GEELONG has sprung a major surprise by selecting bolter Francis Evans from left-field at pick 41 in Thursday night's NAB AFL Draft.
The 18-year-old played just two games for Calder Cannons in the NAB League in 2019, however the Cats had seen enough with his early-season form in the Victorian Amateur Football Association.
Standing at 182cm, Evans booted 21 goals in five games – including eight in one match – for Brunswick-NOBS before he was rushed into the Cannons' program for the first time.
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A heel injury that required surgery brought his season to an end in June.
The Cats had been impressed with Evans' marking overhead for his size and natural skills on both sides of the body.
After being overlooked in pathway programs for his entire junior career, Evans was invited to the Victorian Draft Combine but was on limited duties as he continued to recover from injury.
One of the Cats' spotters identified Evans' traits to talent ID manager Troy Selwood before the Cats headed off to watch him at VAFA level.
"If we hadn't seen him playing senior football earlier in the year it might've been hard for us to pick him, but we did," Cats list boss Wells said.
"He's a natural goalkicker, had the skills of the game, read the play well and he's got the athleticism and desire.
"We've interviewed Francis and we're confident that he deserved an opportunity on an AFL list."
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It comes after the Cats nabbed another first-round pick – their third in total – for 2020 after a lopsided deal with Gold Coast earlier on Thursday night.
Already armed with their own future first-round pick, plus a selection from West Coast for Tim Kelly, the Cats received the Suns' pick 11 along with pick 64.
As part of the deal, the Cats sent pick 27 back to the Suns.
As a result of earlier bids, the Cats' pick 64 was bumped up to 63 before it was traded to Essendon along with future third and fourth-round picks in exchange for 50.
The Cats then used 50 to select South Australian left-footer Cameron Taheny.
The 185cm forward played three games for SA at the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships and impressed for Norwood in seven senior matches the SANFL.
Taheny ran a sub-three second 20m sprint at the NAB AFL Draft Combine.
The Cats' pick 64 is set to be used later on Thursday night.
In the first-round on Wednesday night, the Cats landed local Geelong Falcons midfielder Cooper Stephens with pick 16.
Touted as a top-10 selection before his under-18 season, the midfielder out of Colac sustained a broken leg early in the season and was confined to a role in the coaches box for the remainder of the year.
The Cats also pounced on 200cm Dandenong Stingrays key defender Sam De Koning with selection 19.
The raw and athletic tall made the Under-18 All-Australian team after his impressive NAB AFL Under-18 Championships carnival with Vic Country.