AFL 3 years ago

The sweet and sour of the AFL Drafts: Hawthorn Hawks

  • The sweet and sour of the AFL Drafts: Hawthorn Hawks
  • The sweet and sour of the AFL Drafts: Hawthorn Hawks

The Brisbane Lions owned the early 2000’s. The Cats were relentless from ‘07-‘11. But after last year’s back-to-back premiership win, the Hawks cemented their name, as one the best and most dominant teams of the last decade.

Three premierships. Clarko’s cluster. Kennett’s curse. All of transpired since the 2001 AFL season. But how has Hawthorn’s drafting been since 2001?

Let’s get into the sweets and sours. Remember how this works. The draft selections below will be labelled either sweet or sour depending on how that player’s career turned out. This could include playing 250 games, asking for a trade, captaining the side or being delisted after two games.

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Top five sweets

1 – Hodge & Mitchell in ‘01

In 2001, Geelong added Bartel, Johnson, Kelly & Ablett (F/S). Hawthorn drafted Hodge, Mitchell, Ladson and Campbell Brown. Who drafted better? Let’s save that for another time.

Rather let’s focus on Hawthorn. They received the #1, #20 and #36 in the 2001 draft after they traded Trent Croad and Luke McPharlin to the Fremantle Dockers. They drafted Luke Hodge and Sam Mitchell. Safe to say that’s all gone to script for them...except for pick 20, but we’ll get to that later.

Pick 1. Captain Hodge. He’s courageous, brutal, versatile, skilful, brilliant and a star. The 250-gamer has enjoyed a luminous career, all with the brown and gold.

3-time premiership player (2-time premiership captain), 2-time Norm Smith, 3-time All-Australian, 2-time best and fairest and one of the best leaders in the AFL.

Now to Mitchell. He was overlooked in the 2000 AFL draft and joined Hawthorn’s VFL side, before Hawthorn drafted him in 2001 with pick 36.

Mitchell is the ageless midfielder. He has enjoyed a stunning 269 game-career with the Hawks, and has played a significant role in their rise to dominance over the last eight years.

Like Hodge, Mitchell is tough and ferocious, but also exudes class and polish. He’s a playmaker, creator and very difficult to keep out of the game.

Since being drafted together in 2001, Hodge and Mitchell have really carved out quite similar, yet inspired careers. Mitchell is also a 3-time premiership player (premiership captain in 2008), a club captain, a 4-time best and fairest and 2-time All-Australian.

Lastly, he has always polled well in the Brownlow Medal, with his best effort seeing him finish runner-up to Jobe Watson in the 2012 season.

2 – The class of 2004

2001 was sweet. But was 2004 sweeter? You decide. Here are the facts.

Jarryd Roughead. Pick 2, 216 games, 461 goals, strong, versatile, athletic, unselfish, accurate, relaxed yet also aggressive, 2-time club leading goal kicker, Coleman Medalist, 2-time All-Australian and 3-time Premiership player...Incredible.

Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin. Pick 5, 213 games, 686 goals, freakish, superstar, “13...13”, breathtaking, 100-goal season, 5-time All Australian, 3-time Coleman, 7-time leading goal kicker (Hawthorn & Sydney), 2-time Premiership player, Sydney, nine-years, $10 million.  

Jordan Lewis. Pick 7, 223 games, 125 goals, tough, aggressive, elite, proficient, leader, the occasional brain fade, passionate, damaging, 3-time premiership player, All-Australian and Best and Fairest in 2004.

All drafted within the top 10 of the 2004 draft. Speechless...

3 - Brad Sewell

Who would of thought that a rookie-drafted player would go on to play 200 games, be a dual premiership player and a best and fairest winner.

Brad Sewell joined the Hawks via the 7th selection in the 2003 Rookie Draft (held in 2002).

Perhaps the more ‘exciting’ players at the Hawks overshadowed his value to the team throughout his career. But if you look a little beneath the surface, you would see how Sewell’s contested ball winning, courage and clearance work were essential to Hawthorn’s midfield supremacy.

4 – Cyril Rioli

Bruce McAvaney describes him as ‘delicious’, but I’ll stick with sweet. The Hawks drafted Cyril with the 12th pick in the 2007 AFL Draft. I bet the 11 clubs that passed on him wouldn’t mind a bit of Cyril in their line-up today.

I’ll keep this one short and, well, sweet. 142 games, 191 goals and a collective scream of exhilaration from all when Cyril goes anywhere near the ball. By anywhere, I mean from 50 metres, to 5 metres to 5 inches. He’s just so damn exciting.

Rioli is the player you go to watch at the football. A goal of the year, mark of the year, play of the year, run of the year or assist of the year are all on the cards for Cyril.

He’s been hamstrung a lot in his career, but Cyril has been one of the most thrilling, breath-taking players we’ve been privy to watch play since his debut.

Three premierships and an All-Australian to add to the fine print of his CV.

5 – Luke Breust

Breust or Shiels? Both drafted in 2008. I went with the rookie selection. Yep that’s right, Luke Breust was the 47th pick in the 2009 Rookie Draft (held in 2008). Has he played the quickest 100 games you’ve ever seen? Since he’s started, it feels like he’s barely missed a game...or a set shot at goal.

Despite being a little taller than the rest, Breust is one of the best small forwards in the AFL. 194 goals, stunning accuracy, a lead up target and a creator in the forward line has Breust’s name all over it.

He’s strong for his size, very skilful and can put on the after burners if required.

At just age 24, he has two-premierships, an All-Australian and almost 200 goals to his name.

Worthy Mentions

Rick Ladson (#16, 2001 ND), Campbell Brown (#32, 2001 ND), Michael Osborne (#23, 2002 RD), Clinton Young (#18, 2004 RD), Simon Taylor (#53, 2004 ND), Tom Murphy (#31, 2004 ND), Grant Birchall (#14, 2005 ND), Max Bailey (#18, 2005 ND), Brent Guerra (#3, 2005 PD), Stephen Gilham (#34, 2005 RD), Matthew Suckling (#22, 2006 RD), Brendan Whitecross (#29, 2007 ND), Ryan Schoenmakers (#16, 2008 ND), Liam Shiels (#34, 2008 ND), Ben Stratton (#46, 2009 ND), Taylor Dureau (#69, 2009 ND), Isaac Smith (#19, 2010 ND), Paul Puopolo (#66, 2010 ND), Will Langford (#85, 2010 RD), Brad Hill (#33, 2011 ND) and Billy Hartung (#24, 2013 ND).

Top five sours

1 – Luke Brennan

For a former pick 8 of the 2002 AFL Draft, a career of 28 games puts you in the ‘bust’, or for this purpose, the ‘sour’ section. 

Brennan featured in only 19 games for Hawthorn, before being delisted and playing only 9 games for the Swans.

2 – No BEAUty picks here

In 2005, the Hawks drafted Beau Dowler (with pick 6) and Beau Muston (with pick 22) in the national draft.

Dowler managed only 16 games in a couple seasons with the Hawks, while Muston played 13, but was troubled by knee injuries. They did draft Birchall with pick 14 in the same draft, but the likes of Nathan Jones, Paddy Ryder, Varcoe and Patfull were still available.

3 – Mitch Thorp

Mitch Thorp will forever be known as the player who was drafted a pick before Joel Selwood in 2006. Hawthorn took him with a prized pick 6 selection, and it’s safe to say, it’s a pick they will not be framing on their drafting wall of fame.

Two games in two years before the Hawks delisted him. He tried to spark his AFL career again by entering the 2013 draft, but went undrafted.

4 – Xavier Ellis

Perhaps this is an unfair selection, but Ellis receives a sour mark of disapproval after in hindsight, the players who were drafted after him.

In 2005, the Hawks drafted Ellis with the third overall selection (a priority pick). He played 86 games with the Hawks, was a part of their 2008 premiership side, but unfortunately, injuries will be the lasting legacy of Ellis’ time at the Hawks. He has resumed his career with the Eagles via free agency in 2014, taking his career tally 103 games.

Pendlebury...Pick 5. Ouch.

5 – Dayle Garlett

Dayle Garlett could very well be one of the saddest stories and the most wasted AFL talent we’ve seen in a while.

After a lot of scepticism of Garlett’s off-field behaviour, he was overlooked in the 2012 draft, before Hawthorn took a risk and drafted him with the 38th pick in the 2013 AFL draft.

Unfortunately after a couple months of preseason, and no AFL games, Garlett sensationally quit the Hawks.

Sadly, his time since quitting Hawthorn has featured drugs, crime, courts and newspaper headlines.

(Not) Worthy Mentions

Daniel Elstone (#20, 2001 ND), Simon Cox (#48, 2001 ND), Harry Miller (#25, 2003 ND), Zac Dawson (#41, 2003 ND), Matthew Ball (#51, 2003 ND), Matthew Little (#26, 2004 ND), Travis Tuck (F/S, #38, 2005 ND), Ben McGlynn (#55, 2005 RD), Brent Renouf (#24, 2006 ND), Jarryd Morton (#33, 2006 ND), Josh P. Kennedy (F/S, #40, 2006 ND), Jordan Lisle (#50, 2008 ND), Sam Grimley (#39, 2009 ND), Mitch Hallahan (#38, 2010 ND) and Jordan Kelly (#38, 2011 ND).

Final Words

2001 and 2004 were exceptional. 2005 (besides Birchall) was not.

Hawthorn has had really good first-round drafting moments, but they have also really fluffed a few cherished picks.

Their ability to draft talent in the rookie drafts (Sewell, Breust, Langford, Suckling) as well as in the second-late rounds (Hill, Puopolo, Shiels, Stratton, Dureau) has perhaps made up for a few major blunders in the top 10 through out the years.

No one can deny Hawthorn’s ascendency and success over the past seven years, and it’s always fascinating to see how two or three years of remarkable drafting (in groups) can lead your club to the promised land.

You’ve been sweet and sour Hawthorn. But I think those three premierships mean the sours can be forgotten.

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