Dees believe bold picks will pay off
MELBOURNE is confident their bold plan to bring in the draft's top-rated ruckman and a firecracker forward with their pair of prized early choices will pay off.
Western Australian Luke Jackson became the first ruckman taken in the top-five since Nic Naitanui in 2008 when the Demons swooped on the Brodie Grundy-clone at pick three.
Demons' recruiting manager Jason Taylor said Jackson had shown "enormous improvement over a short period" playing in the ruck and even as a "big-bodied midfielder" since switching from basketball.
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"He is a high possession ruckman, but with his ground level play and his running ability, and he is so durable and so competitive, he is almost like an extra midfielder, to be honest," Taylor said.
"There are no barriers on his game so let's just get him in and see what he can become."
The Demons are adamant the 198cm basketball convert can flourish as a key forward and eventually work in tandem with superstar big man Max Gawn from next season.
But it was the move to select livewire forward Kysaiah Pickett with pick No.12 that can add a lethal new edge to the Demons' forward half next season.
Melbourne was desperate to ramp up the tackle pressure in its forward half and the electrifying Pickett, who has been likened to Hawthorn champion Cyril Rioli, is renowned for his bone-jarring tackles, spectacular marks and clever roving.
The 171cm Pickett said he wanted to showcase his natural flair at the top level.
"When it comes to the bumping and the marking and all the goals and stuff, I think it just comes with instinct," Pickett said.
"I love to tackle. I love the bumps and the screamers."
Pickett has rich football history flowing through his blood. Dual premiership player Byron Pickett, Melbourne's Neville Jetta, West Coast's Liam Ryan and Richmond Grand Final hero Marlion Pickett are all uncles.
Jackson and Pickett will both be expected to push for senior selection early next season.
Taylor said he had watched Pickett closely for about three years.
"Just his speed and his forward craft, his front and centre work is excellent," Taylor said.
"His athletic package is very, very good. He is a beautifully-balanced player. I think we are only scratching the surface."
Jackson, who has represented Australia in basketball, said he can't wait to get to work with Gawn.
"I'm over the moon really, to be able to work in with Max Gawn, who is one of the best players in the comp, there is nothing better to be honest," Jackson said.
"I can't wait to get in there and meet all the boys but especially to learn stuff off Max because he is obviously really experienced, and hopefully I can soak up everything I can from him."
Jackson made the big call to pursue a football career full-time late last year and said he loves to hunt the ball at ground level in the same manner as Grundy.
"It has come pretty natural to me, obviously with my basketball, I have always been a player who has a nose for the ball, I guess," Jackson said.
"I am pretty competitive as well, so I just love going out there and playing footy and doing what comes naturally, but it is pure enjoyment, for me, playing footy."