AFL 3 years ago

The sweet and sour of the AFL Drafts: Richmond Tigers

  • The sweet and sour of the AFL Drafts: Richmond Tigers
  • The sweet and sour of the AFL Drafts: Richmond Tigers
  • The sweet and sour of the AFL Drafts: Richmond Tigers
  • The sweet and sour of the AFL Drafts: Richmond Tigers
  • The sweet and sour of the AFL Drafts: Richmond Tigers

Did you know that three of Richmond’s draft picks in 2003 were sweet, but four of their selections in 2004 were sour?

Did you know that Deledio was drafted with pick 1, Cotchin was drafted with pick 2, and Martin was selected with pick 3? That’s magical.

Still confused? Well, it’s Richmond’s turn to go under the sweet and sour drafting microscope.
If you’ve read my previous scouting reports on the some of the other AFL clubs, you’ll know 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.

Since we start our analysis from 2001, a quick shout out to Chris Newman is necessary. He was drafted in 2000 with pick 55 (yes, you read that correctly), and has played 256 games with the Tigers, whilst also captaining the side for four years. Now that is the definition of a ‘sweet’ draft pick.

Top five sweets

1 - Cotchin & Rance in ‘07
Richmond absolutely hit the nail on the head in 2007, when they drafted Trent Cotchin and Alex Rance with their first two picks in the draft.

Despite Patrick Dangerfield going at pick 10 in the same draft, Richmond would be feeling very sweet about drafting Trent Cotchin with pick 2 in 2007.

The best word to describe Trent Cotchin is classy. Well, there are a few other words to choose from. How about Richmond captain, 3-time best and fairest winner, All-Australian and AFLPA Player of the Year? From the way his hair barely moves in the wind, to his evasiveness in and around the contest, to his disposal use and leadership; Trent Cotchin is elite.

And he’s only 25 years old? That’s pretty sweet.

Now to Rance. Alex Rance was Richmond’s priority pick in 2007, drafted with the 18th overall selection. He has been developing into the premier defender he is now, ever since joining Richmond’s list.

2014 was his best year. He was named All-Australian and Richmond made their historic run to the finals.

Rance is often given the most challenging defensive assignment, and he doesn’t shy away from it. He is incredibly physical and courageous, he loves a one-one contest and his marking could be made into a highlight reel. Rance provides important run and carry from defense, something we don’t often see from key defensive players. His skill for a big man shouldn’t be overlooked.

Despite 117 games and a great start to his flourishing career, Rance could very well become a sour draft pick if he chooses to go to another club, or perhaps, retire next year.

2 – Brett Deledio
2004 was a horrid drafting year for the Tigers, but there is one shining light remaining at the club. It comes in the form of Brett Deledio, who was the number one pick in the 2004 draft.

You can say Richmond should’ve drafted Buddy, or Roughead, or Griffen or whoever. But the fact is they drafted Deledio, and he has been a sweet addition to the yellow and back for over a decade now.

Deledio’s career has been greatly consistent and incredibly valuable for the Tigers. Like most players, injuries have sprinkled in and out his 220 game career. However, the former 2005 Rising Star winner, 2-time best and fairest winner, All-Australian and vice-captain for the Tigers has been an effective, versatile and exciting weapon for Richmond ever since bursting onto the scene in 2005.

Deledio’s signature move (so to speak), would be his dashing run and carry through the centre of the MCG, only to finish with a goal from 50m out, much to the pleasure of the Tiger Army. 151 goals for a predominant midfielder is a wonderful effort as well.

3 – Riewoldt & Edwards in ‘06
The Tigers scored another double in 2006, when they drafted Jack Riewoldt (#13) and Shane Edwards (#26).

Not only has Jack Riewoldt become one of the best forwards in the game, but more importantly, he is a wonderful character within the AFL.

In my 'Revisiting the 2006 AFL Draft' article, I said that Jack Riewoldt, ‘does the amazing, he does the stupid, and he does the unbelievable all in a 10-minute period’. And I stand by that. He is a magician with a bag of tricks, some good and some bad.

But lately, it’s been all-good for Jack. His start to 2015 exemplifies the best that Jack has to offer. He’s put together a career of 167 games, 408 goals, two Coleman Medals, a B&F, an All-Australian and he’s 5-time leading goal kicker with the Tigers.

His high-flying, goal kicking style has done nothing but add more class to the already well-respected ‘Riewoldt’ legacy in the AFL. At pick 13, he was a steal for the Tigers.

Drafted with pick 26 in 2006, Shane Edwards has always been underrated, especially since he’s played in the same line-up as Cotchin, Martin, Deledio and Reiwoldt for a lot of his career. He’s not Richmond’s best player each week, but he’s far from the worst. His 160 game career has seen him float from a small forward into the midfield and occasionally across half back. But one thing remains consistent – he runs, he tackles, he creates and most importantly, he contributes. It might of taken a few years, but Richmond are tasting sweetness with Edwards in 2015.

A special mention to Jake King, who was drafted in 2006, via the 24th selection in the rookie draft.

4 – Three rough diamonds in ‘03
Daniel Jackson, Shane Tuck and Nathan Foley all joined Richmond in the 2003 AFL Draft. I bet you can’t guess correctly where they were drafted without looking. Well at least I couldn’t.

Let’s just say, Richmond found three diamonds in the rough in 2003.

Daniel Jackson – pick 53. 156 games for the Tigers. He became Richmond’s best defensive midfielder/tagger. Courageous, tough and best and fairest winner in 2013. Injuries ultimately ended his career, but Jackson is a player that got the very best out of a limited AFL skill set.

Shane Tuck – pick 73. He was originally rookie drafted by the Hawks in 2000 but was delisted in 2002. Tuck was the ultimate workhorse. Like Jackson, he wasn’t quick and he wasn’t naturally gifted for an AFL player, but he grinded out a valuable 173 game career for the Tigers. For a period of his career, he was one of Richmond’s best midfielders. In fact, he played 104 consecutive games in his career.

Nathan Foley – originally the 4th selection in the 2004 (held in 2003) rookie draft. Foley is still an active AFL player, but he has had a career interrupted by injuries. However, in his prime, Foley was Richmond’s most explosive midfielder. In just 154 games, we’ve seen the best of Foley’s explosive pace, his toughness in the contest and his courage. A little pocket rocket who enjoyed a career best season in 2007.

5 – Brandon Ellis
Dustin Martin or Brandon Ellis? I’ve gone with Ellis to round out the top five sweets for Richmond. Ellis is only four years into his AFL career, after he was drafted by Richmond with the 15th pick in 2011. And in only a few years, he has already elevated himself into the highly respected, ‘sweet’ section of Richmond’s drafting since 2001. Way to go! But in all seriousness, Ellis is a player that is going to provide Richmond fans with a lot of sweetness for many years to come.

He is one of the breakout young stars in the AFL right now. At only 21 years of age, Ellis is proving to be one of the best midfielders at Richmond’s disposal.

He started his career on the backline, but Ellis has stepped into the midfield and he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Only 75 games in, Ellis is known for his work rate and his leadership. He racks up the disposals each week, but most importantly, he doesn’t waste them. He is composed under pressure and isn’t afraid of the big stage. In fact, he won the Yiooken Award (best on ground) for the Dreamtime at the ‘G game this season.

Sweet times ahead...

Worthy Mentions
David Rodan (#33, 2001 ND), Chris Hyde (#68, 2001 ND), Kelvin Moore (#3, 2002 RD), Luke McGuane (#36, 2004 ND), Will Thursfield (#1, 2004 RD), Matt White (#5, 2004 PD), Jake King (#24, 2006 RD), Tyrone Vickery (#8, 2008 ND), Robin Nahas (#8, 2008 RD), Dustin Martin (#3, 2009 ND), Benjamin Griffiths (#19, 2009 ND), David Astbury (#35, 2009 ND), Dylan Grimes (#2, 2009 PD), Reece Conca (#6, 2010 ND), Jake Batchelor (#30, 2010 ND), Bachar Houli (#3, 2010 PD), Nick Vlaustin (#9, 2012 ND) and Anthony Miles (#27, 2013 RD).

Top five sours

1 – Richard Tambling
No surprises here. Sorry Tigers fans. Despite playing 100 games for the club, Richard Tambling never lived up to his pick 4 (2004 draft) expectations. The fact that Lance Franklin was drafted with pick 5 does nothing but add salt to the wound for Tambling.

Despite having exciting pace, skill and a handy goal sense, Tambling’s career with the Tigers has been described as underwhelming and awfully mediocre. Unfortunately, his low moments outweighed his highs across the journey. In 2010, he was traded to the Crows where he only played 16 games in a couple of seasons. He was delisted in 2013.

2 – The rest of 2004
As I mentioned at the top, excluding Brett Deledio, 2004 was a very sour drafting year for the Tigers.

Their drafting opportunities looked like this: pick 1, pick 4, picks 12 and 16 (acquired through the Brad Ottens trade), pick 20 and some other mid-late draft picks.

We know what they did with picks 1 and 4, but what did they do with the others. Richmond fans, you might want to look away now.

With pick 12, they drafted Danny Meyer. He played a grand total of 26 AFL games, 17 with the Tigers and 9 with the Power.

With pick 16, they drafted Adam Pattinson. The ruckman played 61 games with the Tigers, before being delisted and picked up by the Saints where he played 5 games, and then on to the Hawks where he didn’t play a game.

Dean Polo was drafted with pick 20. He had a decent tenure with the Tigers, playing 56 games. He was delisted and joined the Saints for 21 games over two years before being delisted again.

Mark LeCras, Ivan Maric (at the club now), Angus Monfries, Nathan Van Berlo and Lynden Dunn were all still available. A wasted opportunity in 2004 for the Tigers.

3 – Jarrad Oakley-Nicholls
There was always going to be pressure on Oakley-Nicholls, after Richmond drafted him with pick 8 in 2005. 13 games over four years led to him being delisted in 2009. He was rookie drafted by the Eagles in 2009, but failed to play a game and was delisted again in 2011.

Luck perhaps wasn’t on Oakley-Nicholls’ side; he had a bad run of injuries and was at the club during a trying period.

Oakley-Nicholls and Tambling have become the poster boys for Richmond’s greatest draft blunders in the last decade.

4 – Alex Gilmour
All I know about Alex Gilmour is that he was drafted to Richmond in 2003, via the 21st draft pick. He registered 0 career games with the Tigers and was eventually delisted. What we do know is that Jed Adcock, Zac Dawson, Sam Fisher, Ben Hudson and Michael Rischitelli were all still available in 2003.

5 – Tom Roach
It’s never sweet when a father/son selection flops at an AFL club. Unfortunately for Tom Roach, he goes down as a sour draft pick for the Tigers.

He is the son of the great Richmond forward, Michael Roach, who kicked 607 goals over a 200 game career with the yellow and black.

Tom was a midfielder, who Richmond took a punt on in 2003, drafting him via under the F/S rule, with pick 37. He was delisted in 2006, after only playing 11 games for the club.

(Not) Worthy Mentions
Jay Schulz (#12, 2002 ND), Tim Fleming (#41, 2002 ND), Cleve Hughes (#24, 2005 ND), Travis Casserly (#40, 2005 ND), Daniel Connors (#58, 2006 ND), Jayden Post (#26, 2008 ND), Tom Hislop (#58, 2008 ND), Graham Polak (#62, 2009 ND), Troy Taylor (#51, 2009 ND), Bradley Helbig (#47, 2010 ND), Addam Maric (#7, 2011 RD), Sam Longeran (#22, 2012 RD) and Orren Stephenson (#3, 2012 RD).

Final Words
It’s difficult to give Richmond a definitive thumbs up or thumbs down when it comes to their drafting since 2001 - due to the fact that most of their high draft picks have always been overshadowed by ‘who was still available that year’.

The verdict is still out on a few of their most recent high draft picks. Is Tyrone Vickery finally starting to show his worth as a former pick 9? Is Reece Conca delivering on the expectations that come with being drafted at pick 6?

Richmond did well to draft Bachar Houli and Ben Cousins via the preseason draft. Cousins brought a membership boost and excitement over a short period, whilst Houli has been one of their most valuable recruits from another club.

2004 will always go down as an abomination of a drafting year, but since 2006, it’s been pretty solid.

Brandon Ellis, Nick Vlaustin and Anthony Miles hold the torch for their future. If the 2009 and 2010 drafted players come through on a consistent basis, Richmond could very well be staying put in the top eight for years to come.

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