GEELONG has used its first pick in the 2019 National Draft to select Geelong Falcons co-captain Cooper Stephens.
The Colac product was restricted to just three NAB League matches in 2019 after suffering what proved to be a season-ending broken leg in the clash against Dandenong Stingrays on April 7.
However, his testing at the Draft Combine was impressive after working hard on his rehabilitation.
Stephens was selected with pick No.16 after matched bids slid the Cats back two selections.
“Cooper’s an outstanding character, and he coped very, very well with the adversity of breaking his leg in a draft year,” Well said.
“He did a great job to get himself right to perform well at the Combine.
“But, regardless of that, he was going to get drafted anyway
“It’s great to be able to pick a local fella who’s a strong running midfielder.”
With its second pick, No.19, Geelong grabbed 201cm Dandenong Stingrays defender Sam De Koning.
De Koning, the brother of Carlton’s Tom De Koning, represented Vic Country this year and was named in the under-18 All-Australian team.
His father Terry played 31 VFL matches with Footscray in the early 1980s.
Wells has played suggestions De Koning is a natural replacement for Harry Taylor, who is expected to retire at the end of the 2020 season.
“I can understand why you ask that question, given that Sam was an All-Australian fullback this year,” he said.
“But, Harry’s been a champion of our club and (they are) big shoes to fill.
“We’re just hoping Sam can develop over the next few years.
“His opportunities aren’t going to be restricted to (being a) tall defender, though. He’s done well as a forward and also as a potential ruckman.
“As a big young man, he’s got lots of opportunity to develop all over the ground.”
Geelong will have picks No.26 and 38 when the draft recommences on Thursday night, and a further two live selections in the Rookie Draft on Friday morning.
“We don’t have anything locked in for tomorrow; there’s five picks before our first one tomorrow,” Wells said.
“We’ll be open to picking whatever comes our way. We may even trade the picks out or in.
“We’ll go away and assess that all in the morning.
“Troy Selwood and Liam Woodland have done a great job of preparing us for tonight, and I’m sure they’ll do the same tomorrow.”