2001 AFL Draft – The 10 Best Performers
The 2001 AFL Draft is a draft that produced some of the greatest Australian Rules Football players to ever play the game.
Following the 2001 AFL Grand Final, it is the most anticipated event on the Australian Football Calendar at the conclusion of AFL year.
It has been known as the Superdraft for a long time now and a total of seven Brownlow Medals came out of the draft. Luke Hodge from Hawthorn was the number one pick, followed by Luke Ball from the St Kilda Saints and Chris Judd from the West Coast Eagles.
The original order of the draft is as follows with a lot of fancied top picks having less than impressive AFL Careers.
1. ) Luke Hodge (Hawthorn Hawks)
2.) Luke Ball (St Kilda Saints)
3.) Chris Judd (West Coast Eagles)
4.) Graham Polak (Fremantle Dockers)
5.) Ashley Sampi (West Coast Eagles)
6.) Xavier Clarke (St Kilda Saints)
7.) David Hale (North Melbourne Kangaroos)
8.) Jimmy Bartel (Geelong Cats)
9.) Luke Molan (Melbourne Demons)
10.) Sam Power (North Melbourne Kangaroos)
Most of the Top 10 did play a decent amount of games, but Luke Molan unfortunately never played a game of senior football and was drafted by the Melbourne Football Club with their 9th pick.
AFL Draft History would suggest that some of the top AFL Draft Picks don’t necessarily work out the way a club may original plan, with a number of high draft picks never quite living up to their potential.
So almost 20 years on who were the best performers from the 2001 AFL Super Draft?
Here is a Top 10, but before we get into it some honourable mentions who missed out include Adam Schneider, James Kelly, Campbell Brown, David Hale, Jason Gram, Matt Maguire, Mark Seaby, Lewis Roberts-Thomson and Ashley Hansen.
All these guys have made decent contributions to their teams and some even went on to win AFL Premierships.
10.) Jarrad Waite
(Carlton Blues and North Melbourne Kangaroos)
Original Pick – Round 3 Pick 42 (Carlton) Father-Son Rule
Games – 244
Goals – 377
Disposal Average – 14.3
Brownlow Votes – 52
Jarrad Waite played most of his football at the Carlton Football Club heading over to North Melbourne and was always a solid target up forward for both sides.
He racked up a lot of the football and tired out his opponents on numerous occasions with his ability to produce a powerful lead. Waite could take a contested mark and would fill up the stats sheet on numerous occasions for the Blues and the Kangaroos.
Jarrad Waite kicks us off at number 10 after a well established career.
9.) Leigh Montagna
(St Kilda Saints)
Original Pick – Round 3 Picks 37
Games – 287
Goals – 155
Disposal Average – 23.9
Brownlow Votes – 106
All Australian Member – (2009, 2010)
The St Kilda veteran took a while to establish himself as one of the key midfielders for the Saints, but once he was there his confidence grew. An integral part of the St Kilda Grand Final sides and a feisty side to his game saw him win numerous awards throughout his career. A good user of the football and long jeopardy at the one club make him a worthy top ten candidate.
8.) Nick Dal Santo
(St Kilda Saints)
Original Pick – Round 1 Pick 13
Games – 322
Goals – 156
Disposal Average 22.9
Brownlow Votes – 140
All Australian Member – (2005, 2009, 2011)
The silky-smooth ball use of Nick Dal Santo always stood out at his time mainly at St Kilda, and he finished his career at the North Melbourne Kangaroos.
A solid midfielder with some of the best skills the game has seen.
Dal Santo regularly had the job of kicking the ball out after a behind for the Saints and would hit his teammates flat on the chest with a bullet stab kick on a regular occurrence. His elite ball use often helped the sides he played for get the win in a close contest and he went on to become a 300+ game player.
7.) Steve Johnson
(Geelong Cats and Greater Western Sydney Giants)
Original Pick – Round 2 Pick 24
Games – 293
Goals – 516
Disposal Average – 19.2
Brownlow Votes – 111
Premiership Player – (2007, 2009, 2011)
Norm Smith Medal – (2007)
All Australian Member – (2007, 2008, 2010)
It’s hard to think of a similar player to Steve Johnson because he was so unique on the football field.
One of the great small forwards of the modern game, Johnson went on to kick 500+ goals and win himself 3 Premierships, including the 2007 Norm Smith Medal.
He chose to play on to kick goals on numerous occasions which made it exciting for fans and kicked some absolute pearlers during his time on the biggest stage for both the Cats and the Giants.
6.) Jimmy Bartel
Original Pick – Round 1 Pick 8
Games – 305
Goals – 202
Disposal Average 22.8
Brownlow Votes 116
Premiership Player – (2007, 2009, 2011)
Norm Smith Medal – (2011)
Brownlow Medal – (2007)
All Australian Member – (2007, 2008)
Bartel was at his best when the Geelong side was at its peak in the late 2000s. He managed to win the 2007 Brownlow Medal in their Premiership winning year of 2007 and was a significant contributor in the Cats midfield for the majority of his career.
A tough midfielder that could lay some bone-crunching tackles and go get the footy when needed. Originally the eighth pick in the draft and the Cats got their value for an extended period.
5.) Dane Swan
Original Pick – Round 4 Pick 58
Games – 258
Goals – 211
Disposal Average 26.9
Brownlow Votes – 186
Premiership Player – (2010)
Brownlow Medal Winner – (2011)
All Australian Member – (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013)
If you don’t know much about this Draft and saw Swan as the 5th best contributor you’d probably wonder.
Swan was a late gem in the Draft and went at pick 58.
He may not have stood out as much as a young fella, but he certainly had one of the better AFL Careers. He would suffer from leather poisoning, the commentators would say and would have no trouble finding the footy.
Towards the back end of his career at the Pies, he also started to kick goals regularly. Goal Kicking, stat-stuffing midfielders go a long way to making a team competitive. A 2011 Brownlow Medal winner and Dane Swan made a decent contribution throughout his career.
4.) Sam Mitchell
(Hawthorn Hawks and West Coast Eagles)
Original Pick – Round 3 Pick 36
Games – 329
Goals – 71
Disposal Average – 26.4
Brownlow Votes – 227
Premiership Player (2008, 2013, 2014, 2015)
Brownlow Medal Winner (2012)
All Australian Member (2011, 2013, 2015)
Watching Mitchell play it was hard to tell if he was a left or right footer because he was so good on both sides.
A later pick in the Draft, Mitchell has become one of the Hawthorn greats and finished his career at the Eagles in which he played a significant role mentoring some of the young Eagles midfielders.
A great player out of a congested situation and even better at hitting targets, Mitchell established himself as one of the premier midfielders in the competition and his record speaks for itself.
3.) Luke Hodge
(Hawthorn Hawks and Brisbane Lions)
Original Pick – Round 1 Pick 1
Games – 346
Goals – 194
Disposal Average – 21.9
Brownlow Votes – 131
Premiership Player – (2008, 2013, 2014, 2015)
Norm Smith Medal – (2008, 2014)
All Australian Member – (2005, 2008, 2010)
The original number one pick in the Draft, Hodge has lived up to it and is well regarded as one of the great finals footballers of all-time. Four Premierships and a couple of Norm Smith medals have made him one of the Hawks all-time greats.
A captain of the club, Hodge led the club to greatness and guided some of the younger players to help Hawthorn continue to become a force.
Finished his career at Brisbane and helped them make their first finals appearance in 10 years.
2.) Chris Judd
(West Coast Eagles and Carlton Blues)
Original Pick – Round 1 Pick 3
Games – 279
Goals – 228
Disposal Average – 22.9
Brownlow Votes – 210
Premiership Player (2006)
Norm Smith Medal (2005)
Brownlow Medal Winner – (2004, 2010)
All Australian Member – (2004, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)
Originally pick 3 because of a minor shoulder problem before the Draft, the Saints who went for Luke Ball would have been spewing they missed out on getting a Dual Brownlow Medalist.
His best football may have been at the Eagles, but he continued his form at Carlton for several more seasons, guiding a struggling club to the finals.
Judd could do it all with the football and as some insane highlights based around pace and breaking tackles, which made it hard to compare him to any other player. One of the few players to make an impact from Day 1 and continue it throughout his long career.
1.) Gary Ablett Jr
(Geelong Cats and Gold Coast Suns)
Original Pick – Round 3 Pick 40 (Father-Son Rule)
Games – 346
Goals – 437
Disposal Average – 25.3
Brownlow Medal Votes – 261 (AFL/VFL Record)
Premiership Player – (2007, 2009)
Brownlow Medal Winner – (2009, 2013)
All Australian Member – (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014)
Some regard his dad as the GOAT and the argument is certainly valid, but Gary Ablett Jr also made a huge impact on the AFL and has ended up becoming one of the All-Time greats.
Geelong got him at pick number 40 because of the father-son rule and to be honest it did take him a while to stamp his authority on the AFL.
Gary started as a small forward for the Cats and was a contributor, but it wasn’t until a few years later when his work ethic was questioned by members of the Cats coaching staff and that ended up sparking one of the great AFL Careers.
A ridiculously talented footballer, Ablett made his mark on the midfield to become one of the greatest players the game has ever seen. A Dual Brownlow Medalist, he also holds the record for most Brownlow Votes of all-time and is regarded as the modern-day greats of football.
He played the majority of his career at Geelong, but big dollars lured him to the new AFL Franchise the Gold Coast Suns in which he still had a big impact.
Gary Ablett takes the number one spot as the best player to come out of the Draft.
Below is one of the great goals he kicked against his former team whilst playing for the Gold Coast Suns.
If you think there is a player not mentioned that should have made the list or disagree with the order, Leave a comment to generate some discussion.