SAM WALSH is the best pure midfielder in this year's draft pool. He has also been touted by those in the know as a potential captain and a player who is projected to play 250 games.
So it's little surprise that Carlton snapped up the 18-year-old with its first selection ahead of South Australian pair Izak Rankine and Jack Lukosius.
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The prodigiously talented Rankine, regarded as a genuine game changer, and Lukosius, the smooth-moving key position player who kicks the ball beautifully, were said to have both been heavily considered by the Blues with their prized pick in the lead-up to Thursday night.
But Walsh put together one of the most consistent and complete campaigns of a draft prospect in recent memory, averaging 32 disposals for the Falcons at TAC Cup level and 29 touches for Vic Country in the Under-18 National Championships.
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Seemingly, that track record proved too difficult to overlook.
The 184cm onballer won the Larke Medal as the best player in the division one championships, while he captained Vic Country, the Falcons and the AFL Academy team to underline his leadership capabilities.
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Walsh is just as proficient winning the ball outside the contest as he is on the inside, although across 2018 he displayed his improvement in winning contested ball with more than half of his total disposals coming in this category while playing with the Falcons.
Walsh's decision-making and composure under pressure are standout features and he is an exceptional endurance athlete. The midfielder finished second in the Yo-Yo test (22.1) at the NAB AFL Draft Combine and third in the 2km time trial (six minutes, seven seconds).
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Walsh's character is of the highest quality, as well. He is renowned as a consummate professional and his peers also picked him as the Ben Mitchell medallist as the player best displaying the qualities of the AFL Academy.
Walsh had the opportunity to train with Geelong for a week last pre-season as an AFL Academy member and senior Cats Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood were quick to remark about how impressed they were with how well the youngster had acquitted himself.
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The Cobden local said prior to the draft that he would have no issues moving interstate if overlooked by the Blues, but will now get the chance to ply his trade in a team crying out for another quality midfielder.
It is thought Walsh will initially fill more of an outside role in Carlton's midfield, but make no mistake he has the ability to step into the Blues' engine room in a few years and provide the necessary support for star Patrick Cripps and emerge with the likes of Paddy Dow and Lochie O'Brien.
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Walsh joins Cameron Rayner (Brisbane) in 2017, Andrew McGrath (Essendon) in 2016 and Jacob Weitering (Carlton) in 2015 as previous No.1 overall draft picks.