AFL Draft underway with Jason Horne-Francis the Number 1 Pick
No.1 AFL draft pick Jason Horne-Francis has been presented with his North Melbourne jumper by Kangaroos legend Malcolm Blight.
The talented South Australian was, predictably, selected as the best player among this year's draft crop after North chose not to bid on highly rated father-son prospects Nick Daicos and Sam Darcy.
The Kangaroos held the first pick for the first time in an AFL national draft and used it to select the classy midfielder on Wednesday night. Blight, who won a Brownlow Medal and played in the Kangaroos' first two premierships in 1975 and 1977, was on hand to congratulate Horne-Francis in Adelaide.
As well as his North connection, Blight is widely regarded as one of the best footballers in South Australian history. Although he was a certainty to be selected by North, Horne-Francis did not instantly have the news relayed to him.
"It was a bit weird, we couldn't see much and luckily my manager hooked us up with his phone," he told Fox Footy.
"Definitely a lot of excitement. I can't wait to get into things with the North Melbourne footy club.
"I think North are on the right direction, they've got a lot of young talented midfielders and I think I can learn a lot off players at the club."
Horne-Francis looks ready to step straight into North's best team under David Noble next year, after playing two seasons of senior football with SANFL club South Adelaide.
Meanwhile, ruck-forward Darcy was selected with pick two after the Western Bulldogs matched GWS' bid for the son of Luke. Daicos went at pick four, with Gold Coast bidding for the midfielder before Collingwood quickly snapped him up.
After Horne-Francis at Pick 1 the remainder of the draft order is as follows.
2. Sam Darcy -Western Bulldogs
The Bulldogs matched the GWS Giants’ bid at pick two in the NAB AFL Draft on Wednesday, securing the exciting 205cm key position prospect as a father/son selection.
Sam’s father Luke played 226-games in the red, white and blue while his grandfather David, who passed away in 2020, played 133 games for the Dogs between 1963-71.
Draft pundits have widely viewed Darcey as the best key position player in the Draft pool, despite the covid-19 pandemic limiting Darcy and his peers to only a handful of games in 2021.
3. Finn Callaghan - GWS Giants
A left-footed medium midfielder who burst onto the scene with dominant performances early with the Sandringham Dragons. Callaghan won selection in the Australian Under-18s team for its Challenge match against Geelong (VFL).
He can play as an inside midfielder and win his own ball or on the outside using his penetrating kicking to teammates further upfield. He is strong overhead and has elite goal sense, making him a difficult match-up at his size when he goes forward.
Due to injury, he played just six matches in the NAB League averaging 24.3 disposals (eight contested), three clearances and 3.2 tackles, winning him the Dragons' Best and Fairest award as well as selection in the NAB League Team of the Year in 2021.
4. Nick Daicos - Collingwood
The Gold Coast Suns put in a bid at pick 4 for a youngster that was never going anywhere but Collingwood.
Nick Daicos joins Collingwood following in the footsteps of his famous father Peter with the weight of the club on his very broad shoulders. The 18-year-old carries a name synonymous with the Collingwood and he is eager to represent the club he has loved since he was a kid.
In his NAB League matches Nick averaged 35.8 disposals and two goals and in his representative games for the Australian U18s team and Vic Metro he notched up 29 and 41 disposals respectively.
He captained the AFL Academy and Oakleigh Chargers and his elite footy IQ, clean skills and endurance made him a standout amongst his peers. recruiters have "marvelled" at his elite Football IQ and silky skills.
5. Mac Andrew - Gold Coast Suns
After missing out on Nick Daicos the Suns went with key position player Mac Andrew at Pick 5. Standing at 201cm, the South Sudanese talent has elite athleticism and is an aerial threat while also being equally skilful at ground level.
When playing in the ruck his tap work is likened to Nic Naitanui with a footy IQ well beyond his level of experience. Andrew comes out of the Dandenong Stingrays and Vic Country talent programs, taking his game to new heights in 2021.
6. Josh Rachele - Adelaide Crows
Widely described as one of the most exciting and talented players in the draft, Rachele was named in the NAB League Team of the Year in 2021.
The small forward booted 11 goals in four games for the Murray Bushrangers and averaged 18.5 disposals, 6.3 marks and 3.8 tackles. He's been likened to GWS Toby Greene and Western Bulldogs emerging star Cody Weightman.
Rachele’s talents and ability transcend football, with the 18-year-old having been offered a Melbourne City scholarship after playing for years with their youth team.
7. Josh Ward - Hawthorn
He grew up a Hawks supporter and now Josh Ward will live his dream. The 181cm midfielder is a ball-getter who accumulates the footy, makes it hurt with his disposal and then boasts the aerobic capacity to go in again.
A product of the Northern Knights, the hard-working on-baller skippered the Vic Metro Under 19 side in 2021 and was named captain of the Team of the Year at the recent NAB League awards.
A classy player capable of consistently winning mountains of possessions, Ward poses as an exciting prospect for the Hawks in the years to come.
8. Jye Amiss - Fremantle Dockers
Jye Amiss had a prolific 2021 season for East Perth, kicking the most goals in the WAFL Colts competition with 51 from 15 games at an average of 3.4 per game.
He kicked hauls of seven against Peel in Round 12 and six against Perth in Round 18. He also consistently hit the scoreboard, kicking multiple goals in all but two games at Colts level this year.
Amiss also took the most contested marks and the second most marks inside 50 in the Colts this year, and managed to achieve it all despite travelling to Perth from his home in Busselton for every training session and game, so he has plenty of upside.
9. Josh Gibcus - Richmond
An athletic key position prospect from the GWV Rebels, we are super excited to add Josh to our list.
Josh has been very comfortable playing in defence at both NAB league level, VIC Country and for Australia as a member of the AFL Academy.
Standing at 196cm, Josh has played on some of the very best forwards in his age group, demonstrating his ability to nullify their influence while also being a strong intercepting player.
10. Neil Erasmus - Fremantle Dockers
Neil Erasmus played just the four games for Subiaco at Colts level in 2021 due to school football commitments and a quad injury at the end of the year but dominated when he played.
Erasmus is a powerful midfielder who breaks tackles with ease, is a big presence at the stoppages, works hard around the ground and is a force overhead.
He's also shown he's just as dangerous as a forward option, highlighted by his four goals as bottom age player for Subiaco in the 2020 WAFL Colts grand final win.
11. Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera - St Kilda
A silky wingman with precise skills to match, the 18-year-old South Australian boasts what has widely been considered as the best kick from this year’s draft class.
Wanganeen-Milera’s father, Terry Milera, played 30 games for the Saints between 2012-2014, while his uncle is Brownlow medallist and five-time All-Australian, Gavin Wanganeen.
While the Glenelg recruit is best suited to the wing, his clean use and mobility has the potential to add to St Kilda’s half-back line.
12. Josh Sinn - Port Adelaide
Port Adelaide made a deal with the West Coast Eagles to move up in the draft order to secure this man and it's easy to see why.
Renowned for his line-breaking speed and penetrating left foot, Sinn will join fellow Sandringham Dragons products Karl Amon, Miles Bergman and Ollie Lord at Alberton.
Port Adelaide’s National Talent Manager Geoff Parker said Josh has explosive speed and great agility to change direction and change the way the ball goes forward from defence.
13. Ben Hobbs - Essendon
Pipped at the post by Port Adelaide for Josh Sinn, Essendon went with an inside midfielder, and self-proclaimed competitive beast, in Ben Hobbs.
The Greater Western Victoria Rebels product, who hails from Horsham, arrives at the Bombers via pick No.13 – the club’s first selection. He has been earmarked as a future leader in the AFL, having captained Vic Metro this year.
He finished the season in rampant fashion to emerge as one of the best prospects in this year’s draft crop, averaging 28.5 disposals, 5.8 clearances and 5.5 tackles from his four full NAB League games.
14. Campbell Chesser - West Coast Eagles
A classy right-footer Chesser, like many of the Victorian youngsters, had limited preparation playing just five games because of the intervention of Covid-19.
An attacking half-back with great athletic traits and the versatility to move through the midfield. Chesser is back at full fitness and impressed at last week's (Victorian prospects) training session with his movement after a season hindered by a nagging knee problem.
15. Leek Alleer - GWS Giants
High-marking and extremely athletic, Aleer is a tall defender who has been a revelation at senior level this year after being switched to defence.
Born in Kenya to Sudanese parents, he has played 11 matches this year, averaging nine disposals and 4.4 marks, mostly interceptions.
Still developing his overall game, he has a massive upside which he gave a glimpse of at the South Australian Draft Combine, breaking the all-time record for the running vertical jump with an amazing leap of 107cm.
16. Darcy Wilmot - Brisbane Lions
Wilmot is the youngest player taken in the 2021 draft and with a New Year’s Eve birthday, was only a day of being ineligible until next year.
The dashing defender caught the eye of Lion's recruiters with his ability to combine one-on-one defensive skills with electric pace and creativity throughout his junior football.
His pace and ball use are first class, but he has also earned a reputation for being fearless against much bigger opponents.
17. Tom Brown - Richmond
Brown is an athletic medium defender from the Murray Bushrangers. He possesses an uncommon but very desirable ability to impact both in the air to spoil or intercept mark, as well as provide genuine rebound out of the back half with speed.
Tom started the year brightly before frustratingly succumbing to an ankle injury that impacted most of his year.
Fortunately, he came back late in the piece to average 17 disposals at 75% efficiency at NAB league level and registered 14 disposals and five rebound-50’s for Vic Country in the most recent state trial.
18. Angus Sheldrick - Sydney Swans
Eighteen-year-old Sheldrick is a competitive, contested ball winning inside midfielder who played a leading role at Colts level with Claremont in 2021, winning the best and fairest.
In the WAFL Colts Grand Final, Sheldrick was a standout gathering 27 disposals and booting two goals.
19. Jacob Van Rooyen - Melbourne
Coming from Western Australia, van Rooyen has had the chance to play more footy than most in the past two years, pulling on the Claremont guernsey at under 18 level.
Standing at 194cm, van Rooyen could prove to be a handy swingman, with experience playing key position roles at either end of the ground.
Some fancy van Rooyen as a tall defender after developing his craft throughout 2021, but his ability to hit the scoreboard and take a contested mark up forward could be where he provides the most value for the Dees.
20. Kai Lohmann - Brisbane Lions
Lohmann played on the wing and across half-back at 16s level for Vic Country. However, he has been used with great effect across half-forward this season in a strong Greater Western Victoria Rebels team.
Considered one of the more eye-catching players in the draft, Lohmann roared up the draft rankings this season with his ability to sniff out a goal.