Nick Riewoldt thinks the AFL should consider overhauling the national draft.
Nick Riewoldt thinks the AFL should consider overhauling the national draft.

‘Tear up’ the draft: Riewoldt’s left-field plan

ST Kilda legend Nick Riewoldt thinks it's time the AFL considered throwing out the national draft - at least in its current format.

Riewoldt said the draft, which along with the salary cap acts as one of the League's main equalisation measures, might need to be overhauled as it was "not a big enough tool" to help perennial cellar-dwellers climb the ladder.

Himself a former No.1 draft selection, Riewoldt cited the Gold Coast Suns' current on-field struggles when suggesting more needed to be done for the competition's battling teams.

"Talk of giving them pick 1 (compensation) in the draft, well, Sam Walsh is having as good a year as a pick one as anyone (but) is he really elevating Carlton dramatically?" Riewoldt said.

"It's one player. The draft as a mechanism in our competition, it's not a powerful enough tool anymore."

Asked what he proposed to expedite clubs' revival, Riewoldt suggested some radical thinking might be needed.

"I would tear the draft up and come up with a new formula, scaled to help clubs develop a lot quicker.

"Because at the moment the only difference between the team that wins it and the team that comes last is an 18-year-old kid, 17 picks apart.

Former No.1 draft pick Andrew McGrath in action for the Bombers.
Former No.1 draft pick Andrew McGrath in action for the Bombers.
"It's not a big enough tool to help you improve."

Riewoldt said while a top draft pick had the ability to quickly transform a team in rival sports, that was difficult in the AFL.

"In the NFL ... you can go out and get the best quarterback in the country, who (with) every possession in offence has got the ball in his hands.

"So you can make a big difference, and they're coming out (of the draft) at 21, 22.

"In the NBA, you can go and get Zion Williamson, well he's 20 per cent of the team when he's on the court."

Riewoldt referenced Essendon's former No.1 draft pick Andrew McGrath when contrasting the ability of teams to rebound off the back of nabbing the top draft prize.

He said the same year the Bombers landed McGrath, the St Louis Rams also possessed the top pick in the US.

Just a few years on they had been able to work themselves back into a position where they could contend for a SuperBowl, while Aussie Ben Simmons had a similar impact in the NBA for his Philadelphia 76ers.

Riewoldt argued that emerging star Sam Walsh alone can’t transform the Blues. Pic: Michael Klein
Riewoldt argued that emerging star Sam Walsh alone can’t transform the Blues. Pic: Michael Klein

"Andrew McGrath, he's one of 18 (players)," Riewoldt said.

"The opportunity for him to have a huge impact in games, just by the way our game is set up and structured … it's not a big enough tool anymore, particularly when we're getting them at 17, 18."

Riewoldt said he was unsure what measures might need to be taken to help languishing clubs, but stressed it needed to be looked at.

"I don't have the solution, that will take a lot of work, but the way it's set up at the moment it's not enough for a team like the Gold Coast," he said.

"The competition's not better for Carlton being at the bottom for 10 years."

News Corp Australia


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