At approximately 8pm AEDST on Wednesday, November 27, we should know who the latest AFL No. 1 draft pick is.
Last year’s number-one pick Sam Walsh was a revelation in Carlton’s midfield. Which makes us wonder how good the previous AFL/VFL number-one picks have been. Or have they?
Hits and misses – Part 1: 1986-2001
It all started at the 1986 VFL Draft, when Martin Leslie was taken first by what was then The Brisbane Bears. Leslie stayed with Port Adelaide in the SANFL before eventually joining Brisbane in 1989 as a 26-year-old. He played 107 games and won their Best and Fairest in his second year. In the same 1986 draft, Craig Kelly was picked at number 34, Alistair Lynch at number 50 and Darren Jarman at pick 55. Result: HIT
The next year in 1987, Richmond picked Richard Lounder from Central Districts. The 116kg ruck/forward still holds the title for ‘Heaviest Ever Tiger Player’ (a mere 51kg more than Daniel Rioli). He kicked four goals on debut, but only played four senior games and 12 Reserves matches. Result: MISS
In 1989, Richmond misfired again with Anthony Banik who contracted Chronic Fatigue Syndrome to only manage 49 games in five seasons. Elsewhere, 242-gamer Ashley McIntosh went to West Coast at pick 112. Result: MISS
The 1990 draft was weird… Aside from it being the first ‘AFL’ Draft, the top three picks Stephen Cooper (Geelong), James Cook (Carlton) and David Donato (Fitzroy) totalled 58 games for their new clubs and 110 in total. Meanwhile Nick Daffy at pick 49, James Hird at pick 79 and Jamie Shanahan at pick 92 totalled 543 games for their new clubs (581 total). Result: MISS
1991‘s number one draft pick John Hutton kicked eight goals in a couple of Bears games within his 36-game, three-club career. Conversely, draft pick number 56 Andrew Dunkley (father of Josh) played 217 games for Sydney including the 1996 Grand Final. Result: MISS
1992: Drew Banfield. 265 games and two premierships for The Eagles. Result: HIT
1993: Darren Gaspar was picked and then let go by Sydney after 21 games, much to Richmond’s benefit. He went on to play another 207 games with The Tigers. Result: MISS (for Sydney)
1994: Jeff White played 32 games for Fremantle before becoming the first of two number-one draft picks to play for Melbourne via Dandenong, with the other being Travis Johnstone in the 1997 Draft. White tallied 268 career games in total. Brad Scott, Troy Luff, Ben Dixon and Aaron Hamill were all late draft picks (between number 60 to 79). Result: MISS (for Fremantle)
1995: Clive Waterhouse played 106 games for Fremantle and was their leading goalkicker twice. Result: HIT. (Although Brent Harvey did go to North at pick 47).
1996: Michael Gardiner, West Coast. The man mountain debuted at 17 years old. Result: HIT
1997: Whilst this draft saw Simon Black, Adam Goodes and Matthew Scarlett go at picks 31, 43 and 45, Melbourne decided to roll with Travis Johnstone. He was oft-criticised but did finish fourth in the 2002 Brownlow Medal, won Melbourne’s 2005 Best & Fairest and played a career total of 209 games. Result: HIT
1998: Des Headland never felt at home in Brisbane, although he did enjoy a premiership there in 2002 before crossing back over to Fremantle. Result: MISS
1999: Part of the Malthouse era at Collingwood, Josh Fraser played 200 games for The Pies before losing his role to Darren Jolly and departing for The Gold Coast. Result: HIT
2000: This is where the number-one draft pick selection really gained momentum. Nick Riewoldt was easily the best number-one draft pick to this point – and perhaps of all time, going on to captain the Saints for 11 seasons and accumulate 336 games, 718 goals, six Best & Fairest awards, five All-Australian nods and almost a premiership in 2010 – if not for that Heath Shaw smother… Result: HIT
2001: Two words: Luke. Hodge. Four premierships. Three All-Australians. Two Norm Smith Medals. 346 career games. This was the ‘Super Draft’ which also included premiership players Luke Ball, Chris Judd, David Hale and Jimmy Bartel in the top 10, plus Steve Johnson, Sam Mitchell, Gary Ablett Jnr., Dane Swan (at pick 58) and Brian Lake (pick 71). Result: HIT
This concludes Part 1.