Who will top Essendon’s 2020 draft haul?
It was a bleak picture for Essendon during last year’s trade period.
Few were predicting the success that would come in 2021 after finishing 13th on the AFL ladder.
Key players Joe Daniher, Adam Saad, and Orazio Fantastia all turned their backs on the club to request trades and rookie coach Ben Rutten took over for his first season in charge.
However, the Bombers were able to see some light in the tunnel by heading to the draft with three top 10 draft picks, and a year on the young team have made giant strides.
Archie Perkins and Nik Cox have shown they have the potential to become great AFL players, while fellow draftee Zach Reid played just the one game before glandular fever and back injuries.
The club surged up the ladder in 2020 off the back of good drafting and shrewd recruiting to make the finals after many predicted a lowly season, and Brendon Goddard believes it’s off the back of one “sliding doors” moment.
“Prior to going to the draft, the sliding doors moment, Josh Dunkley [had requested a trade to Essendon and the Western Bulldogs] wanted two first-rounders [in return],” Goddard told AFL Trade Radio’s Trade Mornings.
“Where would they be now, what would it look like? No Nik Cox, is it Zac Reid or Archie Perkins?
“We all thought it was doom and gloom with Joe Daniher, Adam Saad, and Orazio Fantasia walking out, and then what they’ve got in and the position they’re in, it’s been an incredible job by Essendon.
Further adding to the hype, Trade Mornings co-host Nick Dal Santo hinted that Reid is predicted by the club to become the best of the talented draft haul.
The 19-year-old was drafted as a key defender, and Dal Santo says Essendon list manager Adrian Dodoro is confident in his draft prodigy.
“I spoke to Adrian Dodoro after a really good win earlier this year at Marvel stadium and I said, ‘Mate, these young kids are incredible’ and I was referring to Cox and Perkins in particular,” he said
“He said, ‘The best one isn’t even out there yet,’ I said, ‘Who’s that?’ and he pointed to a tall kid in the back corner of the room who was in his Essendon tracksuit, and it was Zach Reid.
“I don’t know anything about Zach Reid, I know he’s meant to be a really good player, but if Adrian says that the best is still yet to come, then my gosh, because the other two have been really good.”
Essendon have picks 11, 51 and 56 in the upcoming National Draft but have indicated they are interested in splitting their first pick for multiple ones in the 10-25 pick bracket.
– BY SEB MOTTRAM/ SEN