Tag: Aaron Francis

Analysis | The importance of fitness testing in modern football recruiting

THERE has been plenty of debate when talking about potential AFL prospects pertaining to the differences between judging ‘athletes’ against ‘pure footballers’. There is an argument that fitness testing should be taken with a grain of salt and that the eye test is most important, but when it comes to players being drafted – especially in the first round – prospects are often at the pointy end in at least one fitness test.

For anyone still unfamiliar with the main fitness tests conducted during preseason and at the AFL Draft Combine, they are as follows:

  • Agility Test
  • 20m Sprint
  • Standing and Running Vertical Leap
  • Yo-Yo Test
  • 2km Time Trial

Last year’s number one pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan excelled in the 20m sprint and vertical leap tests, with his on-field speed off the mark and jump at the ball highlighting just why he excelled at those tests. The combine, if anything, gives reassurance that those traits are indeed elite and will help try and separate talents like Ugle-Hagan from any other key forwards in that year’s crop. Athleticism is very important in modern football, with players quicker and bigger than what most talented youngsters are used to at the development levels. One club which has seemingly identified this in modern times is the fast-rising Essendon Football Club.

Since 2014, Essendon seems to have had a clear strategy with the types of players they have looked at with their high picks. Below is a list of the Bombers’ top 40 selections since 2014 and which tests those players excelled at. In a lot of cases, they were top 10 in those tests at the end-of-year combine.


Pick 17 – Jayden Laverde
(Didn’t test but athleticism was a highlight of his game)

Pick 20 – Kyle Langford


Pick 5 – Darcy Parish
Average in most tests

Pick 6 – Aaron Francis
(Didn’t test but like Laverde, athleticism was a highlight in games)

Pick 29 – Alex Morgan (Since delisted)
20m Sprint, Vertical Leap, Agility

Pick 30 – Mason Redman
3km time trial


Pick 1 – Andrew McGrath
Vertical Leap, Agility

Pick 20 – Jordan Ridley
20m Sprint




Pick 38 – Irving Mosquito
Vertical Leap


Pick 30 – Harrison Jones
Vertical Leap, Yo-Yo, 20m Sprint

Pick 38 – Nick Bryan
Vertical Leap, 20m Sprint


Pick 8 – Nik Cox
20m Sprint, 2km TT

Pick 9 – Archie Perkins
20m Sprint, Vertical Leap

Pick 10 – Zach Reid
Vertical Leap

Pick 39 – Josh Eyre
20m Sprint, Vertical Leap

There is one big outlier here and that’s one of this year’s Brownlow contenders in Darcy Parish, who was only average in test results during his draft year. This could be seen as the biggest clue as to why athletic testing shouldn’t be so important, but it can also be argued that one of the main reasons for Parish’s form is due to improving his running capacity to an elite level.

Even their most recent mid-season selection, Sam Durham tested well for vertical leap and endurance, so its no surprise at least in Essendon’s case that athletic traits are a huge influence in whether the player gets taken. The current favourite for the Rising Star, Nik Cox has taken the competition by storm with his mix of athleticism and height, with that height another factor in the early Essendon selections. It was a matter of time before Cox got his nomination for the Rising Star award and in retrospect, we should have all seen his selection by Essendon coming considering all the traits he possesses are key indicators in the Bombers’ recent draft strategy.

Using this history, we can even try to narrow down the possible field of players that Essendon will look at with its first round pick in 2021. A trio of Sandringham Dragons instantly come to mind with Campbell Chesser, Josh Sinn and Finn Callaghan. All three players tested well for the 20m sprint and vertical leap during preseason, highlighting their power and athleticism. With all measuring at over 185cm, they even fill a midfield need for the Bombers. They have another prospect right under their noses in Josh Goater who made his Essendon VFL debut not long ago and is an athletic beast. His speed and leap tests were all elite and at 190cm, he would be another Essendon style selection.

The modern footballer is taller, faster and can run all day, and it is getting harder and harder for pure footballers to make it at the top level. If young, pure footballers can start to develop athleticism in their game, even if it’s an elite endurance base, that’s at least a start in the right direction.

Height used to be a detractor for clubs but now with the likes of Caleb Daniel, Kysaiah Pickett, Brent Daniels and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, that is no longer the same obstacle for potential draftees as it used to be – though you also need to have that speed and class. If you are small and have the athletic traits and determination to make it as an AFL player, then you will be on the right track. If you are tall and have those traits, your chances of making an AFL list are even higher.

Fitness testing is an important tool, not just for clubs and recruiters, but also for up and coming players – especially those at the very early level. I’m hopeful coaches of junior football are able to set up some of these tests to help young players find their best traits, enhance them and embrace them. Understandably, it takes time, money and effort on their part and not every junior club or parent has that available. Programs such as Rookie Me, the official fitness testing partner of the AFL, allow junior athletes to experience professional environments at an early age, proving another handy head-start for budding footballers.

Image Credit: Graham Denholm/AFL Photos

QAFL weekend preview – Round 5: Panthers eye off top spot at season midpoint

ALL Queensland Australian Football League (AFL) games return to the traditional 2pm on a Saturday timeslot, with the eight teams preparing for some huge contests over the weekend. Round 5 marks the midway point of the nine-round season, with top of the table Palm Beach Currumbin having a bye this weekend.

Subaru Oval

One of the games of the round, the third placed Broadbeach Cats take on reigning premiers, Surfers Paradise Demons. Whilst the Demons are fifth with just one win from three games, their losses came against top two sides, Palm Beach Currumbin and Morningside – the latter just last week and losing in the last minute. They will need to quell a red-hot Broadbeach outfit that has a whopping 209.86 per cent, with the top three teams eight points clear of the rest of the competition. If the Cats, Tigers and Panthers all win this weekend, that gap will extend to 12 to all bar one team with just four rounds remaining.

So far Bailey Reeves is the sole Cat to have been named in the best in every game, though Jordan Moncrieff is the danger man, slamming home a massive 17 goals in three matches to be the competition’s leading goalkicker. Over-ager Josh Gore is not too far behind on eight majors, whilst the likes of Blake Erickson, Jed Turner, Kai Sheers and Bradley Lowe have been amongst Broadbeach’s best this season. For the Demons, Max Pescud had his best game of the season with three majors last week and would be competing well in the best and fairest, as only Kain Ford has been named in the best more times (three). Defender Myles Jewell, and Matthew Green have also stood out, while Tyson Brazel has six majors to his name, the same as Pescud.

Broadbeach has been the more consistent team this season so should win in a thriller.

Cooke-Murphy Oval

Down the other end of the ladder, both Labrador and Mt Gravatt have benefited from such an even competition outside the top three. The Vultures have the one win – by a point – while the Tigers are yet to taste victory, which means if the home team gets up, there will likely be a remarkable five teams on one win at the end of Round 5, If the Vultures get up, then their finals plans could be right on track after a disappointing first couple of rounds, potentially leaping up to fourth with a victory.

In an even spread of goalkickers, Daine Macdonald leads the way for the Vultures on five, with Harry Milford (four), Jonah Licht and Luke O’Sullivan (both three). O’Sullivan has been superb this season, whilst Todd Carbone is another who has really stood out, as the likes of Ethan Kerr and Thomas Matthews are young talents to watch. The Tigers have had a rough draw this season, but would eye this game as a genuine chance to taste victory. Ex-AFL talents, Bryce Retzlaff (six goals) and Jono Beech (five), and young talent Blair Rubock (three) are the sole multiple goalkickers. Fraser Thurlow and Matthew Lee have had terrific starts to the season despite the Tigers slow start.

Likely to be a close game, but Mt Gravatt should be confident in their chances here after a narrow loss last week.

Jack Esplen Oval

In an exciting clash, second placed Morningside has the chance to take top spot – even if temporarily – with a win over Maroochydore. The Panthers escaped thanks to a Jack Payne goal in the last minute against the Demons last round and could go five from five and move ahead of the Lions who have a bye this weekend. While the Panthers will ultimately have their own bye in the remaining rounds, it will put them in a good position for the run home. Maroochydore has already had its bye, back in Round 1, but has not been able to pick up a win since, though an upset here could see them jump to fourth on the table.

Matt Hammelmann has been a reliable source of goals this season for the Panthers, with the former Brisbane player snagging 13, ahead of Luke Edwards (seven) and Jack Rolls (five). Payne has been named among the best every game this season, with James Cowlishaw and Tom Griffiths also impressive. Along with Griffiths, Blake Coleman, Saxon Crozier and Nathan Colenso are other teenage talents to watch out for. It is a different story for the Roos with Mitchell Scholard well out in front of the club goalkicking with 12 majors, as Jesse Malthouse and Lachlan Robinson come in next with two apiece. Brent Pearson, Jacob Simpson, Jai Larkins and Josh Govan are others who have stood up this season, while Carter Michael is a top-age Academy prospect to keep an eye on.

Morningside are in terrific form and should win, though Maroochydore could end the Panthers’ run.

McCarthy Homes Oval

Sherwood Magpies had a terrific Round 1 win but has slumped to three consecutive losses since then. Luckily their percentage is high enough to still be in fourth, but they have to win against the Gorillas in this one. The winner of this game will have the opportunity to go fourth, showing just how even the league is in 2020. Wilston Grange needs to back up its narrow win over Mt Gravatt last week with another victory here and build momentum, but it will be difficult against a Sherwood side that has realistically played pretty well against stiff opposition.

Liam Dawson has been the standout goalkicker this season, slotting 14 majors for 2020, six ahead of Brody Lumber (eight). Claye Beams has hit the scoreboard in his return to the QAFL with seven majors, with Thomas Baulch (four) also doing well in front of the big sticks. Ryan Harwood and Dawson have showed how crucial they are to the club, named among the best every week, while Cade Scott and Jack Austin are among the rising talents in the team. Josh Baxter is the leading goalkicker for the Gorillas with five goals, as Aaron Francis (four) and Sam Gribble (three) are not far behind. Wilston Grange have a number of young stars to watch, led by Tahj Abberley, with Kuot Thok and Noah McFadyen other names who have proven to be future talents.

Sherwood is favoured to break its losing streak in this match, but Wilston Grange have been getting better and better as the weeks go by.

VFL weekly wrap: Bombers move into second with big percentage boost

ESSENDON defeated Port Melbourne by 69 points to move into second place on the Victorian Football League (VFL) ladder, closing the gap on Richmond, while reigning premiers Box Hill returned to the winners list with a big win over Sandringham.

Geelong 19.13 (127) defeated Frankston 5.8 (38)

The Cats brought Frankston back down to earth after their first win of the season last week with a thumping 89-point win. Geelong set the tone early, kicking eight goals to two in the opening term and never allowing the Dolphins free use of the footy. Wylie Buzza, Jamaine Jones and Aaron Black kicked 3 goals each for the home side while Alex Harnett slotted 2 for Frankston. Charlie Constable and Nathan Freeman split most disposals with 33 each as Scott Selwood collected 32. Geelong take on the Northern Blues at Ikon Park this week while Frankston host Coburg.

Box Hill 12.11 (83) defeated Sandringham 6.10 (46)

Box Hill are back in the top eight following a 37-point win over Sandringham. The Zebras held the lead early in the first term before the former Mustangs kicked in the second quarter and eased to victory. James Cousins had 30 disposals for the Hawks and Darragh Joyce with 21 for Sandy, while Oliver Hanrahan kicked four goals. Box Hill travel to Casey Fields to take on the Demons as Sandringham host top-of-the-table Richmond this Saturday.

Footscray 8.10 (58) defeated by Collingwood 12.9 (81)

Collingwood recorded just their third win of the season with a come-from-behind 23-point victory at the Whitten Oval. The momentum swings in the match were obvious, with the Bulldogs holding a one-point lead at the final break. The Magpies then kicked away with a five goals to one final term ensuring they picked up the four points. Andrew Gallucci slotted three goals for the away side as Alex Woodward collected 38 disposals. Former number 6 draft pick Matthew Scharenberg pushed his case for an AFL call-up with 33 touches. Collingwood host North Melbourne at Victoria Park on Saturday while Footscray face Port Melbourne away.

Coburg 8.2 (50) defeated by Casey 9.11 (65)

A week of upheaval at Casey has ended positively, with a 15-point win over Coburg. New coach Sam Radford engineered a victory, although the Demons might feel they should’ve won by a lot more. Coburg had a two-point lead at quarter-time before Casey took charge, holding the home side scoreless while kicking 4 goals of their own. From then on the two sides traded goals, with the margin remaining between 20-30 points right up until the trend was broken and Coburg kicked the final goal of the match. Jordan Lewis dominated with 39 disposals while Marcus Lentini continued his good form with 37. Steven Stroobants and Peter McEvoy kicked three goals each while Casey had all individual goalkickers. The Demons host Box Hill on Saturday while Coburg travel to Frankston on Sunday.

Werribee 14.11 (95) defeated by Williamstown 16.7 (103)

The Tigers almost came from behind to steal victory from the Seagulls at Avalon Airport Oval. Williamstown dominated the game from the first bounce with a lead as large as 37 points midway through the third term, but allowed Werribee to creep back into the contest in the final term, only for the Tigers to fall short by eight points after coming within two points. Matthew Munro booted five goals for the Tigers while Michael Barlow had another 37 disposals and one-goal game. Mitchell Hibberd was best for the away side with 29 touches. Werribee take on Essendon at home on Sunday while Williamstown have the bye.

Port Melbourne 9.5 (59) defeated by Essendon 18.20 (128)

A huge third-quarter cemented the Bombers as one of the teams to beat in the VFL this season as they easily overcame a highly-fancied Port Melbourne at North Port Oval. Essendon booted eight goals to three in that third term and eventually ran away 69-point victors. Will Snelling was best afield for the Dons with three goals and 28 disposals while Port’s Shannen Lange kicked two and had 34 touches. Aaron Francis booted four goals for the Bombers. Essendon face Werribee this Sunday while Port take on Footscray on Saturday.

Bye – North Melbourne, Northern Blues, Richmond

Picture: VFL.com.au

South Australian College football prepares for revamp

A TRADITIONAL football system is getting a revamp, with the Adelaide College football turning to a multi-tier system involving promotion and relegation, and we look at how it works, what it means and how the College football and State league can work together for the best possible results.

College football has a long and proud tradition in Adelaide, in fact next year, two of the oldest colleges, Prince Alfred College (PAC) and St Peters will play in their 150th annual Intercol, and in 2017, Sacred Heart and Rostrevor College completed their 95th year of Intercol competing. This tradition has resulted in an agreement with the SANFL that prioritizes a player to be allowed to play for their College side over their South Australia National Football League (SANFL) side. In almost all cases players named in an SANFL league team are released for SANFL duty.

The SA College system has a long production line of AFL Players with some recent draftees since 2014 including:

For PAC: Zac Bailey, Mitch Crowden, Aaron Francis, Riley Bonner, Cam Hewett, Harrison Wigg. 
Sacred Heart: Charlie Ballard, Mitchell Hinge, Liam Mackie, Alex Neal-Bullen, Keenan Ramsey, Cory Gregson, Ryan Burton.
St Peters: Will Hayward, Matt Allen
Rostrevor: Darcy Fogarty, Harry Petty, Toby Pink
Also from other colleges include Callum Coleman-Jones, Andrew McPherson, Lewis Young, Luke Partington and Stefan Giro.

The talent at College football is deep and keeping tabs and reporting on the performances of those players important.

2018 College Football System 

The 2018 season will see SA College football have a revamp, culminating in a new system of promotion and relegation with a top level Premier League and a north and south Championship League. It is a bit complex, but here is how it will work for 2018:

Stage 1:  The Premier division will start with six teams: PAC, Sacred Heart, Rostrevor, St Peters, Immanuel and St Michaels. There will then be a Championship North conference: Trinity, St Ignatius, Westminster, Blackfriars, Marryatville and PAC 2.  The Championship South conference will include: Scotch, Mercedes, CBC, Pembroke, Adelaide High and Sacred Heart 2.  Stage 1 games will involve all schools in their respective grades playing each other once. At which point re-grading will take place. 

Stage 2:  The bottom two Premier League teams will be relegated to the Championship league. The top team in the North and South Conference will be promoted to the Premier League.  Also the next 12 teams will then be regraded into two further divisions of 6 to allow hopefully all schools to be more evenly matched for Stage 2 of the season.
Stage 2 will see each team play each other again for the premiership in each division.

Finals: In the Premier League the top team will go straight into the State Championship grand final, with the second placed team to play a preliminary final against the highest ranked State school.  So in 2017 Sacred Heart was defeated by Henley High in the preliminary final, then with Henley going into the Grand Final against PAC, resulting in victory to PAC in a thrilling contest.

So during the season the typical under 18 draftable college player will play five to six SANFL games, then start College football for five games, then two to three back in the SANFL during school holidays, and then another five to six College games, before SANFL finals kick in.

SANFL vs College Football 

Whilst there is a peace between the SANFL and the College System, there is always some debate about the merits of College football, as compared to the development and recognised elite pathway through the SANFL.  However those in the College system will argue that College footy presents those players with a pure football experience, focused on team and character rather than individual performance and stats, as well as the opportunity to still play SANFL, and exposure to a college education.

Many country-based players are given this option to board at a city-based college and this gives them the opportunity to play all forms, whereas otherwise a seven0hour round trip for a Lucindale-based player such as Darcy Fogarty, may not be feasible.  It should also be noted that the College teams are now often coached by ex-AFL/SANFL players and have support structures similar to SANFL clubs.  In 2017 College coaches included ex-AFL/SANFL players and coaches in Martin McKinnon, Jon Symonds, Steve Symonds, Brett Chalmers, Darren Trevena, and Andrew McLeod

Those in the SANFL may well argue that by doing both you do not promote yourself as best you can.  An interesting outcome of College football is that there is no Champion Data on games and generally these games are not videoed.  So it is quite common to see a bunch of recruiters at these College games, tracking the performances of these potential AFL players. Whilst the best players will go through, there are also the fringe players who do not get through because AFL teams haven’t got enough data to make that call. 

This is an interesting debate. An example from last year involves a player not getting selected for SANFL Under 18 games, but playing College football. Recruiters attending college games noticed this player and upon noting his lack of SANFL games, questioned the club and he was subsequently selected in his SANFL Under 18s club game where he had some excellent performances. After this he was  invited to the SA State based AFL Combine and ended up playing in a SANFL reserves final.  And he met with a number of AFL clubs. This player was not subsequently drafted.  Feedback was positive, “we liked what we saw, just didn’t see enough”, and encouraging for future years. Did College football help this player get noticed? Absolutely.  Did SANFL footy help this player? Not to start with and then absolutely. There are pros and cons to both systems and many examples both ways of the benefits if the AFL path is what you want.

A perfect example of where school football and a state development league did work out however, was Sandringham Dragons’ Nathan Murphy, who missed out on being picked for the Dragons initially, and then after some superb form in the APS competition, made it onto the Dragons list mid-season and by the end of the year, had found a home in the AFL, selected by Collingwood in the National Draft.

But in the meantime, the culmination of a College football year is the end-of-season Intercol game between traditional rivals. An experience not to be missed as player or spectator.  The week of festivities, with thousands watching the game, and the post-match with each team being swamped by hundreds of school mates, presentation of trophies and speeches is AFL Grand Final like – just minus Mr Brightside.

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

Who will the Suns draft?

Wayne Milera evades a tackle. Photo: Matt Loxton
Wayne Milera evades a tackle. Photo: Matt Loxton

The Suns curiously downtraded from pick three to six, which suggests they believe they will snare the player they were originally keen on a little later. The Suns also have a late first round pick and a mid-second round pick to use. There are definitely some holes in the list, but the Suns seem to be perfectly placed to fix those.

Pick nine (originally six)

The big fish: Aaron Francis

The Suns downtrading makes sense if they are keen on Aaron Francis. The Demons and Bombers seem far more interested in Darcy Parish, Charlie Curnow and Sam Weideman, based on list needs. Francis trailed off towards the end of the year, but there is no doubting that he can be an elite intercept player at the next level. He would compliment Rory Thompson and Steven May nicely as that third tall defender.

Plan B: Wayne Milera

Losing Harley Bennell means the Suns have lost a spark in the midfield, but perhaps more importantly, they need another mercurial goal kicker. Milera has produced several great performances up forward in the SANFL. He floats through traffic with his evasiveness, while his skills are top class. He’d be a great fit for the Suns.

Pick 20 (originally 16)

The big fish: Riley Bonner

The Suns could do with another classy rebounder, especially considering Josh Glenn’s absence. Bonner’s long kicking could prove a force with Trent McKenzie on the other flank. Having two weapons operating in tandem back there, alongside possibly Francis, would be ideal. Scores launched from defensive 50 chains are becoming an increased focus, so Bonner would certainly aid there with his elite footskills.

Plan B: Darcy Tucker

Tucker plays in a similar fashion to Bonner, but he’s better at winning his own ball at this stage. Tucker looks best as a rebounding half back, but he’s shown spurts as a midfielder too, and he could even be a classy half-forward at the next level. Tucker has elite endurance and he’s showing all the signs that he can potentially become a lethal outside player at the top level.

Pick 34 (originally 29)

The big fish: Daniel Rioli

Rioli hasn’t showed consistant flashes of brilliance, but he looks like a great athletic project. The Suns can afford to put time into him due to their age profile, while other clubs perhaps wouldn’t be afforded that luxury. Rioli is quick, he can jump and he has great endurance. He’s got a knack of being able to take some nice overhead marks, despite his small frame. He’s clean at ground level, but he’s got a long way to go before he becomes a solid AFL player.

Plan B: Aidyn Johnson

Johnson presents as a medium utility who could be anything. He’s got elite agility and speed, while also being able to hit the scoreboard and lay several tackles. The Suns could do worse than taking a punt on him as a well-rounded forward, despite only seeing limited glimpses of him.

Pick 56: Adam Saad (rookie upgrade)

Pick 79: Keegan Brooksby (rookie upgrade)

Who will the Blues take?

Weitering 2

The Blues will be really shaping the draft for some other clubs. The rumours coming out of the Blues draft camp have been varied, and it’s tough to get a read on them.

Pick one

The big fish: Jacob Weitering

Weitering is the best player in the draft, and he’s got the runs on the board. For a young key defender to not only be able to shutdown AFL quality players, but to run off them, take intercept marks and then create scoring opportunities through rebounding, well that’s serious cause for his draft standing.

Plan B: Josh Schache

Looks pretty clear that the Blues will head with Weitering, but Schache is an excellent player too. His sharp goal kicking would be a welcome change for Carlton. He can beat his opponent in a one-on-one contest and he’s got the fitness to play as a lead up forward, but at this stage, he needs to work on being a bit more of a lead up player to show he can do it all.

Pick 12 (originally pick 8)

The big fish:  Aaron Francis

Gold Coast may be in the frame to take the athletic defender, but if he’s there, the Blues should jump at the chance. He’s an excellent intercept mark, and he’s got one of the best leaps in the draft class. Francis could end up playing as a third tall at either end, and while he has midfield scope, it might be a waste of his athletic potential.

Plan B: Clayton Oliver

Oliver is a strong bodied midfielder who wins his own footy easily on the inside. He’s actually quite a clean kick of the footy and he’s got runs on the board in terms of being able to kick goals from the midfield. Athletically, Oliver is much more agile and quick than the eye test tells you. He might be gone if Essendon or Melbourne are really keen.

Pick 14 (originally 11)

The big fish: Harry McKay

McKay is very raw at this stage, but his upside is great. McKay has shown great signs as a lead up forward. His work rate is excellent, and he’s got some really nice athletic traits. He’s going to need a really good development team to get the best out of him, but his rate of improvement across the year has been encouraging.

Plan B: Callum Ah Chee

Ah Chee provides the spark that the Blues lack up forward and on the outside of the contest. He’s got speed, a terrific leap and he’s one of the smarter smaller players in the draft. Ah Chee has shown that he can win his own ball on the inside at under-18 level, which is encouraging for his case to play midfield minutes at the top flight.

Pick 23 (originally 19)

The big fish: Jade Gresham

Gresham wins so much of the football as a small midfielder, that recruiters cannot pin him down as an exclusive small forward. That being said, the Blues could do with another crumbing option, and Gresham is very clean when the ball hits the deck. He’s not the ‘mercurial’ small forward type, but he works hard defensively and he’ll be a consistent presence in every game.

Plan B: Ryan Clarke

Clarke is a running machine who should be playing quite a few games next year through his elite fitness. He breaks the lines and his kicking can be lethal at times. Clarke has also shown his nous winning his own footy, and he has that Patrick Dangerfield-esque breakaway power and acceleration from stoppages.

Pick 52 (originally 59)

The big fish: Jack Silvagni

Silvagni has really nice hands and he’s got clean skills when the ball hits the deck. He’s lacking a lot of strength and probably won’t be a true key position player through his size. But with his skill set, he could be a third linking forward. I like Silvagni as a lockdown defender too. He reads the play well, and despite not having the strength, he positions himself well to negate the contest even against bigger opponents.

Who will the Crows draft?

Aaron Francis evades a tackle. Photo: Peter Argent
Aaron Francis evades a tackle. Photo: Peter Argent

Adelaide has some interesting picks in this draft. Its first pick is high enough to potentially grab a star player who might slide, but picks 9 and 13 (which will slide down due to the academy picks) also might be on the verge of grabbing players who are that rung below.

Pick 13 (Originally 9)

The Big Fish: Aaron Francis

Dominoes will need to fall in favour of the Crows. It’s looking likely the Blues may pass on Francis with their interest in Harry McKay and Clayton Oliver, but that mightn’t be enough. Gold Coast traded down three picks, which could indicate that they thought they could take Francis at pick 6. While he may have tailed off in the back end of the year, it’s unrealistic to expect an 18 year old could play at such a high level all throughout the year. Francis is still the second best intercept mark in the draft and he could play anywhere for the Crows.

Plan B: Harry McKay

McKay might not make it this far, but he seems like a good fit for the Crows. He’ll take a while to develop as a forward-ruck, but his upside is extremely promising. McKay’s best work has come as a lead up forward, but he can play deeper too. McKay’s athleticism and agility is exceptional for a 200 cm forward.


Pick 17 (Originally 13)

The Big Fish: Rhys Mathieson

Mathieson again seems to be underrated. He’s the type of player who seems almost faultless as a midfielder, but due to a lack of a ‘standout’ skill, he can be an afterthought for some fans. Mathieson is courageous, strong and a hard worker. He is a great player on the inside and should be able to win his own ball at the next level, even against the bigger midfielders like Patrick Cripps. He provides outside run as well, and his disposal is always very clean.

Plan B: Ryan Burton

Burton might be a bit surplus to Adelaide’s needs as Taylor Walker and Josh Jenkins have established themselves, with Tom Lynch playing as the third forward. Burton is a home-grown talent, who really high self-belief. His broken leg was one of the worst seen, and for most players, it would have ruled them out of draft contention. He’s a special 191 cm key forward, who marks the ball well over his head. He’s also an excellent kick for goal, which makes him a more attractive prospect than Charlie Curnow or Sam Weideman in some ways. No one is really quite sure how his leg injury will affect him, but he may just be the best in the draft. Burton may not be a great fit for the Crows personality wise, as he is the type of guy who wants to be the alpha dog. He doesn’t seem like the type of guy who wants to keep being patient, especially considering he’s already missed a year of football.

Rookie Upgrade: Jake Kelly

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
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
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
 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
North Ballarat Rebels
Inside midfielder
186 cm
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
 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
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
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
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
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
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
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.