AFL Draft 2022: Who were the biggest surprises in this year’s draft?


The completion of the 2022 National AFL Draft has fans and supporters examining if their club selected wisely.

A total of 59 players were drafted to the 18 clubs.

Some prospects went later than expected while others were shoved up the order.

Hindsight will offer a more accurate look into how each team and their selections went but that won’t stop us identifying shock calls made in the draft.

We take a look at some of the biggest surprises in the 2022 AFL Draft.

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2022 AFL Draft surprise picks

Mattaes Phillipou (St Kilda) – Pick 10

St Kilda must’ve been pinching themselves when they saw Phillipou still available at pick 10.

Hawthorn and Gold Coast were heavily into the left-footer but opted to go in another direction.

Arguably a top five talent and tipped to go then, the South Australian proved his worth late in the National Championships and in the SANFL.

Likened to Marcus Bontempelli, the Saints could not be happier with their acquisition of Phillipou.

Jaspa Fletcher (F/S) (Brisbane) – Pick 12

Brisbane knew they were going to match a bid for the son of Lion champion, Adrian Fletcher.

However, pick 12 wasn’t what came to mind for the midfielder, yet the Western Bulldogs thought otherwise.

Whether the bid was in spite (drama surrounding Josh Dunkley trade) or the fact that the Dogs really rated Fletcher, we’ll never know.

Nevertheless, the Lions got their man but paid a lot more than they hoped.

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Harry Rowston (A) (GWS) – Pick 16

Were Sydney showing spite to arch rivals? Or was this good draft management?

The Swans put a bid in for Rowston, who was linked to cross-town rivals, GWS.

The Giants did match the bid but were hoping it would come in the second round.

There was however three options GWS could’ve chosen, per Fox Sports.

The Giants were presented with three options: pass on Rowston and allow him to play for the Swans; match the bid and pay the full price of pick No.17; or do a deal with the Swans involving future picks that would see the Giants avoid an early bid while bolstering the Swans’ draft hand for next year.

Edward Allan (Collingwood) – Pick 19

Collingwood would not have expected Allan to still be up for grabs late in the first round.

Leaving no doubt, the Pies snatched up the rangey West Australian and he will slot in nicely due to his impressive versatility.

Most phantom drafts and predictions had Allan going around the 10-14 mark but slipped further down the order to Collingwood’s delight.

Brayden George (North Melbourne) – Pick 26

George has been likened to Melbourne’s Christian Petracca and Collingwood’s Jordan De Goey, known for his impressive burst from stoppage and ability to hit the scoreboard.

Despite suffering an ACL injury which probably cost him a top-10 selection, the new North Melbourne recruit has turned out to be an absolute steal at pick 26.

George can play across multiple positions and compliments the earlier draftees of Harry Sheezel and George Wardlaw.

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Cooper Vickery (Sydney) – Pick 27

Not seen as a selection until the fourth or fifth round, the Hawthorn Next Gen prospect was snatched up by Sydney at pick 27.

Ironically, it was an earlier pick swap on Monday between the two clubs that resulted in their current selections (Hawks pick 18 – Swans pick 27, F2+3).

Seeing it was inside the top 40, Hawthorn couldn’t match the bid under the new rules.

Sydney must see something that not many other phantom guides did.

Jaxon Binns (Carlton) – Pick 32

Carlton snatched up Binns and would be rather pleased that they did.

At the beginning of 2022, the midfielder showed plenty of promise and was amongst the Wardlaws’, Ashcrofts’ and Tsatas’ of the draft crop.

However, Binns’ form did taper away from his extremely high level and his draft pick somewhat reflected that.

This isn’t to say that clubs before the Blues missed out on great potential as the Dandenong Stingrays product was initially tipped to go top 10.

Tom Emmett (Fremantle) – Pick 41

Emmett’s selection is arguably one of the most shocking of the draft.

Crippled by cancer at a young age (rare subtype of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma before his 17th birthday), the new-Docker has emerged from his turmoil and impressed recruiters.

Selected as a mature-age South Australian, Emmett showcased his ability at the state combine (Adelaide) with his power and speed noted.

Emmett was the number one ranked player in SA for agility and finished inside the top five for the 2km time trial, according to Fox Sports.

Joe Richards (Collingwood) – Pick 48

Another mature-age recruit, Richards comes into the Pies’ camp as a 23-year-old.

Forced to bide his time in country football (Wangaratta – Country Victoria), the small forward continued to work on his game.

Under the leadership and direction of Collingwood premiership player, Ben Reid, Richards has shown immense improvement in a short span of time and has now found himself on an AFL list.

According to draft expert Kevin Sheehan, the schoolteacher is ready-made for the big leagues.

Corey Wagner (Fremantle) – Pick 57

Third time’s the charm?

Hopefully it is for Wagner, who has previously spent time on Melbourne’s (2019) and North Melbourne’s (2016-2017) list.

The Dockers saw something in the defender, who has been playing for VFL side Port Melbourne since being delisted by the Demons.

Wagner comes in as a mature-age recruit and could help add some more dare and bounce from the backline.

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