CLUBS are growing anxious over the fate of future picks exchanged during last year's Telstra AFL Trade Period, with the AFL still determining how its NAB AFL Draft process will play out this season in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
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Adelaide, Brisbane, Geelong and North Melbourne all hold multiple 2020 first-round draft picks, having conducted future trades during last year's exchange period.
Meanwhile every club, except Carlton, traded for a 2020 draft selection in some form last year, with 40 future picks ultimately swapping hands.
While the League's CEO Gillon McLachlan reiterated his confidence over the weekend that a draft would take place in some form later this year, limited access to study the players available and the potential for a reduction in the draft pool has some clubs concerned.
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A number of clubs contacted by AFL.com.au expressed their worry that the investment made in trading for future selections far outweighs the opportunities they will now have to study the prospects, given the sudden halt to NAB League and state-league competitions.
Clubs have already started scouring vision from the bottom-age seasons of several draft prospects in the knowledge they may play very little, if any football this year.
Clubs have been banned from interviewing draft prospects for the next couple of weeks. They were planning to do interviews via Skype, Zoom etc but AFL has blocked that for now. More in @AFLcomau's rolling blog. https://t.co/Dy1py0P6bK— Callum Twomey (@CalTwomey) March 22, 2020
However, without seeing the development of certain players this season, there is now growing concern within clubs that the risk in making such a significant investment in future talent will not be worthwhile.
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The potential complications in re-structuring this year's draft could also impact a number of clubs who had planned to use future picks in a heavily compromised draft pool as leverage in ongoing trade negotiations.
For example, several clubs had been hopeful of replicating Adelaide's 2019 trade with GWS, which saw the Crows drop just two places down the order and collect an additional first-round pick to help the Giants leapfrog a potential bid on its Academy prospect Tom Green.
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With an abundance of father-son and Academy-eligible players tipped to be taken among the early selections this year, there would be more opportunity for clubs holding multiple first-round draft picks to conduct similar trades.
Potential No.1 pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan is tied to the Western Bulldogs' Academy, midfielder Braeden Campbell is eligible to join Sydney, key-position pair Cody Brand and Josh Eyre are tied to Essendon, while exciting youngster Reef McInnes can join Collingwood.
Connor Downie (Hawthorn), Tariek Newchurch (Adelaide) and Alex Davies (Gold Coast) have also been tipped as potential early selections.
Adelaide itself is in a unique position, having brokered a series of trades involving future picks last October and November. The Crows currently have six selections in the first three rounds of this year's upcoming draft.
However, the possibility of a reduced draft due to the expected cuts to list sizes could mean a number of those picks – particularly the club's four selections in the second and third rounds of this year's draft – could be essentially voided if those rounds don't take place.
The AFL continues to work through a host of evolving situations in relation to a number of different events on its calendar, with clubs still sympathetic towards their plight given the current circumstances.