THE WESTERN Bulldogs have turned the shock departure of premiership forward Jake Stringer into a successful night at the NAB AFL Draft on Friday.
Stringer, who played 89 games and kicked 160 goals for the Dogs in his five seasons, including a career-high haul of 56 when he was named All Australian in 2015, was moved on from the Kennel during this year's NAB AFL Trade Period after the club lost patience with his on-field performances and off-field distractions.
The 2016 premiers requested Essendon's pick No.11 in return for the star forward but missed out when Greater Western Sydney swooped and handed over their own mercurial goalkicker Devon Smith.
But the Bulldogs remained determined to use Stringer's exit to improve their draft position as much as possible, and made some moves to eventually grab pick No.16 from Carlton.
Coupled with pick No.9, which they used to snare West Australian tall backman Aaron Naughton, the Dogs added running defender Ed Richards, the grandson of Collingwood legend Ron Richards in the first round.
Bulldogs recruiting manager Simon Dalrymple told AFL.com.au that he was delighted to bring two top-20 selections into the club.
"The night went according to plan, we're thrilled, we thought Aaron Naughton would be there and we're rapt to have him," he said.
"He is a hybrid defender who can take an intercept mark in the Easton Wood mould, and we think his versatility helps us because he's not just a key defender he can play on different types.
"Ed Richards is a running half-back who we were prepared to pick at nine but we were happy to get him at 16 which is always a bonus.
"He's got good foot skills and good speed and we ranked him really highly."
The influx of elite talent is sure to bring plenty of optimism to the Bulldogs as they attempt to rebound from a disappointing year in which they missed the finals.
With their only other pick (No.79), the Dogs added Callum Porter from Gippsland Power.
"I just got off the phone to him and he's thrilled," Dalrymple said.
"He's a typical country boy who loves his footy and won nine best and fairest awards growing up.
"He's an inside/outside midfield that has a real crack."
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