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No one-on-one for Blues with likely No.1 pick

Maynard's Giant task, Hogan chatter Nat Edwards and Matt Thompson with all the news

CARLTON hasn't yet sat down with Sam Walsh for a formal interview – nearly every other club has so far this season – but the Blues should have seen enough of the Geelong Falcon to have him at the top of their draft board.

The Blues aren't unfamiliar with the pressures around having the No.1 pick in the NAB AFL Draft, as this will be their fifth first pick since 2005, but Walsh presents as the obvious choice and someone Carlton's list management group should have front of their mind as they wheel and deal their way through the trade period.

Walsh's season finished last weekend when the Falcons were kicked out of the TAC Cup finals. He wasn't at his dominant best but still managed 28 disposals and a goal (and a good one at that).

It closed a season in which he was skipper of the Falcons, Vic Country and the NAB AFL Academy, won the Larke Medal as the best player in the division one carnival, was named an All Australian and was voted the Ben Mitchell medallist as the standout player in the Academy. It's a rare CV.

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The midfielder has added a more contested element to his game this year out of necessity – he played in struggling teams that needed him to go and win the footy more – and it has complemented his outside run.

He kicks it well, has great endurance, is clean at the stoppages. If there's a knock it's that Walsh might not have the breakaway explosiveness, but it doesn't limit him.

He is the obvious pick for the Blues, who need to bolster their midfield. In time he could help even out the load shouldered now by Patrick Cripps, and work in well with last year's No.3 pick Paddy Dow to build a formidable trio.

Carlton's recruiters have met Walsh at various 'speed-dating' interview sessions and a home visit to Ocean Grove appears likely closer to the draft.

The prospect of getting Dylan Shiel (and rival clubs believe the Blues are throwing plenty at the Giants star) is the only thing that could sway Carlton into off-loading their No.1 pick.

However, even then would it be worth it? Walsh has seven years on Shiel and although unproven at AFL level, he is as close to a sure thing as Josh Kelly was in 2013. Shiel could come for nothing (in terms of a trade) next year if the Blues waited for him to reach free agency.

Jack Lukosius is the other leading No.1 pick contender, but he hasn't dominated the season as Walsh has. Granted, he's been playing against senior opposition in the SANFL, but some recruiters wonder whether he will be a commanding key forward or more of a lead-up option.

Twins Max and Ben King have a close family connection to Blues list boss Stephen Silvagni, and Max would have been right in the frame for the first pick if not for the knee injury that ended his season in April. But the Blues need midfielders more than talls, which makes Walsh's credentials more appealing.

Gold Coast would prefer it if the Blues took a tall at No.1. The Suns have made no secret of their desire to add to their midfield, and if Walsh got through to their No.2 pick (and likely No.3 as compensation for losing Tom Lynch) it's hard to see them not snapping him up.

Walsh toured the Suns' facility in July while on the Gold Coast watching younger brother Henry (a 200cm ruckman) play for Vic Country at the under-16 carnival.

Rivals believe the Suns would be keen to 'couple' their top picks after battling retention problems in recent years. Could that mean the King twins go together, particularly if Steven May follows fellow co-captain Lynch out the door?

Could Max (l) and Ben King end up in a package deal? Picture: AFL Photos

Does it mean they will look at selecting South Australian pair Lukosius and Izak Rankine? Or could it be Lukosius and close friend Connor Rozee? The pair have known each other since playing cricket against each other at under-13 level and this weekend could line-up against each other in a SANFL preliminary final.

Rozee's outstanding game last week – he picked up 24 disposals and 10 marks for North Adelaide – has him on the verge of making the 'Super Seven' (comprising top prospects Walsh, Lukosius, Rankine, both Kings, Nick Blakey and Bailey Smith) become the 'Elite Eight'.

However, if the Suns are after midfielders with their early picks this isn't the year for it. Last year little separated the top five midfielders. Walsh is a clear standout, and most clubs see Smith as the next best, however some still view the impressive Sandringham Dragon as best placed as a half-back at this stage.

The next group of midfielders – Jye Caldwell, Jackson Hately, Zak Butters, Riley Collier-Dawkins, Rhylee West – would seem further back.

St Kilda continues to be linked to Max King but Rankine would inject genuine speed and excitement, while Fremantle's desire to land some quality key talls could become reality given the possibility of losing Lachie Neale to Brisbane.

If the Lions gave up pick four for the midfielder, it would give the Dockers No.4 and No.5 – and a genuine chance to pick up both Kings after taking midfield duo Andrew Brayshaw and Adam Cerra last year.

With the NAB AFL Draft Combine still to come and then the trade period to follow nothing is clear. Apart from what the Blues should do.