AS the 2019 AFL National Draft is just around the corner, we work up to the November 27-28 event with a three-part Power Rankings series, counting down our top 60 players heading into the AFL Draft. We have not taken into account any draft selections or club needs, it is purely our opinion. Furthermore, given the evenness of the draft, there were plenty of unlucky players on the cusp of making it into the top 60. This edition looks at the players we have ranked 40-21.
#40 Daniel Mott
Calder Cannons/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
01/05/2001 | 183cm | 80kg
The Calder Cannons’ midfielder improved his game in 2019, moving on from being a slick outside ball user in his bottom-age year, to win more of the hardball this season. While his start to the year was a little shaky, Mott built into the role nicely and by year’s end was performing consistently well for the Cannons during their run to the semi-finals. Averaging a handy 25.6 disposals per game with a 44.7 per cent contested rate, Mott was a high handball receive player, but one who could also do damage by foot. He was usually the second possession winner at a stoppage, tasked with putting boot to ball and trying to hit a target forward. While not overly athletic in terms of his speed, Mott has the smarts and precision kicking that when given time and space, can be a danger to the opposition. A captain at the Cannons, Mott is a leader as well which adds to his profile.
#39 Hugo Ralphsmith
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Midfielder/Forward
09/11/2001 | 188cm | 75kg
Rated by some clubs as a top 30 prospect, Ralphsmith is expected to land somewhere in that second or early third round range. Standing at a good size of 188cm, Ralphsmith is still quite light at 75kg, but has a high upside for the future with his ability to play forward or as an outside midfielder. Often roaming up and down the wing, the Dragons’ talent showed he can impact a game in a quarter, booting three first quarter goals against Calder Cannons in the semi-finals to effectively put the Dragons on their way to a winning effort in the low-scoring affair. While his four quarter consistency is still an area of improvement, athletically Ralphsmith competes with the best of them, possessing an 86cm running vertical leap and a 2.974-second 20m sprint. A longer-term prospect compared to some others, he has those neat traits with ball-in-hand that make him an attractive prospect to clubs.
#38 Sam Philp
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
04/08/2001 | 186cm | 79kg
An inside midfielder who has bolted up the draft order with a consistent year, Philp put missing out on Vic Metro selection behind him to take out the Northern Knights Best and Fairest award this season. Not always showing it in the early days, Philp’s breakaway speed came to the fore in the mid and latter parts of the season, with his rare speed/endurance mix becoming a headache for opposition players. A pure inside midfielder, not many others possess both athletic traits, with Philp recording a 2.86-second 20m sprint and 21.5 yo-yo test at the National Draft Combine. It basically means the Northern Knights speedster can burn off his opponents over games, as well as from stoppages with great separation. Areas he can improve include his kicking consistency and his outside game, but when it comes to an inside ball winner with plenty of tricks, Philp is a player who has flown under the radar this season. He is someone in the mid-part of the draft who can offer speed and competitiveness to any side through the middle.
#37 Ned Cahill
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Small Forward
11/01/2001 | 179cm | 78kg
A hard working small forward who has developed more and more through the midfield as the season went on, Cahill had a pretty consistent season when compared to other similar type players. While his four quarter consistency can still improve, Cahill was able to be a shining light for the Stingrays, averaging 1.4 goals per game from 18.3 disposals and 3.6 marks. Not overly strong, and sometimes he can make mistakes under pressure, Cahill has that touch of class when he goes near the ball and a high footy IQ that ensures he knows how to extract a ball from a tough situation. He will likely play as a small forward at the elite level because that is where he is most damaging, but he can also pinch-hit through the middle to some degree, and that will set him in good stead for the future.
#36 Harry Schoenberg
WWT Eagles/South Australia | Inside Midfielder
21/02/2001 | 182cm | 83kg
A real surprise packet this year, Schoenberg produced a consistent season, leading to his Most Valuable Player (MVP) award for South Australia at the Under-18 Championships. Playing in a midfield alongside highly touted prospects Dylan Stephens and Jackson Mead, Schoenberg was the most consistent of the lot, earning All-Australian honours and winning the ball more than everyone bar Larke Medallist, Deven Robertson. He can play inside or out, but is more prominent on the inside due to a lower athletic base, which includes a 3.13-second 20m sprint and 20.3 yo-yo test at the National Draft Combine. He does not need the athletic traits for the role he plays, which is often winning the ball in close and getting it out to runners on the outside. In seven games for the Eagles’ Under 18s side, Schoenberg averaged 24.4 disposals, 5.3 marks, 4.7 tackles, 5.9 clearances and 4.1 inside 50s, with a contested possession rate of 49.4 per cent. He is a natural ball winner who plays a simple game to best advantage his team.
#35 Darcy Cassar
Western Jets/Vic Metro | Utility
31/07/2001 | 184cm | 82kg
Having had experience in all thirds of the ground – playing mid/forward as a bottom-ager last year, and as a defender/forward at points this season, Cassar has versatility on his side. He stepped it up in a mid-season purple patch for the Western Jets where he even racked up 40-plus disposals coming out of defence. Averaging 69.6 per cent by foot, Cassar was typically deployed as a rebounding defender who was the choice to dispose of the ball cleanly when moving in transition. He did only win the football in a contest 35.6 per cent of the time, but it was also his role that lead to this. Cassar does have power on his side in the way he moves, with a 3.01-second 20m sprint, as well as good endurance that helps him run out games. His upside is quite solid as well given what he has shown over the past 18 months, and depending on where AFL clubs might want to deploy him at the elite level, it will be interesting to see how his career progresses and what role he will play at the top level.
#34 Sam De Koning
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Key Position Utility
26/02/2001 | 201cm | 86kg
An All-Australian key defender, De Koning’s top form came at the Under-18 Championships where the Vic Country tall was named at full-back for his consistent efforts across the carnival. He showed similar signs at NAB League level throughout different points, but still had some consistency issues. He is aerially very strong despite a lower vertical leap, reading the play in flight and positioning himself well inside the defensive 50. As he showed early in the season in Dandenong Stingrays’ draw with Geelong Falcons at Queen Elizabeth Oval, De Koning can be thrown forward and also kick multiple goals in a quarter. At 201cm, De Koning is a good size for whatever role he might play, and is similar to his brother Tom in terms of his versatility, but is more readymade for senior football. Still more likely to be a longer term prospect, De Koning could provide valuable support in a defence for a developing side, and outside the top 15 is the best key defensive prospect.
#33 Fraser Phillips
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Medium Forward
15/05/2001 | 187cm | 72kg
While inconsistency has plagued him and his endurance still needs improvement, Phillips’ upside is one of the highest of any player in the AFL Draft crop this year. He is exciting, can do the impossible when forward, moves well and can launch goals from outside 50 off a couple of steps like few others. At 187cm he is a good size for that forward-midfield role, though at 72kg he still has a way to go to build into his body. Once he can get into an elite program and add size to his frame and improve his endurance, he could be a great value pick-up for a club in the second or third rounds. In 2019, Phillips averaged 13.6 disposals, 3.9 marks and 1.9 goals per game, regularly hitting the scoreboard whilst laying three tackles per game to provide some defensive pressure as well. He looked his most damaging inside forward 50, and while sometimes his aim might be off when setting his sights on the big sticks, he always looked like having an impact.
#32 Kysaiah Pickett
WWT Eagles/South Australia | Small Forward
02/06/2001 | 171cm | 71kg
One of the smallest AFL Draft prospect running around, Pickett is the nephew of former North Melbourne and Port Adelaide premiership player, Byron. Possessing a similar toughness, as well as an appetite for goals, Pickett is a defensive pressure specialist inside 50 and ticks all the boxes you want from a pressure small forward. He chases, he tackles, he creates opportunities and he finishes. While not many pure small forwards get opportunities at the elite level these days, Pickett is the exception because of his traits that set him aside from most. At just 171cm and 71kg, he is never going to be a massive body inside 50, but his smarts come to the fore at ground level or when flying for a mark. His highlight reel will be one of the best from this draft crop, and while his versatility might be limited at the elite level, he is too good to pass up which is why he earned a National Draft night invite, indicating that clubs are considering him in that first round.
#31 Harrison Jones
Calder Cannons/Vic Metro | Key Position Utility
25/02/2001 | 196cm | 78kg
One of the most athletic talls in the draft crop when it comes to key position utilities, Jones offers plenty of tricks both on and off the field to clubs keen to secure a tall option that can develop nicely at the elite level. Having played as a key forward, key back and even through the ruck in season 2019, Jones averaged 12.4 disposals and 3.1 marks per game. Clunking a contested mark per game in 2019, Jones still has a way to go to build his strength even further, but with an elite endurance base, top vertical leap, sub-three second 20m sprint and among the best agility testers, Jones ticks most of the boxes when it comes to his athleticism. On the field he has to continue to build his consistency and just develop his overall game, but the way he has tracked he has developed at a rapid rate.
#30 Thomson Dow
Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country | Midfielder/Forward
16/10/2001 | 184cm | 76kg
Another brother of a Carlton-listed player, Thomson Dow has a few unique traits that help him stand out from other midfielder/forwards in this draft crop. While he might only be the 184cm and 76kg, Dow is strong above his head, averaging more than a contested mark per game while drifting forward. His competitive nature to win the contested ball is a feature of his game, with Dow winning more than 51 per cent of his possessions at the coal face, while averaging the three clearances and 2.6 inside 50s per game. He is primarily a handball specialist out of congestion, and while he can hit the scoreboard – his one goal a game average speaks to this – he is at home in the middle of a stoppage. He finds a way to get out of trouble and bares similar traits to his brother Paddy in his movement and touch of class. Dow still has to improve his consistency, but he is a value pick in the second round.
#29 Elijah Taylor
Perth/Western Australia | Medium Forward
01/05/2001 | 188cm | 77kg
One of the excitement machines of the 2019 AFL Draft crop, Taylor provides a spark inside 50 and has proven to be capable of also fulfilling a midfield role. He is one of those talents that will be judged differently depending on the club, with a potential first round, or mid second round pick used on the high upside forward. While his athletic testing numbers to not leap off the page, Taylor has that on-field athleticism that makes him a slippery customer to bring down or contain. While he is inconsistent at times he showed against the Allies that if given time and space he can break a game open, such as three goals in the second half to help the Sandgropers get over the line. Another player with strong X-factor and capable of turning a game, Taylor might be a long-term prospect, but one who will be worth the wait.
#28 Jeremy Sharp
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
13/08/2001 | 189cm | 79kg
Dual All-Australians at Under 18s level do not grow on trees, but Sharp fits the bill having been a top-end prospect over the last 18 months with his run-and-carry and ability to break down opposition zones. His versatility allows him to play in any third of the ground, but is predominantly utilised off half-back or along a wing where his penetrating kick can best come to the fore. His kicking can still improve, because he is a run-and-gun player who can hit a target 50m away, or occasionally spray the ball out on the full. He also averaged just over 20 per cent contested possessions over the past three years, the lowest of the National Draft Combine invitees, which will be the question mark going to the next level. Like many on this list, Sharp still has a way to go to reach his full potential, but given his good size of 189cm, he is well on the road to that and is a player that will never die wondering when it comes to taking the game on and trying to set his team up forward or centre.
#27 Jay Rantall
GWV Rebels/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
10/06/2001 | 185cm | 83kg
The former Australian basketballer progressed rapidly in season 2019, from a possible draft prospect, to a top 30 draft hope based around his elite endurance and ball-winning abilities in the GWV Rebels’ midfield. Playing on the inside, Rantall burnt opposition players into the ground with his running ability that saw him average 24.9 disposals per game at 45.6 per cent contested. While his kicking is still an area of improvement given his relative inexperience in the sport compared to others, he showed clean hands with 83.4 per cent of his handballs finding a teammate. Not testing as well as he showed on-field, Rantall has a great burst out of the stoppage to also work over an opponent, and can go forward and kick a goal as well – averaging almost a goal per game this year. With 6.5 tackles per game to accompany his 5.6 clearances and 3.3 inside 50s, Rantall is a tackling machine with good defensive attributes as well as offensive ones.
#26 Mitch O’Neill
Tasmania Devils/Allies | Small Utility
21/02/2001 | 176cm | 72kg
Similar to Sharp, it is amazing to think that a dual All-Australian could float under the radar, but a pesky ankle injury has restricted O’Neill over the past 12 months. He still put together a terrific national carnival which saw him earn All-Australian honours for the second time, in the midfield after making the bench in 2018. Throughout the four-game carnival, O’Neill averaged 20.3 disposals and 5.5 marks playing to his strengths as an outside runner with slick foot skills. He is not afraid to take the game on, and as he showed against Western Australia, sliced up the opposition defence with some penetrating bullets down the middle. At just 176cm and 72kg, O’Neill is a lightly built smaller player who is not overly defensively-orientated – just under two tackles per game – which are some of the knocks on him. But what he can do with ball-in-hand is very impressive and athletically he is solid, and can easily play a role up either end given his disposal and smarts.
#25 Cooper Stephens
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
17/01/2001 | 188cm | 83kg
Having missed the majority of the season due to a broken leg, Stephens still remains in contention for a top 25 selection given his bottom-age year form. A co-captain at Geelong Falcons, Stephens impressed in the first couple of games before going down early in the third match this season. At 188cm and 83kg, Stephens is readymade once he can build his match fitness and has elite endurance that will help him get there quicker than most that have missed a season of football. His leadership skills are among the best in the draft crop and despite knowing he would miss the entire Under-18 Championships, Stephens was named vice-captain of Vic Country, assisting in an off-field role. In terms of his strengths, Stephens is a penetrating kick who can play multiple roles, but is best suited to a congested situation where he can quickly fire out handballs to teammates, or extract the ball from a stoppage. With 62.5 per cent of his possessions won at the coal face, Stephens is no stranger to the contest and has an appetite for clearances and defensive pressure.
#24 Cam Taheny
Norwood/South Australia | Medium Forward
03/08/2001 | 185cm | 80kg
An exciting forward who like many other forwards this year has had inconsistency throughout the season, Taheny is a natural leader who has some elite traits that give clubs an idea he will develop nicely going forward. His low endurance base is a reason behind his inconsistency, but his damage in the air or ground level is very high, having played for Norwood’s League and Reserves sides this year – winning a flag with the latter. He has a penetrating kick, high goal sense and a knack for creating something out of nothing, Taheny is a player who might take a while to develop, but could be an exciting prospect to watch over the next few years, with the likely second round selection having plenty of tricks in the forward half.
#23 Dylan Williams
Oakleigh Chargers | Medium Forward
01/07/2001 | 186cm | 81kg
Similar to Taheny, Williams is a contested marking medium forward with a penetrating kick and an eye for the spectacular. Battling injuries at different points throughout the year and eventually putting the feet up after a match-winning effort against Eastern Ranges in July due to stress fractures in his back, Williams has high upside. He was one of the Chargers’ best in the finals series last year as a bottom-ager, almost being unstoppable as that one-on-one leading forward who could leap high and pull down a contested grab, or win the ball at ground level and kick an impossible goal. While his inconsistency has seen Williams drift down the order, he has enough in his game to suggest he could develop into one of the top-end prospects of this draft with time.
#22 Jackson Mead
WWT Eagles/South Australia | Balanced Midfielder
30/09/2001 | 183cm | 83kg
The son of Port Adelaide’s inaugural best and fairest winner Darren, Mead is a player who can play a multitude of roles, both on the inside or outside. While athletically Mead is not in the top echelon of players, he is built strongly for his age and capable of fending off opponents in midfield. He played three games for the Eagles’ League side, but looked most at home in the Reserves side while he continued to develop, playing 11 matches and averaging 20.2 disposals, 3.3 marks, 3.4 clearances and 4.2 inside 50s at the level. He won 42.7 per cent of his disposals in a contest and while his kicking at times could improve, he has a penetrating kick through midfield and can hit targets down the field from long range. Overall, Mead has plenty of promising traits and provides a balanced approach to his football.
#21 Miles Bergman
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Mid/Forward
18/010/2001 | 189cm | 83kg
The final player just outside the top 20 is the exciting medium forward in Miles Bergman, who grew to 189cm to be come that third tall option at half-forward. He is strong overhead, averaging one contested mark per game from his 5.3 average, while also averaging 14.0 disposals and 3.8 inside 50s. At times he could be inconsistent, but when he was up and about, Bergman showed some terrific signs playing inside 50. He had to overcome early injury concerns and battled away to build form in the second half of the season. While his field kicking could improve, Bergman constantly looked like applying scoreboard pressure, averaging almost a goal and behind per game, and also providing that defensive pressure with 4.3 tackles. His elite running vertical leap of 90cm, coupled with his sub-three second 20m sprint means he is capable of hurting the opposition both in the air or at ground level.