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Mid-Season Rookie Draft: What your club needs, the whisper

Mitch Riordan, Sam Lowson and Cody Hirst are all chances to be selected in Monday's Mid-Season Rookie Draft - AFL,Adelaide Crows,Brisbane Lions,Carlton Blues,Collingwood Magpies,Essendon Bombers,Fremantle Dockers,Geelong Cats,Gold Coast Suns,GWS Giants,Hawthorn Hawks,Melbourne Demons,North Melbourne Kangaroos,Port Adelaide Power,Richmond Tigers,St Kilda Saints,Sydney Swans,West Coast Eagles,Western Bulldogs,News
Mitch Riordan, Sam Lowson and Cody Hirst are all chances to be selected in Monday's Mid-Season Rookie Draft

THE INAUGURAL NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft is just days away and the state of play for all 18 clubs is becoming clearer. It looks likely that most clubs will at least have the option to select a player, but not all will take it up. 

With that in mind, our experts look at the most likely target for all 18 clubs. Will it be a boost to their ruck stocks, adding some speed to the midfield, or ramping up the pressure in the forward line? Read on for your team's assessment. 

The 2019 NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft will be broadcast LIVE on AFL.com.au, the AFL Live Official App and Fox Footy from 6.30pm AEST on Monday, May 27.

What do they need? 
Young midfield speed. With a number of gun inside onballers, recent injuries to Paul Seedsman and Wayne Milera have highlighted a lack of pace. Alex Keath's emergence has covered the short-term key defensive holes, while Sam Jacobs' ongoing knee complaint could prompt an addition to the ruck division.

Who's available?
John and Mark Noble, sons of former Crows head of football David, are among the 25 prospects heading for medical screenings on Wednesday. Having both impressed at SANFL level this season, they are front and centre for Crows' recruiters, and present pace and goalkicking nous.

Do they have a pick? 
Armed with one selection after Tom Doedee's ACL reconstruction following round one. If the Crows go down the defenders' path, Coburg's Harry Nolan or Williamstown's Sam McLarty appear among the best readymade options.

The whisper: The Crows will wait until Monday to fully commit to whether they will use their selection or pass. - Mitch Cleary

MID-SEASON ROOKIE DRAFT Former players, brothers of star on the list

What do they need? 
With Stefan Martin turning 33 in November, is it time for the Lions to start planning for his departure down the track? Archie Smith and Oscar McInerney are waiting in the wings, but the Lions may consider another pure ruckman to add to their stocks.

Who's available? 
South Adelaide's 205cm ruckman Michael Knoll appears the most readymade option in the state league competitions around the country. Developing big men Oliver Eastland (Claremont) and Ajang Ajang (East Perth) will join Knoll in undergoing a medical screening on Wednesday.

Do they have a pick? 
Currently don't have a selection unless something significant happens in the next five days. The Lions also have one of the healthiest lists in the competition so right now aren't in a position to put anyone on the long-term injury list.

The whisper: Met with Kyle Dunkley in the past fortnight but expect him to be off the board early. - MC

Michael Knoll has been a strong performer in the SANFL this season. Picture: AFL Photos

What do they need?
One of each would be nice. But, given that's not possible, Carlton's lack of speed and pressure in the forward line means the Blues will have an eye on pace and creativity. In saying that, don't be surprised if Carlton targets a midfielder.

Who's available?
Coburg forward Sam Lowson is perhaps the best pressure player in the draft pool and has 14 goals from six VFL games to start the season. Former Geelong forward Cory Gregson has received some AFL interest, while Adam Tipungwuti is also a lively prospect.

Do they have a pick?
Carlton has one selection available as a result of Tom Bugg's premature retirement. The Blues were among the busiest clubs during the SSP period, signing Michael Gibbons and Matt Cottrell as a result of Sam Docherty's ACL injury.

The whisper: While the early rush linked Carlton with Lowson, the late mail suggests Kyle Dunkley is the man for the Blues. Given they're likely to select first – and Dunkley is a clear standout from the draft pool – it will be hard to see the Blues passing up on the Footscray midfielder. - Riley Beveridge

Kyle Dunkley looms as the first pick in the Mid-Season Rookie Draft. Picture: AFL Photos

What do they need? The Pies have had a tough injury run down back, with Lynden Dunn out for the season, Matt Scharenberg still a month off returning from his own knee injury and Tom Langdon the latest to hurt himself. Sam Murray is also serving a provisional ASADA suspension.

Who's available? Coburg defender Lochie Dickson is attracting interest from multiple clubs, but may not last until Collingwood's pick. West Australian Jarvis Pina, a small backman, is another possibility, while the Magpies showed some interest last year in midfielder Marlion Pickett, who has played at half-back previously.

Do they have a pick? Yes, Dunn's ACL setback in March means Collingwood can add a player to its list.

The whisper: The Pies are yet to decide whether they will use a mid-season draft selection. - Marc McGowan

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What do they need?
Essendon has long been desperate for a big-bodied inside ball winner, but whether the Bombers target one at the rookie draft is another story. Despite picking up Zac Clarke via SSP rules before the season, it's believed the Bombers could look for another ruckman.

Who's available?
Former basketballer Michael Knoll has had a massive impact since joining SANFL side South Adelaide prior to this season. The 205cm, 100kg man mountain is perhaps the best ruck prospect in the pool. Also keep an eye on Jack Blair and Corey Gault.

Do they have a pick?
A season-ending injury to Sam Draper means Essendon will have at least one pick. It also means they have a bigger need for a ruckman. The Bombers will likely open a second spot on their list due to the news Devon Smith requires season-ending knee surgery.

The whisper: Knoll looks like he's the man for Essendon, providing another club hasn't snapped him up by the time the Bombers pick. The club is also keeping close tabs on Marlion Pickett. - RB

What do they need?
Midfield depth would be the top priority for Fremantle. However, ultimately, the Dockers would love anyone who can use the ball relatively efficiently forward of centre. The Dockers might also sound out a lockdown small defender, given their deficiency in that area.

Who's available?
West Australian prospects like Jye Bolton, Tristan Hobley and Marlion Pickett are right under Fremantle's nose, plying their trade and doing rather well in the WAFL. Declan Mountford has been in fine form since returning to the WAFL with Claremont.

Do they have a pick?
They don't. Despite having a couple of players battling significant injury issues, including forward Shane Kersten (foot) and veteran ruckman Aaron Sandilands (calf), it doesn't appear as though the Dockers are considering moving either to the long-term injury list.

The whisper: Despite not having a pick available, Fremantle is still doing its due diligence and has put some work into former North Melbourne player Mountford. Diminutive Peel Thunder prospect Jarvis Pina is another drawing heavy interest from the Dockers. - RB

Former Kanga Declan Mountford is looking to shine in the WAFL. 

What do they need? 
Young midfield speed. With onballers Patrick Dangerfield and Joel and Scott Selwood all over 29 and Tim Kelly every chance to leave, the midfield depth will quickly diminish. Key defenders for life after Harry Taylor and Lachie Henderson are another need.

Who's available? 
Eastern Ranges over-age midfielder Cody Hirst packs plenty of speed, while Coburg key defender Harry Nolan is a ready-made option.

Do they have a pick?
They don't. Nakia Cockatoo (knee) and Jordan Cunico (ankle) remain at least six weeks away from returning, however the Cats appear unlikely to place either on the long-term injury list. Unless something drastic happens this weekend, they'll only be watching on Monday night.

The whisper: Are as strongly opposed to the Mid-Season Rookie Draft as any club. After recent success stories in Tim Kelly, Tom Stewart and Tom Atkins, they'd prefer the mature-agers to be available in November. - MC

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What do they need? 
Crying out for midfield depth for immediate impact and the future as they look to contend for finals in 2020 and beyond. With depth in key posts at both ends strong, a ruckman to push Tom Nicholls for the No.2 spot behind Jarrod Witts would also appeal.

Who's available? 
The Suns have met with 18-year-old midfielder Kyle Dunkley and would pounce if he's still there at their current No.3 selection. Also have strong interest in 23-year-old Coburg defender Lochie Dickson. Young midfielders Cody Hirst and Mitch Riordan are other considerations for the long-term.

Do they have a pick? 
Have two selections after season-ending injuries to Harrison Wigg and Rory Thompson in pre-season. Have committed to taking one pick and will contemplate a second. 

The whisper: If they utilise both selections, expect one ready-made and one for the future. Ending with Dickson and Dunkley would be the ideal scenario at the end of the night. - MC

Coburg's Lochie Dickson would add some more depth to Gold Coast's backline. Picture: AFL Photos

What do they need? There isn't much the Giants drastically need and it is unlikely to be solved in the mid-season draft, anyway. What they do well is finding diamonds in the rough who can fill a role, and that's probably what they'll aim to do – regardless of specific position.

Who's available? They haven't been shy about recruiting recycled AFL talent, so could a Declan Mountford or Mitch Hibberd-type with good running power appeal? Alternatively, fleet-footed defender Ryan Hebron was under GWS's nose at Sydney University last year before switching to VFL club Werribee this season.

Do they have a pick? Yes, the Giants left two spots open after the pre-season rookie draft and filled one of them by signing ruckman Shane Mumford. It was back to two potential openings once co-captain Callan Ward ruptured the ACL in his left knee in April.

The whisper: Hebron might be the man. Multiple clubs have interviewed him and he could be set for a sooner-than-expected return to the Harbour City. - MM

Ryan Hebron gets a kick away for his VFL side Werribee. Picture: AFL Photos

What do they need? Midfield depth seems to be the chief priority, but pre-season standout Harry Jones – a second-year player – is yet to play a senior game, so the cupboard isn't bare. Maybe a more experienced option would appeal. Another key-position option at either end wouldn't go astray, either.

Who's available? Frank Anderson, at 21, is a mature option with upside who can perform a run-with role and may still be there at the Hawks' pick. Others who would fit the seasoned description are Box Hill duo Damian Mascitti or Luke Meadows, who could acclimatise quickly to Hawthorn's system.

Do they have a pick? Yes, Tim Mohr's season-ending knee injury presents the option for the Hawks to open up another list spot, after doing the same with Tom Mitchell (broken leg) and Will Langford (retirement) earlier in the year.

The whisper: Hawthorn was one of many clubs to interview Kyle Dunkley, so it is mulling what to do, but the Gippsland and Footscray midfielder will be long gone by its selection. The Hawks may instead opt to upgrade Category B rookie Changkuoth Jiath. - MM

Changkuoth Jiath has been developing with Box Hill Hawks in the VFL. Picture: AFL Photos

What do they need? Warm bodies, for starters. The Demons have one of the AFL's longest injury lists and could do with an instant injection of talent, possibly a player who could be an instant hit. A goalkicking small forward and more pace would be on the wishlist, you'd imagine.

Who's available? Sam Lowson brings both pressure and goalkicking, demonstrated in him sitting equal-second in the VFL with 14 majors from six matches. Ex-Cat Cory Gregson has a history of foot problems, but has six games under his belt at SANFL level for Glenelg this year.

Do they have a pick? Yes, Aaron Nietschke's season is over, because of a serious knee injury. Melbourne should have a top-five selection, even if it wins in round 10, so there won't be too many clubs in the way if it has a specific target in mind.

The whisper: Lowson, once touted as the No.1 prospect in the mid-season draft, may slide to the Dees, who would pick up a 23-year-old challenger to Jeff Garlett and Charlie Spargo. - MM

FULL INJURY LIST Who's ruled out and who's a test?

What do they need? The Roos would love more goalscoring punch out of their small forwards and look set to address that area in the mid-season draft. It's unlikely North will make a second selection, but it may consider bringing in a key-position player in that scenario.

Who's available? Adam Tipungwuti has long been on AFL clubs' radars, particularly the past two years, and provides blistering pace and goal nous. The cousin of Essendon's Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti is impressing for NT Thunder in the NEAFL. The other obvious option is Coburg's Sam Lowson, a physical goalsneak who thrives on applying pressure.

Do they have a pick? Yes, Ed Vickers-Willis' season-ending knee injury enables the Roos to place him on the long-term injury list and create a list vacancy. Ben Jacobs, Majak Daw, Tom McKenzie and Will Walker are all on indefinite periods out, so the club could opt to make a second pick.

The whisper: The strong word is 22-year-old Tipungwuti, a former Brisbane Lions Academy member as a teenager, is headed to Arden St. - MM

Adam Tipungwuti is firmly on North Melbourne's radar. Picture: Felicity Elliott/AFLNT Media

What do they need? 
Goalkicking options will quickly dry up with Paddy Ryder, Justin Westhoff and Robbie Gray all 31 or older. First-year draftee Boyd Woodcock is the only small pressure forward on the list and it is another area for Power recruiters to ponder.

Who's available? 
South Australian Lachlan Hosie is coming with a rush. Still with raw traits, the 22-year-old mid-sized forward has kicked 19 goals from seven matches this year for Glenelg and is under the Power's nose. Teammate Cory Gregson, delisted from Geelong last year, would also fill a need and is over his injury concerns. The Power have also met with former Dockers midfielder Josh Deluca.

Do they have a pick? 
A season-ending knee injury to second-year midfielder Jake Patmore leaves the Power with one availability. Jack Watts remains out for an indefinite period after breaking his leg earlier this season and could be moved to the long-term injury list if the Power felt it was necessary.

The whisper: Right now, the Power have told several parties they're more likely not to take a selection. However, that could all change before Monday's deadline at midday. - MC

Ex-Cat Cory Gregson appears to be injury-free at last. Picture: AFL Photos

What do they need?
A raft of injuries has hurt Richmond's midfield stocks, particularly its inside ball winners, leading to the club trialling Nick Vlastuin and Josh Caddy in that position in recent weeks. Another big body could help. Expect the Tigers to also monitor key position players.

Who's available?
A number of local options could be catching their eye, including Footscray ball winner Kyle Dunkley and Coburg forward Sam Lowson. The Tigers aren't afraid to look interstate, meaning someone like Marlion Pickett could also be on their radar.

Do they have a pick?
They might have two. Having left a pair of vacancies on their rookie list after last year's draft, the Tigers filled them with Sydney Stack and Mav Weller via SSP rules. But a season-ending injury to Alex Rance and the retirement of Shaun Grigg has given them options.

The whisper: Richmond is red-hot on Dunkley and Pickett. However, if they're off the draft board by the time the Tigers pick, don't be surprised to see Northern Blues midfielder Frank Anderson's name called out. - RB

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What do they need?
St Kilda is casting the net far and wide in terms of its targets at the draft. Ideally, the Saints would like outside class and another midfielder who can use the footy. Despite the emergence of Rowan Marshall, another ruck could be on their radar.

Who's available?
Mitch Riordan could give the Saints speed out of the centre, while former North Melbourne player Mitch Hibberd could add outside class. If the Saints do ultimately look for ruck options, South Adelaide beast Michael Knoll has been touted as the best candidate.

Do they have a pick?
They don't, but they do have options. St Kilda filled the void created by Dylan Roberton and Jack Bytel's injury issues by signing Sam Rowe and Jonathon Marsh via SSP rules. However, Paddy McCartin (concussion) and Logan Austin (shoulder) remain under a cloud.

The whisper: Despite suggestions the Saints are narrowing their focus to ruck options, expect the club to target the best available player – should they have a pick. - RB

Will Mitch Hibberd get another AFL shot? Picture: AFL Photos

What do they need? The Swans are going through a rebuild and have a few different positions they could look to fill, including down back and through the middle. A younger contested ball-winner might be on the menu, or maybe they go on the hunt for more speed.

Who's available? Kyle Dunkley is unlikely to still be on the board. Midfielder Josh Deluca spent four years on Fremantle's list, was best afield in last year's WAFL Grand Final and won the medal as the state league's best player against the SANFL a week-and-a-half ago. Dandenong Stingrays onballer Mitch Riordan and Eastern Ranges winger Cody Hirst may also appeal.

Do they have a pick? Yes, Kurt Tippett's official retirement has given the Swans the flexibility to add a player to their list and their pick is likely to be in the top five.

The whisper: Unless the Blues get in first, Deluca's AFL lifeline seems likely to be at Sydney, one of five clubs to speak to him. - MM

Ex-Docker Josh Deluca has impressed in his return to state-league footy. Picture: AFL Photos

What do they need?
Another experienced key defender would surely help the Eagles. Tom Barrass has been struck down with injury, Will Schofield fights out of his weight division most games and the club has also had to move youngster Oscar Allen into the backline in recent weeks.

Who's available?
If the Eagles are targeting the here and now, there are a number of experienced key defenders up for grabs. Former AFL players like Aaron Black and Michael Talia are among them. Subiaco defender Harry Marsh is on the smaller side, but may also be an option.

Do they have a pick?
They don't. And it appears unlikely they will get one. The Eagles had one list spot available after last year's rookie draft, but used it by signing Keegan Brooksby via SSP rules. They don't have any long-term injuries, either, with Nic Naitanui on the comeback trail.

The whisper: Expect the Eagles to pass on their chance to pick. - RB

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What do they need? 
A key forward/ruck to replace Tom Boyd, a key defender to cover the move of Aaron Naughton forward and impending retirement of Dale Morris, plus a pressure small forward. Outside of mature-age recruit Ben Cavarra, the Dogs are lacking a tenacious forward to apply heat in the front half.

Who's available? 
The Dogs have shown a tendency to select VFL players with Cavarra (Williamstown) and Lachie Young (Frankston) joining former Footscray pair Billy Gowers and Will Hayes on the list last November. Key forward Ryan Gardner would be a like-for-like replacement for Boyd and Footscray teammate Reuben William could add defensive depth. Josh Dunkley's brother Kyle also debuted for Footscray with three goals a fortnight ago. Sam Lowson (Coburg) and Adam Tipungwuti (NT Thunder) are other small forward options.

Do they have a pick?
Boyd's sudden retirement gives the Dogs a second pick after Liam Picken's early retirement in April.

The whisper: The Dogs have committed to taking at least one selection, with a call on the second to be made in the next 72 hours. - MC

Ex-Lion Reuben William takes a mark for Footscray's VFL side. Picture: AFL Photos