THE BRISBANE Lions have crowned Western Jets powerhouse Cameron Rayner as the No.1 pick of the 2017 NAB AFL Draft in a night of surprises.
Holding the No.1 pick for the first time since 1998, the Lions opted for the Victorian midfielder/forward after this week considering Sandringham Dragons onballer Andrew Brayshaw.
The under-18 All Australian said it was a big honour to be named the No.1 pick, just after 7pm AEDT at the Sydney Showground on Friday night.
"I've got some big shoes to fill and I just want to start work and get into it," Rayner said.
We’re just as happy to have you, Cam! pic.twitter.com/KSQ9EwrGmd— Brisbane Lions (@brisbanelions) November 24, 2017
In one of the hardest drafts to predict in many years, Rayner was considered the standout talent after a stellar under-18 season that saw him display his ability to be a match-winner, kicking goals from the midfield or up forward.
A poor 2km time trial last week, after he missed testing at the Draft Combine due to injury, magnified concerns he may not be able to transition to playing midfield at the top level.
But the 18-year-old's ability to win one-on-one contests and burst from packs has him in the same mould as Richmond superstar Dustin Martin and should make the solidly-built youngster a popular figure among Lions fans.
Cameron Rayner celebrates going No.1. Picture: Adam Trafford
Fremantle, holding two selections in the top five, was always going to shape the top 10 with its first selection at No.2, and the Dockers opted for Brayshaw, the younger brother of Melbourne midfielder Angus.
That left Carlton to swoop at No.3 on explosive Vic Country midfielder Paddy Dow, who was long linked to the Blues at that selection.
Faced with the choice between midfielders Luke Davies-Uniacke and Adam Cerra at No.4, North Melbourne snared the talented teenager known as 'LDU'.
Cerra had been a bolter in draft predictions and was tipped to go to the Dockers at No.2. While he was overlooked there, he still made his way west at No.5, giving the club the two top-end midfielders it craved.
There was intrigue as to where Jaidyn Stephenson would land after a heart condition was uncovered at the NAB AFL Draft Combine, with predictions he could slide to the end of the first round.
He didn't last long, however, with Collingwood pouncing at No.6 to secure the dashing half-forward who is capable of winning the ball and kicking big bags of goals.
St Kilda used its back-to-back selections to snare half-back/midfielder Hunter Clark (Dandenong Stingrays) and Nick Coffield (Northern Knights).
The Western Bulldogs were the first club to take a key position player, landing Peel Thunder defender Aaron Naughton, with Carlton taking midfielder Lochie O'Brien to round out the top 10.
2017 Top 10
1. Cameron Rayner
2. Andrew Brayshaw
3. Paddy Dow
4. Luke Davies-Uniacke
5. Adam Cerra
6. Jaidyn Stephenson
7. Hunter Clark
8. Nicholas Coffield
9. Aaron Naughton
10. Lochie O'Brien
The top 10 from the 2017 NAB AFL Draft. Picture: AFL Photos
After Dandenong Stingrays forward Aiden Bonar joined Greater Western Sydney at pick No.11, Adelaide capitalised on local half-forward/midfielder Darcy Fogarty's slide.
Predicted to go as early as No.4, Fogarty – who endured a difficult season with injury and form – shapes as the steal of the draft with his robust style and star qualities.
Another potential steal in Jack Higgins – rated by number crunchers Champion Data as the No.1 player in the pool – fell to No.17, with premiers Richmond another gun small forward.
The Tigers were also able to secure their father-son target Patrick Naish at a bargain, with a bid not coming until pick No.34, courtesy of St Kilda.
That allowed the Tigers to use a collection of late picks to match the Saints' bid and secure the skillful Northern Knights midfielder in the second round.
Collingwood also used father-son rules to secure Tyler Brown at pick No.50, matching a bid from Port Adelaide to secure the son of former Magpies star Gavin Brown.
West Coast had a clear local strategy on Friday night, using three of their five picks inside No.40 on West Australians, including West Perth tall forward Oscar Allen at pick No.21.
Geelong Falcons tall forward Tom McCartin, the younger brother of St Kilda's Paddy, headed to Sydney at pick No.33, joining junior teammate Matthew Ling, who was snapped up by the Swans earlier at No.14.
Gold Coast produced the shock of the draft, selecting bolter Wil Powell with its first pick and No.19 overall.
Tim Kelly was the first mature-age selection with the Cats pouncing on the 23-year-old WAFL star with pick No.24.
Port Adelaide made a late start after trading away early picks in this year's draft, but the Power were able to secure a bargain after ruckman Sam Hayes slid to their pick No.47.
Essendon and Hawthorn also entered the draft in the third round, with the Hawks securing Geelong Falcons midfielder James Worpel at No.45 and the Bombers snaring Sturt forward Jordan Houlahan at No.49.
Former Demon Dom Barry, who played five games in 2014, was given a second chance at AFL level after Port Adelaide selected the 23-year-old with pick No.61.
Delisted Hawk Billy Hartung was also given a lifeline by North Melbourne, while former Gold Coast utility Jarrod Garlett joined Carlton with the last pick in the draft at No.78.
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