Tag: phantom draft

Matt Balmer’s 2017 Phantom Draft

Well it’s been a strange season. As they say – you’re only as good as your last Phantom Draft. With one of the more even top 10s in recent years, clubs have varying draft boards and it makes for another unpredictable draft night. The depth of the 2017 draft isn’t as strong as last year – but the good recruiters show that they can unearth late gems.

Tune in to SEN 1116 from 6.45pm tomorrow night, where I’ll have all the analysis alongside Brett Anderson, Matt Granland and Brett Thomas. Our individual AFL Draft Central player profiles is the go to place to find out all about your clubs draftees, so make sure you keep clicking back throughout the night.

MATT BALMER’S 2017 AFL DRAFT RANKINGS 50-26

MATT BALMER’S 2017 AFL DRAFT RANKINGS 25-1

Follow the draft along live via Twitter on Friday @AFLDraftCentral , we will be live at the Sydney Showgrounds to take you through what should be a cracking night.

Thanks for following right throughout the year!

Just like on draft night – All passes have been removed from my Phantom Draft.

If you have any questions in the lead up to the draft, you can send me a tweet @MattBalmer7


Pick 1: Brisbane Lions – Cameron RAYNER

General Forward/Inside Midfielder (Western Jets/Vic Metro)
21/10/1999 | 186.5cm | 87.2kg

Scouting notes: Powerful and explosive midfielder who makes you excited when you watch him. A similar mould to Robbie Gray combined with Christian Petracca and when up forward his contested marking overhead is 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 preseason testing. Not afraid to throw out a ‘don’t argue’ to his opponents. Can do things that others in the 2017 draft pool cannot. Battled a knee injury in the second half of the season.

In the mix: The Lions were down to their final two names – with Andrew Brayshaw being in the mix alongside Cameron Rayner. All the belief from here is that Rayner will get the nod.

Pick 2: Fremantle – Luke DAVIES-UNIACKE

Inside Midfielder (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
08/06/1999 | 187.2cm | 85.2kg

Scouting notes: A 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 one of the players most ready to go and could walk into AFL from day one with ease. Is powerful in the contested situations and is able to stand up when getting tackled, using his strength to dispose of the ball. Has shown at school football that he can beat the tag. Had a bit of a lull in the second half of the year, but pulled out his best form when it mattered in September’s TAC Cup Finals.

In the mix: There were whispers floating around yesterday that Adam Cerra was a chance to be selected by Fremantle, but if they were to throw a curveball it likely would be Andrew Brayshaw or Paddy Dow selected.

Pick 3: Carlton – Paddy DOW

Inside Midfielder (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)
16/10/1999 | 185.4cm | 78.2kg

Scouting notes: Speedy inside midfielder who can push forward and hit the scoreboard. Right footed midfielder who was superb for the AFL Academy in their game against the Northern Blues – not looking out of place at the centre bounces early in the year. Runs a sub three second 20m sprint and has very good agility. Not afraid to take on opposition midfielders in the contest, attempting to speed out of the stoppages. Missed the latter parts of the season due to a shoulder injury.

In the mix: Dow has been the named linked for a long time, while the Blues are fans of Adam Cerra. If Brayshaw went Pick 2, it would be interesting to see where the Blues ranked LDU.

Pick 4: North Melbourne – Andrew BRAYSHAW

Inside Midfielder (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
08/11/1999 | 183.9cm | 81.7kg

Scouting notes: The brother of Melbourne’s Angus started the year on fire for the Sandringham Dragons. He finds the football with a good contested possession percentage. Brayshaw is more of a handball first, kick second player in the contest but just gets the job done without standing out and flies under the radar. He makes his disposals count and is effective, with good defensive efforts. Always one of the top ranked players on the stats sheets.

In the mix: One of the harder picks which will shape how Pick 5 & 6 go. Is Darcy Fogarty the likely contender here or could it be Eastern Ranges midfielder Adam Cerra.

Pick 5: Fremantle – Darcy FOGARTY

General Forward (Glenelg/South Australia)
05/09/1999 | 191.9cm | 94.5kg

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. Fogarty played a strong game in the midfield for Glenelg in their finals last year and has been tried as a third tall defender at stages throughout 2017. Has the ability to kick off either foot and can lay bone-crunching tackles. He is more of a third tall than an inside midfielder at this stage. Was ruled out for the season with a meniscus tear in his knee.

In the mix: Few whispers suggesting that Cerra won’t be a Fremantle player which leaves the decision down to probably Fogarty or Naughton.

Pick 6: Collingwood – Adam CERRA

Balanced Midfielder (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
07/10/1999 | 186.3cm | 80.3kg

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 one and pick two in 2016 – and Cerra could be another to join that list of high draft picks. He wins the ball on the inside and possesses 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 in April and continued his form in the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships. Missed the second half of the year with a shoulder injury.

In the mix: Collingwood will be very pleased if the ‘sliding midfielder’ in Brayshaw or Cerra get to Pick 6. While Darcy Fogarty seems to be in the consideration should he get there. Some suggest Jaidyn Stephenson hasn’t be ruled out – but I don’t think the Pies select him. Ed Richards & Nathan Murphy are two others who can’t 100 per cent be ruled out.

Pick 7: St Kilda – Nick COFFIELD

General Defender/Inside Midfielder (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
23/10/1999 | 190.8cm | 82.5kg

Scouting notes: Composed midfielder who is very good under pressure. Reminds me of Hugh McCluggage where he has plenty of time with ball in hand in the contest. Clean user on his right foot and his defensive efforts are strong where he floats around and wins the ball at ease. Has a burst of speed which he often will utilise in defensive 50 when playing the role of a general defender. Some think he will end up as an inside midfielder at the next level.

In the mix: St Kilda have two picks in a row, with multiple names linked. If things go a bit funky in the top 6, Cerra could fall here – but it’s very very unlikely. Aiden Bonar, Jaidyn Stephenson, Aaron Naughton and Nathan Murphy are other names that were touted at times – but seem unlikely.

Pick 8: St Kilda – Hunter CLARK

Inside Midfielder/Medium Defender (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
26/03/1999 | 186.1cm | 79.9kg

Scouting notes: Has transitioned from a rebounding outside defender to a contested ball winning midfielder over the last 12 months. Coming out of defence his decision making and kicking could be better – and if he cleans this up it will help his draft stocks. Ball winning capabilities are improving on the inside and he is able to pump the ball inside 50 to a teammate. Possesses quick hands – a trait that can separate him from others in this draft pool.

In the mix: See above.

Pick 9: Western Bulldogs – Aaron NAUGHTON

Key Position Defender (Peel/Western Australia)
30/11/19999 | 194.0cm | 85.0kg

Scouting notes: Played as a bottom-ager in two of Western Australia’s NAB AFL Under 18 Championship games in 2016, and was named as a co-captain for the 2017 carnival where he impressed in defence. He marks well overhead and is a good reader of the play. Has an awkward ball drop which can affect his left foot kicking efficiency at times, but mostly it gets where it needs to go. Made his League debut in the WAFL and didn’t looked out of place.

In the mix: The Dogs have long been linked with the best key position player in the 2017 draft pool. It would be hard to pass Western Bulldogs supporter Nick Coffield here, while speedy half back flank Ed Richards will certainly come into consideration. Both Nathan Murphy and Jack Higgins are two others that could warrant selection by the Dogs – but they’re both likely to be there at Pick 16.

Pick 10: Carlton – Lochie O’BRIEN

Outside Midfielder (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)
18/09/1999 | 184.0cm | 77.4kg

Scouting notes: Classy outside midfielder who is 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 away on the outside 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. If he can win a bit more contested ball he should be able to mould into a damaging wingman/half back.

In the mix: The Blues have been linked with Richards lately, after there was plenty of word about them being keen on fellow left footer Lochie O’Brien – who did his AFL Academy placement at Ikon Park. Aiden Bonar could be a name plucked out by Carlton at Pick 10.

Pick 11: GWS – Aiden BONAR

Inside Midfielder/General Forward (Haileybury College/Dandenong Stingrays)
08/03/1999 | 188.6cm | 86.5kg

Scouting notes: Build like a brick sh!thouse. After recovering from two knee surgeries after his first ACL graft didn’t take, Bonar has presence about him around the ground, mostly playing up forward as a third tall – but has pushed into the midfield for longer periods with each game he plays. His pressure is very good and he can lay bone crunching tackles. Has a good burst of speed and is strong overhead. Suggestion is he’ll end up a full time midfielder. Possesses a big upside.

In the mix: GWS National Recruiting Manager Adrian Caruso use to work at Champion Data and will crunch the numbers heavily – with Champion Data’s No.1 ranked player Jack Higgins a likely target for the Giants. Ed Richards might appeal across half back, while Nathan Murphy is another name who could be considered. Was word early in the week that Lachlan Fogarty was their man – but is that entirely on the money? Time will tell. Don’t 100 per cent rule out Jaidyn Stephenson either.

Pick 12: Adelaide – Oscar ALLEN

Key Position Forward (West Perth/Western Australia)
19/03/1999 | 191.1cm | 82.4kg

Scouting notes: Tall Utility who can play at either end but mostly looks likely to settle forward. Marks well overhead and moves well for a player over 190cm. Good decision maker and impressed inside 50 in the WA trials. Named co-captain for Western Australia in the National Under 18 Championships and was the Larke Medalist judged the best player in the carnival. Looms as one of the first WA players selected. Has a good endurance base.

In the mix: The Crows would love Hunter Clark or Darcy Fogarty to get through – but it seems more unlikely than likely that will happen. Could they consider Jack Higgins here? Nick Coffield’s name also has been raised, but it’s most likely he’s off the board. Whispers in Sydney today suggested Zac Bailey might be taken by the Crows at Pick 12.

Pick 13: West Coast – Jack HIGGINS

Small Forward/Inside Midfielder (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
19/03/1999 | 177.8cm | 76.9kg

Scouting notes: Small midfielder who wins a lot of the ball and has now moved into a small forward role post the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships. His defensive efforts are getting better and the midfielder has the ability to push forward and hit the scoreboard. His clearance work is great and he has goal smarts as a small forward, but he does lack a touch of speed compared to other small forwards. Very good contested mark for a player sub 180cm. Should be ready to go in 2018, but his full on focus on AFL in 2017, might mean he has a limited upside compared with other first rounders.

In the mix: West Coast have long been linked with Western Australia co-captain Oscar Allen, but has shown interest in Jack Higgins & Noah Balta – Balta looming as a later selection. Liam Ryan & Tim Kelly are two mature agers that could end up at the Eagles, but surely Pick 13 is too early for one of them?

Pick 14: Sydney – Ed RICHARDS

Medium Defender/
Inside Midfielder (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
03/07/1999 | 184.7cm | 78.1kg

Scouting notes: Speedy running defender who dominated in the APS school football competition for Carey. Is trusted with taking the kick outs and is a clean and effective kick on his left foot. Can play as an inside midfielder, where he uses his quick and clean hands to effectiveness.

In the mix: Looks likely that Sydney will opt for a smaller type, after long being linked with dual-athlete Nathan Murphy. Jack Higgins & Lachlan Fogarty were both visited by Jon Longmire earlier in the week, but Ed Richards or Lochie O’Brien could be too hard to pass on as pure outside midfielders.

Pick 15: Brisbane – Lachlan FOGARTY

Balanced Midfielder (Western Jets/Vic Metro)
01/04/1999 | 179.0cm | 75.0kg

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. Has smarts and knows where the goals are. Unfairly flies under the radar and is right in the mix as a late first round pick.

In the mix: This seems like the most obvious selection, with the Lions hoping to grab best mates Rayner & Fogarty. If L.Fogarty has been taken, Zac Bailey may be selected here.

Pick 16: Western Bulldogs – Nathan MURPHY

Medium Utility (Brighton Grammar/Sandringham Dragons)
15/12/1999 | 188.3cm | 79.9kg

Scouting notes: The Victorian Under 19 cricketer has been one of the better forwards in the APS Victorian school football season. Murphy kicked over 20 goals after moving forward post a concussion suffered against Haileybury College in Round 2. Was a late addition to the Sandringham Dragons program for 2017 and was strong as a third tall in defence on debut. The tall utility can play at either end and has a big booming right foot kick. Goalkicking accuracy is one area which can be cleaned up but Murphy’s focus has largely been cricket over the last few years. Often has a tendency to mark the ball behind his head and Murphy has a very large wingspan. Lots for upside and could well wind up as a midfielder in years to come.

In the mix: Murphy seems like a Western Bulldogs pick, having been invited to the draft. Small forwards Jack Higgins and Lachie Fogarty are two other players who will come into the Dogs’ thoughts.

Pick 17: Richmond – Jaidyn STEPHENSON

Outside Midfielder (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
15/01/1999 | 188.5cm | 75.4kg

Scouting notes: Started the season as a medium tall marking target inside 50 but has improved his running capacity and turned himself into an outside midfield in the final few months of 2017.  Up forward, he 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. Stephenson has pushed up onto the wing at times, where he moved well – holding a great endurance base to go with a really good burst of speed. One area that could be cleaned up is his field kicking around the ground. A potential heart issue was picked up at the Combine and it remains to be seen how the club medical staff will judge the top 10 prospect.

In the mix: If Collingwood don’t select Stephenson at Pick 6 – the next most obvious selection will be Richmond at Pick 17. The premiers seem willing to take the “risk’ with Stephenson, but if not he could get through to Geelong. Richmond will likely take Jarrod Brander at Pick 20, knowing that he can get past Brisbane and Gold Coast.

 

END OF FIRST ROUND

Pick 18: Brisbane – Zac BAILEY

Inside Midfielder (Southern Districts/Allies)
23/09/1999 | 181.0cm | 81.1kg

Scouting notes: Has a great burst of speed and he isn’t afraid to collect the ball and burst out of a stoppage getting distance on himself from his opponents. The right footer is usually a clean kick but can have the odd poor game by foot. Bailey wins the contested ball and tackles well.

In the mix: Some of the Lions recruiting team are fans of Charlie Constable, who will be a steal for any club outside the first round. Do the Lions need two smaller selections in Fogarty & Bailey?

Pick 19: Gold Coast – Charlie BALLARD

Tall Utility/Outside Midfielder (Sturt/South Australia)
23/07/1999 | 195.5cm | 82.3kg

Scouting notes: Tall utility who has been utilised at either end for both school and at SANFL level. Ballard has also shown his ability to run well on the wing and is an effective kick on his right foot. Has plenty of scope for development and might fill out as a hybrid midfielder.

In the mix: Numerous phone calls throughout the last 48 hours have all been strong on the link of Ballard to the Suns. Ballard seems a typical ‘Scott Clayton’ selection, but could they pull a surprise and grab Liam Ryan before Geelong & West Coast?

ROUND TWO

Pick 20: Richmond – Jarrod BRANDER

Key Position Forward/Defender (Bendigo Pioneers/Allies)
11/02/1999 | 194.6cm | 92.3kg

Scouting notes: Key Position tall that can play at either end where he reads the flight of the ball well. Is mobile up forward which allows him to make multiple leads. Missed most of 2016 through knee injury, but jumped on the scene booting over 20 goals for Geelong Grammar in the 1st XVIII competition as a Year 10 in 2015. 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. Was originally zoned to GWS but it is now ineligible for GWS to select him under changes to their Academy zone. Best swingman in the draft – with healthy debate which end he best plays his football.

In the mix: Richmond should have no issues collecting Brander at Pick 20 – with the tall coming into the year as a possible No.1 selection.

Pick 21: West Coast – Tim KELLY

Inside Midfielder (South Fremantle/WAFL)
26/07/1994 | 182.1cm | 81.2kg

Scouting notes: Strong inside midfielder who can push forward at hit the scoreboard. Wins the contested ball and does have a burst in his first few steps going forward. His kicking is still a work in progress, but he can run hard all day – and looms as the first mature-ager selected.

In the mix: A lot of people have expected Tim Kelly & Liam Ryan to end up at West Coast, but with plenty of interest in Ryan lately – it will mean that they probably can only afford to get one. If Higgins gets this far they will snap him up, while they are big fans of Jarrad Brander and could take him should the Tigers let him get past Pick 17 & 20.

Pick 22: Geelong – Liam RYAN

Small Forward (Subiaco/WAFL)
02/10/1996 | 179.1cm | 70.5kg

Scouting notes: Exciting small forward who booted 73 goals in the WAFL this season. Has a spectacular highlight reel and will be a candidate for Mark of the Year in the AFL where he uses his elite leap. He possesses elite speed and his X-Factor is through the roof. Endurance is still improving and no doubt will when he reaches a professional environment.

In the mix: Some clubs have Liam Ryan closer to 10 than 20 on their draft boards. Geelong are said to like Tom McCartin and Charlie Constable. The Cats also spoke with Ryley Stoddart earlier this week.

Pick 23: North Melbourne – Sam TAYLOR

Key Position Defender (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
05/05/1999 | 196.1cm | 87.3kg

Scouting notes: A Key Position Defender who has flown a bit under the radar. Taylor was prominent in the AFL Academy game against Northern Blues at the start of the year, and is a good one-on-one defender. Taylor rebounds the ball ok by foot and is willing to take intercept marks.

In the mix: Tim Kelly and Tom McCartin are right in the Roos’ eye-line and they will likely jump should Taylor be off the board.

Pick 24: Geelong – Charlie CONSTABLE

Inside Midfielder/General Defender (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
18/05/1999 | 191.0cm | 86.1kg

Scouting notes: Tall midfielder who can play on the inside and across either arches. 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 an injury, but is over those concerns. A good team player who gets to the right positions around the ground. Not super quick, but has a ‘footy brain’ and makes good decisions by foot rebounding out of defence. Likely to end up as a Patrick Cripps type of midfielder.

In the mix: Geelong like Tom McCartin – but is he likely to get to their next selection?

Pick 25: Richmond – Callum COLEMAN-JONES

Ruckman (Sturt/South Australia)
13/06/1999 | 200.9cm | 98.9kg

Scouting notes: Ruckman/Key Forward who missed the second half of the year due to requiring knee surgery. Coleman-Jones’ agility could be improved, but he has safe hands overhead and can win the ball around the ground. Kicking technique does need some work.

In the mix: Richmond have been linked to Coleman-Jones for a few weeks, and if the Patrick Naish bid hasn’t come – they probably pick between Hayes and ‘CCJ’. Pick 25 might be a touch early for Noah Balta.

Pick 26: West Coast – Ryley STODDART

Medium Defender/Outside Midfielder (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
15/10/1999 | 184.6cm | 73.7kg

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. His defending one-on-one is okay and is not a big disposal winner, but is a player who will make his 15-20 touches hurt the opposition when he drops off. Dubbed as a Kade Simpson clone by SEN 1116 Draft Analyst Brett Anderson. Finished the year with some impressive performances and showed he can push further up the ground and hit the scoreboard.

Pick 27: Richmond – Patrick NAISH (Father/Son Bid matched)

Outside Midfielder (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
15/01/1999 | 180.6cm | 68.9kg

Scouting notes: Smart and lively inside 50. Working on his contested ball winning ability, but looks suited to start as a forward at AFL level. Can play across half back, ball usage is reasonable by foot but can often go for the miracle kick rather than a simpler options. Has a good spring that allows his to leap over some of his smaller opponents. Covers the ground well. Father-son eligible for Richmond and possibly may get bid on after the Tigers’ third selection (Pick 25) on draft night.

Pick 28: GWS – Matthew LING

Outside Midfielder (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
21/04/1999 | 183.1cm | 75.1kg

Scouting notes: Left footer who is a good ball user on the outside. Has flown under the radar and likely will end up as the first Geelong Falcon drafted. Is a smart footballer and makes good decisions. Not a big ball winner, but has elite agility that allows him to step opponents around the ground.

Pick 29: GWS – Brent DANIELS

Small Forward/Inside Midfielder (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)
09/03/1999 | 170.5cm | 70.4kg

Scouting notes: The inside midfielder was superb in the Vic Country Under 18 trial match in 2016, but showed his skills across half forward for Vic Country in the National Under 18 Championships in 2017. Daniels possesses elite speed and can play as an inside midfielder, but possesses a good goal sense and can pressure opposition defenders up forward.

Pick 30: Collingwood – Tyler BROWN (Father/Son Bid matched)

Outside Midfielder (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
09/12/1999 | 186.6cm | 71.5kg

Scouting notes: Tyler Brown has smarts inside 50 and around the stoppages, improving right throughout the season showing glimpses for Marcellin College and Eastern Ranges. He is very agility and uses the ball well on his right foot. Contested ball work is good.

Pick 31: Melbourne – Oskar BAKER

Outside Midfielder (Aspley/NEAFL)
25/05/1998 | 181.9cm | 75.6kg

Scouting notes: Outside midfielder who had some eye catching performances for Aspley in the NEAFL this season. Baker possesses elite speed and agility, kicking the ball well around the ground. He was originally cut from the Lions Academy at the start of the year and put his hand up as one of the best mature-age options in this draft pool. Is willing to take opponents on around the ground.

Pick 32: Carlton – Joel GARNER
Balanced Midfielder/General Defender (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
21/05/1999 | 184.2cm | 82.6kg

Scouting notes: Balanced Midfielder who has struggled to find his feet at times thrown around in multiple positions around the ground at school, TAC Cup and Vic Metro level. 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 at times and may have found his best position across half back. Is an outstanding leader.

Pick 33: Brisbane – Connor BALLENDEN (Academy selection Bid matched)
Tall Utility (Uni of QLD/Brisbane Lions Academy)
29/03/1999 | 198.2cm | 95.6kg

Scouting notes: Strong contested marking forward who is linked to the Brisbane Lions academy. Has played through the ruck and as a key position defender to start 2017 – but his best position is coming out of the goal square. Possesses a very good set shot routine, kicking more goals than he misses. Has a long kick and reads the play well. Likely to receive a bid 25 plus on draft night.

Pick 34: Melbourne – Sam HAYES
Ruckman/Key Position Forward (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
09/06/1999 | 202.7cm | 92.6kg

Scouting notes: Showed his forward craft in the Under 18 Championships last year for Vic Metro using 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. The ruck/forward needs to improve his running and it will likely see him fall outside the first round.

Pick 35: West Coast – James WORPEL
Inside Midfielder (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
24/01/1999 | 185.1cm | 85.5kg

Scouting notes: Cracks in hard winning the ball in the contest and is one of the best clearance players in the 2017 draft pool. Question marks are on his kicking, where at times he will just bomb it out of the packs but he did show in the National Under 18 Championships that he was able to stop and find a target without rushing. Tackles well but has areas to address to be a top 30 selection.

Pick 36: Sydney – Jordan HOULAHAN
Medium Forward (Sturt/South Australia)
19/02/1999 | 185.7cm | 75.9kg

Scouting notes: Medium forward who possess a very good leap and is a straight kick in front of goal. The AFL Academy member will likely adjust to AFL life in a similar role to Sydney Swans 2016 draftee Will Hayward. Has come back from a shoulder reconstruction and was a solid performance up forward in the National Under 18 Championships. Also played a few games as a midfielder at SANFL level. Was a dual premiership player for the Double Blues in the SANFL Under 18s and SANFL Reserves.

Pick 37: St Kilda – Harrison PETTY
Key Position Defender (Norwood/South Australia)
12/11/1999 | 195.3cm | 81.9kg

Scouting notes: Key positioned player who reads the play well and positions himself well behind the ball. Is composed with ball in hand and is usually clean to dispose of the ball off his right foot. Petty is also confident with when to intercept the ball overhead. Won South Australia’s MVP after a superb National AFL Under 18 Championships.

Pick 38: Geelong – Tom McCARTIN
Key Position Forward (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
30/12/1999 | 192.6cm | 84.0kg

Scouting notes: One of the late bloomers of the 2017 AFL Draft pool. The brother of St Kilda’s Patrick has a late December and is still in Year 11 – meaning he will need to finish school in 2018. Clubs won’t be put off by this however and the talented forward showed in the first quarter of the TAC Cup Elimination Final that he can be a damaging player. McCartin marks well overhead and is an agile footballer. He has plenty of scope for development.

Pick 39: Melbourne – Charlie SPARGO
Inside Midfielder/Small Forward (Murray Bushrangers/Allies)
25/11/1999 | 171.6cm | 70.2kg

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. Was originally zoned to GWS but it is now ineligible for GWS to select him under changes to their Academy zone. Had shoulder surgery which ruled him out for the season.

Pick 40: West Coast – Noah BALTA
Tall Utility (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
23/10/1999 | 195.0cm | 94.9kg

Scouting notes: Athletic tall who has one of the biggest upsides of the draft pool. Balta has played predominately as a ruckman or a key forward for the Calder Cannons – but showed great signs as a defender in the Vic Metro trial and played there in the National Under 18 Championships. He 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. His vertical leap is exceptional and can do things that many other talls in the draft pool cannot. Has a very long right foot kick, but there is some suggestion that he could last into the 40s on draft night.

ROUND THREE

Pick 41: Adelaide – Andrew McPHERSON
Medium Defender (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)
20/06/1999 | 185.7cm | 79.4kg

Scouting notes: A good ball user across half back where McPherson just gets the job done. He showed promise in the National AFL Under 18 Championships last year, but missed the carnival in 2017 due to injury. McPherson rebounds it well and can play across the wing. Reads the play well and has a good mix of attack & defence. The AFL Academy member dealt with a quad injury throughout the first half of the 2017 season.

Pick 42: Gold Coast – Jack PETRUCCELLE
Inside Midfielder (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
12/04/1999 | 185.1cm | 77.7kg

Scouting notes: The fastest player in the TAC Cup with a 20m sprint time of 2.82 seconds recorded earlier in the season. He is willing to take opposition 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 and needs work, but his eye catching displays are continuing to get better and more consistent. He comes from an elite basketball background. His contested ball numbers are very good.

Pick 43: Fremantle – Ben PATON
Small Defender (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
19/10/1998 | 186.0cm | 77.5kg

Scouting notes: Rebounding defender Ben Paton was one of Vic Country’s shining lights in the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships, making the All-Australian team. In close he possesses good clean hands and he is a player you want to have the ball in his hands coming out of defence, where he is a reliable kick. Has a good burst of speed and is decent in one-on-one contests.

Pick 44: Hawthorn – Dylan MOORE
Inside Midfielder/Small Forward (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
04/08/1999 | 175.8cm | 65.9kg

Scouting notes: Small midfielder who isn’t afraid of winning the contested ball. His ground ball numbers are very good and is a big ball winning midfielder. Moore can also push forward and hit the scoreboard. Has a decent jump for a small midfielder which he can show off up forward. He also a very good endurance base but is one of the few players sub 180cm who do not possess elite speed. Is a smart footballer and just gets to the right position to win the ball. Clearance work is super.

Pick 45: Brisbane – Gryan MIERS
Small Forward/Inside Midfielder (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
30/03/1999 | 177.6cm | 77.4kg

Scouting notes: Small forward who shot to frame after booting seven goals in the TAC Cup Grand Final. Whilst he doesn’t possess elite speed, he has smarts around goal and is willing to kick the ball off either foot. Has played some time on the inside, but is destined to be a small forward at the next level.

Pick 46: St Kilda – Will WALKER
Outside Midfielder (Sandringham Dragons)
30/03/1999 | 186.5cm | 78.2kg

Scouting notes: Zippy half forward flanker who has improved his contested ball abilities in the second half of the year. Wins the ball in the midfielder and spreads well from a stoppage. At times he can just bang the ball on his boot – but he has the power to kick the ball over 50 metres and his clearance work is very good. Comes from a former soccer background.

Pick 47: Port Adelaide – Jackson ROSS
Outside Midfielder/Medium Forward (Haileybury College/Eastern Ranges)
22/06/1999 | 192.5cm | 74.5kg

Scouting notes: Booted 29 goals playing as a centre half forward and on the wing for Haileybury College in the APS school competition. Comes from an elite tennis background and is still quite raw in football terms. Has a long kick and is able to use it on either side of his body. Very athletic and is a player with plenty of development left.

Pick 48: Melbourne – Bayley FRITSCH

Medium Forward (Casey Demons/VFL)
06/12/1996 | 186.9cm | 80.1kg

Scouting notes: Bayley Fritsch is the VFLs best product and will be one the few State League players selected in the National Draft. The left footer uses the ball well and booted 44 goals for Casey this season. He is strong in the air and has plenty of suitors at club land. Can improve his speed and ball winning, but has some good traits that will appeal. He is a good ball user by foot.

Pick 49: Essendon – Haiden SCHLOITHE

Balanced Midfielder (South Fremantle/WAFL)
16/06/1993 | 186.9cm | 80.1kg

Scouting notes: Schloithe was on Fremantle’s rookie list in the past, but had a very good season finding the football around the ground. He won the Sandover Medal and was named WA footballer of the season. He is a good kick and has speed – but his endurance needs to improve.

Pick 50: Port Adelaide – Jake PATMORE
Outside Midfielder (Claremont/Western Australia)
29/01/1999 | 181.1cm | 71.75kg

Scouting notes: Speedy outside midfielder who can play as a rebounding defender. Wins plenty of the ball and has slimmed down during the season. Patmore has plenty of scope for development. AFL Academy member.

Pick 51: Gold Coast – Brandon STARCEVICH
Balanced Midfielder (East Perth/Western Australia)
24/07/1999 | 186.6cm | 84.4kg

Scouting notes: A strong riser in the second half of the year where he can attack a stoppage at speed and clear the ball out reasonably effective by foot. Finished the season on a high with 18 disposals and four inside 50s in the Under 18 All Stars game at the MCG on Grand Final day. Possesses elite speed and agility, with his inside game are area that has improved. Not a big ball winner.

Pick 52: Sydney – Toby WOOLLER
Key Position Forward (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
16/03/1999 | 192.7cm | 89.9kg

Scouting notes: Key Position Forward who has played as a hybrid midfielder at times for the Oakleigh Chargers. While still likely to end up a second or third tall at the next level, Wooller is a good mark and knows where the goals are. Is mobile enough to get up and down the ground on multiple leads. Is the grandson of Geelong’s Fred Wooller.

Pick 53: Brisbane – Jack PAYNE (Academy selection)

Key Position Defender (Brisbane Lions Academy)
15/10/1999 | 196.5cm | 96.2kg

Scouting notes: Key Position Defender who has good power in defensive 50. He one-on-one defending does need some work, but he has a burst of speed over the first few steps which can help him defend. Kicks the ball well.

Pick 54: Gold Coast – Brayden CROSSLEY (Academy selection)

Ruckman (Gold Coast Suns Academy)
16/09/1999 | 198.1cm | 101.0kg

Scouting notes: Ruckman who had a superb NAB AFL Under 18 Championships and showed good signs for the Suns during the NEAFL finals. He is a brute of a boy, but does need to trim down and work on his endurance. He marks well around the ground, but agility is an area of improvement.

ROUND FOUR

Pick 55: Collingwood – Trent MYNOTT

Inside Midfielder (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
04/10/1999 | 184.8cm | 75.1kg

Scouting notes: Inside midfielder who has plenty of scope for development. Mynott can win the contested ball and clear it effectively out to an outside runner by hand. Is willing to do the defensive work and tackles hard to get the ball back. Kicking has room for improvement.

Pick 56: GWS – Dom BARRY

Outside Midfielder (Glenelg/SANFL)
07/03/1994 | 178.7cm | 76.4kg

Scouting notes: Former Melbourne player Dom Barry looks likely to return to an AFL list. He has elite speed and agility, and is a good ball user on the outside. Endurance continues to be a work in progress.

Pick 57: GWS – Nicholas SHIPLEY (Academy Bid Matched)

Inside Midfielder (GWS Academy)
25/06/1999 | 188.2cm | 93.3kg

Scouting notes: Nick Shipley is deceptively quick and has shown his abilities as an inside midfielder throughout the season. Is more of a handball first, kick second player on the inside – but his contested ball is very good, as is his endurance.

Pick 58: Geelong – Tom DE KONING

Ruckman/Key Position Forward (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
16/07/1999 | 200.3cm | 89.7kg

Scouting notes: De Koning’s season ended early after suffering a lacerated kidney. In the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships, he showed he can play as a ruck or up forward. His marking can improve, but he is a good set shot kick for goal. Ground ball work is decent for a tall.

Pick 59: Port Adelaide – Nathan KREUGER
Tall Utility (South Adelaide/South Australia)
25/06/1999 | 195.7cm | 88.9kg

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 last year and early this year. Can play as a tall at either end, 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. Can play through the midfield but showed his strength up forward for South Australia in the National  Under 18 Championships.

Pick 60: Fremantle – Hugh DIXON

Key Position Forward (Kingborough Tigers/Tasmania)
26/02/1999 | 195.1cm | 90.5kg

Scouting notes: Key Position Forward who clunks as good as a contested mark as anyone in the draft pool. His speed is an area that can improve, but he has a lovely left foot kick and is reliable in front of goal. One who has some upside if he can get in an AFL environment.

Pick 61: Collingwood – Oscar CLAVARINO
Key Position Defender (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
22/05/1999 | 195.6cm | 85.2kg

Scouting notes: Key Position defender who should fill out in an AFL environment. His best can be very good and has held down the key post for Vic Country in the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships over the last two years.  His intercept work is getting better and has become more sure of himself when dropping off his man. Kicking can be shaky under pressure – but is another element to his game that has improved throughout the season.

Pick 62: Port Adelaide – Noah ANSWERTH

Outside Midfielder (Oakleigh Chargers)
06/08/1999 | 183.8cm | 78.6kg

Scouting notes: Answerth missed majority of the year suffering a nasty back injury at Ikon Park earlier in the season. He got back and played in the Young Guns game and showed some dash across half back. He is a good decision making and uses the ball well by foot. Someone who could’ve been a top 30-40 pick if not for injuries.

Pick 63: North Melbourne – Matthew DAY

Inside Midfielder (Oakleigh Chargers)
01/04/1999 | 189.2cm | 79.4kg

Pick 64: Fremantle – Joel AMARTEY

Ruckman (Sandringham Dragons)
02/07/1999 | 196.1cm | 84.6kg

Pick 65: Hawthorn – Changkuoth JIATH (Next Gen Academy Bid Matched)

Outside Midfielder (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
13/06/1999 | 185.2cm | 74.1kg

Pick 66: Essendon – Tom NORTH

Inside Midfielder (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
14/02/1999 | 184.1cm | 84.1kg

Pick 67: West Coast – Brayden AINSWORTH

Balanced Midfielder (Subiaco/Western Australia)
27/11/1998 | 184.0cm | 79.4kg

Pick 68: Fremantle – Hamish BRAYSHAW

Inside Midfielder (Sandringham Dragons)
09/02/1998 | 187.0cm | 91.2kg

Pick 69: Carlton – Ethan FLOYD
Outside Midfielder (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
15/07/1999 | 180.0cm | 70.7kg

ROUND FIVE

Pick 70: Hawthorn – Hayden McLEAN

Key Position Forward (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
20/01/1999 | 196.4cm | 92.6kg

Pick 71: North Melbourne – Alex MARTINI

Balanaced Midfielder (Glenelg/South Australia)
30/03/1999 | 181.1cm | 77.1kg

Pick 72: Fremantle – Flynn APPLEBY

Medium Defender (GWV Rebels)
21/01/1999 | 186.6cm | 81.50kg

Pick 73: Western Bulldogs – Callum PORTER

Balanced Midfielder (Gippsland Power)
22/02/1999 | 182.1cm | 76.0kg

Pick 74: Essendon – Lloyd MEEK

Ruckman (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
22/04/1998 | 202.4cm | 106.4kg

Pick 75: North Melbourne – Kyron HAYDEN

Balanced Midfielder (Subiaco/Western Australia)
07/06/1999 | 185.7cm | 86.5kg

Pick 76: Richmond – Alex BOYSE

General Forward (Essendon VFL)
16/11/1993 | 189.0cm | 81.2kg

Matt Balmer’s 2017 early Phantom Draft

IT IS just over a month until AFL clubs will meet at Sydney Showgrounds for the 2017 NAB AFL Draft.

At the conclusion of trade week, Matt Balmer predicts who will go where inside the first round, in his 2017 early Phantom Draft.

Pick 1: Brisbane – Luke Davies-Uniacke
Inside Midfielder (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
08/06/1999 | 187.2cm | 85.2kg

Scouting notes: A 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 one of the players most ready to go and could walk into AFL from day one with ease. Is powerful in the contested situations and is able to stand up when getting tackled, using his strength to dispose of the ball. Has shown at school football that he can beat the tag. Had a bit of a lull in the second half of the year, but pulled out his best form when it mattered in September.

In the mix: While some may see Cameron Rayner as the best player in the 2017 draft pool, I think the Lions will look for a full-time inside midfielder. Paddy Dow’s name is another who the Lions will consider – but at the moment the gut feel is ‘LDU’ is ahead of Dow.

Pick 2: Fremantle – Paddy Dow
Inside Midfielder (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)
16/10/1999 | 185.4cm | 78.2kg

Scouting notes: Speedy inside midfielder who can push forward and hit the scoreboard. Right footed midfielder who was superb for the AFL Academy in their game against the Northern Blues – not looking out of place at the centre bounces early in the year. Runs a sub three second 20m sprint and has very good agility. Not afraid to take on opposition midfielders in the contest, attempting to speed out of the stoppages.

In the mix: Fremantle only acquired Pick 2 today, in a trade from the Gold Coast giving up Lachie Weller. They’ll need to take a Victorian midfielder at Pick 2 – with Cerra, Rayner, Davies-Uniacke others who could also feature. Fremantle have a lot of players similar to Rayner – but it’d be hard to let him go – as a player who can do things that many others can’t in this draft pool.

Pick 3: Carlton – Cameron Rayner
General Forward/Inside Midfielder (Western Jets/Vic Metro)
21/10/1999 | 186.5cm | 87.2kg

Scouting notes: Powerful and explosive midfielder who makes you excited when you watch him. A similar mould to Robbie Gray combined with Christian Petracca and when up forward his contested marking overhead is 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 preseason testing. Not afraid to throw out a ‘don’t argue’ to his opponents. Can do things that others in the 2017 draft pool cannot.

In the mix: Fremantle are the great unknown and it’d be very hard to see the Blues let Rayner slip past them if he gets through to Pick 3. Haileybury College midfielders Andrew Brayshaw, Charlie Constable and Davies-Uniacke will be in the mix. Paddy Dow might land in their lap if things fall another way.

Pick 4: North Melbourne – Jaidyn Stephenson
Outside Midfielder (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
15/01/1999 | 188.5cm | 75.4kg

Scouting notes: Started the season as a medium tall marking target inside 50 but has improved his running capacity and turned himself into an outside midfield in the final few months of 2017.  Up forward, he 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. Stephenson has pushed up onto the wing at times, where he moved well – holding a great endurance base to go with a really good burst of speed. One area that could be cleaned up is his field kicking around the ground.

In the mix: Most of the talk is that the top three selections will be Rayner, Davies-Uniacke & Dow – with the order unknown. Stephenson had a great second half of the year and adds some X-Factor for the Roos. Adam Cerra, Nick Coffield and Andrew Brayshaw are three other names that no doubt they’ll be monitoring.

Pick 5: Fremantle – Aaron Naughton
Key Position Defender (Peel/Western Australia)
30/11/19999 | 194.0cm | 85.0kg

Scouting notes: Played as a bottom-ager in two of Western Australia’s NAB AFL Under 18 Championship games in 2016, and was named as a co-captain for the 2017 carnival where he impressed in defence. He marks well overhead and is a good reader of the play. Has an awkward ball drop which can affect his left foot kicking efficiency at times, but mostly it gets where it needs to go. Made his League debut in the WAFL and didn’t looked out of place.

In the mix: Take a midfielder at Pick 2 and at Pick 5? Another big question – but Fremantle hold the keys to shaping the top 10 of the 2017 NAB AFL Draft. They’ve watched a fair bit of the Sandringham Dragons and Andrew Brayshaw could be a player selected here. Adam Cerra and Nick Coffield are two other Vic Metro players who they’ll have on the list – but it might be hard to turn down the best West Australian and tall in the draft pool.

Pick 6: Collingwood – Nick Coffield
General Defender/Outside Midfielder (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
23/10/1999 | 190.8cm | 82.5kg

Scouting notes: Composed midfielder who is very good under pressure. Reminds me of Hugh McCluggage where he has plenty of time with ball in hand in the contest. Clean user on his right foot and his defensive efforts are strong where he floats around and wins the ball at ease. Has a burst of speed which he often will utilise in defensive 50 when playing the role of a general defender. Some think he will end up as an inside midfielder at the next level.

In the mix: Few whispers of the Pies meeting with Aaron Naughton on the weekend and they may pick him if he is available here. Coffield is the best player available and should be able to transition into an inside midfielder in the future.

Pick 7: St Kilda – Andrew Brayshaw
Inside Midfielder (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
08/11/1999 | 183.9cm | 81.7kg

Scouting notes: The brother of Melbourne’s Angus started the year on fire for the Sandringham Dragons. He finds the football with a good contested possession percentage. Brayshaw is more of a handball first, kick second player in the contest but just gets the job done without standing out and flies under the radar. He makes his disposals count and is effective, with good defensive efforts. Always one of the top ranked players on the stats sheets.

In the mix: I’m told St Kilda have been big fans of Brayshaw throughout 2017 – meeting with him on multiple occasions and it would be hard to see them turn him down if he’s available. Alan Richardson watched the TAC Cup elimination final where Nick Coffield dominated and he is another option if still on the board. It would be a tough call to let Adam Cerra go too.

Pick 8: St Kilda – Aiden Bonar
Inside Midfielder/General Forward (Haileybury College/Dandenong Stingrays)
08/03/1999 | 188.6cm | 86.5kg

Scouting notes: Build like a brick sh!thouse. After recovering from two knee surgeries after his first ACL graft didn’t take, Bonar has presence about him around the ground, mostly playing up forward as a third tall – but has pushed into the midfield for longer periods with each game he plays. His pressure is very good and he can lay bone crunching tackles. Has a good burst of speed and is strong overhead. Suggestion is he’ll end up a full time midfielder. Possesses a big upside.

In the mix: The biggest unknown in the 2017 draft pool is Aiden Bonar and he is a name that St Kilda could take – to address bringing in a big bodied midfielder. His testing at the NAB AFL Draft Combine was outstanding and there’s no doubt with the security of having two picks inside top 10 – the Saints could make the move on the Dandenong Stingray.

Pick 9: Western Bulldogs – Adam Cerra
Balanced Midfielder (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
07/10/1999 | 186.3cm | 80.3kg

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 one and pick two in 2016 – and Cerra could be another to join that list of high draft picks. He wins the ball on the inside and possesses 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 in April and continued his form in the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships.

In the mix: If the Saints don’t take Bonar, he’s a player I’d expect the Bulldogs to snap up. With Stringer leaving the kennel, South Australia’s best draft prospect Darcy Fogarty could fill a similar role as a forward. They have also shown some interest in Nathan Murphy – but they may hope that he gets to their next selection.

Pick 10: Carlton – Charlie Constable
General Defender/Inside Midfielder (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
18/05/1999 | 191.0cm | 86.1kg

Scouting notes: Tall midfielder who can play on the inside and across either arches. 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 an injury, but is over those concerns. A good team player who gets to the right positions around the ground. Not super quick, but has a ‘footy brain’ and makes good decisions by foot rebounding out of defence. Likely to end up as a Patrick Cripps type of midfielder.

In the mix: SOS has some good relationships among the APS school boy football competition and if one of Bonar or Constable reach their Pick 10 – It would be seriously hard to see him let them go past. Either can play as an inside midfielder and support Patrick Cripps.

Pick 11: GWS – Jack Higgins
Small Forward/Inside Midfielder (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
19/03/1999 | 177.8cm | 76.9kg

Scouting notes: Small midfielder who wins a lot of the ball and has now moved into a small forward role post the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships. His defensive efforts are getting better and the midfielder has the ability to push forward and hit the scoreboard. His clearance work is great and he has goal smarts as a small forward, but he does lack a touch of speed compared to other small forwards. Very good contested mark for a player sub 180cm. Should be ready to go in 2018, but his full on focus on AFL in 2017, might mean he has a limited upside compared with other first rounders.

In the mix: The Giants have long wanted a small forward and the retirement of Stevie J might see them select Jack Higgins, who would fit in well playing a role alongside Tim Taranto and Toby Greene. They have shown in the past that they aren’t afraid to grab players with dual sport abilities (Pat McKenna), so Nathan Murphy could be another considered.

Pick 12: Adelaide – Darcy Fogarty
General Forward (Glenelg/South Australia)
05/09/1999 | 191.9cm | 94.5kg

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. Fogarty played a strong game in the midfield for Glenelg in their finals last year and has been tried as a third tall defender at stages throughout 2017. Has the ability to kick off either foot and can lay bone-crunching tackles. He is more of a third tall than an inside midfielder at this stage. Ruled out for the season with a meniscus tear in his knee.

In the mix: The obvious option is for the Crows to take home grown talent in Darcy Fogarty, but if he’s off the board – they may look to Vic Country inside midfielder Hunter Clark who has had a superb finish to the season.

Pick 13: West Coast – Hunter Clark
Inside Midfielder/Medium Defender (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
26/03/1999 | 186.1cm | 79.9kg

Scouting notes: Has transitioned from a rebounding outside defender to a contested ball winning midfielder over the last 12 months. Coming out of defence his decision making and kicking could be better – and if he cleans this up it will help his draft stocks. Ball winning capabilities are improving on the inside and he is able to pump the ball inside 50 to a teammate. Possesses quick hands – a trait that can separate him from others in this draft pool.

In the mix: Another club that will look to bolster their inside midfielders stock. If Hunter Clark is on the board it is a no-brainer, while if they feel they want to take the best homegrown player – it is not too far out of Under 18 Larke Medalist Oscar Allen’s range.

Pick 14: Sydney – Nathan Murphy
Medium Utility (Brighton Grammar/Sandringham Dragons)
15/12/1999 | 188.3cm | 79.9kg

Scouting notes: The Victorian Under 19 cricketer has been one of the better forwards in the APS Victorian school football season. Murphy has over 20 goals after moving forward post a concussion suffered against Haileybury College in Round 2. Was a late addition to the Sandringham Dragons program for 2017 and was strong as a third tall in defence on debut. The tall utility can play at either end and has a big booming right foot kick. Goalkicking accuracy is one area which can be cleaned up but Murphy’s focus has largely been cricket over the last few years. Often has a tendency to mark the ball behind his head and Murphy has a very large wingspan.

In the mix: In what was a quiet trade week for Kinnear Beatson and the Swans, they will hit the draft with their first round pick. Nathan Murphy is a player they could consider, with a chance he moves into the midfield. If they are looking for some outside class – players such as Lochie O’Brien, Matt Ling, Ed Richards and Ryley Stoddart could be considered, but all are probably likely to fall into the second round.

Pick 15: Brisbane – Joel Garner
Balanced Midfielder/General Defender (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
21/05/1999 | 184.2cm | 82.6kg

Scouting notes: Balanced Midfielder who has struggled to find his feet at times thrown around in multiple positions around the ground at school, TAC Cup and Vic Metro level. 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 at times and may have found his best position across half back. Is an outstanding leader.

In the mix: Pick 15 places the Lions a bit in no-man’s land – if the draft falls as I have it, they may miss out on probably the best crop of midfielders. No doubt they’d be keen to link up Dandenong Stingrays pair Aiden Bonar and Hunter Clark with Davies-Uniacke if they were available. Despite having Oscar McInerney developing well, they might look at Sam Hayes to boost their ruck stocks or develop as a key forward – but they do have Connor Ballenden who should get a bid after their next pick somewhere in the 20s. Could they bid on Patrick Naish?

Pick 16: Western Bulldogs – Ed Richards
Medium Defender/
Inside Midfielder (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
03/07/1999 | 184.7cm | 78.1kg

Scouting notes: Speedy running defender who dominated in the APS school football competition for Carey. Is trusted with taking the kick outs and is a clean and effective kick on his left foot. Can play as an inside midfielder, where he uses his quick & clean hands to effectiveness.

In the mix: The Tigers will be hoping that father-son prospect Patrick Naish doesn’t get a bid here – with the Bulldogs showing plenty of interest this season. If they’re looking to add some speed on the outside, Ed Richards has had a great season and might be one they look to recruit. Norwood small midfielder Zac Bailey was superb throughout the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships for the Allies and could be another they consider.

Pick 17: Richmond – Jarrod Brander
Key Position Forward/Defender (Bendigo Pioneers/Allies)
11/02/1999 | 194.6cm | 92.3kg

Scouting notes: Key Position tall that can play at either end where he reads the flight of the ball well. Is mobile up forward which allows him to make multiple leads. Missed most of 2016 through knee injury, but jumped on the scene booting over 20 goals for Geelong Grammar in the 1st XVIII competition as a Year 10 in 2015. 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. Was originally zoned to GWS but it is now ineligible for GWS to select him under changes to their Academy zone. Best swingman in the draft – with healthy debate which end he best plays his football.

In the mix: The Tigers went into finals with a small side – but may look to bring in some more talls to help with their depth. Most people in the know feel Jarrod Brander will get outside the top 10 and the Tigers would have to snatch him up at Pick 17. Sam Hayes is another tall they will consider – but the Tigers will be hoping he gets through to Pick 20. If the Bulldogs or Lions bid on Naish – this pick will be removed from the order.

What about the rest?

Pick 19: Gold Coast – Nathan Murphy would be a likely suitor should he get through to Pick 19. Medium forward Jordan Houlahan from Sturt would be another name that fits the bill as a similar player to Murphy. Larke Medalist Oscar Allen and Vic Metro tall Noah Balta are still on the board and might fit the best available selection, while the loss of Adam Saad might allow them to look for a similar prospect in Matt Ling.

Pick 22: Geelong – Similar to the Suns – medium forwards Murphy and Houlahan would appeal to add to the Cats’ forward line. Lachlan Fogarty might be another good fit, with high pressure and tackling numbers sure to fit the bill of AFL teams after a success with Richmond this season. Could the Wooller name return to Simonds Stadium?

Pick 29: Melbourne – A small forward or classy outside ball user would likely appear to the Dees. Ryley Stoddart, Matt Ling and Lochie O’Brien are three such classy outside midfielders/half back flanks. If they’re looking for a small forward, Dylan Moore and Charlie Spargo are two second round prospects that they could consider. The Demons also have Pick 31 and 36.

Pick 43: Hawthorn – Once again the Hawks will enter the draft without a first round pick – but it is at least closer than their 2016 first selection. Next Generation Academy member Changkuoth Jiath is tied to the Hawks – but will likely be a late selection or rookie pick. While it’s probably unlikely Andrew McPherson would be a good fit across half back and through the midfield, after an injury interrupted 2017. Two other midfielders that might be considered from the Hawks are Brayden Ainsworth and Matthew Day. Could James Worpel still be there at Pick 43?

Pick 46: Port Adelaide – The Power are one of a number of clubs to show interest in Eastern Ranges & Haileybury College outside midfielder/general forward Jackson Ross. Ross is very athletic and has plenty of scope for development. If the two West Australian teams haven’t grabbed Liam Ryan – the Power might consider it here.

Pick 48: Essendon – If the Bombers can find an inside midfielder at Pick 48 – it would cap off a very impressive draft & trade period. The Bombers would’ve taken Constable with Pick 11 had they held onto it, but if James Worpel gets to Pick 48 – It’d be hard to see them let him go. There’s been a lot of talk about them being keen on Dylan Moore – but he’s likely to end up inside the top 30.

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

 

Luke McAlister’s Phantom Draft

Hi guys, I’m back again on the day of the draft to release my first and only phantom draft this season. I’ve ensured that the bidding calculations are as correct as possible. This year, in the profiles that follow each player, I won’t be including miscellaneous information about each player – things like stats and the like; everyone else seems to cover that. Instead I’m going to try and give some genuine insight into their qualities.

Pick 1 – Carlton: Jacob Weitering – KPD (195 cm, 94 kg, Dandenong Stingrays)

Jacob Weitering is simply the best player in the draft. An elite offensive minded centre half back, he possesses the best aerial read of the draft. At the next level, he can become the best intercept mark in the competition. One-on-one he also excels, capable of out-reading and out-playing his opponent. He also possesses a lethal kick, able to penetrate and create with ease. In Weitering, a club will get a 200-game bookend who will not only beat his opponent week in and week out, but create excellent offensive drive. Athletically he is very reasonable, with the only real slight weakness being that a quick key forward could beat him for pace occasionally.

Pick 2 – Brisbane: Josh Schache – KPF (199 cm, 101 kg, Murray Bushrangers)

Josh Schache is the dominant key forward in the crop. He is a powerful key forward who dominates more on physical presence than anything else, but that’s not to say he isn’t intelligent or athletic either. He’s got a solid endurance base for a key forward and also possesses a fantastic kick, especially when aiming at goal. Aerially he’s a very good mark, taking it in one grab and having good balance, rarely being knocked off the ball. While clean at ground level, he doesn’t move too well, being relatively slow with a poor turning circle. But with his level of dominance, he can afford that.

Pick 3 – Sydney: Callum Mills – IM (188 cm, 80 kg, North Shore)

Selected as an academy player, Mills will go very early despite playing very little football due to persistent injuries such as shin splints. He’s a big bodied and hard working inside midfielder with a gift for winning his own ball. Relative to other midfielders, he’s excellent overhead too. He knows how to find the ball and is a smart footballer. He’s also surprisingly athletic despite not looking it on the field sometimes, running good sprint times. The question is his kicking which is a bit iffy, but with time in the system should improve.

Pick 4 – Melbourne: Clayton Oliver – IM (187 cm, 86 kg, Murray Bushrangers)

There’s always one bloke who bolts from nowhere, and this year it’s Oliver. He was around but not really in the conversation until mid year, when he was noticed a bit more after playing some VFL football. His rate of improvement has been superb, which is often a sign of rapid improvement at the next level. A big bodied, hard working and somewhat explosive inside midfielder, Oliver also possesses great goal sense and a strong overhead mark. He already possesses some really likeable traits that the other midfielders don’t have this year, so he presents a real point of difference.

Pick 5 – GWS: Jacob Hopper – IM (185 cm, 85 kg, North Ballarat Rebels)

Tied to GWS via their academy, Hopper is a dominant and bullocking inside midfielder that influences every game. In terms of pure ball winning ability and inside nous, Hopper is the best in the draft. He positions himself so well in contested situations and is so clean and composed when winning the ball and consolidating it. He’s powerful while forward, kicking goals and dominating opponents. The only knock on him is that he’s not elite for speed nor a lethal kick.

Pick 6 – Essendon: Darcy Parish – BM (180 cm, 74 kg, Geelong Falcons)

If Parish is here when Essendon are on the clock, expect a quick selection. He’s a no-brainer. Parish has been hyped up and in the conversation for years now – being talked up as a top 5 pick since his stint in the 16s. Excelling as a bottom ager last year, Parish hasn’t dominated like one might have hoped this year, but he’s still done well. On the outside he’s silky; just so skilled, composed, classy and reasonably quick too. He works hard, finds space and does all the right things. But it’s the inside where he’s a bit of an unknown. Those that saw his academy games early in the season would think he’s got a real inside game with a hard edge and some mongrel – but after breaking his hand, he’s sat outside the contest a bit more. Having seen the academy game and just how dominant Parish can be on both sides of the contest, I’m sold on him. Essendon will be getting a franchise midfielder if they draft him.

Pick 7 – Essendon: Aaron Francis – UTIL (191 cm, 92 kg, West Adelaide)

This is the pick that could shape the rest of the first round. Essendon seem keen on a taller type, but who? Weideman? Francis? Curnow? Whoever they pick will have a real knock on effect. I’ve gone with Francis – he’s a bombers fan, so what better to get a kid in who’ll love the club already. As a player, I think Francis is a freak – he’s quick and supremely agile – potentially the most agile player in the draft, as well as possessing a great leap. Aerially he’s dominant, reading the flight so well and cutting across to intercept regularly. He’s also good one on one. By foot he’s close to the best in the draft, possessing a long, penetrating kick. He can play back on a variety of opponents, but also forward to a high level; which is where Essendon may play him; his leading patterns are solid and he creates separation and makes things happen. What Francis gives you is options – and Essendon need them.

Pick 8 – Gold Coast: Wayne Milera – SF/OM (183 cm, 78 kg, Central Districts)

Milera’s exciting. He’s nippy but not quick in straight lines, however in every other regard he is quick; the game speeds up with him in it. He makes quick and smart decisions with ball in hand, using it well and making things happen. He’s got the quickest hands I’ve seen in a long time and has an incredible knack of just dancing through traffic. When forward, he kicks goals. When in the midfield, he sets them up. When in defence, he creates offensive movement. He just makes things happen.

Pick 9 – Melbourne: Sam Weideman – KPF (196 cm, 94 kg, Eastern Ranges)

Sam Weideman is someone I think is overvalued by virtue of the fetishisation of key forwards. Especially ones who can mark. Which Weideman, to his credit, can. Unfortunately, he’s a poor kick and athletically leaves a lot to be desired. He also hasn’t played much so the sample size to mark him down as a gun is small.

Pick 10 – Carlton: Harry McKay – KPF (200 cm, 95 kg, Gippsland Power)

Adelaide have been linked with McKay for some time, so expect them to pounce if he’s there for their pick – which is why Carlton will go now; it’s far likelier Adelaide pick McKay than Curnow. Having burst onto the scene this year, McKay is a big key forward who plays the game like someone a lot smaller. He’s very athletic, quick and agile as well as clean at ground level – ridiculously so for a 200cm player. He’s a nice user of the ball and has a good read of the ball in flight, possessing early signs of a contested game. At this stage he’s a little too soft in his play, lacking aggression and physicality – something that should change with time and size. Expect him to play as a centre half forward type doing his best work around the half forward and wing areas.

Pick 11 – GWS: Matthew Kennedy – IM (187 cm, 88 kg, Collingullie-GP)

Matt Kennedy is just a gun. That’s about the only way to describe him. He’s not been as involved in the system as most, which in a way makes him more appealing. He’s just a dominant strong bodied midfielder who can play up forward well. Overhead he’s elite, he’s well balanced with ball in hand and very spacially aware. On the inside he finds the best way to win the ball and moves in and out of traffic well. He gets from contest to contest with his high endurance. The knock is his kicking, which is at times shaky.

Pick 12 – Brisbane: Eric Hipwood – UTIL (202 cm, 84 kg, Aspley)

Capable of playing at both ends, Hipwood will end up at Brisbane via the academy system. Very tall for a key position player, Hipwood is raw, but has a lot to work with. He’s a smooth mover with good agility, speed and smart running patterns, and just finds a way to get things done. With his athleticism and size, he’ll take time but grow into an AFL player. Some see him as a forward but with his size, reach and closing speed I think he’ll be a very good defender long term. His kicking is technically okay and he makes good decisions with good intent, but in terms of execution he butchers it far too often.

Pick 13 – Adelaide: Charlie Curnow – KPF/MID (191 cm, 95 kg, Geelong Falcons)

The slide for Curnow is on – due to his behavioural concerns. Originally I had him at three, but he could end up as low as 15. The question I’ve got is – if Melbourne pass on him once, will they do it again? Especially with Weideman on the board? I’m gambling so – but Curnow’s talent is just too good to pass up. The other question is whether Carlton prefer him or McKay. And then whether the Crows pick Curnow up. This probably depends on their rating of Curnow’s character and how they rate Burton who may be there at 16. He’s a strong bodied and dominant forward who marks well around the ground and up forward. While slow, he’s got good endurance and can push into the red zone and burn his opponents. Through the midfield he’s got good touch and feel and long term could really dominate there.

Pick 14 – Carlton: Darcy Tucker – OM/SD (183 cm, 80 kg, North Ballarat Rebels)

Carlton are fans, so I suspect they’ll take him if all the tall timber is gone – which it is in my scenario. Tucker’s a quick, line-breaking outside mid who’s a good user of the ball. He had a great bottom aged year but struggled a bit this year with consistency and impact – but I still think he’ll make it; his smarts are good, his running patterns are solid and his skills are there.

Pick 15 – Richmond: Callum Ah Chee – SF/OM (181 cm, 72 kg, South Fremantle)

Some have fallen out of love with Ah Chee, citing his poor championships – but Pickett and Garlett last year were similar; flashes in the champs but nothing solid. The WA side lacked any real ball winning through the middle so an outside type like Ah Chee wasn’t getting the supply. He’s a player who serves as the cream on top instead of the substance. He’s a lovely kick, especially over short distances, and has good speed, agility and a vertical leap. When forward he finds the goals, and through the middle he’s a creative receiver. Surround him with a solid side and he’ll become the class on top, clubs desire.

Pick 16 – Adelaide: Harley Balic – BM (187 cm, 82 kg, Sandringham Dragons)

Harley Balic is a crafty and smart midfielder who can rest forward with good effect. Coming from an elite basketball bac kground, Balic excels with his poise, composure and spacial awareness as well as agility. He sees what’s around him and puts teammates into space. However he’s very slow for a midfielder in straight lines and his kicking is average at best.

Pick 17 – St Kilda: Jade Gresham – BM (178 cm, 77 kg, Northern Knights)

Gresham’s another one of the reliable pocket rockets we’ve had over the last few years, and could well make it to a similar level as Dion Prestia. He’s a hard working accumulator who can win his own ball and get it outside too, while also knowing where the goals are and aggressively attacking the ball. You just know he’ll make the grade. At the moment he’s a bit conservative with his kicking, something that will need to improve if he is to become a great, not just good, player.

Pick 18 – Hawthorn: Daniel Rioli – SF (180 cm, 69 kg, North Ballarat Rebels)

Rioli joins Clayton Oliver as the late bolter of the draft, but unlike Oliver, I’m not seeing it. Normally good small forwards go in the late second to third round. This is high for Rioli. But if he makes it – it’s a good selection. He’s electric, exciting, quick and knows where the goals are. He’s also relatively fit. But I feel like his combine has overinflated him; he struggled to dominate this year – which is enough for me to not like him as much. I’m not sold on his IQ like some are. He could well be good – but I’d be waiting a round for him.

Pick 19 – Brisbane: Ben Keays – BM (185 cm, 80 kg, Redlands)

Another academy kid going to Brisbane, Keays has excelled for two years now. He’s a dual All-Australian junior who can also excel forward. A gifted accumulator with a great burst, Keays occasionally struggles to hurt his opponent by foot but does like to run and carry and break through congestion. The knock on him for mine is that he’s not dominant inside, with his balance and strength lacking, nor is he a lethal user outside. He just sits a bit in no-mans land in terms of a future role.

Pick 20 – Gold Coast: Mitchell Hibberd – OM (190 cm, 86 kg, Clarence)

Having missed last year with an ACL, Hibberd burst back onto the scene this year and attracted fans with his athletic running and beautiful kicking. Overhead he’s solid and to compliment his athleticism and skills he’s also versatile; capable of playing off half back and in the middle.

Pick 21 – North Melbourne: Ryan Burton – KPF (191 cm, 90 kg, North Adelaide)

On talent, I’d have Burton top three. He’s a gun. But it’s hard to justify picking a player who hasn’t played for fifteen months. He’s got a lethal kick and a crafty football brain – with his running and leading patterns exceptional. He’s also a reasonable athlete and has a solid ground level game. Aside from injury, the other concern is his size; he’s very much inbetween positions at his size.

Pick 22 – Hawthorn: Kieran Collins – KPD (194 cm, 100 kg, Dandenong Stingrays)

Hawthorn will soon need key defensive replacements, so Collins is a bit logical to replace the impending gap. Collins is a bit like former Crows full back Ben Rutten – he’s a big, physical unit who shuts his opponent down really well. But like Rutten, Collins has the turning circle of a Toyota Hilux. Having improved his offensive game out of sight this year, Collins now can intercept and create to a reasonable level.

Pick 23 – Carlton: Rhys Mathieson – IM (186 cm, 82 kg, Geelong Falcons)

I’m going to go against the grain here with Mathieson; I don’t think he’ll slide into the late 20s as some have it. He’s just too good. I think he’s a top 10 talent. He lacks a bit of polish and class, but he’s a scrappy ball winner who’s excelled at every level; why not AFL? Not every elite inside midfielder has an aesthetically pleasing style.

Pick 24 – Western Bulldogs: Riley Bonner – SD/OM (190 cm, 85 kg, West Adelaide)

Bonner is another victim of a stacked 11-35 range in this draft. He really could be a top 10-15 type if the cards fell differently. A tall, smooth and skilled half back, Bonner is reasonably quick and loves to take on the game with his run. By foot he’s elite off his left side, with his right side being elite among wrong feet too. He’s capable of playing forward too, and showed some real signs late season as an outside midfielder.

Pick 25 – Western Bulldogs: Ben McKay – KPD (199 cm, 95 kg, Gippsland Power)

Predominantly a key defender but capable of playing forward, Ben is the brother of Harry, a top ten chance. More physical than his brother, Ben struggled with motivation for a while but came back into the system and burst onto the scene as a big marking key position player. He’s not as athletic as Harry, but with more time in the system this could improve.

Pick 26 – GWS: Harry Himmelberg – KPF (194 cm, 87 kg, Eastlake)

Another GWS academy kid, Harry Himmelberg has burst onto the scene as an overaged player. He’s a hard working tall forward with really good endurance and movement. He reminds me of Cam McCarthy in a few ways – with that smart leading and hard running, often getting into the red zone. I think long-term Himmelberg might be suited more to a third tall role like a Tom T. Lynch, using his endurance to provide a solid link up option up the field. His kicking needs a bit of work.

Pick 27 – Fremantle: David Cuningham – OM (184 cm, 81 kg, Oakleigh Chargers)

Cuningham is another late bolter, having gone from not being discussed much to being well in the second round discussion – partially due to this continuing obsession with pace. He’s a nippy outside mid who can win his own ball at the clearance, also possessing great speed and a burst. Defensively he’s a bit lacking, and personally I don’t see it with him; he’s never really grabbed my attention; I just don’t feel he hurts the opposition enough nor does he get enough meaningful possessions.

Pick 28 – West Coast: Ryan Clarke – BM (185 cm, 84 kg, Eastern Ranges)

The only reason I’m picking Clarke here is that it’s just too late for him. He’s better than this, so surely a club pounces if he’s here. He’s a gut running inside leaning midfielder, capable of winning the ball and bursting out of congestion but just keeps on going, pushing through the red zone. He’s reasonably spacially aware in close and distributes well, and really works hard to accumulate. However his kicking can be very scrappy at times, along with his defensive efforts.

Pick 29 – Essendon: Aidyn Johnson – OM (184 cm, 75 kg, Bendigo Pioneers)

A horrible quad injury ruined his season, but Johnson still has the tricks to go in the second round. An outside midfielder who can push forward, Johnson is an electric line breaker who works hard to find opportunities to win and receive the ball. With ball in hand, he’s an excellent user. The issue is just that we haven’t seen much of him this year with his injuries.

Pick 30 – Essendon: Tom Cole – SD/BM (186 cm, 80 kg, Bendigo Pioneers)

Another Bendigo boy, Cole is a very reliable player; you put him anywhere and he’ll thrive in any role. He just does his job – and it’s admirable. He’s a good user of the ball with some nice IQ traits, has a good spread of inside and outside capabilities and has the runs on the board at senior level for Geelong in the VFL. My concern is that he’s a jack of all trades and master of none.

Pick 31 – North Melbourne: Brayden Fiorini – OM (187 cm, 76 kg, Northern Knights)

Another outside midfielder, most teams around this mark have been linked with Fiorini, so it’s a game of who’s serious and who’s not. He’s a lovely left foot kick with some good football IQ as well, capable of accumulating well and making the right decisions. I’m just not sure on his linebreaking and running game; I’m a bit hesitant to advocate the selection of outside players who don’t win their own ball nor run it.

Pick 32 – Sydney: Josh Dunkley – IM (189 cm, 85 kg, Gippsland Power)

Having nominated Sydney to the surprise of many, I’m going with them matching this bid for him. However I’m also wary of a potential ‘deal’ to let Dunkley go if a Victorian club matches; essentially meaning that if Dunkley goes interstate, it’s only to Sydney. We’ll see. As a player he’s a bit rough, with his ball winning exceptional and his marking very solid, but that’s about it. He’s not at all athletic and his kicking is very poor. One dimensional at this stage, which, at his size, could work for him – but it’s not selling me.

Pick 33 – Collingwood: Mason Redman – UTIL (186 cm, 77 kg, Glenelg)

Mason Redman is a ripper, quite simply. Just a natural footballer who’ll thrive wherever he goes. Excels in IQ related areas, with his composure, positioning, poise and running patterns elite. He runs and carries and is also solid overhead. When forward, he just keeps getting into really dangerous positions and makes things happen.

Pick 34 – St Kilda: Bailey Rice – SD/BM (184 cm, 84 kg, Dandenong Stingrays)

A small defender with a really nice kick and some real creativity, Rice will end up at the Saints via the father/son rule. I also think Bailey could end up in the midfield, with his ball winning deceptively good. He’s got a rare blend of aggression and inside ball winning ability as well as kicking, which on a midfielder is lethal.

Pick 35 – North Melbourne: Luke Partington – BM (181 cm, 78 kg, Norwood)

I’m not sure I really understand the slide on Partington; he’s a really, really good footballer. He just finds the ball wherever he plays; and it’s not like he’s one of those inside accumulators with nothing else; he’s got a lot of strings to his bow. He’s a nice kick but not elite, he’s quick, he’s agile, he’s a hard worker and his IQ is good. He regularly makes the right decisions and looks to take the ball through the right areas. His inside game is good with his clearance work much improved. I think he becomes a very good AFL player.

Pick 36 – Gold Coast: Brandon White – SD (189 cm, 80 kg, Dandenong Stingrays)

Another Dandenong defender in the mix, White is a really nice third or fourth defender to have. He’s quick and he’s very disciplined in shutting down his opponent. He’s someone who can rebound well and take the kick-ins with a thumping kick, while also doing a defensive job. His endurance needs some work as does his ability to involve himself in the game to use his natural abilities.

Pick 37 – Western Bulldogs: Sam Skinner – KPD (197 cm, 94 kg, Gippsland Power)

An unfortunate ACL robbed us of the chance to see what he could do, Skinner is a versatile key position player, showing signs both forward and back. He’s a competitive monster, with his strength and marking a real highlight. However his movement and skills could use a little work.

Pick 38 – West Coast: Jesse Glass-McCasker – KPD (196 cm, 92 kg, Swan Districts)

In a lot of ways, Glass-McCasker is what the modern KPD should be. He’s very raw, but very, very athletic. He’s quick, agile, has a great leap and closes down his opponents well. As a stopper he will be very useful once he gets his endurance to standard. His skills need a lot of work though, at this stage he’s very much an athlete first.

Pick 39 – Port Adelaide: Alex Morgan – SD/OM (181 cm, 79 kg, Oakleigh Chargers)

An overaged player, Morgan lost his passion last year but he’s come back this year with a bang. He’s really, really quick and knows how to use that speed, breaking the lines and dancing through traffic with ease. He’s also got a really good read of the game and nice skills; off half back I think Morgan is a perfect player; able to rebound with both speed and skill.

Pick 40 – Fremantle: Mitch W. Brown – KPD (196 cm, 93 kg, Sandringham Zebras)

After excelling in the NAB Cup and VFL this year, expect a team needing a KPD to hand former Geelong player Mitch Brown a second chance.

Pick 41 – Brisbane: Corey Wagner – SD/BM (180 cm, 74 kg, Aspley)

Corey Wagner is one who’s flown under the radar a bit but has a lot to like about him. He can play back, off a wing or even inside at times. He looks quick, has a real burst and inside and out can hurt the opposition. I really like Wagner, and I reckon he could surprise on draft day.

Pick 42 – Melbourne: Will Snelling – IM (173 cm, 78 kg, West Adelaide)

Another small midfielder, what Snelling lacks in size he has in work-ethic. He loves getting in and under and doing the dirty work, winning the ball and using it well. Has good spacial awareness and is happy to run the ball, with his endurance and gut running a highlight.

Pick 43 – North Melbourne: Ben Crocker – SF/OM (185 cm, 84 kg, Oakleigh Chargers)

Crocker is the kind of player who can be a matchwinner, but also at other times falls in and out of the games. He’s a hard worker with really clean hands, capable of linking up as a high half forward and making things happen. He’s also got some really good goal sense.

Pick 44 – Hawthorn: Stephen Tahana – SD/IM (183 cm, 77 kg, North Adelaide)

Maybe I rate Tahana more than others, but he’s got scope to be an excellent role player in my eyes. He’s got some real speed and agility and uses this to shut down his opponent and limit their influence. Through the middle he’s a hard worker and a nice ball winner. I think he’s underrated.

Pick 45 – Port Adelaide: James Parsons: UTIL (189 cm, 77 kg, Eastern Ranges)

James Parsons just makes things happen. At his size he’s a rangy athlete, with his speed and agility a highlight. At times he can make time stop around him, possessing a lethal sidestep and burst. However, he falls in and out of games far too often which is why he’s this late.

Pick 46 – Brisbane: Reuben William – SD/OM (182 cm, 79 kg, Zillmere)

Reuben is one of my personal favourites. A Sudanese kid, his relentless run and attack on the footy is a real highlight. He just wins the ball and attacks, using his speed and incredible agility to dance around the opposition and gain ground. He’s clean at ground level and learning to win his own ball. His IQ is improving out of sight, as is his kicking – but it still needs a lot more work.

Pick 47 – Melbourne: Kurt Mutimer – SD/OM (185 cm, 82 kg, Dandenong Stingrays)

Another I really like, Mutimer’s another player who hurts the opposition by both running and kicking. Having played more in defence, he’s one who may move to the wing with time. His kicking is very solid, with penetration and range, and he’s deceptively quick. For mine, he’s one who’s fallen under the radar with so many guns in the Country and Dandenong teams.

Pick 48 – GWS: Matthew Flynn – Ruck (199 cm, 101 kg, Narrandera)

I haven’t seen too much of Flynn, and when I have it’s been his bad days. So I’m tentatively not a fan. But those that have seen his good days report a competitive beast; something that bodes very well for a ruckman.

Pick 49 – Western Bulldogs: Nick Coughlan – KPD (195 cm, 83 kg, Murray Bushrangers)

Another overaged player, Nick Coughlan was overlooked last year but has impressed this year in the Footscray VFL side’s defence.

Pick 50 – Richmond: Hisham Kerbatieh – SF (178 cm, 80 kg, Calder Cannons)

Kerbatieh is an exciting goal sneak who’s done the job at every level he’s played at. Perhaps a bit selfish at times, but most good smalls are. He’s quick, agile, skilled and has great goal sense.

Pick 51 – Gold Coast: Sam Menagola – BM (188 cm, 88 kg, Subiaco)

He’s already had two chances, but perhaps it’s third time lucky for Menagola, who absolutely stormed the house down in the back half of the WAFL season. A high level endurance athlete with nice size, Menagola adds some experience to the Gold Coast unit, something they lack a bit of.

Pick 52 – Essendon: Blake Hardwick – SF/IM (181 cm, 79 kg, Eastern Ranges)

Blake Hardwick is a small forward who’s kicked many bags this year. At times he plays like an undersized key forward with his sheer power and strength; a skill that makes me think he’d make a good inside midfielder too. He’s got a good burst and can beat his opponent on the lead with his speed, as well as really nice skills. I think he’ll make it.

Pick 53 – Carlton: Jack Silvagni – KPF (191 cm, 83 kg, Oakleigh Chargers)

As we’ve heard a thousand times, Jack is the son of Stephen Silvagni. He’s a talented third tall forward with some Gunston-esque traits, but I find at his size he doesn’t get involved enough in the game. He’s much better down back I reckon, which is where he may well settle.

Pick 54 – Carlton: Pass

Pick 55 – Fremantle: Nathan Broad – SD (191 cm, 83 kg, Swan Districts)

I know nothing about him. But this seems to be what some reckon will happen. Why not?

Pick 56 – West Coast: Greg Clark – OM/SF (194 cm, 88 kg, Subiaco)

There were stupid people claiming Clark was the next Bontempelli earlier in the year. Unbeknown to the aforementioned idiots, Clark is nothing like Bontempelli. He’s tall and he’s fit. And that’s about it. Can find the ball a bit and isn’t an awful user but for his size he’s got a poor inside game and he’s quite slow. Unable to free his hands while being tackled. I think his future is as a third tall forward, not a wingman.

Pick 57 – GWS: Lachlan Tiziani – UTIL (189 cm, 79 kg, Murray Bushrangers)

Another member of the GWS academy, Tiziani is an athletic utility with a particularly strong leap. He looks best forward but can play in defence or through the middle, his mix of reasonable skills and great athleticism bode well for him. Did okay when he played some NEAFL games.

Pick 58 – GWS: Pass

Pick 59 – Collingwood: Declan Mountford – IM (182 cm, 72 kg, Claremont)

Some have Mountford going a bit higher than this, but I’m not really sold. He’s a relatively nippy midfielder who can win his own ball and also spread well, but at his size I don’t feel that ball-winning will translate to the next level. Super fit, he gets from contest to contest easily. I’ve seen quite a bit of him and haven’t really had him grab my attention; I certainly wouldn’t have picked him as a speedster despite his speed testing being fantastic.

Pick 60 – Geelong: Kieran Lovell – BM (173 cm, 80 kg, Kingsborough)

A prolific accumulator despite his small stature, Lovell has his fair share of fans. I am not one of them. His kicking; often claimed as a strength, is very average for mine, both conservative and often butchered. He has good goal sense though and solid running patterns, though does run around for the cheap one out the back too often. At his size, I’m not sure he’ll be a strong ball winner at the next level, but this late he’s a solid pick for Geelong who’ll be looking for some more depth.

Pick 61 – St Kilda: Matthew Allen – KPF (193 cm, 97 kg, Glenelg)

Dominated under 18 and reserves level football in SA, but didn’t impose himself in the championships as he’d have liked. As a key forward he’s undersized and slow but a solid mark and a long, albeit shaky at times, kick. For mine I don’t feel he has the tricks to be a forward at the next level, but his set of skills might bode well as a big bodied inside midfielder were he to pursue a transition to that role.

Pick 62 – GWS: Pass

Pick 63 – North Melbourne: Nash Holmes – IM (181 cm, 81 kg, Gippsland Power)

Nash Holmes is a gifted inside midfielder with a real touch around the contest. Hard as nails, he’ll win you hard ball regularly, as well as pop up for the odd goal too. He’s someone I think is pretty likely to make the grade.

Pick 64 – Fremantle: Josh Schoenfeld – OM (187 cm, 75 kg, Peel Thunder)

You can’t miss Schoenfeld, with his bright red hair and lethal aerobic capacity, he’s everywhere. Runs an elite beep and has elite endurance, he works hard to receive and impact the game.

Pick 65 – West Coast: Marcus Adams – KPD (192 cm, 95 kg, West Perth)

Marcus Adams is one of the biggest units you’ll ever see. He’s a strong and physical key defender who can also play forward and through the middle. His kicking is very scratchy though and needs serious work.

Pick 66 – Sydney: Pass

Pick 67 – Hawthorn: Pass

Pick 68 – St Kilda: Callum Moore – UTIL (193 cm, 87 kg, Calder Cannons)

An enigmatic player, Moore has elite athleticism and has shown some real signs as a third tall forward. However his kicking is awful in terms of technique and execution. With his style, he may end up more of a lock down defender but if his kicking doesn’t improve, it’s still a scary thought having the whole field ahead of him.

Pick 69 – Collingwood: Yestin Eades (184 cm, 82 kg, North Ballarat Rebels)

A really interesting player, Yestin Eades moved from WA to Victoria for some unfortunate personal reasons. The move into a better environment worked wonders for him, with his level of football this year very solid. He has an interesting kicking technique, dropping it from a high position but at times almost throwing it down instead of dropping it onto the boot, which allows for some creative kicking. He’s a really hard working player with some solid athleticism who makes things happen. I think he can go places.

Pick 70 – Gold Coast: Pass

Pick 71 – Essendon: Nick O’Kearney (181 cm, 70 kg, Calder Cannons)

The big slider of the year, O’Kearney has gone from elite talent to ‘meh’ in mere months. It’s not hard to understand why, though – he’s vanilla. Does a lot right, but has very little elite about him; and clubs want elite players. He’s an ok kick, ok athletically, reasonable with his smarts and courage and has a good work rate and inside/outside balance. But nothing that screams elite.

Pick 72 – GWS: Pass

Pick 73 – GWS: Pass

Pick 74 – Collingwood: Pass

Pick 75 – Collingwood: Pass

Pick 76 – Geelong: Jordan Dawson (189 cm, 85 kg, Sturt)

I’m a massive fan of Jordan Dawson, who had a really unfortunate championships suffering from concussion and a back injury. He’s a really versatile third tall forward who can play up the ground and potentially in defence too. When forward he finds space and makes things happen, and up the ground he’s a really solid link up player. He just finds space to help transition with such ease. He’s working on an inside game; but I really like what I see from him.

Pick 77 – Port Adelaide: Pass

Pick 78 – Richmond: Oleg Markov – SF (188 cm, 75 kg, North Adelaide)

After missing last year with two bouts of a broken collarbone, Markov has come back this year and really put his name in front of recruiters. A very athletic medium forward who can push up the field, he’s got an excellent leap and makes things happen.

Pick 79 – North Melbourne: Pass

Pick 80 – Fremantle: Pass

Pick 81 – West Coast: Pass

Pick 82 – Essendon: Pass

Pick 83 – Geelong: Tom Doedee – SD (187 cm, 83 kg, Geelong Falcons)

Tom Doedee is someone who projects as a really solid role player. In defence he’s very athletic and can close down an opponent but knows how to rebound too. Defensively he takes his job seriously and gets it done.

Pick 84 – Richmond: Pass

Pick 85 – Richmond: Pass

Pick 86 – Essendon: Pass

Pick 87 – Geelong: Tyrone Leonardis – SD (183 cm, 82 kg, Northern Knights)

I feel like Leonardis has been forgotten a bit, but he can really play. A small defender or outside midfielder, he’s got some real speed and agility as well as a solid rebounding left foot. He takes the game on by foot and with his run, and gets in good positions.

Pick 88 – Geelong: Pass

Pick 89 – Geelong: Pass

Matt Balmer’s 2015 Phantom Draft

With the minutes ticking down until the first name is called out on draft night, here is my final phantom draft for 2015. Despite the draft being labelled as weak, there are still quality players in the top 30 picks. Expect many clubs to pass on the night, with around 60 picks to be used due to the depth of the draft pool not being as strong as usual. Similar to Tuesday night, rookie picks have not been included.

  1. Carlton – Jacob Weitering

Club: Dandenong Stingrays (Vic Country)
Position: Key position defender
Height: 195 cm
Weight: 94 kg

Key stats: Averaged 7.4 marks in the TAC Cup and 5.8 in the under 18 championships

Jacob Weitering will be announced as the number one draft pick on Tuesday night, capping off an impressive year. Weitering is a key position defender, with his greatest strength being his ability to read the ball in flight and mark the ball. Weitering intercepts the play inside defensive 50, winning one-on-one situations more than not. Unlike most defenders Weitering is someone you want to have the ball in their hands, with an exquisite kick giving him the ability to pinpoint the pass to a teammate up the field. Weitering’s attitude is fantastic and has leadership traits, helping him being earmarked as a future leader at AFL level after captaining Vic Country to an undefeated title at the under 18 championships. Weitering tested well at the national combine, running a 15.1 in the beep test as well as running 3.04 in the 20-metre sprint indicating his can compete at AFL level. Carlton will be pleased to bring in a player with these traits, someone that some recruiters believe could have played AFL this season.

In the mix? Unless Carlton have had a complete change of heart, Weitering will be a navy blue in 2016.

  1. Brisbane – Josh Schache

Club: Murray Bushrangers (Vic Country)
Position: Key position forward
Height: 199 cm
Weight: 100 kg

Key stats: 24 goals in the under 18 championships, 34 goals in seven TAC Cup games

Josh Schache is the best key position forward in the 2015 draft. Schache has clean hands and marks the ball well overhead, due to his strong ball reading ability. After winning the Larke Medal, for the best player at the national championships, Schache’s name was put into contention for the number one pick. However, with Brisbane eventuating with Pick two he is a perfect fit for the Lions, a side screaming out for a key position forward. Schache has a clean set shot technique and had the most shots on goal this year, compared with any other draft prospect. At 199 centimetres, Schache moves well – running a beep test of 14.1 at the national combine indicating his strong endurance. He also has the ability to play in the ruck and will develop into a forward that has the capability to play as a back up ruckman if needed. Schache’s father Laurence also played for the Brisbane Bears in 1991-92, playing 29 games and the strong family ties have led Schache to proclaim he’d be happy to be drafted to the Lions.

In the mix? None – lock it in. The Lions will be patient with the developing tall who has family connections with the Lions.

  1. Sydney – Callum Mills (Melbourne bid)

Club: North Shore (NSW/ACT)
Position: Inside midfielder
Height: 188 cm
Weight: 80 kg

Key stats: Averaged 16.7 disposals in three NEAFL games

Callum Mills is a competitive inside midfielder who only managed to play three games this season thanks to shin soreness. Despite the injury setbacks, Mills showed enough form as a bottom ager in the under 18 championships in 2014 that he deserves to be enough for a top three pick. The tough inside midfielder was a prolific ball winner and was able to collect 20 disposals in a half for the Sydney Swans NEAFL team this year. In 2014, Mills made the All-Australian team as a bottom ager, as well as racking up 40 disposals in a match for the Sydney Swans reserves. Mills has been apart of the Swans academy for years and is a talent they won’t be passing on. At 188 centimetres, he is the future of the inside midfielder’s size and tackles his opponents hard.

In the mix? Nobody, Sydney will match the bid for Callum Mills. He is too good to pass.

  1. Melbourne – Clayton Oliver

Club: Murray Bushrangers (Vic Country)
Position: Inside midfielder
Height: 187 cm
Weight: 85 kg

Key stats: Averaged 24 disposals (14 contested) in the TAC Cup

One of the big bolters is Murray Bushranger Clayton Oliver. Despite not completing a preseason, Oliver was able to play 16 games in the TAC Cup enabling him to win the Morrish Medal for the best player in the competition. Oliver is a contested ball ‘hard-nut’ and plays similarly to Patrick Cripps. Oliver is an aggressive midfielder who propels the ball forward with his long boot. He averaged 24 disposals (14 contested) at an efficiency of 70% in his 16 games this year. Oliver is strong at the stoppages, as evident by him averaging six clearances per game making him one of the stronger inside midfielders in the draft. He also averaged six tackles per game and hits the scoreboard often, kicking 20 goals this season. A question mark is Oliver’s endurance and body shape, but if he completes a full preseason in the AFL environment his body size and endurance will improve.

In the mix? The whisper is that it’s almost a coin toss between Darcy Parish and Clayton Oliver.

  1. Essendon – Aaron Francis

Club: West Adelaide (South Australia)
Positon: Utility
Height: 191 cm
Weight: 92 kg

Key stats: Averaged 5.7 marks in the under 18 championships

Utility Aaron Francis will likely head to Essendon at Tuesday’s draft. Francis is a versatile tall, that can play at both end of the ground. Francis has a brilliant mark and has great athleticism and is best suited to play as a third defender. Francis has great agility and has good closing speed when playing on opponents. Clubs are intrigued as to whether he could develop into a midfielder, in a similar way to Brendon Goddard has. However, Francis will need to improve his endurance if he wants to become a full time midfielder. As a bonus, Francis is an Essendon supporter and is happy to head out of South Australia for Melbourne. Essendon should be able to find a role for Francis as a third tall defender, with his key strength being his intercept marking.

In the mix? Sam Weideman and Charlie Curnow will be considered by Essendon, but it is believed they like Aaron Francis the best out of the three talls.

  1. Essendon – Darcy Parish

Club: Geelong Falcons (Vic Country)
Position: Balanced midfielder
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 74 kg

Key stats: Averaged 27.7 disposals in the TAC Cup

An impressive season from midfielder Darcy Parish saw him claim back-to-back All-Australian honours. Parish is a really classy midfielder who disposes the ball well, playing nearly a perfect season. A knock on Parish recently is has been his height and whether he will be durable at AFL level, but Parish works exceptionally well at the stoppages and holds his own against bigger opponents. Parish plays his best football on the inside, due to his strong ability at the stoppages but he has the ability to play on the outside. With his size, Parish will likely begin his career as an outside midfielder for the Bombers. Parish moves well through traffic and hits targets regularly thanks to his good decision making, spotting opponents ahead of him.

In the mix? If Clayton Oliver isn’t picked by the Demons, Essendon will pounce. Wayne Milera is also in their sights.

  1. GWS – Jacob Hopper (Gold Coast bid)

Club: North Ballarat Rebels (NSW/ACT)
Position: Inside midfielder
Height: 185 cm
Weight: 83 kg

Key stats: Averaged 23.1 disposals in 12 TAC Cup games.

Inside midfield beast Jacob Hopper will be off to GWS due to being linked with their academy. Hopper dominates the clearances and enjoys the contests, tackling opponents hard. Hopper has the ability to go forward and kick goals, kicking 26 goals in 12 TAC Cup games. He is an aggressive midfielder that propels the ball forward from the stoppages, using his exceptional vision to pick out teammates with ease. Hopper stood out for NSW/ACT in the under 18 championships, averaging 27 disposals. GWS won’t be passing on the inside hard nut and look to have two of the most damaging midfielders on their list in 2016.

In the mix? It is a possibility that Matthew Kennedy is bid on before Hopper, but both are a sure thing to end up as GWS players next season.

  1. Gold Coast – Callum Ah Chee

Club: South Fremantle (Western Australia)
Position: Outside midfielder/Small forward
Height: 181 cm
Weight: 72 kg

Key stats: Averaged 14.8 disposals playing WAFL Seniors.

Excitement machine Callum Ah Chee will be off to Gold Coast to replace midfielder Harley Bennell. Despite being inconsistent this year, Gold Coast are believed to be interested in Ah Chee. Ah Chee is the most highly touted prospect from Western Australia, whilst his brother is on the Port Adelaide list. As seen in the NAB AFL Academy match, he is no stranger to taking big marks. Ah Chee performed well against two VFL opponent as well as when he stepped up at WAFL level. He has elite speed, running a 2.88 sec 20m sprint earlier this year. Ah Chee will start as a small forward, a position that will help Gold Coast hit the scoreboard in 2016 before transitioning into the midfield once he works on his tank.

In the mix? If Darcy Parish is overlooked by Melbourne and Essendon, expect Gold Coast to pounce. Wayne Milera is another option if Callum Ah Chee has been snapped up earlier.

  1. Melbourne – Sam Weideman

Club: Eastern Ranges (Vic Metro)
Position: Key position forward
Height: 196 cm
Weight: 94 kg

Key stats: Kicked 28 goals in 20 TAC Cup games in the last two seasons

Sam Weideman is a developing tall forward and will be the perfect partner for Jesse Hogan at the Demons. Weideman’s main strength is his marking, a skill that he has developed thanks to his great reading of the ball in the air. Weideman took seven marks in the NAB AFL Academy’s match against Northern Blues, indicating his ability to match it against AFL listed opponents. Unfortunately for Weideman, he’s spent a large chunk of the last two seasons on the sidelines with ankle issues. An ankle injury this year, set him out for five months. Last week Weideman did a testing session, where he didn’t perform as well as he would have liked. However, Weideman is on the road to recovery with his ankle and the Demons need a tall forward.

In the mix? Depending on whether Melbourne go a midfielder at pick three will decide what they do with this pick. A slim chance they pick Charlie Curnow, and Harry McKay will also be considered.

  1. Carlton – Harry McKay

Club: Gippsland Power (Vic Country)
Position: Key position forward
Height: 200 cm
Weight: 94 kg

Key stats: Kicked 19 goals in 13 TAC Cup games

Harry McKay has been impressive this year and doesn’t turn 18 until Christmas Eve. Harry is a good lead up forward who has showed great potential this year. McKay moves well for someone standing at 200 centimetres and has worked hard on his ruckwork while playing for Gippsland. McKay is still very raw, but has good speed and a great set of hands and will be a good prospect for Carlton to develop inside 50. His AFL traits are notable and if given time he will be able to improve and becoming the number one forward due to his massive upside.

In the mix? Charlie Curnow would come into the Blues’ consideration, as well as classy midfielder Darcy Tucker and Wayne Milera.

  1. GWS – Matthew Kennedy (Adelaide bid)

Club: Collingullie-GP (NSW/ACT)
Position: Inside midfielder
Height: 187 cm
Weight: 88 kg

Key stats: Averaged 23.2 disposals in five TAC Cup games

One of the biggest risers in the draft is Matthew Kennedy. 12 months ago Kennedy was playing club football with his brothers and is now certain to be on an AFL list in 2016. Kennedy plays as an inside midfielder but can also go forward, kicking three goals in Collingullie’s premiership. Unfortunately for Kennedy he injured his knee earlier in the year, which meant that he missed the under 18 championships. Despite the injury, Kennedy came back to the scene with a 21-disposal game for the Allies in the grand final day curtain-raiser. Kennedy’s best game came against Oakleigh in the TAC Cup where he amassed 30 disposals (18 contested) and took nine marks. Kennedy is really strong and takes contested marks at ease against opponents. Kennedy’s first year in the pathway systems has been one of great success and looking back in five years, some may wonder just why he wasn’t talked about as a top three prospect.

In the mix? GWS are certain to match the bid for Kennedy, but it could come before Jacob Hopper.

  1. Adelaide – Wayne Milera

Club: Central Districts (South Australia)
Position: Outside midfielder/small forward
Height: 183 cm
Weight: 77 kg

Key stats: Averaged 15.2 disposals (83.5% efficiency) in the under 18 championships

Wayne Milera performed well at senior level for Central Districts in the SANFL resulting in his draft stocks increasing. Milera kicked three goals in a final against Port Adelaide and has impressed clubs with his smooth skills and agility to move freely out of a stoppage. Milera is a dangerous forward who kicks goals, but uses his pace to outrun opponents when playing in the midfield. Milera had heart surgery this year to correct an irregularity, but despite this he has continued to increase his draft stocks with every game he played. Milera played 11 games in the senior SANFL team, indicating he can play against the bigger bodies despite only standing at 183 centimetres. Milera should be able to slot into the Crows’ forward line with ease, standing under Taylor Walker.

In the mix? The Crows are likely to draft one tall and one small. Do they take a punt on Burton this early? Charlie Curnow will also be considered.

  1. Brisbane – Eric Hipwood (Carlton bid)

Club: Aspley (Queensland)
Position: Key position forward/defender
Height: 202 cm
Weight: 83 kg

Key stats: Took 22 marks in three under 18 championships games

Key position utility Eric Hipwood jumped onto the scene with four goals in a quarter for Queensland against Tasmania in the under 18 championships. Hipwood is a unique player at over 200 centimetres, able to move freely around the ground helped by his good agility. He is versatile so can move forward or back depending on where the Lions will need him. Hipwood is an excellent mark, taking 22 marks in three under 18 championships games. Hipwood however can be let down by his poor kicking skills, however he is a raw prospect and at his size he should be able to develop as a footballer. I believe he’s better suited to playing forward, but similar to Harris Andrews he should be able to swing between the two ends without any issues. Lions fans need to be patient as he will take time to build his frame, but he looms as the first Brisbane Lions academy member to be picked.

In the mix? The Lions will be happy to match the bid on Hipwood; Gold Coast are believed to be interested so may bid early than expected.

  1. Carlton – Charlie Curnow

Club: Geelong Falcons (Vic Country)
Position: Key position forward
Height: 191 cm
Weight: 95 kg

Key stats: Kicked 21 goals in 10 TAC Cup games

Charlie Curnow is an intriguing prospect in this draft pool. At 191 centimetres, many touted him to be considered a midfielder but Curnow dislocated his knee during the season, making him missing the under 18 championships. Curnow only reached 20 disposals once during the year, therefore indicating he is best considered as a key position forward prospect. One experienced recruiter believes Curnow is the second best player in the draft, behind Josh Schache, whilst another wouldn’t have him in his top 30 prospects. Curnow has good athleticism and marks the ball at the highest point, with Curnow averaging 6.1 marks per TAC Cup game. Curnow has a solid set of skills to work on, but there are still question marks hanging over his ability to read the play inside 50, often unsure where to lead. Most recently the negative publicity over being pulled over by police will likely see him slip down the order on draft night, but Curnow is a good kid and will be wanting to redeem himself for his actions at his new club.

In the mix? Stephen Silvagni was in Adelaide recently, so don’t rule out Ryan Burton. They also like Darcy Tucker and Jade Gresham, but may be hoping one slides to their fourth pick.

  1. Richmond – Jade Gresham

Club: Northern Knights (Vic Metro)
Position: Inside midfielder
Height: 178 cm
Weight: 76 kg

Key stats: Averaged 29.4 disposals in 13 TAC Cup games

Jade Gresham won Vic Metro’s MVP at the under 18 championships after having a superb carnival, earning him All-Australia honours. Despite only standing at 178 centimetres, Gresham is a strong bodied inside midfielder who isn’t afraid of winning the contested ball. Whilst not having elite pace, Gresham has zip and moves quickly from the stoppages. He breaks the lines taking the ball forward and has clean hands. Gresham also has the ability to go forward, where he kicked 15 goals in 13 TAC Cup games. With Richmond looking for a small forward, expect Jade Gresham to be called out on draft night, before he transitions into a midfield role after a few preseasons. Gresham has fantastic leadership abilities and is one of the few players who come with superb leadership skills. His height is a knock, with some questioning whether he’ll be able to stand up in an AFL midfield but he is skilful and should be able to find a role for the Tigers. One thing Gresham needs to improve his kicking, with Gresham often chipping the ball around collecting ‘cheapies’ rather than moving the ball forward in an aggressive nature.

In the mix? Callum Ah Chee is the one the Tigers like, but will he be available? The need for a small forward is large, but is it enough to reach for Daniel Rioli. Ryan Burton has been completing some of his rehab at Punt Road, so expect Richmond to do their due-diligence.

  1. Adelaide – Ryan Burton

Club: North Adelaide (South Australia)
Position: General forward
Height: 191 cm
Weight: 90 kg

Key stats: Kicked five goals as a 17-year old in the under 18 championships in 2014

Ryan Burton’s broken leg has been considered to be similar to a car crash. However, Burton is slowly working through rehab this season and remains a player high up on some clubs lists. The risk associated with Burton is huge, but the upside if it comes off may prove worth the risk. Some recruiters believe he’d go top three in the draft off his form alone from last year, but he injury has made it hard for clubs to rank him. With Adelaide having two picks inside the top 20, I expect them to take the punt on Burton who could prove the steal of the draft. However, Burton hasn’t played a match since 2014 and is yet to partake in any contact after suffering the horrible injury in a school match. Burton has a strong leap and plays inside 50 and has an excellent overhead mark. Burton has a great kick for goal and will be a promising talent for the Crows. Similar to the punt taken by the Bulldogs on Jake Stringer, expect the Crows to call his name out on draft night.

In the mix? Could the Tigers steal Burton from under their noses? If Burton is off the board, expect the Crows to look at either Harley Balic or Darcy Tucker. Don’t rule out a bid on GWS academy member Harry Himmelberg either!

  1. St Kilda – Darcy Tucker

Club: North Ballarat Rebels (Vic Country)
Position: Outside midfielder
Height: 183 cm
Weight: 79 kg

Key stats: Collected 19 disposals when he played for North Ballarat Roosters in the VFL

Darcy Tucker was touted as one of the top picks 12 months ago, but his slipped slightly with a below par season. Tucker is a brilliant prospect however, running hard off half back. He moved into the midfield on occasions for North Ballarat, but is best suited to playing off half back where he reads the play well. Tucker takes the game on using his speed and dash, carrying the ball forward. Tucker has an elite left foot and sets up the play well. Tucker has a good footy brain, cutting the vision for his North Ballarat team in preparation for oppositions the week after. Tucker also averaged 22.6 disposals throughout the year, indicating he can find the football. At AFL level, Tucker should be able to develop his skills in the midfield moving up to a wing, but is best suited to play off half back using his strong kick.

In the mix? Rhys Mathieson was a favourite of the Saints during the year, but is another left footer Brayden Fiorini coming into their heads?

  1. Hawthorn – Daniel Rioli

Club: North Ballarat Rebels (Northern Territory)
Position: Small forward
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 69 kg

Key stats: Kicked 14 goals in nine TAC Cup games

Daniel Rioli finish to the year helped him put his name up for top 20 honours. Rioli tested extremely well and collected 20 disposals for the Allies on Grand Final day. Rioli has elite speed and endurance making him an intriguing prospect for the Hawks, to play alongside uncle Cyril. Rioli has been inconsistent throughout the season, but has the ability to change the game within a five-minute period bobbing up and kicking goals.

In the mix? Hawthorn interviewed Rioli at length on Friday and are keen on adding him to their list, if Rioli is gone they will likely look for Kieran Collins or Mitchell Hibberd.

  1. Gold Coast – Harley Balic

Club: Sandringham Dragons (Vic Metro)
Position: Inside midfielder/General forward
Height: 187 cm
Weight: 81 kg

Key stats: Averaged 22.9 disposals in seven TAC Cup games

Harley Balic is an athletic midfielder who can push forward and kick goals. Balic is a strong one-on-one player and performed well throughout the season despite playing with a wrist injury. Once Sandringham were out of finals contention, Balic opted for wrist surgery, however he should be fully fit for training once he is drafted. Balic has the ability to play off half back, indicating his versatility. Balic comes from a basketball bac kground, only finally deciding to fully commitment to TAC Cup football this year. One thing Balic needs to improve is his kicking, he often lobs the ball forward off his boot rather than pinpointing the pass.

In the mix? Gold Coast are keen on adding some pace, so if Ah Chee, Rioli or Gresham slip they may pick them.

  1. North Melbourne – Ryan Clarke

Club: Eastern Ranges (Vic Metro)
Position: Inside midfielder
Height: 185 cm
Weight: 84 kg

Key stats: Averaged 23.3 disposals in the TAC Cup finals

Ryan Clarke is a hard running midfielder who had a fantastic TAC Cup finals series. The Melbourne Grammarian had a good year at school level, but was able to rack up the big numbers averaging 29.8 disposals in the TAC Cup season. Clarke is a good body size and moves well around the ground due to his strong ‘gut running.’ Clarke can also go forward and hit the scoreboard, kicking 17 goals in 12 TAC Cup games. Clarke is strong in the contests and performed well for Vic Metro in the centre. One thing Clarke will need to look at is his kicking, which may need some polish but with interchange caps reducing his running capabilities will appeal to clubs.

In the mix? North Melbourne might look to Aidyn Johnson, David Cuningham or Alex Morgan to add some pace to their midfield.

  1. Brisbane – Ben Keays (Hawthorn bid)

Club: Redlands (Queensland)
Position: Balanced midfielder
Height: 185 cm
Weight: 80 kg

Key stats: Averaged 28.7 disposals in the under 18 championships

Brisbane Lions academy member Ben Keays has had a fantastic season for Queensland. He continued his form from 2014, becoming a dual under 18 All-Australian after another good season in the under 18 championships. Keays has good leadership skills, captaining Queensland to a division two title. Keays accumulates possession and is good on both the inside and outside as a midfielder. He also claimed the Harrison Medal as the best player in division two, thanks to his run and carry style taking the ball forward. With Hawthorn bidding on Keays, Brisbane will match to collect the strong midfielder.

In the mix? After matching the bid for Hipwood, the Lions will be able to have enough remaining picks to match for Ben Keays.

  1. Hawthorn – Kieran Collins

Club: Dandenong Stingrays (Vic Country)
Position: Key position defender
Height: 194 cm
Weight: 99 kg

Key stats: Collins did not lose a single one-on-one contest in the under 18 championships

Kieran Collins is the best key position defender, behind Jacob Weitering in the draft. Collins was teammates with Weitering at Dandenong and for Vic Country, but Collins was often given the job on the strongest opposition forward in the goal square. After a fantastic under 18 championships he was named in the All-Australian team. Collins has strong hands and marks the ball well overhead. He is a brut of the person, with some recruiters believing he will fit straight into an AFL environment quickly. Collins averaged 5.7 marks in the under 18 championships and has been a big improver. With Brian Lake retiring, the Hawks will look to Collins to fit into their successful game plan that used Lake in defence.

In the mix? Hawthorn have been interested in Mitchell Hibberd and may pull the pin and draft him with their first selection. Riley Bonner’s elite kicking would also be on their radar as well as Daniel Rioli if they overlooked him.

  1. Carlton – Rhys Mathieson

Club: Geelong Falcons (Vic Country)
Position: Inside midfielder
Height: 186 cm
Weight: 81 kg

Key stats: Averaged 25.6 disposals (12.2 contested) in 12 games in the TAC Cup

Inside midfielder Rhys Mathieson has had a solid season for Geelong. He is a tough midfielder who is really good at winning the footy on the inside of the contest. Mathieson was All-Australia as a bottom ager and again this year, indicating he can step up when needed. Mathieson is good at winning the clearances, averaging seven per game in the TAC Cup, but also continued to work on his outside abilities at stages this year. Clubs however have been questioning his beep test result, believing he needs to work on his endurance to become a full time AFL midfielder.

In the mix? Carlton’s pick will depend on what they do earlier, Darcy Tucker would be considered if he slides as well as speedy midfielders David Cuningham and Jade Gresham.

  1. Western Bulldogs – Ben McKay

Club: Gippsland Power (Vic Country)
Position: Key position defender
Height: 199 cm
Weight: 95 kg

Key stats: Averaged 3.8 marks in 10 TAC Cup games.

Ben McKay only has a small sample size of matches, but has impressed clubs at how quickly he has developed. With 2015 being his only year in the Gippsland program, he pulled out after completing preseason before returning mid year. His rapid rate of improvement has even led to some clubs rating him higher than his twin brother Harry. Ben turns 18 in December and will still be young when he joins an AFL club. With the Bulldogs looking for a tall defender, McKay is the obvious choice if still on the board. His marking is exceptional overhead, with his best game coming in the wet against Oakleigh where he took seven marks (five contested).

In the mix? Injured tall Sam Skinner might be an option.

  1. Western Bulldogs – Riley Bonner

Club: West Adelaide (South Australia)
Position: General defender
Height: 190 cm
Weight: 85 kg

Key stats: Averaged 18 disposals (73.1% efficiency) in the under 18 championships

Riley Bonner is a defender with one of the best kicks in the draft. He’s a nice size and uses his long penetrating kick to his advantage. Another strength is his ability to kick on both feet, which is handy for a prospect who applies his trade off half back or on a wing. Bonner’s elite kick helped him be named in the All-Australian side after the under 18 championships. With Robert Murphy and Matthew Boyd coming to the end of their careers, Bonner would be a solid replacement.

In the mix? Aggressive midfielder Josh Dunkley might be an option or do they pull the pin and go a ruckman early?

  1. GWS – Harry Himmelberg (Fremantle bid)

Club: Eastlake (NSW/ACT)
Positon: Key position forward
Height: 194 cm
Weight: 87 kg

Key stats: Kicked 12 goals in seven TAC Cup games

Harry Himmelberg came back as a 19-year-old for NSW/ACT and performed well. Being a GWS academy member, Himmelberg excelled through the preseason pushing his name into national draft contention. Himmelberg is similar to Cam McCarthy, not only do they play the same way but they look very similar in appearance. Fremantle bid on Himmelberg looking for a key position forward, but with Cam McCarthy’s future unsure, GWS opting to match the bid. Himmelberg’s best match came on Grand Final day, where he collected 19 disposals and kicked a goal in a best on ground performance. A consistent year in front of goal, should see Himmelberg be bid on in the top 30 if not higher on Tuesday.

In the mix? Whispers keep going around that Adelaide are thinking of bidding on Himmelberg with an early pick – Would GWS match it that high?

  1. Fremantle – Tom Cole

Club: Bendigo Pioneers (Vic Country)
Position: Inside midfielder/medium defender
Height: 186 cm
Weight: 80 kg

Key stats: Averaged 25 disposals (13.1 contested) in nine games in the TAC Cup

Tom Cole has had a strong season for Bendigo Pioneers in the TAC Cup playing off half back. Cole is composed with the football and hurts opposition sides when he runs the ball out of defence. Cole is a strong body who likes to be involved in the contested ball, when he played in the centre for Bendigo. Cole also had the chance to play against bigger bodies in the VFL, where he performed exceptionally well averaging 17.3 disposals in his three games. Cole is someone that Fremantle may look to blood in 2016, as they attempt to collect their first premiership.

In the mix? Fremantle would like a tall forward, GWS matched their offer – But could they pull the trigger on Mitch Brown?

  1. West Coast – David Cunningham

Club: Oakleigh Chargers (Vic Metro)
Position: Outside midfielder
Height: 184 cm
Weight: 80 kg

Key stats: Averaged 19.3 disposals in 11 games in the TAC Cup

Speedy midfielder David Cuningham has shot up into top 30 contention after a solid season for Oakleigh. With a lack of pace in this year’s draft crop, Cuningham provides a good option for clubs looking for speed and dash. Cuningham was eighth at the national combine, running 2.91 seconds in the 20m sprint. Cuningham isn’t a high disposal winner, but is silky smooth in the midfield and works hard to clear the ball from stoppages. Cuningham is suited to playing on the outside, but has worked in the centre of the ground for Vic Metro during the under 18 championships.

In the mix? West Coast are believed to be keen on Mitchell Hibberd, but word floating around is that he’s not keen on going west.

  1. Essendon – Mitchell Hibberd

Club: Clarence (Tasmania)
Position: Medium defender/Outside midfielder
Height: 190 cm
Weight: 85 kg

Key stats: Averaged 23.7 disposals at the under 18 championships

Mitchell Hibberd will be one of the few Tasmanian’s drafted in 2015. Hibberd was overlooked last year after suffering an ACL injury and has also suffered shoulder injuries. However, Hibberd has been relatively injury free this season and won’t be going to Essendon with question marks over his durability. Hibberd can play at all areas of the ground, but is best suited to a half back/wing role due to his strong athletic capabilities. Hibberd ran 15.4 in the beep test (placing him second), an effort that you could see he left nothing in the tank. Hibberd hits targets well, but has been criticised by some for kicking the ball without lowering his eyes. At his size, he should transition into a good prospect for Essendon.

In the mix? Essendon would be hoping David Cuningham or Daniel Rioli may slide in order to add some speed to their midfield.

  1. Essendon – Brayden Fiorini

Club: Northern Knights (Vic Metro)
Position: Outside midfielder
Height: 187 cm
Weight: 76 kg

Key stats: Averaged 31.8 disposals in 13 games in the TAC Cup

Brayden Fiorini is an outside midfielder that has had a really consistent two seasons in the TAC Cup. Fiorini is a ball winner, averaging over 30 disposals for Northern Knights. Playing on a wing, Fiorini uses his strong left foot with his great decision making skills to set up the playing inside 50. Against Bendigo Pioneers, Fiorini amassed 42 disposals and kicked two goals indicating he can collect a large amount of disposals in games. For Vic Metro he was used on the inside more than he has been at TAC Cup, but his body shape and style will suit him being used as a wingman or half back at AFL level.

In the mix? Do the Bombers take a punt on Mitch Brown, or are they happy to draft another tall later in the draft?

  1. North Melbourne – Aidyn Johnson

Club: Bendigo Pioneers (Vic Country)
Position: Outside midfielder
Height: 184 cm
Weight: 75 kg

Key stats: Came fourth in the agility test at the national combine, running 8.15 seconds

Aidyn Johnson has spent most of the season on the sidelines after suffering a horrible quad injury in the NAB AFL Academy match against Northern Blues. Despite only playing less than a handful of games this year, North Melbourne are interested in the excitement machine who is one of the most agile players in the draft. Johnson is best suited to playing on a wing, however he has the ability to play forward as well.

  1. Collingwood – Mason Redman

Club: Glenelg (South Australia)
Position: Medium forward/Inside midfielder
Height: 186 cm
Weight: 77 kg

Key stats: Averaged 21.8 disposals in the SANFL under 18s

Mason Redman is a high half forward who had a promising under 18 championships for South Australia. Redman is a strong mark, thanks to his long arms which give him the ability to take the ball at the highest point. At 186 centimetres, Redman isn’t tall enough to play as a genuine target up forward, but suited to a role as the fifth forward who can collect the ball in the middle of the ground and propelling it deep inside 50. Redman also performed well for Glenelg in the SANFL under 18s, which saw him moved up to the reserves before making his senior debut. There is a lot to like about Redman and he has been one of the big improvers since June, giving Collingwood a nice prospect to work with.

  1. North Melbourne – Mitch Brown

Club: Sandringham VFL
Position: Utility
Height: 196 cm
Weight: 93 kg

Key stats: Averaged 19.2 disposals in the VFL

Former Geelong player Mitch Brown will find himself on an AFL list after a stellar year in the VFL. Brown played at both ends of the ground throughout the season, kicking 23 goals in 21 games. Brown played every game this season for Sandringham, providing a key player for them, nearly getting them to a grand final. Brown reads the play well and is a good overhead mark, averaging 7.4 marks per game this season.

  1. Gold Coast – Alex Morgan

Club: Oakleigh Chargers (Vic Metro)
Position: Small defender
Height: 181 cm
Weight: 79 kg

Key stats: Averaged 19.1 disposals in seven games in the TAC Cup

Morgan is a dashing half back flanker who has propelled up the draft order after a good season for Oakleigh. Despite missing some of the season with a hamstring injury, Morgan returned for the TAC Cup grand final kicking a crucial win, helping them to back-to-back premierships. Morgan kicks well on both feet and has good speed, giving him the ability to run off his opponents. Similar to the TAC Cup grand final, Morgan can go forward and provide a marking target due to his strong leap. Morgan also averaged 16.8 disposals for Vic Metro off half back in the under 18 championships.

  1. Sydney – Josh Dunkley (Western Bulldogs bid)

Club: Gippsland Power (Vic Country)
Position: Inside midfielder
Height: 189 cm
Weight: 85 kg

Key stats: Averaged 19 disposals (10.2 contested) in six games in the TAC Cup

Only in the last week did Josh Dunkley make his mind up about opting to nominate as a father/son pick to the Swans. Dunkley was injured for the first third of the season, he then spent time completing his rehab at Richmond, before playing six games with their VFL side. Dunkley then returned to the TAC Cup for the final third of the season, playing six games. He is a contested ball hard nut and is very much an inside player. He averaged 6 tackles in the TAC Cup, indicating his desire to win the ball back from opponents. Dunkley though is a poor kick, kicking at 50% efficiency in the TAC Cup, something Dunkley will need to improve at AFL level.

  1. Western Bulldogs – Sam Skinner

Club: Gippsland Power (Vic Country)
Position: Key position defender/forward
Height: 197 cm
Weight: 94 kg

Key stats: Averaged 13.2 disposals in five games in the TAC Cup

Sam Skinner has been injured for most of the year, after suffering an ACL injury in the under 18 championships. At 197 cm, Skinner can play at both ends of the ground, but will likely be suited to a role at Centre Half Back. Skinner moves well athletically and is versatile. He marks well overhead and showed great leadership skills while being out injured helping his teammates throughout the year. Skinner’s rehab is going well and should be expected to complete some of a preseason for the Bulldogs.

  1. West Coast – Kurt Mutimer

Club: Dandenong Stingrays (Vic Country)
Position: Small defender
Height: 185 cm
Weight: 81 kg

Key stats: Averaged 15 disposals (81.3% efficiency) at the under 18 championships

Kurt Mutimer is a fast half back flanker who had a strong year for Dandenong and Vic Country. Mutimer finished first in the 20m sprint at the national combine with 2.88 seconds. Mutimer is a left footer and has a strong kick where he can kick the ball over 60 metres. Another strength for Mutimer is that he can kick on both feet and wins a lot of the ball on the outside of the contested. Mutimer is best suited to a role off half back or on a wing where he can propel the ball forward with his long kick, with these attributes he should be able to develop into a nice prospect for the Eagles.

  1. St Kilda – Bailey Rice (Port Adelaide bid)

Club: Dandenong Stingrays (Vic Country)
Position: Small defender/Inside midfielder
Height: 184 cm
Weight: 83 kg

Key stats: Averaged 21 disposals in 13 games in the TAC Cup

Father-son prospect Bailey Rice will find his way to St Kilda on Tuesday, after the midfielder nominated St Kilda over Carlton. Despite Rice supporting Carlton, he made the tough decision to nominate St Kilda instead after his father Dean played 100+ games at both clubs. Rice is a pure half back flanker and uses the ball well, rebounding out of defensive 50. Rice kicks the ball well, but will need to work on his endurance in order to find a position in the St Kilda team. With St Kilda looking for players that kick well in the draft, it is a no-brainer for St Kilda to match the bid from Port Adelaide.

  1. Port Adelaide – Luke Partington

Club: Norwood (South Australia)
Position: Outside midfielder
Height: 181 cm
Weight: 77 kg

Key stats: Averaged 24.3 disposals in the under 18 championships

Luke Partington is a strong talent from South Australia, representing the NAB AFL Academy earlier in the season. Partington performed well early in the under 18 championships which had his named pushed up for top 20 honours. On the outside he provides good run and began moving into a role on the inside at SANFL level. Partington kicks the ball well and shows dash when moving the ball from the stoppages. He wins a lot of the ball, as indicated by his form at SANFL and for South Australia this year.

  1. Fremantle – Jesse Glass-McCasker

Club: Swan Districts (Western Australia)
Position: Key position defender
Height: 196 cm
Weight: 91 kg

Key stats: Western Australia’s MVP at the under 18 championships

Jesse Glass-McCasker went under the radar during the season. He was voted Western Australia’s best player in the under 18 championships, due to his strong work in defence. As a key position player Glass-McCasker doesn’t win a large amount of football but is a strong lock down defender. Despite being a raw prospect, his form this year suggests he has skills to work with and will appeal to clubs such as Fremantle looking for key position players.

  1. Brisbane – Brandon White

Club: Dandenong Stingrays (Vic Country)
Position: Medium defender
Height: 189 cm
Weight: 79 kg

Key stats: Averaged 15.2 disposals (73.3% efficiency) in 16 games in the TAC Cup

Brandon White is a rebounding half-back flanker who has a booming kick. White has good speed and disposes the ball well helping his team go forward. At 189 centimetres he can play as a third tall but is better suited to the running half-back role. He makes good decisions will the football in hand and has also played senior football for Beaconsfield against men. With a full preseason under his belt expect him to improve his endurance, providing a good prospect for the Lions.

  1. Melbourne – Blake Hardwick

Club: Eastern Ranges (Vic Metro)
Position: Medium forward/inside midfielder
Height: 181 cm
Weight: 79 kg

Key stats: Kicked 12 goals against Bendigo Pioneers in round 16 of the TAC Cup

Blake Hardwick was the leading goal kicker in the 2015 TAC Cup, kicking 56 goals. His haul included two bags of ten or more goals and is a hard match up for opposition clubs. Playing out of the goal square for Eastern, Hardwick was able to beat opponents on a lead due to his strong pace. Hardwick is no relation to Richmond coach Damien, but has been given the nickname ‘Dimma.’ Hardwick spent some time in the middle of the ground, but to become a midfielder at AFL level he would need to improve his tank.

  1. North Melbourne – Callum Moore

Club: Calder Cannons (Vic Metro)
Position: General forward
Height: 193 cm
Weight: 86 kg

Key stats: Was named in Calder’s best in seven out of nine games

Callum Moore is a player with plenty of X-Factor inside 50. At 193 centimetres, he has elite speed and agility making it hard for opposition sides to find a match up for him. Moore is an interesting prospect and will need time to iron out his errors. As a forward for Calder, he kicked 13.16 in front of goal, something he will want to improve throughout the preseason. Moore will provide something different in the North Melbourne forward line, which has struggled to find a permanent third tall option. Moore’s skills for his size and strong leap should give him an opportunity in the national draft.

  1. Hawthorn – Nash Holmes

Club: Gippsland Power (Vic Country)
Position: Inside midfielder
Height: 181 cm
Weight: 81 kg

Key stats: Averaged 25.6 disposals (13.9 contested) in 11 games in the TAC Cup

Nash Holmes is a powerful inside midfielder who wins a lot of the ball. Holmes loves the hard grunt work in the contests, tackling opponents hard. Holmes averaged 7.6 tackles per game in the TAC Cup and does the hard job of winning the football and propelling it forward. With his good endurance, it allows Holmes to ran hard all day working his opponents right around the ground. Despite standing at 181 centimetres, Holmes should be able to transition his hard nosed attitude at AFL level due to his exceptionally strong contested ability.

  1. Port Adelaide – Stephen Tahana

Club: North Adelaide (South Australia)
Position: Inside midfielder/small defender
Height: 183 cm
Weight: 77 kg

Key stats: Averaged 11.8 disposals in the SANFL

Stephen Tahana will appeal to a lot of clubs looking for speed and dash in defence. Port Adelaide will be happy to have Tahana, who adds some more speed to their side. Tahana rebounds well and disposes of the ball effectively. Tahana was apart of the NAB AFL Academy this year and had an ok season for South Australia. Being a small defender, Tahana has been criticised for not collecting enough of the football. However, Tahana at North Adelaide had been used as a run with player, denoting his defensive mindset able to lock down opponents.

  1. Melbourne – Kieran Lovell

Club: Kingston (Tasmania)
Position: Inside midfielder
Height: 173 cm
Weight: 79 kg

Key stats: Averaged 35 disposals at the under 18 championships

Kieran Lovell is a prolific ball winner at under 18 level. His strong endurance allows his to run hard all day, whilst he also tested well for speed. With his skills, he’s ability to out run opponents and drive the ball forward for Tasmania. However, similar to Caleb Daniel in 2014, Lovell will be one of the smallest draftees this year and is likely to slide down the draft. Lovell has the skills to become an AFL footballer, making good decisions with the ball, but it is his height that will likely see many clubs overlook the inside midfielder.

  1. Brisbane – Reuben William (Western Bulldogs bid)

Club: Zillmere (Queensland)
Position: Balanced midfielder
Height: 182 cm
Weight: 79 kg

Key stats: Averaged 17 disposals at the under 18 championships

Brisbane academy Reuben William has been a swift improver this season. With the Western Bulldogs interested, Brisbane matched their bid on midfielder William. William is a strong contested player, improving from game to game. He attacks the ball hard and can play forward and back. After an impressive under 18 championships, he was unlikely overlooked for All-Australia honours. However, he continued to improve back at NEAFL level and has a really high footy IQ.

  1. Western Bulldogs – Kyle Galloway

Club: Murray Bushrangers (Vic Country)
Position: Ruckman
Height: 208 cm
Weight: 103 kg

Key stats: Collected 29 hit outs in the TAC Cup against Gippsland Power in round three

With the Western Bulldogs looking for a young ruckman, Kyle Galloway’s name has been thrown about closer to the draft. Galloway has only played football for three years, but has shown great potential at the TAC Cup, standing at 208 centimetres. Despite his size, Galloway is an athletic mover and has continue to improve throughout the season. Despite only playing five TAC Cup games, the Bulldogs are interested to help the young athletic ruckman develop and learn the game.

  1. Richmond – Ben Crocker

Club: Oakleigh Chargers (Vic Metro)
Position: Medium forward/inside midfielder
Height: 185 cm
Weight: 84 kg

Key stats: Averaged 19.1 disposals in 14 games in the TAC Cup

Ben Crocker is a lively half forward who competes well against opponents. Crocker leads well from deep inside 50 and was often the target for Oakleigh, due to them lacking a key position forward. Crocker kicked 23 goals this year, including a bag of five against Northern Knights. Crocker captained Oakleigh Chargers and represented Vic Metro in five games, spending time in the midfield and leading up the ground. As a really good overhead mark, I expect Crocker to develop into a forward for the Tigers moving well inside forward 50.

  1. Gold Coast – Michael Hartley

Club: Coburg VFL
Position: Key position defender
Height: 199 cm
Weight: 100 kg

Key stats: Averaged 5.7 marks in the VFL

Michael Hartley spent two years on Collingwood’s rookie list in 2012 and 2013. His return to VFL for Coburg has been good, which has appealed to AFL clubs in a year where the draft pool is shallow. Hartley shared in Coburg’s best and fairest and was also named at centre half back in the VFL team of the-year. He is a strong lock down defender and takes a strong contested mark and will be a strong option for AFL clubs looking for a key defender.

  1. Essendon – Nick O’Kearney

Club: Calder Cannons (Vic Metro)
Position: Outside midfielder
Height: 181 cm
Weight: 70 kg

Key stats: Averaged 25.5 disposals in 13 games in the TAC Cup

12 months ago Nick O’Kearney was touted as one of the possible top 10 selections at the draft. O’Kearney is a ball accumulator, averaging 25.5 disposals in the TAC Cup. Despite being a prolific ball user as an outside midfielder, O’Kearney’s kicking is average, often missing simple kicks to players in front of him. O’Kearney hasn’t got fantastic speed and at 181 cm will struggle to find a full time role at AFL level. A disappointing result on the beep test (13.1) may see clubs overlook him with O’Kearney expected to be picked up outside the top 50.

  1. Carlton – Tom Doedee

Club: Geelong Falcons (Vic Country)
Position: Medium defender
Height: 187 cm
Weight: 83 kg

Key stats: Averaged 12.1 disposals (77.7% disposals efficiency) in 13 games in the TAC Cup

Tom Doedee is an athletic defender that can play on both small and tall forwards. After representing Vic Country in the under 18 championships, Doedee was touted as one of the stronger one-on-one defenders in the draft pool. After committing to AFL this year, rather than focusing on state basketball Doedee has become a focus of many clubs, with 14 clubs interviewing him. Doedee plays well at ground level and defends well against tall opponents. With some strong athletic attributes, Doedee should develop into a nice medium defender.

  1. Carlton – Jack Silvagni

Club: Oakleigh Chargers (Vic Metro)
Position: Medium forward
Height: 191 cm
Weight: 83 kg

Key stats: Kicked six goals for Vic Metro against Western Australia

Jack Silvagni will be off to Carlton under the father-son rule after having strong family connections to the Blues. Jack will be a third generation Silvagni to play for Carlton, after father Stephen (312 games) and grandfather Sergio (239) pulled on the navy blue jumper. Silvagni missed a fair chunk of the season due to a shoulder injury, but he was able to play five under 18 championships games, kicking nine goals. His best game came against Western Australia, where he kicked 6.1 playing forward. He converts his shots well due to a good set-shot technique and can play forward and back. Silvagni has only been in the pathway system for one year and is still raw. Carlton fans will need to be patient will Silvagni as he puts on weight giving him the ability to play as a third tall forward/defender at AFL level.

  1. Fremantle – Josh Schoenfeld

Club: Peel Thunder (Western Australia)
Position: Outside midfielder
Height: 187 cm
Weight: 75 kg

Stats: Ran a 9.15 minute three-kilometre time trial breaking the national combine record

Josh Schoenfeld is one of the best runners in this draft pool, coming first in the three-kilometre time trial and beep test at the national combine. Schoenfeld is an outside midfielder that can push forward and take marks due to his good overhead skills. With a strong offseason, Schoenfeld was able to become a regular at WAFL Colts level, averaging 21.7 disposals in his 15 games. This helped him be picked for Western Australia in the under 18 championships, where he showed his athletic traits on the wing.

  1. West Coast – Greg Clark

Club: Subiaco (Western Australia)
Position: Inside midfielder/forward
Height: 194 cm
Weight: 88 kg

Stats: Averaged 17.2 disposals in six under 18 championships games

Greg Clark was Western Australia’s captain at the under 18 championships. Clark however had a quiet under 18 championships and didn’t have the impact as he would have liked. At 194 centimetres Clark isn’t a dominant inside midfielder but has the ability to push forward and plays as a third tall. Clark has good endurance, so I expect he likely will move into a high half forward role for the Eagles. Fans will need to be patient with Clark as he finds where his best role at AFL level will be.

  1. GWS – Matthew Flynn

Club: Narrandera (NSW/ACT)
Position: Ruckman
Height: 199 cm
Weight: 101 kg

Key stats: Averaged 23.3 hit outs in the under 18 championships

Matthew Flynn was one of four ruckman invited to the national combine. With ruckman hard to come by in this draft pool, GWS will be hoping they can get their hands on Flynn, a player that given time could develop into a Shane Mumford type ruckman. At 199 centimetres, Flynn uses his big frame to out muscle opponents, where he averaged 30.3 hit outs in the TAC Cup. Despite giving the impression that he is slow, Flynn moves well around the ground often working his opponents over running around the ground. Flynn also has the ability to play forward, often being used as a deep forward for NSW/ACT in the TAC Cup and in the under 18 championships. He works well below his knees and takes a strong mark inside 50. GWS will be happy to secure Flynn on draft night and will be hoping a bid for Flynn doesn’t come too early.

  1. GWS – Lachlan Tiziani

Club: Murray Bushrangers (NSW/ACT)
Position: Outside midfielder
Height: 189
Weight: 89

Key stats: Averaged 11.2 disposals at 82.2% disposal efficiency in the NEAFL

GWS Academy member Lachlan Tiziani will likely find his way onto the Giants’ list at Tuesday’s draft. Tiziani is an outside midfielder who has exceptional pace giving him the ability to play as a half back or wingman. Tiziani was fortunate to be able to play four games for the GWS Giants NEAFL team, where he averaged 11.2 disposals. Tiziani kicks well by foot and has x-factor when he has the ball in his hands. Tiziani’s glimpses of talent this year should be enough to see GWS list him, after he has played well at all ends of the ground.

  1. GWS – PASS
  1. Sydney – Jack Firns

Club: Oakleigh Chargers (Vic Metro)
Position: Key position defender
Height: 195 cm
Weight: 92 kg

Key stats: Averages 10.4 disposals in 12 games in the 2015 TAC Cup

Key position defender Jack Firns will be considered heavily for Sydney’s final pick in the draft. Firns played well on Vic Country forward Josh Schache during the under 18 championships, giving him confidence to finish the season well at TAC Cup. Firns spoils the ball well in defence and positions himself well in marking contests, with his strength being one-on-one contests. Firns is very competitive and likes to have the task of playing on the opposition number one forward. Firns also broke his hand in the TAC Cup preliminary final, but was able to play through the pain before getting himself up for the grand final, where he took five marks.

  1. GWS – PASS
  1. St Kilda – Liam Jeffs

Club: Eastern Ranges (Vic Metro)
Position: Balanced midfielder
Height: 192 cm
Weight: 81 kg

Key stats: Top five in the TAC Cup for contested possessions in 2014 as a bottom-ager

Liam Jeffs has had a mixed season unable to impact the game as much as he did in 2014. Jeffs was injured earlier in the season making it hard for him to train, before breaking his leg in round four. After missing nearly three months, Jeffs return to the TAC Cup finishing the season ok for the Ranges. At 192 centimetres, Jeffs showed he can work on the inside as a midfielder, moving well thanks to his good agility. His versatility is also important, with Jeffs able to move forward or back wherever his team needs him. Jeffs has elite speed, placing third at the national combine running 2.89 seconds which will making him appealing to club wanting a midfielder with pace. Jeffs was also a member of the NAB AFL Academy, but due to injury wasn’t able to play for Vic Metro in the under 18 championships.

  1. Collingwood – Declan Mountford

Club: Claremont (Western Australia)
Position: Inside midfielder
Height: 182 cm
Weight: 72 kg

Key stats: Averaged 23.5 disposals in the WAFL Colts

Declan Mountford was one of the last picked for the Western Australia under 18 side. Mountford is a great endurance runner and finished the season exceptionally well. He transitioned back from under 18 championships football into WAFL form, able to push into the senior WAFL team for Claremont. He works hard on the inside in the midfield, collecting plenty of the ball in the WAFL colts, clearing the ball from the contests. Despite being 72 kg, Mountford is tough at the contest and will appeal to Collingwood as another midfield option.

  1. Geelong – James Parsons

Club: Eastern Ranges (Vic Metro)
Position: Outside midfielder/Medium forward
Height: 189 cm
Weight: 77 kg

Key stats: Appeared in Eastern’s best in eight of their 14 games

James Parsons is an outside midfielder, that has the ability to push forward and kick goals. Parsons averaged one goal per game, playing a similar role to what Hawthorn’s Isaac Smith does. However, Parsons has struggled for consistency appearing in the bests almost every second week with Parsons unable to play a full game without dropping off. At 189 cm, Parsons is very outside meaning he hasn’t been able to work on his inside game with his competitiveness lacking. Parsons has good speed and agility and will be a good prospect for Geelong to develop if he can improve his consistency.

  1. Sydney – Pass
  1. GWS – Pass
  1. Sydney – Pass 
  1. North Melbourne – Dan Houston

Club: Oakleigh Chargers (Vic Metro)
Position: General forward
Height: 186 cm
Weight: 83 kg

Key stats: Kicked 8 goals against Bendigo Pioneers in Round 12 of the TAC Cup

Forward Daniel Houston may find himself on an AFL list at either the national or rookie draft after kicking 19 goals in an injury interrupted season. At 186 cm, Houston isn’t tall enough to play as a key position but plays in the mould of Mark LeCras as a third forward. Houston marks well overhead, averaging just over six marks per game in the TAC Cup. Houston is a hard worker inside 50 and can be seen making multiple leads, continually providing an option for teammates to kick it to him. The big question is whether a club will take a gamble on a player at his size, with Houston likely to be seen as a long term prospect by many.

  1. Fremantle – Nathan Broad

Club: Swan Districts (WAFL)
Position: Outside midfielder
Height: 191 cm
Weight: 83 kg

Key stats: Averaged 19.8 disposals in the WAFL

Nathan Broad will likely be one of the few state league players drafted on Tuesday. Broad is an endurance athlete and runs hard all day for Swan Districts. Mixed with his endurance, Broad has exceptional pace making him an appealing package for clubs. Broad’s outstanding year led to him finishing fourth in Swan Districts best and fairest. A knock on him is his composure with the football and his average footskills often let him down, but he has taken strong steps forward this year with Fremantle interested in Broad.

  1. West Coast – Yestin Eades

Club: North Ballarat Rebels (Vic Country)
Position: Small forward/Outside midfielder
Height: 184 cm
Weight: 81 kg

Key stats: Eades has elite GPS results for his running and speed

Yestin Eades is originally from Western Australia and moved to Victoria this year to board at St Patrick’s College. Out of his comfort zone, Eades had a reasonably good season being apart of the NAB AFL Academy, taking big steps forward after adjusting to life in Ballarat. Football wise, Eades is an outside midfielder that has the capabilities of playing forward. His GPS numbers are considered elite for his high intensity running and speed. Eades also had the chance to represent North Ballarat Roosters in the VFL, where he received two votes in the JJ Liston Trophy.

  1. Hawthorn – Pass
  1. Collingwood – Hisham Kerbatieh

Club: Calder Cannons (Vic Metro)
Position: Small forward
Height: 178 cm
Weight: 80 kg

Key stats: Only went goalless once in his 14 TAC Cup games in 2015

Lively forward Hisham Kerbatieh is one of the best small forwards in this year’s draft crop. Kerbatieh kicked 24 goals in the TAC Cup and was Vic Metro’s leading goal kicker at the under 18 championships with nine goals. Kerbatieh can change a game in five minutes, with his elite pace and agility causing havoc for defenders. Kerbatieh has been mentored by Richmond player Bachar Houli this season, after winning a medal after being apart of the Bachar Houli academy for talented junior players of an Islamic bac kground. Despite spending time at Punt Road this year, Kerbatieh’s running results at the combine were disappointing. With the disappointing result in both the beep test and the 3km time trial Kerbatieh will be looking to improve that over the preseason, in an attempt to improve his running capabilities.

  1. Gold Coast – Pass
  1. Essendon – Gach Nyuon

Club: Dandenong Stingrays (Vic Country)
Position: Ruckman
Height: 200 cm
Weight: 88 kg

Key stats: Averaged 22.8 hit outs in the under 18 championships

Sudanese born athletic ruckman Gach Nyuon is a prospect for the future. Nyuon has taken big steps forward, despite only playing football for the first time three years ago. Nyuon equalled Nic Naitanui’s absolute running vertical jump at the combine, before running an impressive 2.95 second 20m sprint. Nyuon was a notable performer this season, jumping high above opponents at the stoppages. In the TAC Cup, he played 10 games for Dandenong, averaging 22 hit outs. Despite Nyuon being a long term project, Essendon are one of the clubs who have shown plenty of interest in Nyuon and has a fantastic upside for the club that calls his name out.

  1. Collingwood – Pass
  1. Collingwood – Pass
  1. Geelong – Will Snelling

Club: West Adelaide (South Australia)
Position: Inside midfielder
Height: 173 cm
Weight: 77 kg

Key stats: Averaged 21.7 disposals (11.8 contested) in the under 18 championships

Will Snelling is a contested ball hard nut who loves the contested situations. Snelling performed well as an inside midfielder in the under 18 championships, helping him to win South Australia’s MVP for the carnival. Snelling tackles hard and has good hands, giving him the ability to clear the ball from stoppages with a fast hand ball out to a teammate. Snelling demonstrated good leadership skills, captaining South Australia and also had a taste of senior SANFL football for West Adelaide. Snelling has a large tank, which helped him break the state three-kilometre time trial record in South Australia.

  1. Port Adelaide – Pass
  1. Richmond – Mitch King

Club: Murray Bushrangers (Vic Country)
Position: Ruckman
Height: 200 cm
Weight: 91 kg

Key stats: Top four in the TAC Cup for hit-outs to advantage

With Richmond likely to draft a ruckman on Tuesday, Mitch King will likely find his way to Punt Road after finishing his season well at TAC Cup level. King represented Victoria in basketball and football, competing hard and winning the taps in the ruck for Murray. King missed the start of the season while still recovering from an ACL injury, but managed to return to play 11 games averaging 23.2 hit outs. King’s strong finish to the TAC Cup season saw him added to the national combine list, where he was able to place third in the vertical jump with 70 centimetres.

  1. North Melbourne – Pass
  2. Fremantle – Pass
  3. West Coast – Pass
  4. Essendon – Pass
  1. Geelong – Lachlan Walker

Club: Oakleigh Chargers (Vic Metro)
Position: Medium defender
Height: 189 cm
Weight: 81 kg

Key stats: Averaged 19.9 disposals in 13 TAC Cup games.

Medium defender Lachlan Walker is expected to find his way onto an AFL list as a late pick. Walker has played multiple positions across 2015 and was apart of the Oakleigh Chargers’ TAC Cup premiership side. The left footer has also spent time in the midfield for Oakleigh and his school team (St Kevins College) where he averaged nearly 20 disposals this season. Walker has plenty of attributes to give him an opportunity on an AFL list, with his height giving the ability to possibly transition into an inside midfield role or as a rebounding half back.

  1. Richmond – Pass
  2. Carlton – Pass
  3. Essendon – Pass
  1. Geelong – Thomas Jok

Club: Dandenong Stingrays (Vic Metro)
Position: Outside midfielder/medium forward
Height: 191 cm
Weight: 74 kg

Key stats: Averaged 17.6 disposals in nine games in the TAC Cup.

Thomas Jok is a Sudanese boy who has a fantastic upside for any club that drafts him. Jok is athletically gifted, with a strong leap and superb running ability. Jok plays in multiple positions, even venturing in the ruck for his school (St Kevins) due to his strong leap. Jok is naturally suited to an outside game where he can run hard all day up the ground, playing as a high half forward. His height does hold him back in some regards, not allowing him to play as a key position forward. However, Jok kicked five goals in the rain in a representative match in August. With Jok’s potential being large, expect a club to select him late in the national draft or in the rookie draft in order to develop this intriguing prospect.

  1. Geelong – Pass
  2. Geelong – Pass

Jourdan Canil’s Phantom Draft

bfgnprofiles

The AFL national draft is almost upon us. This year, I’ve tried to make this is most accurate phantom draft possible, so there’s only around 60 live picks as well as rookie upgrades and passes, so fans can have a clear idea of what their team will do.

1. CarltonJacob Weitering
Club: 
Dandenong Stingrays
Position: Key defender
Height: 195 cm
Weight: 94 kg
Player comparison: Alex Rance

Weitering’s got the whole package. His best asset is his intercept marking. He runs off his opponent and reads the play so well. He’s strong enough to not only compete at AFL level, but immediately win contests. He’s a terrific overhead mark and positions himself well, while he’s also a terrific rebounder. He’s got a classy raking kick and he often puts the ball out into space for his team mates to run into. Athletically, he’s got a good leap and he’s got great closing speed. I firmly believe he will be one of the two or three best key defenders in the league in years to come.

2. Brisbane – Josh Schache
Club: 
Murray Bushrangers
Position: Key forward
Height: 199 cm
Weight: 93 kg
Player comparison: Tom Lynch (Gold Coast)

Probably the most promising ‘true’ key forward of 2015, Schache kicked 27 goals from 15 games as a 17-year-old. Schache prides himself on his contested marking. His size allows him to bust through packs, but he also takes the ball out at full stretch. Schache is a great player below the knees, and unlike most key forwards, he is a reliable field kick and shot for goal. Schache has speed on the lead and he also likes to use his physicality. He can kick a goal from most places on the field, and can comfortably kick it 55 metres. In terms of agility, Schache is actually quite impressive for his size. He could potentially improve on the defensive side of his game, which is for me what separates him from Tom Boyd and Patrick McCartin, who are probably less likely to become well-rounded key forwards. Schache’s conversion rate this year has been impressive and he’s stood up in key games. Definitely the second best player in the draft for mine.

3.  Sydney – Callum Mills (academy selection)
Club:
 North Shore
Position: Midfielder
Height: 186 cm
Weight: 80 kg
Player comparison: Lenny Hayes

Mills is the complete package, and he will head to Sydney through their academy. Mills is a ridiculous accumulator, having averaged 32 disposals at 65 percent through his six TAC Cup games last year as a 17-year-old. He’s missed a lot of football this year but that won’t hurt his stocks, given he was named in the bests in five out of his six games. Mills also averaged over six tackles and six marks per game in the TAC Cup. Mills is a beast of an inside midfielder. He’s fairly balanced, getting around 50 percent of his ball on the outside, as he finds space to take uncontested marks and get handball receives. But his courage to throw himself at the ball is incredible, and makes him impossible to tag. Mills is a leader and works hard defensively.

4. GWS – Jacob Hopper (academy selection)
Club:
North Ballarat Rebels
Position:
Inside midfielder
Height:
186 cm
Weight:
82 kg
Player comparison:
Ollie Wines

Hopper is clearly the best pure inside midfielder in this draft. His extraction skills are supreme and he’s got a great understanding of where to position himself at stoppages to have an impact. Hopper is an excellent goal kicker – he heads forward and he can be effective both at ground level or as a marking target. He’s a terrific tackling presence and he never stops trying. His kicking is just okay but his vision and spatial awareness are excellent, so he doesn’t get caught out often. He’s very clean by hand in traffic.

5. Melbourne – Charlie Curnow
Club:
Geelong Falcons
Position: Key forward/midfielder
Height: 191 cm
Weight: 95 kg
Player comparison: Jake Stringer

Curnow looks like a probable top five pick. He can be a bit lazy, often looking to engage in one on one contests, rather than leading up and using space. Having said that, he’s an elite runner with a very high beep test score, so clearly he’s got a strong work ethic. He gets by in under 18s with his strength, and obviously coming off that knee injury he wasn’t able to show his running strength. He’s a great contested mark, he wins his own ball on the inside, and his skills are usually pretty good. I think his 21/30 on the kicking test at the combine was a bit misleading. He’s a below average converter on goals, and he’s not a great field kick either. He’s got a very high upside with his great frame and the ability to grow into a big-bodied midfielder, but I personally see him as a forward in the Jake Stringer role.

6. Essendon – Darcy Parish
Club: 
Geelong Falcons
Position: Midfielder
Height: 181 cm
Weight: 73 kg
Player comparison: Lachie Whitfield

Darcy Parish is a classy outside midfielder, who – despite his flaws – should be a top five pick. Parish is a very slightly framed player who has great speed. He runs hard to receive a handball or take an uncontested mark, then will keep zipping past others to break lines. Parish loves to kick, and he can often have 20 or more kicks in a game. Most will hit the targets, as he prefers to do short sharp chips. He’s a good decision maker and with that comes a high disposal efficiency. I think at AFL level that efficiency may drop a little as he will be encouraged to be bolder. It’s scary that a player with so much hurt factor still has so much room to grow. Parish has become more of a goal kicker, and he has put on a bit of weight to increase his core strength. He’s got room to improve his defensive efforts, as his strong tank and speed should really see him taking down few more players. I see him growing into that Lachie Whitfield mould, but perhaps with a little more pace.

7. Essendon – Sam Weideman
Club: 
Eastern Ranges
Position: Key forward
Height: 195 cm
Weight: 91 kg
Player comparison: Levi Casboult

Weideman’s injury issues have made him an intriguing prospect, as he has so much that he must improve on. 2014 was an up and down year for the forward. He was able to play 15 games, but only kicked 19 goals and 15 behinds. His statline is poor, but recruiters will look to his best games to find out why he is so highly regarded. 2015 was much of the same: he struggled statistically, despite receiving very good delivery from a strong midfield group. Weideman is a terrific mark of the ball, with his contested marking a standout in pack situations. However, what is most impressive is his ability to take one grab marks on the lead, particularly in sticky situations. You know if the ball is within his long reach, then he won’t drop it. He’s a below average kick of the football, which stings to say. He’s probably one of only a handful of players in this draft class who have one truly dominant skill, but when you cannot convert simple set shots at goal, then it really hurts. Weideman plays as a true leading centre half forward, but he also has the size and skill set to play as a full forward.

8. GWS – Matthew Kennedy (academy selection)
Club:
Collingullie
Position: Inside midfielder
Height: 187 cm
Weight: 84 kg
Player comparison: Elliot Yeo

Kennedy is a big-bodied inside midfielder with terrific endurance and a great overhead mark. He finished with a 14.12 beep tests and some really good scores in various leaping tests at the combine. He’s very hard at the contest, and while he’s not in that elite level for racking up the footy, you can tell he’ll be able to make that transition at AFL level with development. Kennedy looks damaging in the forward line and he’s got scope to improve there. He is clean with either foot, but if he sharpens up his kicking a bit more, you can see him as a chance to be one of if not the best player in this draft class.

9. Gold Coast – Aaron Francis
Club: West Adelaide
Position: Utility
Height: 191 cm
Weight: 89 kg
Player comparison: Adam Goodes

Francis is just a shade below the top two in my eyes. He’s a terrific intercept mark, has tremendous athleticism and literally plays in every position. Francis has played his best footy as a third tall or key defender, as his intercept marking and ability to rebound are his two best assets. He’s also extremely strong around the contest, so he can win his own footy on the inside. His kicking is above average, and he is fairly quick and extremely agile, so he’s a good player on the outside too. I liked his smarts when playing as a forward. He leads up consistently and he provides a great target. When the ball hits the deck, he is too big and strong for small defenders, and too agile for bigger ones. The one query I have on him is his goal kicking, but I haven’t seen a big enough sample size of him as a forward to say whether that’s a true weakness.

10. Melbourne – Wayne Milera
Club:
Central Districts
Position: Outside midfielder/small forward
Height: 185 cm
Weight: 75 kg
Player comparison: Shaun Burgoyne (early career)

Milera has far exceeded expectations this year. He’s a creative midfielder/half forward with some of the best skills in this draft class. Milera is a terrific decision maker and he offers something a bit different to the rest of the midfielders in this draft class: where there seems to be one or two clear options, he’ll cut through the middle and pick a more damaging option that most players wouldn’t even consider. He’s very agile and hard to tackle, and he loves using his speed through the centre of the ground. Milera has been the best performed junior in the top flight of the SANFL, where he’s consistently found the football and chipped in for several goals on a few occasions.

11. Brisbane – Eric Hipwood (academy selection)
Club:
Aspley
Position: Key back/forward
Height: 200 cm
Weight: 82 kg
Player Comparison: Harris Andrews

Hipwood will probably attract a top 10 bid, although his form doesn’t quite warrant it. He’s a project player who has terrific agility and a great overhead marking ability. He’s an okay user of the footy who finds it more than your traditional key backman, but he doesn’t really know his limitations. He looks a bit more at home as a key defender, although he’s showed spurts of form as a forward here and there this year. He’ll take a long time to develop, but then again, we thought that of Harris Andrews and look how quickly he’s adapted.

12. Carlton – Harry McKay
Club:
Gippsland Power
Position: Key forward
Height: 200 cm
Weight: 85 kg
Player Comparison: Drew Petrie

Harry McKay is a raw prospect who has shown great signs for his age. He should basically be considered a 2016 prospect, as he is only a few days off being eligible for next year’s draft. For a 200 centimetre player, McKay is very quick and agile. He can twist and turn and crumb like a small forward, he’s a terrific overhead mark, and he continually leads up the ground to present as a link up target. He’s a pretty good kick for goal too. At this stage, he’s a long-term prospect: he’s going to need to put on plenty of size to be able to compete, but he’s got as much upside as anyone in this draft class.

13. Adelaide – Harley Balic
Club: 
Sandringham Dragons
Position: Forward/midfielder
Height: 186 cm
Weight: 80 kg
Player comparison: Jackson Macrae

Balic is a really classy half forward who can pull off some incredible things. He’s a terrific overhead mark who leads to the right places. His contested marking is incredible for a medium forward. He is a really intelligent forward who pushes up to create space for his full forward to lead in to. He has a very strong body and last year he lacked opportunity in the midfield. His inside game development is arguably the biggest leap of any top talent in the draft this year. Last year I would have said he was purely an outside player, but he has learnt the nuances of the inside game in terms of positioning himself at contests. His developmental curve is extremely encouraging and it’s one of the reasons I like him more than most. The fact he is now a balanced midfielder who can find the footy, as well as being a forward with flare makes me believe he has a sneakily very high ceiling.

14. Carlton – Clayton Oliver
Club:
Murray Bushrangers
Position: Midfielder
Height: 187 cm
Weight: 86 kg
Player comparison: Luke Parker

Oliver is a big-bodied inside midfielder who has a few different tricks. He wins his own ball easily, and while he has a large frame, he needs to develop a bit more physically for his game to translate to the AFL. Oliver can go forward and take a strong mark, and his finishing around the goals is excellent. He is also a strong tackler and a hard worker who runs both ways. Interestingly, Oliver tested much better than most expected in the speed and agility drills, which perhaps raises his ceiling in the eyes of recruiters. He ran a 2.99 20 metre sprint which isn’t jaw dropping, but it’s pretty good for an inside midfielder. His agility time of 8.11 seconds was third in the entire AFL combine; an incredible feat that will no doubt be taken into account on draft night.

15. Brisbane – Ben Keays (academy selection)
Club: 
Morningside
Position: Forward/midfielder
Height: 183 cm
Weight: 78 kg
Player comparison: Christian Petracca

Keays is a gut-running type, who shows absolute class on the outside most of the time (although he does make some poor choices at times). Keays has the ability to kick it long or hit short targets with ease. He has a really strong body, and his work on the inside is outstanding: indeed, Keays’ most exciting ‘Petracca-like’ feature is his overhead marking and work as a forward. He can really dominate up forward with strength, but he can also kick freakish goals. He fends off players as he takes on the game and backs himself in to finish off with a goal. He’s increased his ability to rack up the football which has seen his disposal efficiency drop off a touch, which I think is why he hasn’t been talked about as much in that top 10 equation.

16. Richmond – Callum Ah Chee
Club: 
South Fremantle
Position: Forward/midfielder
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 69 kg
Player comparison: Chad Wingard

Ah Chee offers a bit of a different look this year, and though I suspect he has more potential than most of the players in the top 10, he probably hasn’t had the year he would have liked. Ah Chee is lightning quick, both in terms of acceleration and over a long distance. There are not too many ultra-fast players who have multiple strings to their bow in this year’s draft class. Ah Chee is an excellent distributor of the football getting a fair bit of penetration on his kicks, while his decision making has improved over the course of this year. Ah Chee is very dangerous around goals. He’s an excellent crumber, but as you’ve all seen with his mark in the AFL Academy game, he’s a high flier and a good over head mark despite his light frame. I’d love to see him build up his tank and also his core strength, as he’s struggling to win much of his own footy.

17. Adelaide – Rhys Mathieson
Club: 
Geelong Falcons
Position: Midfielder
Height: 185 cm
Weight: 79 kg
Player comparison: Jordan Lewis

Mathieson has a similar style to Jordan Lewis in the way he plays on the inside and outside. Mathieson is a big time accumulator, but it’s the way that he does it which really makes his 30-disposal games impressive despite being just an above average kick of the ball. Mathieson hunts the ball on the inside, throws himself at the contest, and despite not being the new prototype big midfielder, his body strength in packs is advanced for his age. He knows how to position himself on the inside, and once he has the ball, he executes handpasses in traffic and out of the bottom of a pack quickly and usually to the best outside option. Mathieson is terrific on the outside too, and this is what makes him such a likely type. Mathieson is surprisingly quick on the outside, with a solid 20 metre burst that breaks games open. He doesn’t have to run a long distance, because with the separation he creates in a short space, he gives himself enough time to launch a kick into the forward 50. Mathieson has above average skills by hand and foot, and he’s a solid overhead mark too.

18. St Kilda – Darcy Tucker
Club: 
North Ballarat Rebels
Position: Midfielder
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 73 kg
Player comparison: Sam Docherty

Tucker looks best as a half back in my eyes. He reads the play really well and he plays pretty wide of the contest, so he’s often in a dangerous spot on the rebound if the ball leaks out. He’s not a great individual defender, but I can see with his mindset and leadership that his defensive game will grow. As a midfielder, Tucker plays almost exclusively on the outside, but I can see scope for that developing as he seems to have good core strength. Tucker’s endurance is terrific, coming in with a 15.3 beep test. That gives me hope that he can be a midfielder, but he’s got a bit to learn in terms of stoppage set-ups and the general nuances of that position. Tucker is an excellent kick of the footy, and although he’s a bit down the pecking order, I don’t think there is a massive class difference between Parish, Ah Chee and Tucker.

19. Hawthorn – Kieran Collins
Club:
Dandenong Stingrays
Position: Key defender
Height: 193 cm
Weight: 94 kg
Player comparison: Daniel Talia

Collins is the best lockdown key defender in the draft. He’s that classic disciplined Darren Glass type, where he doesn’t give his opponents any room to move. He’s got a very high football IQ and he doesn’t try to exceed his limitations. Collins is exceptional overhead and he can take plenty of intercept marks, but he’s not the type to take a massive risk and fly if he didn’t think it was the right time to do so. Collins won the handball test at the combine with an exceptional 29/30. His kicking is fine, but he’s not a great rebounder at this stage of his career. He’s not the quickest player, but his football smarts and spatial awareness make up for that. He’s also shown a little bit as a forward, but he looks like a 200 game player as a key back already.

20. Gold Coast – Riley Bonner
Club:
West Adelaide
Position: Half back
Height: 191 cm
Weight: 80 kg
Player comparison: Grant Birchall

Bonner is your classic elite ball user off the back flank. He’s probably the best long kick in the draft, and he can use both feet to a very high level. Bonner can play on the wing or as a half forward too, but he’s played his best footy as a half back this year. Bonner isn’t super quick, but he’s agile and he runs hard all game to present as a link-up target. The biggest issue with Bonner is his complete lack of accountability, but that should get better with a few years of development.

21. North Melbourne – Jade Gresham
Club: Northern Knights
Height: 177 cm
Weight: 74 kg
Position: Midfielder
Player comparison: Travis Boak

Gresham is one of those players where you know what you are going to get. While he does lack that punishing hurt factor that the elite players have, he uses his limitations to the best of his ability. In other words, rather than try and boot a 60m bomb to half forward under pressure, he’ll size up his options and pass laterally to teammates who are more likely to break the lines. Skill wise, he was clearly the best tester at the NAB AFL Combine, which helps tick those boxes. Gresham is one of if not the best ball winner in this draft. Gresham is an outside-leaning midfielder, with the potential to develop an inside game in the future. He reads the ruck taps so well and knows where to run and break away. While he’s not fast, he’s smart and this helps him at stoppages. He is fearless in the way he throws himself into packs, despite being a shorter midfielder. His hands in traffic are really clean and quick. Gresham rarely fumbles and he’s got poise before disposing of the football. He has also added goal kicking to his repertoire of late, and looks to be an excellent leader already. Gresham isn’t as quick as you’d hope for a smaller player, but he is really agile and he’s got excellent endurance.

22. Hawthorn – Mitchell Hibberd
Club:
Clarence
Position: Half back
Height: 191 cm
Weight: 85 kg
Player comparison: Brad Sheppard

Hibberd would be a nice complementary player on any team. He’s a smart defender who is really solid in the air, he reads the flight of the ball well and he’s a good athlete. Hibberd isn’t an elite kick, but he hits targets consistently and rarely turns the ball over. He makes the right decisions and he takes the game on when he’s rebounding. Hibberd finds plenty of the ball on the outside, and he’s damaging enough to float forward and have an impact. With his size, athleticism and skills, he’s a very solid option.

23. Carlton  – Ryan Clarke
Club: 
Eastern Ranges
Position: Midfielder
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 77 kg
Player comparison: David Zaharakis

Clarke’s kicking can be wonderful, but occasionally he’ll spray it horribly. His speed is excellent over the first few steps and he really breaks lines, but he’s probably a couple of rungs slower than the absolute best. He’s an excellent distributor by hand particularly. His decision making and vision is in the top class of this year’s draft and he backs himself to hit difficult targets. Clarke is a strong runner who loves to break through the middle. He’s also got a fairly long kick too, and on the run he can impact the scoreboard from 55 out. He can go forward, but he’s probably got some work to do in that regard. Clarke’s inside game is developing. He’s got great core strength, so he breaks tackles fairly easily. He reads the tap well and he’s physical, so he throws himself at the footy. He’s not the prototype big-bodied inside beast that recruiters are infatuated with, so it’s unlikely that he’ll be a clearance machine at the top level, but he’ll be serviceable in that regard.

24. Western Bulldogs – Ben McKay
Club:
Gippsland Power
Position: Key defender
Height: 200 cm
Weight: 91 kg
Player comparison: Lachie Henderson

Ben McKay is the identical twin of Harry. Ben’s best skill is contested marking, showcased against Oakleigh when he took five of them. Like Harry, he is quite agile, although Ben is a bit stronger at this stage. McKay is a solid user of the footy, but he doesn’t offer too much at this stage from a rebounding point of view. He’s a solid intercept mark, but at this stage, he’s more concerned with being accountable than peeling off his man. McKay also showed he can head forward effectively, as well as providing a chop out in the ruck.

25. Western Bulldogs – Tom Cole
Club:
Bendigo Pioneers
Position: Defender/midfielder
Height: 185 cm
Weight: 75 kg
Player comparison: Jarrad McVeigh

Tom Cole divides opinions. Some experts really like him, whereas others just don’t quite see what the fuss is about. He’s a clean user of the football who rarely turns it over, but he doesn’t really look to take the game on. He’s got some versatility and he’s hard at the contest, winning plenty of contested possessions and clearances at TAC Cup level. Despite winning plenty of the ball for Bendigo, he wasn’t able to rack it up as much when he played for Vic Country or Geelong in the VFL. He’s a strong tackler and a hard worker.

26. Fremantle – Ryan Burton
Club: 
North Adelaide
Position: Forward
Height: 190 cm
Weight: 89 kg
Player comparison: Brett Burton

Burton’s broken leg could see him as a big slider, so it’s really difficult to get a gauge on where he sits. Although he is in that in-between size, I can see Burton being a key forward. Burton has a massive leap, and his overhead marking is exceptional. Indeed, his game style isn’t too dissimilar to his namesake Brett Burton. Burton is a wonderful kick for goal, and he isn’t shy when it’s a clutch situation. Burton needs to improve his field kicking and forward smarts (i.e. where to lead and how to space himself). However, one thing that cannot be questioned is his defensive efforts, as he averaged three tackles per game in the championships as a 17-year-old.

27. West Coast – Luke Partington
Club:
Norwood
Position: Outside midfielder
Height: 182 cm
Weight: 78 kg
Player comparison: Leigh Montagna

Luke Partington looks to be a really well-rounded midfielder. He’s got a bit of speed, and he’s the type to work hard all game, so he’s always providing a link up target on the outside. He’s a pretty neat kick and a nice decision maker too. He’s become a better inside midfielder this year, using his smarts and speed to read the tap and win clearances rather than just using his strength.

28. Essendon – Josh Dunkley
Club:
 Gippsland Power
Position: Midfield
Height: 187 cm
Weight: 84 kg
Player Comparison: Early Jobe Watson

Dunkley is an inside midfielder who finds the goals easily, while his drive and work ethic is incredible. He uses his size to bully his opponents, which should still work relatively well at AFL level, but he hasn’t become the great extractor his skillset should allow him to. Dunkley is an incredible tackler and a strong overhead mark, with his leadership is a plus as well. Dunkley averaged 6 and a half tackles in the TAC Cup over 13 games, with an astounding 18 tackles leading the way against the Falcons as a 17-year-old. He’s a really poor kick and lacks any form of an outside game at this stage. He’s pretty sluggish off the mark too, but he’s got a pretty good tank. He showed that he can hold his own at VFL level, which is crucial for a player of his ilk.

29. Essendon – Alex Morgan
Club:
Oakleigh Chargers
Position: Defender
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 80 kg
Player comparison: Shaun Atley

Morgan is a tremendously quick half back who has shown he is really willing to take the game on and make things happen. He’s a really nice kick on either foot and his decision making is sound. He’s got a great leap and he showed that he can go forward in spurts and provide a marking target. Morgan finds enough of the football on the outside to make it at the top flight, and he is strong enough to come in and make an immediate impact.

30. St Kilda – Bailey Rice (father-son selection)
Club:
Dandenong Stingrays
Position: Half back/midfielder
Height: 184 cm
Weight: 81 kg
Player comparison: Zak Jones

Rice is a real competitive beast who has made big strides this year. He’s a really strong contested mark for a half back, and he’s shown some real physicality when defending. He offers a lot on the rebound, and even though he’s not an elite kick, he’s very neat and rarely turns the ball over. Rice has shown that he can win his own football as a midfielder, and with increased running power, he can be a balanced midfielder. Rice throws himself at the footy and really reads the flight of the ball well.

31. North Melbourne – Aidyn Johnson
Club:
Bendigo Pioneers
Position: Utility
Height: 185 cm
Weight: 75 kg
Player comparison: No real comparison

It’s been hard to get a gauge on what type of player Aidyn Johnson is due to his injury troubles. Johnson is one of the fastest and most agile players in this draft class, and will probably be taken in the second round based on that. Michael Ablett and Brett Anderson rate him very highly, with his agility (fourth in the AFL Combine), speed and also the ability to create space around goals which others can’t being the really exciting features of his game. Johnson is a great volume tackler, averaging four per game last year in the TAC Cup. He’s also got that match-winning ability. He kicked four goals and laid seven tackles last year against the Falcons, and he had two other games where he was the best player for the Pioneers. He’s got a fair bit that he needs to improve on based on the ten or so games he’s played in the last two years. His kicking is a little too erratic, and he can give away clumsy free kicks. He’s also got to try and use his pace to receive more handballs on the outside, as he struggles to get more than 10-15 touches most games.

32. Collingwood – Brayden Fiorini
Club: Northern Knights
Height: 186 cm
Weight: 75 kg
Position: Midfielder, utility
Player comparison: Kade Simpson

I’m a big wrap for Fiorini. He’s one of the best ball users in this draft with a nice left foot kick. He’s moderately quick and he finds plenty of the football. Fiorini is a good decision maker, although as he’s tried to find more of the football this year, his disposal efficiency has dropped a bit. He’s got hurt factor, but I think due to the Knights’ style of overpossessing the football, he chips it around quite a bit and a 40 possession game isn’t overly astounding. Fiorini is a solid defender. He’s a little unaccountable, but when he’s used primarily as an offensive weapon from the back half, that is forgiven. He’s actually a fairly strong footballer who has shown spurts of courage, but I don’t think he will build too much of an inside midfield game. I can see him being used primarily as a half back or wingman at AFL level.

33. North Melbourne – Ben Crocker
Club:
Oakleigh Chargers
Position: Forward/midfielder
Height: 185 cm
Weight: 81 kg
Player comparison: Jack Billings

I suspect clubs see Crocker as a pure forward at the next level, which slides him down the order a little bit. He’s a really great mark overhead, and he’s strong enough to hold his own in packs. He can hit the scoreboard and he’s got the ability to rove really well, as well as being a versatile marking type. Crocker’s kicking can be a bit inconsistent as he often tries to do too much. That should improve once he knows his role at AFL level.

34. Gold Coast Suns – Daniel Rioli
Club:
North Ballarat Rebels
Position: Small forward
Height: 179 cm
Weight: 65 kg
Player comparison: Clem Smith (much better athletically)

Rioli boosted his stocks immensely at the AFL Combine. He showed he could jump, sprint, keep up with the best of them in the endurance tests and also be clean with the footy. Rioli’s played his best footy this year as a small forward. His crumbing work is great, and he can take a strong overhead mark too. He is clean around the goals, but he doesn’t kick too many. He was really impressive against Tasmania in the championships, and he also bobbed up and kicked four goals in a finals game, although most of them were easy opportunities.

35. Western Bulldogs – David Cuningham
Club:
Oakleigh Chargers
Position: Midfielder
Height: 183 cm
Weight: 79 kg
Player comparison: Luke Shuey

Cuningham is a really tough player to compare. His standout attribute is his elite speed, but he doesn’t break the lines on the outside. Instead, he’s more of an inside midfielder who just glides through traffic, with an array of side steps and spins that get him out of trouble. He likes to win his own ball, and with that speed and agility, he is really classy around the stoppages. Cuningham likes to run forward and kick goals, but he’s got to show that he can play in several positions.

36. West Coast – Mason Redman
Club:
Glenelg
Position: Half forward/midfielder
Height: 187 cm
Weight: 78 kg
Player comparison: Jayden Laverde

Redman is a really flashy player with a nice highlight reel, with his best asset being his overhead marking. He’s got a good leap and long arms. Redman has great acceleration which makes him excellent on the lead, although his top speed is about average. Redman is a smart decision maker and his skills are very solid. He can play in most positions, but he looks like a high half forward at AFL at this stage.

37. Port Adelaide – Kieran Lovell
Club:
Kingston Tigers
Position: Midfielder/small forward
Height: 174 cm
Weight: 80 kg
Player comparison: Touk Miller

Lovell is a real hard nut and one of the best inside extractors in this year’s draft crop. At his height, most players wouldn’t be considered as they’d struggle to win their own ball in the middle, but clubs should be confident that he can do it at the highest level. Lovell has terrific endurance, but his speed and agility is also excellent. Lovell’s also got a good leap which helps at his height. He’ll probably play a fair bit as a small forward at the next level, which suits his game. He’s an excellent tackler, which bodes well in terms of forward pressure. He’s a very smart user of the football, and especially when going inside 50, he makes the right decision in terms of finding a teammate: however, he can also finish it off himself.

38. Fremantle – Jesse Glass-McCasker
Club: Swan Districts
Position: Key defender
Height: 197 cm
Weight: 96 kg
Player comparison: Jack Frost

Glass-McCasker is a lockdown defender who can also provide some run in defence. He’s a pretty decent athlete for his size and his closing speed is solid. He gets to the right spots in one-on-one contests and he’ll often get a fist in a marking contest. He could develop as a forward, but so far, his best footy has come as a key back.

39. Brisbane – Will Snelling
Club:
West Adelaide
Position: Midfielder
Height: 176 cm
Weight: 75 kg
Player comparison: Lachie Neale

Snelling is a real hard nut who throws himself at the football with every chance he gets. He finds plenty of football on the inside. With sub-180 centimetre players, clubs are most concerned about whether they can win the football against bigger players. Snelling proved he could still rack up the ball in the SANFL seniors, thus ticking that box off. Snelling racks up the tackles, and his work in the clearances is also quite good. He’s a great leader and his endurance base is already terrific. Expect him to play a few games next year if all goes well.

40. GWS – Harry Himmelberg (academy selection)
Club: Eastlake/GWS Academy
Position: Third tall forward
Height: 192 cm
Weight: 84 kg
Player comparison: Adam Tomlinson

Himmelberg is an undersized key forward who works incredibly hard and gets up between the arcs. He’s too mobile for most key defenders and too strong in the air for a medium defender. Himmelberg has improved more than most in his 19th year, and he looks to have a unique skill set that should see the Giants matching a bid in the second round for him. He’s had a really consistent year, finding the goals consistently without dominating.

41. St Kilda – Brandon White
Club:
Dandenong Stingrays
Position: Utility
Height: 188 cm
Weight: 77 kg
Player comparison: Ben Stratton

White is a poor man’s Aaron Francis, but he’s got a lot of upside. He’s got a pretty good leap and he reads the play well enough to be that third tall defender that comes across in the air. He’s a really good decision maker and you trust him with the ball. He’s also got a fair bit of speed as well, and so far he looks best as a defender. White has also shown that he can win a bit of football in the midfield, whilst also showing signs as a forward.

42. Melbourne – Nick O’Kearney
Club: 
Calder Cannons
Position: Midfielder
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 70 kg
Player comparison: Brent Stanton

I like O’Kearney more than most, and I think that comes with accepting that he is a limited role player. His ball winning is incredible, as he averaged 25 disposals in the TAC Cup as a 17-year-old, and he showed he can do that again as an 18-year-old. Despite playing in a star-studded Calder team, O’Kearney took out the Cannons’ best and fairest as a 17-year-old, and may do so again. O’Kearney reminds me a lot of Brent Stanton, in that he is a terrific two-way runner. He gets 65 percent of the ball on the outside, but he’s improved his inside game as well this year. O’Kearney captained Vic Metro in the Under 16s and he has natural leadership qualities. However, despite his leadership and high production, there are clear knocks on his game. His kicking is pretty average for someone who is predominately an outside midfielder. It has improved a little bit, but not enough to be a top 25 pick in my eyes.

43. North Melbourne – Mitch Brown
Club:
Sandringham Zebras
Position: Key defender/forward
Height: 196 cm
Weight: 93 kg

Brown was excellent in aerial contests for the Zebras this year. He reads the play well and his marking is really solid. He holds his own in defence, and did a pretty solid job as a top-up defender for the Bombers at the start of the year. Brown also managed to kick more than 20 goals playing as a swingman.

44. Hawthorn – Kurt Heatherley (rookie upgrade)

45. Port Adelaide – Cameron Hewett
Club:
North Adelaide
Position: Inside midfielder
Height: 189 cm
Weight: 76 kg
Player comparison: No clear comparison

Hewett isn’t a real standout in any area, but he’s got the intangibles. He reads the play well and he makes the right decisions. He’s clean with the ball in hand and he’s accountable when he plays in defence. Hewett’s best skill is his ability around the clearances, where he puts his body in the right position to win the footy. He’s up towards that ‘tall midfielder’ height, but at 76 kilograms, he’ll take a little while to get that weight on to be able to compete effectively in the middle.

46. Melbourne – James Harmes (rookie upgrade)

47. Western Bulldogs – Gach Nyuon
Club:
Dandenong Stingrays
Position: Ruckman
Height: 198 cm
Weight: 81 kg
Player comparison: Jason Holmes

Nyoun is a supremely athletic ruckman who has developed far quicker than most would have imagined. He equalled Nic Naitanui’s absolute running vertical leap at the combine, then backed it up with a 2.95 20 metre sprint. He’s obviously a long-term project at his weight, but with those physical talents, a club will take him in the national draft. He’s also smart enough with the ball in hand. He’ll usually just handball off to a better user, but his kicking isn’t too shaky either.

48. Richmond – Stephen Tahana
Club:
North Adelaide
Position: Small defender
Height: 183 cm
Weight: 78 kg
Player comparison: Mark Baguley

Tahana is an unselfish, disciplined small defender who will stick to his role. He’s got some speed and a bit of flare, so he’s an effective rebounder. He’s also a really clean user of the footy, without being outstanding. He doesn’t find much of the footy, which is a concern, but his team-first attitude will appeal to recruiters. He’s one of the only defensive-minded small backs, and with his skill and speed, he certainly offers a different option in the second or third round.

49. Sydney – Greg Clark
Club: 
Subiaco
Position: 
Midfield
Height: 
193 cm
Weight: 
86 kg
Player comparison: 
Tom Lynch (Adelaide)

I like Clark as a link-up third tall forward type. He’s very clean in traffic, and he’s got a great kick around the body. He’s an okay mark, but he’s got great endurance so he burns off opponents. He probably hasn’t had the year he would have liked. Despite apparently meant to be the second bright spot for WA behind Ah Chee, Clark went completely under the radar behind the 17-year-olds. I think he’s going to take time to adjust to AFL level, and clubs are going to have to put a lot of work into finding his best position. I can’t see him as a midfielder at AFL level, as he is too slow on the outside and really struggles on the inside, despite the size advantage. He doesn’t rack up the ball and he isn’t an elite user, therefore he’s stuck in that 30-40 range. I’m not as sold as others on whether he’ll make it at AFL level, but that size advantage is enough to take a punt on him.

50. Gold Coast – Adam Saad (rookie upgrade)

51. Essendon – Shaun McKernan (rookie upgrade)

52. Carlton – Nash Holmes
Club:
Gippsland Power
Position: Midfielder
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 74 kg
Player comparison: Toby Greene

Holmes looks to be a really solid value pick a little later in the draft. He’s a really competitive, gut-running inside midfielder. He hunts the football on the inside, and his skills are pretty clean when he gets it out to the running ball carriers. He’s got a really high endurance base, so most of his disposals come from work rate, which should translate well at the top flight. Holmes also tackles really well, and again that’s through his constant work rate.

53. Carlton – Jack Silvagni (father-son selection)
Club:
Oakleigh Chargers
Position: Key defender/forward
Height: 190 cm
Weight: 81 kg
Player Comparison: Ryan Schoenmakers

Silvagni missed a fair bit of the year with a shoulder injury. He showed some really great signs, with a six goal effort for Vic Metro, but struggled in other games when he played on bigger opponents. He’s an excellent mark overhead and on the lead. He’s probably a bit behind the eight ball in terms of development, so don’t expect to see much out of him for a few years. He showed some great signs as a defender as well, as he reads the ball really well in the air and shows some terrific football smarts. Silvagni is a skilful kick of the football.

54. Fremantle – Kurt Mutimer
Club:
Dandenong Stingrays
Position: Half back/midfielder
Height: 185 cm
Weight: 81 kg
Player comparison: Daniel McKenzie

Mutimer wins plenty of contested ball, but his endurance base keeps getting better, so he looks like he’ll end up being a more well-rounded player. Mutimer is a really nice user of the football on his left foot, with terrific vision and sound decision making skills. He’s also a strong mark overhead, which reminds me of Daniel McKenzie. Mutimer’s also got some really great speed, with his 20 metre burst a real highlight. He’s the type of guy who is constantly working on his game and he seems very coachable.

55. West Coast – Josh Schoenfeld
Club:
Peel Thunder
Position: Midfielder
Height:  186 cm
Weight: 75 kg
Player comparison: Brad Ebert

Schoenfeld is the best runner in this year’s draft crop. He set a new record in the three kilometre time trial at the combine, as well as having the best beep test score. Schoenfeld is a tidy user of the football, but he’s very conservative player as it stands. Schoenfeld is also a good mark overhead and he can push forward. He’s clearly more of an athlete than a footballer at this stage, but his rate of development skills-wise is encouraging.

56. Collingwood – Blake Hardwick
Club:
Eastern Ranges
Position: 
Small forward/inside midfielder
Height: 
181 cm
Weight: 
78 kg
Player comparison: 
Mitch Hahn

Blake Hardwick took out the TAC Cup goal kicking by a large margin. Hardwick plays out of the goal square, where he beats his opponents consistently on the lead. He’s got some nice acceleration off the mark, but his top speed isn’t terrific. He’s a smart small forward who knows exactly where to lead, and marking is his strong suit. Hardwick is a sure bet to take a mark on the lead, but he’s also equally adept overhead and in contested situations. He’s a wonderful set shot kicker, kicking 56.29 this season. He’s got the physical tools to become a decent inside midfielder but he hasn’t really got the tank as of yet.

57. Geelong – James Parsons
Club:
Eastern Ranges
Position: Utility
Height:
 189 cm
Weight: 75 kg
Player comparison: Martin Gleeson

He’s a pure outside midfielder who likes to run and spread, and Parsons could be a very solid wingman at AFL level. He’s got some good running patterns, while his best asset is his kicking. He is a long kick who weights it really well, and he’s fairly good on both sides of the body. As a high half forward, Parsons brings class in terms of delivery to the key forwards. He is fine when kicking on the run, although he can struggle a bit when there’s defensive pressure applied. Parsons has gone forward with effect this year. He’s been able to kick two or three goals on several occasions, and while he’s not a lead-up forward type, he’s able to find space in general play. He reads the drop of the ball well and towards the end of the year, he became an excellent intercept mark overhead. I think this is a crucial skill for Parsons, and that development makes me think that he’ll be better in the AFL system than first thought.

58. St. Kilda – Jack Sinclair (rookie upgrade)

59. Adelaide – Jake Kelly (rookie upgrade)

60. Sydney Swans – Sam Naismith (rookie upgrade)

61. North Melbourne – Pass

62. Fremantle – Ethan Hughes (rookie upgrade)

63. West Coast – Pass

64. Hawthorn – Pass

65. Collingwood – Jack Frost (rookie upgrade)

66. Brisbane – Pass

67. Gold Coast – Keegan Brooskby (rookie upgrade)

68. Essendon – Pass

69. St Kilda – Pass

70. Melbourne – Aaron vandenBerg (rookie upgrade)

71. Collingwood – Pass

72. Collingwood – Pass

73. Geelong – Sam Skinner
Club:
Gippsland Power
Position: Key defender/forward
Height: 197 cm
Weight: 96 kg
Player comparison: Leigh Brown

Skinner was in that second round range before he did his knee and missed the whole year. He’s a really versatile player who has showed a little bit as a forward while displaying plenty of good football in defence. He could also be used as a pinch hit ruckman. He’s got great strength and his marking overhead is very solid. Skinner is one of the most competitive players in this draft class and he’s a real professional.

74. Port Adelaide – Sam Gray (rookie upgrade)

75. Western Bulldogs – Pass

76. Richmond – Kane Lambert (rookie upgrade)

77. Geelong – Michael Luxford (rookie upgrade)

Jourdan Canil’s top 30 draft prospects

Darcy Parish is likely to be a top five pick. Photo: Brian Bartlett (Geelong Advertiser)
Darcy Parish is likely to be a top five pick. Photo: Brian Bartlett (Geelong Advertiser)

The AFL Draft is nearing, and despite suggestions of a weak draft, the top 30 prospects are still relatively strong in comparison to previous years. This is my list of the top prospects, but it does not indicate where they will go in the draft.

1. Jacob Weitering
Club: Dandenong Stingrays
Position: Key defender
Height: 195 cm
Weight: 94 kg
Player Comparison: Alex Rance

Weitering’s got the whole package. His best asset is his intercept marking. He runs off his opponent and reads the play so well. He’s strong enough to not only compete at AFL level, but immediately win contests. He’s a terrific overhead mark, and positions himself well. A terrific rebounder, Weitering also has a long and classy kick, often putting the ball out into space for his team mates to run into. Athletically, he’s got a good leap and he’s got good closing speed. I firmly believe he will be one of the two or three best key defenders in the league in years to come.

2. Josh Schache
Club: 
Murray Bushrangers
Position: Key forward
Height: 199 cm
Weight: 93 kg
Player Comparison: Tom Lynch (Gold Coast)

Probably the most promising ‘true’ key forward of 2015, Schache kicked 27 goals from 15 games as a 17 year old. Schache prides himself on his contested marking. His size allows him to crash through packs, but he also takes the ball out at full stretch. Schache is a great player below the knees, and unlike most key forwards, he is a reliable field kick and shot for goal. Schache has speed on the lead and he also likes to use his physicality. Schache can kick a goal from most places on the field, and he’s got a 55 metre cannon too. In terms of agility, Schache is actually quite impressive for his size. He could potentially improve on the defensive side of his game, which is for me, what separates him from Tom Boyd and Patrick McCartin, as they are probably less likely to become well-rounded key forwards. Schache’s conversion rate this year has been impressive and he’s stood up in key games. Definitely the second best player in the draft for mine.

3. Darcy Parish
Club: 
Geelong Falcons
Position: Midfielder
Height: 181 cm
Weight: 73 kg
Player Comparison: Lachie Whitfield

Darcy Parish is a classy outside midfielder, who despite his flaws, should be a top five pick. Parish is a very slight framed player who has great speed. He runs hard to receive a handball or take an uncontested mark, then will keep zipping past others to break lines. Parish loves to kick, and he can often have 20 or more kicks in a game. Most will hit the targets, as he prefers to do short sharp chips. He’s a good decision maker and with that comes a high disposal efficiency. I think at AFL level that efficiency may drop a little as he will be encouraged to be bolder. It’s scary that a player with so much hurt factor still has so much room to grow. Parish has become more of a goal kicker, and he’s put on a bit of weight to increase his core strength. He’s got room to improve his defensive efforts, as his strong tank and speed should really see him taking down few more players. I see him growing into that Lachie Whitfield mould, but perhaps with a little more pace.

4. Callum Mills
Club:
 North Shore
Position: Midfielder
Height: 186 cm
Weight: 80 kg
Player Comparison: Lenny Hayes

Mills is the complete package, and he will head to Sydney through their academy. He would certainly have been a top three pick if he was on the open market. Mills is an exceptional accumulator, as he averaged 32 disposals at 65% through his six TAC Cup games last year as a 17 year old. . He was named in the bests in five out of his six games. Mills also averaged over six tackles and six marks per game in the TAC Cup. Mills is a beast of an inside midfielder. He’s fairly balanced, as he gets around 50% of his ball on the outside, as he finds space to take uncontested marks and handball receives. But his courage to throw himself at the ball is incredible. He is impossible to tag. Mills is a leader and works hard defensively.

5. Aaron Francis
Club: West Adelaide
Position: Utility
Height: 191cm
Weight: 89 kg
Player Comparison: Adam Goodes

Francis is just a shade below the top two in my eyes, but he’s got the potential to be a franchise cornerstone. He’s a terrific intercept mark, has tremendous athleticism and literally plays in every position. Francis has played his best footy as a third tall or key defender, as his intercept marking and ability to rebound are his two best assets. He’s also extremely strong around the contest, so he can win his own footy on the inside. His kicking is well above average, and he is quickish, so he’s a good player on the outside too. I liked his smarts when playing as a forward. He lead up consistently, and he provides a great target. When the ball hits the deck, he is too big and strong for small defenders, and too agile for bigger ones. The one query I have on him is his goal kicking, but I haven’t seen a big enough sample size of him as a forward to say whether that’s a true weakness

6.Jacob Hopper
Club:
North Ballarat Rebels
Position:
Inside midfielder
Height:
186 cm
Weight:
82 kg
Player Comparison:
Ollie Wines

Hopper is clearly the best pure inside midfielder in this draft. His extraction skills are supreme and he’s got a great understanding of where to position himself at stoppages to have an impact. Hopper is an excellent goal kicker – he heads forward and he can be effective at ground level or as a marking target. He’s a terrific tackling presence and he never stops trying. His kicking is just okay, but his vision and spatial awareness are excellent, so he doesn’t get caught out often. He’s very clean by hand in traffic.

7. Charlie Curnow
Club:
Geelong Falcons
Position: Key forward/midfielder
Height: 191 cm
Weight: 95 kg
Player Comparison: Jake Stringer

Curnow looks like a possible top five pick. He can be a bit lazy, often looking to engage in one on one contests, rather than leading up and using space. Having said that, he’s an elite runner with a very high beep test score, so clearly he’s got a strong work ethic. He gets by in under 18’s with his strength, and obviously coming off that knee injury he wasn’t able to show his running strength. He’s a great contested mark, he wins his own ball on the inside, and at times, his skills are usually pretty good. I think his 21/30 on the kicking test at the combine was a bit misleading. He’s a below average converter on goals, and he’s not a great field kick either.  He’s got a very high upside with his great frame and the ability to grow into a big-bodied midfielder, but I personally see him as a forward in the Jake Stringer role.

8. Matthew Kennedy
Club:
Collingullie-GP
Position: Inside midfielder
Height: 187cm
Weight: 84 kg
Player Comparison: Elliot Yeo

Kennedy is a big-bodied inside midfielder with terrific endurance and a great overhead mark. He finished with a 14.12 beep tests and some really good scores in various leaping tests at the combine. He’s very hard at the contest, and while he’s not in that elite level for racking up the footy, you can tell that with development, he’ll be able to make that transition at AFL level. Kennedy looks damaging in the forward line, and whilst he is pretty clean with either foot, if it was a bit better he could be challenging for a top three pick.

9. Wayne Milera
Club:
Central Districts
Position: Outside midfielder/small forward
Height: 185 cm
Weight: 75 kg
Player Comparison: Shaun Burgoyne (early career)

Milera has far exceeded expectations this year. He’s a creative midfielder/half forward with some of the best skills in this draft class. Milera is a terrific decision maker and he offers something a bit different to the rest of the midfielders in this draft class, where there seems to be one or two clear options, but he’ll cut through the middle and pick a more damaging option that most players wouldn’t even consider. He’s very agile and hard to tackle, and he loves using his speed through the centre of the ground. Milera has been the best performed junior in the top flight of the SANFL, where he’s consistently found the football and chipped in for several goals on a few occasions.

10. Rhys Mathieson
Club: 
Geelong Falcons
Position: Midfielder
Height: 185 cm
Weight: 79 kg
Player Comparison: Jordan Lewis

I don’t like to overrate players, but Mathieson has a similar style to Jordan Lewis in the way he plays on the inside and outside. Mathieson is a big time accumulator, but it’s the way that he does it that really makes his 30 disposal games really impressive, despite being just an above average kick of the ball. Mathieson hunts the ball on the inside. He throws himself at the contest, and despite not being the new prototype big midfielder, his body strength in packs is advanced for his age. He knows how to position himself on the inside, and once he has the ball, he executes handpasses in traffic and out of the bottom of a pack quickly and usually to the best outside option. Mathieson is terrific on the outside too, and this is what makes him such a champion type. Mathieson is fairly quick on the outside, with a solid 20 metre burst that breaks games open. He doesn’t have to run a long distance, because with the separation he creates in a short space, he gives himself enough time to launch a kick into the forward 50. Mathieson has above average skills by hand and foot, and he’s a solid overhead mark too.

11. Kieran Collins
Club:
Dandenong Stingrays
Position: Key defender
Height: 193 cm
Weight: 94 kg
Player Comparison: Daniel Talia

Collins is the best lockdown key defender in the draft. He’s that classic disciplined Darren Glass type, where he doesn’t give his opponents any room to move. He’s got a very high football IQ and he doesn’t try to exceed his limitations. Collins is exceptional overhead and he can take plenty of intercept marks, but he’s not the type to take a massive risk and fly if he didn’t think it was the right time to do so. Collins won the handball test at the combine with an exceptional 29/30. His kicking is fine, but he’s not a great rebounder at this stage of his career. He’s not the quickest player, but his football smarts and spatial awareness make up for that. He’s also shown a little bit as a forward, but he looks like a 200 game player as a key back already.

12. Harley Balic
Club: 
Sandringham Dragons
Position: Forward/midfielder
Height: 186 cm
Weight: 80 kg
Player Comparison: Jackson Macrae

Balic is a really classy half forward who can pull off some incredible things. Balic is a terrific overhead mark, and he leads to the right places. His contested marking is incredible for a medium forward. He is a really intelligent forward who pushes up to create space for his full forward to lead in to. He has a very strong body and last year he lacked opportunity in the midfield. His inside game development is arguably the biggest leap of any top talent in the draft this year. Last year I would have said he was a pure outside player, but he has learnt the nuances of the inside game in terms of positioning himself at contests. His developmental curve is extremely encouraging and it’s one of the reasons I like him more than most. The fact he is now a balanced midfielder who can find the footy, as well as being a forward with flare makes me believe he has a sneakily very high ceiling.

13. Ben Keays
Club: 
Morningside
Position: Forward/midfielder
Height: 183 cm
Weight: 78 kg
Player Comparison: Christian Petracca

Keays in my mind is close to a top 10 pick, but he will be going to Brisbane through their academy a little later. Keays is a gut running type, who shows absolute class on the outside most of the time (although he does make some poor choices sometimes). Keays has the ability to kick it long or hit short targets with ease.

Keays has a really strong body, and his work on the inside is outstanding. Indeed, Keays’ most exciting ‘Petracca like’ feature is his overhead marking and work as a forward. Keays can really dominate up forward with strength, but he can also kick freakish, skillful goals. He fends off players as he takes on the game, and backs himself in to finish off with a goal. He’s increased his ability to rack up the football, and as such, his disposal efficiency has dropped off a touch, which I think is why he hasn’t been talked about as much in that top 10 equation.

14. Callum Ah Chee
Club: 
South Fremantle
Position: Forward/midfielder
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 69 kg
Player Comparison: Chad Wingard

Ah Chee offers a bit of a different look this year, and though I suspect he has more potential than most of the players in the top 10, he probably hasn’t had the year he would have liked. Ah Chee is lightening quick, in terms of acceleration and over a long distance. There’s not too many ultra quick players who have multiple strings to their bow in this year’s draft class. Ah Chee is an excellent kick of the football. He gets a fair bit of penetration on it and I’ve noticed his decision making has improved over the course of this year. Ah Chee is very dangerous around goals. He’s an excellent crumber, but as you’ve all seen with his mark in the AFL Academy game, he’s a high flier and a good over head mark, despite his light frame. I’d love to see him build up his tank and also his core strength, as he’s struggling to win much of his own footy.

15. Jade Gresham
Club: Northern Knights
Height: 177 cm
Weight: 74 kg
Position: Midfielder
Player Comparison: Travis Boak

Gresham is one of those players you know what you are going to get. While he does lack that punishing hurt factor that the elite players have, he uses his limitations to the best of his ability. Skill wise, he was clearly the best tester at the NAB AFL Combine, which helps tick those boxes. Defensively, he’s not too bad. He doesn’t rack up a lot of tackles, but he is accountable and he reads the play well enough to choose when to peel off his man as well. Gresham is a outside-leaning midfielder, with the potential to develop an inside game in the future. He reads the ruck taps so well and knows where to run and break away. While he’s not fast, he’s smart and this helps him at stoppages. He is fearless in the way he throws himself into packs, despite being a shorter midfielder. His hands in traffic are really clean and quick. Gresham has added goal kicking to his repertoire of late. He hasn’t had the opportunity to play much as a crumbing small forward, but he has kicked a goal per game on average this season. Gresham looks to be an excellent leader already.

16. Sam Weideman
Club: 
Eastern Ranges
Position: Key forward
Height: 195 cm
Weight: 91 kg
Player Comparison: Levi Casboult

Weideman’s injury issues have made him an intriguing prospect, as he has so much that he must improve on. 2014 was an up and down year for the forward. He was able to play 15 games, but only kicked 19 goals and 15 behinds. His statline is poor, but recruiters will look to his best games to find out why he is so highly regarded. Again in 2015, he struggled statistically, despite receiving very good delivery from a strong midfield group. Weideman is a terrific mark of the ball. His contested marking is a standout in pack situations. However, what is most impressive is his ability to take one grab marks on the lead, particularly in sticky situations. You know if the ball is within his long reach, then he won’t drop it. He’s a below average kick of the football. He’s probably one of only a handful of players in this draft class who have one truly dominant skill, but when you cannot convert simple set shots at goal, then it really hurts. Weideman plays as a true leading centre half forward, but he also has the size and skill set to play as a full forward.

17. Darcy Tucker
Club: 
North Ballarat Rebels
Position: Midfielder
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 73 kg
Player Comparison: Sam Docherty

Tucker looks best as a half back in my eyes. He reads the play really well, and he plays pretty wide of the contest, so he’s often in a dangerous spot on the rebound if the ball leaks out. He’s not a great individual defender, but I can see with his mindset and leadership that his defensive game will grow. As a midfielder, Tucker plays almost exclusively on the outside, but I can see scope for that developing as he seems to have good core strength. Tucker’s endurance is terrific, as he came in with a 15.3 beep test. That gives me hope that he can be a midfielder, but he’s got a bit to learn in terms of stoppage set ups and the general nuances of that position. Tucker is an excellent kick of the footy. Although he’s a bit down the pecking order, I don’t think there is a massive class difference between Darcy Parish, Cal Ah Chee and Tucker.

18. Ryan Clarke
Club: 
Eastern Ranges
Position: Midfielder
Height: 184 cm
Weight: 85 kg
Player Comparison: David Zaharakis

Clarke’s speed is excellent over the first few steps and he really breaks lines, but he’s probably a couple of rungs slower than the absolute best. He’s an excellent distributor by hand and foot. His decision making and vision is in the top class of this year’s draft, and he backs himself to hit difficult targets. Clarke is a strong runner who loves to break through the middle. He’s also got a fairly long kick too, and on the run he can impact the scoreboard from 55 out. He can go forward, but he’s probably got some work to do in that regard. He’s not a great mark overhead, and although he has the physical attributes to be a good crumber, he hasn’t shown that he’s got those talents as of yet.  Clarke’s inside game is developing. He’s got great core strength, so he breaks tackles fairly easily. He reads the tap well and he’s physical, so he throws himself at the footy. Clarke is sharp and quick by hand too, so there aren’t too many doubts over whether he’ll be a well-rounded midfielder. He’s not the prototype big-bodied inside beast that recruiters are infatuated with, so it’s unlikely that he’ll be a clearance machine at the top level, but he’ll be serviceable.

19. Eric Hipwood
Club:
Aspley
Position: Key back/forward
Height: 200 cm
Weight: 82 kg
Player Comparison: Harris Andrews

Hipwood will probably attract a top 10 bid, although his form doesn’t quite warrant it. He’s a project player who has terrific agility and a great overhead marking ability. He’s an okay user of the footy, who finds it more than your traditional key backman, but he doesn’t really know his limitations. He looks a bit more at home as a key defender, although he’s showed spurts of form as a forward here and there this year. He’ll take a long time to develop, but then again, we thought that of Harris Andrews and look how quickly he’s adapted.

20. Harry McKay
Club:
Gippsland Power
Position: Key forward
Height: 200 cm
Weight: 85 kg
Player Comparison: Drew Petrie

Harry McKay is a raw prospect who has shown great signs for his age. He should basically be considered a 2016 prospect, as he is only a few days off being eligible for next year’s draft. For a 200 cm player, McKay is very quick and agile. He can twist and turn and crumb like a small forward. He’s a terrific overhead mark, and he continually leads up the ground to present as a link up target. He’s a pretty good kick for goal too. At this stage, he’s a long-term prospect. He’s going to need to put on plenty of size to be able to compete, but he’s got as much upside as anyone in this draft class.

21. Ryan Burton
Club: 
North Adelaide
Position: Forward
Height: 190 cm
Weight: 89 kg
Player Comparison: Brett Burton

Burton’s broken leg could see him as a big slider, so it’s really difficult to get a gauge on where he sits. Although he is in that inbetween size, I can see Burton being a key forward. Burton has a massive leap, and his overhead marking is exceptional. Indeed, his game style isn’t too dissimilar to his namesake Brett Burton. Burton is a wonderful kick for goal, and he isn’t shy when it’s a clutch situation. Burton needs to improve his field kicking and forward smarts (ie where to lead and how to space himself). However, one thing that cannot be questioned is his defensive efforts, as he averaged three tackles per game in the Championships as a 17 year old.

22. Riley Bonner
Club:
West Adelaide
Position: Half back
Height: 191 cm
Weight: 80 kg
Player Comparison: Grant Birchall

Bonner is your classic elite ball user off the back flank. He’s probably the best long kick in the draft, and he can use both feet to a very high level. Bonner can play on the wing, or as a half forward too, but he’s played his best footy as a half-back this year. Bonner isn’t super quick, but he’s agile and he runs hard all game to present as a link-up target. The biggest issue with Bonner is his complete lack of accountability, but that should get better with a few years of development.

23. Clayton Oliver
Club:
Murray Bushrangers
Position: Midfielder
Height: 187 cm
Weight: 86 kg
Comparison: Luke Parker

Oliver is a big bodied inside midfielder who has a few different tricks. He wins his own ball easily, and while he has a large frame, he needs to develop a bit more physically for his game to translate to the AFL. Oliver can go forward and take a strong mark, and his finishing around the goals is excellent. Oliver is a strong tackler and a hard worker who runs both ways. Interestingly, Oliver tested much better than most expected in the speed and agility drills, which perhaps raises his ceiling in the eyes of recruiters. He ran a 2.99 20 metre sprint, which isn’t jaw dropping, but it’s pretty good for an inside midfielder. His agility time of 8.11 seconds was third in the entire AFL combine, and incredible feat that will no doubt be taken into account on draft night.

24. Josh Dunkley
Club:
 Gippsland Power
Position: Midfielder
Height: 187 cm
Weight: 84 kg
Player Comparison: Early career Jobe Watson

Dunkley is an inside midfielder who finds the goals easily. His drive and work ethic is incredible, reminiscent of Jason Johnson in his prime.He uses his size to bully his opponents, which should still work relatively well at AFL level, but he hasn’t become the great extractor his skillset should allow him to. Dunkley is an incredible tackler and a strong overhead mark. His leadership is a plus as well. Dunkley averaged 6 and a half tackles in the TAC Cup over 13 games, with an astounding 18 tackles leading the way against the Falcons as a 17 year old. He’s a really poor kick and lacks any form of an outside game at this stage. He’s pretty sluggish off the mark too, but he’s got a pretty good tank. He showed that he can hold his own at VFL level, which is crucial for a player of his ilk.

25. Mitchell Hibberd
Club:
Clarence
Position: Half back
Height: 191 cm
Weight: 85 kg
Player Comparison: Brad Sheppard

Hibberd would be a nice complimentary player on any team. He’s a smart defender, who is really solid in the air. He reads the flight of the ball well and he’s a good athlete. Hibberd isn’t an elite kick, but he hits targets consistently and rarely turns the ball over. He makes the right decisions and he takes the game on when he’s rebounding. Hibberd finds plenty of the ball on the outside, and he’s damaging enough to float forward and have an impact. With his size, athleticism and skills, he’s a very solid option.

26. Ben McKay
Club:
Gippsland Power
Position: Key defender
Height: 200 cm
Weight: 91 kg
Player Comparison: Lachie Henderson

Ben McKay is the identical twin of Harry. Ben’s best skill is contested marking, which was showcased against Oakleigh, when he took five of them. Like Harry, he is quite agile, although Ben is a bit stronger at this stage. McKay is a solid user of the footy, although he doesn’t offer too much at this stage from a rebounding point of view. He’s a solid intercept mark, but at this stage, he’s more concerned with being accountable than peeling off his man. McKay also showed he can head forward effectively, as well as providing a chop out in the ruck.

27. Luke Partington
Club:
Norwood
Position: Outside midfielder
Height: 182 cm
Weight: 78 kg
Player Comparison: Leigh Montagna

Luke Partington looks to be a really well rounded midfielder. He’s got a bit of speed, and he’s the type to work hard all game, so he’s always providing a link up target on the outside. He’s a pretty neat kick and a nice decision maker too. He’s become a better inside midfielder this year too, using his smarts and speed to read the tap and win clearances, rather than using his strength.

28. Aidyn Johnson
Club:
Bendigo Pioneers
Position: Utility
Height: 185 cm
Weight: 75 kg
Comparison: No real comparison

It’s been hard to get a gauge on what type of player Aidyn Johnson is, due to his injury troubles. Johnson is one of the fastest and most agile players in this draft class, and will probably be taken in the second round based on that. Michael Ablett and Brett Anderson rate him very highly, with his agility (fourth in the AFL Combine), speed and also the ability to create space around goals that others can’t being the really exciting features of his game. Johnson is a great volume tackler, averaging four per game last year in the TAC Cup. He’s also got that match winning ability. He kicked four goals and laid seven tackles last year against the Falcons, and he had a two other games where he was the best player for the Pioneers. He’s got a fair bit that he needs to improve on based on the ten or so games he’s played in the last two years. His kicking is a little too erratic, and he can give away clumsy free kicks. He’s also got to try and use his pace to receive more handballs on the outside, as he struggles to get more than 10-15 touches most games.

29. Nick O’Kearney
Club: 
Calder Cannons
Position: Midfielder
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 70 kg
Player Comparison: Brent Stanton

I like O’Kearney more than most, and I think that comes with accepting that he is a limited role player. His ball winning is incredible, as he averaged 25 disposals in the TAC Cup as a 17 year old, and he’s shown that he can do that again as an 18 year old. Despite playing in a star studded Calder team, O’Kearney took out the Cannons’ best and fairest as a 17 year old, and may do so again. O’Kearney reminds me a lot of Brent Stanton, in that he is a terrific two way runner. He gets 65% of the ball on the outside, but he’s improved his inside game as well this year. O’Kearney captained Vic Metro in the Under 16’s and he has natural leadership qualities. However, despite his leadership and high production, there are clear knocks on his game. His kicking is pretty average for someone who is predominately an outside midfielder. It has improved a little bit, but not enough to be a top 25 pick in my eyes.

30. Bailey Rice
Club:
Dandenong Stingrays
Position: Half back/midfielder
Height: 184 cm
Weight: 81 kg
Player Comparison: Zak Jones

Rice is a real competitive beast who has made big strides this year. He’s a really strong contested mark for a half back, and he’s shown some real physicality when defending. He offers a lot on the rebound, and even though he’s not an elite kick, he’s very neat and rarely turns the ball over. Rice has shown that he can win his own football as a midfielder, and with increased running power, he can be a balanced midfielder. Rice throws himself at the footy and really reads the flight of the ball well.

Luke McAlister’s November Phantom Draft

Christian-Petracca

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 translateable 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Petracca is a very safe bet to make the grade. There’s a small chance he might not develop as expected and could end up as a Colin Sylvia type forward/mid but it’s unlikely. He’s considered the best in the crop for a reason – he’s both a safe bet and has real upside, there’s every chance he makes it to the top two or three players in a side.

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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Brayshaw, like Petracca, is a very safe bet. The only concern would be whether there’s a problem with Melbourne’s development system – as their recent record is abysmal. That said, Brayshaw’s the type who could be an exception to that rule anyway. I’d consider him the most low risk player in the draft – he’s got all the game to be a real component of a winning team. However with that I also don’t believe he’s ever going to be truly elite.

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.

Evaluation of his prospects: As far as the key forwards in this crop go, McCartin is a fairly safe bet. While his skin folds and diabetes are a bit of a concern, he’s dominant enough and consistent enough in that domination to indicate that at the very worst he’ll be someone capable of providing a real option inside 50. The peak for him would be a Fevola level of domination but it’s likely he reaches somewhere inbetween. I personally think he’ll likely join the Petrie, Tippett and Kennedy types in that ‘second tier’ forward range.

Pick 4 – GWS: 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Laverde has the athleticism and size to be almost anything. In the right system and with the right approach he could well become an A grade midfielder. But he also might just end up another athletic player lacking the smarts to be relevant. The ceiling is through the roof – but the floor is also rather low.

Pick 5 – Collingwood: Jordan De Goey (Vic Metro, Classy & 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: De Goey seems a safe bet to make it – whether that be as a bottom end of the 22 player or better is the question. There’s a small chance he really makes it and hits that A grade with his blend of skills leaving the window open in the right system but it’s more likely that he ends up a ‘mid range’ best 22 player.

Pick 6 – 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Lever’s got enough game and application to make the grade. With what he already has – he could conceivably perform a similar role offensively to a Michael Johnson or a Harry Taylor at peak. The floor would be more a Nick Maxwell third tall role where he’s regarded more for his organisation and leadership than ability. There’s every chance Lever makes it and makes it well though, he’s relatively low risk aside from the ACL recovery.

Pick 7 – GWS: Nakia Cockatoo (NT – Fast and strong utility)

188 cm, 84 kg, 23/10/96
Range: 5-35
Style: Patrick Dangerfield
Comparison: Gary Rohan

Nakia Cockatoo is another player whose season has been destroyed by injury. Most of us have only had limited exposure to him, so it’s hard to know if what we’ve seen is Nakia at his best or at his worst. An indigenous prospect from the Northern Territory, Nakia was identified as a player with real talent last year and spent time with North Melbourne under the AIS-AFL program. Since then he’s had a mini growth spurt and now the possibilities are endless. Nakia has played as a tall defender in the NT (where the average size of players is smaller, to be fair) and at 188cm, there’s the ability for him to play as an undersized defender in the James Gwilt mold and he’s proven to be reasonably accountable doing that while also contributing offensively. That said, with his athletic ability it’d be a waste not to develop him through the middle first.

Nakia possesses an incredible speed/size/leap/acceleration combination. At the combine he tested in the top bracket for 20 metre sprint and repeat sprints test but also excelling in the vertical jump and kicking test. He also performed a reasonable beep test for someone who’d been out injured for most of the season. In the young guns game Cockatoo was best on ground with his explosive movement at ground level and ability to create space and opportunity a real highlight. By foot Cockatoo is reliable but still needs some work.

The concern with Cockatoo is just the amount of football he’s played. A lot of his hype is coming off the one game where he was playing against 17 year olds. How would he go if the pace of the game was much faster and the bodies much bigger? His combine testing indicates that he’s got the game to work with though. It’s just at times difficult to justify taking a punt on someone with such a limited sample of football, and Nakia isn’t an incredibly complete or rounded footballer yet. Despite all his talent, he still is very much a project. There isn’t a player that plays like Nakia – he’s got the explosive ability at ground level and power in congestion of Dangerfield and the speed and running game of Daniel Wells. I do like the Gary Rohan comparison with Nakia being similar in that tall, athletic x-factor kind of vein but also having the ability to play accountable defense to fall back on.

Evaluation of his prospects: Nakia could go any one of a number of ways. We just haven’t seen enough of him in action or in peak condition to make a judgment with real certainty. What is certain is that he does have the game and talent to be something in the right system – it’s just what that something is will be interesting to follow.

Pick 8 – Gold Coast: Kyle Langford (Vic Metro, Utility)

190 cm, 73 kg, 1/12/96
Range: 12-25
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 9 – Collingwood: Darcy Moore – Father/Son (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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Darcy is going to take some time but don’t write him off if he hasn’t done much after a few seasons – he’s naturally going to need the time. That said, I still consider him a relatively good bet for a KPF, with his natural talent coupled with his work rate and maturity a great combo to ensure some real development. He mightn’t ever be an A grade forward but he’s a good shot at making it to that B grade/second tier.

Pick 10 – Geelong: 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Pickett has a lot to work in – most of it connected to work rate. If he pulls it all together, he could be one of the most dynamic, exciting and damaging outside players we’ve seen; not dissimilar to a Harley Bennell type in hurt factor. However there’s every chance he doesn’t pull it all together and instead becomes a player similar to what we now see in Lewis Jetta; someone who performs a vital role with his pace and run but still isn’t a vital cog in the side due to some serious deficiencies.

Pick 11 – West Coast: 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: I’m not particularly sold on Ahern. I like what he offers and see why he’s well rated but something feels a little off. Even if he pulls all the parts together I’m not particularly sure he’d ever be a genuine A-grader. He projects more as a mid tier/role player and I’m not sure they’re the types you target with first rounders.

Pick 12 – Richmond: 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Wright could really go either way. In the right system he could use his athletic prowess and natural talent and really push on to near a-grade status. He could be a better version of Kurt Tippett. But he also could allow the flaws that currently impact his game to remain and end up at a similar level to a Tom Bellchambers – an option in the forward line but nothing dominant while also not really being a top level ruckman either. There’s a real gap between ceiling and floor for Wright and he could go either way.

Pick 13 – Fremantle: Lachie Weller (QLD, Skilled outside leaning midfielder)

181 cm, 71 kg, 23/2/96
Range: 5-15
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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Weller is lethal enough by foot that even if he doesn’t develop as expected, he likely will still have a role in the game – perhaps off half back or as a rotational option. Players with his hurt factor just don’t come along very often. If he manages to improve his accumulation and continue to work on his inside game he could well become a second tier midfielder and a really vital cog in a successful team.

Evaluation of his prospects: I just don’t see it. Others do though. Some think he could be the next Bontempelli type player but I just can’t see it at all. Won’t say much more, but not sure he’ll really ever be much.

Pick 14 – Adelaide: Hugh Goddard (Vic Country, Athletic KPP utility)

196 cm, 93 kg, 24/8/96
Style: Sam Day (forward)
Comparison: Daniel Talia (back)
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.

Evaluation of his prospects: As a forward I don’t see much in him. As a defender he could conceivably make it to an All Australian level. His ability to stop even the best forwards is on another level, with his mix of skill, size and athleticism a great match for dominating the best forwards. You can just feel the influence he has on his direct opponent – that’s an ability you don’t just lose.

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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Marchbank could go one of two ways. He could become the next Brian Lake – playing a high level intercept and possession game offensively while also being excellent defensively – often playing and excelling above his weight, or he could go the other way and be found out a bit defensively with his size and lack of absolute pace limiting his ability to effectively shut down elite forwards. I think Marchbank will make it – he just mightn’t be a world beater.

Pick 16 – North Melbourne: Sam Durdin (SA, Athletic and Skilled KPP utility)

197 cm, 87 kg, 6/6/96
Range: 3-15
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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Durdin has the game to really make it – like a better version of Jake Carlisle in defence. But he also has very few runs on the board at the lower levels, having very little impact outside the SANFL under 18s. If he manages to develop and pull all his abilities together, he’ll likely make it – but there’s also some real bust potential here too.

Pick 17 – Essendon: Connor Blakely (WA, Skilled inside leaning MID)

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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Blakely projects as a safe bet. His ability to just dance and weave through congestion and create space is something that defines his game at juniors and should translate to senior football. He has the inside game to make it at AFL level while his outside game is good enough to separate him from similar inside mids. He’ll make it – and don’t be surprised if he becomes quite an exceptional player.

Pick 18 – Sydney: Isaac Heeney – Academy (NSW, Balanced & Skilled midfielder)

186cm, 82kg, 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Heeney’s an excellent player with his inside and outside game incredibly balanced. He could make the grade as a pure inside mid if he didn’t have any outside game or as a pure outside mid if he didn’t have an inside game. It’s balanced players like him that become the superstars of our game.

Pick 19 – Carlton: 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Duggan’s application should see him make the grade, the extent to which is still unknown. Someone with his disposal and improving inside game should have enough strings to his bow to at least be a mid level best 22 player, potentially a vital cog in a team.

Pick 20 – Essendon: Tom Lamb (Vic Country, Athletic 3rd tall utility)

193cm, 84kg, 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 192cm 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Lamb’s future in the AFL is impossible to speculate on. It’s not a question of ability or talent as it’s already there – it’s a question of application. With his commitment to fitness and exceptional results there I’m hoping he applies that to AFL training as well. If he applies himself – he could be one of the most exciting players from the draft and a club’s dream with his talent and versatility. If he doesn’t – well he’ll end up more worse off than Jared Brennan.

Pick 21 – St. Kilda: Reece McKenzie (Vic Metro – Contested Marking KPF)

196 cm, 100 kg, 28/3/96
Range: 5-30
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.

Evaluation of his prospects: McKenzie’s going to take a long time to really hit his straps so either way we’re going to have to wait to see which way he goes. I’d say it’s around 50/50 as to whether he makes it or not.

Pick 22 – St. Kilda: 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Outside players are always risky, but Garlett seems to have the workrate to get the best out of himself. Kicking off both feet also gives him a real point of difference. I don’t think he has the potential to be genuinely elite, but I’d rate his chances of making the grade as better than most outside types.

Pick 23 – 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Ellis is someone whose disposal and creativity will carry him a little. Even if he flops a bit, he’ll always be someone given every chance to make it based on what he can do. That said, he just seems too inconsistent to ever be a top line player and at best I think he’ll end up a role player in a 22. Some real bust potential here.

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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Steele is a truly exceptional player and is very likely to make the grade. He’s also rather likely to end up a top tier player in a side.

Pick 25 – North Melbourne: Brayden Maynard (Vic Metro, Utility with a hard edge)

186 cm, 88 kg, 20/9/96
Range: Top 40
Style: Ryan O’Keefe
Comparison: Luke Tapscott

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.

Evaluation of his prospects: His versatility should render him a player clubs would like to have on their list. While he’s unlikely to ever be truly dominant, at worst he should be a high level state league player and handy depth.

Pick 26 – 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Menadue is high risk. Like all outside players, Menadue isn’t a safe bet, especially given he’s not an elite talent. At his size, he still has 15 kilos to gain and how that effects his game is still to be decided. There’s a good chance he doesn’t make the grade. There’s also a good chance he becomes one of the best outside players in the comp. I really like what he offers.

Pick 27 – Western Bulldogs: Oscar McDonald (Vic Country, Shutdown KPD)

196 cm, 88 kg, 18/3/96
Range: 35-rookie
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.

Evaluation of his prospects: McDonald projects as a safe bet to be a relatively good key defender. He lacks the truly dominant offensive or defensive ability to get into that All Australian tier but he’s well rounded enough and has the application to at worst be a handy 2nd key defender.

Pick 28 – Carlton: 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Vickers-Willis could go any number of ways and is someone I’ve struggled to get a read on all year so it’s tough for me to judge him. I think he’ll be given every opportunity to make the grade though given his unique skillset.

Pick 29 – Gold Coast: Alex Neal-Bullen (SA, High production inside midfielder)

182cm, 77kg, 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Neal-Bullen’s a solid player and by season 2 should be establishing a spot in an AFL side. He could go two ways from there – the first would be to rapidly improve and become a vital (yet underappreciated) cog in the starting midfield, the other could be to plateau early and continue on as a fringe 22 inside player for the rest of his career.

Pick 30 – Collingwood: Daniel McKenzie (Vic Metro – Athletic midfielder/small back)

183 cm, 77 kg
Range: 40-rookie
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.

Evaluation of his prospects: McKenzie has shown enough improvement each week throughout the year to give some confidence that it’ll continue and he’ll make the grade. His athletic qualities are exciting and he seems to have the footballing ability to back that up.

Pick 31 – Hawthorn: 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Bampton is a sure fire bet to make the grade. He’s got the readymade game to impact early and keep his spot for a long career – the peak is just the question. Perhaps he lacks the strings to his bow to ever be top tier quality.

Pick 32 – West Coast: Declan Hamilton (SA, Evasive and creative utility)

183 cm, 68 kg, 18/3/96
Range: 30-Rookie
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.

Evaluation of his prospects: I really want Hamilton to succeed. He seems a good kid and with his bloodlines it’d be nice to have him. But I’m just struggling to see it. He has a lot to like and had a great championships but I just can’t see a dominant part of his game that’d allow him to build from it into an AFL career.

Pick 33 – Richmond: Dillon Viojo-Rainbow (Vic Metro, Precision kicking defender)

185 cm, 80 kg, 8/2/96
Range: 20-45
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.

Evaluation of his prospects: By sheer virtue of his boot he’ll remain in contention for some time. However whether he makes the grade as an AFL prospect depends more on whether he can build the game around that boot to be relevant in a few other ways. He needs to end up in the right system.

Pick 34 – Fremantle: 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 5 of the championships and being concussed in the second quarter of round 6 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Nelson looks a safe bet to make the grade and should remain a role player for most of his career. He’s a lesser chance than most players picked in the 30s to flop but doesn’t seem to have that ceiling that some have either.

Pick 35 – Adelaide: 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Capiron has a good enough intercept, defensive and offensive game to maintain a spot in a 22. He’s relatively safe bet for a selection this late as most small defenders picked around here are.

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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Clem has the game to make it at this level however his application must lift. His beep test at the combine was borderline offensive for a player who’s had the support and system around him for so long. If he can lift his application he’ll find a niche at AFL level provided clubs can tolerate his occasional ill discipline.

Pick 37 – Sydney: Dean Gore (SA, Big bodied midfielder/forward)

183 cm, 86 kg, 26/6/96
Range: 25-40
Comparison: Sam Kerridge

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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Gore is someone who’s hard to get a read on. He’s enjoyed some good form at SANFL level, he’s got a big body, his champs were good and his combine was surprisingly excellent. He just doesn’t seem to have a set inside or outside game and instead seems like a bit of a jack of all trades, master of none. You’d think he’ll make it as a role player given that but does a jack of all trades, master of none carry that to the next level? I’m not sure. He’s a tough one. I hope he makes it, at least.

Pick 38 – Sydney: Jack Hiscox – Academy (NSW, Hard running midfielder)

184cm, 74 kg, 23/3/95
Range: Sydney 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: What I’ve seen hasn’t sold me. I’d have wanted more out of him with his year of extra age. That said, clearly Sydney have seen something and outside players are traditionally hit and miss. It’d be nice to have another exciting wingman running around at the highest level so I’m rooting for him but I personally can’t see it happening.

Pick 39 – Western Bulldogs: Tyler Keitel (WA, KP 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Keitel’s junior career has been a mixture of promise, potential and disappointment. He doesn’t seem to have the physicality in his play that most key position players do, and he hasn’t imposed himself like you’d want. I can’t see him making the grade – he just lacks any defining qualities.

Pick 40 – Melbourne: 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Miller’s a really handy player and only size is holding him back. I think he’s going to be another one of those small players that really makes clubs pay for discriminating against them based on height.

Pick 41 – St. Kilda: Jaden McGrath (Vic Country, Classy midfielder/forward)

179 cm, 73 kg, 15/6/96
Range: 30-rookie

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.

Evaluation of his prospects: I think McGrath is one of those players who if not for injury would be considered much higher, and in a few years will be another player to add to the ‘shouldn’t have marked him down due to injury’ pile. He just looks at home whenever he plays football.

Pick 42 – Melbourne: Billy Stretch – Father/Son (SA, Line breaking outside mid)

182 cm, 71 kg, 8/9/96
Range: Melbourne 2nd/3rd
Comparison: David MacKay

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 2 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Outside players are traditionally hit and miss but Stretch looks a good bet given his elite performances at SANFL level. He doesn’t have the hurt factor by foot or the cleanest hands yet and I think on that he won’t make it to the elite outside mid bracket but his ability to find the ball is much better than plenty of other outside mids and that should allow him to at least play a handy role at the next level.

Pick 43 – Adelaide: Keenan Ramsay (SA – Skilled KP utility)

193 cm, 86 kg, 23/8/96
Range: 40-rookie
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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Ramsay perhaps doesn’t have the dominant aspect of his game that will carry him through, however he’s good enough at nearly every aspect of football that he should forge a handy career as a depth KPP at worst.

Pick 44 – Brisbane: Liam Dawson – Academy (QLD, Intelligent utility)

188 cm, 83 kg, 23/1/96
Range: Brisbane 2nd-4th
Style: Sam Gilbert

Winning (in a 3 way tie) the Harrison Medal for the best player in div 2 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Dawson is more than good enough to make the grade. He’s a natural footballer and if anything his underage performances were indication enough that he’s a class act. Low risk, reasonably high reward kind of player. A great get this late.

Pick 45 – Western Bulldogs: Toby McLean (Vic Metro – Creative and exciting small forward)

179 cm, 70 kg, 31/1/96
Range: 25-60
Style: 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: I don’t think McLean is perhaps the next Jamie Elliott 40 goal a season forward like some do – I think he’s got a lot of work to do to get to that level. What is clear is that he’s a natural. I think he’ll make it though, it’s just not a certainty.

Pick 46 – Western Bulldogs: Josh McGuinness (TAS – Rebounding defender)

189 cm, 70 kg, 20/9/95
Range: 40-rookie
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.

Evaluation of his prospects: He’s got the boot, ability to read the play and accumulation skills to find a place in a defence as well as the height to give him a headstart defensively. He still has a lot to work on but he might just make it.

Pick 47 – Geelong: Josh Glenn (SA, Smooth yet tough utility)

180 cm, 78 kg, 10/3/94
Range: 25-50
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.

Evaluation of his prospects: After a relatively poor combine I think Glenn’s stocks are falling. He really struggled in the sprint and at SANFL level he looked like he had real speed. It’s a tough one as he is a mature player but he’s not testing like one. I think he mightn’t be as sure a bet as first thought.

Pick 48 – Collingwood: Damien Cavka (Vic Metro – Hard running outside midfielder)

184 cm, 79 kg, 3/6/96
Range: 25-rookie
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. 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Cavka looks like he has the game to be a handy outside midfielder at AFL level, it’s just a matter of the extent to which he can improve his hurt factor as to the level he reaches in the league.

Pick 49 – Hawthorn: Tom Wilkinson (Vic Metro – High endurance midfielder)

182 cm, 78 kg, 3/7/96
Range: 40-rookie
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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Wilkinson has enough game to make the grade but as a primarily outside player at this range in the draft it’s always going to be tough. He seems to have the desire and application to get the best of himself so he’s going to give himself every opportunity.

Pick 50 – Hawthorn: Dallas Willsmore (Rookie Upgrade)

Pick 51 – West Coast: Harrison Wigg (SA, Precision kicking small defender/outside midfielder)

179cm, 74kg, 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Wigg is someone who needs to end up in the right system. With his skillset he’s going to have to bang down the door in a state league to get selected as he does have some real natural limitations. He’s going to have to grab his opportunities when given. I can’t help but feel he might be a fringe player for a few seasons before being delisted.

Pick 52 – Richmond: Nathan Drummond (Vic Country, Explosive utility)

181cm, 85kg, 19/1/95
Range: 35-rookie
Style: Courtenay Dempsey

After being overlooked last year, Drummond has gone back to the TAC cup and banged the door down. Despite being a year or two older than his fellow players in the crop, he’s shown ability that can’t just be explained by being older. He’s a true athlete with his speed and leap exceptional and a big body to go with it. He’s a dynamic and energetic player, with his inside game sound and his outside game solid. His kicking isn’t exceptional but it suffices. He absolutely destroyed the combine.

Evaluation of his prospects: He is a bit of an athlete over a footballer but there is a place for players like that in this game. If his combine results are anything to go by, if he doesn’t make it it’ll be due to footy smarts, not anything else.

Pick 53 – Melbourne: Neville Jetta (Rookie Upgrade)

Pick 54 – 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: He’s looked good this year but unfortunately I don’t see the ceiling in his game. I reckon at best he’d be a handy role player/utility but quite simply is a good shot at not making it.

Pick 55 – Geelong: 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Evans has the size, frame and physical side to make it as a bullocking inside mid. However right now he’s raw – like most big bodied midfielders are. He’s going to take time and there’s a good chance he won’t make it – but he could well be a great player if he does – the development of these types is often very had to predict.

Pick 56 – North Melbourne: Kayne Turner (Rookie Upgrade)

Pick 57 – Port Adelaide: Sean McLaren (Vic Metro – Lockdown KPD)

197 cm, 92 kg, 1/10/96
Range: 35-70
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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Though he’s not incredibly highly rated, I’ve just got this feeling that McLaren will make it. His athleticism is good enough and with his size he could well be suited to the direction modern key defense is going. His ability to ruck should hold him in good stead.

Pick 58 – Sydney: Daniel Nielson (Vic Metro, Shutdown KPD)

193 cm, 90 kg, 9/5/96
Range: 35-rookie
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.

Evaluation of his prospects: At his height as a key defender he’s going to have a small hill to climb especially with his lack of standout traits. That said there has and always will be a place for the undersized key back in our game if they’ve got the work rate and athleticism and Nielson looks to have some of that. It’ll be a tough one but in the right system he might make it.

Pick 59 – Adelaide: Oleg Markov (SA – Athletic midfielder)
187 cm, 70 kg, 8/5/96
Range: 50-undrafted
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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Markov is quite simply very unlikely to make it. Outside players are hit and miss and someone with Markov’s record is about as risky as it gets. He hasn’t performed as a junior, quite simply. That said, his upside is just irresistable – if he does make it he’ll be a vital cog in a side. Big risk though.

Pick 60 – Geelong: James Rose (SA, Courageous and marking forward)

186 cm, 78 kg, 16/4/96
Range: 40-rookie
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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Rose has the application and dedication to make it. He’s a really nice player and a natural footballer. For Rose it’s more a question of whether there’s a role for him in the league as opposed to whether he’s got it in him to make it.

Pick 61 – Carlton:
Jack Lonie (VC, Exciting small forward)

174 cm, 67 kg, 13/8/96
Range: 25-rookie
Style: 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Lonie has a lot of fans and it’s not hard to understand why. He’s exciting. However at his size I don’t think he’s actually that elite in many areas and can’t see what he’d do at AFL level to maintain his spot as a small forward. If only he had another four inches, I just can’t see it in him though. Seems like the typical state league superstar unfortunately.

Pick 62 – Essendon: Patrick Ambrose (Rookie Upgrade)

Pick 63 – Brisbane: Harris Andrews – Academy (QLD – Disciplined KP 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Brisbane can thank the academy system for this steal. Andrews is a great get – his size suits the way the game is going and he has the versatility and ability to be a very solid AFL player with the right development.

Pick 64 – Western Bulldogs: Zaine Cordy – Father/Son (Vic Country – Defensive minded 3rd 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Cordy’s a fantastic stopper. Even if he doesn’t have the greatest size, bulk or offensive game by sheer virtue of his defensive discipline he’ll have a role in an AFL side.

Pick 65 – Carlton: Matthew Hammelmann (QLD, Intelligent KP 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: I think Hammelmann has a real shot at making the grade. If he fails as a forward he’s got the game as a defender to be handy depth. As a forward though he has the smarts, size and wingspan to be a really handy second forward.

Pick 66 – Gold Coast: Andrew Boston (Rookie Upgrade)

Pick 67 – Brisbane: 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Another player whose story may be different if not for injury, Deluca looks like he might have the game to be a role player or handy depth at AFL level, maybe even more.

Pick 68 – Hawthorn: Zac Webster (Rookie Upgrade)

Pick 69 – West Coast: Brenden Abbott (WA – Powerful and Athletic utility)

188 cm, 95 kg, 1/1/95
Range: 30-undrafted
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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Abbott is a massive risk. Missing out on the ’12 draft by one day, he was passed over in ’13. He’s had some elite games in the WAFL but also some howlers. His mixture of size, athleticism and boot is just too hard to ignore though – barring smarts he has the whole package and if it comes together he could be something special. That said, I think it’s very unlikely it does.

Pick 70 – Richmond: 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: With Castagna’s pace and tendency to run, carry and break the lines, it’s a matter of whether Castagna can improve his kicking to an acceptable level. If he can, he could just be a really handy small back/wingman. If not, he’ll be too much of a liability.

Pick 71 – Essendon: PASS

Pick 72 – Fremantle: PASS

Pick 73 – Geelong: Mark Blicavs (Rookie Upgrade)

Pick 74 – North Melbourne: Joel Tippett (Rookie Upgrade)

Pick 75 – Port Adelaide: Caleb Daniel: (SA, Skilled, smart and creative midfielder)

168 cm, 66 kg, 7/7/96
Range: 35-rookie
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 3 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 3k. I’m not sure how many players around run a sub 15 beep, sub 10 minute 3k and sub 3 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: If you’re good enough, you’re big enough. Perhaps he’s not blisteringly quick but by foot he’s just beautiful and he has so many strings to his game. I think he’ll make it but there are definitely elements of football that he’ll find difficult at AFL level.

Pick 76 – Sydney: Abiana Davis – Academy (NSW, Intelligent KP utility)

193cm, 90kg, 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 from a late draft KPP that’s really a win.

Evaluation of his prospects: Abiana is a really intriguing player. There’s something about him that really piques my interest but when watching him I can’t see that much. KPPs this late are very speculative and Abiana is no different. If he’s to make it it’ll be as a 2nd or more likely third tall – but there’s still a lot of work to be done and water to go under the bridge.

Pick 77 – Hawthorn: PASS

Pick 78 – St. Kilda: Eli Templeton (Rookie Upgrade)

Pick 79 – Carlton: PASS

Pick 80 – GWS: Jeremy Finlayson – Academy (GWS, Athletic KP utility)

195 cm, 84 kg, 2/9/96
Range: GWS 2nd/3rd
Style: Jack Watts
Comparison: Marco Paparone/James Stewart

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.

Evaluation of his prospects: I’m surprised Finlayson wasn’t bid on during the bidding – he really did impress me. He’s a risk and he’s raw – with some serious development needed both physically and as a player but his poise and ability between the arcs just looks like something worth persisting with.

Pick 81 – 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Not sure I see it in him, doesn’t really look to have anything truly elite in his game and just has a nice size. I don’t think he’ll make it.

Pick 82 – Western Bulldogs: Lin Jong (Rookie Upgrade)

Pick 83 – Melbourne: PASS

Pick 84 – Gold Coast: Josh Hall (Rookie Upgrade)

Pick 85 – Collingwood: Jack Frost (Rookie Upgrade)

Pick 86 – Adelaide: Charlie Cameron (Rookie Upgrade)

Pick 87 – 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.

Evaluation of his prospects: I have a feeling Waterman took the foot off the gas a bit this year. I really like what he offers as an inside midfielder with an outside game. He is quite slow and at times laconic but I do think he’s a great chance to make it.

Pick 88 – Richmond: Anthony Miles (Rookie Upgrade)

Pick 89 – Essendon: PASS

Pick 90 – Fremantle: PASS

Pick 91 – Geelong: PASS

Pick 92 – North Melbourne: PASS

Pick 93 – Port Adelaide: Marc Pittonet (Vic Metro – Skilled tap ruckman)

201 cm, 100 kg, 6/3/96
Range: 50-undrafted

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.

Evaluation of his prospects: Any ruckman picked this late is speculative and Pittonet is no exception. He needs time but plenty of rucks picked late draft or in the rookie make the grade. It’s just a wait and see thing with him.

Pick 94 – Sydney: Jake Lloyd (Rookie Upgrade)

Pick 95 – Hawthorn: PASS

Pick 96 – St. Kilda: Maverick Weller (Rookie Upgrade)

Pick 97 – GWS: PASS

Pick 98 – Brisbane: PASS

Pick 99 – Western Bulldogs: Jack Redpath (Rookie Upgrade)

Pick 100 – Gold Coast: PASS

Pick 101 – Collingwood: PASS

Pick 102 – Adelaide: PASS

Pick 103 – West Coast: Callum Sinclair (Rookie Upgrade)

Pick 104 – Richmond: PASS

Pick 105 – Port Adelaide: Kane Mitchell (Rookie Upgrade)

Pick 106 – Sydney: Daniel Robinson (Rookie Upgrade)

Pick 107 – St. Kilda: Darren Minchington (Rookie Upgrade)

Pick 108 – Sydney: Xavier Richards (Rookie Upgrade)

Pick 109 – St. Kilda: Cameron Shenton (Rookie Upgrade)

Luke McAlister’s Phantom Draft

Christian-Petracca


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
Range: 12-25
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
Range: 25-60
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
Range: 5-30
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
Range: 25-40
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
Range: 35-rookie
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
Range: 20-45
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
Range: 25-50
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
Range: 30-rookie

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
Range: 40-rookie
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
Range: 25-60
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
Range: 25-rookie
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
Range: 35-rookie
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
Range: 25-rookie
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
Range: 25-60
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
Range: 40-rookie
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
Range: 35-70
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
Range: 30-undrafted
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
Range: 40-rookie
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
Range: 40-rookie
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
Range: 40-rookie
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
Range: 35-rookie
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
Range: 45-undrafted
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
Range: 50-undrafted
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
Range: 40-rookie
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
Range: 30-rookie
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
Range: 35-rookie
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
Range: 50-rookie
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
Range: 40-rookie
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
Range: 60-undrafted
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
Range: 35-70
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
Range: 50-rookie
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
Range: 50-undrafted

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)

2013 National Draft: Complete list of picks

First Round:

1. Greater Western Sydney – Tom Boyd (Eastern Ranges)
2. Greater Western Sydney – Josh Kelly (Sandringham Dragons)
3. St Kilda – Jack Billings (Oakleigh Chargers)
4. Western Bulldogs – Marcus Bontempelli (Northern Knights)
5. Gold Coast – Kade Kolodjashnij (Launceston)
6. Collingwood – Matt Scharenberg (Glenelg)
7. Brisbane – James Aish (Norwood)
8. North Melbourne – Luke McDonald (Werribee) [Father-son selection]
9. Melbourne – Christian Salem (Sandringham Dragons)
10. Collingwood – Nathan Freeman (Sandringham Dragons)
11. West Coast – Domenic Sheed (Subiaco)
12. Richmond – Ben Lennon (Northern Knights)
13. Carlton – Patrick Cripps (East Fremantle)
14. Greater Western Sydney – Cameron McCarthy (South Fremantle)
15. Sydney – Zac Jones (Dandenong Stingrays)
16. Geelong – Darcy Lang (Geelong Falcons)
17. Fremantle – Michael Apeness (Eastern Ranges)
18. St Kilda – Luke Dunstan (WWT)
19. St Kilda – Blake Acres (West Perth)
20. Gold Coast – Jack Leslie (Gippsland Power)

Second round:

21. Port Adelaide – Jarman Impey (Murray Bushrangers)
22. Brisbane – Darcy Gardiner (Geelong Falcons)
23. Adelaide – Matt Crouch (North Ballarat Rebels)
24. Hawthorn – Billy Hartung (Dandenong Stingrays)
25. Brisbane – Daniel McStay (Eastern Ranges)
26. Essendon – Jackson Merrett (Sandringham Dragons)
27. Gold Coast – Sean Lemmens (Port Adelaide)
28. Brisbane – Lewis Taylor (Geelong Falcons)
29. Greater Western Sydney – Rory Lobb (Swan Districts)
30. North Melbourne – Trent Dumont (Norwood)
31. West Coast – Malcolm Karpany (WWT)
32. Sydney – George Hewett (North Adelaide)
33. Brisbane – Tom Cutler (Oakleigh Chargers)
34. Brisbane – Nicholas Robertson (West Perth)
35. Sydney – Toby Nankervis (North Launceston)
36. Geelong – Jared Jansen (East Fremantle)
37. Fremantle – Alex Pearce (Devonport)
38. Hawthorn – Dayle Garlett (Swan Districts)

Third round:

39. Carlton – Cameron Giles (WWT)
40. Melbourne – Jay Kennedy-Harris (Oakleigh Chargers)
41. Geelong – Jake Kolodjashnij (Launceston)
42. Western Bulldogs – Matthew Fuller (Norwood)
43. West Coast – Tom Barrass (Claremont)
44. Sydney – Aliir Aliir (East Fremantle)
45. Port Adelaide – Mitch Harvey (North Adelaide)
46. Adelaide – Riley Knight (WWT)
47. North Melbourne – Ben Brown (Werribee Tigers)
48. Greater Western Sydney – Pass
49. West Coast – Dylan Main (South Fremantle)
50. Richmond – Nathan Gordon (North Adelaide)
51. Carlton – Nick Holman (Murray Bushrangers)
52. Port Adelaide – Darcy Byrne-Jones (Oakleigh Chargers)
53. Sydney – Pass
54. Geelong – Josh Walker (rookie elevation)
55. Essendon – Orazio Fantasia (Norwood)
56. Hawthorn – James Sicily (Western Jets)

Fourth round:

57. Melbourne – Jayden Hunt (Brighton Grammar)
58. Fremantle – Brodie Grey (Burnie Dockers)
59. Hawthorn – Jon Ceglar (rookie elevation)
60. Western Bulldogs – Mitch Honeychurch (Eastern Ranges)
61. West Coast – Jamie Bennell (rookie elevation)
62. Brisbane – Jonathan Freeman  (Aspley) [zone selection]
63. Geelong – George Burbury (rookie elevation)
64. Essendon – Lauchlan Dalgleish (rookie elevation)
65. Collingwood – Tom Langdon (Sandringham Dragons)
66. Richmond – Sam Lloyd (Frankston)
67. Carlton – Pass
68. Port Adelaide – Karl Amon (Sandringham Dragons)
69. Sydney – Pass
70. Fremantle – Matt Taberner (rookie elevation)
71. Hawthorn – Will Langford (rookie elevation)

Fifth round:

72. Greater Western Sydney – Pass
73. Greater Western Sydney – Pass
74. West Coast – Jeremy McGovern (rookie elevation)
75. Brisbane – Justin Clarke (rookie elevation)
76. Adelaide – Rory Laird (rookie elevation)
77. Collingwood – Jonathon Marsh (East Fremantle)
78. Richmond – Pass
79. Carlton – Pass
80. Sydney – Brandon Jack (rookie elevation)

Sixth round:

81. Greater Western Sydney – Pass
82. Melbourne – Mitch Clisby (rookie elevation)
83. St Kilda – Tom Curren (rookie elevation)
84. Western Bulldogs – Brett Goodes (rookie elevation)
85. West Coast – Simon Tunbridge (rookie elevation)
86. Adelaide – Kyle Hartigan (rookie elevation)
87. Collingwood – Sam Dwyer (rookie elevation)
88. Richmond – Pass
89. Carlton – Ed Curnow (rookie elevation)
90. Sydney – Dayne Rampe (rookie elevation)

Seventh round:

91. Greater Western Sydney – Pass
92. Collingwood – Adam Oxley (rookie elevation)
93. Richmond – Ricky Petterd (rookie elevation)
94. Carlton – Tom Bell (rookie elevation)

Eighth round:

95. Greater Western Sydney – Zach Williams (rookie elevation)
96. Collingwood – Pass

Ninth round:

97. Greater Western Sydney – Jake Barrett (zone selection)

Rising Stars Phantom Draft: Peter Williams

After months of chopping, changing, swapping and adding I have come up with my phantom draft as it stands now. There are still multiple players that I could see moving around, but that is the nature of completing a phantom draft. Before reading I believe it’s always helpful to explain what I call qualifications for making a phantom draft. This year I’ve been lucky to attend over 50 TAC Cup matches and all the Under 18s Championships. This means that naturally my viewing of the Victorian players is considerably more, however I have been lucky enough to see multiple matches of the interstate players.

#1 – Greater Western Sydney – Tom Boyd (Eastern Ranges) 198 cm, 101 kg

Tom Boyd is by far the superior key forward in the draft. Much has been spoken about him but in a nutshell he’s good overhead, reads the play well and is a nice shot for goal. More importantly he’s a different type of forward to Jonathan Patton and Jeremy Cameron meaning the Giants could play all three in the one forward line. Boyd has the potential to become one of the best key forwards given his size and ability.

#2 – Greater Western Sydney – Josh Kelly (Sandringham) 182 cm, 73 kg

Josh Kelly is an elite ball user and has no trouble finding it either. No doubt he would have been in consideration had Melbourne kept this pick, but he finds himself heading to western Sydney to provide more outside class for a midfield that is already jam packed full of talented youngsters. When Kelly needed to stand up at the Under 18s Championships he did. A clearance gem, Kelly rarely misses targets inside 50 and has enough pace to get away from clearances. May not play straight away, but he’s not far off and should taste senior action in 2014.

#3 – St Kilda – Jack Billings (Oakleigh) 183 cm, 78 kg

Strong medium forward who has shown he can play midfield in stints. Billings’ greatest strength is his overhead marking. For a 183 cm player you’d think he was well over 190 cm given his contested marking ability. He runs to the right places, creates space and works well with taller targets. The biggest question marks surround whether he can play as a full-time midfielder and how he’s recovered from his various injuries which would be of some concern. He’s been on clubs’ radars for a number of years been a top talent and impressed in 2012 as a bottom-ager. Too good to fall far in this draft.

#4 – Western Bulldogs – Marcus Bontempelli (Northern) 191 cm, 83 kg

It seems as though the Bulldogs will be the first to bite the bullet with Bontempelli. On 2013 output he’s probably a mid first round pick, but throw in potential and he moves right up the order. He is rare tall midfielder in the drafts and is a good user by hand or foot. A trademark of his game is his run and carry which helped by his booming kick that can clear the 50 metre ark. The biggest question mark for me is his consistency. Bontempelli’s best is amazing, but his worst is pretty disappointing. If he can string consistency together, he’ll become a very good player.

#5 – Gold Coast – Kade Kolodjashnij (Launceston) 188 cm, 76 kg

Kade is the first of the twins to go and Gold Coast has had its eye on him for a while. Originally a second round pick, Kolodjashnij has shot up the order after an impressive Under 18s Championships. Has moved into the middle at times as well as half back and looked composed. Other strengths include ball getting and rebounding, however he is primarily outside which is why he settles at half back. Kolodjashnij makes good decisions and with the selection of Jesse Lonergan last season, the Suns are building quite a Tasmanian portfolio. Kolodjashnij could also play a few games in 2014 but still needs to put on a bit of muscle.

#6 – Collingwood – James Aish (Norwood) 183 cm, 74 kg

It’s hard to believe that James Aish could slip to number six when this time last year he would have been pushing Boyd for pick one. He’s an elite user who’s had a few injury concerns this year, but has shown in the SANFL that he can mix it with the bigger bodies at senior level. Other strengths include awareness, vision and class. Aish reminds me a fair bit of Trent Cotchin. While he doesn’t find the footy as much as some of the others, he rarely wastes a disposal and is an absolute steal at pick six.

#7 – Brisbane – Matt Scharenberg (Glenelg) 190 cm, 89 kg

Scharenberg has enjoyed a yo-yo draft positioning this season after being a first round pick, shooting up to a top five pick then drifting to just inside the top ten. He’s really strong overhead, reads the play well and is a great link up player, someone Brisbane could rely on having there. Lately there have been rumours about bung ankles but it won’t scare off too many with Scharenberg a member of the AIS Academy this season. With no tagging allowed in the Under 18s and Scharenberg playing off a flank, it’s hard to know how he will go when he receives attention. However without it, he’s a quality player.

#8 – North Melbourne – Luke McDonald (Werribee) 188 cm, 80 kg

North Melbourne have had McDonald locked away for a little while now but it will all be official as of Thursday night. He’s played for VFL affiliate Werribee and looked impressive, preparing for a potential round one debut next season given his mature body. Has a raking hoof of a kick too. While North Melbourne fans have built up the hype surrounding McDonald to unbelievable levels, he is a quality player and pick eight is just under what he’s worth, so good value on their behalf.

#9 – Melbourne – Christian Salem (Sandringham) 183 cm, 82 kg

In many circles Salem is incredibly underrated. I rate him as a top five pick and it’s only really his ball getting that he needs to work on. He’s an elite user, can go forward and find the goals, win his own footy and is as tough as nails, everything you want in a footballer. Salem reminds me remarkably of Scott Pendlebury with his “time and space” where time seems to pause around him. He’s the kind of player you want with the ball when there’s 30 seconds left and you’re five points down. Much like Aish and Kelly, he rarely wastes it by foot and is more contested which makes him a very handy prospect and Melbourne will be picking up a gem here.

#10 – Collingwood – Nathan Freeman (Sandringham) 182 cm, 85 kg

Freeman is one who has pushed himself into the top ten after  a fantastic Draft Combine where he was elite in the speed categories. He has the ability to sidestep opponents and burst away from clearances more so than many others in this draft class. Freeman’s athleticism is well documented, but he can also play football. While many of the others are what you would call a “traditional footballer”, Freeman just backs his instincts and goes. Sometimes he can rush his disposal thinking he has less time than he does, but usually he can get himself out of trouble. An interesting selection that has been likened to Patrick Dangerfield so one to watch.

#11 – West Coast – Dominic Sheed (Subiaco) 183 cm, 82 kg

Sheed is one of the better offensive midfielders in this draft. His one weakness is speed. If it wasn’t for his pace, he’d be considered the most complete midfielder. He is still able to dominate his opponents and hurt them on the scoreboard too. He was one of the few West Australian teenagers to play seniors football and cope well so expect him to be ready made from the get go next year.

#12 – Richmond – Ben Lennon (Northern) 187 cm, 79 kg

Strong marking forward target who can play through the midfield or off half back such is his versatility. Could go anywhere from pick seven to pick 12 and is a gem. Very good value this late. Much like Jack Billings, Lennon is most dangerous up forward, but has no troubles finding the ball through the midfield. He adds another dimension to any forward line given his ability to both mark and crumb.

#13 – Carlton – Blake Acres (West Perth) 188 cm, 84 kg

Acres is another fantastic ball user who, due to injury hasn’t been able to stand out as much as others this season. He could have pushed top ten if he’d stayed on the park. Acres might provide that extra skilled midfielder at the Blues and while he might slip as far as the Saints, it’s hard to see him falling much further into the second round. One to watch from this draft.

#14 – GWS – Lewis Taylor (Geelong) 173 cm, 73 kg

It’s hard to see someone of Taylor’s ability slip to pick 14 but that’s what looks like happening. He is a incredible runner who just goes all day and influences his teammates around him. He averaged over 30 disposals a game in the TAC Cup. He can occasionally rush his kicks, but the amount of contests he wills himself to all over the ground will have him a fan favourite in no time.

#15 – Sydney – Luke Dunstan (Woodville West-Torrens) 185 cm, 83 kg

Dunstan in another player that could go anywhere from mid-first round to late-second round and isn’t talked about given he is considered less flashy than others around him. Still a very impressive talent and future captain. He was talked about as a top five pick but doesn’t have the attributes that stand out like others. He could very easily become a very solid player who forges a long career.

#16 – Geelong – Zac Jones (Dandenong) 181 cm, 74 kg

Jones is the brother of Melbourne’s Nathan and he plays similar too. More of a half back than his brother but has the same aggression and uses the ball a little better too. One of those players fans will love, while opposition players may despise because of his willingness to get stuck into the opposition. Jones is a ferocious tackler who lets his footy do the talking and has great versatility as well as speed across the ground. Similar to Alan Toovey but with good foot skills.

#17 – Fremantle – Cameron McCarthy (South Fremantle) – 195 cm, 89 kg

McCarthy could be selected at high as pick seven or slip down to here. It’s hard to see Fremantle passing up the second best key forward in the draft. He’s incredibly athletic and has huge potential to become a really strong forward. He’s highly rated by a few clubs but a needs basis might send him here and if he can fulfil the potential expected of him, he will be a fantastic player.

#18 – St Kilda – Darcy Gardiner (Geelong) 192 cm, 84 kg

Gardiner is arguably the best key defender in the draft. He’s athletically gifted for his height and can play at either end. While St Kilda may elect to pick up two midfielders here, they may just secure their key defense posts a bit more. Is just as adapt at marking or spoiling and can play on tall or small which helps. Will need to bulk up a little over the next year, however.

#19 – St Kilda – Billy Hartung (Dandenong) 176 cm, 70 kg

Hartung has potentially the biggest hurt factor in the TAC Cup. His biggest weakness is his ability to work defensively, but as the season wore on, he improved in that area. Has a great burst speed and elite endurance. While he was quiet in the Grand Final, his two goals in quick succession showed how he can turn a game. Could be a top ten player from this draft down the track.

#20 – Gold Coast – Trent Dumont (Norwood) 186 cm, 83 kg

Dumont is a talented inside midfielder yet he has seemingly disappeared from early first round calculations. He’ll be there abouts though and really good value for the Suns here if they select him. Very similar to Ollie Wines with good endurance but little outside capabilities. Regardless he’s one that could become a captain and a 200 game player, like a Luke Ball.

#21 – Port Adelaide – James Battersby (Sturt) 177 cm, 78 kg

James Battersby is an underrated talent and while I might be having him a bit high here, I think a lot of clubs rate him pretty highly. He was one who really stood out for me in the Under 18s Championships. Can play defence, forward or through the middle which makes him a versatile prospect. Can find the footy a fair bit and despite his height, is a nuggety little player who could play senior footy next year.

#22 – Brisbane – Jonathon Marsh (East Fremantle) 191 cm, 89 kg

Marsh is the big question mark of the draft. He could go first round or he could go third round. He has plenty of potential and has shown what he can do, but just doesn’t have the consistency. A freak athlete who could be a slightly smaller Buddy Franklin with midfield capabilities if groomed in the right environment.

#23 – Adelaide – Matt Crouch (North Ballarat) 181 cm, 80 kg

Surely Crouch couldn’t slip to here? He’s a first round prospect because of his elite vision and awareness around stoppages. Crouch does have clear deficiencies with disposal and athleticism, but he is a clearance expert and averaged more disposals than any other player in the TAC Cup. Crouch leads from the front and is able to see plays well before they happen and to make it to the Crows is a huge steal.

#24 – Hawthorn – Dale Garlett (Swan Districts) 181 cm, 75 kg

If Marsh is a question mark, Garlett is the biggest question mark of all-time. On ability he is a lock for first round. Unfortunately continued rumours of off-field shenanigans has brought his draftability into question time and time again. He legitimately could go anywhere from first round to undrafted, much like last year. Fantastic ball user and plenty of hurt factor.

#25 – Brisbane – Patrick Cripps (East Fremantle) 188 cm, 88 kg

Patrick is the cousin of Jamie and while clubs will be wary of Jamie’s homesickness, Patrick is another talent too good to pass up. He’s another inside midfielder similar to Dumont, but does lack athleticism. He’s a clearance machine however, and has a readymade body to play AFL. Could potentially go first round or slip into late-second round.

#26 – Essendon – James Sicily (Western) 186 cm, 75 kg

James Sicily is the Ben Lennon/Jack Billings of the second round. He is incredibly strong overhead, has good pace and can crumb goals as well. He reads the play about as well as anyone in the draft crop and is a perfect replacement for Stewart Crameri. Stood up in finals too which is important for medium forwards. He has scope to move into the midfield later in his career. One player that has really grown on me as the season has gone on.

#27 – Gold Coast – Darcy Hourigan (South Adelaide) 190 cm, 92 kg

Hourigan has slid down the order somewhat after being a clear first rounder after an impressive Under 18s Championships. Unfortunately his SANFL form fell away and questions started surrounding whether his height would be good enough for a key forward post at AFL level. He isn’t the most athletic player, but he’s strong and times his leads well. It will be interesting to see if he slides further like Tim Membrey last year.

#28 – Brisbane – Isaiah Miller (Bendigo) 187 cm, 82 kg

Isaiah Miller is your typical offensive half back. He has fantastic skills, reads the game well and is able to position himself accordingly to chop off leads. Miller’s biggest weakness is his disposal under pressure which can cause him to make uncharacteristic errors. He isn’t overly quick, but finds the space to make up for it. Another player who has the size to compete at AFL level early on.

#29 – Greater Western Sydney – Toby Nankervis (North Launceston) 199 cm, 100 kg

Nankervis is one of the best improvers after missing out on selection last year. While he doesn’t have a huge vertical leap, he is incredibly strong and plays the ruck-forward role to perfection. He’s 199 cm and 100 kg so he’ll be able to play from round one should he be selected. If he can combine with Mumford well, the Giants will have two monsters in the ruck.

#30 – North Melbourne – Jay Kennedy-Harris (Oakleigh) 173 cm, 68 kg

Jay Kennedy-Harris could well be a first round pick if he had a tank. Basically his main weakness is endurance but aside from that, he has shown he can tear games open. Unfortunately it does mean he can go missing at times, but when he is on song, he can really dominate. Classy ball user who is very smart around clearances and can kick goals when drifting into space up forward.

#31 – West Coast – Daniel McStay (Eastern Ranges) 194 cm, 88 kg

McStay recorded the highest disposal efficiency of any TAC Cup player to play over 10 games. He played primarily in defense but drifted across the wing and up forward. Is the ideal substitute to start with and very similar to Tyson Goldsack. Great size means he can play on key position players, however he will want to bulk up a little to take the monsters. Otherwise he’s a perfect choice to fill a hole anywhere on the field.

#32 – Sydney – Mitch Honeychurch (Eastern Ranges) 175 cm, 65 kg

The biggest call I will make is that if Honeychurch had of stayed fully fit he would be top 10. Many people will look at his height and weight then wonder how he manages to play midfield. The amazing thing is that he is quite strong below the hips and can shake off tackles while disposing of it cleanly. His ability to find the ball and move through stoppages is Gary Ablett Jnr. as an 18 year old like. Injuries have curtailed his year leaving question marks surrounding his durability, but if he can stay fit he is a steal for the club that selects him.

#33 – Brisbane – Michael Apeness (Eastern Ranges) 199 cm, 101 kg

Michael Apeness is a rare type in this draft. A readymade ruck/forward who stood out when Tom Boyd was injured. This allowed Apeness to play not only for Eastern Ranges but Vic Metro as the main target. He is a strong contested mark and a solid kick for goal. Apeness showed early in the season he can play key back but he’s more damaging up forward rotating through the ruck.

#34 – Brisbane – Zach Merrett (Sandringham) 176 cm, 79 kg

Zach Merrett has been touted as a first rounder. He has fantastic awareness and good ball skills, but at times has just lacked a bit of consistency. Merrett is a predominantly outside player because of his skills, but has struggled to run defensively at times. He’s a tenacious tackler with great vision and if he can work on the defensive part of his game, he’ll be a very good player.

#35 – Sydney – Rory Lobb (Swan Districts) 205 cm, 98 kg

Rory Lobb is the one player in this phantom draft I haven’t seen live. From all reports he is a strong contested mark and ferocious tackler which is similar to Brodie Grundy last year. At 205 cm and 98 kg, the mature recruit is ready made for AFL and his rapid rise to fame would be a fairytale should he be selected.

#36 – Geelong – James Tsitas (Geelong) 180 cm, 77 kg

James Tsitas is your no-frills footballer. He doesn’t do the flashy runs or the look-away handballs, he just sees footy, gets footy. Often described as the “nuts and bolts” of the Geelong midfield, he’s a consistent midfielder who will rack up disposals while making sure his teammates are able to get it on the outside. He played a fair bit inside this year and given the contested situation, it was hard to gauge his disposal efficiency. At the draft combine he scored 100 per cent on the kicking test which would have impressed most clubs. A great get if you’re after a consistent midfielder.

#37 – Fremantle – Darcy Byrne-Jones (Oakleigh) 180 cm, 69 cm

Darcy Byrne-Jones is another small defender and while he lacks pace, he makes up for it with poise. He was one of the best for Vic Metro at the Under 18s Championships and has had a really consistent season with Oakleigh. Can find the ball and more importantly win his own ball in contested situations which is important in defence. Byrne-Jones may be on the light side, but with a pre-season in the gym, he should bulk up and be a solid contributor.

#38 – Hawthorn – Jarman Impey (Murray) 177 cm, 78 kg

Impey is another player who’s best is incredibly good but his worst is very disappointing. He flashes in and out at times, teasing fans with what he can do, but just doesn’t have the consistency to do it on a regular basis. His kicking is very good and his ability to find space and execute passes under pressure is great. Impey can play as that small forward who eventually moves into the midfield.

#39 – Carlton – Mitch Thorp (South Launceston) 194 cm, 94 kg

For the last few years, Hawthorn has been criticised for using a top ten selection on Thorp all those years ago. Now the big man has finally developed and Carlton are among teams sniffing around. He has been impressive for South Launceston this season and of course is ready made to start round one if required. He also gives Carlton that tall forward option they are looking for.

#40 – Melbourne – Malcolm Karpany (WWT) 176 cm, 72 kg

Karpany is an interesting player. From all reports he is slowly rising up from a potential draftee to a bonafide selection. He’s a small forward who is dangerous around goals, but like some small forwards can struggle for consistency. Is only small, but can match it with the bigger bodies and has a nice set of wheels which helps him. Could go anywhere from second round to undrafted.

#41 – Geelong – Louis Herbert (North Ballarat) 187 cm, 75 kg

Louis Herbert is another over-ager who has improved out of sight this year. After being a medium forward with a good leap last year, he transformed into the ultimate utility, ranging from half back to the wing and up forward. While the Rebels didn’t have a good season, Herbert was a shining light and was amongst the best in nearly every game he played. He’s still a bit on the skinny side but has talent that will help any side needing a utility.

#42 – Western Bulldogs – Mitch Harvey (North Adelaide) 195 cm, 97 kg

Mitch Harvey was impressive at the Under 18s Championships and was talked up as a second round pick. The nephew of Pies’ recruiter Matt Rendell has the size to slot straight into AFL. He has a good turn of speed for someone of his height and weight, while also being a reliable kick for goal. If he can work on his consistency, he could be a fantastic get late.

#43 – West Coast – Alex Spina (North Adelaide) 181 cm, 75 kg

Alex Spina is another small forward who was rated highly at the start of the year but consistency has seen him drift in the rankings. His Under 18s Championships weren’t the best, but he has shown in the past that he has a knack for kicking goals. While he tends to play as that high half forward, clubs will no doubt be keen to test him out in the midfield down the track.

#44 – Sydney – Luke Reynolds (Port Adelaide) 188 cm, 86 kg

Luke Reynolds is another unknown quantity. His kicking action reminds me a bit of Buddy Franklin. In that way I mean he can swing around and slot a goal from 55 metres and then miss a shot 30 metres out. While he might be a lucky dip with his kicking, he finds the ball well for a medium forward and has a good leap which has seen him play as a key forward before. Reynolds has the ability to move into the midfield in the future.

#45 – Port Adelaide – Darcy Cameron (Claremont) 203 cm, 98 kg

Darcy Cameron is arguably the second best ruck behind Toby Nankervis. He’s 203 cm and 98 kg with a great leap and solid tap work. He’s the kind of player that is born to play first ruck and has great versatility for someone of his size.

#46 – Adelaide – Tom Cutler (Oakleigh Chargers) 190 cm, 86 kg

Tom Cutler was a member of the AIS Academy squad and had a disappointing year due to injury. He showed at times that he has the talent to become a good AFL player, but being a third tall doesn’t help. He has great foot skills and reads the play well, chopping off opposition leads. He could go as early as the first round, but given his injury plagued season, second to third round is more likely.

#47 – North Melbourne – Darcy Lang (Geelong) 181 cm, 77 kg

Darcy Lang is your dual midfielder type who loves winning the contested ball, but has the pace and skills to use it on the outside. A sickening leg injury ruled him out of the second half of the season, but he had done enough up to that point to warrant selection. Internally at the Falcons he was rated as one of the best and should find a home in the second or third rounds.

#48 – Greater Western Sydney – Cameron Giles (WWT) 195 cm, 93 kg

Cameron Giles is the second best pure key defender in the draft. While there are plenty of switch players or third talls, Giles is your typical full-back or half-back. He is able to spoil the ball more often than not and is very handy defensively. At his size he is readymade to compete at AFL level and a club such as GWS needing a key defender would be keen on acquiring his services.

#49 – West Coast – Nick Robertson (West Perth) 188 cm, 82 kg

Nick Robertson is another unknown quantity. He’s had injury concerns throughout the year and has drifted out of calculations that saw him as a first round prospect. Can’t see him falling much further given his talent and has similar traits to Brendon Goddard. He doesn’t quite have the hurt factor that Goddard does, but he plays off half back and through the midfield with much success.

#50 – Richmond – Jarred Ellis (Broadbeach) 189 cm, 80 kg

Jarred Ellis is a player who similar to Spencer White last year has an impressive highlights package. A solid player who’s spent time with Gold Coast’s and GWS’ reserves, he has played through the NEAFL standing out for his huge vertical leap and neat kicking skills. He scored a full 100 per cent on the goal kicking test at the draft combine and is expected to go somewhere between the second and fourth rounds.

#51 – Carlton – Chris Cain (Port Melbourne) 181 cm, 82 kg

Chris Cain is expected to be the Sam Dwyer of 2013. A mature-aged recruit from Port Melbourne, Cain has been one of the best all year and was rewarded with a plethora of awards. He is a dangerous player who primarily plays midfield but can move around the ground well. Still has a number of years left in him and times not far off a premiership are sure to be keen.

#52 – Port Adelaide – Riley Knight (WWT) 180 cm, 72 kg

Riley Knight is a good ball user who is similar to Collingwood’s Steele Sidebottom with his fantastic endurance and ball winning ability. He has stood up when require despite not having the accolades of some of his teammates. The one knock on him is his ability to play a bit safe and lack hurt factor. If he can increase his offensive work to match his ball skills, he will become a very dangerous player.

#53 – Sydney – Nic Bourke (Geelong) 188 cm, 80 kg

Nic Bourke is a half back/wing who made the AIS Academy squad at the end of last season. Injury set back his preseason and while he found form towards the end of the season, didn’t have the ideal season he would have liked. When he hit his straps, he was a fantastic link up player that reads the play well and positions himself in front of key forwards. Uses the ball reasonably well too which helps and if he can stay injury free, he’ll be good value at this stage of the draft.

#54 – Geelong – Rookie elevation

#55 – Essendon – Zac Webster (Glenorchy) 180 cm, 74 kg

Zac Webster was all the rage early in the year, but his teammates such as Kade Kolodjashnij and Toby Nankervis have overtaken him. Both he and Eli Templeton could both be around this stage or both could go earlier. It’s a personal preference but I like the look of Webster who has good agility and can get away from his opponent if given the space. Can rush his disposal at times and lack consistency, however.

#56 – Hawthorn – Karl Amon (Sandringham) 180 cm, 73 kg

Karl Amon is one of the more underrated players in the draft. He is a really slick ball user who knows how to find the footy on the outside, but can win his own ball as well. Often hidden behind Josh Kelly, Christian Salem and Nathan Freeman at Sandringham, Amon is a respected ball winner who can hurt teams on the outside. If he lasts this long, he’ll be a fantastic pick up and could well go earlier.

Others in contention:

Zac Bates (West Adelaide)
Sam Bennett (North Ballarat Rebels)
Ben Cavarra (Bendigo Pioneers)
Aaron Christensen (Geelong Falcons)
Jedd Clothier (Calder Cannons)
Cameron Conlon (Northern Knights)
Jason Cooke (Calder Cannons)
Guy Dickson (Oakleigh Chargers)
Orazio Fantasia (Norwood)
Lewis Fitzgerald (Oakleigh Chargers)
Fraser Fort (Geelong Falcons)
Aidan Franetic (Oakleigh Chargers)
Nathan Drummond (Murray Bushrangers)
Michael Gibbons (Murray Bushrangers)
Brady Grey (Glenorchy)
Sam Heavyside (Bendigo Pioneers)
George Hewett (North Adelaide)
Thomas Hodgson (East Perth)
Nic Holman (Murray Bushrangers)
Tom Langdon (Sandringham Dragons)
Jack Leslie (Gippsland)
Will Maginness (Oakleigh Chargers)
Dylan Main (South Fremantle)
Jake Owen (Calder Cannons)
Josh Scott (Gippsland Power)
Dallas Willsmore (North Ballarat Rebels)