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GEELONG called in a favour from Grand Final opponent Richmond on Wednesday night to move back into the first round of the NAB AFL Draft and snare the bolter of 2020. 

Sandringham Dragons midfielder Max Holmes doesn't have much exposed form from the past two seasons, playing just one NAB League game in 2019 because of a broken arm. 

But the elite runner rocketed into first-round calculations this week and he was still available at No.20 when Richmond traded that pick to the Cats for their 2021 first-round selection. 

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The Cats used that pick to snap up the son of Commonwealth Games gold medallist and dual-Olympian Lee Naylor, getting in ahead of an interested Melbourne at picks 21 and 22.  

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Geelong's ability to get back into the first round was a feat in itself after giving up a strong draft hand in order to secure Jeremy Cameron during the Trade Period. 

The Cats handed picks 13, 15 and 20 to Greater Western Sydney as part of their deal for Cameron, watching the draft bounty they won via the Tim Kelly trade to West Coast 12 months earlier disappear. 

But they were clearly taken by Holmes and found a willing trade partner in Richmond on Wednesday night. 

 

The Tigers can expect a future selection in the range of 15-18, given the strength of the Cats' list and the likelihood they will convert that into a top four finish. 

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The upside in Holmes is enormous. He smashed the 20m sprint at the NAB AFL Draft Combine, clocking 2.8sec to sit behind only Reef McInnes, and he ran a 6:25 time trial over 2km. 

A high-level background in athletics has shaped Holmes as a footballer, with the 189cm midfielder suited to streaming down the wing. 

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"Utilising my good running allows me to get into good positions most of the time," he told SEN last week.

"I’ve played a bit on the halfback flank. I was really small back in the day, so I played a lot in the forward pocket. The last few years though I’ve been predominantly on a wing."

Early opportunities will be hard-earned for Holmes, who joins wingmen Sam Menegola and three-time premiership Hawk Isaac Smith on the list. Speedster Jordan Clark can also push onto a wing. 

He is likely to build his game in the VFL in 2021 after two years of limited football before getting the chance to show why the Cats were willing to pull the trigger on a high-stakes first-round trade.

Geelong also drafted ruckman Shannon Neale (pick No.33) and defender Nicholas Stevens (pick No.47).