ST KILDA was still considering Darren Jolly as late as Wednesday morning before opting to take Gold Coast midfielder Maverick Weller in the NAB AFL Rookie Draft instead.
Jolly had been linked to the Saints following his delisting by Collingwood and Ben McEvoy's trade to Hawthorn.
With the young Tom Hickey, Billy Longer and the untried Lewis Pierce heading up the Saints' ruck division next year, it was thought a mature-aged ruckman like Jolly could have offered support.
But the Saints are backing their young talls and want to give them every opportunity to play senior football in 2014, deciding to add depth to their midfield by picking up Weller as the second selection.
"Really, Darren was still under consideration as recently as today," head of football Chris Pelchen told AFL.com.au on Wednesday night.
"We hadn't cooled yesterday; he was still under consideration when the draft commenced today."
Jolly was one of a small group of players in contention for the Saints' second pick – No.20 – after they decided to take Tasmanian midfielder Eli Templeton with No.3.
The Saints were stunned Templeton wasn't selected in last Thursday's NAB AFL Draft and pounced on him after Greater Western Sydney and Melbourne took picks No.1 and 2.
With their third selection already dedicated to US athlete Jason Holmes, who signed a two-year international rookie contract in October, the second pick was their only other live one.
There was an aim to select a player who had AFL experience, given the youth of Templeton and draftees Jack Billings, Luke Dunstan and Blake Acres.
It was Weller who won out, after impressing with his application over the past three weeks while training with the Saints.
"While Maverick is a much younger player than Darren, both would have complemented needs on our playing list and ultimately we felt that Maverick suited our needs in a more immediate capacity than Darren, having brought in Hickey last year and Longer this year," Pelchen said.
"We felt that we want to give them every opportunity to play at senior level consistently and hence why we made the decision we did."
Jolly met with Essendon as late as Tuesday but it would now appear his 237-game career is over after the Bombers also baulked at picking up the 32-year-old.
The fans' take: Your reactions to Wednesday's Pre-Season and Rookie Drafts