FOUR deals, five clubs, three days, 16 picks, one player.

Here is how you turn a draft selection that wasn't going to be used into six first rounders.

Gold Coast had made its position on pick No.4 known early. The selection, likely set to be eaten by an earlier bid on the club's SUNS-bound Academy prospect Jed Walter, was redundant to list manager Craig Cameron and recruiting boss Kall Burns.

So, it was on the table and available to the highest bidder. The Western Bulldogs made early headway, keen to get a deal done. Melbourne and Adelaide came calling, while Essendon and Sydney had also shown some interest.

But the Dogs had always been the frontrunners in any deal for the pick, armed with two first-round selections in this year's draft that were also at risk of being eaten up by an early bid coming on their own father-son gun in Jordan Croft.

The Bulldogs ultimately parted with picks No.10, 17 and a future first-round selection to shift up the draft board to pick No.4, receiving picks No.46, 51 and a future third-round pick alongside that prized choice from the SUNS.

So, Gold Coast now had picks No.11 and 18 – the two picks had each slid down a spot following news that North Melbourne had received pick No.3 in free agency compensation for Ben McKay's departure – and started another auction.

Again, Melbourne and Adelaide were at the front of the queue. But, this time, North Melbourne joined them. In the end, on a manic Wednesday afternoon where six deals were completed in two hours, all four of those clubs including Gold Coast were satisfied.

It started with the Demons, who shifted picks No.14, 27 and 35 to get to pick No.11. It continued with the Crows, who gave up picks No.23 and 26 to get pick No.14 and defender Chris Burgess from the SUNS. It finished with the Kangaroos, who parted with their 2024 assistance pick at the end of the first round to get pick No.18.

At the end of the wheeling and dealing, Gold Coast had essentially turned pick No.4 – a selection that wasn't even going to be used if a bid for Walter came earlier – into a whopping 4,131 points on the AFL's Draft Value Index for this year.

That will help the SUNS cover Academy bids on four players who clubs now view as realistically being first-round talents at November's national draft in Walter, Ethan Read, Jake Rogers and Will Graham.

Walter is the 195cm key forward with athleticism and brute force on his side, Read is the 200cm ruckman who ran a sub-six-minute 2km time trial at last week's Combine, Rogers is the diminutive midfielder who thrives at stoppages, while Graham is the bolter of the group after finishing top three in testing for the 20m sprint, standing vertical jump and running vertical jump.

Depending on where the bids are placed on those four players at next month's national draft, the SUNS could match all of them with the trading already done. Certainly, their work has mitigated the risk of going into a points deficit next season.

But not only will Gold Coast's work over the last 72 hours help the club win access to those four players, the SUNS have also secured future first-round picks from the Dogs and the Kangaroos thanks to their recent dealings. It means that another pair of first-round talents could be welcomed in 2024.

Gold Coast also currently has its own future first-round pick, meaning yet another top-20 player could be walking through its doors next season, while Academy prospect Leo Lombard – who played in its VFL premiership at just 16 years of age last month – is draft eligible next year.

If new Gold Coast coach Damien Hardwick believes 80 per cent of the club's first premiership team is already on its list, perhaps the work completed over the last 72 hours will accommodate for the other 20 per cent.


Trade #1
Bulldogs get: Pick 4, 46, 51, future third-round pick
SUNS get: Picks 10, 17, future first-round pick

Trade #2
Demons get: Pick 11
SUNS get: Picks 14, 27, 35

Trade #3
Crows get: Pick 14, Chris Burgess
SUNS get: Picks 23, 26

Trade #4
Kangaroos get: Pick 18
SUNS get: Future first-round pick