ADELAIDE might not have been fully compensated for Brad Crouch in the pick handed out to them by the AFL under free agency rules, but the Crows can turn their second-round selection into a win on draft night.  

The Crows continue to target a third top-15 pick at this year's exciting top end of the draft, with the Crouch compensation selection likely to be involved in 'bundling up' the board.

The Crows had held a faint hope throughout the year that Crouch's exit could spawn them pick No.2 under the free agency compensation system. 

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But upon withdrawing their offer to Crouch mid-season, and then the midfielder surveying the market for a five-year term for the second straight off-season, it became clearer Crouch did not want to be at the Crows, nor were the Crows desperate to keep him.

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After his four-year (plus an achievable trigger for a fifth season) deal came through from St Kilda on Sunday, the Crows were immediately aware the deal would net them a band three compensation pick (meaning it fell after their second-round pick at No.23).

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The ensuing three days saw the club exhaust its options, with rivals contacted to check their interest levels while the Saints remained steadfast their first-round pick this season (No.17) and next season would not be part of any deal if Adelaide matched the offer.

There was also the chance that St Kilda could abort its Crouch chase if forced into a trade and instead focus its attention on Adam Treloar, who looks on the way out at Collingwood. It might still do both.

Geelong, which had shown an interest in Crouch through the season, was watching the situation closely, aware that if its own free agency crossover trade fell through for Greater Western Sydney's Jeremy Cameron that it could shift its attention back to Crouch.

But the timings for that approach couldn't work for the Crows, with the lack of other interest in such a long term for Crouch from rivals matching their own reluctance to lock him in until the end of 2025.

Instead the Crows now have an incredibly strong draft hand, with six picks (No.1, 9, 22, 23, 33, 40) inside the first two rounds. It is unlikely they use all of them but this is where the free agency compensation pick for Crouch becomes handy. 

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Since the addition of live trading over two-night draft events in the past two seasons, the top picks at the second round are valued far more strongly than ever before.

With a night separating the end of the first round to the start of the second, clubs have used that time to target players who have slipped through on day one and who loom as the top choices of day (and round) two. 

In 2018, the first three picks of the first round were all traded between days one and two, including the Crows receiving a bounty as the Giants moved up the board desperate to grab slider Bobby Hill.

Last year, again the top choices of the second round were hotly contested, with Brisbane giving away a future second-round pick to essentially climb one position from pick 23 to 22 and take the surprise draft faller Deven Robertson.


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This won't work as effectively this year for the Crows, with the AFL briefing clubs on Wednesday that it is working towards a one-night only draft this year on December 9.

That takes away the day two appeal of clubs scrambling overnight to find the best deals available for players to have slipped through the first round, however the Crows can still target that area to on-trade their second-round picks for future first-round picks at next year's draft, which is headlined by some talented South Australian prospects, including Jason Horne.

They are also not done yet with this year's hand of picks, with the Western Bulldogs' pick 14 right in their sights as they try to package up later selections for more points for the Dogs to use on Academy gun Jamarra Ugle-Hagan. 

That would serve the Crows with three top-15 selections. 


It isn't quite as nice as what picks one and two would have been if the Crouch compensation was at tier-one territory, but that was always unlikely, particularly with St Kilda reluctant to boost the pay packet of its incoming player after just re-signing midfield gun Jack Steele to a two-year term.


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