Like previous years, several father-son and academy prospects will feature prominently in the 2021 AFL draft, which will commence on Wednesday November 24.
This year, however, they’re central to a complex bidding system that has seen minor tweaks applied in the past 12 months.
With the draft mere days away, foxfooty.com.au breaks down the draft value index, the in-draft academy bidding rule changes and where this year’s top prospects might attract bids.
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What is the AFL draft value index and bidding system?
After Sydney snared gun academy prospect Isaac Heeney for Pick 18 in 2014, the AFL created the draft value index – a system that allocated a points value to the first 73 picks in the draft.
Pick 1 is worth 3000 points, while Pick 73 is worth nine points. Picks from 74 onwards are worth nothing.
It essentially means clubs that have existing links to draftees, either via their academy or father-son eligibility, must ‘pay’ to secure these players via multiple picks and give rival clubs the chance to bid on these players.
For clubs to secure their linked talent, they must pay and match a bid by using the draft picks/points they already hold. If they don’t have enough points at the time, they can enter draft deficit, which means their hand at the following year’s draft will take a hit. If the club opts not to match, the player goes to the club who made the bid.
If a club went into points deficit after matching a first-round pick bid, it would mean their first selection for next year’s draft would be pushed back. How far that future selection slides would depend on the leftover points value.
For example, when the Dockers in 2019 matched a bid on Liam Henry at Pick 9, they went into deficit by 245 points for the 2020 draft. Their natural first-round selection should’ve been Pick 7, but the deficit meant the pick slid by three selections – and, ultimately, they didn’t end up entering the draft until Pick 14 due to free agency compensation picks given to the Bombers and Giants, followed by early bids on Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Pick 1 – Western Bulldogs) and Braeden Campbell (Pick 5 – Sydney Swans).
So, ideally, you don’t want to go into draft deficit.
It’s why the likes of Collingwood, Western Bulldogs and, more recently, St Kilda used the recent trade period to accumulate draft picks and points as they anticipate matching early bids on their gun prospects.
There are three player categories that force clubs to launch – and match, if they can – bids on eligible prospects:
— Father-son: Players can be drafted under the father-son rule if the prospect’s father played 100 or more AFL games for that team. Famous examples include premiership players Gary Ablett Jnr (Geelong), Jonathan Brown (Brisbane Lions) and Jack Viney (Melbourne)
— Northern club academies: The Giants, Swans, Suns and Lions all have club-based academies that help develop talented athletes, sometimes from before they’re teenagers, into AFL prospects in markets where the code isn’t seen as the No. 1 sport. The four clubs have priority access to those. Recent examples include Isaac Heeney (Sydney Swans), Jacob Hopper (GWS Giants) and Eric Hipwood (Brisbane Lions).
— Next Generation Academies: Clubs outside of New South Wales and Queensland have established academies with players from multicultural and Indigenous backgrounds, meaning they have priority access to the players they’ve developed. Recent examples include Tarryn Thomas (North Melbourne), Isaac Quaynor (Collingwood) and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Western Bulldogs).
How does the AFL draft value index and bidding system work?
Rival clubs could launch bids on Nick Daicos (Collingwood) and Sam Darcy (Western Bulldogs) within the first three picks next week.
North Melbourne is widely expected to select South Adelaide star Jason Horne-Francis at Pick 1, but the Giants are weighing up whether to bid on father-son guns Daicos and/or Darcy at Pick 2.
If the Giants bid on Darcy, for instance, at Pick 2, here’s how it would play out:
— The Giants bid on Dogs father-son prospect Sam Darcy at Pick 2 (2517 points), meaning the Western Bulldogs must now match the Giants’ bid using the draft picks they already hold if they want Darcy (they definitely want him).
— The Dogs firstly receive some assistance via the 20 per cent discount (automatically given to clubs for father-son bids inside the first round), meaning they now have to find 2014 points to secure Darcy.
— To match the bid, the Dogs use Pick 23 (815 points), Pick 43 (378), Pick 44 (362), Pick 45 (347) and Pick 52 (246), equating to 2148 points that is enough to cover the Giants’ bid.
— As the value of those five picks is more than the discounted Pick 2 value, the Dogs have 134 points left over. This means the last selection the Dogs used to match the Darcy bid (Pick 52) would slide back to Pick 62.
— The bid is successfully matched and Darcy is officially selected by the Bulldogs at Pick 2, but it costs the club their first five picks.
— Despite missing out on Darcy, the Giants retain their place in the draft order and select again at Pick 3, with the predetermined draft order continuing from there. That’s if, of course, the Giants don’t launch a bid on Daicos at Pick 3 …
What is the rule change for NGA bidding this year?
Wait, there’s a rule change?
Yes, the AFL has changed the in-draft NGA bidding rules for 2021, which has been dubbed by some recruiters as ‘The Jamarra Rule’.
Clubs that have existing links to multicultural and Indigenous Academy players are now unable to match bids inside the top 20 selections on the prospects they’ve developed.
The rule was established after a host of NGA prospects attracted early bids in recent drafts, including North Melbourne’s Tarryn Thomas (Pick 8 in 2018), Collingwood’s Isaac Quaynor (Pick 13 in 2018), Fremantle’s Liam Henry (Pick 9 in 2019), Western Bulldogs’ Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Pick 1 in 2020) and Port Adelaide’s Lachlan Jones (Pick 16 in 2020).
It means from next week’s draft, rival clubs won’t have to bid on NGA prospects if they call their name in the top 20 picks as they’ll be considered in the open pool at that stage of the draft. If the rule was in place last year, the Dogs would’ve missed out on Ugle-Hagan and the Power missed out on Jones.
Melbourne is set to feel the effect of the rule change the most this year, with its top NGA prospect Mac Andrew almost certain to be taken in the top 10.
While Andrew is raw and will have to put on size when he lands at an AFL club, recruiters believe there’s “no chance” the gun ruck-forward will slide outside of the top 10 selections, let alone the top 20. Foxfooty.com.au understands that with the Giants warming to Callaghan, the Suns are strongly considering taking Andrew with their selection.
That means the Demons are set to miss out on him, as they won’t be able to match a bid on him nor will he still be on the board by the time their first selection arrives (Pick 17).
From Picks 21 to 40, clubs will be able to use their points hauls to match bids on NGA prospects, as per previous years. Then if a bid comes on a player from Pick 41 onwards, clubs will only be required to match using their next available selection.
But there’s another bidding curveball that affects the South Australian and Western Australian-based clubs.
Bids on metropolitan-based Indigenous players tied to West Coast, Fremantle, Adelaide and Port Adelaide’s NGAs can’t be matched inside the top 40 selections.
Fremantle will almost certainly be affected by that this year as South Fremantle’s Jesse Motlop – Freo’s top NGA prospect, who’s the son of ex-Port Adelaide and North Melbourne forward Daniel Motlop – is likely to have his name called out before Pick 40, possibly in the early to mid-20s.
Note: The aforementioned bidding restrictions don’t apply to father-son and northern academy prospects. For example, Collingwood next week can match any bid on Daicos and the Giants can match any bid on their top academy prospect Josh Fahey.
Who are the prospects to watch – and where could they attract bids?
While Horne-Francis should go at Pick 1, it’d be a major shock if the Giants didn’t launch a bid on one of Sam Darcy or Nick Daicos at Pick 2.
Multiple reports have suggested the Giants are more likely to bid on Darcy – the son of Bulldogs best and fairest and All-Australian Luke Darcy that has stunned recruiters with his ability to play in any third of the ground with aplomb at 205cm – considering their recent desire to secure a key-position prospect.
But the Herald Sun reported on Wednesday the Giants might bypass bidding on Daicos and instead take Sandringham Dragons star Finn Callaghan at Pick 3. That’s despite many clubs believing Daicos – a genuine ball magnet with a high footy IQ that led the NAB League for disposals (35.8) this year – is the best player. One recruiter told foxfooty.com.au they wouldn’t be surprised if AFL teams tagged Daicos in his debut season.
If the Giants overlook Daicos, it would leave the Gold Coast Suns to bid on him at Pick 4, meaning the Pies would only have to give up 1627 points to secure the on-baller. That would be an absolute steal for Collingwood, which was initially looking at matching a Pick 1 bid (2400 points) for Daicos.
While Melbourne is almost certain to miss out on its NGA star Andrew – who could be taken in the top five – St Kilda is holding out hope its top academy prospect Mitchito Owens isn’t called out within the first 20 picks. It looms as a borderline call.
Owens – a competitive 190cm midfielder that had an awesome back-end to his 2021 campaign to average 23.3 disposals, 5.7 marks and 3.7 inside 50s from his final three NAB League games – has attracted the interest of some clubs that hold top 20 picks. If he’s not called out in the top 20 selections, the Saints would be stoked, but would also likely have to match a bid early in the second round.
St Kilda has another highly-rated prospect linked to it via its NGA in 183cm midfielder Marcus Windhager, who’s not seen as a top-20 prospect but could attract a bid during the second round. But clubs are wary of a recent back injury that threatens to curtail Windhager’s 2022 campaign.
After their two first-round selections, the Giants’ final pick of the draft should see them matching a bid on their top academy prospect Josh Fahey – a speedy defender/wingman that was adjudged the AFL academy’s best player in a clash against Geelong’s VFL side in April and ran the second-fastest 2km trial time (captured by Strava) during the recent draft combine. Foxfooty.com.au understands Richmond, which holds Picks 26, 27 and 28 on top of its two first-rounders, has shown interest in Fahey and could bid on him using one of those three consecutive second-round selections.
Port Adelaide late last month nominated Jase Burgoyne – the son of Power champion and 2004 premiership player Peter Burgoyne – as a potential father-son selection. A bid on him could come in the latter stages of the second round or, more likely, the third round.
Other possible bids that could be launched from the third round onward include Melbourne father-son prospect Taj Woewodin (son of Brownlow Medallist Shane Woewodin), North Melbourne father-son prospect Jackson Archer (son of dual premiership Kangaroo Glenn Archer) and Fremantle NGA prospect Eric Benning – an emerging, athletic ruck-forward at 196cm and a keen Dockers supporter.
Full Draft Value Index
Pick 1: 3000 points
Pick 2: 2517
Pick 3: 2234
Pick 4: 2034
Pick 5: 1878
Pick 6: 1751
Pick 7: 1644
Pick 8: 1551
Pick 9: 1469
Pick 10: 1395
Pick 11: 1329
Pick 12: 1268
Pick 13: 1212
Pick 14: 1161
Pick 15: 1112
Pick 16: 1067
Pick 17: 1025
Pick 18: 985
Pick 19: 948
Pick 20: 912
Pick 21: 878
Pick 22: 845
Pick 23: 815
Pick 24: 785
Pick 25: 756
Pick 26: 729
Pick 27: 703
Pick 28: 677
Pick 29: 653
Pick 30: 629
Pick 31: 606
Pick 32: 584
Pick 33: 563
Pick 34: 542
Pick 35: 522
Pick 36: 502
Pick 37: 483
Pick 38: 465
Pick 39: 446
Pick 40: 429
Pick 41: 412
Pick 42: 395
Pick 43: 378
Pick 44: 362
Pick 45: 347
Pick 46: 331
Pick 47: 316
Pick 48: 302
Pick 49: 287
Pick 50: 273
Pick 51: 259
Pick 52: 246
Pick 53: 233
Pick 54: 220
Pick 55: 207
Pick 56: 194
Pick 57: 182
Pick 58: 170
Pick 59: 158
Pick 60: 146
Pick 61: 135
Pick 62: 123
Pick 63: 112
Pick 64: 101
Pick 65: 90
Pick 66: 80
Pick 67: 69
Pick 68: 59
Pick 69: 49
Pick 70: 39
Pick 71: 29
Pick 72: 19
Pick 73: 9
Picks 74 and onwards: 0