A brief history of the AFL national draft

The AFL national draft has had its share of controversy and intrigue since it was introduced as part of an expanding VFL competition 35 years ago.


* 1986

Entering the expanding VFL as one of two new non-Victorian clubs, along with West Coast, the Brisbane Bears select Martin Leslie with the first No.1 pick in the national draft's history.

* 1988

Footscray select Chris Grant with pick 105. It is later regarded as one of the greatest 'steals' in draft history as the key position player goes on to carve out a Hall of Fame career and break the Bulldogs' games played record with 341 appearances.

* 1991

Brisbane select Nathan Buckley despite the future star making it clear he does not want to play for the Queensland club. Buckley eventually joins the Bears and wins the Rising Star award in his first season (1993) before moving to Collingwood.

* 1996

As the lowest-ranked team to have lost an uncontracted player to new side Port Adelaide, who nabbed ruckman Ian Downsborough, West Coast are handed the No.1 pick and select Michael Gardiner.

* 2001

Fremantle become the fourth club to trade the No.1 pick and miss out on the top end of the famous 'Super Draft' as a result. Top-three selections Luke Hodge (Hawthorn), Luke Ball (St Kilda) and Chris Judd (West Coast) all go on to have outstanding careers.

* 2002

Found guilty by the AFL of significant salary cap breaches, Carlton are stripped of all first and second-round picks over a two-year period. The Blues later earn a priority pick for 2003, which they are allowed to keep, using it on Andrew Walker.

* 2010

The first national draft affected by the introduction of Gold Coast, with fellow expansion club GWS joining in the following year. Both new outfits are handed a raft of recruiting concessions to facilitate their entry into the league.

* 2013

Essendon are stripped of their first two draft picks, as well as a second-round pick in 2014, as part of the AFL-imposed sanctions over the infamous supplements scandal.

* 2020

The Western Bulldogs match Adelaide's bid for Next Generation Academy prospect Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and make him the year's top pick. Rules are swiftly changed to prevent clubs selecting NGA players inside the top 20 picks from 2021 onwards.