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ESSENDON has secured its preferred one-two punch, selecting midfielder Darcy Parish and defender Aaron Francis with picks No.5 and No.6 in Tuesday's NAB AFL Draft.
Parish, an energetic and classy midfielder from the Geelong Falcons, was considered by some as the best onballer in this year's draft such is his propensity to make things happen on the field.
Francis was rated the second-best key defender, behind only No.1 pick Jacob Weitering, and will instantly add competitiveness and class to a backline that already boasts Michael Hurley and Cale Hooker.
"We got the two we wanted and we're stoked that we've got the two players we think can make an impact for many years at the club," Bombers list manager Adrian Dodoro told AFL.com.au.
The Bombers also selected speedy half-forward Alex Morgan, who ran a 2.88-second 20m sprint at this year's NAB AFL Draft Combine, and agile forward Mason Redman with their next picks, No.29 and No.30 overall.
They also added West Australian Yestin Eades (No.64) and experienced talls Mitch Brown, who played 15 games with Geelong, and Michael Hartley, previously a Collingwood rookie.
"We went in with a very clear strategy. We wanted to get some depth in our tall stocks and we were able to get that late in the draft with Mitch Brown and Michael Hartley," Dodoro said.
"Two mature, 196-plus players at the back end of the draft was great."
Selection No.5 – Darcy Parish
"You can't go wrong with a kid like Darcy Parish. He's an incredible talent. He wins the footy and spreads really hard outside. He plays defence as well, which I really like. He's smart around the goals, courageous and tough." - AFL Academy coach Brenton Sanderson
Selection No.6 – Aaron Francis
"He's probably not your classical key position player and he's going to be more of your third tall back/third tall forward. He's an incredible talent and a real natural. I see him playing more midfield, but when you look at his height and size, he might end up playing key position." Brenton Sanderson
Selection No.29 – Alex Morgan
"He's blessed with speed, has got a great leap, reads the play really well and he's a great kick. He was a 19-year-old for us this year. I think there is still a fair scope for improvement, which is exciting." - Oakleigh Chargers Talent manager Craig Notman
Selection No.30 – Mason Redman
"He comes with a lot of big wraps from Glenelg. He played senior SANFL footy, a country boy from South Australia. He's tough, marks the ball well above his head and he'll give us a lot of run on the outside of the contest." - Adrian Dodoro
Selection No.54 – Mitch Brown
"We were really keen to get Brown on our list after the NAB Challenge. He's too good of a player not to be on an AFL list. We thought we were going to miss him tonight, but he got through which was great." - Adrian Dodoro
Selection No.64 – Yestin Eades
"Yestin is a talented young man who has gone through a fair bit of adversity in his life. He's a young guy who wants to make something of his life after having some issues and we as a football club have done a lot of work with him and he's prepared to do the work as well. The sky's the limit with him if people believe in him." - Adrian Dodoro
Selection No.68 – Michael Hartley
"We were always going to take Hartley as one our late picks. He had a great year at Coburg, he's come through some injury issues and he's proved he can be a very good key position player as well." - Adrian Dodoro