Since the players drafted in 2011 are only four and a half years into the AFL system, this redraft will combine the player’s achievements so far, as well as the future potential I see them being capable of.
The Giants’ inaugural season was in 2012, and therefore in 2011, they dominated the early parts of the national draft. Eight of the first ten picks belong to them, so let’s take a look at who they ‘could have had’, as I redraft the top ten from 2011.
This redraft will not include any father/sons, mini-drafted or rookie-drafted players. However, the players that came out of the rookie draft are quite incredible. Players like Lee Spurr, Lin Jong, Tom Bell, Marley Williams, Jack Crisp, Mark Blicavs, Clancee Pearce and Harry Cunningham all were rookie drafted in 2011. The likes of Jeremy Cameron, Dylan Shiel and Adam Treloar would have been in this draft if not for GWS preselecting them as underage recruits. Pretty incredible...But let’s get to the main event... the 2011 AFL National Draft.
I’ll start by listing the actual top ten of the 2011 draft, and then I will begin my redraft.
2011 AFL DRAFT
Pick 1: Jonathan Patton (Greater Western Sydney)
Pick 2: Stephen Coniglio (Greater Western Sydney)
Pick 3: Dom Tyson (Greater Western Sydney)
Pick 4: Will Hoskin-Elliott (Greater Western Sydney)
Pick 5: Matt Buntine (Greater Western Sydney)
Pick 6: Chad Wingard (Port Adelaide)
Pick 7: Nick Haynes (Greater Western Sydney)
Pick 8: Billy Longer (Brisbane Lions)
Pick 9: Adam Tomlinson (Greater Western Sydney)
Pick 10: Liam Sumner (Greater Western Sydney)
Pick 1 (Greater Western Sydney) – Chad Wingard
Wingard to GWS was never going to happen. He didn’t ‘slip’ to pick 6 like most people think. Pre-draft, he told the Giants he would leave to go back home to South Australia after his contract was up. Therefore, the Giants didn’t select him with their first five picks.
However, Wingard is still the stand out talent from this draft and is the obvious choice for the number one overall pick in my 2011 redraft.
79 games in, 121 goals kicked, already an All-Australian and Best and Fairest winner. He’s one of the most creative and exciting small forward/midfielders in the game, and a much-loved player at Port Adelaide.
He loves the big stage and he is well on his way to producing an excellent 200+ game career with the Power.
Pick 2 – Brandon Ellis (Greater Western Sydney)
GWS selected Stephen Coniglio with this pick, but Brandon Ellis is the second overall pick in this redraft.
Richmond selected him with the 15th pick in 2011. This season, Ellis has elevated himself into every footy fan’s AFL radar. He is one of the most exciting rising stars in the AFL and a quality player for the Tigers.
His 77-game career has seen him start off as a defender and work his way into the midfield. He is an excellent ball-winner, but most importantly, an even better ball user.
At 21, his leadership is incredibly valuable to Richmond as they look to cement a spot in the finals. He has a fantastic work rate and plays with poise and flair.
Pick 3 – Lachie Neale (Greater Western Sydney)
Fremantle committed a crime in 2011 when they stole Lachie Neale out of the 2011 AFL Draft. Pick 58. He was pick 58 in this draft!
In a star-studded Fremantle midfield, Lachie Neale has proven he knows how to hold his own. At just 176cm, Neale is a tough inside midfield who refuses to get beaten.
He tackles and works hard, he chalks up the possessions and he is a beast at the stoppages. He is also ranked 8th in the AFL for Total Effective Disposals.
Don’t sleep on him just because he’s out in the West. He is 58 games into his career and I can’t wait to see what he’s producing at game 100.
Pick 4 – Bradley Hill (Greater Western Sydney)
Hawthorn drafted Bradley Hill with the 33rd pick in the 2011 national draft. 62 games and two premierships later, and Hill’s career couldn’t have started out any better.
You can make the case that Hill has been in the right place at the right time. However, it’s not easy to hold down your spot as a youngster in a premiership team, and Hill can tick that off his to do list.
Hill is a live wire for the Hawks. He compliments Isaac Smith on the opposing wing, as well as Cyril Rioli and Paul Puopolo in the forward line. He’s lightning quick, an excitement machine and a great user of the footy.
He’s had a great group of players around him to fast track his development, and Hill has taken every opportunity that has been put in front of him.
Could we be seeing another dual between the Hill brothers come Grand Final day?
Pick 5 – Toby Greene (Greater Western Sydney)
Greene was drafted by GWS with the 11th pick in 2011. 65 games into his career, and Greene is already an up and coming midfielder in the AFL.
He is a prolific ball-winner, a hard worker and a tough footballer who isn’t intimidated by some of his more experienced opposition.
He finished runner-up in the B&F in his debut season and he already averages 26 disposals, 4 marks and 3 tackles a game over his young career. He is a star and a weapon in the middle for the Giants.
Pick 6 - Devon Smith (Port Adelaide)
Calm down Port Adelaide fans, I’m not suggesting Port Adelaide should’ve drafted Devon Smith over Chad Wingard. I am merely suggesting that Smith is the 6th pick in my 2011 redraft.
Devon Smith joined Greater Western Sydney via the 14th pick in the 2011 Draft. Smith is a hard-nut footballer who plays as a small forward/midfielder for the Giants.
Smith has played in 71 games for the Giants, kicking 61 goals. He has already been likened to a modern day Kevin Bartlett. He is a livewire who has a great goal sense. He can be a pest at times, but the little pocket rocket is full of promise and full of talent.
Over his young career, he already averages 18 disposals, 4 marks, 5 tackles and just under a goal a game. 2014 was a standout in him, and he placed equal runner-up for the Giants’ best and fairest award.
Pick 7 – Elliot Yeo (Greater Western Sydney)
The Brisbane Lions in 2011 originally drafted Elliot Yeo with pick 30. After just 27 games, Yeo put his hand up for a trade, requesting a return to his home in Western Australia. He was traded to West Coast in 2013 and is now a rising star in the competition.
Yeo, a former running halfbacker has pushed up into the Eagles’ midfield this season, and is absolutely thriving in his new role.
He has great size, great versatility and attacks the contest ferociously. He is a strong mark and he currently sits at 12th in the AFL for total contested marks.
He is 51 games into his career and could be the AFL’s most improved player by the seasons end. He has a huge future ahead of him and the Eagles would be thrilled with their recruit from 2013.
Pick 8 – Stephen Coniglio (Brisbane Lions)
The Lions went with Billy Longer, a ruckman, in 2011, so Coniglio to the Lions was unlikely. But, the former pick 2 of this draft, slips down the order due to his bad run of injuries to start off his career.
Injuries have limited him to 55 games, but Coniglio is still a star. He’s classy, quick, tough and hard at the footy.
He is a wonderful athlete who came into the AFL with a mature-body. In fact, before he chose to nominate for the draft, he was weighing up a possible professional cricket career.
If he can get his body right, Coniglio could break this competition apart. He has all the right assets, he is on a rising team and he is a vastly talented player. Now it’s about getting games and experience into him.
Pick 9 - Taylor Adams (Greater Western Sydney)
GWS drafted Taylor Adams with the 13th pick in 2011. After two seasons with the club, Adams was traded to Collingwood in a straight swap for Heath Shaw. I’d say both parties would be very happy with what they received in that deal.
Like his former teammate Toby Greene, Adams is a tough inside midfielder who is a ball magnet and a ferocious player in and around the contest.
There is a lot of pressure on Adams to fill the boots of Dayne Beams and Luke Ball, but so far in 2015, he is proving that he is well up to the task.
His disposal needs work, but over his 53 games, he is averaging 21 disposals, 4 marks and 4 tackles a game.
And learning off captain Scott Pendlebury and Dane Swan wouldn’t be a bad learning experience either...
Pick 10 – Cameron Sutcliffe (Greater Western Sydney)
Cam Sutcliffe was another stunning draft selection for the Dockers in the 2011 draft, where he was recruited with the 71st pick in the draft.
In the first two seasons of his career, Sutcliffe was in and out of the green vest for the Dockers. However, in 2014, Sutcliffe cemented his spot in Freo’s defence, after a string of consistent and quality performances for the club.
He isn’t a star, he isn’t Nat Fyfe and he isn’t Freo’s best player. But, Sutcliffe is reliable, poised and well on his way to becoming a wonderful player for the Dockers.
59 games. An emerging leader. A quality defender. And, he was named Freo’s ‘Player of the Finals’ last season.
For a former pick 71, he hasn’t had a bad start to his career at all.
My next three redrafted picks:
Pick 11 – Dom Tyson (originally pick 3)
Pick 12 – Tory Dickson (originally pick 57)
Pick 13 – Jordan Murdoch (originally pick 48)
It’s important to not underrate Greater Western Sydney’s drafting in 2011. Yes, they had a boatload of picks. But they still had to pick the talent. Four years in, and it seems like they did a pretty good job.
Sam Docherty, Sam Rowe, Jackson Merrett, Jack Newnes and Michael Talia were all drafted in 2011. They didn’t make the final cut, but they all seem like they are well on their way to carving out respectable AFL careers.
Fremantle did a great job in this draft. Neale, Sutcliffe, Sheridan and Crozier were all recruited from this draft class.
The Western Bulldogs would be pleased. They scooped up Dickson and Talia, as well as Clay Smith, who has battled a devastating injury curse early in his career.
And that brings me to Jonathon Patton. He was the first pick in this draft and has also been dealt a cruel hand when it comes to injuries. When he re-emerges from his second knee reconstruction, it will be exciting to see whether he can prove his pick 1 worth. He certainly has the tools to do so.
Brisbane would be pretty disappointed in this draft. They drafted Yeo, Docherty and Longer with high draft picks, all of who requested a trade in 2013 as a part of the ‘homesick five’.
2011 was a quality draft; filled with talent and exciting future stars of our game.
Did I get this right? Who would you redraft with the top ten picks of the 2011 AFL Draft?