This article originally appeared on and does not represent the views of the Port Adelaide Football Club

THE TOP 10 of each NAB AFL Draft is where a side can build the foundation for its future.

Hawthorn did exactly that in 2004, recruiting Jarryd Roughead, Lance Franklin and Jordan Lewis with its trio of early picks to set up a period that delivered four flags.

However, while early selections in a draft can make you, like it did with the Hawks, they can also break you. A number of teams over the last decade have missed on their early picks, stunting the development of their group and setting rebuilds back a long way as a result.

Just look at Melbourne. In the 2001 'super draft', the Demons recruited Luke Molan with the ninth pick. He played no AFL games, despite going ahead of Nick Dal Santo, James Kelly, Steve Johnson, Sam Mitchell and Dane Swan, among others.

With early picks being so important, we rank the strongest top 10s throughout the 2000s.

1. 2001 NAB AFL Draft

1. Luke Hodge (Hawthorn)
2. Luke Ball (St Kilda)
3. Chris Judd (West Coast)
4. Graham Polak (Fremantle)
5. Xavier Clarke (St Kilda)
6. Ashley Sampi (West Coast)
7. David Hale (North Melbourne)
8. Jimmy Bartel (Geelong)
9. Luke Molan (Melbourne)
10. Sam Power (Western Bulldogs)

Average games: 178.6

While 2001 is clearly the strongest draft overall, it's hard to look beyond the quality at the top. There are 12 flags and 12 All Australians between them. Hodge, Ball and Judd are exceptional top-three picks, while Hale and Bartel each have three flags later in the top 10. Sampi and Molan were the only two players who failed to notch 100 games.

2. 2004 NAB AFL Draft

1. Brett Deledio (Richmond)
2. Jarryd Roughead (Hawthorn)
3. Ryan Griffen (Western Bulldogs)
4. Richard Tambling (Richmond)
5. Lance Franklin (Hawthorn)
6. Tom Williams (Western Bulldogs)
7. Jordan Lewis (Hawthorn)
8. John Meeson (Adelaide)
9. Jordan Russell (Carlton)
10. Chris Egan (Collingwood)

Average games: 175.7

There's talent littered throughout the 2004 crop. Franklin is the pick of the bunch, and he provided the foundation for Hawthorn's success alongside Roughead and Lewis. Deledio and Griffen have also been fine footballers despite battling constant injury issues. Meeson and Egan struggled, though the quality within this draft is enough to compensate.

3. 2005 NAB AFL Draft

1. Marc Murphy (Carlton)
2. Dale Thomas (Collingwood)
3. Xavier Ellis (Hawthorn)
4. Josh Kennedy (Carlton)
5. Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood)
6. Beau Dowler (Hawthorn)
7. Paddy Ryder (Essendon)
8. Jarrad Oakley-Nicholls (Richmond)
9. Mitch Clark (Brisbane)
10. Marcus Drum (Fremantle)

Average games: 148.8

The quality within the 2005 crop is clear. Pendlebury and Kennedy are both genuine A-graders who have been among the best in their position for a long time. Thomas was a star before injuries derailed his career at Carlton, while Murphy and Ryder have both enjoyed successful periods. Dower, Oakley-Nicholls and Drum played just 51 games collectively.

BEST OF THE BEST Combine's standout performers

4. 2007 NAB AFL Draft

1. Matthew Kreuzer (Carlton)
2. Trent Cotchin (Richmond)
3. Chris Masten (West Coast)
4. Cale Morton (Melbourne)
5. Jarrad Grant (Western Bulldogs)
6. David Myers (Essendon)
7. Rhys Palmer (Fremantle)
8. Lachie Henderson (Brisbane)
9. Ben McEvoy (St Kilda)
10. Patrick Dangerfield (Adelaide)

Average games: 157.7

There was a time when Carlton and Richmond battled for the 'Kreuzer Cup', but as it turns out he wasn't the only star snared early in the 2007 draft. Dangerfield has morphed into one of the game's best, while Cotchin inspirationally captained his side to premiership glory. Masten, Henderson and McEvoy also turned into genuine contributors in successful teams.

5. 2008 NAB AFL Draft

1. Jack Watts (Melbourne)
2. Nic Naitanui (West Coast)
3. Stephen Hill (Fremantle)
4. Hamish Hartlett (Port Adelaide)
5. Michael Hurley (Essendon)
6. Chris Yarran (Carlton)
7. Daniel Rich (Brisbane)
8. Ty Vickery (Richmond)
9. Jack Ziebell (North Melbourne)
10. Phil Davis (Adelaide)

Average games: 160.7

The 2008 draft is interesting to evaluate. While not a single member of the top 10 has won a premiership – and only two have made an All Australian team – each has enjoyed a career of more than 100 games. Naitanui and Hurley have been the standouts. This crop would be higher on the lis, had any achieved the ultimate success.

6. 2006 NAB AFL Draft

1. Bryce Gibbs (Carlton)
2. Scott Gumbleton (Essendon)
3. Lachie Hansen (North Melbourne)
4. Matthew Leuenberger (Brisbane)
5. Travis Boak (Port Adelaide)
6. Mitch Thorp (Hawthorn)
7. Joel Selwood (Geelong)
8. Ben Reid (Collingwood)
9. David Armitage (St Kilda)
10. Nathan Brown (Collingwood)

Average games: 156.9

Selwood is the standout from the 2006 crop, which also includes an AFL captain in Boak and a couple of Collingwood premiership players in Reid and Brown. Gibbs has enjoyed a successful AFL career, though the next couple of picks perhaps didn't fulfil their potential. Only two players – Gumbleton and Thorp – didn't play 100 AFL games.

7. 2002 NAB AFL Draft

1. Brendon Goddard (St Kilda)
2. Daniel Wells (North Melbourne)
3. Jared Brennan (Brisbane)
4. Tim Walsh (Western Bulldogs)
5. Jarrad McVeigh (Sydney)
6. Steven Salopek (Port Adelaide)
7. Andrew Mackie (Geelong)
8. Luke Brennan (Hawthorn)
9. Hamish McIntosh (North Melbourne)
10. Jason Laycock (Essendon)

Average games: 169.7

Goddard and Wells proved terrific selections with the first two picks, though the quality falls away a little after that. McVeigh and Mackie were both premiership players, with the latter winning multiple flags at the Cats. They raised the overall standard of the top 10. Walsh only played one game, while Luke Brennan and Laycock didn't manage many more.

8. 2000 NAB AFL Draft

1. Nick Riewoldt (St Kilda)
2. Justin Koschitzke (St Kilda)
3. Alan Didak (Collingwood)
4. Luke Livingston (Carlton)
5. Andrew McDougall (West Coast)
6. Dylan Smith (North Melbourne)
7. Laurence Angwin (Adelaide)
8. Daniel Motlop (North Melbourne)
9. Kayne Pettifer (Richmond)
10. Jordan McMahon (Western Bulldogs)

Average games: 125.9

The top three picks were justified, with each playing more than 200 games. Of them, Riewoldt was a certified great of the game. Unfortunately, the quality fell away quickly after that. None of the next four picks managed more than 50 games at senior level. Of the top 10, only Didak managed to win a flag, doing so with the Pies in 2010.

9. 2009 NAB AFL Draft

1. Tom Scully (Melbourne)
2. Jack Trengove (Melbourne)
3. Dustin Martin (Richmond)
4. Anthony Morabito (Fremantle)
5. Ben Cunnington (North Melbourne)
6. Gary Rohan (Sydney)
7. Brad Sheppard (West Coast)
8. John Butcher (Port Adelaide)
9. Andrew Moore (Port Adelaide)
10. Jake Melksham (Essendon)

Average games: 116.2

The 2009 draft lacked star power, though it is saved somewhat by Martin and Cunnington. While Scully has developed into a nice footballer, he struggled to fulfil his potential early in his career. It's a similar story for Trengove and Morabito, who both dealt with significant injury issues. Four of the top 10 have not yet played 100 AFL games.

10. 2003 NAB AFL Draft

1. Adam Cooney (Western Bulldogs)
2. Andrew Walker (Carlton)
3. Colin Sylvia (Melbourne)
4. Farren Ray (Western Bulldogs)
5. Brock McLean (Melbourne)
6. Kepler Bradley (Essendon)
7. Kane Tenace (Geelong)
8. Raphael Clarke (St Kilda)
9. David Trotter (North Melbourne)
10. Ryley Dunn (Fremantle)

Average games: 125.7

Cooney might have won a Brownlow, but the star power drops away quickly after that. Walker, Sylvia, Ray and McLean all enjoyed serviceable careers, but didn't live up to the hype they earned early in their careers. Trotter dealt with significant hamstring injuries that stunted his development, while four of the top 10 couldn't reach 100 games.

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