Every Thursday AFL.com.au presents Inside Trading, with breaking news and the best analysis of the player movement landscape covering contracts, trades, free agents, the NAB AFL Draft and industry insights.
POSSIBLE NO.1 MID-SEASON PICK WEIGHING UP NOMINATING
THE POTENTIAL top pick of June's NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft, Sandringham big man Jacob Edwards, is weighing up whether to nominate or wait until the end-of-year national draft.
AFL.com.au revealed earlier this month that the athletic 202cm Edwards had jumped into contention for the mid-season draft with an impressive start to the NAB League season with the Dragons.
His form has continued as a versatile key forward/ruckman with good skills and clubs believe he is a standout in the mid-year pool after being overlooked for last year's draft. North Melbourne currently holds the No.1 choice after its winless start to the season.
But Edwards has not yet decided whether he will nominate for the mid-season draft or sit it out and wait to have his name called at the end of the year, with the 18-year-old viewed by some as having top-10 claims in the draft if he did not go mid-season. He is considering the pros and cons of joining the mid-season pool.
Edwards, who is completing year 12 at school and wants to play some football there this season, is a long-term prospect for clubs and is not being seen as a short-term fix to make an impact at AFL level in 2021. Players who are eligible for the mid-season draft can nominate for either a six-month short-term contract or an 18-month contract that ends at the close of the following season.
A short-term contract ending in October this year is worth $50,000 to a player (and an extra $20,000 if they are delisted and don't find another AFL spot elsewhere) under the AFL's rules.
Under the nomination form sent out by the AFL, other terms can be nominated by the player but only within the scope of the League's rules, meaning a player such as Edwards who has never been on a list will still be considered a first-year player if selected mid-season so cannot ask for terms above the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
A first-round contract for Edwards at the end of the season would lock him in at his club until the end of 2023 – longer than the 18-month deal in the mid-season terms – and at a better financial rate. But being selected mid-season would remove the risk of an injury in the second half of the season damaging his draft plans. - Callum Twomey
WHO WILL BE THE BUSIEST CLUBS COME JUNE?
ST KILDA and Gold Coast will be able to utilise up to four selections for the NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft, headlining a host of clubs with multiple picks.
The Saints passed on three picks in last year's NAB AFL Rookie Draft, two of which were used for Mason Wood and Paul Hunter in pre-season, before the retirement of Dylan Roberton and season-ending injuries for Jade Gresham and Ben Paton.
They're are not expected to use all four selections, instead planning to enter with a handful of targets that they hope fall to their picks.
The Suns will be able to take four players by moving Connor Budarick, Matt Conroy, Rory Thompson and Jarrod Witts – who will all miss the season with knee injuries – to the inactive list.
Adelaide will be open to three after Tyson Stengle's departure, Wayne Milera's season-ending knee injury and by moving Bryce Gibbs to the inactive list after they were forced to re-rookie him last year for payout purposes.
Collingwood, Melbourne and North Melbourne will all be able to use two each.
Port Adelaide and Sydney both left a spot open after the Rookie Draft, while Brisbane (Cam Rayner), Carlton (Caleb Marchbank), Essendon (Ross McQuillan) and Hawthorn (Jon Patton) have since been able to create spots.
Fremantle, Geelong, Greater Western Sydney, Richmond, West Coast and the Western Bulldogs don't currently hold a selection.
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The Eagles are a 'watch this space', with Daniel Venables still unclear when he will be given the go-ahead to resume playing after his serious concussion issues. The 2018 premiership player was delisted last season but brought back as a rookie as the club works through his return in what is a sensitive issue. Moving to the inactive list would open a position for the Eagles mid-season.
The order for the mid-season rookie draft will be determined by reverse ladder position at the end of round 11. - Mitch Cleary and Callum Twomey
SUNS LOOK TO EX-AFL RUCKS TO REPLACE WITTS
A HOST of former AFL-listed players have catapulted onto Gold Coast's radar for the NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft as the Suns look to replenish their decimated ruck stocks.
Season-ending injuries for No.1 ruckman Jarrod Witts and emerging big man Matt Conroy have exposed a ruck division that has been left to Zac Smith, who is still working back from a knee injury.
It's understood Swan Districts big man Corey Gault (ex-Collingwood) and Norwood ruckman Michael Knoll (ex-Sydney) are in the mix for the Suns.
Gault, 28, is averaging 33 hitouts and 18 disposals per match in the WAFL this season, while Knoll, 27, is averaging more than 30 hitouts per game in the SANFL. Knoll was taken by the Swans in the 2019 mid-season rookie draft but failed to make his AFL debut and was delisted at the end of 2020.
A long-term injury to Suns ruck/forward Sam Day has also led the club's list management team to scour the country for other readymade key position options.
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Former Geelong and Port Adelaide tall Wylie Buzza is another player of interest after an impressive start to the VFL season for Werribee.
Ex-Geelong and St Kilda ruckman Ryan Abbott is also being tracked but has settled in Geelong this year where is a member of the Cats' VFL squad while playing locally for Grovedale after departing Moorabbin at the end of 2020.
Former Greater Western Sydney ruckman Tom Downie, who retired in 2017 to focus on his mental health, could also jump into calculations should his strong VFL form for Williamstown continue. – Mitch Cleary
CLUBS SEARCHING FOR 19-YEAR-OLD TALENT
AFTER the disruption of last season's draft campaign, many clubs are heading into the NAB AFL Mid-Season Draft searching for players overlooked in 2020.
Edwards is among the young ruckmen who are on the radar for recruiters, with his Sandringham Dragons teammate Max Heath another who has attracted attention.
203cm Ned Moyle, from the Oakleigh Chargers, will also present as an option for clubs as a young big man, as well as Calder Cannons ruck prospect Liam Podhajski. All were eligible for last year's draft but were not taken.
Third tall defender Luke Cleary has impressed in the early stages of the season for the Dragons as well, while tall Eastern Ranges prospect Aiden Begg has also taken the eye but has had a recent shoulder injury disrupt his progress.
Corey Preston and Cody Raak, who both trained with the Bulldogs in the pre-season supplemental period but did not win spots with the club, have highlighted their improvement, while Josh Green, who trained with Richmond and is the brother of Giants midfielder Tom, has shown his wares early in the VFL season with GWS.
Tall forward Jackson Callow trained with Hawthorn in the pre-season as well, while 22-year-old defender Angus Baker is older than this group but came close to winning a spot with Essendon via the SSP and is playing with the Bombers' VFL side.
On Saturday, May 8, club recruiters will get a chance to see some of the best contenders for the mid-season draft feature in the Colgate Young Guns game. The clash will be an under-23s game featuring mid-season draft prospects and last time, in 2019, Kyle Dunkley assured himself of a mid-season spot with a strong performance in the clash. - Callum Twomey
WILL CROWS TRIO GET ANOTHER SHOT?
THREE Adelaide discards shape as possible mid-season picks, with Riley Knight, Tyson Stengle and Jordan Gallucci on the radar of clubs.
Knight, who was delisted last year after 55 games with the Crows, has been starring at SANFL level to start the season, with the hard-working forward moving into a permanent midfield role and averaging 27 disposals a game.
He spent six years at the Crows, including playing in their 2017 Grand Final defeat, but managed just one senior game last year.
Stengle departed Adelaide in March after a series of off-field incidents since joining the Crows from Richmond, but has shown himself to be a level above the SANFL with some electric performances.
The 22-year-old kicked four goals against the Crows' SANFL side earlier this month. He has been mentored in the past by ex-Crow and current Carlton small forward Eddie Betts, and is eligible for the mid-season draft under terms agreed in his departure from Adelaide.
Gallucci, a first-round pick for the Crows in 2016, was delisted at the end of last season and trained with Richmond over summer as part of the Tigers' pre-season supplemental period process.
The quick midfielder did not win a spot on Richmond's list but has started the VFL season in promising form for Williamstown, booting three goals from 21 disposals in round one before kicking another two last week in round two. - Callum Twomey
DRAFT BUNKERS BACK
THE 'ARC' will be the central point of this year's NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft, with clubs to dial in from their draft 'war rooms'.
The last mid-season draft saw clubs take part from AFL House, but this year's meeting, which has been locked in for Wednesday evening on June 2, will roll out under a similar format to last year's NAB AFL Draft, which was run virtually.
Clubs were advised by the AFL this week that the selections will be conducted out of the AFL's Review Centre at AFL House, with clubs to be located at their own private bases and draft bunkers. Selections will be taken using online meeting program Webex.
Last year's NAB AFL Draft was the first of its kind with clubs not present together in one space due to COVID-19 restrictions but allowed them to negotiate deals during the event. In-draft trading and bidding on father-son and Academy players does not take place in the mid-season draft. Nominations will open from Monday, May 10 through to Tuesday, May 25. - Callum Twomey