Cats pluck out another AFL draft smokey

Jason Phelan

It wouldn't be a proper AFL draft without a trademark Stephen Wells smokey and the veteran Geelong talent guru didn't disappoint this year, plucking Francis Evans from relative obscurity in the second round.

Having never been part of the AFL's traditional elite talent programs, Evans started the year with Victorian amateur club Brunswick NOBS.

But in a move AFL talent chief Kevin Sheehan labelled a bolt from the blue, the Cats spent pick No.41 on the 18-year-old forward on Thursday night at Marvel Stadium.

He joins an illustrious list of left-field Wells selections that includes Mark Blicavs, Harry Taylor, Tom Stewart and James Podsiadly.

Evans played so well in five games with the VAFA second division outfit that he was rushed into the Calder Cannons program but his season was cut short by a heel injury after three appearances.

Wells didn't see Evans kick a bag of eight goals for Brunswick but the master recruiter went to watch him live a week later and saw enough.

"I guess if we hadn't seen him play senior footy earlier in the year it would've been hard for us to pick him but we did luckily enough," Wells said.

"We've given him a chance and it's up to him now.

"... Francis is a natural goal kicker, has all the skills of the game and reads the play well.

"He's got the athleticism and desire.

"We've interviewed Francis and we're confident that he deserves an opportunity on an AFL list."

Evans was the third of four players picked by Geelong at the draft, joining midfielder Cooper Stephens (No.16), tall defender Sam De Koning (19) and forward Cameron Taheny (50).

The Cats capped an impressive draft showing by snaring Gold Coast's mid-first round pick next year in exchange for this year's No.27 selection, giving them three calls in the first round in 2020.

"In the end the deal was compelling and to give us three picks in next year's first round sets us up for a good couple of years of drafting, we hope," Wells said.

"The picks will become very valuable to us whether we go to the draft or use them in the trade period."