AFL 3 years ago

The sweet and sour of the AFL Drafts: Western Bulldogs

  • The sweet and sour of the AFL Drafts: Western Bulldogs
  • The sweet and sour of the AFL Drafts: Western Bulldogs
  • The sweet and sour of the AFL Drafts: Western Bulldogs
  • The sweet and sour of the AFL Drafts: Western Bulldogs
  • The sweet and sour of the AFL Drafts: Western Bulldogs
  • The sweet and sour of the AFL Drafts: Western Bulldogs
  • The sweet and sour of the AFL Drafts: Western Bulldogs
Since 2001, the Western Bulldogs have had their hands on ten, top-ten draft picks in the national draft. How many of those do you think have been sweet, and how many do you think have been sour?

In hindsight, they also made two questionable decisions with pick 11 in consecutive years, but they have a great history of picking out gems in the rookie draft.

If youíve read my previous scouting reports on the some of the other AFL clubs, youíll know the draft selections below will be labelled either sweet or sour depending on how that playerís career turned out.

This could include playing 250 games, asking for a trade, captaining the side or being delisted after two matches

Itís been a bit of a mixed bag for the Dogs, so letís start the analysis.

Top Five Sweets

1 Ė Matthew Boyd
Think of the sweetest cake youíve ever tasted. Was it called Matthew Boyd by any chance?

Boyd, a much-loved Bulldogs player, was originally rookie-drafted (pick 23) in 2001. 248 games, the heart and soul of the team, the leader, the captain, the inspiration, a ball-winner, tough, reliable, sturdy, two-time All Australian, three-time B&F winner, selfless...bargain?

Who would of thought that a former rookie listed player would go on to have such an impact on a club?

Heís averaged 25 disposals, 5 marks and 4 tackles a game over his career. His move down back this season hasnít gone unnoticed, bringing leadership and composure to a young and exciting team.

His 250th will be a momentous occasion it no doubt leave a sweet feeling for every Bulldogs fan.

2 Ė The former Dogs
Three former dogs, all now playing with other AFL clubs, were originally drafted and had outstanding careers with the Western Bulldogs.

Between Adam Cooney, Ryan Griffen and Brian Lake, 618 AFL games were played.

Brian Lake was drafted with the 71st pick in the 2001 AFL Draft. He played just under 200 games with the Bulldogs. Lake was one of the best fullbacks in the game during his time with the Dogs. He was an important pillar in their defence, often matching up against the oppositionís best forwards.

He was named best and fairest in 2007, as well as All-Australian in 2009 and 2010. He was traded to the Hawks in 2012, and is now a two-time premiership player and North Smith Medallist. The Bulldogs used one of the picks they received in the Lake deal to draft Nathan Hrovat.

Next in line is Adam Cooney. Cooney was the number one overall pick in the 2003 AFL Draft. In hindsight, the Dogs got this pick right. Cooney and David Mundy have become the stand out talents from this draft.

Cooney played 219 games (186 goals) for the Bulldogs, and had an elite career with the club. In his prime, Cooney was a classy, explosive, quick, goal-kicking midfielder who could break games apart with his skill and ability.

Injuries got him towards the end of his career with the Dogs, but not before he won a Brownlow Medal in 2008, as well as being named All-Australian in the same year.

He was traded to the Bombers this past offseason, in a move that was much needed in order to reignite his career. His best is way past him, but Cooney was a wonderful servant for the Dogs when he was up and running.

Lastly, Ryan Griffen. The name probably leaves a sour taste in the mouths of Bulldogs fans now, but for 202 games, Ryan Griffen in a Bulldogs jumper was a sweet image. The Dogs drafted Griffen with pick 3 in 2004. Griffen is one of the smoothest AFL players to have played the game in the last decade. Heís incredibly skilled, composed and plays with pace. He was the club captain in 2014, a two-time best and fairest winner and All-Australian, but Griffen will most likely be remembered for walking out on the club in trying times last season.

3 Ė Dale Morris
Dale Morris, another remarkable rookie draft selection by the Western Bulldogs. Morris joined the club via the 2003 rookie draft, selected with pick 19.

For 196 games, Dale Morris has been a remarkable defensive anchor, general, and servant for the Western Bulldogs Football Club.

Dale Morris has always been the player you can rely on. He can play on both a small and a tall opponent, but most importantly, he provides experience and leadership to a young and inexperienced defense.

He goes about his business without a fuss, is quiet-achieving and hard-working. The highlight of his career would be his All-Australian selection in 2008, whilst his upcoming 200 game milestone will be one, which will be celebrated and appreciated by every Bulldogs fan.

4 Ė Liam Picken
Liam Picken is another Bulldog player who was originally drafted via the rookie draft. In 2008, the club drafted the mature age Picken with the 30th pick. He has gone on to carve out a great 139-game career, most notably as an effective defensive tagger.

Picken has one of the toughest gigs in football each week Ė to shut down the oppositionís most damaging midfielder. He does it without a fuss, and he does it very well.

He annoys, he frustrates, he suffocates and he does everything he can to stop his opponent. He is a tireless worker, he plays tough and hard and he is extremely courageous. You see Liam Picken bounce up and down off the ground at least three times a game.

Heís the little guy at the bottom of the packs at each stoppage, and his hard-nut approach is one that is well respected throughout the competition.

Picken will tackle and run all day long, and his consistency throughout his career has been significant.

5 Ė Five and Six in 2012
Jake Stringer and Jackson Macrae were both drafted in 2012. Itís an early call, but these two could be two of the sweetest draft picks for the Dogs in recent memory. And donít worry, I havenít forgotten about Marcus Bontempelli...

Stringer was drafted with pick 5 in 2012, and has so far been one of the most exciting players in the AFL this season. Heís played 38 games, kicked 63 goals, and set the Bulldogís forward line alight with his creativity, explosive speed and his goal sense. He is one of the most improved players in the competition, and could be one of the best medium sized forwards in the game in a seasonís time. He has great size, knows how to take a strong mark, and hopefully will spend a bit more time in the midfield in years to come. He has a craving for the contest, and his unpredictability has brought excitement and a spark into the former stagnant Bulldogís forward line.

Macrae was drafted with pick 6 in 2012, a pick the Dogs received in compensation for Callan Ward. Macrae is another big improver at the Dogs this season, as he continues to develop into an impressive midfield weapon for the club. 43 games into his career, and Macrae has already exhibited his ability to gather possessions at a quality rate. He is another Dogs midfielder with great size, and his run and carry has been important.

Two incredibly sweet draft picks who should have very sweet futures with the club, especially after they both signed contract extentions earlier this year.

Worthy Mentions
Will Minson (#20, 2002 ND), Dylan Addison (#27, 2005 ND), Josh Hill (#61, 2006 ND), Jarrad Harbrow (#2007 RD), Easton Wood (#43, 2007 ND), Jordan Roughead (#31, 2008 ND), Mitch Wallis (F/S #22, 2010 ND), Tom Liberatore (F/S #41, 2010 ND), Luke Dahlhaus (#22, 2011 RD), Jason Johannisen (#39, 2011 RD), Tory Dickson (#57, 2011 ND), Lin Jong (#9, 2012 RD) and Marcus Bontempelli (#4, 2013 ND)

Top Five Sours

1 Ė Tim Walsh
The Bulldogs drafted the key position forward with the 4th pick in the 2002 AFL Draft. One game and one goal are the final career stats for Tim Walsh, after the club delisted him in 2007. He did struggle with injury through out his time at the kennel. It wasnít the deepest of drafts, but key position players like Jay Schulz, Tom Lonergan, Jared Rivers and Daniel Merrett were all still available.

2 Ė Farren Ray
The Bulldogs held a fantastic drafting position in 2003. They had their hands on picks 1 and 4. With pick 1, they drafted Adam Cooney, and with pick 4, they drafted Farren Ray.

After 75 games for the club, Ray asked to be traded, seeking more senior opportunities. In 2008, he was traded to Saints for pick 31, a pick the Bulldogs used to draft Jordan Roughead. Rayís gone on to have a valuable career with the Saints, and will play his 200th game this week.

Ray hasnít developed into a top five pick, but the Bulldogs invested heavily in him and he quit the club when the going got tough.

David Mundy went at pick 19 in 2003, whilst Jed Adcock slipped to 33.

3 Ė Grant & Ward in Ď07
Another great opportunity presented itself for the Dogs in 2007, when they owned the rights to picks 5 and 19 in the AFL draft. With pick 5, they drafted Jarrad Grant, and with pick 19 (received in deal for Jordan McMahon), they drafted Callan Ward.

Callan Ward was a fantastic get for the Dogs. Heís tough, courageous, spirited and a wonderful AFL player to watch. He had an awesome start to his career with the Dogs, playing 60 games as an aggressive, hard-nut, inside midfielder. However, at the end of 2011, Ward decided to join Greater Western Sydney on a lucrative deal, effectively leaving the Dogs as an established, valuable player.

He has now played 133 games with the Giants, has been their co-captain since their innagural season and has one a best and fairest with the club. Heís a player any team would love to have in their side, and it was huge hole to fill when Ward left the club.

On the other hand, Jarrad Grant is a player who unfortunately hasnít delivered on his pick 5 expectations. In now eight years with the club, Grant has managed only 69 senior appearances. Itís harsh to completely write him off, considering he is still an active AFL player, but the general consensus is that Jarrad Grant has been a bust. I use the word sour, so letís stick with sour.

Heís a versatile, athletic forward who should cause headaches for his opposition. But Grantís appetite for the contest has always looked off.

This part gets a little bit sourer. Patrick Dangerfield went at pick 10 in 2007. Cyril Rioli at pick 12. Brad Ebert at pick 13. Harry Taylor and Alex Rance at 17 and 18 respectively. Chris Mayne Ė a Jarrad Grant type, was drafted at pick 40, whilst Jack Steven went at pick 42.

Grant was a drafting mistake, whilst Ward makes the sour list for being a high draft pick, who the Bulldogs developed and invested heavily into; who left the club for money and better opportunities.

4 Ė Tom Williams
Tom Williams is a draft story that is a little more sadder than sour. Williams, drafted with pick 4 in the 2004 AFL Draft, struggled through a luckless career of injuries on top of injuries. The defender managed only 85 games across seven years with the club, showing a lot of promise when he was up and running. Unfortunately, after another injury set back last year, he announced his retirement.

5 - Andrejs Everitt
Everitt was drafted to the Bulldogs via the 11th pick in the 2006 AFL draft. After just 36 games, the utility was traded to Sydney in 2010, in a deal that brought Patrick Veszpremi to the Dogs. Veszpermi managed only 12 games for the Dogs before being delisted in 2013. So it wasnít a great trade.

The former pick 11 (Everitt) has bounced around from the Dogs to Sydney and now finds himself settled at Carlton.

In 2006, James Frawley was drafted with pick 12. Jack Riewoldt with pick 13. Leroy Jetta with pick 18. Kurt Tippett with pick 32. Lindsay Thomas and Robbie Gray went at picks 53 and 55, whilst another quality utility, Tyson Goldsack, went at pick 63. Justin Westhoff was drafted with pick 71. Thatís pretty sour...

(Not) Worthy Mentions
Sam Power (#10, 2001 ND), Keiran McGuinness (#42, 2001 ND), Cameron Faulkner (#17, 2002 ND), Brad Murphy (#33, 2002 ND), Scott Bassett (#35, 2002 ND), Jesse Wells (#22, 2004 ND), Damian McCormack (#38, 2004 ND), Liam Jones (#32, 2008 ND), Christian Howard (#15, 2009 ND) and Jason Tutt (#31, 2009 ND).

Both sweet and sour Ė Shaun Higgins
There comes a time in each of these sweet and sour drafting reports, where Iím unsure about a playerís sweet or sour status. Thatís where I turn it over to you, the football world, to make the decision.

Shaun Higgins is the player whose status needs to be defined. He was drafted by the Bulldogs with pick 11 in 2005. Heís a classy midfielder/forward who had an up and down career with the club. He played 129 games, kicking 128 goals, with patches of brilliance, injuries and form issues all highlighting his tenure with the Dogs. In 2014, he signed as a free agent with North Melbourne, after the Dogs decided not to match the offer.

So is he sweet or sour? Was Shaun Higginsí career with the Dogs worthy of a pick 11? Just to make it interesting, Iíll inform you that Nathan Jones was drafted with pick 12 in 2005. Shannon Hurn with pick 13. Grant Birchall at 14. Travis Varcoe with pick 15. Bernie Vince at pick 32 and Andrew Swallow with pick 43.

All yours Dogs fans...

Final Words
Wow, where would the Bulldogs be if not for some magnificent drafting in the rookie drafts over the years. Boyd, Morris, Picken, Dahlhaus, Johannisen and Jong. All six of those players are in the best 22 when fit and healthy.

2010 was a stand out. Two brilliant rookie draft selections and two father/son selections who will wear the Bulldogs jumper for another decade and a half.

Itís a shame to see legends of the club now at other clubs. Cooney and Griffen in particular. However, they did contribute and reward the club for their high draft pick statuses.

Clearly, the thing that stands out about the Bulldogs drafting since 2001 is their hit and miss (and the injury curse) with the top ten pick. Theyíve also struggled to draft quality key position players consistently over the years.

But enough about the past, letís look toward the future. Hereís a few names for you: Bontempelli (who will be a top five sweet in no time), Talia, Honeychurch, Webb, Hrovat, Hunter, Daniel, Roberts and Redpath.

Ayce Cordy and Clay Smith were also high draft picks. Cordy is a season or two away from possibly doing something special, whilst everyone wants to see Clay Smith overcome his luckless injury curse.

With the recruits of Boyd and Crameri, this young Bulldogs side is looking solid, united and incredibly exciting.

Their drafting since 2001 has been pretty sour at times, but if the next breed of kids continues to develop and raise heart rates, that sour history will become a sweet one in no time.
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