The depth of key-position talent in WA is as good as it has been for many years, according to State Academy manager Raff Guadagnino.

While the number of WA players selected in Thursday week's draft is expected to fall, the State is likely to have more key-position players chosen from the under-18 team than for many years.

Melbourne chose 193cm Claremont forward Jesse Hogan in last month's mini draft and clubs are now considering South Fremantle's Mason Shaw (197cm), West Perth's Nick Rodda (194cm), East Fremantle's Marco Paparone (193cm), Perth's Brant Colledge (192cm) and Peel's Kamdyn McIntosh (190cm).

WA has rarely produced big numbers of tall draftees in a single year even though the likes of Lance Franklin, Mitch Clark and Josh Kennedy are among the best in the league.

Four key-position players were chosen from the under-18s last year but none has made a debut.

Guadagnino said there had been a big focus on developing tall players.

"This has been a strategic plan of ours for the past three years," he said. "Most of these boys have been with us since they were 15 or 16 and we've been developing them with the State Academy.

"It's a win to see developing talls come on like they have. I think AFL clubs will be very keen on a number of these boys because they're the whole package. They're as good on- field as they are off."

Shaw was rated as a first-round draft pick in the pre-season, but struggled after breaking a cheekbone in a practice match.

Paparone's fitness and work rate at centre half-forward have won him many admirers, and Rodda, the last academy player selected, is now a possible draftee at full-back.

McIntosh played four league matches for Peel, proving he could play as a key defender against older opposition.

An ankle injury which restricted Colledge to eight colts games has affected his draft chances, but the centre half-forward still averaged 19 possessions to highlight his work rate.

Fremantle have already declared they need to bolster their key- position stocks.

The Dockers are unlikely to use pick 17 on one of the WA talls, but could use selections 37 or 40.

The West Australian

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