5 most dominant #1 AFL Draft picks in history

Hawthorn Hawks Hall of Fame
Luke Hodge at Hawthorn Hawks Hall of Fame

With the mid-season AFL Draft fast approaching, teams will be looking to make fine selections. A great percentage of these hopes are often placed on the first pick.

In the history of AFL Drafts, the first picks haven’t always translated into the best picks. Some no. 1s, however, have lived up to the high expectations placed on the slot. Below are highlighted the best-performing first-round picks in AFL history.


5 most dominant #1 AFL Draft picks in history

5. Adam Cooney (Western Bulldogs, 2003) - 250 games, 202 goals, Brownlow Medallist, All-Australian, Rising Star Nomination

AFL Rd 22 - Essendon v Western Bulldogs
AFL Rd 22 - Essendon v Western Bulldogs

Drafted by the Western Bulldogs in the 2003 AFL Draft, Adam Cooney debuted in 2004, beginning a career that would run until 2016, within which he moved to Essendon (2015).

With a career total of 202 goals and 5415 disposals in 250 games, the forward/midfielder earned some impressive awards, including a Brownlow medal in 2008, All-Australian team player in 2008, Dream Team Representative Honours for the 2008 AFL Hall of Fame Tribute Match, and AFL Rising Star Nominee in Round 21 of the 2004 season.


4. Matthew Kreuzer (Carlton, 2007) - 189 games, 94 goals, Rising Star Nomination

AFL Rd 18 - Brisbane v Carlton
AFL Rd 18 - Brisbane v Carlton

Matthew Kreuzer was drafted by Carlton from the Northern Knights in 2007. He made his AFL debut in Round 3 of the following season on April 5, 2008, against the Essendon Bombers. In his very first game, he kicked a goal.

Throughout his 12-year career, he kicked a total of 94 goals in 189 games. His achievements include a 2008 AFL Rising Star nomination, a Moorish medal in 2007, a 2017 All-Australian, 2008 Carlton's Best First-Year Player, third place John Nicholls Medal Nomination in 2017, William A. Cook Trophy in 2017, Bill Lanyon Inner Blue Ruthless Award in 2017 and the Spirit of Carlton Award in 2017.


3. Brendon Goddard (St Kilda, 2002) - 334 games, 160 goals, 2x All-Australian, 2x AFL pre-season premierships

St Kilda Training Session
St Kilda Training Session

All of his life, Brendon Goddard was a big Carlton fan and was so close to fulfilling his dream of playing with the club when Carlton lost the #1 draft pick in the 2002 AFL Draft to St Kilda due to salary cap breaches.

Goddard debuted in 2003 and although he had some flops early on, by 2009, he was among the league's best, earning two All-Australian selections (2009, 2010) and nearly clinching a Brownlow Medal.

In 2013, Goddard moved to Essendon, served as captain in 2016, and won the W.S. Crichton Medal in his debut year. Some of his other achievements include the Yiooken Award (2014) and the Madden Medal (2018).


2. Nick Riewoldt (St Kilda, 2000) - 336 games, 718 goals, 2x pre-season premierships, 2x All-Australian

Former Australian Cricketer Shane Warne Farewelled In State Memorial Service
Former Australian Cricketer Shane Warne Farewelled In State Memorial Service

Queensland’s first and only No. 1 AFL draft pick so far, Nick Riewoldt has firmly established himself as one of St Kilda’s all-time greats.

The Tasmania-born goalkicker, Riewoldt moved to the Gold Coast at age 10 where he switched his focus from soccer to football at age 13.

Drafted by St Kilda in the 2000 AFL Draft, his talent was immediately imminent at his debut.

Despite a slow debut season owing to injuries, Riewoldt amassed a career total of 336 games and 718 goals, ranking among the Saints' top goal scorers. He clinched St Kilda's Best and Fairest Award four times, is a three-time All-Australian, and won the AFLPA MVP (2004).

Riewoldt captained St Kilda from 2005 to 2016.


1. Luke Hodge (Hawthorn, 2001) - 324 games, 4x premiership, 2x Norm Smith, 3x All-Australian

Brisbane Lions Training Session
Brisbane Lions Training Session

When it comes to No. 1 AFL draft picks, none have achieved as much as Luke Hodge. Selected first overall in the 2001 season draft, Hodge debuted in 2002 and not only lived up to the expectations but made quite the impact on the Hawthorn Hawks, the league, and the game at large.

Over his career spanning from 2002 to 2019, Hodge played 346 games and kicked 194 goals. He played a pivotal role in Hawthorn’s success at the time, leading them to four premierships (2008, 2013, 2014, 2015) and earned two Norm Smith Medals (2008, 2014) for his stellar Grand Final performances.

Hodge served as captain of the Hawks from 2010 to 2016 and later co-captained Brisbane in 2018. With a hard-nosed approach and ability to inspire his teammates, he was an impeccable leader.

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