He’s the No.1 draft pick. Here’s how your club can get its hands on him

By Marc McGowan

The No.1 draft pick – but where will Harley Reid go?Credit: Matt Davidson

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Rarely has there been so much speculation about a No. 1 draft pick.

Perhaps not even Jason Horne-Francis, whose status as a pre-draft prodigy prompted Richmond and Adelaide to make audacious, but ultimately unsuccessful, bids to snatch the top selection two years ago from North Melbourne, attracted this much attention.

This time around, Harley Reid, a richly talented teenager from country Victorian town Tongala who is likened to Dustin Martin, is considered the consensus best player in this year’s draft class.

Many, even most, recruiters believe he could be a generational talent, someone who could develop into one of the game’s finest footballers. West Coast have first dibs on him – but it is never that simple.

The Eagles need elite young talent, but have questions to ask themselves. The first is: will Reid stick around for the long haul, or request a trade home at his first opportunity? They would be aware of the murmurs about Reid preferring to stay in Victoria, although his management, Connors Sports, have denied this publicly.

The other main question West Coast would be asking is: would it be better for us to trade the No. 1 pick for multiple early selections, and still select Western Australia’s top prospect, Daniel Curtin?

There are four rival clubs – North Melbourne, Hawthorn, Melbourne and Greater Western Sydney – with the type of draft hand that could satisfy the Eagles, if they are willing to part with the coveted selection.

This would have to happen via a trade, and the Kangaroos, who hold the second pick and a bunch of other juicy selections thanks, in part, to their AFL assistance package, are the club most likely to make the move.

The draft order behind Reid is somewhat unsettled, with Curtin one of a number of players who could be snapped up directly behind him, so West Coast would not want to fall too far down the order and risk the local kid not being there.

That wipes out most clubs, especially with North set to score pick three as compensation for restricted free agent Ben McKay exercising his rights to join Essendon.

But how the Roos go about appeasing the Eagles is the million-dollar question. Picks two, 14 and 19 would be the bare minimum package required, but the industry belief is they may need to turn 14 and 19 into a higher selection.

AFL list bosses are already operating on the assumption that Gold Coast will receive Western Bulldogs’ pick 10 (along with 17 and a future first-round selection) for their No. 4 and something else. That No. 10 pick is as good as certain to also change hands.

Gold Coast would have more than 700 extra draft points if they accept North Melbourne’s 14 and 19 for 10, which the Kangaroos could then pair with pick two to tempt West Coast.

Far less likely is North being willing to offer two and their future first-round selection, which could be very early again.

The Demons appear to have sorted out the messy Clayton Oliver situation. Oliver is set to remain at Melbourne after other clubs were given the impression he could be on the market. The star mid would have scored the Demons at least one seriously good pick if they okayed his exit, and they already have Fremantle’s pick five from last year’s Luke Jackson trade.

The problem, as above, is five might become six after McKay’s compensation pick is slotted into the order, which might lessen the Eagles’ interest. With Oliver expected to stay in red and blue, Melbourne’s alternative option could be to hunt down pick 10.

The challenge for the Dees is they would have to better whatever the Roos could offer for 10, so they may need to overpay, something they were willing to do in the past to get a deal done, such as when they traded for the selection that ended up being used on Kysaiah Pickett in 2019.

In this scenario, Melbourne’s offer would likely be 13, 25 and 33 for 10 (and likely something coming back next year), which would deliver the Suns more than 1100 extra draft points.

Hawthorn are another club with the capability to get something done, and their football boss Rob McCartney is on the record saying they would like to pursue the possibility.

The Hawks are already going to have to broker a deal for Tyler Brockman to become an Eagle, so he could help get a pick one swap done, but the heavy lifting would need to be done by their pick three and next year’s future first-round selection.

They also have pick 30 in this year’s draft that could come into the mix.

That brings us to the Giants, who were part of last year’s four-club mega-deal in which they moved up to pick one to snare key forward Aaron Cadman. They are not expected to make a repeat bid, but technically have the assets to do so, with six, 15 and their future first-round pick.

Let the trading games begin.

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