ESSENDON will continue to field offers for pick No.4 right up until the club is on the clock at Monday night's NAB AFL Draft as the Bombers weigh up trading the pick or choosing a gun midfielder.
AFL.com.au revealed last week that Melbourne had grouped its two future first-round picks (tied to the Demons and Fremantle) as part of a package of picks to grab the Bombers' pick four. The Demons also approached North Melbourne (for pick three) and Gold Coast (for pick five) with the same deal, but those clubs have not budged.
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Melbourne has continued to show interest in the Bombers' selection, however, adding its pick 13 in this year's draft to the two future first-round choices as part of a swap of selections that would see it take Essendon's prized No.4 pick as well as pick 22.
The Bombers haven't accepted that deal but are continuing to consider opportunities to turn the early pick into multiple strong selections, with clubs able to swap picks again as soon as the first round of the draft starts on Monday night.
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Rival clubs are also aware of their interest in shifting back to later in the top 10 if they could pick up a future first-rounder.
If the Bombers were to trade the pick, it would throw a major curveball into the top order of the draft. But should they hold at their starting spot, their selection between Elijah Tsatas and Mattaes Phillipou also spins off a number of different permutations.
Whoever they do not choose will skip past Gold Coast's next pick but then come into consideration for the Hawks, who have been mulling Cam Mackenzie, Jhye Clark and Reuben Ginbey as well with their early choice.
Tsatas would be a very strong contender for the Cats if he's available after the Hawks' pick, with Clark also considered a favourite if available for Geelong. Ginbey and Mackenzie have also been looked at closely for the pick.
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St Kilda has tried to move up the board, having interest in Hawthorn's selection, but is likely to have one of Phillipou, Mackenzie or Tsatas to pick if it holds its spot and can boost its midfield with a quality prospect, while Carlton will also be interested in those three as it waits to see if a slider emerges.
Clubs are not expecting a surprise name to come into the top-10 mix, with Ed Allan and Elijah Hewett the only considerations likely. However, neither of the West Australians is among the group of 13 players invited to the opening night of the draft at Marvel Stadium.
West Coast's second pick will also be intriguing given the Eagles' interest in Victorian key forward Matt Jefferson, who has been linked to Melbourne with the next pick. The Eagles could well have the choice between local midfielder Allan and Jefferson.
The order of selections in the second half of the first round appears certain to change at least somewhat through pick swaps, with Greater Western Sydney's pick No.15 (pre bidding) now shaping as the selection looking most likely to be moved. Melbourne, should it not do a deal with the Bombers, could offload one of the future first-rounders for the pick.
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The Giants may shift the selection into the future so they can hold three first-rounders this year and three next year, and could secure two of their priority players with the later picks inside the top 20 without having to use pick 15 on them. The Swans, also, are dangling their first-round picks up for trade, while the Bombers are considered a chance to trade into the top 20 if Hewett is still available and their current draft hand remains. St Kilda, too, has been hunting for an extra pick between its current first and second picks (it starts at No.9 and its next is at 28).
Collingwood has interest in Brisbane father-son Jaspa Fletcher and could also bid on Adelaide father-son prospect Max Michalanney within the first round. GWS Academy prospect Harry Rowston has interest inside the first 25 picks but could get bid on outside of the top 30, the same for Essendon father-son Alwyn Davey jnr.
Lachie Cowan shapes as another in-demand player at the back end of the first round and start of the second, with the Western Bulldogs, Essendon, North Melbourne and Sydney all linked to him.
LATE MAIL PHANTOM DRAFT
Pick 1 – Greater Western Sydney – Aaron Cadman
Pick 2 – Brisbane (matching North Melbourne's bid) – Will Ashcroft
Pick 3 – North Melbourne – Harry Sheezel
Pick 4 – North Melbourne – George Wardlaw
Pick 5 – Essendon – Elijah Tsatas
Pick 6 – Gold Coast – Bailey Humphrey
Pick 7 – Hawthorn – Cameron Mackenzie
Pick 8 – Geelong – Jhye Clark
Pick 9 – West Coast – Reuben Ginbey
Pick 10 – St Kilda – Mattaes Phillipou
Pick 11 – Carlton – Oliver Hollands
Pick 12 – Western Bulldogs – Jedd Busslinger
Pick 13 – West Coast – Ed Allan
Pick 14 – Melbourne – Matthew Jefferson
Pick 15 – Sydney – Josh Weddle
Pick 16 – Greater Western Sydney – Jacob Konstanty
Pick 17 – Brisbane (matching Collingwood's bid) – Jaspa Fletcher
Pick 18 – Collingwood – Jakob Ryan
Pick 19 – Adelaide (matching Sydney's bid) – Max Michalanney
Pick 20 – Sydney – Lachie Cowan
Pick 21 – Greater Western Sydney – Brayden George
Pick 22 – Greater Western Sydney – Darcy Jones
Pick 23 – West Coast – Elijah Hewett
Pick 24 – Western Bulldogs – Charlie Clarke
Pick 25 – Essendon – Lewis Hayes
Pick 26 – North Melbourne – Tom McCallum
Pick 27 – Hawthorn – Max Gruzewski
Pick 28 – Collingwood – Harry Barnett
Pick 29 – West Coast – Coby Burgiel
Pick 30 – Collingwood – Olli Hotton