THE 2021 AFL mid-season draft saw 22 of a possible 27 players enter the elite level, with previously overlooked talent, mature-agers, and genuine bolters all among those who earned their chance on Wednesday evening. The half-hour virtual event saw picks come in thick and fast, with a few surprises along the way and plenty of feel-good stories. We take a look at each pick and what they may offer to their new clubs.
4. Patrick Parnell (Murray Bushrangers)
Small Defender | 4/03/2002 | 176cm | 67kg
Crows fans seemed a little agitated by the selection of another small, running defender, though their club’s policy was to target the best available talent and Parnell was exactly that in their eyes. The zippy Murray Bushrangers top-ager is an aggressive forward runner and uses the ball sharply on both feet. He is still quite light-on but has already gotten a taste of senior footy at VFL and local level, while also turning out in this year’s Victorian Young Guns showcase.
14. Kalin Lane (Claremont)
Ruck | 5/12/01 | 204cm | 95kg
One of the many rucks taken in this draft, Lane is right at the top end of that list when it comes to rate of development. He shot into contention last year and was part the Claremont side which qualified for the WAFL Colts grand final, before continuing his rise in the Reserves this season and even earning a League berth. Averaging 14 disposals and 29 hitouts per game, Lane has improved his impact around the ground and uses his imposing frame to good effect, while boasting the obvious ruck craft trait. He may be considered a long-term option, but bolsters Brisbane’s tall stocks.
6. Alex Mirkov (Carlton VFL)
Ruck | 17/11/99 | 210cm | 104kg
Mirkov is a prospect who has come from the clouds to land on an AFL list, plucked out of the Blues’ VFL program after just two appearances. The 210cm former volleyballer received a special exemption to be eligible for this draft having not nominated in 2020, and was on the radar of a number of clubs in search of both long-term and immediate ruck depth. Carlton pounced at pick six, and will be happy to fill out their stocks after the loss of Matthew Kreuzer last year, with a raw type who could mould into something special.
20. Jordan Boyd (Footscray VFL)
Small Utility | 22/9/98 | 182cm | 81kg
Carlton is slowly turning its own VFL side into a feeder program, and dipped into the stocks of another club which has done so with great success in the Western Bulldogs. Boyd was their man with the second of a possible three picks, suiting the Blues’ need for some genuine and readymade small depth. The 22-year-old has mostly been pegged as a forward, but could be the small defender or wingman Carlton is in desperate need of to fill out its starting 18. His speed and bullet-like foot skills will likely catch the eye of Blues fans, and their forwards.
3. Ash Johnson (Sturt)
Forward | 6/10/97 | 193cm | 85kg
Another Halls Creek native with good footballing pedigree, Johnson’s unconventional leap to the bigtime has been as drastic as his vertical feats on-field. The mature-ager should help bolster Collingwood’s struggling forwardline, bringing some excitement with his ability to fly for high marks and kick bags of goals. The Pies were made to act with pick three to land their man, with other clubs circling for the Sturt product.
18. Aiden Begg (Eastern Ranges)
Key Forward/Ruck | 8/10/02 | 197cm | 87kg
Collingwood fans were another somewhat agitated group after this selection, given Begg is currently injured and will play no part in the 2021 season. But rest assured, the Eastern Ranges ruck-forward looms as a promising key position option for the Magpies who lack a pure spearhead that can also give Brodie Grundy a chop-out in the ruck. He competes well and is a handy marking option, but also has the potential to swing back too. In a nostalgic link for Pies fans, he was coached by premiership forward Travis Cloke in the NAB League.
9. Sam Durham (Richmond VFL)
Midfielder | 9/7/01 | 185cm | 75kg
A pick made on upside and right under the noses of Richmond, Durham has some nice traits as a developing midfielder. He may not be thrown into the senior mix right away, but has a good inside-outside balance and offers versatility with his selection. The Murray Bushrangers product has improved steadily since first being overlooked in 2019, utilised on flanks or either side of midfield. He will be a nice point of difference in the Bombers’ midfield mix.
5. Ned Moyle (Oakleigh Chargers)
Ruck | 15/2/02 | 204cm | 100kg
While the SUNS were prepared to jump on others if Moyle were to be snapped up earlier, they nabbed their man at pick five and got an immediate boost to their ruck stocks. The Oakleigh Chargers bigman has come on leaps and bounds in 2021, earning a VFL berth with Collingwood and holding his own against AFL-listed rucks, before transferring his learnings back to the NAB League in a dominant final outing. He is a competitive type and will throw his frame around, which bodes well for an early senior gig given Gold Coast’s ruck crisis.
Greater Western Sydney:
8. James Peatling (GWS VFL)
Utility | 21/8/00 | 182cm | 80kg
A product of the GIANTS’ Academy, Peatling has been made to wait his turn but finally gets a senior look-in. The 20-year-old has developed in a range of positions; initially offering some drive off half-back and the wing, before being moulded into a pressure forward, and also having the potential to rotate through midfield. Having turned out in the VFL this season, Peatling will inevitably be right at home in the charcoal and orange, adding some handy depth to the GIANTS’ squad.
2. Jai Newcombe (Box Hill Hawks)
Inside Midfielder | 8/2/01 | 186cm | 85kg
A big-bodied midfielder out of the Gippsland region, Newcombe has thrived under the tutelage of Sam Mitchell at Box Hill in 2021. Having been cut at the end of preseason by the Power on multiple occasions, Newcombe looked like being one of the more promising over-age prospects in 2020, but instead gets his chance now. He should add some grunt to the Hawks’ engine room with his readymade frame and cannot be faulted for intent. Having been taken on special terms, Newcombe was one of the more intriguing cases leading into the draft.
17. Jackson Callow (Norwood)
Key Forward | 11/6/02 | 195cm | 96kg
Arguably one of the most unlucky players to be overlooked in last year’s intake, Callow trained with the Hawks during preseason and gets his opportunity after some ominous state league form. The Tasmanian shifted to the SANFL and dominated AFL-level opposition at times, with his contested marking the standout feature of his game. Mobility is his biggest knock, but Callow has the strength and aggression to compete at senior level.
15. Kye Declase (Werribee)
Wing/Defender | 15/10/96 | 195cm | 85kg
Originally a graduate of the Northern Knights, Declase has shown a rapid rate of development since entering the state league and had plenty of work put into him by Melbourne during preseason. He has cut his teeth as an intercept and rebounding defender, but more recently rolled up to the wing and has even impacted in the front half during his VFL tenure. The 24-year-old adds good versatility and depth to Melbourne’s mix, perhaps as a direct replacement for the injured Adam Tomlinson.
24. Daniel Turner (Murray Bushrangers)
Defender | 28/1/02 | 191cm | 79kg
Another promising type out of the Murray Bushrangers, Turner is an intercept defender who thrives aerially and is sound in possession. He featured in this year’s Victorian Young Gun showcase and impressed, improving out of sight in his top-age season and performing well at NAB League level.
1. Jacob Edwards (Sandringham Dragons)
Key Forward/Ruck | 22/11/02 | 202cm | 83kg
The chances are, you have already heard of Edwards and everything he has to offer. The 202cm Sandringham Dragons prospect shot onto the radar during preseason and delivered on the hype as the NAB League season came forth. He is wonderfully mobile for his size, kicks well and can dominate aerially, boasting terrific upside as a long-term key position option. Having filled out their midfield stocks last year, the Roos now have a genuine tall gun among their ranks.
16. Charlie Ham (Geelong Falcons)
Small Defender/Midfielder | 11/11/02 | 180cm | 74kg
The brother of Essendon’s Brayden, Ham has followed in his elder sibling’s footsteps by being picked up having initially been overlooked. He is a dashing half-back who can also roll up to the wing, with his speed and precise foot skills key strengths of a promising overall game. While North will likely focus on building its key position brigade, they picked up another small along the way with plenty of upside.
13. Jed McEntee (Sturt)
Small Forward/Midfielder | 15/2/01 | 176cm | 76kg
Port picked up a local talent in McEntee, who now has a good amount of senior experience under his belt having turned out for Sturt’s League side. He is a small forward who can also rotate through midfield, but will likely add a bit of defensive pressure to the front six for Port with his speed and competitiveness. A good point of difference in that mix.
10. Matthew Parker (South Fremantle)
Forward | 25/1/96 | 187cm | 79kg
Let go by St Kilda at the end of last season, Parker gets his second senior chance having once again proven a class above state league level over in Western Australia. He is capable of the mercurial with high flies and eye-catching goals, and will likely take little time to become a fan favourite at Tigerland. The 25-year-old follows in Marlion Pickett’s footsteps, being taken from South Fremantle in the mid-season crop. Could have an immediate impact and also rotates through midfield.
7. Max Heath (Sandringham Dragons)
Ruck | 24/10/02 | 204cm | 94kg
The Sandringham Dragons ruck has followed a similar path to Edwards, in that he shot to contention with outstanding preseason form and now gets his chance. One key difference is that Heath did so last year, seeing him earn a National Combine invite despite not playing a competitive game in 2020, before being overlooked. He proved his worth in the NAB League this year though and at 204cm, is an aggressive tall who loves to compete and can also provide some fold up forward. He’s a local should thrive under the guidance of Rowan Marshall, whom he moulds his game on.
21. Cooper Sharman (WWT Eagles)
Forward | 25/7/00 | 194cm | 78kg
A bolter who missed out on being drafted in 2019, the Saints continued to track Sharman’s progress and pounced in 2021. The 20-year-old’s football journey has taken him around the country; starting with the GIANTS Academy, then shifting over to Oakleigh in the NAB League, and eventually landing him with Woodville-West Torrens in the SANFL. He is a dead-eye in front of goal and could serve as a quick fix to the Saints woes in that department.
12. Lachlan McAndrew (Sydney VFL)
Ruck | 26/5/00 | 208cm | 93kg
One of the many prospective ruck selections made, McAndrew has only been playing Australian football for two years. The rugby union convert graduated from the Swans Academy and has since passed through their VFL program, turning out twice in 2021 and doing enough to land a senior berth. He is a raw, long-term choice but should add to the strong competition for spots in Sydney’s tall department.
11. Will Collins (Swan Districts)
Defender | 24/5/02 | 185cm | 78kg
Another player who lands at the club he trained at during preseason, Collins has long been on the Eagles’ radar. The Swan Districts defender managed to crack League level this season and has also been rotating through the reserves, showing steady development with his clean ball use and ability to intercept across the defensive line. He suits a need for the Eagles, who also brought in Alex Witherden at the end of 2020.
23. Connor West (West Perth)
Midfielder | 7/5/99 | 183cm | 80kg
Once again dipping into the local talent pool, the Eagles prized a readymade ball winner who could help cover some of their most recent injury losses through midfield. The West Perth product averaged 27 disposals and six tackles per his seven League outings in 2021, with that form enough to warrant selection in the WAFL state side.