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AFL draft preview: Players to watch on draft night

As always, the AFL draft offers the opportunity for scores of young hopefuls to begin their careers as full-time AFL footballers.
Having toiled through under-age competitions, national carnivals, rigorous testing and character evaluations, the cream of the crop will soon be selected and presented by their new AFL clubs :
  • Jacob Weitering - Defender
  • Josh Schache - Forward
  • Callum Mills - Midfielder
  • Sam Weideman - Forward
  • Darcy Parish - Midfielder
  • Charlie Curnow - Forward
  • Aaron Francis - Defender
  • Jacob Hopper - Midfielder
  • Callum Ah Chee - Forward
  • Clayton Oliver - Midfielder
  • Harry McKay - Forward
  • Matthew Kennedy - Midfielder

This year's draft pool has been labelled shallow in comparison to recent years, but judging a group of young footballers ahead of the draft is never an exact science, and looking back at this class in five year's time may provide a much different picture.
At the top of the list, there are few certainties. There is talent in abundance at the pointy end of the draft, and some changes to the way academy and father-son selections are bid for will add another level to tonight's draft.
In short, clubs now need to be able to front up for their academy and father-son players of choice, instead of automatically getting them at a wild discount. Using a points value assigned to each pick, clubs now have the opportunity to bid for another team's academy player, forcing that club to match the bid with an offer of equal points value. Complicated, right?
Let's looks at a scenario likely to take place tonight. Melbourne may put a bid in for Callum Mills, a star midfielder and Swans academy player, with pick three. Sydney can then respond by offering enough picks of enough value to match that of pick three, which the Swans will gladly do.
Remember in the trade period when some teams were seemingly aimlessly trading draft picks around? This is why. It also means the draft order will be flexible even on draft night itself, as teams move up and down the order when bids are matched.
But aside from the headache-inducing complications the new bidding system might throw up, the familiar excitement will be there as the best young footballers in the country get AFL homes. Here are 12 players to keep an eye on tonight when the first round of picks are read out.


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