ESSENDON'S suite of top-10 picks is set to shape the first round of Wednesday night's NAB AFL Draft as the Bombers weigh up their mix of potential recruits.
The Bombers' trio of choices – should they hold all three picks – are central to proceedings as clubs look at manoeuvring their selections to target certain prospects.
FINAL DRAFT ORDER Your club's picks for the 2020 NAB AFL Draft
But another whiteboard 'error' could give a clue to who the Bombers are targeting – or perhaps who they're not.
As North Melbourne looks at potentially splitting its pick No.2, possibly with Hawthorn at No.4, rival clubs believe the top five players (aside from Western Bulldogs Academy prospect Jamarra Ugle-Hagan) are firming to be Riley Thilthorpe, Logan McDonald, Elijah Hollands, Denver Grainger-Barras and Will Phillips.
It leaves plenty of intrigue around the Bombers' picks, with the Giants among clubs sweating on who Essendon chooses.
The club is considering a tall, with Zach Reid and Nik Cox linked strongly and recently both being interviewed by Essendon. Midfielder Tanner Bruhn is also in their sights and would be right in the mix for the Crows, Giants, Kangaroos and Fremantle if he slipped past.
Archie Perkins is another who the Bombers are considering, having put in plenty of time keeping tabs on the exciting Sandringham Dragons half-forward/midfielder. Hawthorn interviewed Perkins on Monday and he is still in their considerations for pick No.4, alongside Cox as a wildcard option.
Hybrid forward Oliver Henry has also been linked to the Bombers and is in their mix.
At Tuesday's draft rehearsal involving clubs logging in to the online link remotely, rivals spotted Perkins, Cox and Brayden Cook's names circled and placed alongside the magnets of already-listed Bombers in different parts of the ground.
Every club was able to see each other’s recruiting or list manager in the online meeting, with the national draft to be held virtually for the first time ever.
The 'gaffe' follows the uploaded-then-quickly-deleted Instagram post from Irving Mosquito during the Trade Period where the Bombers had circled rival players' names on their draft room whiteboard as part of a Geelong and Greater Western Sydney potential deal.
The Giants have held talks with Adelaide about potentially swapping picks 13 and 15 for nine and 23 to move up the board, with Reid, Cox and Heath Chapman all on their radar. Greater Western Sydney also likes Perkins, Bruhn and Henry, with the Giants interviewing the latter again over the weekend.
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The logjam of clubs from pick 10 to 15 are all interested in the same group of players, with Cook, Henry, Luke Pedlar and the group of talls all linked to that part of the draft. The Crows have recently interviewed Reef McInnes and showed their intent to bid on the Collingwood Next Generation Academy prospect, with the Pies and Crows also a chance to swap selections within the first round.
Another player to watch will be Finlay Macrae, with the potential for the younger brother of Western Bulldogs star Jack to slide through to the later stages of the first round as Richmond and Melbourne track him closely with their top-20 picks.
Mystery still surrounds the top of the draft, with the Crows linked to bidding on Jamarra Ugle-Hagan from the Bulldogs and then choosing between Riley Thilthorpe and Logan McDonald with their live choice.
That has a ripple effect either way, although given the Roos' interest in Hollands, they have explored the possibility of shifting back down the order marginally and still getting a player they have targeted.
The Swans are mindful of the possibility of Hawthorn bidding on Academy prospect Braeden Campbell at their opening selection.
Countless pick swaps have been tabled between clubs in recent days as recruiters and list managers look to reshape their draft hands. St Kilda is looking to edge up the draft board in the first round, while Richmond could still tap out at the right offer and swap its first selection for a future pick.
If North doesn't execute a trade with its No.2 pick it will continue to look for a third first-round pick at the back end, while the Bombers have had talks with the Magpies on a swap but are after a future first-round pick and No.14 to slide back.
LATE MAIL PHANTOM DRAFT
1 – Western Bulldogs (matching Adelaide's bid) – Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
2 – Adelaide – Riley Thilthorpe
3 – North Melbourne – Elijah Hollands
4 – Sydney – Denver Grainger-Barras
5 – Hawthorn – Logan McDonald
6 – Gold Coast – Will Phillips
7 – Essendon – Tanner Bruhn
8 – Essendon – Zach Reid
9 – Sydney (matching Essendon's bid) – Braeden Campbell
10 – Essendon – Oliver Henry
11 – Adelaide – Reef McInnes
12 – Greater Western Sydney – Heath Chapman
13 –North Melbourne – Tom Powell
14 – Fremantle – Brayden Cook
15 – Greater Western Sydney – Nik Cox
16 – Collingwood – Archie Perkins
17 – Port Adelaide (matching Greater Western Sydney's bid) – Lachie Jones
18 – Greater Western Sydney – Bailey Laurie
19 – Collingwood – Conor Stone
20 – Richmond – Finlay Macrae
21 – Melbourne – Jack Carroll
22 – Sydney (Matching Melbourne's bid) – Errol Gulden
23 – Melbourne – Max Holmes
24 – Greater Western Sydney – Luke Pedlar
25 – Hawthorn (Matching St Kilda's bid) – Connor Downie
26 – St Kilda – Nathan O'Driscoll
27 – Adelaide – Caleb Poulter
28 – Adelaide – Liam Kolar
29 – Brisbane – Sam Berry
30 – Greater Western Sydney – Shannon Neale