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Blues thrilled with two 'top-10' picks after trade gamble

Liam Stocker has joined Carlton's midfield brigade - AFL,Draft,Carlton Blues
Liam Stocker has joined Carlton's midfield brigade

CARLTON went into the 2018 NAB AFL Draft attempting to bolster its midfield stocks.

But while the Blues might have known Sam Walsh was their man with the coveted pick No.1, pairing him with fellow big-bodied onballer Liam Stocker was the surprise of the draft.

However, according to the club itself, it got two players inside the top 10 on its draft board.

Rating the player so highly led to list manager Stephen Silvagni throwing arguably the draft's biggest curveball by trading back into the first round to nab Stocker on Thursday night.

Although the Blues were forced to part with a future first-round draft pick in order to secure the youngster, they also received one in return from the Crows – softening the blow.

Stocker, the Morrish Medal winner for best player in the TAC Cup, enjoyed a standout final season of junior footy. Trading back into the draft to secure him was therefore a no-brainer.

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"Obviously we rated him very highly to do that deal," Silvagni said.

"We certainly had him inside our top 10, that's where we placed him. It's all opinion, but we see him as a tough, inside player that can also play on the outside in a variety of positions.

"Leading into this period over the last couple of days, you make some contact with clubs about whether they'd be prepared to do various things with their picks. We were able to do a deal with Adelaide yesterday to get that extra player through the door.

"We think he's going to really add to our midfield. We're extremely happy."

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Stocker's recruitment at Ikon Park might have been a surprise, but it wasn't the only time Carlton raised the eyebrows of draft watchers across the two-day event.

The Blues selected unknown quantity Finbar O'Dwyer with pick No.66, a Xavier College teammate of Ben Silvagni, who the club took as a father-son prospect four selections later.

O'Dwyer, who hails from Yarrawonga, has played just three TAC Cup matches in the past two years – but is a player Carlton has kept close tabs on throughout his junior career.

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According to Silvagni, the rangy and versatile 190cm prospect is one to watch.

"I've actually had my eye on him for a number of years," Silvagni said.

"He's schooled himself at Xavier College, but he hasn't played a lot of footy over the last couple of years. He's had some injuries, playing with the Bushrangers.

"He's grown quite a bit over the last 12 months and we still see that he's got some growing left in him. We think it'll be a bit of a slow process to get his body up to AFL football.

"But he's an elite decision-maker, he's got excellent skills and he competes very well playing in a variety of positions."