CARLTON confirmed wide-spread speculation on Monday night in making former Docker Josh Deluca the No.1 pick in the first NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft in 26 years.
As flagged by AFL.com.au on Sunday, the Blues had no hesitation selecting the 179cm midfielder with the first pick.
He managed only four games in three seasons on Fremantle's list between 2015 and 2017, but his outstanding form in the WAFL forced him back onto the national radar.
Deluca gathered 29 disposals in Subiaco's Grand Final triumph last year – the fourth WAFL premiership he's been part of – and is averaging 25.7 possessions through six rounds in 2019.
He also accepted the Simpson Medal as the WAFL's best player against the SANFL a fortnight ago, coming after he amassed 29 touches, seven tackles and a goal in a seven-point defeat.
"Josh is good on the inside with his contested ball work around stoppages and his speed makes him a dangerous player inside forward 50," Blues' list manager Michael Agresta said.
"We are invested in developing Josh into an AFL footballer through our system. That ultimately will take some time over the coming months, before he progresses through the Northern Blues in the VFL and ultimately pushes for AFL selection."
Deluca is still only 23 years old, but that makes him a relative veteran in a Blues onball division relying on youth behind Patrick Cripps.
None of Zac Fisher, Paddy Dow, Sam Petrevski-Seton, Will Setterfield or Sam Walsh is older than 21, but they form the bulk of Cripps' midfield support.
|CARL||1. Carlton - Josh Deluca|
|GCFC||2. Gold Coast - Mitch Riordan|
|MELB||3. Melbourne - Kyle Dunkley|
|SYD||4. Sydney - Michael Knoll|
|NMFC||5. North Melbourne - Lachlan Hosie|
|WB||6. Western Bulldogs - Ryan Gardner|
|ESS||7. Essendon - Will Snelling|
|STK||8. St Kilda - Jack Mayo|
|PORT||9. Port Adelaide - Cam Sutcliffe|
|HAW||10. Hawthorn - Pass|
|FRE||11. Fremantle - Dillon O'Reilly|
|ADEL||12. Adelaide - Pass|
|RICH||13. Richmond - Marlion Pickett|
|COLL||14. Collingwood - John Noble|
|GCFC||15. Gold Coast - Pass|
|SYD||16. Sydney - Cody Hirst|
|WB||17. Western Bulldogs - Pass|
|ESS||18. Essendon - Pass|
Dandenong Stingrays midfielder Mitch Riordan went to Gold Coast with pick two, while Gippsland and Footscray onballer Kyle Dunkley joined the Demons the following selection.
Pleasure to see Kyle Dunkley get his chance at AFL level. Family rapt. Starting at the Dees tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/ePRJ5eombC— Callum Twomey (@CalTwomey) May 27, 2019
Ruckman Michael Knoll was linked to several clubs, including Essendon and St Kilda, but Sydney swooped to shore up its ruck stocks in Sam Naismith's knee-related absence.
Former AFL footballers Ryan Gardner, Will Snelling and Cam Sutcliffe received lifelines at the Western Bulldogs, Essendon and Port Adelaide, respectively.
Among the other interesting selections were forward Dillon O'Reilly, son of former Docker, Cat and Blue Stephen, who gets his shot at Fremantle.
Richmond swung a surprise in selecting Marlion Pickett despite the dual South Fremantle club champion re-breaking his right index finger on Saturday in just his second game for the year.
The Tigers were keen on him, but it was assumed 27-year-old Pickett's setback would rule him out of contention.
There was disappointment for Coburg pair Sam Lowson and Lochie Dickson, Northern Blues midfielder Frank Anderson and NT Thunder flyer Adam Tipungwuti, who were all overlooked.
Lowson was tipped as the potential top pick early in the process, but an ankle injury sustained on Saturday could sideline him for the next six weeks.