Published by Jason Phelan, 17th November 2018 on foxsports.com
Sam Walsh is the hot favourite to go No. 1 in the AFL draft but league talent chief Kevin Sheehan believes the conversation extends beyond the star Geelong Falcons midfielder.
Walsh hasn’t put a foot wrong all year and thoroughly deserves to be the first player selected but Sheehan says South Australian duo Jack Lukosius and Izak Rankine and Victorian key forward Max King are also in the frame.
As the draft order stands, popular opinion has Walsh going to Carlton with the top pick, Lukosius and Rankine off to Gold Coast with the second and third selections and King to St Kilda at No.4.
But Sheehan says all four have legitimate claims on the No. 1 spot.
“I’m glad I’m not picking it because it’s a really tough call,” Sheehan told AAP.
“I think all of those boys at different points of the year would have been considered worthy number ones.”
Stephen Silvagni and the Blues’ recruiting team are faced with the difficult task of assessing the seasons of each of the four against their potential upside.
How good is Sam Walsh now but how big a star could Max King be in five years time?
It’s a particularly difficult question to answer when it comes to King.
“Max kicked eight goals in his first game of the year and does his ACL at school level the next week — he looked a No. 1 right at the start of the year,” Sheehan said.
“He’s a 204-centimetre key forward who marks the ball at its highest point, he’s quick and agile … players like that are as rare as hen’s teeth.
“He looks a special player and he’s recovered well from the injury.”
Lukosius and Rankine have proved their star potential in senior SANFL company with Woodville-West Torrens and West Adelaide, respectively.
“Lukosius has been much talked about as a star of the future with comparisons to Nick Riewoldt, who of course went No. 1 himself,” Sheehan said.
“They have similar backgrounds playing at both ends of the ground and Nick didn’t do any more in his development years than Jack has so I see those comparisons as being pretty fair.
“Then there’s Izak Rankine the magician … he can kick the impossible goals and do it in big games.
“He can jump and take a mark like Eddie Betts or kick a goal from the boundary like Eddie or cut through traffic like Andrew McLeod.
“All four of them are special talents.”