picks to stay; Lukosius, Anderson and Humphrey have all signed long-term deals, but King, Rowell and Andrew – key players on all three lines – all come out of contract in the next couple of years.
Tom Boyd (Pick 1, 2013) - nine games in one season for Giants, traded to Western Bulldogs in 2014, retired in 2019
Josh Kelly (Pick 2, 2013) - 198 games in 10 seasons
Jarrod Pickett (Pick 4, 2014) - zero games in two seasons for Giants, traded to Carlton in 2016, retired in 2019
Caleb Marchbank (Pick 6, 2014) - seven games in two seasons for Giants, traded to Carlton in 2016
Paul Ahern (Pick 7, 2014) - zero games in two seasons for Giants, traded to North Melbourne in 2017, retired in 2020
Jacob Hopper (Pick 7, 2015) - 114 games in seven seasons for Giants, traded to Richmond in 2022
Tim Taranto (Pick 2, 2016) - 114 games in six seasons for Giants, traded to Richmond in 2022
Will Setterfield (Pick 5, 2016) - two games in two seasons for Giants, traded to Carlton in 2018
Lachie Ash (Pick 4, 2019) - 82 games in four seasons
Tom Green (Pick 10, 2019) - 67 games in four seasons
Finn Callaghan (Pick 3, 2021) - 26 games in two seasons
Aaron Cadman (Pick 1, 2022) - 12 games in one season
Much like the Suns, the Giants have had very little success in holding onto their host of top draft talent, with Kelly the only one of their eight top-10 picks between 2013 and 2016 still at the club. Boyd, Pickett, Marchbank, Ahern and Setterfield played a combined total of just 18 games before all departed inside two seasons, while 100-gamers Hopper and Taranto both left in the same Trade Period 12 months ago. But the club has stemmed the bleeding in recent years, with Green (until 2027), Ash and Callaghan all signing contract extensions and No.1 pick Cadman the next target.
Denver Grainger-Barras (Pick 6, 2020) - 28 games in three seasons
Josh Ward (Pick 7, 2021) - 30 games in two seasons
Cam Mackenzie (Pick 7, 2022) - 14 games in one season
Hawthorn's dominance during its premiership era means it has only gone back into the top end of the draft in recent years. Grainger-Barras is yet to establish himself and has been the subject of trade rumours in the past, although both Ward and Mackenzie look to have plenty of talent as the Hawks eye a new era of dominance.
Christian Salem (Pick 9, 2013) - 159 games in 10 seasons
Christian Petracca (Pick 2, 2014) - 176 games in nine seasons
Angus Brayshaw (Pick 3, 2014) - 167 games in nine seasons
Clayton Oliver (Pick 4, 2015) - 162 games in eight seasons
Sam Weideman (Pick 9, 2015) - 59 games in seven seasons for Demons, traded to Essendon in 2022
Luke Jackson (Pick 3, 2019) - 52 games in three seasons for Demons, traded to Fremantle in 2022
Melbourne's recent success, headlined by its 2021 premiership, simply would not have been possible if it hadn't nailed its top draft selections. The additions of Petracca, Brayshaw and Oliver in the space of just two drafts has transformed the club's midfield, while Salem has been a classy addition to the back half. The loss of Jackson hurt, although the Demons got plenty back in a trade, while Weideman is the only miss from what has been a pleasing decade of top draft picks for the club.
Luke McDonald (Pick 8, 2013) - 181 games in 10 seasons
Luke Davies-Uniacke (Pick 4, 2017) - 85 games in six seasons
Tarryn Thomas (Pick 8, 2018) - 69 games in five seasons
Will Phillips (Pick 3, 2020) - 32 games in three seasons
Jason Horne-Francis (Pick 1, 2021) - 17 games in one season for Kangaroos, traded to Port Melbourne in 2022
Harry Sheezel (Pick 3, 2022) - 23 games in one season
George Wardlaw (Pick 4, 2022) - eight games in one season
North Melbourne has picked well with its six top-10 picks in the past six years, although the outcomes have been varied. Davies-Uniacke, Sheezel and Wardlaw will be central to the club's rebuild, but Thomas's off-field issues and the departure of Horne-Francis after just one year hurt the club. McDonald has become a reliable figure and captain of the club, while the jury is out on Phillips after an interrupted start to his career.
Connor Rozee (Pick 5, 2018) - 106 games in five seasons
Incredibly, the Power have had just one top-10 pick in the past decade – and they nailed it. Rozee is a star of the competition already and has plenty of upside given he's just 23.
Josh Gibcus (Pick 9, 2021) - 18 games in two seasons
Richmond's premiership success means the Tigers have not featured in the top end of the draft much in recent years. Gibcus justified the hype in his debut season but missed all of 2023 due to injury.
Jack Billings (Pick 3, 2013) - 155 games in 10 seasons for Saints, traded to Melbourne in 2023
Paddy McCartin (Pick 1, 2014) - 35 games in four seasons for Saints, moved to Sydney in 2022
Hunter Clark (Pick 7, 2017) - 87 games in six seasons
Nick Coffield (Pick 8, 2017) - 52 games in six seasons for Saints, traded to Western Bulldogs in 2023
Max King (Pick 4, 2018) - 71 games in five seasons
Mattaes Phillipou (Pick 10, 2022) - 24 games in one season
St Kilda's recent top-10 picks don't make for pretty reading for Saints fans. McCartin, Coffield and Billings all had injury issues before moving clubs, while Clark has been in and out of the senior side and has been the subject of trade speculation as well. The club will hope King and Phillipou can be central to their plans to surge back up the ladder in the next few years.
Callum Mills (Pick 3, 2015) - 155 games in eight seasons
Nick Blakey (Pick 10, 2018) - 102 games in five seasons
Dylan Stephens (Pick 5, 2019) - 43 games in four seasons, traded to North Melbourne in 2023
Logan McDonald (Pick 4, 2020) - 44 games in three seasons
Braeden Campbell (Pick 5, 2020) - 48 games in three seasons
Sydney has done well out of its Academy players in recent years, with Mills and Blakey already well established in the competition and Campbell enjoying a breakout 2023 campaign. The departure of Stephens to North Melbourne in October would be a disappointment to the Swans, with one of their few non-Academy top-10 picks in recent years already out the door. McDonald has already shown enormous promise and the Swans will now hope to re-sign him long term as they look towards the post-Buddy era.
Reuben Ginbey (Pick 9, 2022) - 17 games in one season
Having contended for so long and then looked to re-load with established players, the Eagles have not featured in the top end of the draft much at all in the past decade. Ginbey impressed in his debut season and looks set to have other top-10 picks for company in the next few years as the Eagles rebuild.
Marcus Bontempelli (Pick 4, 2013) - 216 games in 10 seasons
Aaron Naughton (Pick 9, 2017) - 123 games in seven seasons
Bailey Smith (Pick 7, 2018) - 103 games in five seasons
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Pick 1, 2020) - 45 games in three seasons
Sam Darcy (Pick 2, 2021) - seven games in two seasons
It's hard to fault any of the Bulldogs' top picks in the past 10 years. Bontempelli is arguably the best player in the competition while Naughton recently signed to a monster eight-year deal to extend his stay at the club. The club benefitted from being able to match bids on potential superstars Ugle-Hagan (Next Gen Academy) and Darcy (father-son), while Smith's best is up there with the best in the League. Hanging on to Ugle-Hagan and Smith going forward, given both have been the subject of trade speculation, is the club's next big challenge.