Sport AFL Tom Boyd set to be No.1 in AFL Draft
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Tom Boyd set to be No.1 in AFL Draft

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• 2013 AFL Draft predictions

There are plenty of predictions for this year’s AFL draft, but the one thing everyone agrees with is that Tom Boyd will be the first name read out on the Gold Coast on Thursday.

The 18-year-old from the Eastern Ranges in Victoria has been a lock for the top of the draft for most of 2013.

The 200cm tall forward cemented this position with an excellent performance in the Under-18 national championships, where he kicked nine goals in just two games for Vic Metro.

He is a strong mark with a long accurate kick and is clearly viewed as the standout player in the draft.

Greater Western Sydney has the number one pick, and after shopping it around in search of a decent trade, the Giants have opted to keep the selection to use on Boyd.

It made particular sense to keep the pick after being gazumped by their cross-town rivals the Sydney Swans in the race for Hawthorn superstar Lance Franklin.

The young Victorian will join Jeremy Cameron and Jonathon Patton in a hugely-talented Giants forward line that is likely to terrorise defences for years to come.

Boyd has been compared with Geelong forward Tom Hawkins, who came into the league in the 2006 draft under the father-son rule as the son of former Cats star Jack Hawkins.

Hawkins is a big-bodied forward with an ability to kick goals, two flags already under his belt and a second in the Coleman Medal goal-kicking stakes in 2012.

However he has had back injury issues in the last year and the Giants will be hoping that Boyd’s body copes with the stresses and strains of AFL football better than “the Tomahawk”.

A number one pick means a player has been assessed as the best in the draft – or at least the best for the needs of the team selecting first – prior to the draft.

In 2008, for example, Melbourne took the much-heralded Jack Watts with the first pick of the draft.

He has since struggled along with the rest of the Demons side, while second pick Nic Naitanui has become a cult superstar at ruck/forward for West Coast.

Further down in the same draft, Collingwood and Sydney grabbed some value with Dayne Beams (pick 29) and Daniel Hannebery (pick 30), who have both become elite midfielders in the AFL for their respective sides.

But the last number one draft pick to go on to win the Brownlow Medal was Adam Cooney, who was drafted by the Western Bulldogs in 2003.

To find the last number one pick to win a premiership medal, you have to go back even further to 2001, when Hawthorn selected Luke Hodge.

Hodge went on to become a dual flag winner for the Hawks and was the victorious premiership captain in 2013.

After Boyd, it could be a midfield dominated opening to the draft.

Expectations are that Victorian onballer Josh Kelly will go to the Giants at pick two, but then it gets a little murkier, with South Australian ball-winning midfielder James Aish, Tasmanian defender Kade Kolodashnij, Victorian midfield/forward Jack Billings, South Australian tall defender Matthew Scharenberg and Victorian midfielders Marcus Bontempelli and Nathan Freeman all tipped as possible selections somewhere in the top five or six.

The next lock is defender / midfielder Luke McDonald, who will go to North Melbourne at pick eight under the father-son rule.

This is a sign of the times, and the changing rules in recent years regarding the price clubs have to pay to draft the offspring of their former players.

In times past, gun players like Gary Ablett junior (pick 40) and Jobe Watson (pick 40), would slide down the draft order, since clubs could afford to draft them later because they had no opposition.

Now if a club nominates a player (in advance) under the father-son rule, it has to bid against interested rival clubs. If a rival club makes a bid (in reverse draft order), the club that nominated the player has to use its next available pick to hold on to their selection.

Key forward Cameron McCarthy could be one to break the dominance of the midfielders, with Collingwood or Brisbane a likely destination.

Overall, the Brisbane Lions – who have lost a number of younger players in the trade period, as well as the retirement of Simon Black – are looking to rebuild with five picks inside the top 30.

Others who will play a significant role in the opening 30 selections are St Kilda (four picks), GWS (four picks) and Gold Coast (three picks).