FOR A fair few years, draft night seemed to be the main event for Carlton fans every calendar year.
There were nights like 2015, with multiple first round picks and the start of a new era which yielded Jacob Weitering, Harry McKay, Charlie Curnow, David Cuningham and then father-son selection Jack Silvagni in the one night.
When the Blues were travelling poorly, it was all eyes on the draft to see who would be the next saving grace to come into the Club.
Back in June, it looked like the 2023 instalment would be something similar. Alas, it’ll be anything but when it comes to the top tier of selections.
The wild ride to the preliminary final - three months after sitting in the bottom four at the midway point of the season - means the Blues will now enter the draft considerably later. How does that change things?
“We’re going to wait and see,” National Recruiting Manager Mick Agresta told Draft Night Countdown.
“Our pick changed very quickly, especially around those Sydney and Essendon games. We were looking at the Nick Watsons, Harley Reids, Zane Duursmas and those types: it changed real quick. For the better — much better!
“I know it’s a bit cliche, but last year we were really targeted to address our running profile. This year, we’re looking for density and depth around our list: we’ll take the best available.”
Outside of the top 12 or so prospects, this year’s draft class has been one which has been singled out for its evenness across the pool. For Agresta, he views it as “the most unique draft I’ve been part of”.
So having two bites of the cherry in close proximity in terms of draft selections was a clear focus during trade period, particularly in the deal which saw Zac Fisher depart for North Melbourne.
The Night's Watch.— Carlton FC (@CarltonFC) November 16, 2023
Bring it on. Bring the noise. What a time to 𝑤𝑒𝑙𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑒 the 2024 fixture 👋
“We’ve got a good understanding of who will be in that first dozen, so from there - around pick No.13 to pick No.35 - the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That’s the real strength of this draft . . . we were always quite bullish around the middle part.
“It was really important that we had those picks close together. We really rated that part of the draft, and we thought the player we were going to take with No.17 was probably the same player we’ll get at No.22 — that’s going to get pushed back further [with academy bids]. To get two bites of the cherry, we’re really excited about that.”
Agresta - who confirmed the Blues are looking to take two national draft selections plus one in the rookie draft - said the team couldn’t afford to get lost in the emotion of how 2023 unfolded.
While the run to a preliminary final was a memorable one, Agresta said the focus with the draft was always about safeguarding and developing Carlton’s future — not about a quick sugar hit for solely the next 12-24 months.
“We’re right at the beginning of our journey, still chasing the Brisbanes and Collingwoods. We’re just trying to bring in good people and good characters into our footy club, that’s not going to change.
“Each draft will be different. Last year had a really strong running profile, and we knew we needed to address that, so we targeted runners. This year, we’re trying to build some depth to give us a bit more density in different parts of the ground.”