SANDRINGHAM ruckman Jacob Edwards has emerged as a mid-season draft chance after impressing clubs in the early stages of 2021.
Edwards nominated for last year's NAB AFL Draft – a prerequisite for being available in the mid-season intake this year – but was overlooked as a late developer.
But the athletic 202cm prospect has excited clubs in the early stages of this season, including in the Dragons' intraclub games and in their first clash of the NAB League campaign on Monday.
Edwards, who turns 19 in November, kicked two goals from 13 disposals and had 13 hitouts, coming into the contest as it wore on.
Recruiters have been closely monitoring players who were not drafted last year as options for the mid-season rookie draft, which is slated for a return in June after not happening last year due to the COVID-19 fallout.
Clubs are looking at Edwards as a potential mid-season pick not to fulfill any role at AFL level in 2021 – he is still completing his year 12 schooling – but with the view that they could nab him before he is up for grabs in the national draft in November.
Essentially it would be about a longer-term investment rather than an immediate mature-age player, with clubs differing in views depending on their ladder position how they approach the mid-season draft.
Mark Wheeler, the Dragons' talent manager, said the interest in Edwards had been strong in the early stages of the season, with the ruckman also showing he could push forward and be a marking target in attack.
"It's all really clicked for him and he's started really well," he said.
"He's been in a basketball background and we got him over as a bit of a project. He's put on a little bit of size and still has more to do there but he's a good story."
Seven clubs – Collingwood and Melbourne (two each), Essendon, North Melbourne, Port Adelaide, St Kilda and Sydney – have list spots available for the mid-season draft while other clubs will be able to send players with long-term injuries to the inactive list to open up further spots for the rookie selection meeting, which is scheduled for June 2.
Like the NAB AFL Draft, the mid-season rookie draft selections are in reverse ladder order.