Bombers set to blood another prized top 10 pick

Essendon’s list regeneration will take another step on the weekend when Zach Reid, another top 10 draft pick from 2020, is selected to make his debut.

Reid, a key defender, will play against the Brisbane Lions on Saturday night, becoming the third early draft pick from last December’s national draft to be blooded this year.

The third of Essendon’s prized top 10 selections from 2020, Zach Reid, is set to make his debut.Credit:Getty Images

Nik Cox, also a tall athlete, has played all four games at senior level this year, while Archie Perkins, a midfielder/forward, has played in the past two games and likewise impressed.

Reid is 202cm – very tall for a key defender – and has been likened to Harris Andrews of the Brisbane Lions by Essendon recruiting boss Adrian Dodoro, who also compared Reid to ex-Essendon great Dustin Fletcher.

That the Dons will have had all three of their early first round picks play by round five is surprising, given that two of the players – Cox and Reid – are talls who typically take longer to mature, and also that the trio are from Victoria and thus did not play in the NAB league or for their school in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Reid hails from Leongatha in Gippsland, the same town that produced Essendon skipper Dyson Heppell. While he has been recruited as a key defender, to eventually replace Cale Hooker (now playing forward) and Michael Hurley, the Dons say Reid is also capable of playing up forward and pinch hitting in the ruck.

The Bombers also have introduced young ex-Giant Jye Caldwell, who is injured, ex-Saint Nick Hind, and former Gold Coast key forward Peter Wright to a revamped and younger line-up. Cox has played mainly on the wing in a measure of his unusual running capacity and agility for a 200cm teenager.

Cox, Perkins and Reid were selected at picks 8, 9 and 10 in the national draft, in that order. Perkins was effectively the compensation for Joe Daniher, who will take on his old team at the Gabba on Saturday night, while Reid was harvested from the pick that Carlton traded for Adam Saad.

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