With the conclusion of the Continental Tyres AFL Trade Period, it’s confirmed and locked in that North Melbourne will take the number one pick to the NAB AFL Draft.
After offers from Adelaide and Richmond for the prized selection were knocked back, the Kangaroos will have their pick of the top young talent available across the country.
Trades for high draft picks have an added element of romance and intrigue around them, as teams situated around the bottom of the ladder review their options on how to launch up in coming seasons.
GM of Football Brady Rawlings says while North listened to offers for the top pick, they were never truly entertained.
“What’s been reported makes it sound a lot more appealing than what the deals actually were. They were spitball deals,” Rawlings said.
“When you can attribute a player to your pick compared to just a number, it makes it very different. We can compare pick one to a player, compared to a number for next year where we don’t know where it’s going to be.
“It’s very appealing for us (the first pick). We’ve never had a number one pick in the history of the draft … here’s an opportunity to bring a player in who’s hopefully going to play a lot of football for our club.
“He’s going to be exciting, and he’s going to be part of a young group that’s going to play a lot of footy together and hopefully have some success in the not too distant future.”
Jason Horne-Francis is well amongst the top tier of players available, and with Nick Daicos and Sam Darcy expected to be taken as father/son selections by the Magpies and Bulldogs respectively, he’s emerged as the experts’ frontrunner to be taken first.
Playing SANFL level football for the past two seasons, Horne-Francis hasn’t just competed against men in a high standard of competition as a 16-18 year old, at times he’s dominated them.
In South Adelaide’s preliminary final the draft prospect finished with 24 disposals, 11 clearances and 3 goals.
“He’s (Horne-Francis) clearly right up the top with Nick Daicos and Sam Darcy. There are a couple of others that are very appealing as well at the pointy end,” Rawlings said.
“Going into this season he was well and truly up the top, and he’s had a terrific year.
“You can’t put any better performances in than Jason Horne-Francis has done over the last couple of years.”
When players enter the AFL system, they might bring a handful of desired attributes to the table, but be lacking parts of their game that are needed to succeed.
Whether it be professionalism, fitness, strength or contested ball work, new draftees can often struggle to adapt to the power of the AFL game.
Horne-Francis looks close to a complete package.
“His attributes are pretty special. He’s got the ability to win the ball at ground level and in the air, he’s great in clearance, his ground level work is really good, he can run, he’s got speed, and he’s competitive,” Rawlings added.
“He brings a lot of the attributes we look for in players. The other thing with Jason is he’s very flexible where he can play.
“He can play inside, he can play outside, he can play forward. We saw him back at SANFL level for part of the season as well.
“If we are to bring him into the club, he’s got all the attributes we look for, and he’s got the ability as we saw in that preliminary final to change a game.”