Tag: charlie curnow

2019 AFL Draft club review: Carlton Blues

AFTER an improved second half of the season under new coach David Teague, Carlton headed into the AFL Draft confident of finding a quality player at Pick 9. Instead, the Blues made a couple of clubs earn their Academy stars in Stephen Silvagni‘s last year at the desk, and then opted to trade down their selection to grab a slider and a bolter, as well as a much-improved midfielder. In the Pre-Season and Rookie drafts, the Blues grabbed their man from the Gold Coast SUNS, as well as two players with immense upside and X-factor.


National Draft:
17. Brodie Kemp (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country) | 192cm | 89kg | Tall Utility
20. Sam Philp (Northern Knights/Vic Metro) | 186cm | 79kg | Inside Midfielder
47. Sam Ramsay (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro) | 180cm | 72kg | Balanced Midfielder

Rookie Draft:
3. Josh Honey (Western Jets/Vic Metro) | 185cm | 82kg | Midfielder/Forward
18. Fraser Phillips (Gippsland Power/Vic Country | 187cm | 72kg | Medium Forward
PSD. Jack Martin (Gold Coast Suns)

If you are a Carlton fan you have to be happy with the haul achieved at the 2019 National AFL Draft. With Eddie Betts coming into the side – joined by Jack Martin in the Pre-Season Draft – the Blues somewhat moved past missing out on Tom Papley. It was clear they wanted to grab some more inside depth to assist Patrick Cripps in the midfield, as well as some firepower up forward to roam around the feet of Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay, as well as roam up the ground and open up the space for those forwards.

If that was the goal, then Carlton ticked that box with the five 18-year-olds walking into the club. Brodie Kemp was touted as a top 10 pick before going down with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, and the fact he was there for the picking at selection 17 was madness. While he will not be able to run around in the navy blue next year, if he can get a couple of games in the reserves late in the season, it will give Blues fans a taste of what they can expect in 2021. Sam Philp was the other player taken on night one and he provides not only inside ball-winning ability, but also elite speed. With a 2.87-second 20m sprint, Philp is lightning around the stoppages and adds a different element to the midfield. He might have been seen as a bolter for a player who did not play Under-18 Championships, but his second half of the season, and indeed after the first month of NAB League was deserving of the first round selection. All-in-all, Carlton fans might have been annoyed to miss out on potentially picking up Sam Flanders, but landed terrific value with their picks and two players who offer that point of difference in the midfield.

With the Blues’ only other National Draft selection, Carlton picked up another late bloomer with Calder Cannons’ Sam Ramsay a hard working runner on the inside. He started the season with indifferent form as a winger, but once he went into the guts, excelled averaging 31 touches per game over a seven-game purple patch. His form earned him a share in the Calder Cannons’ best and fairest award, as well as a spot on an AFL list.

But the bargains did not stop there. While Martin was always predicted to land at the Blues on a heavily front-ended contract, the former SUNS long wait to land at Ikon Park was finally over to add extra class in the front half of the ground. Also joining him there in the forward half were rookies, Josh Honey and Fraser Phillips. Both have tremendous upside, with Phillips in particular touted as having a lot of development left in him. Honey can spend time in the midfield and is super athletic with an eye for goals, while Phillips predominantly players inside 50 as a medium forward who can do magical things, but could eventually develop into a midfielder.

Overall, Carlton fans should be really pleased with what their club has been able to do at the drafts, picking up genuine bargains and players with upside and high ceilings that while they do not always work out, if they do then this draft haul could be lauded in the future.

Noah Gown finds his place in TAC Cup

GIPPSLAND Power product, Noah Gown has shown he is a real force to be reckoned with and has a bright future at AFL level, if given the opportunity. After spending time playing both basketball and football Gown decided to make the big decision to focus solely on footy in the 2018 season.

“It was more about the opportunity, the opportunity of having a crack at and making it at the top level,” Gown said. “For example, rather than going overseas and playing college it’s more having a crack at playing professional football.”

His decision proved to be the right one, finding his feet with the Power and cementing a spot in the squads’ line- up and being included in AFL Draft Central’s TAC Cup Team of the Year. Gown also received a State Draft Combine invite credit to his footballing prowess and with the upcoming draft approaching he could quite possibly find himself a new home at an AFL club.

“I’m pretty excited and pretty nervous I don’t really know where or if I’ll go,” he said.

The 18 year-old made the switch from defence to forward which paid dividends, racking up 31 goals from 14 games. Gown proved that he has natural talent and can play anywhere on the ground and still deliver the goods.

“It doesn’t really bother me, it was a bit tough starting off just playing football in general,” he said. “But once I started to find my feet, it didn’t really matter where I played.”

With his leading patterns and strong hands a key element of his game, Gown excelled down forward causing havoc for opposition teams on multiple occasions. The avid Blues supporter drew inspiration from Carlton young gun Charlie Curnow, becoming a dominant force in front of goals for Gippsland. In round 13, Gown finished with a bag of five to only back up his impressive performance again in the next round with another five majors.

“I go for the Blues, so I like to take bits and pieces from Charlie Curnow’s game,” he said. “(We have) similar body position and similar position on the ground, he’s been pretty big for me.”

After only returning to footy this year Gown met with former Collingwood premiership player Leigh Brown as coach, which proved to be revolutionary. After trialling Gown down back, the move forward was one of the most beneficial changes for the team as the 193cm forward owned the forward 50.

“Browny just decided to move me around and see I guess, where I best fit within the team and then we ended up putting me down forward and I had an alright game and then I pretty much just stayed there for the rest of the year,” he said.

The Gippsland coach had a huge influence on Gown and the rest of the players at the club, credit to his experience and football knowledge at both the elite and junior levels.

“It was great, he was probably one of the only coaches I had over my football career,” Gown said. “He’s great the way he mentors all the kids throughout the squad, really great leader.”

Living out in the country many players Gowns’ age are accustomed to the hefty drive to games and training.

“It’s definitely pretty challenging overall but I was used to it travelling around for basketball all over the state,” he said. “It gets pretty hard with recovery and stuff like that, with driving home an hour or more after a game rather than recovery, gets a bit difficult at times.”

All challenges aside, Gown has plenty of upside and could prove to be a valuable get for any club during the draft period.

Keeping Tabs: Standout players from Round 22

ANOTHER impressive debutant joined the list of first year players who adapted to the level, while a mature-aged star just continues to exceed expectations.

Tim Kelly

Every week this guy turns up and proceeds to tear it up. Can you honestly believe it is his first year in the AFL system? In the Cats demolition of a hapless Fremantle outfit, Kelly’s stat line once again left us all mesmerised. He collected 26 disposals (14 kicks and 12 handballs at 73 per cent disposal efficiency), three marks, three goals, five clearances, six tackles, seven inside 50s and 515 metres gained. Yet again, his stoppage work and ability to seriously hit the scoreboard when going forward, was brilliant. The Western Australian’s impact this year has been right up there with Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood and Gary Ablett.

James Worpel

After watching the Hawks/Saints clash expecting somewhat of a snooze-fest, the performance of James Worpel really caught my attention. A premiership captain with TAC Cup club Geelong Falcons, Worpel has transitioned beautifully into the midfield of another successful club. The blonde-haired ‘Worpedo’ impressed with his aggression and attack on the footy. After one tackle, the umpire even asked him to calm it down – not a normal conversation to be had with a first-year player. Worpel finished with 27 disposals (15 kicks and 12 handballs at 52 per cent disposal efficiency), three marks, one goal, 481 metres gained, five clearances, three tackles, six inside 50s and a number of seriously powerful stiff-arms. The Hawks have unearthed yet another talent.

Cam Rayner

Rayner is quickly becoming a fan favourite up at the Gabba and is showing strong signs why he is rated so highly among regular underage football viewers and scouts alike. While he does not collect as much of the ball as some of his fellow draftees, Rayner generally does something positive whenever he does have possession. Once again, his leap allowed him to impact almost every marking contest he was involved in during the weekends Q-clash. The future star collated 14 touches (eight of which were contested), three marks, one goal (two behinds), three stoppage clearances and four inside 50s. He certainly looks to have added a bit of excitement and X-factor to a Lions side on a steep incline.

Lochie O’Brien

The top 10 draft pick from the 2017 National Draft has fronted up 17 games this season, with his best game of his career coming against the Dogs on Sunday afternoon. O’Brien, who was utilised in an outside-leaning role across the half-back line by senior coach Brendan Bolton, impressed with his cleanness, composure, decision making and precise ball use with his penetrating left-foot. The 19 year-old recruited from the Bendigo Pioneers collected 20 disposals (at a positive 85 per cent disposal efficiency) to go with six marks and a couple of tackles. Carlton will be hoping O’Brien can build on what has been a solid, steady start to what projects to be a long and successful career. Potentially adding some more size to his frame, we could see the athletic O’Brien spend more time in the midfield rotation.

Tom De Koning

It’s never easy for young key position players to make an immediate impact, however Tom De Koning showed some seriously impressive signs on debut during Sunday’s loss to the Dogs. De Koning, or ‘TDK’ as he is commonly referred to, managed 11 disposals (eight of which were contested), five marks (including two contested grabs and two inside-50 marks), three tackles and a goal on the weekend. He had some presence about him around the ground, and held his own when playing in the ruck for a couple of contests. After an impressive start to his infant career, the forward-line partnership between De Koning, Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay will prove absolutely critical for the Blues’ as they look to improve.

Aaron Naughton

Just the nine disposals for Naughton in his sides victory over the lowly Blues’, the youngster used the ball terrifically well, recording a disposal efficiency of 89 percent. His kicking action is unusual to say the least, however so far it has proven to work well enough. Naughton, a first round draft pick in 2017, showcased his aerial prowess against an inexperienced, but talented Carlton key forward line featuring Curnow, McKay and De Koning, clunking six marks with two of which were contested.  Having also been utilised in attack by senior coach Luke Beveridge at-times during his rookie year, the WA-products flexibility is a real asset. 

Fantastic Five: Memorable moments from the weekend

MEMORABLE milestones, big goal hauls and the next generation of stars were among the memorable moments from the weekend (and early in the week).

Pies show steel for Sidebottom

Steele Sidebottom has been a mainstay in the Collingwood lineup since his debut in Round Seven, 2009. On Sunday, his teammates showed their gratitude for his service over 200 games with a big win over rivals, Essendon. The Bombers led at both the main and final breaks by the narrowest of margins, but special efforts from skipper Scott Pendlebury and Jordan De Goey willed the Magpies over the line. The 2010 Premiership player and 2017 Copeland Medal winner has been in near career-best form this year, and it was no different this round as he collected 28 disposals, six marks and two goals to cap off his special day.

Hipwood hits Blues for six

It’s no secret that Lions fans have been excited about the potential of gun forward Eric Hipwood. As the mobile forward approaches 50 AFL games, he is really coming into his own and dominated on Saturday to boot 6.2 in a 65-point Brisbane win over cellar dwellers, Carlton. The Brisbane Lions Academy product clunked seven marks (six inside 50) in his 15 disposals, taking his season goals tally to 27 having played every game. Fellow 2015 first round draftee Charlie Curnow also impressed with his three goals in a losing side.

Gippsland powers to clear second

With a strong victory over country rivals Murray at a wet and windy Morwell Oval, Gippsland powered to clear second in the TAC Cup standings. Vic Country representative Caleb Serong was back for a rare TAC Cup game and earned an AFL Draft Central Player of the Week nomination with his 23 disposals, five clearances and two goals. Others to contribute were Austin Hodge and Riley Baldi with 20 disposals each, while debutant Harold Hood caught the eye with his 16 touches. The Power are now a game clear of Murray, Western and Sandringham’s 28 points with a healthy percentage of 155.95 as they look to finish the season strongly.

Under 16 SA and WA dominate Victorian sides

Division One of the Under 16 National Championships resumed on the Gold Coast with South Australia taking on Vic Country, while Western Australia battled Metro. The results confirmed that South Australian football is in very good hands as they accounted for Country by 42 points. Star forward Kaine Baldwin was unbeatable in the air, while the likes of Kye Dean and Luke Edwards collected plenty of the ball. In the second game of the day, WA’s Logan McDonald booted six goals in a best afield display, while Taj Schofield and Zane Trew were outstanding through the midfield in a big win over Metro. The results suggest that the figure of over 50% of draftees coming from Victoria could well change in the near future, but there is plenty of time for bolters to make their run.

Vic U18 girls get one back for their state

With the Under 16 Metro and Country boys getting worked over in their games, the Under 18 girls won some pride back for Victoria as both sides grabbed wins in their National Championship fixtures. Country stormed to a 56-point victory over Queensland on the back of Lucy McEvoy’s five-goal haul, with Nina Morrison strong through the midfield. Meanwhile, Metro remained undefeated with a hard fought 8-point win over Western Australia as the likes of Madison Prespakis and Northern Knights best and fairest winner Gabby Newton contributed well from midfield. On the second day, Metro went down to Queensland on Wednesday at Broadbeach, despite the best efforts of Prespakis, Eleanor Brown and Newton,, while Country got the job done against the Central Allies thanks to another four goals from McEvoy and top performances from Morrison and Sophie Van De Heuvel. Queensland was sensational in the win against Vic Metro, with the likes of Zimmorlei Farquharson and Lily Postlethwaite the top performers.

Fantastic Five: Memorable moments from the weekend

A GRAND final ticket booked, some memorable wins and the 19 year-old rule continues to work wonders for TAC Cup clubs, in a memorable weekend for football.

Knights book grand final spot

It was always looking to be the likely scenario – Northern Knights taking on Geelong Falcons in the grand final – and it took realistically just one quarter to become a reality. The Knights wasted no time blowing away Murray early before a tighter contest from then on, to set up a rematch with the Falcons. The pair faced just a week earlier in round eight and now meet at Werribee in the decider at 12.30 with the Falcons looking to complete an unbeaten season, while the Knights will be out to cause an upset and claim the flag.

Calder finishes season on a high at home

Reigning TAC Cup Girls premiers Calder Cannons headed into the final round with just one win to their name despite some competitive performances. But at home in the wet, the Cannons upstaged the highly fancied Eastern Ranges to double their wins tally and give their bottom-agers great excitement heading into 2019. Led by captain Madison Prespakis who could well be the first Victorian picked this year, and the exciting bottom-ager Georgia Patrikios, the Cannons had plenty to enjoy as their said goodbye to the 2018 season with a bang.

Carlton claims first AFL victory

It has been a long time since Round 22 last year, and for Carlton fans, it was a moment to savour when they toppled Essendon at the MCG on Saturday. It was no secret both teams were in a rut this season, but the Blues have showed signs of improvement over the first two months, and it culminated in a long-awaited victory. The likes of Patrick Cripps and Charlie Curnow lead a host of future stars which should fill many Blues fans with optimism going forward.

Old Firm VFLW sides bounce back

After a couple of disappointing losses in round one, Darebin Falcons and Melbourne University got back to what they do best – winning. Given the return of a number of AFLW stars to their respective line-ups, it was no surprise to see an improved performance, and Darebin trounced Richmond, while Melbourne University proved too good for Essendon. While Carlton and Hawthorn remained unbeaten and NT Thunder had a bye, the performances of the standalone VFLW sides (as well as some strong showings from Southern Saints, Williamstown and Casey Demons so far this season) makes for entertaining viewing.

Overagers turn it on

Each TAC Cup club is able to bring back a handful of turning 19 year-olds who missed out on getting drafted the previous year. In some cases, the players are better for it, and the likes of Tom Phillips and Hamish Brayshaw are just some of many who have been recruited on the back of strong over-age seasons. On the weekend, Calder Cannons’ Mitch Podhajski turned it on with 27 disposals, 15 tackles and three goals to be the AFL Draft Central TAC Cup Player of the Week, while fellow overagers Noah Answerth (31 disposals, eight marks) and Austin Hodge (19 disposals, four goals) also lit it up in their respective games.

Team Building 101: From Tiger Turmoil to Tiger Time

REIGNING premier Richmond has historically been poor at team-building and drafting. From the mid-2000s until the mid-2010s, Richmond’s record of drafting players was horrific. Richmond supporters who are “twenty-something” or older, will remember the constant “trolling” by opposition supporters through this period.

The most infamous draft decision, being the selection of Richard Tambling at pick three, in front of the future Hall of Famer Lance Franklin. The forward from Western Australia, turned into the greatest athlete the game has seen, and was selected pick four by Hawthorn, one selection after the now-delisted Tambling. This however, was one of many errors that Richmond made at the time. They simply could not get anything right at the list management level. But now that has changed.


As soon as the cup is held aloft on the podium of the Grand Final, all other football departments immediately turn their attention to the winning clubs’ list. These football departments run the microscope over the winning clubs’ list to see what lessons they can learn, so that they can be on that stage as soon as possible. 

But this was Richmond. The club who are terrible at drafting! Or were they?

The fact is that Richmond’s football department absolutely nailed every draftee and trade over the past three seasons. Richmond had their fair share of first round draft selections, however this premiership was won on the back of being aggressive at the trade table and finding talent outside the first round of the draft. 

Here is a breakdown of Richmond’s premiership winning side, using the draft pick cost in selecting them or trading for them as the key.


Jack Riewoldt (Pick 13 – 2006), Trent Cotchin (Pick 2 – 2007), Alex Rance (Pick 18 – 2007), Dustin Martin (Pick 3 – 2009), Brandon Ellis (Pick 15 – 2011), Nick Vlasutin (Pick 9 – 2012), Daniel Rioli (Pick 15, 2015), Dion Prestia (2016 – Traded In for Pick 6).

Richmond drafted their “Big 4”, Riewoldt/Cotchin/Rance/Martin, across three drafts (2006, 2007 and 2009). The “Big 4” were undeniably crucial in the Premiership winning side. Dustin Martin, the Norm Smith Medallist and Brownlow Medallist in 2017 was selected at pick three, and the Demons who had picks one and two in the draft (Tom Scully and Jack Trengove) would be heartbroken as neither of their draftees are still at the club. Richmond’s ability to draft well in the first round in the past 10 years set up the spine for their Premiership, and for success in the years to come.


Shane Edwards (2006 – Pick 26), Kamdyn McIntosh (2012 – Pick 31), Josh Caddy (2016 – Traded In for Pick 20).

Only three of Richmond’s premiership players cost Richmond a second round draft pick. Shane Edwards, a 200-gamer and one of the games best handballers, has had a terrific career. A fan favourite and widely loved by his teammates, Edwards is one of the games most underrated footballers. He is a terrific decision maker, and although he is not a prolific ball winner, he is a beautiful kick of the ball. Caddy, a first round draft pick in 2007, was traded to Richmond after never finding his feet at Geelong. Caddy was traded in the same year his best mate, Dion Prestia was traded to the Tigers for their first round pick. 

DIAMONDS IN THE ROUGH (Rounds 3 onwards or Rookie selections).

David Astbury (2009 – Pick 35), Dylan Grimes (2009 – Rookie Draft), Bachar Houli (2010 – Rookie Draft), Kane Lambert (2014 – Rookie Draft), Dan Butler (2014 – Pick 67), Nathan Broad (2015 – Pick 67), Jacob Townsend (2015 – Traded In for Pick 70), Toby Nankervis (2016 – Traded In for Pick 46), Jack Graham (2016 – Pick 53)

Nine of Richmond’s 22 premiership players cost the Tigers a third round draft pick or less. That’s an incredible 41 per cent of their Grand Final side. The players listed above were not just making up the numbers either. Astbury and Grimes form the pillars of Richmond’s defence that allow Rance to play off his opponent. Houli and Lambert both had huge final series, with the former unlucky not to win the Norm Smith Medal. Nankervis had an incredible year that placed him in the top five ruckman in the league, while Graham and Townsend had remarkable rises to stardom in a short period of time. Graham kicked three goals in the AFL Grand Final while Townsend kicked 11 goals in two weeks at the end of the Home and Away season before taking that form into the finals where he kicked another five goals over three matches. 


Richmond’s list managers nailed the 2015 and 2016 drafts. They selected Broad in the fourth round, and traded their fifth pick to GWS for Townsend who had a remarkable end to the year. However, it was their bold moves in 2016  that was the difference between winning the Grand Final and being stuck in relative mediocrity. 

At the end of the season, Richmond had picks 6, 42, 60, 78 to work with. The media believed that Richmond were going backwards and that they needed to trade their star players out for more picks to start a rebuild. Deledio, Rance and Riewoldt all would apparently not be a part of Richmond’s next premiership, and that Richmond should trade them while they had value. Richmond had other ideas. They traded Deledio, whose body had been wrecked by injury, for future draft picks, and lost Restricted Free Agent (RFA) Tyrone Vickery, for which they received a pick at the end of the first round.

Richmond had in essence lost Deledio and Vickery and had gained Dion Prestia, Shai Bolton, Josh Caddy, Toby Nankervis and Jack Graham. Remarkably, four of those five were premiership players within 12 months time. 


Richmond have proven that huge rebuilds are not required if you have elite top end talent. It is crucial however, that elite talent must be there. As good as Richmond’s drafting and trading was over the past two years, they knew they had four elite players under the age of 30, that they could build their team around. Other clubs at the conclusion of 2016 who had elite talent but poor depth, such as Essendon, Port Adelaide and Melbourne, have copied Richmond’s aggressive trading model and are primed for their shot at the premiership in the coming seasons.

Melbourne looked to free agency to solidify their defence poaching promising defender, Jake Lever, from the Crows. However, I worry that Melbourne’s elite talent isn’t quite at the level of other clubs. Melbourne do have a terrific young midfield and one of the games best young forwards in Jesse Hogan and will rely heavily on them performing if they are to contend this season. 

Essendon used their selections to bring in pace and a bit of “X-Factor” in Adam Saad, Devon Smith and Jake Stringer while holding onto their early draft selections. Essendon now are extremely damaging on the counter attack, and have a terrific mix of young talent and experienced leaders. Essendon’s forward line of Joe Daniher, Stringer and Smith will put opposition defences under pressure and set them up for a big season.

Port Adelaide rolled the dice, losing some of their experienced depth players to bring in three mercurial players in Steven Motlop, Tom Rockliff and Jack Watts. Port Adelaide’s best 22 on paper is terrific, but must remain healthy. Their depth is now poor, but as Richmond showed last year, that depth can stand up if there is competition for places and the chance at a premiership.

On the other hand, sides like Carlton are in a different phase of the premiership rebuild. They lost their best midfielder in Bryce Gibbs but went to the draft with three picks inside the top 30 to add to their current bank of young stars in Patrick Cripps and Charlie Curnow. Carlton are in the process of building that platform of elite blue-chip players like Richmond were in the late 2000’s. Although a “ten year plan” would sound like a nightmare for many Blues fans, Cripps has the potential to be as damaging as Dustin Martin, but not for another five years. As good as Cripps is, it takes a long time for players to reach their full potential. Carlton has a rich history of success and could be tempted to sell the farm prematurely to have a shot at the premiership. However, I think Carlton have learned valuable lessons from their mistakes over the last decade and are committed to a proper rebuild this time. Carlton fans should be excited but patient and trust the job that Stephen Silvagni is doing.  A premiership is surely worth it.


5 Brandon Ellis

2011 – Round 1

Pick 15

18 Alex Rance

2007 – Round 1

Pick 18

2 Dylan Grimes


Rookie Draftee


14 Bachar Houli


Rookie Draftee (Essendon)

12 David Astbury

2009 – Round 3

Pick 35

1 Nick Vlastuin

2012 – Round 1

Pick 9


33 Kamdyn McIntosh

2012 – Round 2

Pick 31

9 Trent Cotchin

2007 – Round 1

Pick 2

21 Jacob Townsend

2015 – TRADE 

Pick 70


23 Kane Lambert


Rookie Draftee

4 Dustin Martin

2009 – Round 1

Pick 3

22 Josh Caddy

2016 – TRADE

Pick 20


40 Dan Butler

2014 – Round 4

Pick 67

8 Jack Riewoldt

2006 – Round 1

Pick 13

17 Daniel Rioli

2015 – Round 1

Pick 15


25 Toby Nankervis

2016 – TRADE

Pick 46

3 Dion Prestia

2016 – TRADE

Pick 6

6 Shaun Grigg

2010 – TRADE

Andrew Collins 


10 Shane Edwards

2006 – Round 2

Pick 26

34 Jack Graham

2016 – Round 3

Pick 53

35 Nathan Broad

2015 – Round 5

Pick 67


46 Jason Castagna


Rookie Draftee



GOLD – Round 1

GREY – Round 2

BLUE – Round 3,4,5 or PS

Fantastic Five: Memorable moments from the weekend

THERE was no TAC Cup or TAC Cup Girls football on the weekend, but the AFLW and JLT Community Series played out their penultimate and final rounds respectively. Here are five moments which made the weekend memorable.

Jack Watts’ six goals against Adelaide

There are few players in the AFL who have come under as much scrutiny as former number one draft pick, Jack Watts. After starting to show signs of finally reaching his potential over the last couple of years, Watts gave Port Adelaide fans a glimpse of what he could offer them in season 2018, bagging a career-high six straight goals. Yes, it was only the pre-season and there have been plenty of pre-season performers who have failed to go on to dominate – Jesse White booted five goals against Geelong in his first match in the black and white – but nonetheless, Watts was a player who needed a confidence boost in his new colours and his new fans could not be happier with his output.

GWS Women’s topping the Western Bulldogs to keep their GF chance alive

GWS did not have the season they would have liked last year with injuries galore and less homegrown talent growing organically in the state compared to football-centric hubs of Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia. That has all changed in 2018 with competitive efforts throughout the year, and now the Giants are in the thick of the action for a grand final berth. If they win the final game, they’ll will face either the Western Bulldogs (again) or Melbourne in the grand final. Their efforts against the ladder-leading Bulldogs were superb and there is plenty to like about the way the GWS Giants women go about it. That was obvious from their really strong showing against Melbourne at Casey Fields in round one.

Carlton’s youth coming through

While the Blues are one of a few teams opposition fans love to hate, it is hard not to get excited about the youth coming through the club. Coming into their 23rd season since winning the 1995 flag, Carlton fans are desperate to see improvement after a forgettable past 15 years. Now they can see the likes of Caleb Marchbank, Charlie Curnow, Sam Petrevski-Seton, Harry McKay, Paddy Dow, Lochie O’Brien and of course, Patrick Cripps all starting to create a really formidable young group who are bound to improve over the next few seasons. Sure, they might not be premiership contenders this season, but with Brendon Bolton at the helm, and a belief that seems to grow stronger each day, expect the Blues to be a team to watch over the coming years.

TAC Cup Testing Day

From the stars of today to the stars of tomorrow, the TAC Cup boys and girls all were tested on the weekend for the 2018 TAC Cup Testing Day at Maribyrnong College. More than 600 players were put through a series of tests conducted by Rookie Me, from the 20m sprint to the AFL Agility Test, the yo-yo test (boys) and the 2km time trial (girls) to the vertical leaps. In front of plenty of friends, family and AFL and AFLW recruiters, the potential next big things in the elite league got to show off their athletic ability in what was a successful day. In particular the athletes deserved massive applause with outdoor temperatures reaching up to 37 degrees (according to some weather apps) towards the end of the day.

Collingwood Women’s toppling the Lions with only pride on the line

Similar to last season, Collingwood’s best football has come when the ball game is done and dusted. But with a huge win over Melbourne, a competitive six-point loss over the Western Bulldogs and now a good win over Brisbane, the black and white women have shown they can match it with anyone on their day. Much like the AFL side, the AFLW side has not escaped scrutiny this season, but with some really talented youth prospects coming through and much better ball movement and willingness to create run, the Magpies have been as good as any side the last three weeks and reigning premiers Adelaide must be sweating a little coming into the final round.

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 Demons draft?

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)

Melbourne has some tough decisions to make. Several sources have said that the Demons are leaning towards Darcy Parish at pick three, while others believe they will select Charlie Curnow. Either way, it looks likely that the Demons will want a midfielder and a key forward.

Pick five (originally pick three)

The big fish: Sam Weideman

Weideman is a traditional tall forward with an excellent set of hands. He’s excellent on the lead or overhead and he works hard to present as an option. Weideman needs to work on his goal kicking, as he can be very streaky. Some days, he can nail five from five, but when he struggles with confidence, he becomes a bit wayward in front of goal.

Plan B: Charlie Curnow

Curnow makes a lot of sense for the Demons. He’s a physical key forward who could fit in well with Hogan. Or alternatively, the Demons may chose to develop him as a midfielder. The Demons may have traded up to chose the player who could be a franchise corner stone. He’s got a lot to work on, but he arguably has the highest ceiling of anyone available at that pick.

Pick 10 (originally seven)

The big fish: Darcy Parish

Parish is a smooth moving outside midfielder who does everything to a high standard. He’s worked on finding his own ball on the inside, and his ceiling has expanded immensely over the course of this year. Parish’s best case scenario is that he becomes a top 15 midfielder in the competition, and that doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch for him.

Plan B: Wayne Milera

Milera is a classy smaller midfielder with a range of different tricks. He’s shown he can be a very effective small forward at senior level, as he hits the scoreboard, provides creativity and he can win his own football. Milera is elusive in traffic and shown that he can be a consistent offensive presence.

Pick 46

The big fish: Kieran Lovell

Lovell is a big-time accumulator, averaging 35 disposals at the national championships. Lovell is tough on the inside, but his endurance also allows him to be a consistent presence on the outside. He makes the right decisions and he’s got great vision, but his execution is not great. Lovell can also hit the scoreboard, so he may be a decent option as a hard-working small forward who can rotate through the midfield.

Plan B: Greg Clark

The Demons could do with a third tall forward who works as a link player. Clark is a versatile type at 194 centimetres, but he’s not a bull on the inside or quick on the outside. He is a clean user of the football and he’s got the endurance to burn off defenders. He hasn’t had the year he would have liked, but there is plenty to work with at the next level.

Pick 50: James Harmes (rookie upgrade)

Pick 82: Aaron vandenBerg (rookie upgrade)

Jourdan Canil’s top 30 draft prospects

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

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

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

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

2. Josh Schache
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.