PORT ADELAIDE will enter the 2021 AFL National Draft with an interesting hand with only one pick inside the first 62 selections.
Pick 12 has proven quite valuable for the club in recent years thanks to the recruiting of Shaun Burgoyne, Jay Schulz (originally drafted by Richmond), Zak Butters and most recently Miles Bergman (although he came two picks later in the end due to academy selections by other clubs pushing his selection back).
However, the club has had a lot of success with players claimed with picks in the third round of the draft and beyond. Success it will be hoping to replicate with picks 63, 73, 74 and 92 next Thursday evening.
The most famous of which was Robbie Gray at pick 55 in the 2006 national draft, where the club also claimed 2018 John Cahill Medallist Justin Westhoff at pick 71 and David Rodan at pick 86.
Gray’s accolades speak for themselves – three best and fairest awards, four times an All-Australian, the AFLCA player of the year in 2014, twice a club leading goal kicker, a record five Showdown Medals – and he would comfortably sit among the club’s greatest players in its AFL era.
With just days until this year’s draft, there are several others including premiership players and club captains who prove that there is plenty of talent on offer later in the draft or even in the rookie draft.
Port Adelaide's Draft Diamonds
1998 Jarred Poulton – pick 5 1999 pre-season draft
Poulton played 88 AFL games between 1999 and 2005 and was part of the club’s 1999 SANFL premiership winning team. The rugged defender was unlucky to be sidelined with injury for the club’s inaugural AFL premiership in 2004.
1999 Dean Brogan – pick 26 rookie draft
A NBL championship winner with the Adelaide 36ers, Brogan gave up basketball and found himself playing for Port Adelaide in 174 AFL games, including the 2004 premiership win. He finished his career with 19 games at Greater Western Sydney but proved a reliable, competitive and consistent ruckman who could also go forward and kick a goal.
2000 Dom Cassisi – pick 50
Taken late in the 2000 draft which also yielded Port Adelaide Shaun Burgoyne and Kane Cornes, Cassisi went on to play 228 games for Port Adelaide including four years as club captain. He was also part of the 2004 AFL premiership side.
2003 Jacob Surjan – pick 10 2004 pre-season draft
A pre-season pick-up, Surjan played 150 games for Port Adelaide including 121 at AFL level. A shut-down small defender who played with passion, Surjan’s leadership was recognised when he became a vice-captain in 2010 before finishing his career in 2012.
2003 Josh Mahoney – pick 12 2004 pre-season draft
Mahoney’s recruitment by Port Adelaide came as a bit of a surprise. Having initially been drafted at pick 84 in the 1996 draft, Mahoney was traded to the Western Bulldogs at the end of 1998 and was delisted at the end of the 2000 season. After impressing in the VFL, Port Adelaide grabbed him with the final pick of the pre-season draft. He would go on to be part of the 2004 premiership team, finishing as the club’s leading goalkicker in 2006 and being part of the leadership group in 2007. He retired having played 97 AFL games including 67 for 77 goals at Port Adelaide.
2004 Danyle Pearce – pick 16 2005 rookie draft
Rookie Pearce won Port Adelaide’s best first year player in 2005 and the AFL’s Rising Star award in 2006. The fleet-footed, long-kicking left footed wingman/half-back played 154 games for Port Adelaide before moving as a free-agent to Fremantle in 2012, where he added another 104 games. Pearce also represented the Indigenous All-Stars on three occasions and played two international rules games for Australia.
2005 Tom Logan – pick 52 2006 rookie draft
Having previously played three games at Brisbane as a late draft pick, Port picked the gutsy defender up in the rookie draft. A fan-favourite for his courageous play Logan played 114 games and booted 27 goals for Port Adelaide, retiring at the end of the 2015 season.
2006 Robbie Gray – pick 55
Highly rated by then Port Adelaide coach Mark Williams, Gray’s career took off when he returned from a ruptured ACL. A three-time John Cahill Medallist, twice leading goal kicker, four-time All-Australian and five-time Showdown Medallist, Gray is the poster boy for the success of late draft picks.
2006 Justin Westhoff – pick 71
Lanky beanpole Westhoff debuted alongside Robbie Gray in 2007, bursting onto the scene with 34 goals in his first season, and went on to become one of the most respected players in Port Adelaide’s AFL history. Westhoff played 280 games for Port Adelaide, won a Showdown Medal and John Cahill Medal and sits third on the list of the club’s all-time AFL goal kickers with 313.
2006 David Rodan – pick 86
After 65 games with Richmond, Port Adelaide nabbed Rodan with the final selection of the 2006 draft. His pace and line-breaking ability endeared him to the Port Adelaide faithful and he repayed them with 111 games and 86 goals before a final season with Melbourne in 2013.
2010 Tom Jonas – pick 16 2011 rookie draft
An unfashionable but hard to beat lock-down defender, Jonas has become one of the most respected players in Port Adelaide’s AFL history. With 182 games to his name, Jonas was named co-captain of the club in 2019 before taking on the title in his own right in 2020. He is also highly rated outside of the four walls at Alberton, having three times been named in the All-Australian squad of 40.
2013 Darcy Byrne-Jones – pick 52
A versatile backman who drives much of the play off half-back, Byrne-Jones never shirks a contest and has missed just one game since making his AFL debut in 2016. With 129 games to his name so far, Byrne-Jones’ won his first John Cahill Medal in 2020 and was named an All-Australian in the same season. His respect amongst Port's players was rewarded in 2021 when he was named in the club’s leadership group.
2013 Karl Amon – pick 68
Much maligned in his early years, Amon has become one of the most reliable players at Ken Hinkley’s disposal in recent times. His run and raking left foot have been a highlight while playing on the wing and some of his most recent 102 AFL games have seen him spend more time in the midfield, culminating with selection in the All-Australian squad of 40 in 2021.
2015 Dan Houston – pick 45 rookie draft
Houston was drafted as a forward with clean hands and a nice right foot. But it was not until he made a move into defence where he really found his place. With a Gavin Wanganeen Medal in 2018 as the club’s best player under 21 and repeated top-10 finishes in the best and fairest, Houston looks set to add plenty of games to his 100 at AFL level so far.
2017 Kane Farrell – pick 51
With a booming left foot and a craftiness around goal, Farrell is a promising prospect who after spending much of his time in the forward line showed an ability to play on the wing and in the midfield in 2021 before being struck down by a serious knee injury. With 33 matches to his name so far, Farrell has the ability to become a permanent fixture of the side once he returns to full fitness.