Earlier this week, I wrote that the 2005 AFL draft was one of the deepest in AFL history. Well, the 2006 draft class may give it a run for its money.
I’ve got a pool of players written down in front me who could all be potential redrafted top ten picks. It’s remarkable to see how many quality players, who are on AFL lists today, were in this draft.
Keep your eyes peeled for the few gems that Port Adelaide picked up in the late rounds as well as Collingwood and Geelong.
Remember: No rookie-drafted players were included in these series of articles.
Pick 1: Bryce Gibbs (Carlton)
Pick 2: Scott Gumbleton (Essendon)
Pick 3: Lachlan Hansen (North Melbourne)
Pick 4: Matthew Leuenberger (Brisbane)
Pick 5: Travis Boak (Port Adelaide)
Pick 6: Mitchell Thorp (Hawthorn)
Pick 7: Joel Selwood (Geelong)
Pick 8: Ben Reid (Collingwood)
Pick 9: David Armitage (St Kilda)
Pick 10: Nathan Brown (Collingwood)
Pick 1 (Carlton) – Joel Selwood
Joel Selwood. Wow. This is the myth footy fans will be talking about for decades to come - how did he slip to Pick 7? I think he is a step ahead of everyone else in this draft. He’s courageous, intense, attacks the balls like no one else in the competition and is a sensational leader. He was handed the captaincy of Geelong at age 23.
Selwood is a triple premiership player, four-time All-Australian (two of those as captain), triple best and fairest winner and four-time ALPHA Most Courageous Player. The lists goes on and on. By the way, he’s only 26 and he hasn’t even notched up 200 games. As I said at the start… wow.
Pick 2 (Essendon) – Jack Riewoldt
Unfortunately for the Bombers, their Pick 2, Scott Gumbleton, is always going to be considered a bust due to the injury curse he battled throughout his entire career. However, the Tigers took Jack at Pick 13. Riewoldt is the kind of player and character that a sports competition needs. He does the amazing, he does the stupid, and he does the unbelievable all in a ten-minute period.
Jack has played 167 games for Richmond and has kicked 408 goals. He’s a 2-time Coleman Medalist, a best and fairest winner, an All-Australian (2010) and a 5-time club leading goal kicker. His spectacular marking and accurate goal-kicking is wonderful to watch. Safe to say, he was an absolute steal for the Richmond Tigers in the 2006 draft.
Pick 3 (North Melbourne) – Travis Boak
Port Adelaide selected Boak with their fifth overall pick in the 2006 draft. Boak is an elite midfielder in the AFL, who plays inside and outside, winning his own ball, while also putting his body on the line for his teammates.
He’s averaged 23 disposals over 166 game career and is a big time player. Boak is a two-time All Australian, a best and fairest winner and the current captain of Port Adelaide. He’s a skilful player who shows incredible poise under pressure. Boak tends to fall under the 'interstate curse' which fails to recognize elite players outside of Victoria. Put him in any Victorian team and he'd get a lot more attention.
Pick 4 (Brisbane) – Josh P. Kennedy
Kennedy was the 40th pick in this draft, selected by Hawthorn under the father-son rule. He played 13 games at the Hawks before crossing to Sydney in 2010. Kennedy has worked his way up to become one of the AFL’s best midfielders. He is a big-bodied midfielder, who is often tagged, but that doesn’t seem to bother him.
Kennedy has averaged 25 disposals and five tackles in his 145 games. 2012 was his best season – he was named All-Australian (also named in 2014), won a premiership with the Swans and was named their best and fairest winner. There's no greater plaudit than winning the B&F in a premiership year. He's a star.
Pick 5 (Port Adelaide) – Tom Hawkins
Hawkins was another taken under the father-son rule, by Geelong, with Pick 41. Like many key forwards, Hawkins took a few seasons to develop early in his career. However, since 2011, he's well and truely passed Travis Cloke as the most powerful, dominant forward target in the AFL.
Hawkins is a double premiership player and was named All-Australian in 2011. He conquered the 2011 grand final where he finished with 19 disposals, nine marks and three goals. He’s kicked 305 goals and hit the 150th game milestone earlier this season. He's now in his prime and he should be dominating in the competition.
Pick 6 (Hawthorn) – Robbie Gray
Hawthorn had a huge miss with their sixth pick, drafting a player who only played two games in his career. Robbie Gray was taken at Pick 55 by Port Adelaide and has played 125 games and kicked 171 goals. Extraordinary. Gray has had an interesting career – he’s been good and not so good throughout. This is mainly due to season-ending injuries and patches of poor form.
However, 2014 was a career year for Robbie Gray. He was All-Australian, averaged 25 disposals and was the AFL Coaches Association Player of the Year. He was also a major contender for the Brownlow Medal. Gray is a creative small forward-midfielder who can often do the spectacular, while still playing his role as good as anybody else in the team. He's become one of Port's most important players.
Thomas over Selwood. But Thomas is a way better player than his pick 53 draft tag suggests.
Like Riewoldt, Lindsay Thomas is another of the unique characters in the AFL. He's polarizing, controversial and a player that the opposition supporters love to jeer. But nothing can deny his 164 game, 271 goal career which has seen him carve out a career as an unconventional small forward.
He's incredibly smart and dangerous around the goals and his creativity is one of his best attributes. 2013 was his year - he kicked 53 goals and finished 7th in the Coleman Medal count (an extraordinary accomplishment for a small forward). He's also led North's goal kicking twice in his career.
He does the good and the bad; a player the fans love to hate.
Pick 8 (Collingwood) – Todd Goldstein
North Melbourne drafted Goldstein at Pick 37 in the 2006 draft. Goldstein has been a really consistent, well performing ruckman for the Kangaroos since 2011. He simply does what he is supposed to do.
Goldstein has averaged 29 hit outs and 11 disposals over his 136-game career. He can push forward and kick a goal, as well as running back to help his defence. He is one the best, most skilled ruckman in the game and shoulders a lot, if not all, of the ruck duties at North Melbourne.
He's showing his value in 2015, and with the season-ending injury to Shane Mumford, Goldstein could be adding All-Australian to his resume by the seasons end.
Pick 9 (St Kilda) – Kurt Tippett
Adelaide remarkably drafted Tippett with the 32nd pick in this draft. I would say it was a steal, but I think Tippett stole more from Adelaide in the years that followed. Tippett played 104 games, kicking 188 goals for the Crows before controversially joining Sydney in 2013. Injuries and suspension have limited his games at Sydney, but he now sits at 141 games and 278 goals.
Tippett is an extremely talented key forward, who can take a contested mark and kick a bag of goals (although his accuracy has been a problem in the past). He can play good minutes in the ruck as well. If he gets back to this very best this season, he could kick his 300th goal. Amazing for a player who almost chose a basketball career...
Pick 10 (Collingwood) – Justin Westhoff
Westhoff was selected at Pick 71 by Port Adelaide in 2006. He could be the AFL’s most versatile player. and one of the most underrated to go along with that. He’ll play a key defensive role while also kicking two goals in one quarter. He can also do a bit of ruck work, and play solid time on the wing. Safe to say, he is a hard worker.
Westhoff’s past few seasons have been really consistent but he has struggled with his form over his career. Westhoff is a strong, reliable marking target and has kicked 214 goals over 170 games. All 18 clubs could do with a Justin Westhoff type.
My next three redrafted picks:
Pick 11: Bryce Gibbs (originally pick 1)
Pick 12: David Armitage (originally pick 9)
Pick 13: James Frawley (originally pick 12)
I probably haven’t given enough credit to the key defenders who were drafted in 2006.
There weren’t enough spots for players who are in the prime of their careers and have shown how valuable they are. Guys like Eric Mackenzie, Ben Reid, Bachar Houli, Shane Edwards, Nathan Brown, Tyson Goldsack and Chris Dawes are among those. See what I mean...the list goes on and on.
Collingwood, Geelong and Port Adelaide should be thanking their recruiting teams of 2006. While on the other hand, Essendon, St Kilda and Hawthorn should probably be finding new ones.
Did I get this right? Who would you redraft as the top ten picks in the 2006 draft?