While dynasties can be built and clubs reborn on the back of clever drafting, is the draft all its cracked up to be?

Friday nights clash between St Kilda and Carlton might not exactly be a blockbuster, but it certainly highlights the pitfalls of focusing too heavily on 18-year-olds.

Getting the balance right between experience and youth is so crucial that list managers arent far behind coaches in terms of importance.

Right now, the Saints and Blues hold two of the top four picks in the draft, including of course, in Carltons case, the No.1 pick.

Will they be brave enough to trade it for a ready-made player, or will the Blues continue selecting kids?

The Blues should seriously consider a player such as Dylan Shiel if he became available.

Photo: AAP


If you believe the hype surrounding South Australian prospect Jack Lukosius it seems like a simple decision, but is he really what is needed at Princes Park?

While Lukosius might be an incredible teenager, hes still a relatively unknown quantity. In recent years weve also seen a number of key-position players struggle to make the transition to AFL level: whether than be Paddy McCartin, Tom Boyd or Jack Watts.

Thats not to say Lukosius wont become a superstar, but the Blues know more than most that No.1 draft picks dont always equal success.

As it stands they have three former No.1 draftees still on their list: Marc Murphy, Matthew Kreuzer and Jacob Weitering. It was four before Bryce Gibbs left at the end of last year.

Melbourne went through a similar period when they drafted the likes of Watts, Jack Trengove, Tom Scully and even Jimmy Toumpas in the top five. Not one of them remains at the Demons.

The expansion clubs also have found out just how difficult it can be to manage so many young players at the same time, no matter how talented they are.

Most thought Greater Western Sydney were about to become juggernauts given how many top 10 picks theyd hoarded.

While they have their excuses for missing out on greater success, above all else it shows there are no guarantees with the draft.

For the most part weve seen premiership lists built slightly differently.

Hawthorns great era came on the back of two very good drafts where they picked up the likes of Luke Hodge, Buddy Franklin, Jarryd Roughead and Jordan Lewis with top 10 picks.

But then they filled in the gaps with smart recruiting. They identified what they needed and targeted the right players, with the help of their exposed form: guys such as Shaun Burgoyne and Josh Gibson, alongside role players such as Stuart Dew and David Hale.

The Hawks showed you dont need to bottom out for five years or more to succeed.

Sydney and Geelong fall in the same category. Clearly, the introduction of free agency has made topping up much easier for the contenders.

Still, the Swans have rarely had high picks, instead developing a huge number of rookies or getting improvement out of recruits such as Josh Kennedy.

The Cats might have added a couple of blokes by the name of Patrick Dangerfield and Gary Ablett in recent years, but just as importantly theyve discovered two of the best mature-age debutants in Tom Stewart and Tim Kelly.

Richmond managed to add three established players in one trade period when they snared Dion Prestia, Josh Caddy and Toby Nankervis at the end of 2016.

Despite finishing 13th they gave up several picks to get them knowing they already had enough talent from the draft on their list. That trio complemented Trent Cotchin, Dustin Martin, Jack Riewoldt and Alex Rance perfectly.

The Richmond model could also give some hope to Carlton fans given there are similarities.

Despite being anchored to the bottom, the Blues have a decent share of top-end talent, albeit they are quite young.

Charlie Curnow and Patrick Cripps were both first-round selections and are already stars, while Paddy Dow has a bright future after going at No.2 last year. They can form the nucleus of the clubs next September tilt.

Now is the time for Stephen Silvagnis recruiting team to support those youngsters by adding established talent.

Of course, that is easier said than done. One win from 16 games is a difficult sell, even at a club with Carltons history.

But if Dylan Shiel becomes available or Adelaide come knocking with a deal involving players and picks then it absolutely must be considered.

Its also worth noting that very few top draft picks have an immediate impact. They generally take at least a few years to develop.

Take Cam Rayner at the Brisbane Lions, for example. He looks to be developing nicely, but certainly hasnt dramatically changed the Lions fortunes.

Can Carlton wait long enough for another batch of kids to grow? Can Brendon Bolton?

While there might be pressure building on him, the club must back in Bolton for the foreseeable future given the path theyve chosen to take trading out so much experience.

While there were certainly valid reasons to let someone such as Gibbs go, theyve also lost players of the ilk of Zach Tuohy, Lachie Henderson, Eddie Betts, Jarrad Waite and more.

In many cases theyve attempted to justify those decisions by the "potential" that comes with high draft choices.

As yet, that hasnt paid dividends.

No doubt it would take a brave recruiter to trade away the No.1 pick. Everything is easier in hindsight and supporters have long memories when it comes to poor decisions.

But sometimes the greatest risk is taking no risk at all.

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