West Coast have been one of the most talked about clubs this draft season, due to their place at the front of the queue for one of the best-touted teenagers the AFL has seen come through its draft pathway for some time.
Bendigo’s Harley Reid is all but certain to land with West Coast atop the draft board, with the Eagles to then consider their options after Pick 1 given they might not make another selection until close to Pick 30.
The Eagles are early into a list rebuild and will want to add the best talent available where possible, with Reid the centrepiece in their plans.
While Reid has been the headline in discussions surrounding West Coast’s draft schemes, there are a number of avenues the Western Australian club will be considering later into the count.
Here were assess the Eagles’ draft hand, their list needs, and the prospects they might consider at the 2023 AFL Draft
Picks:1, 23, 37, 58, 81
After carrying Pick 1 through the trade period and subsequent pick swap window, it will now take an 11th-hour bid for the Eagles to part with their prized selection.
West Coast could entertain a trade involving their future first-round selection instead and potentially bring in multiple 2023 picks to follow their sole selection for night one of the draft.
They also hold the first selection for night two, which will blow out to roughly Pick 30, and is also expected to fetch some decent offers given clubs will be looking to move to the front of the second round and snare one of the best names left over from the first round of selections.
Pick 37 is likely to remain in a similar slot after being pushed back and forth in the flow-on effect of the Suns Academy selections given Gold Coast hold five second-round picks before the Eagles’ third selection that will be dissolved in their matched bids.
Pick 58, and if needed Pick 81, could be used to fill list spots, while Next Generation Academy talent could be tied to vacant Rookie spots following the draft.
More Top-End Talent: The impending acquisition of Reid is another significant step in West Coast’s rebuild, with the Perth powerhouse getting access to the best talent on offer and back in their system of interstate retention.
While his likely move west will headline the Eagles’ draft plans, West Coast should be considering other avenues to return to the opening round of the draft after their first selection.
Their 2024 first-round selection or a package centred on Pick 23 can get that job done, but the former selection might even net them multiple selections within the top 15-20.
Clubs like GWS and Melbourne, who hold multiple top 16 selections, could entertain a trade for the Eagles’ future first. West Coast did well in splitting their opening pick last year to attain local young guns Reuben Ginbey and Elijah Hewett last year, with a similar move on top of Reid’s selection further strengthening their rebuild.
Key Position Help:The Eagles will be chasing support for their spine, with their forward line a likely area needing more height and key position talent.
Oscar Allen will spearhead Adam Simpson’s attack for the years to come, but he will be after assistance and could find some with ruck-forward Bailey Williams, however, another tall forward prospect is needed at Lathlain Park, and the Eagles shouldn’t be short on options to start the second round or even at Pick 37.
A key defender could also be in their sights as a long-term replacement for Jeremy McGovern, while their ruck options are seemingly sewn up after the acquisition of Matt Flynn and their tied-in draft moves last year.
Harley Reid:There’s not much more that needs to be said of Reid, whose Dustin Martin comparisons give you a pretty clear picture of what Eagles fans can come to expect from the Tongala product.
His physicality and ruthlessness around the ball is tantalising and will give Simpson an immediate injection from Round 1 next year, with Reid able to float across any part of the field given his line-breaking ability and match-winning aura.
Lance Collard/Dan Curtin:Here’s where the Eagles can potentially get a little active on draft night via trading.
Their 2024 first-round pick could be up for grabs for a club happy to pass on this year’s intake and bank on West Coast remaining at the lowest rung on the ladder next year.
Melbourne’s selections of Pick 6 and 11 could be dealt to West Coast, while GWS might be a fitting suitor but do have a lower hand with Picks 7 and 16.
The idea would be for West Coast to wait to see if Curtin slides past the opening five picks and then they can make their move, with the second selection they acquire in the deal perhaps going to NGA talent Lance Collard. Fellow WA products Koltyn Tholstrup and Riley Hardeman could also be viable options.