For the 2002 AFL draft, following the 2001 class was always going to be tough ask. From this draft, there has definitely been the hits, such as Brendon Goddard, Jarrad McVeigh and Andrew Mackie. But, the three big misses in this top 10 sway it over to the weaker, or even the bust category.
Knowing what we know today, would you still pick Goddard with the number one pick and let Nick Malceski slip to number 63?
I will redraft the top 10 picks of 2002. I am not taking under consideration the father-son rule, because it ruins the fun. However, like the drafts before, rookie drafted players will not be included. This discounts Brad Sewell, Nick Maxwell, Joel Patfull, Michael Firrito and others who were rookie-drafted in 2002.
I will start by listing the draft class in its real order, and then redraft them based on how who I think have had the best careers from this draft.
Pick 1: Brendon Goddard (St Kilda)
Pick 2: Daniel Wells (North Melbourne)
Pick 3: Jared Brennan (Brisbane)
Pick 4: Tim Walsh (Western Bulldogs)
Pick 5: Jarrad McVeigh (Sydney)
Pick 6: Steven Salopek (Port Adelaide)
Pick 7: Andrew Mackie (Geelong)
Pick 8: Luke Brennan (Hawthorn)
Pick 9: Hamish McIntosh (North Melbourne)
Pick 10: Jason Laycock (Essendon)
Pick 1 (St Kilda) – Jobe Watson
Watson was taken with pick 40 under the father-son rule by Essendon in 2002. This is a controversial pick, but Watson’s development has been the biggest of any player in this draft from 2002. He is the Essendon captain, a Brownlow Medalist and he just hit the 200-game milestone over the weekend.
When he first came into the league, Watson was overweight, he was criticized for his poor attitude and he had a shocking kick. Fast forward to 2015 and yes, the Essendon supplements saga will define him for the rest of his career – but, he is one of the best midfielders in the competition as well as one of the best captains.
Over his 200 games, he has averaged 25 disposals, 4 marks and 4 tackles a game. Throw in 111 career goals, three-time best and fairest and two-time All Australian to his CV. A wonderful career...
Pick 2 (North Melbourne) – Jarrad McVeigh
McVeigh was taken fifth overall by the Swans in 2002. Beginning his career as a tagger, he has gone on to play 256 games, kicking 177 goals as a tough, contested, goal-kicking midfielder.
He is currently the co-captain of the Swans, and captained the red and white to their 2012 premiership. He is a versatile player and has been a great pick up for the Swans.
McVeigh has had a decorated career with the Swans, including an All-Australian in 2013 and two best and fairest medals (2008 & 2013).
His career averages read as: 19 disposals, 4 marks and 3 tackles a game.
Pick 3 (Brisbane) – Brendon Goddard
Goddard was the number one pick in this draft, selected by the Saints. He played 205 games for St Kilda, until he signed with Essendon in the 2013 Free Agency Period. Goddard has been a fairly consistent and very solid performer throughout his career. He is the definition of a utility player in the AFL, having played almost every position in his career.
Goddard is a great kicker and an excellent mark, but slides down to pick number three due to his lack of finals success. Although, in 2010, he almost single handedly carried St Kilda on his back to winning a premiership, which was eventually won by Collingwood the next week.
He's a two-time All Australian and a best and fairest winner with the Dons. 259 games, 147 goals and he's averaged 22 disposals and 6 marks a game over his career.
Pick 4 (Western Bulldogs) – Andrew Mackie
Mackie was pick number seven in 2002 and has gone on to play more than 200 games for Geelong, the club that drafted him. Mackie has been one the league’s most efficient, well performing, consistent half backs since his debut. His interceptive play and defensive rebound play was crucial to Geelong’s dominant run from 2007-2011.
He is a triple-premiership player and a very classy one at that. He was named All-Australian in 2013 and he has averaged 19 disposals and 6 marks over his 226-game career.
Mackie is a talented, versatile player who thrived in a successful environment.
Pick 5 (Sydney) – Daniel Wells
North Melbourne drafted Daniel Wells with the 2nd pick in the 2002 AFL Draft. A career of peaks and dips, and injuries on top of injuries has seen Wells probably fall short of a number two pick status.
Despite his struggles, Wells has still carved out a 224-game career, kicking 145 goals for the Roos. It's unfortunate to think that we've probably seen the best of Wells, but it's important not to forget the buzz and excitement he was capable of producing earlier on in his career. He could light up the game with his lightning pace, break through packs and kick goals on the run (or in the air).
His career highlights include two-best and fairest honours and the Goal of the Year in 2004. At his best, he is a classy, skillful player who plays with flair and speed. It would be great to see him get to the 250 milestone.
Pick 6 (Port Adelaide) – Nick Malceski
Malceski was selected by the Sydney Swans with the 63rd pick in the 2002 draft and this pick will go down as one the most impressive draft selections in AFL draft history. 63? Well done Sydney.
He was plagued by injury at the beginning of his career, however he has played consistent football since 2006. He is an attacking defender with one of the best kicks in the game.
Malceski played in three grand finals for the red and white, finally becoming a premiership winner in 2012. He will be remembered for his incredible last-minute snap in the grand final that sealed the flag for the Swans. What a steal the 183-gamer has turned out to be.
He moved to the Gold Coast in the off-season, after being named All-Australian in 2014.
Pick 7 (Geelong) - Tom Lonergan
He ended up there anyway, but Tom Lonergan was pick number 23, taken by Geelong in 2002. Lonergan played a lot of VFL football for Geelong in his early years, before debuting in 2005. In just his seventh AFL game in 2006, Lonergan’s kidney was severely injured in a marking contest and he was hospitalised and had his right kidney removed, as well having his entire blood supply replaced three times.
After the surgery, Lonergan considered retirement but decided to continue his AFL career, in what has become one of the most courageous, heartwarming stories ever in the AFL. Following Matthew Scarlett’s retirement, Lonergan has been Geelong’s best full back defender and a constant performer for the Cats since 2008. He is a premiership player and one of the most resilient, courageous players in the AFL. He is also a two-time All Australian nominee.
Pick 8 (Hawthorn) – Jay Schulz
The Tigers drafted Schulz at pick 12 in 2002. Early on, Schulz had injuries and off-field behavioural issues which restricted his playing time at Richmond. He was a raw talent who wanted to return to his home in Adelaide. Schulz’s wish was granted at the end of 2009 when he was traded to Port Adelaide.
Since the trade, Schulz has been a consistent forward threat for the Power. He has kicked 247 goals in his five years at Port, compared to his 58 goals in six seasons at Richmond. He has been Port’s leading goal kicker four times and is known for kicking a big bag of goals up at Adelaide Oval.
Despite struggling with his form and accuracy to start off 2015, Schulz's importance to this side has been highlighted. When Schulz is on, Port is on. Unfortunately the power button has been off for both Schulz and Port this season. However, one season doesn't impact on a career, and it has been a great turn around for Jay Schulz.
Pick 9 (North Melbourne) – Kade Simspson
Simpson was drafted at pick number 45 by Carlton in 2002. Simpson is not your average midfielder, he has always been considered skinny for his position. However, Simpson has been incredibly durable throughout his career, playing 233 games and kicking 123 goals.
He is a very skilled player and a tough midfielder, who tackles like he is ten kilograms heavier. Like many others in this list, the lack of finals success or premierships is a factor.
However, he was the best and fairest with Carlton in 2013 and has averaged 20 disposals, 6 marks and 3 tackles a game over his career.
Pick 10 (Essendon) – Jared Rivers
Rivers was the 26th pick in the 2002 national draft, selected by Melbourne. He played 150 games for the Demons, before crossing to Geelong in 2013 where he has since played 42 games. Key position players, especially defenders, are hard to come by and Rivers has been a solid, consistent player since his debut. The lack of success throughout his Melbourne career is poor, but he may get one last chance this year with Geelong to win a flag.
My next three redrafted picks
Pick 11: Ryan Crowley (originally pick 55)
Pick 12: Sean Dempster (originally F/S pick 34)
Pick 13: Jason Winderlich (originally pick 11)
The 2002 draft produced many quality players, but the lack of superstar power (compared to 2001 at least) is noticeable. Looking at the draft in its entirety, Geelong, Sydney and Essendon would be very happy with the players they recruited.
Did I get this right? Who would you redraft as the top 10 picks in the 2002 draft?