The Kangaroos took a punt on Jed Anderson, but through some shrewd deals, they’ve ended up with three picks in the late first-early second round range. Last year, they took three players who all look comfortable as defenders, but whether they plan to use Ed Vickers-Willis and Sam Durdin in other roles is yet to be determined.
Pick 21 (originally 17)
The big fish: Jade Gresham
North Melbourne don’t have too many list deficiencies, so they should be looking at best available at most of their selections. Gresham can find plenty of the football as a midfielder, but he can also be used as a smart small forward or an accountable defender.
Plan B: Mitch Hibberd
The Roos could do with a versatile defender who can provide some rebound and play some time in the middle too. Hibberd is great overhead and he’s got a strong endurance base. He could make an impact right away, which is important for an aging side.
Pick 31 (originally 26)
The big fish: David Cuningham
Cuningham is a quick midfielder who has shown glimpses of brilliance for Oakleigh. He’s got explosive acceleration around stoppages, and he’s elusive in traffic. Cuningham can also head forward and hit the scoreboard.
Plan B: Aidyn Johnson
Johnson is a very quick and agile small forward who can hit the scoreboard in bunches. He applies defensive pressure and he can play in a variety of roles. Due to his injury struggles, we haven’t seen a lot of what he can do, but his speed could bridge the gap for when Brent Harvey eventually retires.
Pick 33 (originally 28)
The big fish: Ben Crocker
Crocker is a medium forward who marks really well over his head. He can finish nicely around the body at ground level, and he continually presents as a lead up forward. At his best, Crocker can use the ball with class and even provide some midfield relief.
Plan B: Mason Redman
Redman is a lead up medium forward who takes the ball at full stretch. He’s a nice user of the football and he’s got great size for a half forward. Redman is very quick off the mark, which makes him a very difficult player to match up against.
Pick 43 (originally 47)
The big fish: Mitch Brown
The Roos are looking at Nielson as the eventual key defender replacement for the likes of Michael Firrito and Scott Thompson, but he’s got a way to go before he develops. North Melbourne could look towards Brown as a stop-gap who can come in, take overhead marks and be used as a swingman option alongside Jarryd Waite to give them some versatility.
Plan B: Michael Hartley
Hartley could also be used to bridge that age gap in defence. As a pure key defender, Hartley reads the play well and he’s physical enough to play on the gorilla forwards, which would be crucial if they played Sydney or Geelong in the finals.