THIS year's NAB AFL Draft might be held in 2021, with the League considering pushing the event back to January.

The AFL generally holds its drafts in late November after year 12 exams have been completed around the country so prospects are free to almost automatically join clubs.

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However, due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Victorian government has indicated its ATAR exams will be now held in December. Usually around half of the draft pool comes from Victoria.

While the AFL is hopeful of getting a draft in before the start of 2021, those plans are contingent on the structure of the season and when it is completed. Players and clubs have agreed to play games throughout December if that is what it takes to get through a season.

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The AFL would prefer to hold the draft as soon as it can, and it would need to follow a Trade Period, but understands staging it early in the new year is one of its possibilities as it works on tentative scenarios for the remainder of 2020.

Last year the NAB AFL Draft was split over two nights for the first time (the previous year it was spread over a night and a day), with the first round of selections taking place before the remainder of the draft the following evening. The rookie draft was held the day after that, although there are doubts on the future of the rookie draft with list sizes potentially being cut. 

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AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan last week all but locked in a draft for the 2020 crop taking place, but has flagged recruiters may need to pick prospects based off previous years' performance with no guarantee of more under-18 games this year.

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"I'm very confident that the draft will go ahead. Clearly, there's a possibility that it will be in a different form. But we will need a draft," McLachlan said.

Clubs are confident they will be able to select players at the draft on the basis of their under-16 and under-17 games, but suggest the late-blooming types – including the likes of Essendon's Andrew McGrath and Brisbane's Hugh McCluggage – may not feature as highly without this year to blossom.

The Victorian government earlier this month announced end of year exams will be postponed until at least December as part of a number of changes to the academic timetable for students.