Tag: heath chapman

2020 AFL Draft Preview: St Kilda Saints

WITH the 2020 trade period done and dusted, it is now time for clubs and fans alike to turn their attention to the draft. Between now and draft day (December 9), clubs will have the opportunity to exchange picks until the final order is formed a couple of days out. While the chaos ensues, Draft Central takes a look at how each club may approach the upcoming intake opportunities with the hand they formed at the close of trade period. Obviously they are still subject to heavy change, so perhaps we can predict some of that movement here.

Next under the microscope is St Kilda, a side which returned to finals action in 2020 under much loved coach, Brett Ratten. The Saints were again busy during trade period, bringing in a strong raft of readymade players through the door; headlined by the free agency coup of Brad Crouch, trade for Jack Higgins, and surprise recruitment of formerly retired defender James Frawley. Having addressed immediate needs for contested midfield support and key defensive depth, the Saints are well poised to challenge the top four in 2021 and can add long-term depth at the draft. Having only entered the equation at Pick 52 last year, St Kilda managed to hold onto a first rounder this time around, albeit slightly down the order, though there remains a big gap to the Saints’ next pick (64).

>> Power Rankings: November Update

CURRENT PICKS*: 21, 64, 67, 74, 93

2021 PICKS*: STK Rd 1 | STK Rd 3 | STK Rd 4, RIC Rd 4

* – denotes as of December 3

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

LIKELY ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Nil.

>> Podcast: The best academy/father-son hauls

LIST NEEDS:

Outside runners
Long-term key defensive depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 21)

The Saints have an opportunity to continue their upward trend by selecting a readymade prospect in the first round to add to their strong competition for starting spots. Alternatively, a long-term developmental choice may be in the offing as St Kilda now has enough top-end mature talent to consistently contend with the top teams. Should the Saints look at bringing in some outside support, Nathan O’Driscoll would be a shrewd choice given his incredible work-rate and defensive acumen from midfield. He played senior WAFL football on the inside this season, but looks like spending his early development on a wing.

Bailey Laurie is a creative forward runner with silky skills who could also fit the bill, but would likely be a half-forward in the short term. Although, he may be off the board at that point given the mounting first round interest in him. Another West Australian in Jack Carroll could then be a viable option, with his class and agility on the inside balanced by athleticism and skill on the outer. At 188cm, he is a great size and would provide the efficiency St Kilda is looking for off half-back or the wing before again transitioning into midfield. Similarly, the Saints might look to pounce on Caleb Poulter slightly early, with his range of weapons as a versatile tall midfielder appealing to many clubs. Jake Bowey, the son of former Saint Brett Bowey, could also get a look-in. He is a crafty small with quick skills and the toughness of his old man.

Outside of those options, the Saints could realistically place a bid on other clubs’ academy talents with this pick, despite not laying claim to any of their own. Hawthorn NGA hopeful Connor Downie fits the bill as a run-and-gun half-back/wingman who loves to take the game on, while diminutive Swans Academy gun Errol Gulden could also be the hard-running type St Kilda is after. The bids would likely be matched though, potentially warding the Saints off that option.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

While Frawley covers St Kilda’s need for key defensive depth in the short term, there are many options available in the first round which could fill that void in the long-term. The problem for the Saints is that they are all likely to be snapped up well before Pick 21. Thus, St Kilda may look to trade up closer to the top 10 and have some 2021 stock which could appeal. The Saints’ future first rounder holds high value given how stacked next year’s crop looks to be, so may give them flex to conjure a trade and get into a better position to snare the likes of Zach Reid, Nikolas Cox, or Heath Chapman. Much further down the line, St Kilda’s two picks in the 60s could be packaged to move up the order and cap off a handy little draft haul, should an appealing prospect remain on the board.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Will St Kilda look to trade up and snare a key defender?

Will St Kilda look to build its midfield depth, or key position stocks with Pick 21?

How many of St Kilda’s late picks will be used?

Can St Kilda package its late picks to obtain greater, singular value?

Featured Image: 2019 Saints draftee Ryan Byrnes on the ball | Credit: (Retrieved from) St Kilda FC

2020 AFL Draft Preview: GWS GIANTS

WITH the 2020 trade period done and dusted, it is now time for clubs and fans alike to turn their attention to the draft. Between now and draft day (December 9), clubs will have the opportunity to exchange picks until the final order is formed a couple of days out. While the chaos ensues, Draft Central takes a look at how each club may approach the upcoming intake opportunities with the hand they formed at the close of trade period. Obviously they are subject to heavy change, so perhaps we can predict some of that movement here.

Next under the microscope is GWS, a team which will feature heavily in proceedings at the top-end of this year’s draft with five picks within the top 30, including four first rounders. It gives the GIANTS a terrific opportunity to again top-up with a wealth of highly touted talents, especially having just lost a raft of experienced players after finishing the season in 10th. This looms as an important intake for the expansion side, which will be looking to bounce straight back into the top eight next year. With such a flexible hand, the GIANTS could well move up the order and bring in players who can make an immediate impact on their stacked side.

>> Power Rankings: November Update

CURRENT PICKS*: 10, 13, 15, 20, 29, 52, 74, 88

2021 PICKS*: GWS Rd 1 | GWS Rd 3 | GWS Rd 4 | GEE Rd 4

* – denotes as of November 27

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

LIKELY ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Josh Green (Academy)

>> Podcast: The best academy/father-son hauls

LIST NEEDS:

Speedy/outside midfielders
Long-term key position depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 10)

Pick 10 will likely slide back two spots after academy bids take place, and could even move down three or four places given the amount of club-tied talent available. Should the GIANTS opt not to trade the selection and move further into the top 10, a midfielder seems the best option. Finlay Macrae, the half-brother of Jackson fits the bill as a classy user who can play both inside and out. He would provide a handy point of difference to the GIANTS’ current raft of inside bulls. Tom Powell is another name linked to that range, an ultra-consistent ball winner who is improving his outside influence. Geelong Falcons graduate Tanner Bruhn is a similar player, though he will likely already be taken inside the top 10.

Should the Giants look at key position options, there are a few high-upside types of interest. Heath Chapman is a key defender who plays similarly to Nick Haynes, but could also be developed into a wingman given his running capacity and damaging ball use. Nikolas Cox will garner some attention too, a raw 200cm utility who is renowned for his endurance and ability to kick on both feet. He could plug a long-term gap either down back or up forward. In terms of academy bids, the Giants could realistically bid on Lachlan Jones at pick 10, though Port Adelaide would undoubtedly match. Collingwood’s Reef McInnes may also come into play if Essendon do not take a punt inside the top 10, but the Giants may also reserve a bid for pick 15, which lands in between two Collingwood selections. A bid in this range would make the Magpies sweat.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

There is plenty GWS could look to do with its current hand, whether it be to bolster this year’s stocks of its 2021 haul. With the three first rounders obtained from Geelong via the Jeremy Cameron trade, the GIANTS may see value in trading deep into the top 10. A combination of two of their top 20 picks could get the job done, depending on just how far into the top end they hope to go and which clubs arise as keen suitors. The GIANTS are expected to take four to five players this year and with academy prospect Josh Green in the frame later on, GWS may look to convert some of their five picks in the top 30 into higher selections if players they are targeting may otherwise be off the board.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Can GWS trade further into the top 10?

Will GWS maintain its current hand and pack up after pick 29?

Will GWS move up the order in live trading?

Will GWS place bids on academy prospects in the first round?

When will a bid come for Josh Green, if at all?

Featured Image: 2020 draft prospect Josh Green (right) with brother, Tom | Credit: Elesa Kurtz/The Age

2020 AFL Draft Preview: Fremantle Dockers

WITH the 2020 trade period done and dusted, it is now time for clubs and fans alike to turn their attention to the draft. Between now and draft day (December 9), clubs will have the opportunity to exchange picks until the final order is formed a couple of days out. While the chaos ensues, Draft Central takes a look at how each club may approach the upcoming intake opportunities with the hand they formed at the close of trade period. Obviously they are subject to heavy change, so perhaps we can predict some of that movement here.

Next under the microscope is Fremantle, a team which has fared phenomenally well at the pointy end of recent drafts to build one of the most vibrant young midfield groups in the competition. With sustained success among their Next Generation Academy (NGA) ranks, the Dockers again look set to bring in even more homegrown talent along with another valuable first round selection. A relatively quiet trade period has set some suspense ahead of draft night, with work to do to ensure Fremantle can extract the best possible outcome from its current hand and continue to build for the future. After a 12th place finish in 2020, the Dockers are clearly on the up.

>> Power Rankings: November Update

CURRENT PICKS*: 12, 32, 55
* – denotes as of November 24

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

LIKELY ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Brandon Walker (NGA), Chris Walker (NGA), Joel Western (NGA)

>> Podcast: The best academy/father-son hauls

LIST NEEDS:

Dynamic forwards
Key position depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 12)

The fate of Fremantle’s first pick lies in some part with other clubs given there are are range of deals to be made which will help shape the top 10 picks. Sitting just outside that range, the Dockers have the terrific opportunity to snare a slider, pick the best available player, or secure a prospect which truly suits their list needs. Plenty of Dockers fans have been vocal about wanting 200cm utility Nikolas Cox with this pick, and for good reason. While their club currently boasts somewhat of an embarrassment of riches in defence, Cox looms as a long-term and genuine key position option who may also develop into the dynamic tall forward they require. Zach Reid is a similar player and former teammate of 2020 Rising Star Caleb Serong, but will likely be off the board at that stage.

Should Fremantle go down the medium-forward route, Archie Perkins would likely be a prime target. But along the same lines as Reid, he is expected to be snapped up within the top 10 picks with Essendon a prime candidate there. Oliver Henry could then be the Dockers’ man, another swingman type who thrives aerially and has a bit of x-factor. He is the brother of Geelong Cats defender, Jack and rates highly for upside. Local talent Heath Chapman is another who falls perfectly in Fremantle’s range, though the Dockers’ aforementioned defensive depth may ward them off that selection. Still, Chapman’s attacking prowess and athleticism could see him develop into a wingman or midfielder over time. Nathan O’Driscoll‘s range has gotten plenty of people talking and while he could be a good fit for the Dockers, picking him just outside the top 10 may be a stretch.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

The Dockers currently rank 11th for total draft points value and may need to get busy at the live trade desk depending on how highly other clubs value their NGA products. Their current pick 32 will slide down to something more in the 35-38 range after earlier academy bids, which puts Fremantle at risk of not being able to get a selection in before others bid on both Brandon Walker and Joel Western. Pick 32 may be one to split in order to stay away from another case of points deficit, and future picks may also come into the fold. The Dockers currently hold their 2021 selections in each round so have some flexibility. There was also talk that Fremantle would look to rocket up the order and secure Perth key forward Logan McDonald, but juggling such a move looks highly unlikely.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

What kind of player will Fremantle look for with pick 12?

Will Fremantle take any NGA players outside of Walker and Western?

Will Fremantle hold onto its current pick 32?

Could Fremantle be forced to take just one NGA player?

Will Fremantle table its 2021 selections?

Featured Image: Dockers NGA prospect Brandon Walker in action for the AFL Australian Under 17s | Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

2020 AFL Draft Preview: Collingwood Magpies

WITH the 2020 trade period done and dusted, it is now time for clubs and fans alike to turn their attention to the draft. Between now and draft day (December 9), clubs will have the opportunity to exchange picks until the final order is formed a couple of days out. While the chaos ensues, Draft Central takes a look at how each club may approach the upcoming intake opportunities with the hand they formed at the close of trade period. Obviously they are subject to heavy change, so perhaps we can predict some of that movement here.

Next under the microscope is Collingwood, a team which has already garnered plenty of attention after its dramatic trade period. Whichever way you decipher what unfolded, one thing for certain is that the Magpies’ recruiting and list management staff are under enormous pressure to absolutely nail their draft intake this year. With two first round picks to show for Collingwood’s forced exodus, squeezing the most out of that early hand will be key to getting Pies fans back onboard heading into 2021 – even after a season which saw their team win a final. That seems a world away at this point and the Magpies have plenty to do to remain a finals contender going forward.

>> Power Rankings: November Update

CURRENT PICKS*: 14, 16, 65, 70, 75, 92
* – denotes as of November 22

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

ELIGIBLE ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Reef McInnes (NGA)

>> Podcast: The best academy/father-son hauls

LIST NEEDS:

Key position depth
Reliable goalkickers
Skilful/efficient midfielders

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 14)

Of late, Collingwood has often looked to trade in key position players rather than drafting them at the top end, but that strategy could shift with this year’s intake. For all of their clangers during trade period, the Magpies said they were keen to gain a greater first round presence and have been successful in doing so, with the opportunity to move even further up the board now presenting.

Should a bid for NGA member Reef McInnes, a tall midfielder with exceptional athleticism and versatility, come after their current first pick, the Pies could look towards mobile 200cm prospects Nikolas Cox and Zach Reid. Both have been billed as key defenders but can essentially play up either end and use the ball extremely well. The latter factor is something Collingwood has been crying out for on each line, and either player would provide great long-term dynamism alongside Darcy Moore. Heath Chapman would be another tall defender in the conversation around that range, potentially growing into a role similar to that of Jeremy Howe.

Collingwood also has some handy options available which will be covered in the live trade section below, with a key forward arguably the club’s more pressing list need. Should they move up the order, the Magpies will certainly have eyes on Logan McDonald but will have to pay a pretty penny to get into that range.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

With eyes on moving into the top 10, Collingwood could well package up its two first round picks in order to do so. Perhaps more realistically, one of those picks could be traded alongside the Pies’ 2021 first rounder, especially given father-son prospect Nick Daicos has already been flagged as a top five talent next year. McDonald, a key forward who will likely be off the board within the first three picks, is another name being linked with the Pies, but they will have to give up plenty to be able to reach those kinds of heights this year. In terms of live trading upon a McInnes bid, it seems Collingwood will think very hard about not matching one in the 8-12 range, so they could be a club to scramble for deals depending on how the top 10 plays out. With lofty ideas in mind, the Magpies could feature heavily at the live trading table this year and in the build up to draft day.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Can Collingwood trade into this year’s top 10?

Will Collingwood trade its 2021 first rounder?

Will Collingwood draft a key position player?

How early is too early to match a bid for McInnes?

Will Collingwood get a pick in before the McInnes bid?

Can Collingwood make up for its trade period mess?

EXPLAINER | Pocket Podcast: An early top 10 look

OVER the past few weeks, Draft Central launched its brand new series of pocket podcasts, a collection of short-form discussions which narrow in on a range of topics heading into the 2020 AFL Draft. In the next edition, Chief Editor Peter Williams again sat down with AFL Draft Editor Michael Alvaro, this time to take an early look at how the top 10 may pan out at this year’s AFL Draft.

As is the nature of the rumour mill around this time of year, the likely direction of the pointy end has already changed since recording, with clubs within the top five showing greater interest in specific players and shaping the later picks. There is also the factor of potential live trading, which could see the likes of Essendon and Collingwood push to enter the top five and shake up the order even further. Nonetheless, we had a crack at drafting the top 10 as we saw fit, following the draft order as of November 18.

To listen to the discussion in full, click here.

Below is the top 10 selected in the podcast, and an adjusted version made after our 2020 AFL Draft whispers piece.

Podcast Top 10:

1. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan – Western Bulldogs (Adelaide bid matched)
2. Logan McDonald – Adelaide
3. Elijah Hollands – North Melbourne
4. Denver Grainger-Barras – Sydney
5. Riley Thilthorpe – Hawthorn
6. Will Phillips – Gold Coast Suns
7. Braeden Campbell – Sydney (Essendon bid matched)
8. Lachlan Jones – Port Adelaide (Essendon bid matched)
9. Zach Reid – Essendon
10. Archie Perkins – Essendon

Updates:

Among the changes we would already make, Adelaide may well opt to maintain the number one pick status and take a player they actually have access to – ie. not Jamarra Ugle-Hagan. That makes Logan McDonald the number one, and North Melbourne or Sydney the team to place a bid on Ugle-Hagan. The Bulldogs would undoubtedly match, leaving North to likely take Elijah Hollands, while Sydney may have eyes on Will Phillips or Denver Grainger-Barras. Gold Coast is said to be eying an inside midfielder so if Phillips is off the board, Tanner Bruhn comes into consideration. Essendon’s consecutive picks, which may not be held on to, could yield academy bids for the likes of Braeden Campbell and Lachlan Jones, as well as Reef McInnes if the Bombers are really keen on that inside midfielder. Given Collingwood would perhaps think twice about matching a top 10 pick for McInnes, Archie Perkins could be the Bombers’ man, with Riley Thilthorpe a chance to slide and Zach Reid another tall in the mix. The likes of Heath Chapman, Oliver Henry, and Nikolas Cox are others in the top 10 frame as it stands.

EXPLAINER | Pocket Podcast: The best readymade prospects

OVER the past few weeks, Draft Central launched its brand new series of pocket podcasts, a collection of short-form discussions which narrow in on a range of topics heading into the 2020 AFL Draft. In the next edition, Chief Editor Peter Williams again sat down with AFL Draft Editor Michael Alvaro to compare and contrast the best readymade prospects available in this year’s AFL Draft pool.

These are the players which clubs will hope can make an immediate impact at AFL level upon being drafted, possessing just the right balance of athletic traits and natural footballing nous to hit the ground running in Round 1. Clubs in the premiership window could be among those to look for talents in that mould, whether it be mature-bodied players, or those who are mature-age. This year’s intake will be of particular interest in this department given about half of the crop has not gained any top-age exposure. It begs the question, will clubs then prioritise state league talents who are proven quantities?

To listen to the discussion in full, click here.

Below are some of the players which headed discussions, split into their positions:
Click on their names highlighted in red for full draft profiles.

Key Forwards:
Logan McDonald – Was a standout key forward throughout the full WAFL League season, showcasing terrific forward craft and providing constant scoreboard impact. Has the endurance and one-on-one game to play Round 1.
Jackson Callow – A big-bodied key forward who thrived at senior TSL level, Callow is one of the best pure contested marks in this year’s crop. Has some aspects to work on, but is ready to go in terms of his frame.

Key Defenders:
Denver Grainger-Barras – Another top five prospect who played a full season of senior football, Grainger-Barras is a lean type but has the kind of athleticism and competitiveness to make an impact at the elite level. An intercept marking machine.
Heath Chapman – Chapman earned a League berth for West Perth late in the season, but proved a class above Colts level. He is also aerially gifted but has a high-level endurance base and the scope to adapt to a number of roles across the backline.
James Borlase – The Adelaide NGA prospect has developed at a steep rate to become a genuine draft candidate in 2020, partly due to the presence he has on-field with such a mature frame and sound reading of the play. Also broke the senior ranks for Sturt.

Small-Medium Forwards:
James Rowe – Has arguably come back stronger after earning a state combine invite last year, topping the SANFL goalkicking charts with elite-level smarts and natural ability inside 50. He is a mature-age candidate at 21-years-old and could immediately assume a small forward role.
Errol Gulden – There is not much of him at 175cm/75kg, but Gulden has prospered to prove a game winner at each level he has played. One of two Swans Academy members pressing for first round honours come draft time.

General Defenders:
Lachlan Jones – Jones cuts a mean figure in defence and plays in a similar manner, providing great physicality and versatility across the back half. The Port NGA member can play tall and small, faring well aerially while also carving up the opposition on the rebound.
Tom Highmore – Another mature-age prospect, Highmore is a high marking intercept defender who transitioned seamlessly from the NEAFL, to SANFL football this year. He has the body and senior experience to be a serious impact player early on.
Mitch Duval – Duval has come from a long way back to come into draft contention this year. The 23-year-old West Adelaide defender is another interceptor and earned a National Combine invite for his form in 2020.

Midfielders:
Will Phillips – Arguably the best pure midfielder available in this year’s draft, Phillips looks a nailed-on 200-gamer from the outset. He cut his teeth at the centre bounces alongside Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson last year, playing part in Oakleigh’s NAB League premiership.
Alex Davies – Tied to the SUNS Academy, Davies will be pre-listed by Gold Coast and effectively cost nothing. He’s a tall, big-bodied type who wins plenty of contested ball and is quite poised in congestion.
Oliver Davis – One of the best Tasmanians available, Davis won the TSL Rising Star award in 2020 and made its Team of the Year as one of the competition’s premier inside midfielders. You know what to expect from Davis and he has no trouble finding the ball.

>> Power Rankings: November Update

Past Episodes:

Best players under 175cm
Best midfielders over 190cm
Logan McDonald vs. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Best academy and father-son hauls
Brayden Cook vs. Conor Stone
Key defenders kicking comparison
Offence from defence
Denver Grainger-Barras vs. Heath Chapman
The top non-aligned midfielders

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

Top 10s: 2020 National Draft Combine – 2km time trial

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 already looked at the 20-metre sprint times, agility test results, and vertical jumping tests, we finally shift our focus to the 2km time trial. This test is used to measure a player’s endurance, taking over from the yo-yo test conducted during preseason. The 2km distance is also a good barometer of athletes’ speed-endurance mix, providing a snippet of how they may fare in more manageable stints rather than a full 10-15km distance they may run in-game. Typically, times of under six minutes and 30 seconds are considered high-level.

>> SCROLL for the full top 10 times

For the second year running, the time trial record was broken by a Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels product. Former steeplechaser Harry Sharp soundly beat Jay Rantall‘s 2019 effort of 5:50 over the 2km, notching a blistering time of 5:28 to standalone as the clear nationwide leader. A draft bolter of sorts, Sharp is a zippy outside midfielder/forward with plenty of upside. 194cm Sandringham Dragons forward Fraser Rosman is another in the same boat, and went close to Rantall’s record himself with an effort of 5:52, the only other time of under six minutes.

Northern Knights talls Liam Kolar and Nikolas Cox ran side-by-side to finish a second apart just over the six-minute mark, while Gippsland Power midfield pair Sam Berry and Ryan Angwin continued the two-by-two trend, albeit at different combines. Three players were tied for 10th spot at 6:23, including top 15 chance Archie Perkins. Fellow first round candidate Heath Chapman came in ninth just ahead of that three-man group, and impressive effort considering his status as a key position defender. He and Nathan O’Driscoll were the only non-Victorians to register top 10 times, and were the best runners out of Western Australia.

Obviously it is quite difficult to compare the 2km efforts with that of preseason yo-yo tests, which also serve to measure an athlete’s endurance. However, O’Driscoll again ranked equal-10th in the nationwide results for said test, notching a score of 21.8. Berry was also a standout during preseason, with his score of 21.7 good enough for equal-fourth among his Victorian peers. Both are tireless midfielders who translate this data to their on-field efforts, boding well for a swift adjustment to the rigours of AFL football.

Top 10 2km time trial results:

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. 3x players (Nathan O’Driscoll, Archie Perkins, Will Bravo) – 6:23

* – denotes all-time combine record.

>> Power Rankings: November Update

Other Draft Combine results:
Jumps
20m Sprint
Agility

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

Featured Image: Players run the 2km time trial at the Regional Victoria Draft Combine | Credit: Robert Cianflone/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.

EXPLAINER | Pocket Podcast: Denver Grainger-Barras vs. Heath Chapman

OVER the last week, Draft Central launched its brand new series of pocket podcasts, a collection of short-form discussions which narrow in on a range of topics heading into the 2020 AFL Draft. In the third edition, Chief Editor Peter Williams again sat down with AFL Draft Editor Michael Alvaro to compare two of the best key position defenders available in this year’s crop.

The prospects in question – Denver Grainger-Barras and Heath Chapman – are both West Australians touted as first round locks, with the former pegged as a top five talent from a while out, while the latter has improved his standing in 2020 to jump into top 15 contention. Our editors discussed just what makes either player so good and the traits which set them apart from one another, ultimately concluding that they could well end up as the best two players of their position at AFL level.

>> Power Rankings: October Update

Here are their respective player profiles:
(Click the link on either player’s name for their full draft profiles)

Denver Grainger-Barras

Club: Swan Districts

Height: 195cm
Weight: 78kg
DOB: April 17, 2002

Strengths: Reading the play, intercept marking, vertical leap, agility, defensive versatility, composure
Improvements: Strength, offensive output

Heath Champan

Club: West Perth

Height: 193cm
Weight: 81kg
DOB: January 31, 2002

Strengths: Intercept marking, reading the play, kick penetration and efficiency, repeat running, composure
Improvements: Size as KPD

This matchup is a great example of just how different two players of the same position can be, despite also boasting some similarities. Both players are terrific interceptors, with their outstanding reading of the play and high-level athleticism allowing them to dominate in the air. As discussed on our premiere pocket podcast episode, Chapman sets himself apart with his kicking ability, bringing a damaging attacking edge to his work across half-back.

In the recent Western Australia Under 18 All-Stars game, he was made to match up on Grainger-Barras as the latter shifted forward. Grainger-Barras booted two goals to show his versatility, while forcing Chapman to showcase his defensive attributes. That is an edge the Swan Districts product has on Chapman, but he can always improve on that attacking side to better utilise his athleticism and sound decision making.

It is an intriguing comparison nonetheless, and while they are in slightly different draft projection ranges, will have clubs thinking about exactly the kind of key defender they are after. The pair loomed as a formidable defensive combination for their state coming into 2020, but alas the lack of an Under 18 National Championships meant that failed to materialise.

To listen to the podcast in full, click here.

>> Past Episodes:
Key defenders kicking comparison
Offence from defence