Tag: draft combine

Analysis | The importance of fitness testing in modern football recruiting

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

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

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

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

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

2014:

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

Pick 20 – Kyle Langford
Agility

2015:

Pick 5 – Darcy Parish
Average in most tests

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

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

Pick 30 – Mason Redman
3km time trial

2016:

Pick 1 – Andrew McGrath
Vertical Leap, Agility

Pick 20 – Jordan Ridley
20m Sprint

2017:

Nil

2018:

Pick 38 – Irving Mosquito
Vertical Leap

2019:

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

Pick 38 – Nick Bryan
Vertical Leap, 20m Sprint

2020:

Pick 8 – Nik Cox
20m Sprint, 2km TT

Pick 9 – Archie Perkins
20m Sprint, Vertical Leap

Pick 10 – Zach Reid
Vertical Leap

Pick 39 – Josh Eyre
20m Sprint, Vertical Leap

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image Credit: Graham Denholm/AFL Photos

From the clouds: This year’s biggest AFL Draft bolters

EACH year a great deal of AFL Draft intrigue surrounds the prospects who seemingly come from the clouds to land on clubs’ radars. Labelled the bolters, these players are the ones who enjoy steep rises as top-agers to trade obscurity for potential stardom. Last year we saw Will Day, Mitch Georgiades, and Sam Philp taken in round one, Sam Sturt was famously snapped up with Pick 17 the year before, Gold Coast pulled a surprise with Wil Powell in 2017 and well, you get the gist.

In taking a look at the potential bolters in this year’s crop, we are not just talking about players like Logan McDonald or Archie Perkins, who have risen from first round projection to possible top five status. Instead, we will take you through the names from around the nation who have come from greater obscurity to enter the draft frame at differing points. Some will feature at the top end, others might just scrape in at the back, but they all share the common story of coming from a long way back to gain recognition from AFL club recruiters.

Full profiles for all the players mentioned below can be found in our AFL Draft Guide, which is free to download.

THE BOLTERS

STATE BY STATE

South Australia:

South Australia not only lays claim to arguably the biggest bolter of the lot this year, but potentially the biggest overall list of players who suit the category. Headlining the crop is of course South Adelaide wingman/forward Brayden Cook, who went from battling for gametime as a bottom-ager to earning a Reserves call-up early in 2020 and averaging two goals per game in the Under 18s. His nous close to goal and overhead marking ability proved to be game-winning traits for the Panthers this year, propelling Cook into first round contention.

Likely joining him in the top 25 are gun midfielders Tom Powell and Caleb Poulter, who were two of the most consistent ball winners in this year’s SANFL Under 18s. Powell is one of the finest exponents of the handball to come through the junior ranks and proved impossible to ignore on pure numbers in 2020. He was highly rated internally but hardly got the opportunity to show his wares in 2019, suffering multiple injury setbacks and having hip surgery in his bottom-age campaign. Poulter is somewhat of a late bloomer who has enormous upside and great presence on the field as a tall midfielder. His range of weapons include a raking left peg, clean hands, and the ability to play inside, out, and up forward.

Other top-agers in the extended conversation include Luke Pedlar, Malachy Carruthers, Phoenix Spicer, and Xavier Robins. All four earned national draft combine invites after promising seasons, with Pedlar one who has also recently garnered first round interest. The tough and explosive midfielder was a leader among the Glenelg and Prince Alfred College squads this year, before injury cut his campaign short. Defenders Carruthers and Robins both impressed during the school football season before returning to SANFL competitions, while Spicer caught the eye with his dash and x-factor playing on a wing for South Adelaide.

Last but not least are the mature-agers. Mitch Duval and Tom Highmore both earned draft combine invites and were the only prospects over 19 years of age to do so this year. Both read the play beautifully across half-back, mark well, and provide value on the rebound. Premiership Eagles James Rowe and Jacob Wehr will also attract interest. Rowe is a small forward with excellent smarts and natural ability, while Wehr is a rebounding defender with class who was struggling for Reserves games not too long ago.

Victoria:

Despite not getting the chance to put in a full top-age season, there are a bunch of Victorians that have put their hands up for draft bolter status with impressive preseason showings and testing performances. Hulking Sandringham Dragons ruck Max Heath is near the top of the pile after returning dominant trial games. He took on some stern advice after his bottom-age year and came back a different player, throwing his weight around as an aggressive tall who can impose himself on the contest.

Northern Knights product Liam Kolar is in a similar boat after his preseason efforts, making for a steep rise having come from a soccer and athletics background. The raw tall debuted late last year for the Knights but seemed to have hit new heights in 2020 with his speed-endurance mix and rate of development impressing onlookers all the way back in March. Matt Allison and Fraser Rosman are other dynamic talls with great athleticism and upside who have entered the conversation.

Sandringham not only lays claim to Heath in the bolter category, but has also seen the likes of Luke Cleary, Max Holmes, and Lachlan Carrigan burst onto the scene. All three come in at over 189cm and can play in multiple roles. Holmes is the son of Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Lee Naylor, while Carrigan’s genetics have seen him benefit from a massive growth spurt which has coincided with his overall footballing development as a wingman.

One who has come from arguably the furthest back is Corey Preston, who earned a draft combine invite this year despite not having yet made his NAB League debut. The 180cm Eastern Ranges graduate is a midfielder/forward with nice athletic traits. Speaking of, Oakleigh’s Conor Stone has really cemented himself among the top-end group of late. He booted five goals on his NAB League debut last year and was part of the Chargers’ premiership side.

Among the ranks in country regions, Geelong’s stacked top-age cohort includes the likes of Blake Reid and Charlie Ham. Reid did some impressive things last year as the Falcons struggled to string results together, while Ham is a late bloomer much like elder brother, Brayden of Essendon. Both players earned combine invites and performed well, just like new 2km time trial record holder Harry Sharp. The former steeplechaser was primed for a big year after showing nice glimpses as a hard working wingman/small forward for Greater Western Victoria.

Western Australia:

Much like the South Australian crop, those from the West have benefitted greatly from being able to prove their worth on-field in a compromised year. Even before then, 204cm Claremont ruck Kalin Lane loomed as a massive bolter in 2020 after being included in the West Australian academy hub. It came after just one bottom-age appearance and he repaid the faith with an outstanding top-age campaign at Colts level.

Isiah Winder also hit great heights this year and was a standout combine tester come season’s end. He earned plenty of plaudits for his breakout performance in last year’s WAFL Colts Grand Final and has since transitioned from a small forward role to impact through midfield and even earn a League debut with Peel Thunder. Along with Lane, he is a developmental option with plenty of desirable traits for his role.

Among the smokies to have come on strongly are Tyler Brockman and Jaiden Hunter. Brockman is an exciting small forward/midfielder with great speed and goal sense, while Hunter is a tall usually accustomed to key defensive duties, but made to take on Perth’s primary ruck role at 194cm. His athleticism and mobility are outstanding. Claremont pair Jack Avery and Logan Young also enjoyed stellar campaigns in 2020, with Avery a promising intercept defender, and Young a reliable midfield ball winner.

Featured Image: South Adelaide bolter Brayden Cook gets a kick away | Credit: Nick Hook/SANFL

High stakes training: Vic prospects take the field ahead of draft day

VICTORIAN AFL Draft prospects hit the track one last time before draft day, strutting their stuff at Highgate Reserve in a one-off training session on Wednesday. The meet served as a final chance for recruiters to survey the talent available in this year’s pool, just a week out from draft day on December 9.

Players who earned Draft Combine invites in September were split into two major groups, initially separating those from country and metropolitan regions, before being divided even further into small drill groups of five to seven participants. Among those on display were potential number one picks Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and Elijah Hollands, the latter of which participated in a running program amid his recovery from a preseason ACL tear.

Draft Central analyst Ed Pascoe was on hand in Craigieburn to recap all the action and give an insight into how things panned out.

>> Download our FREE AFL Draft Guide

RECAP:

By: Ed Pascoe

A sense of irony came over me walking into Highgate Reserve, the same ground I last got to watch a lot of these young players back on March 15, right before Covid derailed the Victorian football season. It was a Northern Knights vs. Oakleigh Chargers trial game on that day and the ground was bustling with keen onlookers, many the same faces I would see today and it was great to see the development of some of these players. One of the big matchups in March was Nikolas Cox vs. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan which looked to be a clash we would see if the National Championships went ahead. Fast forward a few months and both players have bulked up, looking as sharp as ever in the lead up to the most important time of their lives.

To start the day it was the Vic Metro based players who were split into four training groups with the following participants:

Group A

Ewan Macpherson
Reef McInnes
Bailey Laurie
Archie Perkins
Will Phillips
Conor Stone

Group B

Cody Brand
Nikolas Cox
Josh Eyre
Liam Kolar
Ollie Lord

Group C

Jake Bowey
Josh Clarke
Connor Downie
Max Holmes
Finlay Macrae
Corey Preston

Group D

Matthew Allison
Lachlan Carrigan
Luke Cleary
Eddie Ford
Liam McMahon
Fraser Rosman

Injured Group

Max Heath
Campbell Edwardes

Vic Country players would later take the field and were split into three main groups:

Group A

Cameron Fleeton
Zach Reid
Josh Treacy
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Henry Walsh

Group B

Ryan Angwin
Will Bravo
Jack Ginnivan
Charlie Lazzaro
Zavier Maher
Blake Reid
Harry Sharp

Group C

Dominic Bedendo
Sam Berry
Tanner Bruhn
Clayton Gay
Oliver Henry
Seamus Mitchell
Nick Stevens

Injured Group (Laps)

Elijah Hollands
Charlie Ham
Noah Gribble

There were four main drills conducted after a warm-up; with ground balls, marking, kicking, and handballing the respective focus areas. The ground ball drill involved taking half volleys, running towards the loose ball coming from behind them, taking on the bump bag and finally working in pairs to pick the ball up cleanly under pressure from a teammate.

The marking drill was changed slightly as the day went on but the main focuses were receiving a high ball before getting called to a certain colour cone to run to, turn, and then meet at the drop zone of the ball. Contested marking was the final focus, with two players coming from either the back or front to contest a mark. This drill was certainly the most competitive and one of the drills players had the most fun in, with plenty wanting just ‘one more go’.

The kicking and handballing drills were fairly standard with a three-man weave, and a short to long stationary handball among the handball drills. The kicking drills consisted of kicking to a stationary target often 45 degrees to another player, and finally a drill which involved kicking to a leading player which really separated the better kickers on the day – especially in the notoriously windy conditions at Highgate Reserve.

Overall, it was a great day for the players to get a run while bonding with some former teammates and potentially future teammates. It was also a nice little refresher for scouts and recruiters as well, who got to see how some of these players have progressed both in their football and in their body. It is hard to gauge who would be considered the ‘standouts’ from this training session but most players put in the effort required and it was also good to see some really get involved with coaches and looking for advice in certain drills, showing their commitment to getting the best out of themselves.

Top 10s: 2020 National AFL Draft Combine

AFL DRAFT combines have wrapped up around the nation, giving an insight into how each elite level hopeful stacks up athletically. For most prospects, it was a chance to showcase just how much they had improved since preseason, especially after a full season of football – albeit compromised. For the Victorians in action, they finally got to show their wares after a substantial amount of time away from the field, with a number of them registering results indicative of remarkably hard work in the meantime.

Having taken a look at the top 10 results from each test, we now look back at the combines as a whole to further put under the microscope those who performed well across the board. Needless to say, these athletes can certainly play too, with plenty of first round prospects scattered across the pointy end of each leaderboard. Furthermore, these are the players who have earned National Combine invites; meaning they have done so at the request of at least three-four AFL clubs, or by having previously earned passage into their respective academy hubs.

>> SCROLL for all the top 10 results

Among the top overall performers, three West Australians managed top 10 results across four different tests. Peel Thunder’s Isiah Winder is arguably the best draft prospect of the lot, a classy small midfielder who achieved top two results in the standing vertical jump and running vertical jump (right). To top it off, he also came fifth in the 20m sprint and sixth in the agility test. He uses all those traits on-field too, and looms as a potential second round pick. West Perth defender Kellen Johnson and Fremantle Next Generation Academy (NGA) member Chris Walker were the other two WA products to complete the feat, doing so in all three jumps and the agility test.

Godfrey Okerenyang, who took out the 2018 AFL Grand Final sprint and comes from a strong athletics background, was the only other player to manage top 10 results in four different tests. The GWS Academy hopeful leapt for the biggest standing vertical jump (84cm) and running vertical jump (right, 92cm), while also placing third in the 20m sprint. His podium finish in the running vertical jump (left) rounded out the four-peat. He looms as a more prospective pick at this year’s draft, having only recently committed to pursuing a footballing career.

Another two high-upside late chances who are already tied to clubs in Josh Eyre (Essendon, NGA) and Aiden Fyfe (Gold Coast, Academy) each racked up hat-tricks of top 10 features. Like most of the others, they were prominent in the jumping tests, while also respectively running the eight and ninth-best 20m times. In the most compromised draft crop ever, the likes of Reef McInnes (Collingwood NGA) took out first place in the speed test with a searing time of 2.78 seconds, while Sydney Academy member Braeden Campbell and Bulldogs NGA gun Jamarra Ugle-Hagan were also among that top 10 with equal times of 2.90 seconds. The latter two are expected to attract bids within the top 10.

There were plenty of other first round prospects to light up the track, too. WA key defenders Denver Grainger-Barras and Heath Chapman showed their wares in the agility and endurance departments respectively, while fellow sandgroper Jack Carroll was a standout jumper – even while sporting a cast on his broken wrist. Archie Perkins was another to impress in multiple categories, with Vic Metro hub teammates Finlay Macrae and Nikolas Cox acing the 2km time trial. Others to excel across the board included Nathan O’Driscoll, a second round candidate, and Brodie Lake, who hails from the Northern Territory but made the move to South Australia this year. He is eligible to be pre-listed by the Gold Coast Suns via their access to the Darwin zone.

NATIONWIDE AFL DRAFT COMBINE TOP 10s

Standing Vertical Jump:

1. Godfrey Okerenyang (GWS Academy) – 84cm
=2. Isiah Winder (Peel Thunder) – 76cm
=2. Pierce Roseby (Sydney Academy) – 76cm
=4. Jack Carroll (East Fremantle) – 74cm
=4. Chris Walker (East Fremantle) – 74cm
=6. Kellen Johnson (West Perth) – 73cm
=6. Shannon Neale (South Fremantle) – 73cm
8. Harry Grant (GWS Academy) – 70cm
=9. Jaiden Hunter (Perth) – 69cm
=9. Sam Frost (GWS Academy) – 69cm

Running Vertical Jump (R):

=1. Godfrey Okerenyang (GWS Academy) – 92cm
=1. Isiah Winder (Peel Thunder) – 92cm
=3. Seamus Mitchell (Bendigo Pioneers) – 91cm
=3. Archie Perkins (Sandringham Dragons) – 91cm
5. Chris Walker (East Fremantle) – 90cm
=6. Josh Eyre (Calder Cannons) – 87cm
=6. Denver Grainger-Barras (Swan Districts) – 87cm
=8. Liam McMahon (Northern Knights) – 86cm
=8. Shannon Neale (South Fremantle) – 86cm
=10. 4x players (Isaac Chugg, Aiden Fyfe, Jack Carroll, Kellen Johnson)

Running Vertical Jump (L):

1. Dominic Bedendo (Murray Bushrangers) – 99cm
=2. Godfrey Okerenyang (GWS Academy) – 95cm
=2. Aiden Fyfe (Gold Coast Academy) – 95cm
=4. Kellen Johnson (West Perth) – 94cm
=4. Sam Berry (Gippsland Power) – 94cm
=4. Brodie Lake (NT Thunder/Central District) – 94cm
=4. Jack Briskey (Brisbane Academy) – 94cm
=4. Eddie Ford (Western Jets) – 94cm
=9. Chris Walker (East Fremantle) – 93cm
=9. Josh Eyre (Calder Cannons) – 93cm

20m Sprint:

1. Reef McInnes (Oakleigh Chargers) – 2.78 seconds
2. Max Holmes (Sandringham Dragons) – 2.80
3. Godfrey Okerenyang (GWS Academy) – 2.86
4. Liam Kolar (Northern Knights) – 2.87
5. Isiah Winder (Peel Thunder) – 2.873
=6. Zavier Maher (Murray Bushrangers) – 2.89
=6. Seamus Mitchell (Bendigo Pioneers) – 2.88
8. Joshua Eyre (Calder Cannons) – 2.89
9. Aiden Fyfe (Gold Coast Academy) – 2.898
=10. Braeden Campbell (Sydney Academy) – 2.90
=10. Fraser Rosman (Sandringham Dragons) – 2.90
=10. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Oakleigh Chargers) – 2.90

Agility Test:

1. Brodie Lake (NT Thunder/Central District) – 7.90 seconds
2. Mitchell Duval (West Adelaide) – 7.98
3. Harry Grant (GWS Academy) – 8.00
4. Nathan O’Driscoll (Perth) – 8.12
5. Denver Grainger-Barras (Swan Districts) – 8.13
6. Isiah Winder (Peel Thunder) – 8.18
7. Marc Sheather (Sydney Academy) – 8.23
=8. Kellen Johnson (West Perth) – 8.27
=8. Chris Walker (East Fremantle) – 8.27
10. Taj Schofield (WWT Eagles) – 8.31

2km Time Trial:

1. Harry Sharp (GWV Rebels) – 5 minutes, 28 seconds
2. Fraser Rosman (Sandringham Dragons) – 5:52
3. Liam Kolar (Northern Knights) – 6:02
4. Nikolas Cox (Northern Knights) – 6:03
5. Sam Berry (Gippsland Power) – 6:10
6. Ryan Angwin (Gippsland Power) – 6:11
=7. Matthew Allison (Calder Cannons) – 6:17
=7. Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh Chargers) – 6:17
9. Heath Chapman (West Perth) – 6:20
=10. Nathan O’Driscoll (Perth) – 6:23
=10. Archie Perkins (Sandringham Dragons) – 6:23
=10. Will Bravo (Dandenong Stingrays) – 6:23

>> Power Rankings: November Update

Combine results in full:
Jumps
20m Sprint
Agility
2km

Preseason testing results:
Jumps
20m Sprint
Agility
Yo-yo

Featured Image: Oakleigh’s Finlay Macrae runs the 20-metre sprint | Credit: Graham Denholm/AFL Photos

Draft Central Power Rankings: November 2020

THE PENULTIMATE edition of Draft Central’s 2020 Power Rankings is in, as AFL Draft combines, All-Star fixtures, and state league finals from around the country have all now been wrapped up. Victorian talents finally got to show their wares, albeit only for combine tests, but gave a glimpse into how they have grown and developed without any on-field action this year. It sees a bunch of shuffles made, with a couple of big movers and sliders among our top 30, while two key defenders make their push for the top 10.

There are no completely fresh faces from the list compiled in our October edition, as the top five shapes up quite consistently to see most of the movement made between ranks 10 and 20. Nearly a third of the 30 players featured in our analysis are already tied to AFL clubs, only further confirming the tag this year’s crop holds as the most compromised ever. All that, and more in Draft Central’s November Power Rankings update.

Note, the list is ordered purely on our opinion and each players’ ability, not taking into account any AFL clubs’ lists or needs.

>> 2020 Draft Profiles

#1 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 195cm | 90kg

Western Bulldogs fans may not entirely enjoy seeing Next Generation Academy (NGA) product, Ugle-Hagan perched atop the tree given the hefty price that comes with it, but should be buoyed by their club having first dibs on such a remarkable talent. The 195cm key position forward has been compared to champion goalkicker Lance Franklin for his athleticism and left-foot kick, but he plays a little differently. Ugle-Hagan’s pace off the lead and sticky hands overhead set him apart, while elite scores in each of the combine testing events make him an irresistible prospect alone. He has long been the consensus number one choice, having delivered on the hype as he moved to the Oakleigh region via a scholarship with Scotch College.

October Ranking: #1

Last Month: Ugle-Hagan was able to showcase his athleticism at the Vic Metro Draft Combine, registering terrific results across the board. He again ran a sub-three-second 20-metre sprint and weighed in six kilos heavier than in preseason, hinting at his development in strength which will be important as he enters the AFL system as a tall forward. He remains the consensus number one, despite seeing no on-field action in 2020.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#2 Elijah Hollands
Murray Bushrangers/Vic County | Forward/Midfielder
25/04/2002 | 188cm | 80kg

Hollands’ placing in these rankings initially proved one of the hardest to call, especially given he sat out the entire 2020 season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). At this point though, he has done more than enough to warrant top five status at the least, and finds a place in second spot once again. While his knack for producing game-defining periods has most significantly been achieved forward of centre, Hollands has the size and skill to warrant his goal of earning more midfield minutes. With clean hands, athleticism, and a booming boot which often finds the goals, Hollands is all you could ever want from a high-ceiling prospect. Not playing shouldn’t hurt his value too much, especially given the fate of his fellow Victorians, but it would have been nice to see him get an uninterrupted crack at NAB League level having finished his schooling at Caulfield Grammar.

October Ranking: #2

Last Month: Hollands earned an invite to the Draft Combine but while he is said to be recovering well from his ACL injury sustained during preseason, was not quite ready to participate. He should be ready to go early next year and holds his spot at number two, as he has done all year.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#3 Logan McDonald
Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 196cm | 86kg

A dominant key position forward with terrific endurance is McDonald, who adds to the strong tall and West Australian representation on this list. The high-marking spearhead ran out for his state thrice during last year’s Under 18 National Championships, averaging a goal per game and impressing with his ability to clunk marks leading up the ground. He has terrific hands on the lead and usually has no trouble finding the big sticks, while his high-level endurance confirms his status as a true, modern-day centre half-forward. Having grown and filled out to a more conventional key position size, McDonald has showcased his game-winning ability from forward of centre in 2020 – something which earned him All-Australian honours as an Under 16s player. He booted 21 goals in nine WAFL League games this year, an outstanding return.

October Ranking: #3

Last Month: After helping Perth to its first WAFL League finals series in over 20 years, McDonald also performed well at the Western Australia Draft Combine; registering a time of 3.029 seconds over 20 metres, and 6:33 over 2km to showcase his speed-endurance mix. He also booted multiple goals in the first WA Under 18 All-Stars game, but missed the second with calf soreness.

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus | Player Focus

#4 Denver Grainger-Barras
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
14/04/2002 | 194cm | 78kg

Another tall among the top five, and a versatile one at that. While Grainger-Barras is definitely most comfortable and renowned as a key position defender, the Swan Districts hopeful’s versatility lies in the varying roles he play inside defensive 50. Credit to his athleticism and slender frame, he is able to keep up with medium types at ground level, while also showing form as a lockdown type on the opposition’s best big forward, or as an intercept marking outlet. Grainger-Barras is a cool head in possession too, boasting a sound kick for his size and composure beyond his years. That same level-headedness and footballing IQ makes him a sound reader of the play from the back, and the leading option in his position.

October Ranking: #4

Last Month: Grainger-Barras was another to impress at the WA Draft Combine with terrific results in the vertical jumps, speed, and agility tests. He also performed on-field in both WA Under 18 All-Star showcases, assuming his usual key defensive post and intercepting well before being thrown forward to boot a couple of goals in game two. He remains quite lean, but is super athletic and a lock for top five status.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup
>> Player Focus | Player Focus

#5 Will Phillips
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
22/05/2002 | 180cm | 80kg

We all marvelled at how well Oakleigh graduates Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson have adapted to life in the AFL, and Phillips could be the next Charger in line to do just that having leant on the pair during his bottom-aged campaign. Like Rowell, Phillips is a 180cm prospect who consistently finds plenty of the ball and possesses great leadership qualities. He is a well-balanced midfielder too, having plied his trade at times on the outside for Oakleigh en route to premiership glory. Phillips seems to thrive on the inside though, with his hardness and ability to weave through traffic making him an invaluable stoppage asset. The Caulfield Grammar student was set to juggle APS football and NAB League duties in 2020, while standing as a clear leadership candidate for Vic Metro come national carnival time – all before the pandemic hit.

October Ranking: #5

Last Month: Rounding out a rather settled top five, Phillips cut quite a powerful figure at the Vic Metro Draft Combine. He registered a 2.91-second 20-metre sprint time, while also faring well in the 2km time trial (6:38), which is shown in his toe away from congestion, and ability to run all day. Phillips firms as arguably the best pure midfielder in the draft.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#6 Riley Thilthorpe
West Adelaide/South Australia | Ruck/Key Position Forward
7/07/2002 | 201cm | 100kg

In a welcome change from last year’s crop, key position prospects will be in abundance at the top end. Thilthorpe is one of them, an athletic ruck/forward who possesses enormous running capacity and can dominate the airways. In his ruck duties, the 201cm West Adelaide product plays more like a fourth midfielder, able to follow up at ground level and cover the ground like a small. He has been utilised in a more forward-oriented role for the Bloods at SANFL League level though, with his goalkicking attributes and diverse skillset already making him a handful for senior players with more mature bodies. Ask any of the South Australian Under 18s who they were most looking forward to playing alongside in 2020, and Thilthorpe was almost always among them. Jot the name down, he should be among those you are most looking forward to watching, too.

October Ranking: #6

Last Month: The South Australian big man has not been able to finish off his year as he would have liked, sidelined since Round 9 of the 14-game SANFL season, while also deemed unable to participate in his state’s Draft Combine and Under 18 All-Stars clash. Groin niggles have been the cause of his injury concerns of late, with that durability factor looming as a potential dampener to his top five hopes. It hasn’t set him any further down our list though, as he is still one of the more versatile key position options.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

#7 Tanner Bruhn
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
27/05/2002 | 183cm | 74kg

Class with a capital ‘C’ is what Bruhn has been described as, despite his limited on-field opportunities over the last two years. The Geelong Falcons midfielder burst onto the scene as Vic Country’s Under 16 MVP in 2018, but injuries have cruelled him since; having initially required knee surgery after a 2019 preseason incident, and undergone a follow-up procedure that would have had him in doubt to feature early this year. He still managed to add two NAB League outings to his resume towards the end of last season, showcasing his terrific stoppage craft with clean hands and wonderful movement around the ball. Should he eventually enjoy an extended run and put his best form on display at the next level, Bruhn could well prove to be the premier midfielder of this year’s bunch.

October Ranking: #8

Last Month: Bruhn seems to have achieved a clean run since his preseason setback, looking strong at the Vic Country Draft Combine with a solid 2km time of 6:40. He also fared well in the vertical jumps, which is not particularly a key feature of his game, but rather showcases the athleticism he is capable of producing with a full bill of health. He moves up a spot and can hopefully build some more consistency going forward.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#8 Braeden Campbell
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Balanced Midfielder/Forward
4/02/2002 | 181cm | 75kg

While he has again been squeezed out to number eight, Campbell is a player with the potential to end up a top five player out of this year’s crop. Uncertainty lingered over how much exposure NSW/ACT athletes would be able to gain in 2020 given the NEAFL and NAB League scrappings, but one must only watch last year’s Under 17 Futures All-Star showcase to be reminded of Campbell’s talent. He was best-afield in that game, with electrifying speed, hardness at the ball, and a booming left-foot kick catching the eye of all who bore witness. The Swans Academy product is also apt in the short range as well, and has the invaluable ability to impact games in multiple positions. Whether it be on the inside, outside, or forward of centre, Campbell is a match-winner and should cost the Swans a pretty penny in terms of draft points.

October Ranking: #7

Last Month: Campbell’s Pennant Hills Demons were knocked out in week one of the AFL Sydney Premier Division, with the Swans Academy youngster booting a goal in that particular game. He finished with nine from six games overall, while twice being named among the Demons’ best. At the NSW/ACT Draft Combine, Campbell again showcased his high-level speed and agility, but registered a 2km time of over seven minutes.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup
>> Player Focus

#9 Lachlan Jones
WWT Eagles/South Australia | General Defender
9/04/2002 | 186cm | 89kg

Yet another NGA prospect, Jones is tied to Port Adelaide and features quite highly on this list as he pushes for top 10 honours. His big frame has seen him adjust well to the rigours of SANFL League football, running out against mature bodies in all bar one of the Eagles’ fixtures this year. As a general defender, Jones possesses obvious hardness at the ball and can compete both aerially and at ground level, remaining relevant going both ways too. His skills are also a big asset, able to spear passes to high percentage options while also breaking games open with his long-range efforts. Jones may well be one to push further up the list as he progresses in 2020, with some solid traits which point to a quick transition into the next level.

October Ranking: #9

Last Month: Jones became a SANFL League premiership player in October, finding his groove come finals time to average 16.7 disposals and 4.3 marks in the postseason. He also capped off an outstanding 16-game season by winning mark of the year, but was managed as the SA Draft Combine and Under 18 All-Stars fixture came around. His on-field performances proved plenty though, showcasing his wares as a potential top 10 talent.

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus Round 3 Round 8

#10 Zach Reid
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Key Position Defender/Utility
2/03/2002 | 202cm | 83kg

A versatile tall who could push for top 10 status come draft time, Reid returned a consistent output during his bottom-age season as a key member of Gippsland’s spine. He was tried up either end and through the ruck across 15 NAB League outings, but looked most comfortable down back and should find a home there at the next level. At 202cm, Reid is filling out nicely and can utilise that added strength to compete better one-on-one against big key forwards. He is a terrific judge of the ball in flight and positions intelligently, not just relying on his height to compete aerially. Reid is also both a sound handler and user of the ball for his size, providing a cool head in rebounding transitions. He managed to run out for Leongatha’s Under 18s in July before the season was called off, proving a rare appearance for a Victorian prospect.

October Ranking: #14

Last Month: Reid strengthened his standing as a potential top 10’er at the Vic Country Draft Combine, faring typically well in the vertical jumps with feats of 82cm off either foot. He also registered a 2km time of 6:39, showcasing outstanding mobility and endurance for a player of his size.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#11 Heath Chapman
West Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
31/01/2002 | 192cm | 81kg

A player who has risen steeply into top 15 calculations, Chapman is a key position defender with many points of difference. Having cut his teeth in the role during his bottom-age year, the 192cm prospect has been able to roll off as a third tall down back for West Perth in 2020, utilising his shrewd reading of the play and athleticism to provide a dominant intercept marking prowess. His ability to open up the play in transition with long, rebounding kicks is Chapman’s other key strength, making him a versatile defensive outlet who finds plenty of the ball. Given his size and athletic attributes, that third tall prototype seems his most likely avenue to the elite level, though he is just as capable competing as a more traditional key position player.

October Ranking: #16

Last Month: Chapman put in a couple of solid showings in the Western Australia Under 18 All-Star matches, taking up his usual post at centre half-back. While he is an attacking threat from his own half, Chapman was also forced to show his defensive wares in game two as he matched up on Denver Grainger-Barras, who had swung forward. At the WA combine, Chapman achieved an outstanding 2km time of 6:20, which translates to his repeat running and chain possessions in rebounding forays. He makes another move up to #11.

>> Draft Watch

#12 Alex Davies
Gold Coast SUNS/Allies | Inside Midfielder
18/03/2002 | 192cm | 85kg

A second Northern Academy prospect and the first Queenslander on this list, Davies is one of the more highly touted big-bodied midfielders of his cohort. Standing at 192cm and filling out to 85kg, the SUNS Academy hopeful boasts the ideal size to not only dominate his junior competitors, but more importantly make an immediate impact at the next level. He has been his state’s prime ball winner for some time and thrives on racking up high contested numbers, but has also displayed terrific poise in traffic to add releasing handballs to his thumping kicks away from the stoppages. He ran out for four of Gold Coast’s NAB League outings as a bottom-ager, and looked set to prove a lynchpin among the Allies squad in 2020.

October Ranking: #12

Last Month: The SUNS Academy prospect has been out of action since injuring his elbow in early-August, seeing him miss the Academy Series, Broadbeach’s run to the Senior QAFL Grand Final, and also sit out the Queensland Draft Combine. It will not stop him from proving Queensland’s best talent this year, en route to being pre-listed by Gold Coast.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#13 Nikolas Cox
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Key Position Utility
15/01/2002 | 200cm | 87kg

A 200cm player who can run, kick on both sides, and play just about anywhere? It sounds too good to be true, but that is exactly what Cox brings to the table as his region’s most outstanding draft candidate. Cox cut his teeth as a tall wingman and key position swingman in 2019, juggling his time between school football, 10 NAB League outings, and a berth in the Under 18 Vic Metro squad as a bottom-ager. In 2020, the Northern Knights co-captain was set to develop as a centre-half back, with his athleticism and versatility in the role lending to the fact he has an enormous ceiling. He was also set to be a prime candidate to lead Vic Metro this year, lauded for his professionalism and the example he sets via training standards.

October Ranking: #11

Last Month: Cox remains a player with enormous upside despite not featuring on-field in 2020. He was a feature at the Vic Metro Draft Combine, notching a sub-three-second 20-metre sprint, while also completing the 2km time trial in 6:03. That rare athletic base for a player of his size sees him stick within our top 15, even as he shuffles down a couple of spots.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#14 Nathan O’Driscoll 
Perth/Western Australia | Balanced Midfielder
17/05/2002 | 187cm | 78kg

One of Western Australia’s leading prospects is O’Driscoll, a hard-at-it inside midfielder who can also double as a damaging half-back or wingman. The 187cm Perth Demons product was a standout at Colts level last year, while also breaking through for three outings in the Black Ducks’ Under 18 National Championships campaign as a bottom-ager. Having learnt off the likes of former Perth teammate and Brisbane draftee, Deven Robertson, O’Driscoll is primed to become a permanent midfield fixture having already proven his ball winning capabilities. His penetrating boot and speed-endurance mix make him a prospect with many desirable traits, not to mention his older sister, Emma is already plying her trade at AFLW level for Fremantle.

October Ranking: #10

Last Month: A shoulder injury kept O’Driscoll from running out in the WA Under 18 All-Star fixtures after previously managing a handful of senior games for Perth in the WAFL. In between, the 18-year-old midfielder returned some outstanding results across the board at the WA Draft Combine; namely a 6:23 2km time, and 2.931 seconds over 20 metres. He falls a touch as others rise, with his range still contentious among draft watchers.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup
>> Player Focus

#15 Kaine Baldwin
Glenelg/South Australia | Key Position Forward
30/05/2002 | 193cm | 90kg

The news of Baldwin’s second ACL tear in as many years – albeit partial this time – was shattering. It meant the promising 193cm forward missed out on yet another season of football after earning All Australian honours at Under 16s level in 2018, and a crack at the SANFL Reserves grade as a bottom-ager. In our eyes, he remains a first round prospect on talent alone, and looked poised to really crack on in 2020 after his initial recovery. He was a handy preseason testing performer, with good returns in the vertical jumps and yo-yo test conveying Baldwin’s ability to crash packs and clunk big contested marks, while also harnessing that aerial dominance in his work up the ground.

October Ranking: #15

Last Month: Baldwin has been inactive all year after partially tearing his ACL on the eve of the 2020 season, but was sighted helping out at the SA Draft Combine despite not participating. He keeps his spot at #15, though that will likely be far from indicative of his final draft range given the severe injury concerns.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#16 Oliver Henry
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Medium Utility
29/07/2002 | 188cm | 77kg

A brother-of who could eventually feature at the top end of this year’s rankings is Henry, the younger sibling of Geelong Cats defender, Jack. The Geelong Falcons product has top 10 potential, able to play up either end of the ground and pull down big marks. While he looks most comfortable up forward as a high-flying third tall type, Henry is just as capable down back where his aerial prowess translates to intercept value. At 188cm, he plays above his size through sheer athleticism and reading of the play, with the potential to also move up onto a wing. If Victorian prospects had been allowed back onto the park in 2020, Henry would likely have been one to rise quite steeply given his enormous upside and versatility.

October Ranking: #17

Last Month: Despite not being able to prove himself on-field, Henry is a player who is being talked up right among the top 10 conversation. Given these are Power Rankings, and not a Phantom Draft, he remains just outside that range for now on what he produced last season. He performed solidly across the board at the Vic Country Draft Combine, getting a nice tick for his already evident athleticism and upside.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#17 Archie Perkins
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
26/03/2002 | 188cm | 79kg

Perkins has all the makings of a special talent. Having caught the eye as a forward and outside midfielder in 2019, the Sandringham Dragons standout was poised to spend more time on the inside as a top-ager, with just the right size and some incredible athletic attributes to aid his transition. Perkins boasts a monster vertical leap, covers 20 metres in less than three seconds, and is brilliantly agile, making for an ideal athletic base. His finishing touch is an area he can refine, but the 188cm prospect is no stranger to finding the goals and can be a real game changer when required. Damage and impact are key traits which often prove hard to measure, but Perkins ranks highly in both departments.

October Ranking: #18

Last Month: Another being talked up near the top 10 range, a lack of football in 2020 has Perkins perched around the 15-mark in our estimation. He could really be anything at the next level though, so don’t be surprised to see him rise in stocks as draft time approaches. Another incredible athlete, Perkins registered ridiculous scores in the vertical leaps (over 90cm off both feet), 20-metre sprint (2.93 seconds), and 2km time trial (6:23) to only confirm his status as one of the most promising talents available in the first round.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#18 Reef McInnes
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
12/12/2002 | 193cm | 86kg

Sliding down the order due to others’ rises is another inside midfielder and a second NGA product from both the Scotch College and Oakleigh Chargers systems. Attached to Collingwood, McInnes is set to be yet another in the production line of academy and father-son prospects made available to the Magpies, and looms as a first round candidate. While he was pushed out to the forward line in Oakleigh’s stacked premiership side, McInnes is a bull on the inside who can dominate at stoppages. He is hardly the typical slow, strength-dependant type either, able to lean on his agility and awareness to effectively extract from midfield. The versatility he was made to learn as a bottom-ager adds another string to his bow, with goals a valuable part of his game in 2019.

October Ranking: #13

Last Month: Arguably a harsh slider on this list, McInnes still very much ranks highly in our eyes. He is a first prospect on pure talent, but will more likely attract a bid within the second round. He has done all he could to prove his worth this year despite not playing any football, showcasing his power at the Vic Metro Draft Combine with a 20m sprint time of 2.78 seconds. No, that is not a typo. He cut a pretty lean figure at said event too, and looks to have kept in good shape despite a 2km time trial result of 7:10.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#19 Caleb Poulter
WWT Eagles/South Australia | Midfielder/Forward
12/10/2002 | 192cm | 79kg

One of this year’s brightest bolters, Poulter has rocketed up draft boards after an eye-catching start to his top-age season. The big-bodied midfielder brings a serious presence through midfield, able to win plenty of the ball himself while also hunting the opposition with tackling pressure. Add to his midfield craft the ability to take big marks overhead, hit the scoreboard with his penetrating left boot, and utilise his terrific athletic base, and you have a prospect who can wreak absolute havoc at his best. With some senior football also under his belt in 2020, Poulter has stood up and been noticed quickly. It has been a steep rise since his Under 16 carnival in South Australian colours last year.

October Ranking: #19

Last Month: It was a tough call not to push Poulter even higher up the board after his outstanding display in the SA Under 18 All-Stars clash. Fresh off averaging 21 touches in the Eagles’ SANFL Under 18 finals series, the tall midfielder was so classy in midfield with wonderfully clean hands and disposal. Going back a bit further, he also performed well in each test at his state’s Draft Combine and is surely knocking on the door of first round status.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch

#20 Errol Gulden
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Small Forward/Midfielder
18/07/2002 | 175cm | 75kg

Seemingly joined at the hip with fellow Swans Academy gun Braeden Campbell throughout their journey to the big time, Gulden has long been a highly-touted prospect. The small utility broke through to claim the Division 2 MVP award at the 2018 Under 16 National Championships, racking up mountains of the ball and kicking bags of goals. Since, he has carried such form into his outings with the Swans Academy, while also playing senior footy in the AFL Sydney Premier Division, and representing the Allies Under 18s last year. The crafty mover is small, but holds his own and is as naturally talented a prospect as there is this year.

October Ranking: #29

Last Month: Gulden is clearly the biggest riser this month after making the most of his time on-field in Sydney’s Premier Division competition. The diminutive midfielder showcased all his craftiness to help UNSW Bulldogs into a Grand Final and was named among the best players in the decider. Having snared 16 goals in his eight senior games, Gulden also came runner-up in the league’s best and fairest count, proving he can match it with more mature bodies. He ticks a lot of boxes and was able to showcase his endurance with a 2km time of 6:32 at the NSW/ACT Draft Combine. Swans fans and recruiters will be sweating on where a bid for Gulden comes, as he continues to push towards top 20 status.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#21 Tom Powell
Sturt/South Australia | Midfielder
2/03/2002 | 183cm | 74kg

There are few more consistent ball winners than Powell, who has put an interrupted bottom-age season behind him to emerge as arguably Sturt’s most promising draft prospect. The Double Blues standout simply finds the ball at will, able to get his side going on the front foot from midfield with clever positioning, movement, and extraction. He may be a touch handball happy, but is an elite exponent of that tool and is beginning to mix in his kicking to have an even greater impact on games. At his best, Powell is nothing short of dominant, though goals and a greater run-and-carry game would make him a complete midfielder – akin to Lachie Neale‘s development.

October Ranking: #21

Last Month: While unable to help steer Sturt to premiership glory in the SANFL Under 18s, Powell still finished the season as the competition’s most prolific ball winner. He lead the disposal and clearance stakes, averaging over 34 and nine in the respective categories to stamp his claim as one of this year’s premier midfielders. He put in a solid shift for a well-beaten side in the SA Under 18 All-Stars game, but did not test at the Draft Combine as he navigated finals time.

>> Feature (April) (September)
>> Draft Watch

#22 Finlay Macrae
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
13/03/2002 | 186cm | 78kg

You may recognise the name and yes, Finlay is the half-brother of Western Bulldogs midfielder, Jack. They are quite clearly cut from the same cloth, with the younger Macrae possessing a similar ball winning appetite and class on the ball to his established older sibling. The 186cm Charger also boasts a terrific balance in his traits, able to impact the play moving forward with sound decision making and precise execution via foot, on top of his obvious exploits in extraction. While he is not overly quick, Macrae’s evasiveness comes through agility and awareness, which would have been on full show as he prepared to feature prominently for Oakleigh, Xavier College, and Vic Metro in 2020.

October Ranking: #22

Last Month: Macrae holds his spot and could well push even higher considering how close this kind of range is. While he is another Victorian who was robbed of a top-age season, the classy Oakleigh product has grown nicely to 186cm/78kg and put in an outstanding 2km time of 6:17 at the Vic Metro Draft Combine. That side of the game is what he does well as a consistent ball winner, compared to the ultra-explosive components.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#23 Jack Carroll
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
20/12/2002 | 187cm | 76kg

One who has bolted into first round contention, Carroll has plenty of suitors in said range. Coming into his top-age season, the West Australian was pegged as a classy outside midfielder or half-back who moved well and used the ball efficiently by foot. But after nearly a full season of WAFL Colts football through midfield, the 187cm prospect has also shown his worth inside the engine room. Carroll measures up at a good height and while he may be a touch light, is not afraid to win his own ball before using his high-level agility and poise to weave through traffic and effectively dispose of the ball. A versatile talent with good upside, Carroll is destined to rise even further.

October Ranking: #23

Last Month: Carroll had his season cut short by a broken wrist in mid-September, meaning he missed out on the WA Under 18 All-Stars games and East Fremantle’s brief WAFL Colts finals stint. It did not stop him from testing at his state’s Draft Combine though, posting terrific results in each test but not completing the 2km time trial. It is enough to hold the #23 spot, though he is another with plenty of potential to rise.

>> Draft Watch

#24 Brayden Cook
South Adelaide/South Australia | Wing/Forward
18/07/2002 | 189cm | 82kg

Search for the 2020 AFL Draft bolter, and Cook’s name is likely the one you’ll find top of any list. The South Adelaide prospects has come from the clouds to not only put himself within draft contention, but right up into top 25 calculations. Plying his trade either up on a wing or inside forward 50, Cook is a game-winner who is capable of kicking bags of goals and taking eye-catching marks. His size allows him to not just rely on his vertical leap, but also out-work his opponents one-on-one, with his terrific goal sense often helping finish the job. Having put his name on the map, the wingman/forward can now look forward to featuring among his state’s All-Star showcase.

October Ranking: #24

Last Month: Cook did not quite finish the season as he would have liked, kept scoreless for the first time in 2020 as his side bowed out of the SANFL Under 18 finals. His previous body of work still stands up though, having led the league for goals and contested marks across a dozen outings. He could well be a top 20 talent given the profound impact he brings and the steep rise he has enjoyed this year. Cook performed solidly at the SA Draft Combine, but was managed and missed out on the Under 18 All-Stars match.

>> Draft Watch

#25 Zane Trew
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder
26/04/2002 | 185cm | 80kg

Trew is one of many top-end prospects who had to battle injury throughout their bottom-age seasons, but proved primed to bounce back well in 2020. Hailing from the talent-stacked Swan Districts program, Trew is a classy inside midfielder who can rack up plenty of ball in style, backed by his 40-disposal effort in last year’s WAFL Colts competition. While he was limited to just three outings and missed Under 18 selection for WA, the 185cm prospect should not be forgotten in top 25 discussions. Trew is a handball-happy extractor, able to flick out releasing touches to his runners, but he is just as effective by foot with clean skills at short range and penetration when required. He was a lock for the WA engine room this season in representative games and returned a good output when fully fit.

October Ranking: #20

Last Month: Trew was frustrated once again this year by some injury niggles, the latest of which (soreness) kept him from running out for game two of the WA Under 18 All Stars fixtures. He had his moments through midfield in game one without dominating, perhaps the product of his side being soundly beaten. Trew did manage to showcase some of his power at the Draft Combine though, registering a sub-three-second 20-metre sprint and vertical leaps of over 80cm off either side.

>> Draft Watch
>> Draft Diary 1 | 2
>> Marquee Matchup

#26 Joel Jeffrey
NT Thunder/Gold Coast SUNS/Allies | Key Position Utility
12/03/2002 | 192cm | 80kg

The sole representative from the Northern Territory in our top 30, Jeffrey is arguably the region’s most promising draft prospect this year. Having grown to 192cm, Jeffrey is a true swingman who can dominate aerially up either end. His reading of the ball in flight is exceptional, and his sticky hands do the rest of the work as he pulls down big marks. The son of NT legend Russell Jeffrey, Joel comes from good pedigree and is terrifically athletic for his size; boasting speed to burn, a sizeable leap, and clean hands at ground level. Having gained senior football experience with Wanderers in the NTFL, Jeffrey was set to move to Queensland this year given his ties to the Gold Coast SUNS via their access to the Darwin zone. The move was ultimately put on hold due to the current pandemic, but Jeffrey looks certain to end up in the Sunshine State come season’s end.

October Ranking: #25

Last Month: Jeffrey has not had much to do over the last month having already participated in Queensland’s Academy Series and Draft Combine. He showed glimpses of his athleticism during the fitness testing, running a 3.020-second 20-metre sprint but still requiring some work on his endurance base. He has great potential and versatility, with his ranking hardly relevant to the draft as Gold Coast will pre-list him without cost – a massive get for the SUNS.

>> Draft Watch

#27 Bailey Laurie
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
24/03/2002 | 179cm | 78kg

Another member of Oakleigh’s talent-rich 2019 premiership side, Laurie also features highly in our estimations. The small forward/midfielder is a livewire, and can take games away from the opposition quickly as a high-impact player. His forward running and wonderful agility make for some highlight-reel snippets, consisting of line-breaking bursts and baulks which make his opponents look silly. The Caulfield Grammar student is a great character and a teammate who others love to play alongside, adding a different element to his on-field prowess.

October Ranking: #27

Last Month: Laurie holds his spot at #27 and is a player who could well have lit up the field in 2020. Ultimately, we were unable to see what he could do after a promising 2019 NAB League finals series, but the Victorian showed his wares at the Vic Metro Draft Combine with improved results in the 20-metre sprint (3.06 seconds) and 2km time trial (6:24).

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#28 Brandon Walker
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Half-Back
17/10/2002 | 183cm | 75kg

Introducing one of the smoothest movers of the potential 2020 AFL draft cohort, who is tied to Fremantle’s NGA. Dockers fans will be desperate to downplay Walker’s potential, with elite speed, agility, and vertical leaps combined with clean skills to make up the East Fremantle prospect’s game. He looks a damaging outlet off half-back with his line-breaking ability and precision via foot, while also providing solid defensive cover credit to eye-catching aerial feats and reading of the play. Walker can also move through midfield, adding another string to his bow as he develops. His twin brother, Chris joins him at East Fremantle and in the Dockers Academy.

October Ranking: #26

Last Month: Walker was unable to build on his fantastic WAFL Colts season after sustaining a fractured foot in late-September. It meant he did not test at the WA Draft Combine, nor compete in the Under 18 All-Stars showcases, perhaps allowing Dockers fans to breathe a sigh of relief as the talents of their NGA product have been kept a touch under wraps.

>> Draft Watch

#29 Eddie Ford
Western Jets/Vic Metro | Medium Forward/Midfielder
21/06/2002 | 189cm | 83kg

If you’re after one of the best Under 18s highlight packages among this year’s crop, then look no further than Western’s Ford. The Jets’ leading prospect is capable of taking high marks, booting long goals, and bursting forward to break the lines with his explosive athleticism and speed. Having cut his teeth as a medium forward, the 189cm Victorian has recently requested tape of Fremantle skipper Nat Fyfe as he looks to sharpen his midfield craft. He certainly has the size and athletic profile to make the transition, and would have done so with some time on the park as a top-ager. You may remember his Under 17 Futures All-Stars performance from last year, which is what he can produce at his best. Consistency will be key.

October Ranking: #28

Last Month: Ford has grown a few centimetres since preseason and seems to be filling out nicely, coming in at 189cm and 83kg at the Vic Metro Draft Combine. The leading Western Jets product also showed off his athleticism at the event, notching a 94cm running vertical jump and 20-metre time of 2.95 seconds. We know how that translates to his form up forward, but it remains to be seen whether he can consistently provide the same excitement through midfield.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#30 Joel Western
Claremont/Western Australia | Small Midfielder/Forward
12/10/2002 | 172cm | 68kg

Fremantle’s NGA talent program has proven one of the more successful producers of AFL-level players since its inception, and Western is one of a few highly touted prospects set to take the next step in 2020. The Claremont captain took his side to a second consecutive WAFL Colts Grand Final after last year’s premiership triumph, overcoming some early injury concerns to run out an outstanding season. The small midfielder is all-class through the engine room, able to zip out of traffic and deliver the ball forward with freakish skill. As will be expected at the elite level, Western is also capable of playing up forward and even across half-back, making him a player with plenty of upside for Dockers fans to look forward to.

October Ranking: #30

Last Month: Western was best afield in game one of the WA Under 18 All-Stars, before dislocating his finger in game two and thus bringing an end to his year. The crafty small was also managed as his peers performed at the Draft Combine on account of having to lead Claremont to a second-straight WAFL Colts Grand Final appearance. He has done all he could on-field, and awaits a matched bid from Fremantle to stay at home base come draft time.

>> Draft Watch

IN THE MIX:

The recent All-Star fixtures and combines served as a nice refresher as to some of the names who may have flown under the radar this year. Despite not testing, Hawthorn NGA product and Eastern Ranges captain Connor Downie is a player close to the top 30 mark, as is diminutive midfielder Jake Bowey. Fellow Victorians Sam Berry and Conor Stone may also be considered in the second or third rounds, along with underrated midfielder Zavier Maher.

There are a few rucks who may also push their case, with Kalin Lane a late bloomer coming off an outstanding WAFL Colts campaign, while fellow West Australian Shannon Neale is a terrific athlete who also doubles as a key forward. Victorians Henry Walsh (the brother of Sam) and Max Heath are also worth mentions as they continue to develop, though do not have the same recent form to show having not been able to play in 2020.

South Australians who remain close include the likes of Zac Dumesny, Corey Durdin, and Luke Edwards, all of whom have long been highly-touted prospects. Adelaide NGA product Tariek Newchruch is coming off a promising All-Stars showing, as is NT native Brodie Lake, who holds ties to Gold Coast as part of its Darwin zone. Blake Coleman is another aligned to a club, arguably Brisbane’s best academy graduate this year.

Preseason testing analysis: Which State is the most agile?

THE current sporting hiatus serves as somewhat of an extended preseason for the nation’s brightest AFL Draft prospects, who will be itching to get back on the field. Aside from a few scratch matches on the eve of Round 1, much of the 2020 class has had little in the way of competition thus far.

But preseason testing always serves to get the competitive juices flowing, with players from each region and academy coming together to test where they rate athletically. Rookie Me hosted the preseason testing in Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania, while the AFL completed testing in Western Australia and NSW/ACT.

In our next analysis of the results from those days around the country, we take a look at the agility test scores and try to answer the question of ‘Which State is the most agile?’. We have compiled the top 10 scores from each State, an overall top 10, and averages from around the nation to help answer the question. Stay tuned for results across each test in the near future.

>> SCROLL DOWN FOR THE OVERALL TOP 10

STATE TOP 10’s

New South Wales:

1. Jordan Endemann (Sydney Swans Academy) – 8.23 seconds
=2. Cooper Wilson (Sydney Swans Academy) – 8.26
=2. Oscar Davis (Sydney Swans Academy) – 8.26
4. Harry Grant (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 8.306
5. Matthew McKenzie (Sydney Swans Academy) – 8.36
6. Fraser Kelly (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 8.367
7. Thomas Longmire (Sydney Swans Academy) – 8.41
8. Harrison Grintell (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 8.414
9. Marco Rossmann (Sydney Swans Academy) – 8.43
10. Kai Watts (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 8.441

Top 10 Average: 8.347 seconds (6th)

The Swans Academy again makes up most of the NSW top 10, with six talents making up the list – including the entire top three. Jordan Endemann again showcased his athleticism with the quickest time, while top-aged academy standout Marco Rossmann also snuck into the rankings. Harry Grant was GWS’ niftiest mover, clocking up a 8.306-second effort, with 2019 Under-16 State MVP Kai Watts rounding out the list. NSW was one of just two states not to boast a time under eight seconds.

Queensland:

1. Tahj Abberley (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 7.84 seconds
=2. Darcy Prest (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 7.86
=2. Caleb Hammond (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 7.86
4. Riley Buckland (Gold Coast SUNS Academy) – 7.97
5. Kirk McGrory (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 8.18
6. Billy Evers (Gold Coast SUNS Academy) – 8.19
7. Damon Eastwell (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 8.22
8. Will Tasker (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 8.23
9. Lochlan Harrop (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 8.24
10. Shaye Walsh (Gold Coast SUNS Academy) – 8.25

Top 10 Average: 8.084 seconds (2nd)

It was hardly a surprise to see Tahj Abberley again not only feature among the elite ranks for Queensland, but to also claim top spot for his scintillating 7.84-second run. A number of players also made their second and third features on top 10 lists with fantastic times, as the Lions’ academy made up for 70 per cent of the top 10, including the entire podium. The Queenslanders’ elites were the second-quickest on average.

South Australia:

1. Lachlan Grubb (Central District) – 7.94 seconds
2. Connor Willsmore (Sturt) – 8.05
3. James Willis (North Adelaide) – 8.06
4. Nasiah Wanganeen (Glenelg) – 8.11
=5. Jordan Kasianowicz (WWT Eagles) – 8.16
=5. Connor Blackwell (West Adelaide) – 8.16
7. Luke Mitton (South Adelaide) – 8.20
8. Jacob Godden (WWT Eagles) – 8.24
=9. Antonio Zappia (Norwood) – 8.25
=9. Riley Hughes (Central District) – 8.25

Top 10 Average: 8.142 seconds (4th)

SA Academy Hub gun Lachlan Grubb utilised every bit of his athletics background to notch his state’s best time as the sole athlete to clock in at under eight seconds. He, and fellow Bulldog Riley Hughes bookended the 10, while the likes of Connor Willsmore and Luke Mitton made yet another appearance among the top ranks. The Croweaters were once again middle of the road overall through, coming in fourth when compared to other states’ best figures.

Tasmania:

1. Isaac Chugg (Launceston) – 8.04 seconds
2. Jayden Hinds (Launceston) – 8.14
3. Will Peppin (North Hobart) – 8.17
4. Kye Chilcott (Launceston) – 8.26
5. Oliver Davis (Clarence) – 8.29
=6. Sam Tilley (Lauderdale) – 8.31
=6. Sam Foley (Launceston) – 8.31
8. Jack Rand (Devonport) – 8.32
9. Patrick Walker (North Hobart) – 8.34
10. Darcy Gardner (Clarence) – 8.38

Top 10 Average: 8.256 seconds (5th)

Former athletics ace Isaac Chugg was yet again the standout for Tasmania with his outstanding time of 8.04 seconds, though he could not quite become the only Tasmanian to sneak in under eight seconds. Allies Academy Hub members Oliver Davis and Patrick Walker put in solid showings with their times of around the 8.30-second mark, while former Academy member Will Peppin featured on the podium.

Victoria:

1. Blake Reid (Geelong Falcons) – 7.76 seconds
2. Charlie Lazzaro (Geelong Falcons) –  7.79
3. Harrison White (Western Jets) – 7.83
4. Oliver Wiltshire (Geelong Falcons) – 7.90
=5. Harvey Gallagher (Bendigo Pioneers) – 7.92
=5. Sam Butler (GWV Rebels) – 7.92
7. Bailey Laurie (Oakleigh Chargers) – 7.97
8. Harrison Keeling (Eastern Ranges) – 7.98
=9. 7.99 x3

Top 10 Average: 7.905 seconds (1st)

The quickest top 10 on average across the nation was Victoria, which was the sole state to have every time clock in at under eight seconds. Geelong Falcons products stood out among the massive talent pool, featuring thrice in the top four, with Blake Reid and Charlie Lazzaro managing the best two times. Oakleigh midfield/forward jet Bailey Laurie also ran well, coming in seventh as one of two National Academy members on the list.

Western Australia:

1. Ty Sears (Swan Districts) – 7.92 seconds
2. Jayden Peak (East Perth) – 8.02
=3. Seth Roberts (Claremont) – 8.08
=3. Zac Sanderson (Perth) – 8.08
5. Bailey Jenkin (Swan Districts) – 8.14
6. Saverio Marafioti (West Perth) – 8.18
=7. Denver Grainger-Barras (Swan Districts) – 8.19
=7. Zach Fleiner (West Perth) – 8.19
=7. Rohan Scurria (West Perth) – 8.19
10. Lyle Sibasado (Swan Districts) – 8.22

Top 10 Average: 8.121 seconds (3rd)

One of the top states in terms of their elite runners was again Western Australia, despite only having one athlete run the test in less than eight seconds. Ty Sears was that player, topping the list as one of four Swan Districts products to feature. Top WA draft hopeful Denver Grainger-Barras was one of three players to manage a time of 8.19 seconds, impressive for a key defender.

OVERALL TOP 10

1. Blake Reid (Geelong Falcons) – 7.76 seconds
2. Charlie Lazzaro (Geelong Falcons) –  7.79
3. Harrison White (Western Jets) – 7.83
4. Tahj Abberley (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 7.84
=5. Darcy Prest (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 7.86
=5. Caleb Hammond (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 7.86
7. Oliver Wiltshire (Geelong Falcons) – 7.90
=8. Harvey Gallagher (Bendigo Pioneers) – 7.92
=8. Sam Butler (GWV Rebels) – 7.92
=8. Ty Sears (Swan Districts) – 7.92

An absolutely rapid top 10 was dominated by Victorians, who made up for each podium place and over half of the list overall. Reid and Lazzaro were joined by Harrison White in the top three, with Queenslander Abberley the best non-Victorian runner, followed by two of his fellow Brisbane Academy teammates. Sears made it three states represented, sneaking into the 10 as the lone West Australian.

STATE AGAINST STATE:

1. Queensland – 8.55
2. Victoria – 8.56
3. Tasmania – 8.69
4. South Australia – 8.76
5. NSW/ACT – 8.82
6. Western Australia – 8.89

While Victoria may have dominated the top 10, having the largest talent pool brought its overall average down – albeit only to second place. Queensland proved the best state for sideways movement, edging into top spot while Tasmania filled out the podium. In a change from the yo-yo and 20m sprint results, Western Australia and NSW/ACT were the worst ranked states, even despite the former boasting a very good top 10.

Top athletes star at National Draft Combine

AFTER a huge year of football, the nation’s top footballers battled it out for athletic honours last week at the National Draft Combine. A number of top-end talents took out individual tests, while others put their name forward to recruiters because of improvement in certain areas.

Gut-running Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels’ athlete Jay Rantall took out both the 2km time trial and the yo-yo test, sharing the latter with Geelong Falcons’ co-captain Cooper Stephens. In the speed tests, it was Northern Knights’ Sam Philp who clocked a speed of 2.867 seconds in the 20-metre sprint to take it out, with West Australian Ben Johnson the only other player to record under 2.9 seconds. Top five hopeful, Hayden Young took out the agility test, bettering his pre-season effort to record a lightning quick 7.940 seconds to be the sole player under eight seconds. For the jumps, it was Miles Bergman and Brady Rowles who impressed the most. Bergman took out the standing vertical jump with a 77cm effort, four more than Rowles. But with a run-up it was Rowles taking the honours with a massive 98cm jump, eight more than Bergman who was second.

Vertical jump (cm)

Miles Bergman 77
Brady Rowles 73
Ben Johnson 70
Daniel Mott 70
Cody Weightman 69
Sam Flanders 69
Lachlan Williams 69
Sam Philp 69
Nick Bryan 69

Agility (seconds)

Hayden Young 7.940
Elijah Taylor 8.005
Thomson Dow 8.061
Trent Rivers 8.100
Oisin Gallen 8.197
Chad Warner 8.203
Sam Flanders 8.206
Noah Cumberland 8.208
Connor Budarick 8.242
Dylan Stephens 8.245

20m sprint (seconds)

Sam Philp 2.867
Ben Johnson 2.885
Malcolm Rosas 2.924
Mitch Georgiades 2.925
Noah Cumberland 2.931
Finn Maginness 2.957
Harrison Jones 2.963
Jeremy Sharp 2.966
Brady Rowles 2.968
Dylan Stephens 2.972

Running vertical jump (cm)

Brady Rowles 98
Miles Bergman 90
Sam Flanders 88
Cian McBride 87
Lachlan Williams 86
Hugo Ralphsmith 86
Jaxon Prior 85
Nick Bryan 85
Oscar Lewis 83
Kysaiah Pickett 83
Cody Weightman 83
Will Day 83
Brady Rowles 83
Cooper Stephens 83
Harrison Jones 83

Yo-Yo test (level)

Jay Rantall 21.8
Cooper Stephens 21.8
Connor Budarick 21.6
Chad Warner 21.6
Oscar Lewis 21.5
Sam Philp 21.5
Lachlan Ash 21.4
Harrison Jones 21.4
Finn Maginness 21.4
Trey Ruscoe 21.4
Riley Baldi 21.3
Sam Flanders 21.3
Matt Rowell 21.3
Jeremy Sharp 21.3

2km time trial results (min:sec)

Jay Rantall 5:50 minutes
Finn Maginness 5:51
Dylan Stephens 6:01
Louis Butler 6:09
Hugo Ralphsmith 6:12
Jeremy Sharp 6:12
Connor Budarick 6:15
Jai Jackson 6:15
Will Martyn 6:16
Ned Cahill 6:17
Matt Rowell 6:17
Noah Anderson 6:17
Cooper Stephens 6:17
Cian McBride 6:17

Draft dream not over for 2018 state combine nominees

MORE than one hundred draft hopefuls will test themselves under the watchful eye of AFL club recruiters at the various State Combine’s around the country. After the list of National Combine invitations was released last week – indicating those players with the most draft interest – last night the full list of State Combine, and Rookie Me Combine lists were released.

EIGHTY INVITED TO NATIONAL DRAFT COMBINE

A total of 126 players were nominated for the combines, with Vic Country having 26 players nominated, ahead of South Australia with 24, and Western Australia and Vic Metro with 21 each. It has also proved a bumper year for the Victorian Football League (VFL) with 13 players nominated to test, behind the four Division One states. New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory (NSW/ACT) has eight players nominated, the highest of the Division Two states, while Queensland has seven, and Northern Territory three and Tasmania three.

In terms of individual clubs, Dandenong Stingrays trumps all others, having 12 nominees, making it 17 players heading to testing in 2018. Murray Bushrangers is next with seven, followed by Calder Cannons and Oakleigh Chargers (six), as well as South Australian club Norwood. Fellow South Australian club South Adelaide, West Australian clubs Peel Thunder and Swan Districts, and Sandringham Dragons, all have four nominees. Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels, Glenelg, North Adelaide, Sturt, South Fremantle and Claremont have three apiece. In terms of Academies, the GWS Academy had six players nominated, Gold Coast and Brisbane Lions Academies both had three, and Sydney Swans Academy had one.

 

Full list of State Combine nominations:

NSW/ACT: [6]

Riley Bice (Murray Bushrangers/GWS Academy)
Jeromy Lucas (GWS Giants Academy)
Nick Murray (Murray Bushrangers/GWS Academy)
James Peatling (GWS Giants Academy)
Guy Richardson (GWS Giants Academy)
Mathew Walker (Murray Bushrangers/GWS Academy)

Northern Territory: [2]

Michael Mummery (NT Thunder)
Izaak Wyatt (Southern Districts)

Queensland: [4]

Caleb Graham (GC Suns Academy) 
Darcy Marsh (Brisbane Lions Academy)
Tom Matthews (Brisbane Lions Academy)
Lachlan McDonald (GC Suns Academy)

South Australia: [24]

Finn Betterman (Glenelg)
Connor Bristow (Norwood)
Chris Burgess (West Adelaide)
Declan Carmody (Glenelg)
Kade Chandler (Norwood)
Oscar Chapman (North Adelaide)
Tate Coleman (South Adelaide)
Jacob Collins (Norwood)
Job Colwell (South Adelaide)
Tobin Cox (Glenelg)
Darcy Fort (Central District)
Martin Frederick (Woodville-West Torrens)
Nathan Kreuger (South Adelaide)
Tom Lewis (Sturt)
Mihail Lochowiak (Sturt)
Tyler Martin (Norwood)
Aaron Nietschke (Central District)
Matthew Nunn (Norwood)
Kai Pudney (Woodville West Torrens)
Isaac Saywell (Norwood)
Jake Tarca (South Adelaide)
Casey Voss (Sturt)
Callum Wilkie (North Adelaide)
Boyd Woodcock (North Adelaide)

Tasmania: [1]

Rhyan Mansell (North Launceston)

VFL: [8]

Jake Aarts (Richmond VFL)
Brett Bewley (Williamstown)
Sam Collins (Werribee)
Will Hayes (Footscray VFL)
Nick Hind (Essendon VFL)
Marty Hore (Collingwood VFL)
Ethan Phillips (Port Melbourne)
Corey Rich (Frankston)

Vic Country: [21]

Jacob Atley (Bendigo Pioneers)
Stephen Cumming (Dandenong Stingrays)
Sam Fletcher (Dandenong Stingrays)
Matthew Gahan (Dandenong Stingrays)
Hudson Garoni (Murray Bushrangers)
Noah Gown (Gippsland Power)
Brayden Ham (Geelong Falcons)
Jed Hill (GWV Rebels)
Austin Hodge (Gippsland Power)
Zane Keighran (Bendigo Pioneers)
Matty Lloyd (GWV Rebels)
Lachlan McDonnell (Dandenong Stingrays)
Jai Nanscawen (Dandenong Stingrays)
Finbar O’Dwyer (Murray Bushrangers)
Jamie Plumridge (Dandenong Stingrays)
Mitch Riordan (Dandenong Stingrays)
Bailey Schmidt (Dandenong Stingrays)
Sam Sturt (Dandenong Stingrays)
Jai Taylor (Dandenong Stingrays)
Charlie Wilson (GWV Rebels)
Lachlan Young (Dandenong Stingrays)

Vic Metro: [18]

Frank Anderson (South Croydon)
Joseph Ayton-Delaney (Oakleigh Chargers)
Atu Bosenavulagi (Oakleigh Chargers)
Kyle Dunkley (Oakleigh Chargers)
Mason Fletcher (Calder Cannons)
Xavier Fry (Eastern Ranges)
Jake Gaspar (Oakleigh Chargers)
Sam Graham (Calder Cannons)
Harry Houlahan (Sandringham Dragons)
James Jordan (Oakleigh Chargers)
Josh Kemp (Calder Cannons)
Justin McInerney (Northern Knights)
Mitchell Podhajski (Calder Cannons)
Stefan Radovanovic (Western Jets)
James Rendell (Sandringham Dragons)
Harry Reynolds (Sandringham Dragons)
Alistair Richards (Sandringham Dragons)
Jack Ross (Oakleigh Chargers)

Western Australia: [21]

Jason Carter (Peel Thunder)
Dylan Curley (East Fremantle)
Oliver Eastland (Claremont)
Kody Eaton (East Fremantle) 
Harry Edwards (Swan Districts) 
Patrick Farrant (Swan Districts) 
Ethan Hansen (Perth) 
Wil Hickmott (Subiaco) 
Corey Hitchcock (Claremont)
Jack Mayo (Subiaco) 
Tom Medhat (West Perth)
Louis Miller (East Perth) 
Luke Moore (South Fremantle) 
Rylie Morgan (Claremont)
Matthew Parker (South Fremantle) 
Jarvis Pina (Peel Thunder)
Tyson Powell (Peel Thunder)
Regan Spooner (South Fremantle)
James Sturrock (Peel Thunder)
Tobe Watson (Swan Districts)
Graydon Wilson (Swan Districts)

Rookie Me Combine: [21]

Ryan Hebron (Sydney University)
Joey Reinhard (Sydney Swans Academy)
Adam Tipungwuti (Western Magpies)
Matthew Green (NT Thunder)
Ryan Gilmore (GC Suns Academy)
Jack Tomkinson (Brisbane Lions Academy)
Lachlan Gadomski (Kingborough Tigers) 
Matthew McGuinness (Lauderdale)
Ben Cavarra (Williamstown) 
Jay Lockhart (Casey Scorpions) 
Hayden McLean (Sandringham VFL) 
Kieran Strachan (Port Melbourne) 
Charlie Thompson (Richmond VFL)
Jordon Butts (Murray Bushrangers)
Kyle Clarke (Murray Bushrangers)
Sam Conway (Geelong Falcons)
Jake Frawley (Dandenong Stingrays)
Matt Neagle (Wodonga Raiders)
Tye Browning (Calder Cannons)
Daniel Hanna (Calder Cannons)
Cody Hirst (Eastern Ranges)

2013 Draft Profile: Jack Leslie

Jack Leslie (Gippsland Power)

Height: 198cm
Weight: 87kg
Position: Ruck
Player Comparison: Dean Cox
Strengths: Pace, marking, disposal
Weaknesses: Coordination (below knees), Goal kicking

Jack Leslie’s invite to the draft combine topped off a terrific 2013 for the 198 centimetre Gippsland Power ruckman. Impressive performances in the TAC Cup saw him picked in Vic Country’s team for the Under 18s National Championships, where he competed admirably. Displaying so many of the traits that are essential to a modern day ruckman will make Leslie a topic of discussion for many clubs over the coming month.

At his height, having strong marking ability is crucial if he is to be able to play key position at any stage throughout his career. Despite playing mostly as a ruckman throughout the TAC Cup season, the move to a key position is not beyond Leslie. His speed was highlighted at the draft combine where he finished sixth in the 20-metre sprint with a time of 2.90. Leslie realises his worth as a big man, putting his speed to good use in presenting as a lead up target regularly around the ground.

The ability to win your own ball is becoming increasingly crucial for draftees, however it’s something not so common with ruckman. Leslie definitely possesses this. His efforts to contest for the ball on the ground is also a strength and something unique to separate him from other big men. However, his ability to gather the ball below his knees an area to be improved on.

Leslie plays in somewhat of a similar mould to Dean Cox, with great ruckwork and his ability to move freely around the ground a real strength. He’s a strong mark who should be able to float forward and provide a tall option, however he found the goals hard to come by in 2013 with only two from 13 matches with the Power. That being said, his disposal is impressive for a big man and his inability to hit the scoreboard may have been more about his team’s strong forward line and the dominance of Josh Scott.

At just 87 kilograms, Leslie is your stereotypical light framed ruckman. Competing with the big boys like Ben McEvoy, will require a couple of pre seasons under the belt, but Leslie has real upside to a club in the St Kilda mould who will be looking to rebuild through the draft. Leslie could provide the perfect understudy to Tom Hickey and by the time Nick Riewoldt and co depart the AFL ranks, be primed to step into a key position role.

The lack of quality rucks in the 2013 National Draft means that Leslie is almost certain to get drafted. His impressive draft combine results further enhanced his chances and has shown he has the rare quickness that could see him move like a much smaller player. There’s no doubt many clubs will seriously look at Leslie, with the few areas that he is lacking in easily fixable. If picked up, clubs will be probably be looking at departing with a third round pick, however given the lack of ruck talent in the draft, someone could pounce earlier.

AFL Draft Combine: Full wrap

After four days of intense activity, the draft combine concluded with plenty of tired, but excited young stars that showed their athletic wears in front of recruiters and coaches at Etihad Stadium. Plenty of TAC Cup players featured prominently in the results with first round hopefuls Josh Kelly (Sandringham Dragons), Billy Hartung (Dandenong Stingrays), Nathan Freeman (Sandringham Dragons) and James Tsitas (Geelong) all winning a respective event.
Of all the draftees, Nathan Freeman impressed the most, winning the repeat sprint event and featuring in the top 10s of the 20 metre sprint, the beep test and the three kilometre time trial. The latter event was smashed by Kelly whom went back-to-back after winning the event as a bottom-ager, something that had never been done before given the rarity that 17 year olds are invited to the draft combine. He finished 14 seconds ahead of Western Australia’s Nick Robertson and 19 seconds ahead of namesake Oakleigh’s Jake Kelly. Others to make the top ten included Tsitas, Freeman, Darcy Byrne-Jones (Oakleigh Chargers) and Nathan Drummond (Murray Bushrangers).
The other endurance test was the beep test in which highly fancied gut runner Billy Hartung took out and smashed the previous record held by Hawthorn’s Brad Hill. Hartung ran an elite 16.6, a whole level ahead of NSW and GWS recruit Jake Barrett. Four TAC Cup players finished equal fifth with Byrne-Jones, Tsitas, Jake Kelly and Drummond showing they have elite endurance. Unsurprisingly, Josh Kelly and Nathan Freeman were just behind them rounding out the top ten.
Along with his impressive endurance, Geelong’s James Tsitas scored the highest on Nathan Buckley’s kicking test. He hit a total of 29 targets out of 30 to hold off six players of whom finished on 28. Aside from the field kicking, there was a goal kicking test which saw three players nail all five goals (three set shots, two snaps) from five shots. Eastern Ranges’ Michael Apeness, Port Melbourne’s Chris Cain and Queenslander Jarred Ellis.
With line-breaking speed now an important facet of playing AFL, all eyes were on the 20-metre sprints and repeat sprints to see which players had the best burst speeds in the Under 18s competition. West Australian super athlete Jonathon Marsh stole the title from Nathan Freeman by just four tenths of a second ahead of Port Adelaide’s Irish recruit Daniel Flynn. James Sicily (Western Jets), Karl Amon (Sandringham Dragons), Jack Leslie (Gippsland Power), Tom Cutler (Oakleigh Chargers), Jake Barrett and Byrne Jones rounded out the top ten. The repeat sprints were just as eagerly anticipated, with Freeman this time taking the honours ahead of Byrne-Jones and Marsh. Josh Kelly and three other TAC Cup players in Nic Bourke (Geelong Falcons), Louis Herbert (North Ballarat Rebels) and Tom Langdon (Sandringham Dragons) finished in the top ten.
In the agility category, Tasmanian speedster Zac Webster took the overall titles ahead of Daniel Flynn. Darcy Byrne-Jones was again prominent, equal third, just ahead of Sandringham’s Karl Amon, the only two TAC Cup players to make the top ten although VFL player Ben Brown was on par with West Australian jet Dayle Garlett which shows he has a chance to be drafted as a mature aged player.
The other athletic categories tested were the vertical jump in which the Tasmanian twins in Kade and Jake Kolodjashnij made it their own while Queenslander Archie Smith also topped the left leg category. Murray Bushrangers Nathan Drummond and Jarman Impey made all three top ten placings for the vertical jump as did North Ballarat Rebel Louis Herbert. Josh Kelly recorded a top ten placing in both running vertical jumps which capped off another impressive draft combine for the likely top ten pick
After four days of tough athletic competition, the talented footballers now head back to their respective clubs to continue to train ahead of the draft. For some players it will be a case of recovering from various niggles or keeping themselves fit should they be selected by an AFL club. For others, it is a chance to bond with the group that they fought with throughout the year. Whatever the case, all these young men have done themselves and their clubs proud.