Former Carlton head of recruiting Stephen Silvagni has provided some insight into two top draftees that Blues fans haven’t seen much of just yet.
Silvagni and Carlton traded up in the 2018 National Draft to take midfielder Liam Stocker at pick 19, giving up their future first round selection to Adelaide in doing so.
Following the draft, it was revealed the Blues had Stocker inside the top 10 of their draft board – a draft that has produced Sam Walsh, the King brothers, Connor Rozee, Bailey Smith, Jack Lukosius, Tarryn Thomas, Xavier Duursma, Zak Butters, Izak Rankine, Nick Blakey and more.
When asked by a caller on AFL Trade Radio where Stocker is at, after playing five games in two seasons for the Blues, Silvagni urged fans to have patience.
“He played some senior football last year which he played at half back,” Silvagni said.
“Obviously he was brought to the club as a midfielder. He is a competitor. He is a footballer.
“Obviously he’s got a couple of deficiencies he needs to work at, but for some reason whether it’s public or just footy people in general, we have this expectation of players, particularly picked early, that they need to play football straight away.
“The lack of patience people sometimes have with players, I just find staggering.
“He is a player who is highly competitive and an exceptional kick. He needs to work on his endurance, like a lot of players to be honest, but he’s a fierce competitor and I think he’ll be a serious player down the track.”
Stocker left the Queensland quarantine hub early in 2020 for personal reasons, meaning he did not play for the Blues this year.
Brodie Kemp was Carlton’s 2019 first round selection, a player coming off a torn ACL in his draft year.
Kemp spent 2020 recovering and served as the Blues’ runner in the reserves in the back half of the year as he built up his body.
Silvagni is equally excited about the midfielder's potential.
“Then you’ve got someone like Brodie Kemp who we took with an early pick last year coming off a knee injury,” he said.
“He’s a really exciting player. Obviously he didn’t play at all this year, the club have opted to have patience with him.
“They’re two exciting prospects, whether they play a lot of football next year or the year after, they’ve certainly got talent.”
Under Silvagni and former coach Brendon Bolton, Carlton overhauled its list and built from the ground up starting in 2015.
The Blues hit the draft hard and moved on the majority of players from the Mick Malthouse era, forcing them to play young kids before they were ready.
Silvagni admits they might have pulled back too far and exposed the likes of Paddy Dow, Lochie O’Brien, Jacob Weitering, Charlie Curnow and others to senior football too soon.
“I look at the clubs like Hawthorn, Geelong and Richmond, they have elite development programs where they make sure with these kids they do the basics really well and they do an apprenticeship before they start rewarding them with games,” he said.
“I’m not trying to have a crack at Carlton here, in some way we were forced as a club, and I was certainly behind it in terms of stripping the list back, we probably went back too hard, but we brought a whole heap of youngsters in.
“To Brendon Bolton’s credit he played the kids and we were a very young team, but sometimes that can set them back.
“When you’ve got a list now that from an age and talent profile is where it’s at now, I think you can take your time and give these guys the right development and make them earn their games of footy.”