Jaidyn Stephenson celebrates a goal in the 2018 grand final. Picture: Michael Klein
Jaidyn Stephenson celebrates a goal in the 2018 grand final. Picture: Michael Klein

Did your club strike gold in the 2017 draft?

EVERY club aims to strike gold with every draft pick. But how does your club stack up when it comes to nailing its all-important first one?

Flashback to the 2017 draft and the batch of 18 youngsters have combined for 15 debuts, more than 100 goals, a Rising Star winner and a further seven nominations.

But how much of that production has your club enjoyed? With the 2017 draft class now entering its second season, check out how your top pick is tracking and how their games might change in 2019.

The Crows' top pick would be getting a game at plenty of rival clubs.

However, with the likes of Taylor Walker, Josh Jenkins and Tom Lynch all in front of him in the forward line pecking order, Darcy Fogarty's 2019 campaign started with a SANFL practice match on Friday night.

While Fogarty has so far been on the wrong end of a selection squeeze, there is a left-field option to get him in the senior team.

The 19-year-old played some of his junior footy as a defender and was trialled there throughout the summer. That means Fogarty could be called upon to replace Tom Doedee who will miss the rest of the season with an ACL injury.

After nine goals in 10 games last year, having Fogarty as a defender would make him a dangerous swingman. He is signed up at the club until the end of 2021.

Darcy Fogarty in action during his debut season. Picture Sarah Reed
Darcy Fogarty in action during his debut season. Picture Sarah Reed

BRISBANE - CAM RAYNER - PICK 1

Three games into his AFL career Cam Rayner was genuinely wondering, "Am I good enough to be out here?"

Less than a year later, it is clear this kid is going to be causing opposition defenders all sorts of headaches for the next decade.

Rayner's turning point came during a six-week span between rounds 14 and 19 in which he kicked 11 goals and averaged more than 15 touches.

But the Lions are hoping that is just a taste of what he is capable of.

After 20 goals in his debut year, Rayner is set to see more of the action in 2019, with the club planning on using him in short bursts as an impact midfielder.

Pulling him away from the goals has its challenges though, given how dangerous he is. Rayner booted two goals against the Eagles in Round 1.

CARLTON - PADDY DOW - PICK 3

If Carlton fans needed an excuse to love this kid any more, this quote from Paddy Dow about how he approached his second pre-season is about as good as it gets.

"I don't know about the technical stuff, but if you are rooted, just keep going. If you are stuffed, just keep going."

There are two big reasons to think Dow will be a massive improver this year.

After a summer of pain under new fitness boss Andrew Russell, the young midfielder has a greatly improved tank to go harder for longer.

He also has just about the best midfield mentor possible, with Dow sticking to superstar teammate Patrick Cripps like glue throughout the pre-season.

Across his first 20 games, Cripps averaged 20.8 disposals. That jumped to 26.5 in his next 20.

Can Dow show that sort of improvement in 2019? He kicked off Round 1 with a new career high.

COLLINGWOOD - JAIDYN STEPHENSON - PICK 6

After winning the Rising Star and kicking 38 goals in his debut season, the bar is very high for Jaidyn Stephenson.

But what can Magpie fans realistically expect from the speedster?

Recent history has shown that Rising Star winners don't necessarily make a big leap of improvement in their second year. Andrew McGrath averaged almost identical stats from year one to year two. Callum Mills' average disposals dropped by 1.3 while Jesse Hogan kicked three less goals.

Given the Magpies will be getting increased production from Jamie Elliott, if Stephenson could have similar numbers to last year, that would be a great result.

It's no secret the sky is the limit for this Pie, with legendary coach Mick Malthouse recently saying Stephenson had "hallmarks of being anything he wants to be." Now that is high praise from one of the game's greats.

ESSENDON - JORDAN HOULAHAN - PICK 49

The Bombers didn't enter the draft until late in the night, adding Sturt product Jordan Houlahan.

A medium sized forward, Houlahan spent his first year in red and black playing in the VFL. Across 17 games he kicked 14 goals and was named in the club's best players once.

Houlahan did not play in either of the Bombers' 2019 JLT Series matches.

FREMANTLE - ANDREW BRAYSHAW - PICK 2

Only a week before Andrew Brayshaw had his debut season ended by Andrew Gaff, he had just played his best game for the Dockers, having 25 touches and kicking a goal against Hawthorn.

Andrew Brayshaw continues to impress. Picture: Getty Images
Andrew Brayshaw continues to impress. Picture: Getty Images

But will he be able to pick up where he left off?

Docker fans didn't have to wait long for the answer, with Ross Lyon singling out an act from Brayshaw during the pre-season that caught his eye.

"He got whacked in an intra-club. He's stepped back into senior footy and (has) been head over the ball," he said.

Clearly Brayshaw is ready to let his footy do the talking in 2019.

For the fourth time in his career, he cracked the 20-disposal barrier at the weekend. With Lachie Neale gone, Brayshaw will get every chance to make a key midfield spot his own.

GEELONG - LACHIE FOGARTY - PICK 22

Cats fans watched plenty of encouraging signs from Lachie Fogarty during his debut season, with 17-dispoals, 10 tackles and a goal against Port Adelaide the highlight.

However, in a blow for the club, Fogarty faces a delayed start to 2019 following arthroscopic hip surgery in early February.

At the time, the Cats said he would miss between six to eight weeks of training and then would be re-evaluated from there.

It is a setback for the Cats given how Fogarty finished 2018. He was named in the club's best players for both VFL finals.

Fogarty has signed a two-year contract extension, locking him at the club until at least 2021.

GOLD COAST - WIL POWELL - PICK 19

It was a tough debut season for the No. 19 pick, who reached double figure possessions twice in seven games.

However, year two is already looking much better.

After an encouraging JLT Series, Powell booked his spot in Round 1 and didn't let coach Stuart Dew down. He had 23 touches and kicked a goal in what was clearly the best performance of his career.

Aiden Bonar kicked two goals in his AFL debut. Picture: Getty Images
Aiden Bonar kicked two goals in his AFL debut. Picture: Getty Images

GWS - AIDEN BONAR - PICK 11

He had to wait until Round 20 for his AFL debut but Aiden Bonar showed he can have an impact at the top level, kicking five goals in his opening three games before being dropped for finals.

But what is his path to more senior footy in 2019?

Bonar is one of a host of young Giants looking to force their way into the senior side. He was a standout in a NEAFL practice match last weekend, applying all sorts of pressure and winning plenty of the ball.

However, he is probably behind Jackson Hately and Jye Caldwell in the pecking order, both of whom missed the Round 1 smashing of Essendon. It is an embarrassment of riches at the Giants.

HAWTHORN - JAMES WORPEL - PICK 45

It's rare to be a big draft night winner when your first pick doesn't come until no. 45.

But what else would you expect from Hawthorn, who look to have struck gold with James 'The Worpedo' Worpel.

While no one can replace Brownlow Medallist Tom Mitchell, Worpel has shown he intends to give it his best crack. The midfielder had 27 disposals and kicked two goals in the Hawks' upset win over Adelaide. That was good enough for a perfect 10 in the coaches votes. After 11 games last year, Worpel is only just out of Rising Star contention but could a most improved candidate for 2019.

James Worpel was dominant against the Crows. Picture: Getty Images
James Worpel was dominant against the Crows. Picture: Getty Images

MELBOURNE - CHARLIE SPARGO - PICK 29

Despite not having a first round selection because of the Jake Lever trade, the Demons got 18 games from Charlie Spargo, who brought his high-pressure game to the top level from day dot.

Spargo was one of a few Demons to have an off-start to 2019, failing to lay a tackle for just the second time in his career in the shock loss to Port Adelaide.

He will need to respond against the Cats this week.

NORTH MELBOURNE - LUKE DAVIES-UNIACKE - PICK 4

He hit the AFL with big wraps but 2018 was a year of adjustment for Luke Davies-Uniacke.

After playing in five of the Roos' opening six matches, he was dropped to the VFL for an extended period of time.

However, he did turn the corner late in the season, averaging 22 touches and six tackles across a four-match period that earnt him a senior recall.

Consistency will be the key for the North midfielder. He started the new year with a bang, picking up 27 touches in the Roos' JLT Series opener.

However, he managed just 31 touches across JLT 2 and Round 1.

PORT ADELAIDE - SAM HAYES - PICK 47

The Power were movers and shakers during the trade period and as such, were the last club to enter the 2017 draft.

Unfortunately for ruckman Sam Hayes, he is yet to get a clear run at the top level following an ACL injury in June last year.

The club is not rushing his comeback and there is currently no timeline for his return.

Jack Higgins is eyeing some more midfield time in 2019. Picture: AAP Images
Jack Higgins is eyeing some more midfield time in 2019. Picture: AAP Images

RICHMOND - JACK HIGGINS - PICK 17

Some players fall into the trap of just expecting improvement to happen in year two.

However, Jack Higgins isn't one of them.

After a strong debut year, in which he averaged 16 disposals, kicked 15 goals and was a forward 50 tackling machine, he knows nothing will come easily now he has a target on his back.

"Sometimes your first year is a bit of a free hit, but hopefully it just means that the second year is something I can build on. That's what I want to do," he told the Herald Sun.

So where will his game evolve in its second year?

Higgins has his eyes locked on bringing his trademark pressure and x-factor to the midfield for bursts.

But after three goals in Round 1, Damien Hardwick may want to keep that level of production close to goal.

ST KILDA - HUNTER CLARK - PICK 7

Hunter Clark played 15 matches in his debut season which is why it was a little surprising to see him kick off year two on the sidelines.

Clark was overlooked for selection against the Suns, instead playing in a VFL practice match at the weekend.

The teenager was a Rising Star nominee last year and it will be interesting to see how long it will take him to force his way back into the seniors.

Clark averaged 15 disposals across the JLT Series.

Hunter Clark missed selection in Round 1. Picture: Getty Images
Hunter Clark missed selection in Round 1. Picture: Getty Images

SYDNEY - MATTHEW LING - PICK 14

It's been a tough start to life in the AFL for the former Geelong Falcon. Ling played in six NEAFL games in 2018 before a broken toe ended his season. The injury has carried through to 2019, with the midfielder still listed as being out indefinitely.

The Swans clearly like what little they have seen though, signing Ling to a contract extension last year.

WEST COAST - JARROD BRANDER - PICK 13

There is no team tougher to break into than the one that lifted the premiership cup.

However, Jarrod Brander did just that after a promising JLT Series, with the athletic forward putting his hand up to fill the void left by injuries to key Eagles forwards.

Last week was Brander's second AFL match and he is still finding his feet at the top level.

While he will most likely make way for Josh Kennedy this week, Brander's 14 goals in his debut WAFL season are an encouraging sign that the Eagles have plenty of depth coming through the ranks.

WESTERN BULLDOGS - AARON NAUGHTON - PICK 9

There is a slight problem with this young pup. Unfortunately, there is only one of him.

After earning a Rising Star nomination as a backman in his debut season, now Aaron Naughton has swung forward to kick off his second year in the big time.

It's only early, but this kid could become the AFL's ultimate swingman. In Round 1 he booted three goals before pushing back late to sure up the defence in the final minutes.

Among players eligible for the Rising Star last year, Naughton finished with the most contested marks and ranked third for total intercept marks. That is an impressive block of work to build on.

When you consider the Dogs also got Ed Richards in the first round, this is shaping up as a ripping draft for the red, white and blue.