THE VFL’s reputation as a strong breeding ground received another boost when eight players were handed their AFL dream in the Mid-Season Draft on Wednesday night.
A total of 22 players were picked up, with the VFL contingent making up more than a third of those selected.
The profitable night lifted the number of players drafted or signed from the competition to 50 in the past five years – and 37 of those remain in the AFL today.
There was plenty of talk about Box Hill Hawks midfielder Jai Newcombe and Collingwood and Oakleigh Chargers ruckman Ned Moyle before the draft, and they were duly snapped up by Hawthorn and Gold Coast respectively inside the top five picks.
Carlton (ruckman Alex Mirkov), GWS Giants (midfielder James Peatling) and Sydney (ruckman Lachlan McAndrew) were promoted by their clubs while Essendon (Sam Durham – Richmond) and the Blues (Jordan Boyd – Footscray) looked to other VFL clubs to top up their lists.
But the best story belongs to Kye Declase, whose development at Werribee in 2019-20 under Mark “Choco” Williams led to him being drafted by Melbourne at pick 15.
The 195cm Declase, 24, has averaged a goal a game in 46 VFL appearances as a half-forward for the Tigers and Northern Blues, but has added extra strings to his bow in the past two years and now can run through the midfield, off half-back or lock down on an opponent in the backline.
It earned him the chance to train with Melbourne over summer, and while he missed out in the pre-season supplemental period, the Demons kept a close eye on him and elevated him at their first opportunity on the back of averaging 22 disposals, seven marks and kicking six goals in five matches this season.
His selection is another boost for the development program at Avalon Airport Oval, with key forwards Jake Riccardi and Josh Corbett and key defender Sam Collins all being taken from Werribee since the end of 2017.
Declase and the other seven draftees will be hoping now to follow in the footsteps of 2019 mid-season draft success stories Marlion Pickett – now a dual premiership player at Richmond, Will Snelling (Essendon), John Noble (Collingwood) and Ryan Gardner (Western Bulldogs).
They will also want to add their names to VFL success stories such as Brody Mihocek (Collingwood), Jake Aarts (Richmond), Tom Atkins (Geelong) and Michael Gibbons (Carlton).
VFL PLAYERS DRAFTED IN THE PAST FIVE SEASONS
2021 MID-SEASON DRAFT
*Jai Newcombe (Box Hill Hawks – Hawthorn)
*Ned Moyle (Collingwood – Gold Coast)
*Alex Mirkov (Carlton – Carlton)
*James Peatling (GWS Giants – GWS Giants)
*Sam Durham (Richmond – Essendon)
*Lachlan McAndrew (Sydney – Sydney)
*Kye Declase (Werribee – Melbourne)
*Jordan Boyd (Footscray – Carlton)
2021 PRE-SEASON SUPPLEMENTAL PERIOD
*Lachlan Bramble (Williamstown – Hawthorn)
*Anthony Scott (Footscray – Western Bulldogs)
2020 PRE-SEASON SUPPLEMENTAL PERIOD
Ayce Taylor (North Melbourne – Adelaide)
2019 ROOKIE DRAFT
Mitchell Hibberd (Williamstown – Essendon)
2019 NATIONAL DRAFT
*Jake Riccardi (Werribee – GWS Giants)
2019 MID-SEASON DRAFT
Kyle Dunkley (Footscray – Melbourne)
*Ryan Gardner (Footscray – Western Bulldogs)
2019 PRE-SEASON SUPPLEMENTAL PERIOD
*Michael Gibbons (Williamstown – Carlton)
*Ned Reeves (Box Hill Hawks – Hawthorn)
Corey Wagner (Casey Demons – Melbourne)
*Jay Lockhart (Casey Demons – Melbourne)
2018 ROOKIE DRAFT
*Kieran Strachan (Port Melbourne – Adelaide)
Tom Jok (Collingwood – Essendon)
*Tom Atkins (Geelong – Geelong)
*Jake Aarts (Richmond – Richmond)
2018 NATIONAL DRAFT
*Ben Cavarra (Williamstown – Western Bulldogs)
#Nick Hind (Essendon – St Kilda)
*Marty Hore (Collingwood – Melbourne)
*Lachie Schultz (Williamstown – Fremantle)
*Brett Bewley (Williamstown – Fremantle)
*Will Hayes (Footscray – Western Bulldogs)
2018 PRE-DRAFT SELECTIONS
*Sam Collins (Werribee – Gold Coast)
*Josh Corbett (Werribee – Gold Coast)
2017 CATEGORY B ROOKIE SELECTIONS
Tom Jeffries (Werribee – North Melbourne)
*Derek Eggmolesse-Smith (Richmond – Richmond)
2017 ROOKIE DRAFT
Billy Gowers (Footscray – Western Bulldogs)
*Brody Mihocek (Port Melbourne – Collingwood)
David Mirra (Box Hill Hawks – Hawthorn)
2017 PRE-SEASON DRAFT
Cam O’Shea (Northern Blues – Carlton)
2017 NATIONAL DRAFT
*Bayley Fritsch (Casey Demons – Melbourne)
*Sam Switkowski (Box Hill Hawks – Fremantle)
2016 CATEGORY B ROOKIE SELECTIONS
Matt Eagles (North Ballarat – Brisbane Lions)
Ben McNiece (Essendon – Essendon)
2016 ROOKIE DRAFT
*Rowan Marshall (North Ballarat – St Kilda)
Tim Smith (Casey Scorpions – Melbourne)
*Robbie Fox (Coburg – Sydney)
*Oscar McInerney (Casey Scorpions – Brisbane Lions)
Declan Keilty (Casey Scorpions – Melbourne)
2016 NATIONAL DRAFT
*Tom Stewart (Geelong – Geelong)
##Mitch Hannan (Footscray – Melbourne)
*Luke Ryan (Coburg – Fremantle)
Timm House (Geelong – Geelong)
*Still on AFL list
#Traded to Essendon
##Traded to Western Bulldogs