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Dons snare gun mid with top AFL draft pick

AAP logoAAP 25/11/2016 Jason Phelan

Essendon agonised long and hard before selecting Victorian midfielder Andrew McGrath with the No.1 pick at the AFL draft.

The Bombers began Friday night's draft in Sydney by claiming McGrath, from TAC Cup club Sandringham Dragons, with the first No.1 pick in the club's history.

"He's a winner ... he's a leader and they're hard to find, so that was probably the major reason we decided to take him," Essendon list manager Adrian Dodoro said.

"He performs at a high level and when he performs he wins."

Greater Western Sydney opted for another Victorian midfielder in Tim Taranto with the second overall pick, with Brisbane pouncing on North Ballarat onballer Hugh McCluggage at No.3.

Gold Coast dominated early proceedings at Sydney's Hordern Pavilion and the Suns selected three midfielders and a defender with their four picks inside the top 10.

AFL national talent manager Kevin Sheahan declared this year's talent pool heavy with midfielders and the first round proved him right.

Most players picked early were midfielders or projected to move into the middle as they gained AFL experience.

Fremantle chose a tall defender, local product Griffin Logue of Swan Districts, at No.8 and Port Adelaide snared a tall forward - the Murray Bushrangers' Todd Marshall at No.18.

The Western Bulldogs finished off the first round with the only ruckman picked early - South Fremantle's Tim English.

Six clubs - Collingwood, St Kilda, Geelong, Richmond, Hawthorn and Melbourne - didn't have a pick in the first round after dealing them away during the trade period.

The Pies snared both their father-son targets, matching a North Melbourne bid for Gavin Brown's son Callum at pick 35 and securing Peter Daicos' son Josh at pick 57 after no other clubs bid for him.

West Coast landed Chris Waterman's son Jake with the 77th and final pick of the draft.

Those aren't the only famous names to return to the AFL. The Saints picked Ben Long, the nephew of Michael Long, with their first selection at pick 25.

Willie Rioli, cousin to Hawthorn's Cyril and Richmond's Daniel, will play for West Coast after the Eagles swooped at pick 52.

However, Ben Jarman, son of Adelaide and Hawthorn great Darren, did not get picked up, leaving the Crows to claim him at Monday's rookie draft.

Mature-age players were also well-represented as Geelong picked Tom Stewart and Timm House from the Cats' VFL side and Ryan Abbott from the Grovedale Tigers in the local Geelong league.

Melbourne also selected Footscray VFL forward Mitch Hannan and the Giants threw delisted Docker Matt de Boer a lifeline, selecting the defender with the 58th pick overall.

The Hawks were the last club into the draft, picking up Murray Bushrangers defender Harry Morrison at pick 74.

After letting Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis go during the trade period, Hawthorn's second and final pick at No.76, was key forward Mitchell Lewis from the Calder Canons.

The Demons were the only other club to have just two picks, while Brisbane, Carlton, Geelong and GWS stocked up with six players each.

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