LIST cuts and the lack of under-18s football this season looks set to eventuate in the smallest NAB AFL Draft pool ever next month, but the numbers aren't as stark as first feared.
Clubs are still working through their list lodgements and decisions on out of contract players having received more clarity on list sizes in recent days.
However, AFL.com.au has found there is set to be a minimum of 50 picks used at the draft and a maximum of 63. Most clubs believe the number will finish in the mid-50s.
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The all-time lowest number of live selections came in 2013, when 60 players found homes via the AFL draft, but there was also 65 picks used last year (although the advent of the mid-season draft did reduce the end-of-year pool).
The trimming of lists, the rule change allowing clubs to only use one pick at the draft (down from the usual mandatory three) and the fact Victorian prospects haven't played all year after their season was ruined by COVID-19 doesn't look set to deeply change the numbers of draftees picked in the national call-up.
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West Coast and Gold Coast are the only clubs weighing up whether to use a single pick at the draft, with the Suns to claim at least two Academy talents as automatic pre-selections before the event.
Geelong will use a maximum of two picks after sending its three first-round choices to the Giants for Jeremy Cameron, with St Kilda, Brisbane, Carlton, Richmond and the Western Bulldogs all to use either two or three picks.
Sydney and Melbourne will use three selections and Port Adelaide may do the same, with Adelaide and Fremantle favouring taking in four selections on the night.
After their busy Trade Periods, Collingwood, Essendon, North Melbourne and Greater Western Sydney all look set for the biggest investment in the 2020 draft pool by using either four or five picks.
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The Hawks, too, are considering using up to five selections on the night but may be as few as three.
Plenty of clubs' decisions on picks will be kept fluid given the positioning of their later selections will be dictated by how early bids come for the assortment of Academy, Next Generation Academy and father-son players around the competition.
Many clubs are also considering taking an empty spot on their list into the summer period for players to train with them under the pre-season supplemental selection period rules.
The AFL has also indicated it will open up signing periods after rounds four, eight and 12 next year instead of a mid-season draft for clubs with open list spots to take some of the talents who have been overlooked at this year's draft intake.
The expected drop in live selections is a factor in the AFL's decision to revert to a one-night draft after two years of doing it over multiple days.