OVER the last week, Draft Central launched its brand new series of pocket podcasts, a collection of short-form discussions which narrow in on a range of topics heading into the 2020 AFL Draft. In the fourth edition, Chief Editor Peter Williams again sat down with AFL Draft Editor Michael Alvaro to discuss the best midfielders who are not already aligned to AFL clubs, available in this year’s crop.
Three Victorian prospects in said category were identified as clear top 10 candidates; namely Elijah Hollands, Will Phillips, and Tanner Bruhn. While all slightly different players, clubs in the market for the best midfielders available inside the top 10 will most likely look no further than this trio. There were a bunch of others mentioned as first and second round candidates in the ‘pure’ midfield mould, including the likes of Finlay Macrae, Tom Powell, and Zane Trew. Also around the top 25 mark are some types who, like Hollands, can impact just as profoundly in other positions. Those include Caleb Poulter, Nathan O’Driscoll, Archie Perkins, and Jack Carroll.
To listen to the podcast in full, click here.
Below are pocket profiles on each player, split into respective categories:
The top 10’ers:
Elijah Hollands (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
Hybrid | 188cm | 85kg | 25/04/2002
The most highly touted of the lot, Hollands’ true midfield value remains somewhat unknown given he has spend a year on the sidelines – not only due to a lack of competition, but also a long-term knee injury. He remains a top five candidate and was poised for greater midfield minutes in 2020 having cut his teeth as a game-winning forward with terrific athleticism and X-factor.
Will Phillips (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
Balanced | 180cm | 79kg | 22/05/2002
Arguably the best pure midfielder of the bunch, Phillips is a tough and consistent ball winner who won last year’s NAB League premiership with Oakleigh, running alongside Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson at the centre bounces. His clean hands in extraction and short burst of acceleration make up much of his play, and Phillips is also lauded for his character on and off the field.
Tanner Bruhn (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
Inside | 182cm | 73kg | 27/05/2002
Bruhn has endured his fair share of injury setbacks since bursting onto the scene as a 16-year-old. He brings class to each contest, able to win the ball at ground level and gain great meterage from tight spaces. The 18-year-old is coming off just two NAB League appearances in 2019 and another knee issue early this year, but remains a reliable option within the top 10 range.
The pure midfielders:
Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
Balanced | 184cm | 75kg | 13/03/2002
The half-brother of Western Bulldogs star, Jack, Macrae is the kind of player you want delivering the ball into attacking 50. The Oakleigh Chargers premiership player oozes class and a beautiful side-step, which which aids his delivery on both sides of the body. He was squeezed out of the midfield at times last year, but can rack up plenty of possessions on the inside and outside.
Tom Powell (Sturt/South Australia)
Inside | 183cm | 74kg | 2/03/2002
One of, if not the most consistent and prolific possession getters in this year’s pool, Powell enjoyed a stellar 2020 season which saw him earn the McCallum Tomkins Medal as the best SANFL Under 18s player. Averaging over 30 disposals for minor premier, Sturt, Powell has shot into first round contention and boasts wonderfully quick hands at the contest.
Zane Trew (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
Inside | 185cm | 80kg | 26/04/2002
Trew is a strong-bodied type who consistently wins plenty of the ball at stoppages and is renowned for his use of the ball by hand. The West Australian has spent a fair amount of time on the sidelines, but has good two-way presence on the field with his ability to extract, deliver eye-catching releases, and tackle hard. He remains within top 25 calculations.
Nathan O’Driscoll (Perth/Western Australia)
Balanced | 187cm | 78kg | 17/05/2002
One whose range is hotly debated among draft followers, O’Driscoll is fresh off a season which ended in a WAFL League finals appearance. The 18-year-old overcame an interrupted preseason to showcase his hard-running ability and value on either the inside or outside of midfield. At 187cm, has great upside given his athleticism and versatility.
Archie Perkins (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
Fwd/In. Mid | 186cm | 77kg | 26/03/2002
Potentially the best athlete of the lot, Perkins is a prospect with plenty of upside given those explosive athletic traits and his strong tendency to hit the scoreboard. He played at half-forward, on a wing, and through the engine room as a bottom-ager, with eyes on consolidating that midfield role in 2020. He is the type who bustles through congestion with bursting speed.
Caleb Poulter (WWT Eagles/South Australia)
Fwd/Bal. Mid | 192cm | 79kg | 12/10/2002
A late bloomer of sorts, Poulter has rocketed into first round calculations on the back of a season where he dominated the Under 18s and earned a Reserves berth. The Eagles product provides great presence on both sides of midfield and is as stylish as they come, able to clunk big overhead marks or kick long-range goals. At 192cm, he is the prototype modern day midfielder.
Jack Carroll (East Fremantle/Western Australia)
Def/Out. Mid | 187cm | 76kg | 20/12/2002
Having previously proven his worth off half-back and on the wing, Carroll was able to improve his standing this year with some time at the centre bounces during his WAFL Colts campaign. His season was ultimately cut short by a wrist injury, but he was able to show good consistency and class on the ball. He is a December birth too, meaning he may have plenty of good development left.