Swans superstar Adam Goodes is a monty for inclusion in the top-five draft steals of all time
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AFL LOWDOWN: The Swans' ability to pick up champions with mid-range picks and the Bulldogs' desperate chase for key forwards feature in the last of our four-part series on the best and worst draft picks from the 16 established AFL clubs
Nick Riewoldt (No.1, 2000). Yes, he was the first pick in the draft but so many clubs have had the opportunity to get it right and failed. Selecting Riewoldt was the catalyst for the Saints' renaissance in the mid-noughties. For more than a decade, he has been their best player and their talisman. As arguably the most successful No.1 pick in draft history, Saint Nick is the biggest of hits.
Andrew Thompson (No.62, 1996). A reliable midfielder who did his job every week without fuss, Thompson was a relatively late bloomer after being drafted as a 24-year-old. He went on to play 221 games over 11 seasons spanning two eras of relative success at St Kilda. While not on the same level as Riewoldt, Robert Harvey, Nick Dal Santo and Lenny Hayes, Thompson was always among the first picked.
Sam Fisher (No.55, 2003). Fisher's outstanding ability on the golf course was an oft-told story when he was drafted by the Saints, but his short game was quickly forgotten when his talent on the footy field became apparent. An All-Australian defender and two-time club champion is the stuff of a recruiting manager's dreams this late in the draft.
Daniel Healy (No.6, 1995). The No.6 pick has a rather sorry history in the AFL draft and Healy didn't do it any favours. He managed 38 games for the Saints in a modest career while Jared Crouch (pick eight) and Simon Prestigiacomo (10) racked up a combined 450 games for their clubs. Brent Harvey, Darren Milburn and Daniel Bradshaw were other fine players picked up much later in the draft.
Tom Lynch (No.13, 2008). Lynch was a highly rated forward prospect, but like so many mid-sized talls playing in attack at under-18 level he struggled to transfer his game to the big league. Jackson Trengove, Dayne Beams and Dan Hannebery were all still there and all three look set for long, successful AFL careers - unlike Lynch, who is now languishing at Adelaide.
Caydn Beetham (No.9, 1999). A gifted footballer who failed to fully embrace the requirements of being a senior AFL footballer in the professional era, Beetham was a costly pick by the Saints. He played just 37 games while star defenders Luke McPharlin and Darren Glass were taken with the next selections. Robert Murphy and Brad Green also went in the top 20 that year.
Ryan O'Keefe (No.56, 1999). Two flags, a club champion award and a Norm Smith Medal. Not bad going from a skilful half-forward who lacked a yard of pace and needed to work on his endurance when drafted in 1999. The Swans have built a dynasty on stars picked with late draft selections and O'Keefe is among their finest.
Adam Goodes (No.43, 1997). When talk turns to the best draft steals of all time, Goodes is a monty for inclusion among the top five. The Swans' games record-holder, two-time Brownlow Medallist, co-captain and three-time All Australian has been a remarkably durable mainstay of the Swans' most successful era and after 15 seasons, he's not done yet.
Michael O'Loughlin (No.40, 1994). The skinny kid from South Australia was an instant hit in his debut season, booting bags of three and four goals within his first four games. He took until his second year in 1996 to find consistently good form but he starred for the next 14 seasons, playing a club record 303 games and booting 50 goals in the drought-breaking premiership year of 2005.
Glenn Gorman (No.4, 1993). Another relic of the era when drafting was an inexact science, Gorman never played a game for the Swans. He was delisted after two fruitless seasons before being given a lifeline by North Melbourne, where he cracked it for a total of two senior games. Other options for the Swans at pick four included champions Chris Johnson, Brad Johnson, Chris Scott, Fraser Gehrig and Adam Simpson.
Josh Willoughby (No. 16, 2003). In hindsight, the first round of the 2003 draft was far from a classic vintage but the Swans would surely have preferred the output of, say, Fremantle star David Mundy (pick 19) or Brisbane Lions defender Jed Adcock (33) than Willoughby, who never played a senior game in red and white.
Daniel O'Keefe (No.15, 2006). Coming off their second successive grand final, the Swans wouldn't have been expecting a superstar from their first pick in the draft but they were entitled to hope for at least one senior game. They didn't get it from the Geelong Falcons midfielder, who never thrived in Sydney despite being given three seasons to show his worth. Somewhat ironically, they could have had Kurt Tippett instead, who went at 32 that same year.
Brett Heady (No.92, 1989). The upside of the hit-and-miss early years of the draft was the likelihood of genuine quality slipping into the later rounds of the draft. Such was the case of Heady, whose WAFL form was closely monitored by the Eagles and seemingly ignored by others. When he retired in 1999 he had 156 games, 237 goals and two precious premierships to his name.
Andrew Embley (No.57, 1998). The enigmatic wingman took a while to get comfortable at senior level but once he did, Embley's mix of height, athleticism, penetrating kicking and eye for a goal made him a difficult match-up. That was no more evident than in the Eagles' 2006 premiership, when his 26 touches and two goals earned him a Norm Smith Medal.
Adam Selwood (No.53, 2002). It's nice to get an unexpected star deep in the draft but most recruiting managers would be ecstatic with a potential 200-gamer and leader of the club. Selwood is no star when compared to the likes of Ben Cousins, Chris Judd and Daniel Kerr but he has been just as valuable a member of the powerful Eagles teams of the past decade.
Brendon Fewster (No.3, 1995). The Eagles traded out premiership ruckman David Hynes and rover Tony Godden to Fremantle for their third selection, and the Dockers' dismay at that pair's lack of output was tempered by Fewster's 33 modest games with West Coast. Any of Jared Crouch, Simon Prestigiacomo or Kane Johnson would have been a much smarter selection.
Andrew McDougall (No.5, 2000). As the career of champion Eagles spearhead Peter Sumich drew to a close, the Eagles went about searching for their next gun forward. They thought they had their man in the shape of strong-marking McDougall. They were wrong. He managed 38 games over six seasons in the west, booting 50 goals before moving to the Western Bulldogs for one final season. Shaun Burgoyne (pick 12) or Scott Thompson (16) went begging.
Brandon Hill (No.10, 1998). Hill was the only player picked among the first 45 players in the 1998 draft who failed to play a senior game. It was a selection that cost the Eagles dearly for the next five years, setting back their rebuild from the successes earlier that decade. Meanwhile Lenny Hayes (pick 11), Brett Burton (16) and Tyson Stenglein (29) - who eventually played in West Coast's 2005 flag - were taken by others.
Chris Grant (No.105, 1988). The Bulldogs' punt on a 15-year-old from Daylesford remains one of the legendary draft success stories in the league's history. He made his debut aged 17 and went on to become one of the greatest players that Whitten Oval has seen. Grant was controversially denied a share of the 1996 Brownlow Medal after he was suspended following a league-driven investigation.
Ryan Hargrave (No.66, 1999). Able to play tall or small, Hargrave was a key figure in the strong Bulldogs sides that made three successive preliminary finals in the late 2000s. He was blighted by injury in his later years but the veteran backman was one of the best speculative picks by former recruiter Scott Clayton.
Brian Lake (No.71, 2001). You'd have had a tough time convincing the Dogs that their fourth pick in the 2001 draft, way down at pick 71, would reap a champion key defender and two-time All Australian full back. But that was the reality and while Lake will finish his career at Hawthorn after pursuing a free agency move, he will always be remembered as a champion Bulldog.
Tim Walsh (No.4, 2002). Desperate to improve their big-man stocks, the Dogs plumped for the versatile Walsh ahead of fellow key talls Hamish McIntosh, Jay Schulz, Tom Lonergan, Jared Rivers and Daniel Merrett. Smalls Jarrad McVeigh, Andrew Mackie and Kade Simpson also went to other clubs.
Allen Jakovich (No.9, 1995). The mercurial mid-sized full forward was one of the most talented players to pull on the boots. He did his best work on match-days, as evidenced by his brilliant displays for Melbourne, and also his failure to give himself the best chance to recover from injury. By the time he got to the Dogs after a year away from the AFL, Jakovich's back was basically wrecked. He managed just seven games for the Bulldogs, kicking seven goals. Meanwhile, another star forward in Barry Hall was picked up by St Kilda at pick 19.
Jarrad Grant (No.5, 2007). Five years after the Walsh miss, the Dogs plumped for another tall with their first pick and while he has played some good footy, he hasn't been the star forward they hoped for. Blessed with pace and a good kick, Grant remains lightly-framed and ill-suited to playing as a key forward. Meanwhile Lachie Henderson (pick eight) and Ben McEvoy (nine) were taken shortly afterwards.
Draft and trade features from the vault:
• Trades from hell: Top 10 disasters
• Trades from hell: Docker shockers
• Trades from hell: Past their prime
• Trades from hell: Bad boys
• Draft busts: Wasted trades
• Draft busts: First-round picks
• Draft busts: No.1 picks
• Draft busts: Pick No.6
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