Pick 1 – St Kilda: Christian Petracca (Vic Metro, balanced midfielder/general forward)
186 cm, 92 kg, 4/1/96
Range: Top 5
Comparison: Dustin Martin
Going into 2014 there were question marks over Petracca and he’s answered them emphatically, doing everything he possibly could have to prove that he will be a high level AFL midfielder. He has the versatility to play as a stay at home marking forward or half forward to a high standard while also being an excellent midfielder. Despite carrying much more weight than most midfielders his age he has elite agility and evasion with an excellent sprint. He’s dominant aerially, possessing an exceptional read of the ball and ability to position himself. One on one he is rarely beaten and clunks more contested marks than any other midfielder in the crop. Through the middle he’s an above average accumulator with a booming kick and good vision. His ability to hit the scoreboard while playing through the middle is excellent.
While Petracca has lost weight this year he’s still carrying too much ‘useless’ weight and needs to further work on getting down to an appropriate playing weight. His strength and power is natural so losing the excess bulk should not impact heavily upon those strengths. He also needs to improve his endurance – while it is currently at an acceptable level it isn’t a strength. By foot he’s capable of hitting the right areas but lacks precision at times and occasionally blindly bombs it forward instead of assessing the options with composure.
Right now there are still doubts over whether Petracca’s performances are through brute strength or translatable ability. His athletic testing indicates that despite having the weight he’s also got exceptional natural athleticism which will translate to AFL level. He lacks the natural touch and talent of a Dustin Martin but is a more disciplined player both on and off the field. Right now I see him as a higher level Colin Sylvia. Perhaps he is what Sylvia could have been with a better attitude and work rate as well as starting out his career at a club with a better system.
Pick 2 – Melbourne: Angus Brayshaw (Vic Metro, inside leaning midfielder)
187 cm, 86 kg, 9/1/96
Range: Top 5
Style: Ollie Wines
Wherever Brayshaw ends up the club will know they’ve got a long term player. Brayshaw projects as one of the safest picks available at the top end of the draft, being a high substance but low flash midfielder. He lacks real game breaking ability instead being a real component of success as opposed to a reason for it. On the inside he’s hard working and powerful, reading the stoppages well and winning clearances through both power and smarts. In traffic his distribution by hand is sound and by foot he’s generally a good kick under pressure off both sides, possibly having the best ‘weak foot’ in the draft. He’s an excellent tackler who not only tackles well but in volume and is strong through the core and able to break tackles too. On the outside he’s a reasonable accumulator and able to impact games more than most inside midfielders. His one on one ability both in the air and at ground level is above average.
Athletically Brayshaw isn’t flash, with his top speed being quite low and despite recent improvements he still doesn’t have a great burst, nor is he agile. His endurance is good without being elite and he’s strong, especially through the core but in general Brayshaw’s work is done through footballing ability as opposed to athleticism. By foot he’s incredibly dual sided but still not a fantastic kick, only between average and good which is something he’ll need to continually work on if he’s to be a truly dominant midfielder.
Though he has shades of a bigger bodied Sam Mitchell I think Brayshaw is more similar to Ollie Wines but less physically imposing and perhaps slightly better by foot. He won’t have as big an impact early and into his second season and may not be as accomplished a player by the end of his career but still should follow a similar career path.
Pick 3 – Melbourne: Patrick McCartin (Vic Country, full forward)
193 cm, 95 kg, 19/4/96
Range: Top 5
Comparison: Brendan Fevola
Patrick McCartin looks to be the safest bet of all the key forwards in this crop. While he has a few question marks, his performances have been excellent over the last two years and he possesses a mix of very AFL relevant skills. He’s a smart forward who times his leads well and leads to the right areas and despite being a little too bulky he’s got a good burst and creates some separation. He’s clean enough below the knees when both picking up and marking and has sticky hands above them being the best one grab player in the crop. He excels one on one with his read of the ball, strength and positioning all excellent. His field kicking is excellent for a key forward. He’s an okay contested mark but not someone who’s going to clunk pack grabs regularly.
McCartin lacks confidence when having a set shot, often trying to play on or snap and occasionally shanks the kick. It’s a mental issue not a technical issue. He’s also got high skinfolds which may be linked to his diabetes (which will also have to be managed at AFL level. Currently he has to come to the bench six times a game for blood checks) but nonetheless will need to be addressed over an AFL pre-season. I don’t expect McCartin to drastically change as a player but more improve on what he already has.
He’s probably the most ready made key forward in the crop and currently projects as a slightly higher level Taylor Walker of 2014 (when he carried the extra weight and lost some pace because of it). I don’t ever see him being a genuine top tier forward but one of the better second tier ones.
Pick 4 – GWS: Jake Lever (Vic Metro, intercepting & offensive minded key defender)
194 cm, 86 kg, 5/3/96
Range: Top 10
Comparison: Harry Taylor
A recent growth spurt has seen Lever shoot up to 194 cm, genuine key position defender height. Despite missing the entire season with an ACL, Lever is sure to go highly. A key defender who’s gifted offensively, Lever has the best intercept mark in the draft. His read of the ball is elite and he times his jumps well and takes it at the absolute highest point and best position. With an exceptional vertical leap he is rarely beaten coming across a contest. Athletically he’s okay with his ability to close down leads alright and his work rate excellent. One on one he’s good. Athletically as well as having an elite vertical jump he’s very agile with his turning circle small and evasive movement sound. With ball in hand he runs and carries well, linking up and really contributing to the offensive transition. By foot he’s effective normally without being incredibly penetrating. His leadership is also exceptional and I’d be surprised if he didn’t end up an AFL captain one day.
The risk with Lever is that he’s coming off an ACL. How he would have performed this year is a bit of an unknown – perhaps he would have plateuaed or declined a bit. It’s also unknown how the long term effects of the ACL will effect him. Defensively he doesn’t have the body to man up on the bigger KPFs and will likely always be a second or third tall down back.
Lever’s not dissimilar to Harry Taylor in the way he intercepts down back but perhaps has the scope to be an even better intercept mark with his extra athleticism and leap. His footskills also project to be better than Taylor’s. Defensively he’s not as sound in contests and one on one and probably projects as more of a Sam Fisher in that he’s capable but not exceptional.
Pick 5 – Brisbane: Jayden Laverde (Vic Metro, athletic and skilled utility)
189 cm, 82 kg, 12/4/96
Range: Top 15
Laverde’s an athletic utility with some real upside. Very versatile, he’s played more of his football in defence but has also shown some real ability and intelligence when forward and through the middle as well as off a wing. He’s very fast but also has excellent acceleration and exceptional agility and as well as some real strength both in the contest and one on one. His evasion is top tier with his ability to shift his centre of gravity rapidly a particular highlight, aiding him in creating time and space for himself to effectively dispose. He likes to use his athleticism to break lines and take the game on. By foot Laverde is normally solid with his kicks often to advantage and penetrating. However those that aren’t are often clangers or turnovers due to poor decisions. In defence he’s reasonably accountable and able to read the flight and take intercepts but also able to use his height and strength to be a dominant one on one mark both forward and back.
While normally a solid kick he is prone to trying to do too much and be too creative which results in some pretty poor turnovers. At the moment he doesn’t have much inside game instead preferring to hang outside for the receive, though in traffic he’s very composed. At his size and with his skillset there is scope to develop an inside game but it’ll take time. He also hasn’t accumulated as much of the ball through the middle as you’d like.
Laverde’s a very hard player to find a comparison for with very few players sharing his height, versatility and skillset. Jackson Macrae isn’t as penetrating by foot or as fast but they’re similar in their evasive movement and also in their tendency to win outside ball as opposed to inside ball but also having the scope to develop an inside game. He’s someone that still has a bit to work on and is likely to spend some time at state league level early but should be pushing for AFL selection late in the first season and into the second, while really imposing himself and potentially breaking out (big time) in his third and fourth seasons.
Pick 6 – Western Bulldogs: Peter Wright (Vic Metro, full forward/second ruck)
203 cm, 102 kg, 8/9/96
Range: Top 6
Style: Sam Jacobs (Ruck)
Comparison: Kurt Tippett (Forward)
Wright is perhaps the biggest risk vs reward player in the crop. There is every chance he becomes a maligned key position bust who never looks like he’s at the standard. But there’s also a real chance he becomes a truly dominant and imposing forward who can chop out in the ruck. In my opinion his ceiling is the highest in the draft. He already begins with the natural head start of being 203 cm. Despite being that height he’s got great acceleration and a good top speed. His agility is excellent and his turning circle relatively small. He leads to the right places, times his leads well and has the work rate to lead repeatedly. He takes the ball at the highest point, often in one grab and that coupled with his wingspan and height makes him truly imposing on the lead. If given a run at the ball he’s able to steamroll packs and take huge contested grabs – he just needs to improve his consistency in this regard. 1 on 1 he’s able to use his bigger body to win contests often. His set shot goalkicking is excellent, with his accuracy and distance both elite. His field kicking is also excellent as is his composure with ball in hand.
Wright can almost be considered two different players – Wright the forward and Wright the ruck. With his height he’ll always be considered a ruck option and while his tapwork is reasonable he lacks something dominant through the ruck which he has when forward. He doesn’t like to physically impose on the contest like many modern day ruckmen do instead preferring to remain outside the contest as a link up option – similar to Sam Jacobs except he doesn’t read the play as well and doesn’t impact the game enough. The worry with Wright is that he’ll be labeled as a ruck due to his height and be thrown in there regularly despite the fact that it’s just not something he excels in. He has a history of back injuries which needs to be considered as well. He also goes missing at times and isn’t incredibly fit. At ground level he’s serviceable but occasionally struggles to get down quickly and loses balance.
What Wright has that most 203 cm players don’t is genuine forward ability. He shares a lot of similarities with Kurt Tippett but at the moment looks like his ceiling is even higher. The risk is there that he just doesn’t develop. His TAC and championships form this year has been a little below expectations too, he hasn’t truly dominated like previous elite KPFs have at this level.
Pick 7 – Carlton: Sam Durdin (SA, athletic and skilled KPP utility)
197 cm, 87 kg, 6/6/96
Range: Top 10
Style: Jake Carlisle
Comparison: Lachie Hansen
Like Wright, Durdin is a real risk/reward proposition. Since injuring his thumb earlier in the season, his form has been underwhelming at every level and at the moment he just doesn’t have the runs on the board. Perhaps it was because he was played out of position in the ruck and forward though. Over the last fortnight he’s played two SANFL games as a key defender and done relatively well. Standing at 197cm, Durdin’s footskills are exceptional. He’s able to release runners with penetrating kicks and generally makes good decisions by foot both in contested and uncontested situations. His athleticism is excellent with both his speed and acceleration good and his agility and mobility excellent. His vertical leap is also excellent and at ground level he’s very quick to get down and clean with his hands. He reads the ball reasonably in flight and is likely to clunk the intercept or contested mark if he’s in the right position to get a suitable run and jump however his positioning is often a bit off.
The major knock on Durdin so far this year was his lack of exposed form. At every level he’d been below par and expectations. Despite his natural talent being incredible he just hadn’t put it together. Of late he’s played some SANFL league matches and held his own which is a real positive, indicating that he’s either found that form to show himself off or just been played in the right position. Durdin isn’t particularly blessed with football smarts, when forward his leads are poorly timed and to the wrong areas and he just looks a bit like a headless chook. In the ruck he’s not able to accumulate like a ruck with his skills could and down back while he’s able to intercept and has good footskills he doesn’t get much of the ball to take advantage of that. He’s also a very physically undeveloped player who’ll need a good few pre-seasons in the gym to get the best out of himself.
What Durdin becomes depends entirely on where he plays. If he’s pursued with as a forward I can’t see him rewarding the selection he’s taken with. Down back he could be a very capable #1 defender. With 10-15 kilos of extra muscle over a few pre seasons he’s bound to rapidly change as a player and could become an elite pack mark not dissimilar to Jake Carlisle who can swing forward and dominate through that same ability. Right now I have him projecting as more of a Lachlan Hansen in that he’s an excellent contested and intercept mark with some good distribution but forward he always looks a bit lacking. As a forward Durdin is required to create his own opportunity and possession which he struggles to do. Down back he’s able to feed off his direct opponent’s creativity and be led to a better situation simply by following him. I feel playing back would be best for his development not only because it suits his strengths more but it’d also allow him to learn better leading and running patterns from more advanced and smarter forwards.
Pick 8 – Gold Coast: Lachie Weller (QLD, skilled outside leaning midfielder)
181 cm, 71 kg, 23/2/96
Range: First Round
Style: James Aish
Weller is very underrated. He’s been carrying a knee injury of late which has impacted his numbers and thus his draft standing. All things considered, Weller’s the best kick in the draft. In traffic, under pressure or in open space he’s very likely to hit a target. His vision is above average and his ability to execute difficult passes to a high standard is exceptional. In general his kicks are penetrating. By hand he’s good, normally hitting outside runners well and to their advantage. Athletically he’s deceptive – while he mightn’t look quick he’s actually in the top bracket for speed and his evasive movement and agility too is excellent. He’s able to use this speed to create space for himself in traffic to aid the effectiveness of his disposal. While he’s not a volume accumulator he’s a good reader of the play and normally ends up in good areas. He’s got the base to improve his accumulation and become a full time midfielder. While he hasn’t displayed a strong inside game yet he’s shown flashes of a natural ball winning ability and if asked he should be able to win his own ball. His read of the tap is above par and his composure, positioning and balance is excellent in contested situations.
As well as his lack of accumulation throughout the year, his body is a bit of a weakness with his frame slender and shoulders narrow. While he can bulk up he’ll likely never be able to have a really big body and as a result has a ceiling on what level he can build his inside game to.
Weller projects as a poor man’s James Aish with perhaps a slightly better kick on the outside and more speed but less football smarts and ability to accumulate. His frame is also narrower and more slender than Aish’s which will limit the physical upside compared to him. He might take some time to adjust to the pace of the AFL but by season three he should be a first team regular and be beginning to show some real game breaking ability. He also has a lot of skills conducive to playing off half back and while he hasn’t done much of that it’s certainly a possibility that he begins his career there if he can put on a bit of muscle over the pre-season.
Pick 9 – Collingwood: Darcy Moore – F/S (Vic Metro, athletic KPP utility)
199 cm, 93 kg, 25/1/96
Range: Collingwood’s 1st
Comparison: Drew Petrie
Darcy Moore’s a player you pick not on what he currently is but what he might end up. He’s raw both physically and as a player but the upside is definitely there. Despite being 199 cm his ability at ground level is incredible with him essentially acting as another small. He’s able to get down to the ground quickly and picks up cleanly. He’s also very agile and has a small turning circle with the ability to pick up and blind turn effectively. As well as being agile he’s also a very quick and smooth mover. He’s a hard worker and is able to use these athletic gifts to apply forward pressure and repeat defensive efforts and leads. He’s also able to play down back and does it to a high standard defensively though his offensive game is lacking. He’s capable of marking on the lead and creating separation. His contested mark is reasonable and looks like there is a base already there to improve with some more physical development. He’s also a natural leader and someone who should feature in the leadership group early and is likely a future captain.
By foot Darcy struggles with his field kicking well below par which is what holds him back from playing a role higher up the field. His set shot is average. Defensively he excels down back but offensively he doesn’t find the ball or rebound and when he does have the ball he’s a liability. While forward he occasionally runs under the ball and seems a little lost while the ball is in flight and can find himself in poor positions.
Moore hasn’t performed that well all year bar one or two champs games and certainly projects as a long term project. However he does have the tools and the attitude to get the best out of himself and reach his peak. At peak I’d expect Moore to be a second tier key forward not dissimilar in stature to Drew Petrie. In style he shares similarities with Jarryd Roughead with their ground level ability and athleticism both similar. Darcy will need time though, I wouldn’t be expecting much at AFL level until season three or four and season five is when he should begin to start showing some high level performance.
Pick 10 – Adelaide: Hugh Goddard (Vic Country, athletic KPP utility)
196 cm, 93 kg, 24/8/96
Style: Sam Day
Comparison: Sam Rowe
Range: Top 15
While Goddard has disappointed as a forward this season, he’s shown that he’s got some real ability down back. Very athletic, he’s quick with good acceleration, his agility is good and he’s got a nice vertical leap. For an 18 year old he’s physically well developed and has some real body strength. He’s a solid overhead mark and mark on the lead and one on one he’s capable of beating his opponent. By foot his skills are okay with his range exceptional. In defence he’s able to really check his opponent closely and lock them down. His athleticism allows him to close down leads, neutralise contests and win ground balls most of the time. With ball in hand he’s not overly creative but is reliable and is able to use his athleticism to create space.
Goddard doesn’t have an incredibly high football IQ which is what hurts him forward where he’s required to create his own opportunities. Despite having excellent athleticism his leads are often closed down due to poor timing and having to adjust his pace, allowing his direct opponent back in to the contest. He leads to the wrong spots with poor timing too often and has a bad habit of cutting off other forwards. He rarely dominates games, normally chipping in occasionally and quietly doing his work. His pack marking game has yet to develop. Down back he’s reliable but isn’t a high level intercept mark nor a major offensive contributor.
I think Goddard’s future lies as a defender. Not even a swingman. He’s not the kind of player you can throw forward and hope he clunks some big contested grabs to change the game, he’d need to work his way into the game when forward and as such isn’t someone you’d want to throw down there in the third quarter when you need a quick few goals. He’s a highly disciplined player who rarely lapses defensively. When forward he projects as a weaker Sam Day in that he has the athleticism but doesn’t create opportunities for himself to take advantage of that. As for his career path I think it might be similar to Sam Rowe’s in that he’ll be tried forward and look like a headless chook before being thrown back and making a name for himself as a tall, athletic shut down defender.
Pick 11 – West Coast: Jarrod Pickett (WA, line breaking wingman)
180 cm, 68 kg, 18/8/96
Range: Top 15
Style: Lewis Jetta
Comparison: Leroy Jetta
Pickett is a line breaking wingman who has exceptional pace, agility, evasion and acceleration and a natural instinct to run, carry, take on the game and break lines. He just loves to run and run fast. By foot he’s generally good with most of his kicks effective however lacking penetration. He’s able to hit the scoreboard from the middle and when forward pops up for a goal or two. At senior WAFL level he’s hit the scoreboard consistently. He’s a reasonable reader of the tap and able to use his speed to win a clearance and break away from traffic. He’s also got a good vertical leap and a real desire to fly for pack marks.
While he’s able to win his own ball occasionally at the tap he struggles to do so in open play, preferring to seagull outside the pack or run from behind for the handball receive. Loose ball gets in space inflate his contested possession numbers. He doesn’t work hard for his outside possessions either, rarely gut running to get into possession, instead only taking possession when fed to him. Pickett has no desire to defend, when not in play he runs around doing as he pleases and letting his opponent get off the chain. He’ll tackle relatively well when he has no other option but in general his pressure is nonexistent instead preferring to lightly jog around. At ground level while he’s capable of exceptionally skilled pickups he is also prone to fumbling regulation gathers. Given his lack of defensive running he’s a below average accumulator. While the possessions hurt, there’s not enough of them to get away with what his direct opponent also does due to his lack of defence.
On ability Pickett has the tools to be a slightly slower but in general better player than Lewis Jetta. If his defensive running improves along with his work rate then he’ll definitely get there. However it seems his laziness is more natural than learned and even in an AFL system it’ll be difficult to train a real work ethic into him which could mean he ends up a real frustration of a player in the Leroy Jetta mold.
Pick 12 – Richmond: Paul Ahern (Vic Metro, skilled outside leaning midfielder)
181 cm, 77 kg, 1/8/96
Range: Top 20
Comparison: Luke Dahlhaus
Paul Ahern is someone who projects as a real value selection anywhere from pick 10 onwards. He’s a player with such a well rounded game that it’s a near certainty that he’ll make it. To what extent is the better question. By foot Ahern excels, with his kicking on the outside excellent (but not elite). He’s got good vision, good decision making and a good technique which gives him a well rounded and consistent kick. Ahern also has excellent speed. It’s not super super fast but it’s still quick. Below the knees he’s clean and aerially he competes well. Through the midfield he hits the scoreboard reasonable well and when forward he provides a crumbing option. While he’s by no means a balanced midfielder his ball winning ability for an outside player is solid.
While Ahern has an inside game he lacks real courage and ferocity at the contest. When needed he’ll go in hard but often he sits outside. He doesn’t provide much tackling pressure and when forward prefers to corrall as opposed to provide direct physical pressure when the option is there. He’s also a bit of a jack of all trades/master of none. His speed and skills are good but they’re not top tier. He doesn’t have a truly defining quality. As an accumulator he’s solid but not spectacular, he’s likely never going to be a 25-30 disposal average player. He’s struggled with consistency and form changes over his junior career.
I’d have Ahern projecting as a Luke Dahlhaus type of player. Someone who plays a role both forward and through the middle, provides a bit of excitement and x-factor but in general isn’t a top tier player in the side. I think he’s marginally quicker and better skilled than Dahlhaus but not as hard working and determined as well as less of a volume tackler. Inconsistent TAC cup form towards the back end could see him slide.
Pick 13 – Fremantle: Kyle Langford (Vic Metro, utility)
190 cm, 73 kg, 1/12/96
Comparison: Louis Herbert
I struggled to find a comparison for Langford as to a degree he’s very much an unknown with his size. He’s thin, really thin. These types go any number of ways with their roles depending on how they develop and how that effects them. I’ve heard Bontempelli mentioned a few times and I don’t really see it. Louis Herbert is probably an appropriate one given the style of play but Langford is quite simply better and perhaps could reach a similar level to Andrejs Everitt. Played in defence throughout the championships, Langford held his own with a reasonable accountable brand of football and provided some offensive penetration. Forward he’s looked good in the TAC cup, and many believe his best position is as a creative third tall forward. He possesses reasonable speed and acceleration and has a great vertical leap. His intercept marking shows potential. He likes to run and attack the play when possible. His tackling is excellent when factoring in his size.
Despite all the positives, he hasn’t really dominated yet. His december birth and twig like stature may contribute to this, but he still hasn’t truly imposed himself. His kicking can be effective but he still shanks the ball and turns it over a bit too often. It’s also worth noting that he has a really, really long neck. This might not be considered important by many but when considering his height, it is. From ground to shoulder, Langford probably is only the same height as a 183-185cm player. His vertical reach will likely be reflected in this and therefore level he can take his marking to in the AFL. Height is an easy way to briefly consider someone’s physical capabilities and upside in that regard. In Langford’s case, it’s a bit misleading. He’ll always have the ‘relevant’ height of a small, and even when he fills out his body – he’s likely not going to be a ‘big bodied’ midfielder type as quite simply, his shoulders are at the same level as many six foot players. Langford has been bolting of late and is likely to go top 20 – a range I feel is too high based on exposed form and perceived upside. It seems some are looking at his 190 cm height and assuming he can be the next great tall midfielder, when in reality his height is very misleading.
Pick 14 – Geelong: Connor Blakely (WA, skilled inside leaning midfielder)
186cm, 81kg, 2/3/96
Range: Top 25
Comparison: Blake Acres
Connor Blakely is a skilful, agile inside midfielder with a really natural read of the game. He’s rather slender so doesn’t win his own ball by force but seems to always be a step ahead of the football. He reads the tap well to win clearances and his positioning for ground balls is exceptional. When in possession his evasion and agility in traffic is elite with his ability to sidestep and manouvre himself around opposition players a particular highlight. Lateral movement is a real point of difference for him and allows him to create space when it’s not there. On the outside he’s a good kick however not incredibly penetrating. By hand he’s able to distribute effectively both in space and in traffic. Defensively he’s accountable and he works hard both ways and as a result is able to accumulate well. His performances throughout 2014 in the WAFL seniors have been very impressive.
While outside he’s a reasonable kick inside he’s prone to bombing it long blindly to the detriment of the team. He’s also very slim so the physical pressure he provides isn’t dangerous. His tackling is good but occasionally easily shaken off. He occasionally floats out of games.
Blakely projects as a hard working sort who could be a leader at a football club. He seems the type to get the best out of himself. With a bit of extra muscle he should be able to physically impose a little more though it likely won’t ever be a strong aspect of his game. He’s a bit of a poor man’s Blake Acres with less natural ability but perhaps more leadership and a better work rate. It wouldn’t surprise if Blakely was able to impact round one 2015 however he likely won’t be a real key piece of a team until season four.
Pick 15 – Gold Coast: Caleb Marchbank (Vic Country, intelligent key defender)
193 cm, 85 kg, 7/12/96
Range: Top 20
Style: Brian Lake
Comparison: Jarrad Waite (as a defender)
Off the back of an excellent championships, Marchbank has bolted up the order. A key position defender who can swing forward, his one on one ability is the best in the draft. His positioning within a contested and ability to move away his direct opponent and take the grab is elite. If he cannot win he more often than not neutralises. He’s also got a good read of the ball in flight which allows him to be a genuine intercept option and picks the right time to zone off. He has the runs on the board with his opponents often shut out of games and his numbers read well.
While he does have those runs on the board I can’t help but worry about what kind of defender he’ll be at the top level. At 193cm he’s likely not going to be a #1 defender yet athletically he is average at best. His agility is ordinary and could well lead to him losing ground contests and his acceleration and pace are okay at best. An athletic forward could create real separation on him. His disposal does the job but he’s not someone who’s going to create real drive out of defence. While his disposals are rarely terrible, they also are rarely noteworthy.
Right now Marchbank is a bit of a one trick pony with his intercept and one on one game excellent but the jury is still out on the other aspects of his defensive game. Offensively he isn’t a weapon. He projects as a poor man’s Brian Lake with his intercept and one on one ability not dissimilar and he too can swing forward and have an impact. He just seems to lake the x-factor and ability to really be that wall that Lake can be in defence and is also a little less athletic. He could be ready in season two but it will be three to four seasons before he really imposes himself.
Pick 16 – North Melbourne: Jordan De Goey (Vic Metro, classy and skilled balanced midfielder)
187 cm, 82 kg, 15/3/96
Range: Top 20
Style: Colin Sylvia
De Goey’s improvement over the last 12 months has been a highlight. He’s transitioned from a predominantly outside utility to someone who can really use his size and frame to win his own ball and now can be considered a real balanced midfielder. Overhead he’s exceptional with only Petracca being able to claim being a better mark through the midfield. His timing is good, his hands are sticky and his one on one strength, positioning and read is exceptional. On the lead he’s able to time his leads well and to the right places to be a real marking option around the ground. He combines that with a really penetrating and reliable kick with some good creativity, vision and decision making as well as goal sense. On the inside De Goey is much improved with his ability to win and extract the hard ball and distribute to runners a real positive in his game.
De Goey’s a versatile player capable of playing back, forward or through the middle to a high standard. As a result he’s been thrown around a little and not really settled down anywhere. Though he’s a good inside ball winner and marking target around the ground he hasn’t shown the ability to accumulate in volume yet which would be the next step for him. Athletically he’s not particularly fast but he’s able to create some space and he’s a strong bodied tackler and courageous player.
There’s no player whose game is analogous to that of De Goey. His sticky hands and excellent marking ability across the ground has shades of Bartel (and I expect him to be an excellent wet weather player, too). His ability to find space on the outside and take uncontested marks is a bit like Jackson Macrae while his inside/outside split is like David Mundy and his footskills project to be a similar level. De Goey has enough going for him that at the worst case he should be a reasonable flanker at AFL level – the best case could see him as a genuine A grade midfielder.
Pick 17 – Port Adelaide: Nakia Cockatoo (NT, fast and strong utility)
188 cm, 84 kg, 23/10/96
Style: Patrick Dangerfield
Nakia Cockatoo is another player to have his season destroyed by injury. An indigenous prospect from the Northern Territory, he’s capable of playing nearly anywhere on the ground. Through the middle he’s capable of winning his own ball with his big body and his speed, acceleration and endurance combination are excellent. His height is also a real benefit. Forward he’s shown some goal sense and ability and in defence he’s shown a real accountable brand of football at times, playing as a third tall defender on occasion. He’s someone who really needed a full season to show his stuff but it’s possible a team still punts on him through natural talent alone. His performance in the young guns game curtain raiser to the grand final is sure to attract some attention with his sheer acceleration, physical dominance and potency by foot a particular highlight. Cockatoo was quite possibly best on ground in the combine, winning the kicking test with a score of 29/30 and also winning the repeat sprint test. With a 20 metre sprint of 2.9 seconds too it’s clear that Cockatoo is a real athlete and with his footballing ability, he could really be the complete package.
Pick 18 – Sydney: Isaac Heeney – Academy (NSW, balanced and skilled midfielder)
186 cm, 82 kg, 5/5/96
Range: Sydney 1st
Style: David Swallow
Heeney is considered by many one of the best talents in the crop. Heeney is probably the most balanced midfielder in the crop with the difference between his inside and outside games minor. On the outside his footskills are excellent with his technique, vision, decision making and composure all top tier. He’s able to accumulate outside ball and link up to a high level. On the inside he’s a natural read of the tap and while not a particularly bullocking type wins his own ball regularly. He’s got a reasonable burst of pace and is able to create space easily. He’s able to transition his inside contested possession to an uncontested disposal. In traffic his distribution by hand is exceptional and his footskills do not suffer, even under severe physical pressure. He’s a solid mark with his leap a highlight and projects as someone who could push forward and hit the scoreboard well. Defensively he excels with his tackling elite and his work rate exceptional. Even in games where his numbers aren’t elite his impact is. He’s always around the play doing the team thing. There’s very little wrong with his game. His movement is laconic, a bit like Jack Watts but he never seems to be exposed for it. In the champs he was excellent but never really accumulated in volume and broke open games, being more of a piece of the team as opposed to a star.
Heeney’s inside/outside balance is a lot like David Swallow’s. He projects as someone who perhaps might lean outside but is capable of doing any role the team asks. He might take a season to adjust to the pace of AFL but by season two he should be able to really up to the standard and seasons three and four he’ll push for regular selection and impress big time.
Pick 19 – Hawthorn: Tom Lamb (Vic Country, athletic third tall utility)
193 cm, 84 kg, 19/10/96
Range: Top 40
Style: Jared Brennan
Comparison: Marco Paparone
Tom Lamb has so much to like but also is incredibly frustrating. At 192 centimetres he’s capable of being a target down forward but also playing across half forward, off a wing and down back as a smaller rebounding type. Some hope he can become a midfielder with his skills and athleticism. He’s freakishly athletic for a tall kid, with his speed in getting to ground level and cleanness in picking up a particular highlight, especially his ability to pick it up with one hand or under severe pressure. He’s got exceptional acceleration and real ability to create separation on the lead and when attacking a ground ball. He’s capable of ruthless and repeated attack on the ball. When forward he’s shown real goalscoring ability and is a capable mark, often ending up in the right spots however occasionally his marking technique lets him down, dropping simple ones or two/three grabbing. In defence he’s shown some ability to intercept, read the play and create.
While he was considered a key forward for a lot of his career, at his size he lacks the physicality and contested presence to effectively play that role. He is essentially a tall small. However through the midfield he hasn’t set the world on fire with his hands in close shaky along with his composure. By foot he’s got some really nice vision but in general is a poor kick with his kicking rushed and technically poor. At his size he doesn’t have the clean or natural inside game to indicate a future in that role. His work rate is often poor with him seemingly lacking desire and effort at times on the field. He’s prone to brain fades and unnecessary bouts of aggression while off the field from all reports he’s a bit lacking as a bloke.
When forward Lamb plays a bit like Jared Brennan. He has all the skill and physical power and ability but isn’t by any means a key target – more a flanker. A more modern comparison is Marco Paparone in that they are both tall smalls who have poor kicks but very reasonable athleticism. Paparone has a higher work ethic and endurance but Lamb is more natural and behind the ball he’s more skilled. If Lamb worked harder both off and on the field he could be anything. However I can’t help but feel his career will be riddled with frustration and non deliverance on promise due to his attitude and disciplinary issues.
Pick 20 – Essendon: Peter Bampton (SA, bullocking inside midfielder)
182 cm, 83 kg, 15/4/96
Range: Top 25
Style: Brad Crouch/Ben Cunnington
Comparison: Luke Dunstan
Peter Bampton is a big bodied inside mid who should be ready to go season one not dissimilar to Luke Dunstan. Not only is he a high level extractor and clearance winner but his effort to win the ball is unparalleled. His burst speed is good with his ability to create space and distribute by hand reasonable. He’s a powerful mover and someone who when he hits, it hurts. His agility and evasion is underrated and on occasion he shows shades of Brad Crouch with ball in hand. He’s got elite endurance and impacts most contests. His performances in the SANFL both in 2013 and 2014 have been to a very high standard.
Bampton by foot isn’t incredibly great. Normally the ball gets where he wants it to go but he’s not someone whose hands you want the ball in. On occasion he blindly bombs it long out of the contest. He has an ability to find outside ball but needs to work on this more. His courage may cause him trouble through his career with his ruthless attack putting him at a much higher risk of injury.
Bampton should replicate Luke Dunstan’s impact in his first season. He doesn’t have as smooth a running style and isn’t as solid by foot but on the inside he’s more powerful and has a better burst. Ben Cunnington is perhaps his ceiling, with his ability to dominate games on the inside excellent but he just lacks versatility and other tricks.
Pick 21 – GWS: Corey Ellis: (Vic Metro, creative midfielder/forward)
185 cm, 76 kg, 9/10/96
Range: Top 25
While there’s a lot to like about Ellis, there’s also a lot lacking. By foot he’s good with his left foot relatively accurate and penetrating both from the outside and in traffic. While being an outside player he’s capable of providing some tacking pressure and winning his own ball. He has a knack of doing things he has no right to do – hitting targets by hand and foot that you’d think were a fluke if he didn’t do it so often, slipping and evading tackles that always stick, that kind of stuff. With some real creativity he projects as a half forward/midfielder.
The issue with Ellis is that he just doesn’t do it very often. He’s prone to inconsistency both within games and across a season, occasionally having zero impact and often drifting out of games. He doesn’t seem to have a natural read of the play and does struggle to accumulate at times and when he does, while skilled, you don’t notice him a huge amount. There’s definitely upside with what he can do, he just doesn’t do it enough. While capable of elite skills, too often he takes the high percentage chip or trying to replicate his occasional ‘fluky’ kick instead of taking the option most would (and should).
I can see Ellis seducing people and clubs with his highlight reel, but something just feels amiss. His worst is absolutely terrible and that creates a few questions. Even when he’s having a good game he never truly feels like he breaks games, instead quietly going about his business and creating opportunity for others instead of taking it for himself. His best is not dissimilar to Alan Didak, it’s just that it’s too rare. A club might want to take a punt on that though.
Pick 22 – St Kilda: Reece McKenzie (Vic Metro, contested marking key forward)
196 cm, 100 kg, 28/3/96
Style: Travis Cloke
Comparison: Ryan Willits
Reece McKenzie is perhaps the most divisive player in the crop. Having not played football during his bottom age year, focusing on basketball instead, he came into 2014 with less runs on the board. This year he’s been the best performed KPF in the TAC cup, kicking several huge bags while also doing the same for Marcellin. At 196cm and 100kg the query with him is whether his performances are through skill or size. His contested marking is fantastic. He crashes packs and takes massive pack marks. One on one he’s able to use his size to force opponents out of the contest. He’s able to read the flight of the ball well. Despite his size he’s reasonable on the lead taking the ball out in front but requires a long lead as he’s slow to accelerate though top speed isn’t an issue. His size is predominantly efficient size with lots of it muscle. He’s got a good solid leap and some real power through the legs. He’s one of the few prospects who could be a genuine #1 power forward.
McKenzie isn’t a great playmaker with his footskills average along with his set shot. At ground level he doesn’t have much impact with his following up poor and his effort at ground level average. He lacks agility and awareness with his back to goal. His performances this year have been against weakened teams and he hasn’t really dominated the good teams and opponents to the same level.
Upside is the concern with McKenzie. His development curve so far has been steep with his progress going from not having played in 2013 to being TAC cup standard early 2014 to being dominant late. Normally this indicates real upwards potential but I’m rather cynical. He’s a bit of a one trick pony and at AFL level he’s not going to have that size advantage. His ceiling is like a slightly lower level Cloke or Hawkins however there’s a good chance he could end up like Ryan Willits who’s shared a similar career path thus far.
Pick 23 – Melbourne: Dean Gore (SA, big bodied midfielder/forward)
183 cm, 86 kg, 26/6/96
Style: Reece Conca
Gore’s a ready made inside mid with a capable outside game. He’s had some senior experience in the SANFL with Sturt and impressed playing forward with the occasional run through the guts. He’s not particularly quick or athletic though he does have a fantastic burst, but he’s got a tank and work ethic to go with it. Inside he just bullocks his way to the ball with his big body and raw strength. He’s also pretty good by foot though he can rush to bomb it long when under pressure. Without the ball he runs both ways and is an efficient and prolific tackler. While he’s big bodied and does have an inside game, it’s not truly dominant and doesn’t come across as natural. It’s possible Gore could be one of those players who’s okay on both the inside and outside but doesn’t really excel at either, putting him in a midfielder’s version of no man’s land. However, if he is to impact, expect it to be immediate, the knocks are his athleticism outside the initial burst and ceiling which some believe to be rather low.
Pick 24 – GWS: Jack Steele – Academy (NSW, intelligent and skilled forward/midfielder)
186 cm, 80 kg, 13/12/95
Range: Top 50
Style: Robbie Gray
Despite being an overager, I really think Jack Steele could just be one of the better players to come out of this draft. Injured last year, he was overlooked and has come back this year and dominated, winning All Australian honours. Since the championships he’s had a 25 disposal, 7 tackle game against the Swans reserves and last week he had a 39 disposal, 8 tackle and 7 mark game. While he was eligible last season, he was an extremely bottom aged player and is only 3 weeks older than Christan Petracca to put his performances in some perspective. Irrelevant of the standard if you’re getting 39 touches in the NEAFL you’re probably pretty good, especially at 18. Steele’s just a natural footballer. He’s not that quick or athletic (though he’s agile with his evasion a highlight) but he’s excellent in nearly every other aspect. He’s a good kick with his vision, creativity and decision making highlights, below the knees he’s very clean with his pickups and rarely fumbles, in the air he reads the ball better than most and is excellent one on one providing a real marking option through the middle. Under pressure he executes his skills as if he weren’t and he just creates time and space for himself. When forward he hits the scoreboard but I prefer him through the middle with his clearance work exceptional with a natural read of the tap as well as his accumulation excellent.
Pick 25 – Brisbane: Liam Duggan (Vic Metro, skilled outside leaning midfielder/defender)
183 cm, 76 kg, 11/12/96
Range: Top 25
Style: Trent Cotchin
Comparison: Sam Docherty
There’s a lot to like about Duggan. He’s very bottom aged being a December birth so there’s that little bit more development in him, but he’s also an excellent kick off his left foot with his right also being very serviceable. His kicking has some good penetration, excellent direction and he picks the right targets. Duggan also backs himself to nail these targets and kicks long if at all possible. He’s able to play both defence and midfield to a high standard. In defence he’s capable of reading the play and the flight of the ball and providing an intercept option. He’s reasonably quick with some good acceleration and willingness to take the game on. On the inside he’s serviceable with some ability to win his own ball and a real desire to apply pressure and tackle. Duggan also shapes up as a future leader of a club.
While Duggan has performed well in defense, a lot of that has been purely offensively speaking. He’s prone to being exposed a bit defensively with his accountability and stopping ability average at best. He’s someone who’s been moved to defence to take advantage of his footskills as opposed to a natural defender. While he’s able to accumulate he does float in and out of games and on occasion finds himself in the wrong position. He rarely takes apart a game and truly dominates like elite players do.
I see Duggan as a slightly more midfield leaning Sam Docherty. Both are players who pre draft were defined by their kicks and while both have excellent kicking neither have truly elite or game breaking disposal. I can see Duggan following a career path not dissimilar to Docherty’s thus far as well. Through the middle he shares comparisons with Trent Cotchin albeit at a lower level with both being players who can sometimes accumulate lots of outside and uncontested ball without really doing anything wrong but not impacting the game either.
Pick 26 – Western Bulldogs: Oscar McDonald (Vic Country, shutdown key defender)
196 cm, 88 kg, 18/3/96
Comparison: Tom McDonald
Brother of Melbourne’s Tom, Oscar is a very similar player. Oscar is a shutdown key defender who can take the opposition’s #1 guy and do a good job on him. He’s a no frills kind of player but one you just know will do the job. He’s a strong player who’s very capable of neutralising contests and beating his opponent one on one. Though he doesn’t have a super intercept game he’s able to contribute in that regard. He’s got the versatility to match most forwards with his closing speed reasonable but not elite. He’s a strong bodied, hard working and tough as nails defender who won’t ever be a world beater but he’ll do his job.
While Oscar excels defensively he’s not fantastic offensively. Like his brother, he’s able and willing to work in the offensive transition and involve himself but skills wise he’s lacking. His disposal isn’t great nor his his decision making. He’s just someone who probably shouldn’t be a primary rebounder. However despite that he’s still capable of playing 100 games.
Pick 27 – Western Bulldogs: Connor Menadue (Vic Metro, linebreaking outside midfielder)
188 cm, 69 kg, 19/9/96
Range: Top 40
Comparison: Jono O’Rourke
Connor Menadue is the bolter right now, partially started by his amazing performance in the first round of the TAC cup finals. The talent has always been there though. He’s a tall outside leaning midfielder who could go in any number of directions due to his size and rawness. He’s incredibly quick with his pace elite and his acceleration exceptional. His evasive movement is elite with his sidestep the best in the draft. That with his pace makes his linebreaking ability fantastic. By foot he’s great. Hits targets, picks the right ones, directs the play well by foot and has some penetration. Despite his size on the inside he can win his ball. He reads the tap well and moves well enough to win the hard ball. His disposal under pressure is great. His ability to receive the ball on the outside is excellent with his timing of runs to receive a highlight. For a thin fella his tackling is great. His ability to hit the scoreboard is a highlight.
The knock on Menadue is production. So far he’s rarely produced the kind of games he did in week one of the finals. In the champs he showed flashes but hardly imposed himself. There’s a lot to like but he’s raw. At his size he still has 10-20 kilos to put on still and that could change the kind of player he is. He occasionally tries to do too much with the ball. He’s prone to floating in and out of games. Though he seems to have a natural ability to win his own ball his inside game is very much a work in progress and will take time to develop.
The upside in Menadue is really high. He’s the kind of player who can break and win games on his own. With what he’s doing at his size there’s some real indication he might make it. He projects as a higher level Jonothan O’Rourke with that high level receiving game and silky smooth outside game. He’ll take time but by season three with a few pre seasons he’s someone that could really impose himself on the AFL.
Pick 28 – Carlton: Matthew Hammelmann (QLD, intelligent key position utility)
198 cm, 88 kg, 8/3/96
Range: Brisbane 2nd/3rd
Comparison: Tom J. Lynch/Josh Jenkins
I really like Hammelmann. He does a lot of things right. One of the most important things as a forward is intelligence; you’ve got to create your own opportunities as well as have the body and skills to take them. But as we’ve seen time and time again with athletes who play forward, they might have the tools to excel but they just don’t have the opportunities to use them often. Hammelmann creates opportunities for himself. A great reader of the play, he leads and leads and leads all day and more often than not into the right spots at the right times. At 198cm he has a really nice burst and creates separation nearly always and that combined with his height, reach and timing ensures that on the lead he’s deadly. He takes the ball at the highest point and straight lines through it. His follow up work is excellent with his agility, movement and pickups at ground level a particular highlight. Below the knees he’s very capable with his marking down low and mobility as well as a general cleanness a highlight. His vision is also excellent for a bloke of his size.
Hammelmann lacks a contested marking presence. Despite his size he doesn’t really crash packs and while he reads the ball well, he lacks a real desire to impact the contest. He lacks a physical edge to his game and doesn’t intimidate an opponent. By foot he’s shaky at times and his set shot goalkicking leaves a lot to be desired. As a player he reminds me a lot of Tom Lynch from the Gold Coast except without the contested marking game and perhaps a smarter leading game. Josh Jenkins is another comparison that makes sense with both avoiding contests if at all possible and having some real agility and smarts at times.
Pick 29 – Gold Coast: Alex Neal-Bullen (SA, high production inside midfielder)
182 cm, 77 kg, 9/1/96
Range: Top 50
Style: Lenny Hayes
Alex Neal-Bullen could just be the most underrated player in the draft crop. He led the championships in clearances and while he’s not the prototypical inside midfielder height, he’s still an elite inside player at this level. He played SANFL for Glenelg all season and made a real impact and he’s able to play half back as well as through the middle. An underrated aspect of Neal-Bullen’s game is his forward positioning. He’s able to pop up in holes others don’t see and has some real potential to hit the scoreboad more than most inside midfielders do, providing a real point of difference.
Athletically he’s fit, he runs all day, he makes every contest and he’s never short of breath for them. He’s a natural reader of the tap but also a smart mover which adds up to one excellent clearance machine. On the inside he’s tough and a good extractor with his distribution by hand elite. However he’s not incredibly quick and by foot he’s not incredibly efficient. Combine that with his below ideal size for a modern inside midfielder and unfortunately for him he’s going a bit lower than he probably deserves to based on his numbers. He plays a bit like a smaller Lenny Hayes however I doubt he’ll reach the same heights as things are just a little bit tougher at his size. The absolute peak for Neal-Bullen could be in a Tom Liberatore-esque clearance king kind of role, but it’s unlikely he makes it that far.
Pick 30 – Collingwood: Jarrod Garlett (WA, line breaking outside midfielder)
177 cm, 72 kg, 18/8/96
Range: Top 40
Comparison: Danyle Pearce
Jarrod Garlett is a personal favourite of mine and someone I think could well be the best outside run/carry player in the draft. Someone who could be played on a wing or off any flank, he’s a speedy, agile and skilled outside mid. The comparison between he and Pickett will be flogged over the next few months but it’s a good one – both are indigenous outside speedsters from WA and have a lot in common. I prefer Garlett. When running he’s aware of the field around him and is constantly thinking about his next move unlike Pickett who just runs. If you’re picking up Garlett it’s because of his pace. And while that’s his major strength the supporting attributes are sound as well. His skills while raw are technically sound. He’s capable of nailing long range kicks but lacks a bit of consistency.
Without the ball Garlett is able to keep track of a man and does run both ways. When the team is in possession Garlett works hard to find opportunities and while he’s primarily outside he does work hard to put himself in a position to be fed the ball. Incredibly dual sided, his footskills aren’t as consistent as he’d like but there’s definitely a base to work with and if he fixes them he’ll be a real player. The next step is to work on some extra versatility and winning his own ball. Danyle Pearce is a good comparison for him and I expect Garlett to reach a similar level to Pearce at his peak.
Pick 31 – Adelaide: Harrison Wigg (SA, precision kicking small defender/outside midfielder)
179 cm, 74 kg, 14/10/96
Range: Top 50
Style: Matt Suckling
Comparison: Nick Suban/Sam Colquhoun
Widely considered the best half back of the championships, his footskills are a defining feature of his game. Technically his kick is okay. He’s not going to be unleashing Hurn style 55-60 metre darts that pick out a teammate nobody saw. He’s not at a Suckling level either (though he does play a similar role in the side). It’s the mental aspect of kicking where Wigg excels. He’s composed, he’s got good vision with his ability to spot a target excellent and his decision making is also top notch. When those three are present it’s difficult not to be a great kick. His read of the play is pretty good and he’s able to drop into holes and intercept reasonably well.
There’s also a lot not to like about Wigg. He’s outside. Even in defence he’s fed the ball more often than not. Through the middle he’s very outside too. His high numbers in the championships were rather inflated by playing on from the kick-in. If there’s a short target he nailed it and if there wasn’t he hit it long to the contest – both defined as effective disposals. There was one game where I reckon over half his disposals came from kick-in play ons. That said at SANFL u/18s level he’s racked up high numbers playing a role with much more midfield time. As a defender he’s only 5’11 with a small frame. On size alone he’ll struggle to take the taller smalls and he’s not incredibly quick so he’ll be found out against the speedy forward pocket types. Defensively he’s limited in who he can match up on and he’s too small to really fill the loose man effectively. I think he’s probably going to want to move into the midfield where he won’t have as much of a need to have a good defensive matchup but even then his only average pace will hold him back. Right now I think he’s probably the most highly rated half back in the crop but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him slide.
Pick 32 – West Coast: Dillon Viojo-Rainbow (Vic Metro, precision kicking defender)
185 cm, 80 kg, 8/2/96
Style: Matthew Suckling
Comparison: Shannon Hurn (worse defender though)
Viojo-Rainbow would add some polish and footskills to any side. Viojo-Rainbow is all about the kick. It defines him. He’s a penetrating left footer who hits targets consistently and with real penetration and the ability to cover distance. It’s a Hurn/Suckling-esque kick. Barring that he’s not too exciting. He doesn’t win much of his own ball and has to be fed it on the outside instead of putting himself in the right position to receive it and defensively he is turned around a little too easily and gets a bit lost aerially. That said with his kick he’s got the foundation to take a punt on especially with the relative success of half backs this late in the draft.
Pick 33 – Richmond: Ed Vickers-Willis (Vic Metro, tall utility)
190 cm, 82 kg, 28/3/96
Range: Top 40
Style: Ricky Henderson
Vickers-Willis presents as a very interesting player. While he looks a bit laconic and almost uncoordinated on the field, it’s clear that he’s a natural footballer. While his kicking technique isn’t aesthetically pleasing, the ball gets where it needs to go and he’s a good user of the football. His vision and spatial awareness is excellent, he just seems to know who’s around him which allows him to make excellent decisions. In defence he’s very accountable, being able to play taller if need be but perhaps being more suited to the smalls. He’s able to close down well and zone off and intercept. He’s got a big frame and some real endurance and is able to run off.
While he’s not pretty to watch sometimes, he has a knack of getting the job done. He’s not the kind of half back who’s going to play that elite kicking rebound game, nor is he the type who’s going to dash at any opportunity, but he is the type who’s going to play his role week in week out without any fuss. As a midfielder he’s capable of playing a hard running link up game, leaning outside. With his body and spacial awareness he could develop an inside game. In defence he plays a similar style of football to Ricky Henderson, except more defensively sound. Through the middle he could conceivably develop into a similar style of player to Jack Crisp.
Pick 34 – Fremantle: Daniel Capiron (Vic Country, consistent defender)
189 cm, 80 kg, 14/6/96
Range: Top 50
Style: Andrew Mackie
Not incredibly flashy, offensively Capiron provides a bit of run with reasonable speed and footskills but he isn’t elite in either discipline. He doesn’t execute high risk kicks instead favouring safe options however is capable of penetrating kicks on occasion. He’s just a reliable player offensively and defensively he’s smart, knowing when to zone off and intercept and picking the right moments to both spoil and mark. He’s capable of shutting down his opponent well and provides versatility with the ability to play not only at his height but a bit taller and smaller too. He projects as a long term and effective role player.
Pick 35 – Geelong: Tyler Keitel (WA, key position utility)
194 cm, 86 kg, 7/2/96
Range: Top 40
Comparison: Mitch W. Brown
He had an up and down championships, at times looking like an elite prospect and at times looking not up to the grade. I sit a bit in the middle, I think he’s a good prospect but not an elite one – he just seems to lack an elite trait and I’ve found players who are just solid players across the board don’t seem to make it. His hands are clean and his ability at ground level is above par. His movement is nice and overhead he’s solid. He’s a hard worker who follows up at ground level to good effect given his solid ability below the knees. He’s always thinking and is in general a smart footballer who’s effective on the lead and a solid kick for goal.
Occasionally he can panic a bit under pressure but that’s nothing that can’t be rectified. In defense he’s a solid prospect who’s able to negate his opponent to a reasonable standard and is able to involve himself in the link up rebound play as well as win contests at ground level. He just lacks a hard edge and doesn’t seem to dominate games like a franchise KPF would. I think he’s better forward than back, though. To me he comes across as someone who’s going to be a role player in a successful team kicking one or two goals a game but nothing more.
Pick 36 – North Melbourne: Clem Smith (WA, ferocious and versatile small defender)
177 cm, 74 kg, 3/2/96
Range: Top 50
Style: Byron Pickett
Comparison: Neville Jetta
Clem Smith does a lot wrong, so it’d be best to start with that. He’d battle with Mitch Robinson for being the most care free and reckless player around. No player attacks the ball harder. Smith won’t slow down or back out of the way when he sees another player, instead he’ll just brace and speed up. He hits hard and he hits well – and as a result he gives away a good few free kicks and will cop plenty of weeks across his career. This is unlikely to change – extreme physicality is what defines Smith, and unfortunately that definition is beginning to hurt him with many considering it, and by extension him, a real liability. His kicking is also something that people are going cold on. Some describe him as a terrible kick but they’re wrong. His kicking is no different to the rest of his game – it’s physical and hard. Clem struggles to execute simple and deft short kicks. It’s almost as if having to slow down his leg and take some power off the ball doesn’t compute because over 15-25 metres he’s clanger central, especially when he’s running at pace. He just can’t find his radar.
Over longer distances when he can really kick through the ball Clem is actually quite a reasonable kick. His long kicking technically is very solid and he achieves some real penetration. He’s capable of executing some really high degree of difficulty kicks and making them look easy. He’s by no means an elite kick over distance but I think he’s probably ‘good’ – and there’s enough present already with his technique and what he ‘can’ do to indicate that he could well be some real upside. While his physicality has some drawbacks which are well publicised – there’s a lot of good about it as well. His defensive pressure is fantastic, he’s a great tackler and when he does stick a crunching tackle or block it’s a massive boost for the team. It’ll be frustrating when he gives away a high tackle free 15 metres out from goal, but I’d bet that he saves more goals with his pressure than he’ll give away. He’s also a really quick and nimble ball runner, something that’s often forgotten. I’m confident Smith will find a role at AFL level and make the grade. His speed and tenacity give him some real scope to be an elite shutdown defender, while his tendency to attack should at least give him some scope to contribute offensively. Forward he’s shown some aptitude and could potentially be utilised as a high pressure small forward in a similar way to Paul Puopolo. As for a comparison, Smith plays football a bit like Byron Pickett but he also reminds me a little of David Wirrpanda aside from with ball in hand. Neville Jetta is probably the most applicable current day player.
Pick 37 – Port Adelaide: Josh Glenn (SA, smooth yet tough utility)
180 cm, 78 kg, 10/3/94
Style: Luke Hodge
Glenn decided not to nominate for the draft last year however I wouldn’t read much into that – he doesn’t have doubts and doesn’t lack commitment, he just didn’t want to jump from amateur football to AFL in the space of 18 months. A versatile player, Glenn’s best work comes off half back or through the middle. Defensively he’s very solid with his attack and determination really good. He doesn’t let his opponent get on top and goes hard at it. With ball in hand he runs and carries really well with his kicking exceptional with it being both efficient and penetrating. Through the middle he’s still an exceptional user of the football but he’s also tough enough to really attack and win his own ball. He just does everything right and he’s someone I can see becoming a real high level AFL footballer. I guess a good way to describe him is that he’s like those inside midfielders that find a home at halfback – the Vlastuin type except he’s also an exceptional kick and outside option too.
Pick 38 – Sydney: Jack Hiscox – Academy (NSW, hard running midfielder)
184cm, 74 kg, 23/3/95
Range: Sydney’s 2nd
Style: Brad Hill
Having been nominated as an academy selection by the Swans, it was a major surprise to see Fremantle bid pick 31 for Hiscox, and just as much a surprise to see Sydney match it. There must be something about him I’m missing as I just can’t see it. Hiscox runs a 16.1 beep test and broke the record for the 3 km time trial with a 9 minute, 18 second run but barring that there’s just not much to his game. He’s capable of dropping forward and kicking a goal off a wing and he has an okay kick with some penetration at times but at the moment he’s very much a high level endurance athlete with a reasonable sprint. There’s not much more to him. Despite being a year older than his fellow juniors he failed to really impose himself which, with an age advantage, he’d have wanted to.
Pick 39 – Hawthorn: Jaden McGrath (Vic Country, classy midfielder/forward)
179 cm, 73 kg, 15/6/96
A really creative midfielder who can play off a forward flank, McGrath is likely to slide due to his terribly injury effected year. He possesses that really nice speed and endurance combination that allows him to have an impact on the outside and cover the ground well. Despite his rangy frame and small stature, his inside game is still reasonable with a natural read for the tap and fearless mentatility allowing him to win his own ball. With ball in hand he’s a composed and creative type. In the right system he really could be a component of a successful 22.
Pick 40 – St Kilda: Jackson Nelson (Vic Country, hard nosed midfielder/defender)
187 cm, 80 kg, 15/3/96
Range: Top 40
Style: James Kelly
Comparison: Nick Vlastuin
Jackson Nelson is one of those players who doesn’t really grab your attention when watching. He’s a low flash kind of player but does all the right things. As a result he’s kind of slipped under the radar a bit. Having a quiet game in round five of the championships and being concussed in the second quarter of round six in the televised championships games mightn’t have helped, to be fair. Nelson is able to play through the middle or off half back and he plays both to a high standard. He’s got a nice height and really nice frame which helps him win his own ball but he’s also a really handy user of the ball with both feet on the outside with and decision making and vision are nice.
Athletically he’s not elite but he’s still quick and agile with his lateral movement a highlight. Down back he’s able to play an accountable brand of football while also having the confidence to zone off if needed. While his kicking isn’t elite it holds up in traffic and under pressure and as such he’s a very capable user under any circumstance off the back flank. He’s already got a fairly mature body and with a wide frame he can likely develop further and really become a physically imposing type. A low flash but high substance and someone you can bank on to work hard and perform an honest role at AFL level wherever that be and become a staple of a 22, the kind of player a coach loves. He projects as a less skilled version of Nick Vlastuin.
Pick 41 – Melbourne: Billy Stretch – father-son (SA, line breaking outside mid)
182 cm, 71 kg, 8/9/96
Range: Melbourne’s 3rd
Comparison: Tendai Mzungu (less of a hard edge)
While he was spoken about as a prospect last year, this year Billy Stretch has absolutely smashed down the door. A very outside player, Stretch can play off a flank or wing to a high standard. His speed is a highlight, and he enjoys breaking the lines. His kicking is okay but not excellent, however unlike most, his kicking does not suffer when running at his top speed. He possesses excellent endurance and some good evasion. His performances in the SANFL seniors this season have been excellent, with several 20+ disposal games and his 26 touch, 12 mark and two goal game against the Adelaide Crows reserves a particular highlight.
While he has the runs on the board at senior level, he still has a lot to work on. He lacks an inside game, with most of his possessions being fed to him. He lacks composure under pressure, with his disposal occasionally rushed and panicked, and his hands aren’t completely clean; he’s prone to dropping or two-grabbing marks and below the knees he fumbles. At the next level he looks a safe bet to be a role player at the absolute worst but he lacks something dominant and clinical to project as someone who’s really going to be an elite player. He projects as a lower level Andrew Gaff type player, with his output and impact being similar to a Tendai Mzungu type.
Pick 42 – GWS: Keenan Ramsay (SA, skilled key position utility)
193 cm, 86 kg, 23/8/96
Comparison: Alipate Carlile
Keenan Ramsay is a bit of a Brenton Phillips special. Played as a forward for most of his career, Ramsay was made the number one defender for South Australia in the championships and did it really well. While he only has one working eye, it isn’t noticeable on the field. In defence he reads the play well and zones off at the right times, while by foot he’s very reliable. He works really hard on the field too, always making those second efforts and desperate pressure acts others don’t. With his ability to swing forward, Ramsay really does loom as an attractive prospect.
Pick 43 – Brisbane: Liam Dawson – Academy (QLD, intelligent utility)
188 cm, 83 kg, 23/1/96
Range: Brisbane 2nd-4th
Style: Sam Gilbert
Winning (in a three-way tie) the Harrison Medal for the best player in division two as an underaged player last year, Dawson’s a 6’2 small back who’s just as capable playing forward of through the middle. Defensively he’s very sound with his ability to close down above average and his footy IQ excellent. He knows exactly when to zone off and intercept and executes the intercept to a high standard with his read of the play and ball fantastic. He’s also an excellent tackler with both volume and execution excellent. By foot he’s great with a long penetrating kick but the occasional brain fade. He’s prone a bit to thinking he has more time than he does and being run down or rushed. Through the middle and forward he’s able to use his excellent read of the game and ball to accumulate and create but I think his best position is down back. Strong and confident, I think Dawson’s very likely to make it and should be at the standard pretty quickly.
Pick 44 – Western Bulldogs: Toby McLean (Vic Metro, creative and exciting small forward)
179 cm, 70 kg, 31/1/96
Comparison: Jamie Elliott
Toby McLean is someone that’s stormed onto draft boards through sheer results. As a small forward, he offers a bit of everything and seems like another small forward who’ll be available mid to late draft and develop into a real role player at an AFL club. With a tendency to entertain with high leaping marks, he’s also got an impressive ground level game with his evasive movement a highlight. He possesses excellent goalsense and core strength and creativity; when he’s not scoring goals he’s finding ways to create them. He’s able to change games and could conceivably reach a similar peak to Jamie Elliott.
Pick 45 – Carlton: Brayden Maynard (Vic Metro, utility with a hard edge)
186 cm, 88 kg, 20/9/96
Range: Top 40
Style: Ryan O’Keefe
Maynard’s greatest strength is his versatility. He’s played back, forward and through the middle throughout his career and done all to a high standard. Already 88kg, Maynard brings a tough, physical brand of football to the table and not only does he have the power and strength but the aggression to use it with his tackling and body use around the stoppage a particular highlight. On the inside he’s a good ball winner and an okay kick with it being neither penetrating or damaging although it has improved throughout the year. With all that said Maynard is aware of this and more often that not kicks with his limitations in mind.
When he plays back he’s an effective winner of the ball at ground level with his determination and aggression able to win the first touch and begin the transition. He’s also accountable and consistent with his discipline and concentration sound and his overhead marking very good. One on one he’s likely to win most matchups with similarly sized players which assists him both forward and back. He’s perhaps drifted a bit down the boards this season with his inability to really impose himself in the championships costing him. He needs to work on his endurance and perhaps try and become a more penetrating kick if he’s to be a permanent defender though I think with time he could develop into a really effective midfielder capable of hurting the opposition both inside and out.
Pick 46 – Gold Coast: Touk Miller (Vic Metro, versatile and skilled inside leaning midfielder)
177 cm, 80 kg, 22/2/96
Range: Top 40
Style: Dion Prestia
Miller would add some pace, smarts and skill to a Sydney lineup with very little wrong with it. So I’m going for some grunt and work with this selection. Dean Gore to me would also have been a really nice pickup here but he doesn’t have pace or great footskills, something I think the Swans might steer clear from. Miller’s a hard working balanced midfielder with thirst for the hard ball and physical side of football. He’s a quality clearance player with a great read of the tap and some physical dominance on the inside. He’s also a really quick player with both his breakaway and top speed very high. He’s able to create space and opportunity out of the inside to effectively dispose of the ball with his footskills decent without being great. On the outside he’s a capable option also able to hit the scoreboard. Miller is also a ferocious and effective volume tackler. He just works hard, runs both ways and does everything right. Height the only concern and it’s what’s caused him to slide this far.
Pick 47 – Collingwood: Damien Cavka (Vic Metro – hard running outside midfielder)
184 cm, 79 kg, 3/6/96
Comparison: Brent Stanton
Despite not knowing the inside of a contest if it hit him in the face, Damien Cavka shapes up as someone who can really make it at AFL level. He’s got a nice mix of speed and endurance, but it’s his uncanny ability to find the football that attracts attention. He just racks it up. He likes to link up on the outside with his endurance and smarts allowing him to find the ball. He also doesn’t mind running the ball when there’s an opportunity. He’s shown a real knack for kicking goals throughout the TAC cup finals. His footskills and decision making are a real question but with some coaching at AFL level, he should be able to rectify these to a borderline acceptable level. He shares a lot of similarites with Brent Stanton and that would be the absolute peak.
Pick 48 – Gold Coast: Jordan Cunico (Vic Country, outside midfielder/forward)
184 cm, 72 kg, 7/5/96
Range: Top 60
Style: Lachie Whitfield
Cunico is a quick, skilled outside midfielder best played off a wing or forward flank. When he gets the ball he’s damaging with a penetrating and accurate kick that more often than not results in something. He’s able to break lines and run and really penetrate. He’s also very good at finding space and takes a lot of uncontested marks, however he’s as outside as it comes and doesn’t win his own ball or tackle. As well as that he’s not really a high volume accumulator with him projecting as a low volume/high impact sort of player. He needs to work a bit on his accountability as he’s prone to kick chasing and letting his opponent get off the leash.
Pick 49 – Adelaide: Daniel Nielson (Vic Metro, shutdown key defender)
193 cm, 90 kg, 9/5/96
Style: Tim Mohr
Daniel Nielson is just a solid stopper with a good foundation for developing into an AFL standard key defender. He’s already got a reasonable body with his 1 on 1 defensive ability excellent and a reasonable ability to close down leads. He takes the intercept when it’s there and his footskills are above average for a key defender as is his willingness to involve himself in the transition and rebound.
Pick 50 – West Coast: Jason Castagna (Vic Metro, Line breaking small defender)
182 cm, 86 kg, 12/6/96
Style: Heath Shaw
Comparison: Jason Johanissen
Jason Castagna is someone I seem to rate well above others. I just really like what he offers. A half back/midfielder, Castagna really attacks the game like very few others in this crop. He’s very quick and is able to change direction rapidly at full pace, he just gets the ball and runs and bounces and runs and bounces. He’s also well built and a real physical presence on the field. He’s a reasonable intercept player and overhead he’s excellent. The real knock on him is his footskills with both his decision making and execution shaky at best. However I think he’s got a salvageable style and while he mightn’t ever be an elite kick I think he can be a serviceable one. And with that in mind I think he shapes as a real bargain with his running and defensive games exceptional.
Pick 51 – Richmond: Jack Lonie (VC, Exciting small forward)
174 cm, 67 kg, 13/8/96
Comparison: Hayden Ballantyne
Lonie is an electric small forward with pace, agility, skills and some real x-factor. He takes the game on and loves to break the lines with his ability to dodge and weave through traffic above average. Under pressure he’s capable of executing high degree of difficulty kicks with his vision and creativity a highlight. When forward he crumbs well and is a good shot on goal who regularly hits the scoreboard. Despite all that there’s just something about him that doesn’t sell me and I’m not that certain he’ll end up being a high level AFL player.
Pick 52 – Essendon: Aidan Anderson (WA, Exciting small forward)
182 cm, 83 kg, 10/8/96
Style: Eddie Betts
Comparison: Jamie Elliott
Finding a comparison for Anderson is a bit difficult as he’s really quite unique from the current batch of smalls we’ve got in the AFL. His biggest strength is his smarts – he knows exactly where to position himself, where to lead, where to run, when to kick – he just knows. He’s quick without being a speedster and he’s very agile with his evasive skills being excellent along with his ability to change direction. He’s capable of executing high degree of difficulty kicks but still isn’t an elite kick. Like Jamie Elliott he’s a far better contested mark than he should be at his height while he’s also very solid overhead. Below the knees he’s solid but does fumble occasionally and could work on that a little. He’s got good core strength and strength in general and is very difficult to tackle. He’s able to win his own ball in dangerous spots while also being an excellent kick be it on the run or from a set shot. He is the best small forward in the crop and I’ll happily bet that he’ll kick 150 AFL goals.
Pick 53 – Fremantle: Lukas Webb (Vic Country, Balanced utility)
186 cm, 80 kg, 3/4/96
Range: Top 50
Comparison: Brodie Murdoch
Webb’s a good solid player. Perhaps he’s a little vanilla but he still projects as a role player in a team at the absolute worst. Had a really solid championships with one particular highlight game. He’s able to play in defence but his best football is played across half forward and through the middle. He’s got a nice left foot, he’s reasonable at the contest and hits the scoreboard when playing through the middle and attacks the ball really well. I’m not quite sure he’s got any elite qualities but he seems to be good in most elements and with what he’s shown in his good games there’s definitely something to work with.
Pick 54 – Geelong: Tom Wilkinson (Vic Metro – High endurance midfielder)
182 cm, 78 kg, 3/7/96
Style: Andrew Gaff
Tom Wilkinson has a lot of fans and it’s not hard to understand why. Quite possibly the highest level endurance athlete in the crop. He finds the ball on the outside and utilises his endurance to accumulate like crazy which has led to his statistical domination of the TAC cup. His finals performances were excellent and should solidify him as an AFL player next year. He also possesses a nice burst and strong hands overhead. Despite all his qualities there’s a reason he’s not higher on draft boards. He’s just a bit one dimensional with his kicking mediocre at best and his hurt factor at times low. He deserves to be a bit higher but it’s understandable why he’s likely a later selection.
Pick 55 – North Melbourne: Sean McLaren (Vic Metro – Lockdown KPD)
197 cm, 92 kg, 1/10/96
Comparison: Lachlan Keeffe
Sean McLaren is a raw key defender with some real upside. His athleticism is a real highlight along with his defensive discipline, with his ability to close check and shut down opposition forwards excellent. His acceleration and speed is good, as is his agility. At 197cm and with a good wingspan he doesn’t have much issue closing down leads. At ground level he’s surprisingly good. He lacks a real intercept game but there’s scope for it to develop. Offensively he has very little impact with his involvement in the offensive transition and movement minimal and his footskills shaky. Through the ruck he’s proven himself an effective tap with a handy leap however at 197 cm it would be an uphill journey to make it as a genuine ruck, with McLaren only presenting as a chop out option at best when he goes to the next level. Similar to Lachie Keeffe in many ways, he’s someone who looks very likely to make it and play 100 games as a key defender.
Pick 56 – Port Adelaide: Brenden Abbott (WA – Powerful and Athletic utility)
188 cm, 95 kg, 1/1/95
Style: Very poor man’s Tom Rockliff
Brenden Abbott is a really interesting proposition. Very much a speculative kind of player, he was overlooked in last year’s draft. This year he’s gone back to the WAFL and really impressed across the ground. He’s the kind of player you take hoping you can mold them in an AFL player as he’s not one yet. At 188cm and with 95 kilos, mostly muscle, Abbott is a physically imposing bloke. Despite that size, he’s incredibly quick off the blocks and has elite agility and strength. His vertical leap is also excellent. Runs a 2.87 second 20 metre sprint. Possesses a powerful and at times penetrating kick but still needs some work, along with his football smarts. He’s able to play nearly everywhere on the ground aside from ruck with his athleticism allowing him to play with the ground level game of a small but his size and leap allowing him to play taller when both forward and back. He needs to build a tank as it’s lacking at the moment but with his rare mix of athletic traits, hard nosed game and size he could become a really lethal inside midfielder at AFL level.
Pick 57 – Sydney: Josh Deluca (WA, Fast and Skilled forward/midfielder)
179 cm, 80 kg, 11/5/96
Range: Very volatile
Having missed the championships with injury, the back end of the season will go a long way to deciding Josh Deluca’s draft stock. He’s a pretty creative and skilled left footer whose kicking is a real strength to his game. He’s also pretty well developed with his frame well built up already which shows in his game with his strength and one on one work very good. He does come across as potentially an early peaker but that’s still a big unknown at this stage. His pace, willingness to break lines and evasion is a particular highlight. When fit has played 5 WAFL games averaging 11.6 touches and just over 2 shots on goal a game. If he wants to rise up the draft ladder he’s going to want to play (and look good while doing) some more midfield minutes though. He accumulated 20 disposals and a goal in the WAFL grand final which is sure to attract some attention.
Pick 58 – Hawthorn: Daniel McKenzie (Vic Metro – Athletic midfielder)
183 cm, 77 kg
Style: Paul Duffield
Daniel McKenzie is someone who’ll be drafted not on what he’s done, but what he could turn into. He’s athletically exceptional in nearly every regard, with his speed, leap, agility and endurance all top notch. His acceleration is a particular highlight with his ability to create space fantastic. He’s a hard worker who maintains a defensive presence throughout games. While his numbers this season haven’t been huge, he’s shown improvement throughout the season and at a rate strong enough to indicate he can continue to improve at a high rate. His finals performances have been good. He still has a lot to work on but with the natural athletic traits he has, he’ll be given the opportunity to make the best of himself.
Pick 59 – St. Kilda: Ed Langdon (Vic Metro – Creative small forward)
182 cm, 72 kg, 2/1/96
Style: Alan Didak
Ed Langdon shapes up as another one of those small forwards found late in drafts who go on to become AFL standard role players. He’s a quick thinking and creative half forward who knows where to position himself and pops up for goals regularly. He’s quick and agile with some real skill and creativity by foot who even if he’s not kicking goals is working hard to set them up, often finding options others wouldn’t have seen. He’s just a smart footballer and has the right bloodline, with brother Tom also an AFL footballer.
Pick 60 – Melbourne: James Rose (SA, Courageous and marking forward)
186 cm, 78 kg, 16/4/96
Style: Tom T. Lynch
Comparison: Aaron Edwards
James Rose seems to be a player who’s rated much higher in South Australia than everywhere else. I’d seen him a few times before the championships and didn’t think much of him but his first game in the championships really piqued my interest – and the second nearly sold me. He’s the kind of forward that just plays taller than he is, and at 186cm that does work against him a bit. But we can only judge him on what he’s done so far and that’s kick goals. He’s a real marking forward who leads straight at the ball, doesn’t slow down, hits it hard, takes it at its highest point and crashes anything in his way. In round 1 of the champs he just kept on crashing packs and taking grabs, I haven’t seen a kid who’s so aggressive at the ball in a good while. For his size he’s a great contested mark with his one on one work handy (though he’s still best used as a more lead up type forward). At ground level he’s clean and agile. He’s not the kind of player who’s probably going to make a name for himself as a midfielder though, bar his marking most aspects of his game don’t project to being really midfield standard. He’s a good kick but not elite, he’s by no means lightning and doesn’t really create immediate separation – he has to burn his opponent off and get them into the red zone to really get that separation and space. He’s also been limited to a forward role so far and I’m not sure his game really projects as being one that’d translate to defence either so I think he’s probably going to be a forward for his career. He’s just a really smart player who leads hard, leads right and leads well. If he’s to be an a-grader he’s probably going to want to work on his speed a bit more and improve his one on one work.
Pick 61 – GWS: Jeremy Finlayson – Academy (GWS, athletic key position utility)
195 cm, 84 kg, 2/9/96
Range: GWS 2nd/3rd
Style: Jack Watts (Less skilled, harder working)
Comparison: Marco Paparone (More key position ability and gracefulness)
When played forward, Finlayson is able to really firm up a teams structure. While capable of playing deep where he uses his smarts and athleticism to find space inside 50, his best work is done as a true centre half forward running between the arcs. A high level athlete, Finlayson not only offers some reasonable speed and great agility but is also very fit, capable of running most defenders off their feet and constantly providing a link up target on the wings. When his leads are ignored, he remains in the play often flanking contests looking for the handball receive. He’s a one grab mark and below the knees he’s excellent with his ability to quickly pick the ball up without fumbling a highlight. In a lot of ways Finlayson plays like somebody 10 centimetres smaller.
Despite being 195 centimetres, Finlayson isn’t a contested marking threat. Some of this can be attributed to not only his lack of weight but his very slender frame, but he also lacks the desire to attack contests, preferring to remain at ground level for the crumb or handball receive. By foot he’s got a long left foot kick, but technically it needs a lot of work with regulation targets sometimes missed. He is also prone to shanking simple shots at goal. However a lot of this is due to a poorly balanced kicking technique, something that can be rectified. Finlayson also struggles to win his own ball, rarely following up with effort if the ball is contested at ground level instead preferring to hang outside the pack. While he is a reasonable outside flanking option, as a 195 centimetre forward he needs to have more of a physical presence at AFL level. Defensively he’s occasionally outbodied and slow to react and close down leads.
Pick 62 – Brisbane: Harris Andrews – Academy (QLD, disciplined key position utility)
198 cm, 91 kg, 12/11/96
Range: Brisbane 2nd-4th
Comparison: Jackson Trengove
Originally a forward, Harris Andrews has now turned heads with a transition into defence. Very bottom aged with a November birth, despite his rawness and inexperience Andrews has shown some real scope as a genuine key defender. Despite his results as a forward throughout his junior career I don’t feel it’s a position he’s going to excel in at AFL level. Down back he’s a very handy read of the play with some nice ground level ability and agility to stop the athletic forwards. He’s also a courageous and hardened player who doesn’t shy away from contested situations. With his size and wingspan, neutralising contests is easier for him. By foot he’s reliable. He isn’t incredibly quick but he’s by no means slow either. At his height and with what he’s shown so far there’s some real potential for Andrews to nail down the #1 defender spot at a club for a long time. He very much is the modern day key defender.
Pick 63 – Western Bulldogs: Zaine Cordy – father-son (Vic Country, defensive minded third tall)
193 cm, 80 kg, 27/10/96
Range: Bulldogs’ 3rd-4th
Comparison: Angus Litherland
Zaine Cordy’s a very effective defensive stopper. He’s very good at neutralising contests and is rarely beaten one on one. He also possesses a reasonable contested mark. He’s got reasonable closing speed and reliable footskills. Defensively he’s a very sound prospect. The question mark with Zaine is the role he could play at AFL level. He’s not tall enough to really effectively play on the big power forward so likely will need to make his name as a second or third tall where he doesn’t possess a truly gifted or penetrating offensive game. That said, he’s the kind of player you can back in to play a role and play it well.
Pick 64 – Carlton: Jack Cripps (WA, smart leading key forward)
198 cm, 85 kg, 20/1/96
Comparison: Jack Fitzpatrick
Jack Cripps is a lanky and raw key forward. He’s shown signs of being able to perform the second ruck role to a reasonable level and with continued development could find a niche in a side as that chop out option. At this stage he’s very much a leading forward with his acceleration enough to create separation and his wingspan coupled with his tendency to take the ball at a high point enough to make him a threat. His leading patterns are generally sound. Despite his size he offers no contested marking threat and has yet to dominate games. At this stage Cripps is a one dimensional player however with his skill set there is scope for further development and could conceivably see him make it as a low level second forward. He shares similarities with Jack Fitzpatrick in many regards – perhaps a little less athletic and a little smarter when forward, however.
Pick 65 – Gold Coast: Harry Dear (Vic Metro, athletic key forward/ruck)
197 cm, 98 kg, 18/8/96
Range: Hawthorn 3rd-4th
Comparison: Charlie Dixon
Harry Dear is a big key forward and second ruck who’s aligned to the Hawks via the father-son system. Despite his above average bulk for a junior key forward, Dear very much is a long term prospect. He’s a great shot for goal and his field kicking is handy. His marking is a highlight with his grabs clean and his contested marking ability sound. He also possesses some real athleticism despite his size. Through the ruck he’s shown some ability and should be at worst a good chop out option. While his results this year haven’t been great – that’s indicative of where he is on his development curve, not his potential. While he’s not the smartest with leading patterns, his rare mix of athleticism and contested marking makes him an attractive prospect and someoene who really could be relevant with a few years in the system.
Pick 66 – Collingwood: Jake Maher (Vic Country, hard running wingman)
189 cm, 87 kg, 5/10/96
Comparison: Andrew Embley
Looking at Jake Maher’s height and weight, you’d think he was a big bodied on baller. That’s not the case however, with his best work done along the wings and across have forward. A high endurance midfielder, Maher functions well as a link up option with his tendency to work into space and take uncontested marks and ability to accumulate and provide an option a highlight. With ball in hand he’s a bit shaky and panics a bit under pressure. When not under pressure he’s okay but not highly damaging with the occasional habit of trying to be too creative. He’s capable of winning his own ball too. Maher reminds me a lot of Andrew Embley, with his dimensions similar coupled with a similar style and mentality on the field. An Embley kind of role would be Maher’s ceiling but Maher at the moment doesn’t possess the same hurt factor.
Pick 67 – Adelaide: Oleg Markov (SA, athletic midfielder)
187 cm, 70 kg, 8/5/96
Comparison: Dean Towers
Oleg Markov is one of the bigger risk/reward prospects in the draft. Possessing a rare speed, endurance and leap combination, Markov shapes as a player who’ll grab attention at the combine. His father is the Australian outdoor pole vault record holder – so athleticism is in the blood. Despite having a year ruined by injury, Markov still secured a national combine invite. By foot he is reliable but not incredibly damaging yet, and he’s got an ability to play forward to a reasonable level. Coupled with his athletic gifts and height he looms as an interesting prospect for clubs. The knock on him is his lack of production – even in the SANFL under 18s Markov rarely features in the bests, generally accumulating between 10 and 20 disposals. Despite his pace, he doesn’t have a natural tendency to break lines. He shares a bit in common with former draft prospect Laine Wilkins – who was overlooked. The peak for Markov is a Will Hoskin-Elliot kind of role, while I think Dean Towers is more of an apt comparison.
Pick 68 – West Coast: Callum Sinclair (rookie elevation)
Pick 69 – Richmond: Sam Bevan (WA, athletic key forward)
195 cm, 80 kg, 12/6/96
Comparison: Jesse White
Bevan’s a strange one. I think he’s probably got the most upside of the key forwards in the 3rd-rookie range but he really did not impress in the champs. I guess it’d be pretty rough on the bloke to hold him accountable as a forward given the supply from the WA midfield and just how poorly balanced the side was. Since the champs he’s gone back to the colts and kicked 12 goals in 3 games. He’s got good acceleration and creates real separation on the lead. At ground level he’s pretty clean for a big man and athletically he’s solid with pace and agility above average. He’s a good and reasonably long kick for goal. He just has very little aerial presence and doesn’t seem to always be in the right spots but with his athleticism and ground level ability there’s a base to work from.
Pick 70 – Essendon: Declan Hamilton (SA, evasive and creative utility)
183 cm, 68 kg, 18/3/96
Style: Zach Merrett
The championships really have seen Hamilton’s stocks rise. The nephew of Darren Jarman, Hamilton is able to play across the park, having made his name as a half back but excelled in the championships as a half forward with spells in the middle. A hard worker, Hamilton runs all day and while he’s not the fastest bloke around, he’s still reasonably quick and is also a great lateral mover with his evasion a particular highlight. His footskills are okay without being special but his awareness is excellent with his ability to create time and space when in possession a real plus. I don’t think he’ll become a similar player to MacRae but he shares a few things with him – both are rangy outside types who aren’t particularly electric but have excellent evasive movement. Both have great footy minds and know where to position themselves and both are reasonable by foot with their efficiency good but lack penetration. Both also have an uncanny ability to fire off impeccable handballs under pressure and hit targets they have no right to be hitting. He just seems to know where everyone both is and will be and his execution is fantastic. On the inside Hamilton seems to have a good read of the ball and despite his slender frame he’s shown some hunger for the hard ball. With Hamilton you’re getting a versatile, hard working, disciplined kid who’s able to win his own ball, run and create on the outside and hit the scoreboard. If he wants to really take the next step he’ll need to become a higher level accumulator or increase his composure and penetration by foot.
Pick 71 – Fremantle: Billy Evans (Vic Country, big bodied midfielder/forward)
189 cm, 87 kg, 19/10/96
Range: Top 60
Style: Josh P. Kennedy
Comparison: Jarrad Jansen
Evans is just a bullocking beast, really. He’s already got a really solid frame and has height and bulk few other kids his age have, especially when you consider how late a birthday he is. His best work is done at the stoppage where he’s able to bullock and power his way through traffic to win the hard ball. He’s also a real volume tackler whose tackles also stick. He’s really good at hitting the scoreboard for an inside mid, with his forward work both at ground level and on the lead quite good. I think in general he’s a slightly smaller poor man’s Jarrad Jansen. With these big bodied midfielders they can go either way and Evans certainly has the foundation to become a real force but it’s not something we’re going to see for a good few years with consistency being an issue for now.
Pick 72 – Geelong: Mark Blicavs (rookie upgrade)
Pick 73 – North Melbourne: Kayne Turner (rookie upgrade)
Pick 74 – Port Adelaide: Caleb Daniel: (SA, skilled, smart and creative midfielder)
168 cm, 66 kg, 7/7/96
Comparison: Dayne Zorko
There are virtually no weaknesses in his footballing ability. His size (and the associated things like wingspan etc.) is the only flaw. Apart from that he excels in absolutely everything. Athletically he’s elite. He runs a 16.1 beep. I’d be surprised if he hadn’t improved that by the combine – he’s a genuine record chance. He’s sub three seconds over 20 metres, at a guess I’d say he’s gone from 2.99 nearly a year ago to 2.9-2.95 now. He runs a sub 10 minute three-kilometre time trial. I’m not sure how many players around run a 15 beep, sub 10 minute three-kilometre and sub three second 20 metre. I think he’s in some pretty rare company. But athletically isn’t even where he excels – it’s the mental side of the game. His kicking technique is good. He’s a good kick – nothing more. However his vision, creativity and decision making are all absolutely elite and with those mental traits his kick, while only good technically, becomes elite. By hand he’s elite – he sees targets and distributes the ball so effectively under pressure. In general his disposal under pressure is elite. He could be surrounded by opposition players in heavy traffic and he’ll hit a target lace out. Despite being a little fella he kicks the ball a fair way too and it’s pretty penetrating. On the inside he’s excellent – he’s got a great read for the ball and dives in head first without fear and extracts and distributes so well.
I considered him a primarily inside leaning midfielder until the championships based on what he’s done at SANFL. But outside he’s just as good – he knows where the ball will be, gets in the right spots, runs all day and is quicker than nearly everyone. Despite being tiny he tackles with absolute ferocity and tackles in volume. And they stick. At SANFL level he’s a good tackler. I see no reason why he can’t be a ‘reasonable’ tackler at AFL level. He can’t be tackled. He dodges and weaves away from tacklers and if by chance they get a hand on Daniel will shrug them or dispose of it cleanly anyway. When he’s forward he’s a clinical finisher who knows where the goals are irrelevant of where he is. With his speed, endurance, work rate, agility and tackling proficiency he’s incredibly useful defensively while forward too. Caleb is the most talented player in the crop, it’s just so unfortunate that he’s so small. But someone with his talent will make it regardless of his height. He’s a gun, and everyone should be hoping their club picks him up.
Pick 75 – Sydney: Abiana Davis – Academy (NSW, intelligent key position utility)
193 cm, 90 kg, 27/1/96
Range: Sydney 2nd-4th
Comparison: Tim O’Brien
I’m struggling to find a comparison for him because I reckon we haven’t seen a player like Abe for awhile. He’s 193cm and not really gifted athletically or in packs, but he’s still a really solid player. He’s a good read of the play and flight of the ball and down back he’s able to outmark his opponent and create with his first disposal from the back fifty often releasing someone and beginning the transition. Forward he’s a hard worker who presents over and over again but also ventures up the ground and provides a hard leading link up option around high half forward. Despite having a pretty low top speed Abe also tries to provide a running and flanking option where possible, receiving a lot more handballs than players of his role traditionally do. Overhead he’s normally a one grab player who tries to take the ball around it’s highest point and one on one he’s capable of winning some battles through a good real of the flight. While he’s not quick he’s reasonably quick to get to top speed and moves well. At ground level he’s clean and his field kicking and decision making is generally good. I don’t think Abe will ever be an elite AFL player – he’s not naturally gifted enough for that, but I think he can make a pretty solid role/depth player and out of a mid 30s/40s KPP that’s really a win.
Pick 76 – Hawthorn: Teia Miles (Vic Country, courageous inside midfielder/defender)
179 cm, 68 kg, 2/11/96
Comparison: Luke Ball
Teia Miles is quite simply underrated. A tough and talented inside midfielder who can also play back, Miles has missed out on a bit of attention by virtue of his small stature. That lack of size will hinder him as an inside midfielder but with his talent it’s easily something he can work around. He’s hard as nails and loves the inside of a contest, with his courage and desperation a highlight. He very much likes to distribute instead of create his own opportunities but makes the right decisions often. In defense he’s accountable and reliable. With handy bloodlines, Miles shapes up as a reliable player for whoever selects him.
Pick 77 – St Kilda: Eli Templeton (rookie upgrade)
Pick 78 – Melbourne: Neville Jetta (rookie upgrade)
Pick 79 – GWS: PASS
Pick 80 – Brisbane: Josh Clayton – father-son (Vic Metro, tall midfielder)
190 cm, 80 kg, 17/1/96
Range: Late Brisbane selection
Josh Clayton is expected to be nominated by Brisbane as a Father/Son selection. A midfielder who’s spent time forward in a lead up/third tall role, Clayton’s future at AFL level would likely be as a tall midfielder. In the middle he’s a consistent and reliable player who performs his role. However he lacks a standout attribute, he’s not quick or damaging by foot, he’s not a powerful body or defensively elite and his marking is okay. He’s someone Brisbane likely think that they can mold into a role player, and with his height and consistency across all attributes they may be right.
Pick 81 – Western Bulldogs: Lin Jong (rookie upgrade)
Pick 82 – Carlton: Mac Bower (SA, classy utility)
190 cm, 80 kg, 27/1/96
Style: Matthew Scharenberg
Mac Bower was someone who was considered one of the better prospects in the draft earlier in the season, but an indifferent 2014 has seen him fall away. Having kicked some real bags in the SANFL reserves in 2013, he spent most of his game time in 2014 playing in defence. Capable of playing that third tall role, he’s a really smart kind of player who zones off and intercepts well while also making really smart decisions with ball in hand and setting up the play. When forward his leading patterns are very sound which allows him to pose a real threat. With Bower the issue seems to be confidence more than anything else so hopefully in the right system he can make it, as on talent alone he’s one of the better players in the crop. His smarts are just rare.
Pick 83 – Gold Coast: Francis Watson (WA – Potent defender)
186 cm, 76 kg, 29/9/95
Comparison: Sean Lemmens
Francis Watson is an entertaining indigenous back pocket from WA. An overaged player, Watson played in the championships this season and impressed with his attacking yet accountable brand of football. He’s very raw and projects as a very long term project for a small but the foundation is there. Below the knees he’s solid and he’s pacey and evasive – like many wirey indigenous smalls. Overhead he’s confident and solid too. He’s capable of playing forward too but it’s down back where he looks best. With his athletic ability and height he’s capable of manning up on a variety of smalls. He’s very raw and still has a lot to learn but as a late ND-rookie pick he could be a bargain for a club willing to invest into him.
Pick 84 – Collingwood: Jack Frost (rookie upgrade)
Pick 85 – Adelaide: Charlie Cameron (rookie upgrade)
Pick 86 – West Coast: Alec Waterman – father-son (WA, skilled inside midfielder)
183 cm, 89 kg, 19/8/96
Range: WCE 2nd/3rd
Style: Lenny Hayes/David Mundy
Waterman’s one of my favourite players in the crop. The parts haven’t come together completely yet but they’re definitely there. He’s an inside midfielder who also possesses a really handy kick and brilliant core strength. In congestion he just goes where he wants and cannot be stopped or buffeted off the ball. Over the ball and when picking up he ingrains himself to the ground and normally picks up cleanly. Despite such bulk and strength on the burst Waterman is excellent with his breakaway speed a highlight. That said he doesn’t have much top speed and is a bit of a plodder on the outside. The difference between Waterman and some of the other inside mids in the draft is that he’s able to create space on the outside. Instead of being limited to lateral and backwards options when in possession on the inside due to athletic shortcomings, Waterman is able to create space and effectively dispose of the ball forward instead of disposing with no territory gain or blindly kicking forward. That said if there’s an effective lateral disposal to be had Waterman takes it, and given his high work rate he also uses his burst to find more space to present another option for the ball carrier and as such is able to accumulate numerous disposals in the one passage of play. 1 on 1 his marking is excellent with his read of the ball and play as well as his unquestionable strength able to secure him far more wins than losses against other midfielders. As aforementioned his footskills for an inside mid are terrific.
Pick 87 – Richmond: Anthony Miles (rookie upgrade)
Pick 88 – Essendon: Patrick Ambrose (rookie upgrade)
Pick 89 – Fremantle: Ryan Lim (WA, hard running utility)
186 cm, 75 kg, 20/3/96
Style: Jasper Pittard
There’s a big divide between draft followers about Ryan Lim’s kicking. Some have labelled it ‘elite’ and others have claimed it might be the one thing holding him back from making it in the AFL. I sit in the middle. Lim is capable of playing forward, back or through the middle, with half back and on the ball his two best position. Lim is a courageous battler of a player, with his desire to dive in and win his own ball a highlight. That said, he’s not an incredible natural inside player. On the outside he’s also capable, with his ability to find the football and link up a highlight. His run and carry is a particular highlight and what I’d be looking to develop and foster further at AFL level. By foot he’s capable of executing really difficult kicks but also shanks more kicks than nearly anyone in the draft. If that inconsistency can be ironed out he shapes as a very attractive proposition.
Pick 90 – Geelong: – PASS
Pick 91 – North Melbourne: Josh McGuinness (TAS, rebounding defender)
189 cm, 70 kg, 20/9/95
Comparison: Greg Broughton
Josh McGuinness looks like being Tasmania’s first draftee this year, with the overaged prospect’s work off half back during the championships attracting some real attention. Often setting up the play and beginning the offensive movement, his numbers in the championships were nothing short of impressive. His kick is penetrating and his ability to mark the ball in the back half is excellent. He’s someone who could conceivably slot into an AFL side relatively soon and contribute. Defensively he has a bit to work on but the foundation is there – he also needs a pre season or three in the gym to bulk up.
Pick 92 – Port Adelaide: Marc Pittonet (Vic Metro, skilled tap ruckman)
201 cm, 100 kg, 6/3/96
Marc Pittonet is probably the best pure ruck prospect in the crop. He’s flown under the radar a bit and I don’t really know why. He’s a talented tap ruckman with a basketball background, who relishes the physical side of ruckwork and has that mongrel you want from a ruckman. His awareness and vision is top notch for a ruck and his cleanness at ground level is a highlight. He isn’t a huge marking threat nor does he project as an option forward however in many other regards Pittonet really does have it going for him. With a few years of development in the right system he could conceivably make it as an AFL ruckman.
Pick 93 – Sydney: Jake Lloyd (rookie upgrade)
Pick 94 – Hawthorn: PASS
Pick 95 – St. Kilda: Maverick Weller (rookie upgrade)