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Melbourne Football Club

Ten things learned from the Draft

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 25: Simon Goodwin, Senior Coach of the Demons is seen during the 2016 NAB AFL Draft at the Hordern Pavilion on November 25, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/Pool Photo/AFL Media) (Editors Note: This image is free for editorial use only)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 25: Simon Goodwin, Senior Coach of the Demons is seen during the 2016 NAB AFL Draft at the Hordern Pavilion on November 25, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/Pool Photo/AFL Media) (Editors Note: This image is free for editorial use only)

1. At this point, the Hawks might just be messing with us
Last month, the Hawks shook up the trade period by swapping out club champions Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis. So it's with a triple-premiership level of irony that with the 75th and penultimate pick in the 2016 NAB AFL Draft, the Hawks plumped for ... Mitchell Lewis. Not only does the young Calder Cannon bear the name of the two great players, he even wears their numbers. Mitchell made the No.5 guernsey famous, while Lewis wore the No.3. So what number has the teenager worn at the Cannons? You guessed it, 53.

New Hawk Mitchell Lewis has big shoes to fill. Picture: AFL Photos

2. The No.1 pick is … Canadian
Not only was Andrew McGrath the equal shortest player to ever be taken at pick No.1, but the Sandringham Dragon was also the first Canadian to be the draft's top dog. McGrath was raised in Toronto before moving to Melbourne with his family at the age of five. Sydney premiership ruckman Mike Pyke – who put Canada on the map in the AFL world – said he'd keep a close eye on the teenager. "Everything I’ve read about him points to him being a class act," Pyke said. Standing at 179cm, McGrath is the exact same height as Carlton's Marc Murphy when he was taken with the first pick in the 2005 draft.

3. The AFL's wardrobe staff work fast
If you were sceptical, you'd think the AFL and top-10 drafting clubs were in cahoots with who was drafting who, so quick did players appear wearing guernseys with their names on the back. But you'd be wrong. Once CEO Gillon McLachlan read out the top-10 draftees, the boys went backstage where a heat press quickly stamped their names on the back of their new jumpers, just in time to return for the customary group pic.

4. The Dragons are breathing fire
The Sandringham Dragons were always expected to dominate the draft, and they did so in emphatic fashion. Andrew McGrath and Tim Taranto were taken with the first two picks, but the fun didn't stop there. Will Setterfield (No.5), Jack Scrimshaw (No.7) and Oliver Florent (No.11) quickly followed, giving the Dragons five players in the first 11 picks. Cameron Polson and Corey Lyons went later in the draft to make it a memorable night for the club.

5. Academy diamonds have replenished the Suns' midfield
While GWS, Sydney and the Brisbane Lions have all reaped national draft fruit from their academies in previous years, this time it was Gold Coast's turn. In Cairns product Jack Bowes – taken at pick No.10 after matching Sydney's bid – the Suns pocketed their first locally-produced player at the national draft. They then took Brad Scheer with No.67 to make it a great night for the club. Jesse Joyce – taken in last year's rookie draft – has shown the club's academy system is more than capable of producing quality players.

6. The Lions' recruiting strategy smells like team spirit
One of the biggest problems for the Brisbane Lions in recent years has been hanging on to its high-end draft talent – but they've found a nice way to help avoid the problem. The Lions took great mates Hugh McCluggage (No.3) and Jarrod Berry (No.17) with their first two picks. The pair not only played for the North Ballarat Rebels, but also boarded at Clarendon College together the past couple of years, so will head to the Gabba feeling more than comfortable. The Lions also took their Rebels teammate Cedric Cox at pick 24.

7. Special guests livened up draft night proceedings
On a night that logistically ran a little smoother than the 2015 draft, the AFL sprung a couple of surprises with guest presenters. The first came when GWS veteran Steve Johnson read out the name of the 24th draft pick (which coincided with where he was selected in the 2001 draft). Lion Cedric Cox took that honour. A little later, Swan Luke Parker – who got a rousing reception in his adopted hometown - was up on stage to read out selection No.40, where he was taken in 2010. Geelong took hometown boy Tom Stewart with that pick.

8. The Kangaroos turned up to play
North Melbourne decided to shake up the second round of the draft – and grabbed a couple of Queenslanders in the process. With three successive selections, the Kangaroos bidded on academy and father-son selections. They landed Lions Academy player Declan Watson with pick 34 and Suns Academy player Josh Williams with pick 36. Between the two, they nominated Collingwood father-son prospect Callum Brown, but the Magpies matched, as they did with GWS's bid on Josh Daicos at No.57. It's the second year in succession the Roos have taken a Lions Academy player, following Corey Wagner in 2015.

9. Academies are sharing the love around the country
Watson and Williams were not the only Academy players to leave their home states, as the controversial system continued to provide players around the country. GWS, who have profited more than anyone from the system, had to wave goodbye to Kobe Mutch (Essendon) and Harrison Macreadie (Carlton).

10. No apples for Tasmania
On a night when clubs and states around the country are celebrating successes of their players making the big time, it was a disappointing night for Tasmania. For the first time since 1986, no player from the Apple Isle was taken in the draft.