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Thread: Melbourne's Draft Seminar

  1. #1
    FFC General Manager Devo's Avatar
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    Melbourne's Draft Seminar

    Melbourne has posted a detailed account of their day-long seminar to decide who they will select with picks 36, 52, and 54 in this year's national draft. I think it's really interesting stuff. Obviously we can't find out who they want to pick, but there are various insights into what the club thinks of the draft crop as a whole, the process the club went through to make its decisions and the key factors that seem to have guided their decision-making.

    I get worried though when they say that 'speculative talls' will be in range for their later picks. MFC have enough of those on its list already, they don't need any more!

    THE MELBOURNE Football Club board room has an air of expectation and a focused feel about it.

    The projector screen is glowing. Laptops and notepads are ready to go. Pens to tick off names and jot down comments will be the order of the day.

    By this point, most of the attendees have arrived. A handful of the coaches, including new senior coach Mark Neeld walk in, many armed with coffees.

    The scene is set for Melbourne’s Draft Seminar Day - a meeting to predict scenarios and discuss players in the mix for the red and blue in the upcoming drafting period.

    National recruiting manager Barry Prendergast has organised the day for his talent identifiers and the club’s football department. The work put into this day - and throughout the year by Prendergast and his team - is significant.

    9:30 am The day starts punctually, with Prendergast welcoming all to the fifth Melbourne Draft Seminar Day.

    Along with Prendergast and Neeld, in attendance are Melbourne coaches, recruiting and football department members: Brian Royal, Jade Rawlings, Leigh Brown, Paul Satterley, Aaron Greaves, Andrew Nichol, Josh Mahoney, Kelly O’Donnell, Tim Harrington, Todd Viney, Gary Burleigh, Rob Draper, Bernie Dunn (via telephone hook-up), John Turnbull, Jackson Cook, Daniel Reid, Mark Hawkins, David Calthorpe, Don Baron, Darren Farrugia, Pete Roberts, Craig Lees, Fraser Carson, Dave Dunbar and Sam Pietsch.

    Prendergast says it started in 2007, when former recruiting manager Craig Cameron, was at the helm.

    He tweaked it the following year when he took over as head Melbourne recruiter. Prendergast said a similar day, containing a mock draft, was held when he was at North Melbourne. Neville Stibbard, now a recruiter with Greater Western Sydney, oversaw the Roos’ recruiting back then.

    A mock draft will form a key part of the seminar.

    Prendergast doesn’t beat around the bush when he says, “It’s a good opportunity for recruiters to put their balls on the line.” He says it’s also “a great opportunity for every stakeholder”.

    Even though he concedes that “it’s the shallowest draft pool in my time”, he explains that last year’s draft contained few surprises. But, “we might get to see some this year”, he adds.

    Talented players versus medical risks will also be discussed.

    Prendergast welcomes input from the new football staff. He highlights Rawlings as a football person with a thirst for the game’s knowledge. He says that, when they were both at the Dogs, Rawlings was the best in the club’s historical knowledge.

    “Jade answered more questions about the Western Bulldogs than any other player in a trivia competition we had,” Prendergast says.

    He says having Greaves and Nichol, who have joined Melbourne from elite underage/TAC Cup programs, and Satterley as a recent VFL coach, are important for the day.

    9:40 am
    Prendergast starts the Melbourne mock draft.

    The Demons have three picks in this year’s NAB AFL Draft: No.36, No.52 and No.54.

    Prendergast oversees the Melbourne mock draft, as his recruiting team, consisting of Burleigh, Draper, Dunn, Turnbull, Cook, Reid, Hawkins, Calthorpe and Baron call out who they would take at the respective picks.

    Calthorpe, the 1993 Esssendon premiership player, has the first pick in the mock draft. He is representing GWS. He selects Jonathan Patton from Eastern Ranges, which is no surprise. Patton has been likened to Brisbane Lions superstar Jonathan Brown.

    “No doubt, the best in the draft,” Calthorpe says.

    Turnbull has the No.2 pick, followed by Draper, then Burleigh, Hawkins, Dunn, Baron, Cook and Reid.

    The order is then mixed throughout the rest of the mock draft.

    Like the actual draft, each recruiter reads the name. And like all drafts, as it gets deeper, some pauses come into play.

    Once every recruiter locks in a name, they comment for 30 seconds to a minute on why they have selected them.

    Roberts is busily punching in the recruiters’ comments via laptop. His note taking is there for all to see on the big screen projector.

    The comments make for fascinating reading.

    Turnbull, formerly Hawthorn’s recruiting manager, who secured the likes of Luke Hodge, adds flair with his comments. He often breaks the room into laughter with his straight-to-the-point and humourous one-liners.

    Draper, a lifelong Melbourne supporter, has the distinction of calling out Melbourne’s first pick at No.36. He believes the player he has selected under this scenario will be taken earlier in the actual draft.

    Burleigh, Prendergast’s right-hand man, calls out Melbourne’s second pick at No.52, while Draper completes the club’s selections at No.54.

    10:32 am
    The mock draft concludes and the attendees take a short break.

    10:57 am
    The second part of the seminar is under way.

    AFL Victoria high performance managers Leon Harris (Country) and Anton Grbac (Metro) arrive to offer their thoughts on certain players.

    For more than an hour, Prendergast throws up names for the pair to discuss. Harris and Grbac’s views are interspersed with questions from the Melbourne hierarchy.

    In total, 19 Victorian-based players are discussed.

    Neeld is not afraid to make a point. He tells it like it is - continuing the early trend he has set at the club. No one is left wondering.

    But it’s not always about eliminating players for Neeld, as he keenly inquires about another youngster.

    “Why is he getting through to mid 30s?” he says. “Could he captain an AFL club?”

    Later in the day, this player again captures Neeld’s interest.

    Harris and Grbac finish answering questions on possible draftees.

    Prendergast acknowledges their contribution and presents them each with a copy of ‘The Red Fox’ (the story of Norm Smith).

    12:33 pm
    After a quick break, the seminar continues.

    Prendergast turns the group’s attention to players with injury issues in recent years.

    He reflects on recent AFL draftees who have not made it, or have since been delisted, due to suspect bodies entering the system.

    Prendergast says there are some players you “don’t touch” because their bodies are vulnerable.

    Club physiotherapist Pietsch soon runs through a list of players with injury concerns.

    Two players are considered “major concerns”.

    Prendergast says it’s pretty hard to “pick those boys”.

    Another 10 are considered “moderate concerns”, while more than 15 are deemed “minor concerns”.

    Pietsch indicates that a full-time football environment with elite medical facilities can also turn players around.

    “If he’s the best player, we’ll still take him,” he says.

    12:55 pm
    Prendergast switches the focus to likely scenarios of the draft.

    He runs through the top 12 picks - dominated by GWS, which has nine selections, with the remainder taken by Port Adelaide (No.6), Brisbane Lions (No.8 and No.12). In fact, GWS has 11 of the first 14 picks.

    Prendergast says this year’s talent pool is “a midfielder draft, not a tall draft”.

    “There are few ruckmen. The quality talls are not like 2008 when there were [Jack] Watts, [Nic] Naitanui, [Michael] Hurley and [Ty] Vickery,” he adds.

    After the first half-a-dozen names are chosen, Prendergast lists three more groups.

    The first consists of 12 names likely to be selected from picks No.13 to No.24.

    “If one of them falls out [to us at No.36] - we’ll take one,” Prendergast says.

    He reveals another 14 names, which are expected to land from No.25 to No.38.

    Just to cover all bases, Prendergast has another eight names up his sleeve, meaning selections No.39 to No.46 are also covered for pick No.36.

    As mentioned earlier, Prendergast says this draft will contain some surprises.

    “We rated Jeremy Howe at No.30 last year, so we got him at No.33 last year. The draft went pretty much where we thought last year,” Prendergast says.

    1:20 pm
    The group breaks for lunch.

    2:10 pm
    Most of the afternoon is focused on watching vision of targeted players.

    In total, 27 players are honed in.

    Prendergast gives an overview and introduces each player, with fellow recruiters and coaches discussing them.

    The analysis is intriguing.

    It’s not just their football ability that’s discussed - it’s much more than that. Away from the field is of equal importance.

    The scrutiny to find Melbourne’s first selection at No.36 is immense.

    When discussing one of the first players, Prendergast asks Burleigh a rhetorical question.

    “How many Facebook friends does he have, Burls? 1400? He likes to be liked,” he says.

    It was an example of just how far recruiters will explore to invest in talent.

    The discussion of one youngster’s beep test was raised.

    “Blokes were doing unusually high beeps - I put it down to different conditions at this year’s Combine,” Prendergast says.

    Different testing adds different answers and further questions.

    For another player, his single-mindedness to play just one role is highlighted.

    Neeld says to club psychologist Carson: “How does he deal with six roles in a quarter, with rotations?”

    It’s yet another insight into Neeld’s coaching methods.

    There are conundrums for recruiters.

    One player, likened to Cameron Bruce by Prendergast, has performed “better at senior level” than juniors, according to Burleigh.

    Neeld later asks Carson, who has scrutinised many of the players’ psychological profiles, about another prospect, “How’s he going to go with Melbourne training?”

    The answer is just as Neeld suspected.

    By this point, several players have been dissected.

    3:30 pm
    The group breaks for afternoon tea.

    3:52 pm
    The seminar continues to look at vision of targeted players, with discussion and debate continuing.

    One more player is analysed for Melbourne’s No.36 pick, before each recruiter and coach is asked for their thoughts on who they would take at that selection.

    The sheets are handed out and each recruiter/coach has eight names to work with. The majority picks one player, but there are differing opinions.

    4:07 pm
    Melbourne’s No.52 and No.54 selections are then discussed, with vision of those in the mix shown on the projector.

    At one stage, Burleigh asks a question many do in the recruiting fraternity, “What’s he going to be? Where will he play in the AFL?”

    It’s all part of the process for those assessing.

    A mature age prospect is then raised.

    Neeld asks: “Will he be ready to go for round one against Brisbane next year?”

    Turnbull says adamantly, “Yes”.

    Soon, a tall is dissected.

    Prendergast says the nature of this draft means that speculative talls will be in Melbourne’s range at No.52 and No.54.

    With the Demons having two picks in the early 50s, Greaves and Nichol come to the fore with their thoughts on some of the TAC Cup players in this range.

    Turnbull also highlights a ‘smoky-like’ player he has monitored closely for almost 18 months.

    Soon, the possibilities for No.50 and No.52 are reviewed.

    Again, Prendergast asks the recruiters and coaches who they would take at those picks.

    This time, it’s much more diverse.

    It only highlights the openness of this draft, particularly in the latter part, and the difficulty of recruiting.

    It also reinforces the opinion-based nature of it all.

    5:18 pm
    With all three selections discussed, Prendergast quickly talks about rookie prospects.

    Melbourne has four vacancies on its rookie list, and the club already has one eye on the December draft.

    Harrington says there is “fair argument” to invite some train-on players or those overlooked at this Thursday’s draft.

    He says it’s a great opportunity for the club to have a closer look at possible draftees. And he stresses the importance of players having an extra few weeks of training, before the December draft.

    5:30 pm
    Prendergast concludes the seminar.

    He thanks the recruiters and coaches for their input.

    Neeld also thanks Prendergast and the recruiters for the day.

    “I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s been really good, and I’m sure I speak on behalf of everyone else,” he says.

    There’s no doubt Prendergast and his recruiting team have put in a mountain of work.

    To have observed a day like this only adds to the appreciation and understanding of the recruiting process.

    It’s a massive day for all clubs - it’s the recruiters’ grand final - and it should be another intriguing one for Melbourne and its rivals.
    Last edited by Devo; 24th November 2011 at 10:37 AM.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator divvydan's Avatar
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    Re: Melbourne's Draft Seminar

    Firstly thanks for the article, an interesting read.

    I read the speculative talls comment as what they suspect will be around at that mark, not what they were after at that mark, although in saying that, if that's the best left at that point, it might be what they go with. Suspect Kavanagh is one of the two players with 'major concerns' regarding injury, although he'll be gone before Melbourne's first pick.

    Wouldn't surprise me if the player Neeld asked about if he could captain Melbourne was Clay Smith or Mitch Grigg.

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    Re: Melbourne's Draft Seminar

    Very interesting article, a lot of insight into how it all operates.

    I never would have thought they'd do a mock draft where a recruiter poses as each team, but it makes sense. Imagine if one of the mock drafts made by a club ever got leaked!

    In terms of actual players, Clay Smith is a late bolter and would be in the mix for Fremantle at Pick 16, the Bulldogs at Pick 17 and a few more clubs in the 20s, so I don't know if he'd last. Grigg doesn't strike me as leadership material either, he has a few attitude problems IIRC. They could well be speaking of Sam Kerridge, Alex Woodward and Jordan Lockyer.

  4. #4
    FFC General Manager Devo's Avatar
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    Re: Melbourne's Draft Seminar

    Divvy, I took the speculative talls comment in the same way you did. I probably just didn't make myself very clear. Melbourne have stocked up on talls and KPPs in recent drafts, with Watts, Cook, Gawn, Fitzpatrick, Troy Davis, Howe and Spencer all taken in the last few years. Of those, Cook, Fitz and Spencer are speculative. Midfield class and/or grunt are the things they need this year, particular as it is a mid-heavy draft.

    I'd be stoked if it is Clay Smith they are talking about. He is supposed to be a leader type and hard at it in all respects. Not the best quality kick relative to others in the draft, but that could be worked on. I'd be doubly stoked if he was still available at pick 36, because it sounds like a lot of clubs are in the market for him. Would also be happy with Kerridge or Ross at 36. Josh Waldhuter would also be a short reach at 36 but a good pick. His maniacal attack on the footy at the stoppages would be welcome at the club and he is Round 1-ready. While he doesn't get a lot of the pill, he is clean by foot.

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    Super Moderator pvcyclone's Avatar
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    Re: Melbourne's Draft Seminar

    that process sounds like awesome fun....

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    FFC General Manager Crow-mo's Avatar
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    Speculative talls means james sellar apparently
    TEX WALKER. that is all.

  7. #7
    FFC General Manager Devo's Avatar
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    Re: Melbourne's Draft Seminar

    Speculative indeed

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