Matt Balmer’s 2017 AFL Draft May Power Rankings

IN an AFL Draft Central feature, AFL Draft analyst Matt Balmer will rank and update his Power Rankings on the first Monday of every month. In May 2016, Sam Petrevski-Seton sat at number one, before going on to be selected by Carlton at Pick 6.

#1 Jarrod Brander
Key Position Forward/Defender (Bendigo Pioneers/GWS Academy*)
11/02/1999 | 195cm | 90kg

Scouting notes: Key Position tall that can play at either end. Is best suited to playing up forward, where he reads the flight of the ball drop well to get into good positions. Is mobile which allows him to make multiple leads. Doesn’t look out of place in defence after playing there for the AFL Academy – as well as collecting 26 disposals in defence in the APS v AGSV school boy game last year. * – Is ineligible for GWS to select him under the Academy rules

Last month: Brander has come off a limited preseason due to cricket commitments with Geelong Grammar. Has also played for the GWS Academy in the Under 18 Academy Series, despite not being eligible for selection, taking some good marks in a disappointing day up forward. He was solid for the AFL Academy in defence, where he had seven disposals against the Northern Blues. Injured his knee against St Kevin’s College at school footy two weeks ago – but thankfully scans came back positive and he will return this weekend.

#2 Luke Davies-Uniacke
Inside Midfielder (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
08/06/1999 | 187cm | 85kg

Scouting notes: Strong bodied inside midfielder who tackles hard and wins the clearances. Has had a fair share of injuries over the last few seasons but appears to be over them. Is the player most ready to go and could walk into AFL from Day 1 with ease. Is powerful and loaths the contested situations.

Last month: Begun the TAC Cup season with a 30 disposals & nine clearances game, before an injury kept him out of the first AFL Academy game at the MCG. He starred against the Northern Blues VFL team with 22 disposals, six clearances and five marks not looking out of place in the midfield. Had 32 possessions and six goals in one of the better games of school football you’ll see, playing for Haileybury against Brighton on the weekend.

#3 Darcy Fogarty
General Forward/Inside Midfielder (Glenelg/South Australia)
05/09/1999 | 192cm | 88kg

Scouting notes: Strongly built forward that can push into the midfield. Played up forward for South Australia in last year’s Under 18 Championships booting seven goals. Played a strong game in the midfield for Glenelg in their finals last year and has been tried as a third tall defender in the SANFL Under 18 trial and the AFL Academy games. Probably more of a third tall than an inside midfielder at this stage.

Last month: Made his league debut for Glenelg on the weekend with 18 disposals (eight contested) and four tackles in a solid performance. Fought hard in the AFL Academy game against the Northern Blues despite registering eight disposals. He clunked five marks and laid five tackles, with the first game seeing him show some good signs as a third tall in defence.

#4 Jaidyn Stephenson
Medium Forward (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
15/01/1999 | 189cm | 76kg

Scouting notes: Plays as a tall forward marking target inside 50 despite being medium size. Has a big wingspan which sees him pluck the ball from above his opponents reach. He converts his set-shot chances more than not, after bursting onto the scene with a terrific finals series for Eastern Ranges as an Under 16 back in 2015. Has pushed up onto the wing at times, but plays his best up forward. Moves well and holds a great endurance base to go with a really closing speed.

Last month: Continuing to standout in the TAC Cup with nine goals in the opening four rounds. His marking continues to be very good with his game at Ikon Park against Oakleigh seeing him take three contested grabs. Had a poor game on the weekend and just couldn’t get into the game. Expect to see him up the ground a bit more in coming weeks. Kicked three goals in the AFL Academy match at the MCG and took an impressive grab in the opening quarter against the Northern Blues.

#5 Lochie O’Brien
Outside Midfielder (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)
18/09/1999 | 184cm | 75kg

Scouting notes: Classy outside midfielder who plays likened to former Roo and Saint Nick Dal Santo. Uses the ball well on his left foot and possesses elite speed which can help him burst from the stoppages at speed. Impressed last year for Vic Country as a bottom-ager playing on the wing, a position that allows for him to be a receiever on the outside where he can clear the ball via a pinpoint pass. A good decision maker and is someone you want to have the ball in their hands.

Last month: Continues to find the ball on the outside, registering 26 disposals against the GWV Rebels at 80 per cent efficiency. Was reasonable quiet against the Northern Blues with nine disposals, but had 19 disposals at the MCG showing his speed on the wing.

#6 Adam Cerra
Inside Midfielder (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
07/10/1999 | 186cm | 85kg

Scouting notes: The forgotten man of the 2017 draft pool after missing 2016 with a meniscus injury to his knee. The AFL Academy missed out on Pick 1 and Pick 2 in 2016 – And Cerra could be another to join that list of high draft picks. He wins the ball on the inside, with a clean kick on his right foot. He contested work and clearance winning are superb and he covers the ground well. Was one of the standouts in the Vic Metro trials.

Last month: Was well held in the first half in school football on Saturday for Wesley by Carey’s Tom Jepson, before fighting back into the game. His start to the season with the Ranges has seen him register 26, 26, 29 disposals, averaging half of these contested along with seven clearances per game. Also had 29 disposals at 86 per cent in the Vic Metro trial.

#7 Cameron Rayner
General Forward/Inside Midfielder (Western Jets/Vic Metro)
21/10/1999 | 187cm | 88kg

Scouting notes: Powerful and explosive midfielder who makes you excited when you watch him. A similar mould to Robbie Gray when up forward, his contested marking overhead is another one of his strengths. For the moment he is a forward first, midfielder second with his endurance being a work in progress – running an 11.10 beep test at TAC Cup testing and it will be an area that needs to be addressed for him to move into the midfield long term.

Last month: Announced himself with a 23 disposal, three goal performance in the AFL Academy match at the MCG. Did some really nice things against the VFL opposition, including a contested mark in defence and a goal off two steps from outside 50m. Was quiet for PEGS in school football on Friday, waiting to receive the ball rather than going and winning it himself.

#8 Connor Ballenden
Key Position Forward (Uni of QLD/Brisbane Lions Academy)
29/03/1999 | 199cm | 96kg

Scouting notes: Strong contested marking forward who will fit well into the Lions forward structure. Has played through the ruck and as a key position defender to start 2017 – but his best position is coming out of the goalsquare. Very good set shot routine, kicking more goals than he misses.

Last month: A disappointing start to the season with the Brisbane Lions Academy prior to this weekend’s breakout game. Ballenden spent most of the game in the ruck, with 24 hit-outs and won 17 disposals. Played in defence at times for the AFL Academy, looking a bit slow and out of place. Is a natural forward and despite the slow start it’d be hard to see him not collecting a bid in the top ten at this stage.

#9 Sam Hayes
Key Position Forward/Ruckman (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
09/06/1999 | 203cm | 93kg

Scouting notes: Showed his forward craft in the Under 18 Championships last year for Vic Metro uses his height to mark the ball. He is a adequate kick for goal and rucks well around the ground and at the centre bounces. Leading patterns could improve – but he is still learning his game as a tall. At this stage is a forward first, ruck second prospect.

Last month: Injured his finger for the Ranges against Geelong and missed the clash on the weekend. The injury before half time, didn’t stop him collecting 21 hit-outs, 17 disposals and six clearances in an outstanding performance for a half of football. Isn’t expected to miss too many games. Unlikely to be knocked off the perch at the number one ruckman in this draft pool.

#10 Joel Garner
Balanced Midfielder (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
21/05/1999 | 183cm | 81kg

Scouting notes: Speedy midfielder who plays well on both the outside and inside. He uses the ball well off his left foot, hitting targets on the run or standing still. His handballing in close is another strength and he is able to clear the ball from a stoppage with ease. Screams X-Factor. Does need to improve a bit on getting to the right positions to win the football.

Last month: Garner has had two solid games to start the season for the Ranges, averaging 21 disposals, six marks and six tackles. Was quiet in both the AFL Academy games, but expect the strong leader to continue to find the football at school level for the next month.

#11 Charlie Spargo
Inside Midfielder/Small Forward (Murray Bushrangers/GWS Academy*)
25/11/1999 | 175cm | 73kg

Scouting notes: Small bite-sized midfielder who cracks in hard. Despite his size he wins the ball in the contest and tackles hard. Is one of the few midfielders who has a good goal sense and is a hard match-up when deep inside 50. * – Is ineligible for GWS to select him under the Academy rules

Last month: According to those who saw his game for Melbourne Grammar on the weekend – it was one of the best individual games they’d seen. With Spargo kicking three goals and collecting a large number of disposals. Has also played for the GWS Academy in the Under 18 Academy Series, despite not being eligible for selection. Had nine disposals and kicked a goal against the Northern Blues VFL.

#12 Noah Balta
Tall Utility (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
23/10/1999 | 194cm | 92kg

Scouting notes: Athletic tall who has one of the biggest upsides of the draft pool. Has played predominately as a ruckman or a key forward for the Calder Cannons – but seems likely to play at centre half back at some point this season. Is a good mark, but his running patterns up forward do need some work. He possesses a rare combo of elite speed and agility for a tall player.

Last month: An average start to the season in a poor Calder Cannons line up was made better by his 17 disposals, 12 hit-outs and seven (five contested) marks for the Cannons in Round Four. Was tried in defence for the AFL Academy at stages and I’m hoping we might see him there again throughout the season. Missed Sunday’s game against Dandenong with a right quad issue.

#13 Lachlan Fogarty
Balanced Midfielder (Western Jets/Vic Metro)
01/04/1999 | 179cm | 75kg

Scouting notes: Clean and polished midfielder who wins the ball in both contested and uncontested situations. A good decision maker by hand or foot, who tackles hard to win the ball back. Flys under the radar – but continues to get the job done at all levels.

Last month: Was one of the best players on the ground for the Jets in their win over the Calder Cannons where he recorded 30 disposals, nine inside 50s and seven tackles. Used the ball well in the AFL Academy games – including kicking at 100 per cent against the Northern Blues.

#14 Nathan Kreuger
Tall Utility (South Adelaide/South Australia)
25/06/1999 | 194cm | 83kg

Scouting notes: A raw talent who has had some incredible moments over the last 12 months. His work in the South Australian trials were good and expect him to play in defence in the Under 18 Championships. Can play as a tall, but most excitingly moves well athletically enough to play as a flanker. Uses the ball well off his left foot and there are some moments that get you really excited about this kid.

Last month: Was thrown into the midfield at times for South Adelaide on the weekend, with four centre clearances to go with his 13 disposals. Had 15 disposals in Round two of the SANFL Under 18s with his contested possession numbers continuing to be solid.

#15 Jack Powell
Balanced Midfielder (Ainslie/GWS Academy)
15/07/1999 | 181cm | 81kg

Scouting notes: Works hard both ways as a good runner. Kicks it well off his right foot and just does all the right things. His clearance work is good and he is willing to lay tackles to win the ball back. Spreads well from a contest.

Last month: One player who really stood out for me in the AFL Academy game at the MCG. Found the footy at both ends and was willing to run hard. Has been one of the best players for the GWS Academy in the Under 18 Academy Series and I’m looking forward to seeing him for the Allies. Had 24 disposals, eight clearances, seven marks and seven tackles for GWS on Saturday.

#16 Oscar Clavarino
Key Position Defender (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
22/05/1999 | 190cm | 83kg

Scouting notes: The best key position defender in the draft pool. Reads the play exceptionally well in defence and held down the key post for Vic Country in the Under 18 Championships last year as a bottom ager. Very good one-on-one, but was out of his depth and out muscled by the Northern Blues VFL team. Takes good intercept marks – but his kicking can be shaky under pressure resulting in turnovers in the defensive half of the ground.

Last month: Has started the season as one of Haileybury’s best in their school football team playing in defence, intercepting kicks with ease. Was out muscled in the AFL Academy game against the bigger VFL opponents. His kicking out of defence was shaky at times across the last month, including one bad clanger at the MCG.

#17 James Worpel
Inside Midfielder (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
24/01/1999 | 185cm | 84kg

Scouting notes: Cracks in hard winning the ball in the contest and is one of the best clearance players in the 2017 draft pool. His question marks continue to be on his kicking, where at times he will just bomb it out of the packs. Tackles well but has areas to address to be a first round selection.

Last month: Had one of his quietest games for the season with just 17 disposals for the Falcons on Saturday. His tackle numbers in the last two weeks have been outstanding with 10 and 13 respectively. His contested and clearance numbers are high – but is kicking below 50 per cent in the TAC Cup.

#18 Hunter Clark
Outside Midfielder (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
26/03/1999 | 186cm | 79kg

Scouting notes: Rebounding defender who played across half back for Vic Country in the Under 18 Championships last year. Decision making and kicking needs work coming out of defence. If he can clean up his kick it will help his draft stocks, but he isn’t a big ball winner.

Last month: Was dragged deep in defence for the Stingrays against Calder Cannons on Saturday and didn’t see much action in the first half. Was moved up onto the ball after that and at times just hacked it away from the stoppages when he was attempting to clear the ball. Played a really impressive game with 15 disposals and three rebounds against the Northern Blues VFL team across half back.

#19 Jack Higgins
Inside Midfielder/Small Forward
19/03/1999 | 178cm | 76kg

Scouting notes: Small midfielder who will continuely be scrutinised for his defensive efforts. It was good to see him lay 15 tackles a fortnight ago for the Chargers and needs to keep this up. Is a big ball winner, but isn’t damaging with his disposals with a lot of chip kicks sideways not hurting opposition teams (think Lewis Taylor). Will spent the full year at the Chargers and the midfielder has the ability to find the goals, but does lack some speed. Clearance work is good, but is he willing to run hard enough defensively?

Last month: Continues to find the football with over 25 disposals in all TAC Cup games this season. The most impressive has been his tackle numbers with 23 tackles in the last two weeks. Showed his forward craft in the AFL Academy games, including a 20-disposal game against the Northern Blues.

#20 Charlie Constable
Inside Midfielder (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
18/05/1999 | 190cm | 83kg

Scouting notes: Tall midfielder who can play on the inside and across half back. He begun the year for the Dragons in the midfield, but moved to half back with the return of Hamish Brayshaw. Missed a large chunk of 2016 with a shoulder injury, but is over those concerns. A good team player who gets to the right positions around the ground.

Last month: Was shoved off to half back for the Dragons, collecting 31 disposals and 10 marks against the Northern Knights in a superb performance. Injured his knee in the first half in their victory against Western, while he has played two good games for Haileybury mixing between the inside midfield and half back position.

#21 Jack Petruccelle
Outside Midfielder (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
12/04/1999 | 184cm | 73kg

Scouting notes: The fastest player in the TAC Cup with a 20m sprint time of 2.82s. Is willing to take oppoisition players on and burn them off along the wing. Also possesses a very good leap. His kicking on the run is a work-in-progress but his eye catching displays are continuing to get better and more consistent. Comes from an elite basketball background.

Last month: Took a screamer at RAMS Arena against Murray Bushrangers in the opening quarter. The same day saw him have two dashes on the wing, burning past opponents with his elite speed. Continuing to get better as the season progresses and has a huge potential for the remainder of the season.

#22 Andrew McPherson
Medium Defender (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)
20/06/1999 | 186cm | 75kg

Scouting notes: A good ball user across half back with McPherson just getting the job done. Showed promise in the Under 18 Championships last year. Rebounds it well and can play across the wing. Reads the play well and has a good mix of attack & defence.

Last month: Returned back to SANFL Reserves after the AFL Academy games with a fantastic game across half back. McPherson had 27 disposals and six rebound 50s using the ball well. Was willing to run hard for his team against the Northern Blues for the AFL Academy, finishing with 13 disposals and four tackles for the game.

#23 Toby Wooller
General Forward/Inside Midfielder (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
16/03/1999 | 193cm | 90kg

Scouting notes: Strong forward who can play as a key position target, but seems destined as a third tall at the next level. Marks the ball well and is a solid set shot on his right foot. Has pushed up into the midfield and won a few clearances for the Chargers as of late. A player who has the ability to kick multiple goals in a short burst in a game.

Last month: Had kicked 12 goals in the TAC Cup this season, including giving Harrison Nolan a bath in the opening half against the Eastern Ranges. What has been impressive is his move through the midfield, registering a few clearances and attending a few centre bounces. Is a good mark on the lead and tackling numbers are good. Hopefully more midfield minutes in the lead up to the Under 18 Championships.

#24 Andrew Brayshaw
Inside Midfielder (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
08/11/1999 | 183cm | 80kg

Scouting notes: The brother of Melbourne’s Angus has started the year on fire for the Sandringham Dragons. Finds the football with a good contested possession percentage. Is more of a handball first, kick second player in the contest but just gets the job done without standing out. Makes his disposals count and is effective.

Last month: Averaging 26 disposals (11 contested) at 82 per cent efficiency in the TAC Cup this season. His tackling has also been very good, averaging eight tackles per game along with five clearances on the inside. Makes his disposals count and is willing to run hard back to help rebound the ball and take it forward inside 50. Was the leading ball winner in the Vic Metro trial with 30 disposals and six tackles

PLAYER FOCUS: ANDREW BRAYSHAW

#25 Ryley Stoddart
Medium Defender (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
15/10/1999 | 183cm | 73kg

Scouting notes: Rebounding defender who is what you want in a half back flank. Kicks it well on his left foot, makes very good decisions and will get to the right positions. He defending one-on-one is ok, but is a player who will make his 15-20 disposals hurt the opposition.

Last month: One player who is just going about his work and not getting a lot of recognition. Not a big ball winner, but is kicking at 77 per cent this season. Had 16 disposals in the Vic Metro trial – but is someone I hope who gets more recognition as the season progresses as he is a smart user on the outside. Will play school football for the rest of the month.

FIVE other names to watch over May:

Callum Coleman-Jones (Ruckman/Key Position Forward): It’s interesting to note that some rate him as a high selection. For me Coleman-Jones has work to do on his kicking and something that I hope he can improve at SANFL level in the lead up to the U18 Championships.

Quintin Montanaro (Outside Midfielder): Has been one of the Sandringham Dragons’ best players to start 2017. Uses the ball well off either foot and makes good decisions on the wing. Gets a lot of his possessions uncontested – but he is a neat player on the outside.

Kane Farrell (Outside Midfielder): One of the better rebounders from Vic Country. Uses it very well on his left foot and is another who makes good decisions. Didn’t look out of place coming off half back for the AFL Academy against the Northern Blues VFL team.

Cassidy Parish (Inside Midfielder): The brother of Essendon’s Darcy is going to be continually criticised until he can clean up his kicking. It’s his dinky 10-20 metre passes which don’t hit the target when he tries to be too cute. Finds the football – but his ball use is what keeps him outside my top 25.

Patrick Naish (Outside Midfielder): The son of former Richmond player Chris will spend most of the next few weeks at Ivanhoe Grammar in the AGSV school football competition. Some of his games there last year were excellent, showing his smarts around goal and pushing into the midfield.

GOT a question for Matt? Or want to know more? Send him a Tweet @MattBalmer7 or leave a comment on our Facebook page.

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