Underwhelming. Poor. Mediocre. Luckless. These are just a few of the words that have been used to describe the top ten from the 2003 AFL Draft.
Although it produced a Brownlow medalist, seven of the ten players are not in the AFL anymore. And just to add insult to injury, two players from this top ten failed to play at least ten games for their clubs.
There are a few quality players in the later rounds and therefore I will redraft the top ten picks of 2003. I am not taking into consideration the father-son rule, because it ruins the fun. However, rookie-drafted players have been omitted from this series of articles, and that will continue for the 2003 edition. Shout out to Aaron Davey, Andrew Carazzo, Nathan Foley, Paul Duffield, Nathan Lovett-Murray and Josh Drummond who were all rookie drafted in this year.
I will start by listing the draft class in its real order, and then redraft them based on which players I think have had the best ten careers from this draft.
Pick 1: Adam Cooney (Western Bulldogs)
Pick 2: Andrew Walker (Carlton)
Pick 3: Colin Sylvia (Melbourne)
Pick 4: Farren Ray (Western Bulldogs)
Pick 5: Brock McLean (Melbourne)
Pick 6: Kepler Bradley (Essendon)
Pick 7: Kane Tenace (Geelong)
Pick 8: Raphael Clarke (St Kilda)
Pick 9: David Trotter (North Melbourne)
Pick 10: Ryley Dunn (Fremantle)
Pick 1 (Western Bulldogs) – Adam Cooney
Choosing between Cooney and Mundy for the number one spot was harder than I had originally thought. Do you go with a Brownlow Medalist who starred over a 4-5 year period with the Dogs, but ultimately fell away due to injuries. Or, do you go with the ultimate professional, the incredibly consistent David Mundy, who's last 5-6 years have been nothing short of elite. Ultimately, a Brownlow Medal is very hard to sweep aside, so in my opinion, the dogs got this pick right.
In what turned out to be quite an underwhelming draft class as a whole, Cooney has had the most decorated career to date. He’s a classy midfielder who has kicked 195 goals in 227 games, the majority being with the Bulldogs.
Before injuries deflated him, Cooney used his pace and skills to run through the middle of the ground. He won the Brownlow Medal in 2008, beating out Simon Black by one vote. He was also named All-Australian in the same year. He is now donning the sash, continuing his career at the Bombers. He was an elite footballer for a good period of time, but was it enough to validate his former pick one status?
Pick 2 (Carlton) – David Mundy
Fremantle selected Mundy with the 19th pick in the 2003 draft. Since his debut in 2005, Mundy has progressively improved each season. For the past five years, he has been the heart and soul of the Dockers midfield.
Mundy is an elite ball-winner, a clearance machine, and a great leader for the Fremantle Dockers. He has passed the 200 game milestone and it’s quite astonishing that Mundy slipped through to the second round of this draft.
He won the best and fairest in 2010, and will no doubt be hoping for a premiership medallion this season. He is the ultimate professional, a quiet achiever and a wonderful footballer to watch in action. Over his career, he has averaged 20 disposals, 5 marks and 4 tackles a game.
Pick 3 (Melbourne) – Heath Shaw
In any other redraft, Heath Shaw would not be my number three pick. However, in a draft full of quality AFL players (but not full of superstars), a premiership player gets an advantage over others. Shaw was selected under the father-son rule, at pick 48 by Collingwood. He played 173 games for Collingwood before crossing to GWS in 2013.
He played his 200th game this season, in a career that has been a good journey to follow. During Collingwood’s premiership run, Shaw was one the best rebound defenders in the competition. He has pace, he’s courageous and has good balls skills. He has had his issues off-field, but Heath Shaw has generally been a good leader for both teams that he’s played for.
He's an unorthodox character. Some love him and some hate him. But his contributions to the game have been great to watch.
Pick 4 (Western Bulldogs) – Sam Fisher
Remarkably, Sam Fisher was the 55th pick in the 2003 draft, selected by St Kilda. Fisher is a 206-game player who is a two-time best and fairest winner for the Saints. The veteran defender has provided St Kilda with run and carry, intercept marking, rebound football and exciting attack from the backline for many seasons.
Like Shaw, Fisher was also one of the best rebound defenders in the game during St Kilda's premiership window.
Fisher is a reliable, courageous player who has had a rough run the past few seasons because of injury. I don’t see him winning a premiership in his career, but he did play in three grand finals, coming agonizingly close in 2010 (the first one).
Pick 5 (Melbourne) – Troy Chaplin
Chaplin was the 15th pick in this draft, selected by Port Adelaide. Chaplin played 140 games for the Power before moving to Richmond in the free agency period of 2012. He’s played 196 games in total and will play his 200th later this year.
Chaplin is a very good key defender who has performed consistently throughout his career. He plays the general role very well, and has been a solid leader of his defense over his career. He's had a very respectable career, despite often being overlooked as one of the better defenders in the competition over a long period of time.
In three different seasons, Chaplin has placed within the top three of the best and fairest count.
Pick 6 (Essendon) – Andrew Walker
Walker was the second overall pick in 2003, selected by Carlton. Personally, I don’t think he has lived up to the hype of a number two pick. He had an extraordinary debut for the Blues, gathering 26 possessions, but has failed to play consistent football over his career (partly due to being moved around to different positions every week).
However, he’s played a respectable 186, kicking 119 goals as a damaging, versatile utility for the Blues. Walker is a quick player for his size and is a good user of the football. He should have won the Mark of The Year Award in 2011 after taking one the best marks we’ve ever seen.
Pick 7 (Geelong) – Beau Waters
Waters was the 11th pick, selected by West Coast in 2003. He was an incredibly courageous defender who played 120 games in 10 seasons for the Eagles. Ultimately, injuries plagued his career, forcing him to retire in 2014. He was a premiership player in 2006 (the youngest member of the team) and was West Coast’s vice captain in 2011-12, as well as being named All-Australian in 2012.
He was a great leader who played with great passion and toughness.
Pick 8 (St Kilda) – Brent Stanton
Stanton was the 13th overall pick in this draft, selected by Essendon, where he has gone on to play 238 games and kicked 151 goals. Stanton has had a fairly consistent career as a hard running midfielder.
Since 2006, Stanton has averaged more than 20 disposals per season. Unfortunately, he has had his moments as Essendon’s whipping boy over the years, but his consistency for the red and black cannot be denied. He's not a superstar, but he has done his job for the Bombers over a long period of time.
He has placed third in the Bomber's B&F on three occassions.
Pick 9 (North Melbourne) – Jed Adcock
Jed Adcock was the 33rd pick, selected by Brisbane. Adcock has played his entire career as a running half back defender who can play quality minutes through the midfield. He has incredible kicking skills and is a courageous player.
In 2013, he was the co-captain of the Lions, before becoming the sole captain in 2014. In what has been a very consistent career to date, he has played 196 games, all with the Lions.
His 200th in a few weeks will be a great moment for Lions fans, as they've watched him play for over a decade now.
Pick 10 (Fremantle) – Michael Rischitelli
Michael Rischitelli was drafted to Brisbane in 2003, via the 61st pick in the draft. 190 games later, a best and fairest with the Lions and a vice-captaincy with the Suns, and Rischitelli has carved out a valuable career up in Queensland.
He's a player who goes about his business without a fuss, and more often than not, gets the job done. The latter part of his career has been fairly consistent, and he has been a wonderful leader and mentor up at the Gold Coast for that young team.
He's a class act and he's averaged 18 disposals, 4 marks and 4 tackles over his career.
My next three redrafted picks
Pick 11: Ben Hudson (originally pick 58)
Pick 12: Farren Ray (originally pick 4)
Pick 13: Daniel Jackson (originally pick 53)
In hindsight, this was a pretty disappointing draft. It lacks superstar power as well as premiership players. Many of the players in my redrafted class are late first round picks, and third and fourth round picks.
It was a weak draft class, but did I get this right? Who would you redraft as the top ten picks in the 2003 draft?