WEST Coast has crowned young star Harley Reid as the No.1 pick in the 2023 AFL Draft, resisting offers for its prized selection to instead secure the most hyped junior talent in the history of the draft.
The Eagles were denied a dream double selection in the top 10, however, after Adelaide trumped them in a live trade for Greater Western Sydney's pick No.8 and made talented WA defender Daniel Curtin a Crow in the bombshell move of the draft.
It was a frantic opening round that saw 29 players find AFL homes, with the escalation of live trading and seven bids on Academy and father-son players resulting in a draft that had twists and turns throughout.
Reid became the first player to join the Eagles with pick No.1 since ruckman Michael Gardiner in 1996 and was handed the club's famous No.9 jumper by its previous owner Nic Naitanui, who inherited it from Brownlow medallist Ben Cousins.
The teenager's selection ends months of speculation about whether West Coast would hold its pick No.1 or trade it for multiple early selections, with Reid now secured on an initial three-year deal at the rebuilding club.
It marked a significant night for the Eagles, who can now add Reid as a future centrepiece in a young core that includes 2022 draftees Reuben Ginbey, Elijah Hewett and Noah Long, and star forward Oscar Allen as a next generation leader.
"I'm just super stoked. A lot of relief and just the privilege to have Nic Nat present me with the jumper is huge and I'm super grateful," Reid told AFL.com.au's Draft Night Live after his selection.
Despite speculation about their willingness to trade pick No.1 – and conjecture, that Reid denied, about his preference to avoid a move west – the Eagles were consistent that they were unlikely to trade their prized pick.
Offers containing multiple first-round selections came from North Melbourne and Melbourne, but the Eagles were unmoved during the trading windows leading up to the draft, and again when live trading opened on Monday night.
Having farewelled retired champions Naitanui, Luke Shuey and Shannon Hurn this year, Reid will arrive in the west amid much fanfare and represent the next era of the club after two disastrous seasons.
DRAFT TRACKER Follow every pick as it happened
Among his many appealing qualities as a player, it has also been his ability to deal with the hype this year and continue performing at an elite level that has impressed West Coast and contributed to the club steadfastly holding its first selection.
North Melbourne selected Tasmanian midfielder Colby McKercher with pick No.2 before placing a bid on Gold Coast Academy forward Jed Walter, which was promptly matched by the Suns, who secured the best key forward in the pool.
The Kangaroos then used their second selection, which slid to No.4, on dynamic Victorian midfielder/forward Zane Duursma, overlooking Curtin at that pick.
Hawthorn took several minutes before locking in Eastern Ranges small forward Nick Watson, with the goalkicker dubbed 'The Wizard' joining Sam Mitchell's Hawks, before the Western Bulldogs locked in productive Tasmanian midfielder Ryley Sanders with pick No.6.
There were no surprises when Melbourne added some outside speed and polish with the selection of Eastern Ranges midfielder Caleb Windsor at pick No.7 before the draft took a turn with Greater Western Sydney.
The Giants traded pick No.8 alongside its No.17 to Adelaide in exchange for the Crows' No.11 and No.15 and a future second-round selection in a live trade that shook up the opening-round order. The Crows then nabbed versatile WA defender Curtin with pick No.8.
"Tonight's a surprise, but totally stoked to be going to the Adelaide Crows … [it] is an absolute honour and I'm glad the past 24 hours is done," Curtin told AFL.com.au.
Geelong, which had been linked to Curtin, lodged a bid on Gold Coast Academy product Ethan Read at pick No.9, which was matched by the Suns, giving them two top-10 selections via their talented 2023 Academy crop.
The Cats then orchestrated a trade with Essendon, sliding to pick No.11 and allowing the Bombers to secure Northern Knights forward Nate Caddy while giving the Cats pick No.31 to make the deal possible.
Allies key defender Connor O'Sullivan then joined the Cats at pick No.11 before GWS sprung a surprise to use pick No.12 to add Murray Bushrangers forward Phoenix Gothard and Melbourne snared powerful WA forward Koltyn Tholstrup at No.13.
Sydney used its pick No.14 to bid on Gold Coast Academy forward Jake Rogers, which was matched by the Suns, with the Swans then bidding again at No.15 on Western Bulldogs prospect Jordan Croft, who made his way to the Bulldogs when they matched.
The Swans eventually selected with pick No.16 and added Northern Knights ruckman Will Green.
Greater Western Sydney then traded again, giving up a future second-round selection to move up one spot into St Kilda's No.17, where they secured versatile Tasmanian James Leake before the Saints got Murray Bushrangers midfielder Darcy Wilson at No.18.
North Melbourne held three of the next four selections and used the first of those to bid on Hawthorn father-son prospect Will McCabe at No.19, with the Hawks quickly matching. The Kangaroos then rounded out the top 20 selections by picking South Australian ruckman Taylor Goad.
Adelaide opted for late-season midfield bolter Charlie Edwards at No.21, with North Melbourne back on the clock with back-to-back selections, making tall Gippsland Power defender Will Dawson (No.22) and skilful WA half-back Riley Hardeman (No.23) new Kangaroos under coach Alastair Clarkson.
DRAFT ORDER Your club's picks ahead of the 2023 AFL Draft
Collingwood's first selection landed at No.24, where the 2023 premiers chose to bid on Sydney Academy midfielder Caiden Cleary, who became a Swan when the bid was matched. The Pies then used No.25 to add Dandenong Stingrays midfielder/forward Harry DeMattia.
At No.26, Adelaide placed a bid on the last of Gold Coast's Academy players – midfielder/defender Will Graham – with the Suns matching and wrapping up a successful night that saw the club add four talented youngsters through the bevvy of picks they had strategically built.
The Crows used No.27 to add Murray Bushrangers defender Oscar Ryan before St Kilda selected dynamic WA forward Lance Collard at No.28. Carlton held the final pick of the first round, adding Glenelg forward Ashton Moir at No.29.
2023 AFL Draft – First Round
1. Harley Reid (West Coast)
2. Colby McKercher (North Melbourne)
3. Jed Walter (Gold Coast - matching North Melbourne's bid)
4. Zane Duursma (North Melbourne)
5. Nick Watson (Hawthorn)
6. Ryley Sanders (Western Bulldogs)
7. Caleb Windsor (Melbourne)
8. Daniel Curtin (Adelaide - after trading with Greater Western Sydney)
9. Ethan Read (Gold Coast - matching Geelong's bid)
10. Nate Caddy (Essendon - after trading with Geelong)
11. Connor O'Sullivan (Geelong)
12. Phoenix Gothard (Greater Western Sydney)
13. Koltyn Tholstrup (Melbourne)
14. Jake Rogers (Gold Coast - matching Sydney's bid)
15. Jordan Croft (Western Bulldogs - matching Sydney's bid)
16. Will Green (Sydney)
17. James Leake (Greater Western Sydney)
18. Darcy Wilson (St Kilda)
19. Will McCabe (Hawthorn - matching North Melbourne's bid)
20. Taylor Goad (North Melbourne)
21. Charlie Edwards (Adelaide)
22. Wil Dawson (North Melbourne)
23. Riley Hardeman (North Melbourne)
24. Caiden Cleary (Sydney - matching Collingwood's bid)
25. Harry DeMattia (Collingwood)
26. Will Graham (Gold Coast - matching Adelaide's bid)
27. Oscar Ryan (Adelaide)
28. Lance Collard (St Kilda)
29. Ashton Moir (Carlton)