With just over two weeks remaining until the 2021 AFL National Draft, we’re looking back at our first selections of each national draft over the last 10 years.
2020: Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, Pick 1
Our first number one draft pick since Adam Cooney in 2003, Next Generation Academy graduate Jamarra Ugle-Hagan broke through for his senior debut in round 17 of this season.
He slotted seven goals from five career games, including a three-goal haul in round 18 against Gold Coast.
Ugle-Hagan signed a contract extension in August, keeping him at the Kennel until at least 2024, and at just 19 years old still has plenty of football and development ahead of him.
2019: Cody Weightman, Pick 15
Small forward Cody Weightman enjoyed a breakout season in 2021, playing 16 games while adding 19 goals.
He kicked four goals in both round 16 against North Melbourne and the elimination final win over Essendon, hitting the scoreboard in all but two of his matches.
Weightman was nominated for the 2021 Four’N Twenty Mark of the Year twice, while also earning a 2021 rebel Goal of the Year nomination in round nine.
2018: Bailey Smith, Pick 7
Since making his debut in the opening round of the 2019 season, Bailey Smith has not missed a match.
He notched up game 50 in round nine against Port Adelaide this year, and played a starring role in the Bulldogs’ run to the Grand Final.
The 20-year-old averaged 29 disposals throughout the finals series, while adding a career-high four goals in the preliminary final win.
2017: Aaron Naughton, Pick 9
Key forward Aaron Naughton was another Bulldog who enjoyed some career-best form in 2021.
Losing fellow tall Josh Bruce late in the season meant the 21-year-old had to step up as the number one key forward, and did so seamlessly.
In his fourth season at the level, Naughton finished the year as the league’s number one contested marker, while slotting a career-high 47 goals from 25 games.
2016: Tim English, Pick 19
Tim English continued his rise and development this season, and was given more opportunities to spend time as a forward with the addition of Stef Martin.
From his time inside 50, the 24-year-old kicked 19 majors, while also averaging 15.5 hit outs from 22 games.
English also finished the 2021 season with an average of 4.7 marks (ranking in Champion Data’s elite category) and 13 disposals.
2015: Josh Dunkley, Pick 25
Our first pick of the 2015 national draft didn’t come until the second round, but Josh Dunkley made history by becoming the first father-son bid to not be matched by his Dad’s former Club.
Ironically, and in his debut season, Dunkley became the youngest Premiership Bulldog against that same Club – Sydney – and has since become one of the competition’s star midfielders.
Missing 12 weeks with a shoulder reconstruction, the 24-year-old averaged 23 disposals and five tackles from his 15 matches this season.
2014: Toby McLean, Pick 26
Two ACL reconstructions in as many seasons has meant utility Toby McLean has been starved of senior opportunities in recent years.
Just six games shy of cracking the ton, the 25-year-old is currently four months into his rehabilitation, having recorded his first run post-surgery just this week.
McLean also played a critical role in the Bulldogs’ drought-breaking 2016 flag, and is one of just nine premiership players that remain on the list.
2013: Marcus Bontempelli, Pick 4
When a then 18-year-old Marcus Bontempelli kicked that goal against Melbourne in just his eighth game at AFL level, you knew this youngster would be a star.
Now captain of the Club, Bontempelli’s on-field accolades are building – with four All Australian blazers, four Charles Sutton Medals, and most recently an AFLPA MVP trophy, AFLPA Best Captain award, and runner-up finish in the 2021 Brownlow Medal count.
From his campaign this season, he averaged 27 disposals and five clearances while slotting 31 goals, and is showing no signs of slowing down.
2012: Jack Macrae, Pick 6
While Jake Stringer (pick five) was actually our first selection in this draft, given he now plays at another club, we’re reflecting on our second selection; Jack ‘Mr Consistent’ Macrae instead.
Since being drafted, Macrae has amassed an incredible 5304 disposals from 185 games – at an average of 28.7 touches per match.
This year, the Doug Hawkins medallist set a league record for most possessions in a single season (880), and managed 15 consecutive games of at least 30 disposals or more.
2011: Clay Smith, Pick 17
Much-loved Bulldog Clay Smith and his efforts in the 2016 Grand Final will forever be remembered.
Managing 55 games across six seasons, Smith endured a horror run of injuries - including three ACL ruptures in three years.
Returning to the senior side in Round 15, 2016, he became a crucial member of the Bulldogs’ Premiership run with eight goals and an average of 18 disposals in the four finals.