K rock Football

Pick swap “too compelling”: Wells

GEELONG has turned heads on the second night of the AFL National Draft – and not because it selected a relative no-name with just six quarters of NAB League action to his name.

Set to add to its list with selection No.27, the Cats, instead of taking one of a multitude of talented youngsters still available, Geelong did a deal with Gold Coast in which it sent that pick to the Suns.

In return, the Cats now have in its possession pick No.11 in next year’s National Draft that the AFL handed Gold Coast as part of its assistance package.

That means Geelong has three first-round selections at its disposal in 2020 after securing a future first-round pick from West Coast as part of the Tim Kelly deal.

“We had a big decision to make there,” list manager Stephen Wells told krockfootball.com.au of the strategic move.

“There were plenty of players on the draft board that really liked, but it was just too compelling to get pick 11, as it at the moment, and give up pick 27.

“We now have three picks in next year’s first-round, which we can either use at the draft or in trades.”

With pick No.27 gone, selection No.41 became the Cats first of the evening as they looked to add to the selections of Cooper Stephens and Sam De Koning on Wednesday night.

With it, they nabbed little-known Calder Cannons forward Francis Evans.

The Cannons had overlooked Evans until it was suggested they take a look at him after an impressive start to the VAFA Division 2 season with Brunswick-NOBS.

He kicked 21 goals in five games, with Wells on hand to see him in action, before he featured in two NAB League matches with the Cannons mid-year.

The 182cm forward managed five goals in six quarters before suffering a heel injury that required surgery and ended his season.

“Francis is a project player, and he’s got a long way to go,” Wells said. “But he’s shown enough in the football that we have seen to suggest he deserves an opportunity on an AFL list.

“He’s a natural goalkicker with a good footy brain, and he showed he could get the ball at ground level and also by taking good marks.”

As part of the deal with Gold Coast, Geelong also received pick No.64. That then became No.63, and the Cats did a deal with Essendon involving a future third and fourth-round selection to move up the draft board to No.50.

With that pick, Geelong landed South Australian Cam Taheny.

From Norwood, the 185cm forward represented the Croweaters in the under-18 National Championships.

“We weren’t confident Cam was going to be there by the time our pick (No.63) came around,” Wells said.

“He’s been a very good player for Norwood over the last couple of years and played some senior football.

“Cam’s a good goalkicker; he can mark the ball, he’s very athletic.

“This time last year, as we were preparing for this draft, we had Cam as a very highly-rated prospect.

“It wasn’t an outstanding year for him, but he still showed enough for us to call his name out.”

Geelong can make up to three selections at Friday morning’s Rookie Draft.

The Cats have guaranteed contracted youngster Oscar Brownless a spot after delisting him last month.

However, Wells is unsure whether they will make one or two other picks.

“We’ll just see what comes through to us … I’d expect we’d pick at least one other player, and maybe leave a spot open for a train-on,” he said.

“But we are open to drafting two players as well.”

Twitter: @tom_king79