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Comment: Why Crows hold the draft cards

Riley Beveridge, AFL Media  July 11, 2018 7:26 PM

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 4: (L-R) Connor Rozee, Jackson Hately, Jack Lukosius and Izak Rankine of South Australia pose for a photograph during the Under 18 Championships portrait session at Etihad Stadium on July 4, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 4: (L-R) Connor Rozee, Jackson Hately, Jack Lukosius and Izak Rankine of South Australia pose for a photograph during the Under 18 Championships portrait session at Etihad Stadium on July 4, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)

It's great for South Australian footy. It's fantastic for us and Port Adelaide that there are. But it doesn't mean you can always get them; I'm sure [other clubs] will all love those players as well.
Adelaide has endured a year to forget so far in 2018.

But the Crows can rebound quickly this off-season, with the club set to take the strongest hand it has ever held into the upcoming trade and draft period.

Holding a number of top picks in a strong draft year – and one where there is a raft of quality South Australian talent available – Adelaide will also have the opportunity to be flexible and daring when the trade period rolls around in October.

Given the talent that has departed the Crows in recent years – Patrick Dangerfield to the Cats, Phil Davis to the Giants, Jack Gunston to the Hawks and Jake Lever to the Demons, to name a few – it's no wonder the club is desperate to secure local talent.

It picked up South Australian forward Darcy Fogarty with its first selection in last year's NAB AFL Draft, with rival clubs aware of its desire to move up the order this year in an effort to secure one of the highly-rated local duo Jack Lukosius or Izak Rankine.

Such is the evenness of the talent available in this year's draft pool, a handful of clubs will consider shifting early picks down the order to secure multiple first-rounders.

Should they do so, it will put Adelaide in the box seat to take advantage.

The Crows hold multiple top-20 picks going into this year's draft – putting them in prime position to bundle their selections and move up the draft order.

Not only do they have their own first-round selection, currently pick No.8, but they also have Melbourne's as part of last year's Lever deal (currently pick No.13) and Carlton's second-rounder via the 2017 Bryce Gibbs trade (currently pick No.19).

READ: Sloane a Crow for life

While they may go to the draft armed with an array of early picks, it's believed they are looking to package them to trade up in the order and snare either Lukosius or Rankine – one of two South Australian prospects described by one recruiter as "special" talents.

Lukosius SA Draftee.jpg

Jack Lukosius of South Australia during the AFL U18 Championship match. Credit: AFL Media

Midway through the year, 193cm key forward Lukosius appears the most likely candidate to be pick No.1 in this year's NAB AFL Draft. The naturally gifted youngster has been compared to former St Kilda champion Nick Riewoldt, impressing with his marking ability on the lead.

Classy forward Rankine is another South Australian in the pick No.1 conversation, with the highly skilled teenager exciting recruiters with his elite mix of speed and smarts.

Talented midfielders Connor Rozee and Jackson Hately are the other South Australians considered worthy of being first-round draft picks later this year, though both are understood to be some way behind Lukosius and Rankine.

Rankine SA Draftee.jpg

Izak Rankine of South Australia in action during the AFL U18 Championship match. Credit: AFL Media

Speaking on AFL.com.au's 'Road to the Draft' podcast last week, Adelaide recruiting manager Hamish Ogilvie suggested the club wouldn't rule anything out when it came to potentially trading up the draft order to secure an earlier selection.

"We'll look at every scenario and we're open to everything," Ogilvie said.

"It's a bit early for that, but we'll see what happens. It's better to have (that option) than not have it."

Ogilvie also revealed that the fact two South Australians are being considered genuine pick No.1 candidates will come into the Crows' consideration when it comes to such decisions.

"It does come into your thinking," Ogilvie said.

"It's great for South Australian footy. It's fantastic for us and Port Adelaide that there are. But it doesn't mean you can always get them; I'm sure Gold Coast, St Kilda, Carlton, Collingwood and Richmond will all love those players as well.

"I think the fact that those boys can play some senior footy in the SANFL, in quite good teams, is a really big bonus."

There are a number of clubs that have sizeable gaps between their first and second-round selections at the upcoming draft, putting them in the box seat to trade with Adelaide for multiple first-round picks.

St Kilda, Fremantle and the Western Bulldogs are among those sides, while Carlton, Brisbane and Gold Coast could take advantage of their draft standing.

The Dogs, who shifted down the draft order in a trade with the Blues back in 2013, won't make a selection between their picks, which are No.5 and No.41.

Yet they need multiple early selections, considering they will likely have to match bids for father-son prospect Rhylee West and Next Generation Academy member Buku Khamis.

The Saints won't enter the draft between picks No.4 and No.58, while the Dockers have an even wider gap between picks No.6 and No.78.

The Blues, the Suns and the Lions could also look to kick start their rebuilds with multiple first-round choices in an even and strong draft crop.

Options are available for Adelaide. Now, they must decide how bold they want to be.