Each year AFL clubs decide their list strategies and assess whether a strong draft hand is likely to yield benefits comparable to the trade assets the picks are worth.

As clubs push higher up the draft board they gain the security that they can draft the players they rate the highest before other clubs and, consequently, increase their chance of securing successful long-term recruits.

Nonetheless, this strategy is not foolproof and hindsight exposes the difficult reality of ranking the ability and potential of players before they have been introduced to an AFL environment.

In this list, the first round of the 2016 National Draft will be reassessed with the benefit of six years of AFL data.

Below is the original 2016 first round:

  1. Andrew McGrath
  2. Tim Taranto
  3. Hugh McCluggage
  4. Ben Ainsworth
  5. Will Setterfield
  6. Sam Petrevski-Seton
  7. Jack Scrimshaw
  8. Griffin Logue
  9. Will Brodie
  10. Jack Bowes
  11. Oliver Florent
  12. Jy Simpkin
  13. Daniel Venables
  14. Harry Perryman
  15. Jordan Gallucci
  16. Todd Marshall
  17. Jarrod Berry
  18. Sam Powell-Pepper
  19. Tim English
  20. Isaac Cumming
  21. Will Hayward

In this draft year, a number of players were taken as father-son and academy selections (eg. Will Setterfield, Jack Bowes, Harry Perryman). The nominal draft order will be adjusted to reflect what clubs would have actually taken into this hypothetical draft.

Where these players are selected it will be assumed that the clubs that matched their bids in the original 2016 draft will continue to do so regardless of where they land in this order.

20. Pick 20: Junior Rioli - Essendon (Original Position - Pick 52)

Essendon have suffered from a significant lack of speed in their forward line, a deficiency that the returning Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti is unlikely to entirely solve.

Although Rioli is not a speedster per se, he is exceptionally quick to read the play and possesses the agility to weave in tight confinements.

He is an excitement machine that, if hypothetically drafted to Essendon, would allow Jake Stringer more freedom to play as an out-and-out midfielder.

Another feature of Rioli's game that is highly attractive to Essendon is his tackling pressure within the forward 50, a specific weakness of a side criticised regularly for lacking intensity.

Port Adelaide's Junior Rioli during the 2023 AFL pre-season (Image: Port Adelaide Twitter)