EVERY month since May, Matt Balmer has ranked his players from the 2016 AFL Draft pool. With less than two weeks until the November 25 National AFL Draft, he counts down the players ranked 50-1. You can find the players Matt has ranked 50-26 here
Well what a year it has been. Looking back at May’s rankings, it’s amazing how things can change after Sam Petrevski-Seton was #1 all those months ago. We have had injuries such as Jy Simpkin and Alex Witherden breaking their legs in separate school game incidents, while names have jumped up with strong performances throughout the season and in finals.
Having seen just under 100 games throughout the season, it is always hard to come to a final order and I have ranked the players how I would if I was an AFL club going into the draft come November, ticking names off the list as they are called out.
This list is purely how I rate the players and is not a mock draft.
#25 Cedric Cox
Outside Midfielder (North Ballarat Rebels/Vic Country)
19/08/1997 | 181.1cm | 78.6kg
Cedric Cox came from nowhere to find himself as one of the more exciting prospects in 2016. Cox hails from Halls Creek and after a steller interleague game in the Hampden FNL, Cox was added to the North Ballarat Rebels’ list. Whilst not a huge ball winner, his ability to rebound the ball at speed is his strength and he disposes of it well off either foot. Cox begun the All Stars match on fire, before fading badly. Pushed forward in the TAC Cup finals for the Rebels, but seems most at home playing across half back. Is the cousin of Sam Petrevski-Seton and has recently been visited by clubs in his home town in Halls Creek over the last few weeks. Might be a surprise first round selection.
#24 Jordan Ridley
General Defender (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
20/10/1998 | 191.9cm | 79.7kg
Jordan Ridley is a tall rebounding defender who is composed with ball in hand. He talents were on show in the Chargers’ elimination final win over the Calder Cannons, where he floated across the Calder forwards marking the ball and rebounding it well. When he has the ball at half back, he is composed and makes good decisions to take the game forward. He has pushed further up onto a wing at times, as well as playing up forward as a key target. His composed nature means he likely plays half back in an AFL environment, but will need to add some size to his frame where is he built very strongly below his waist. Injured his shoulder in the TAC Cup Finals against North Ballarat.
#23 Josh Battle
General Forward (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
01/09/1998 | 192.0cm | 88.5kg
Josh Battle has one of the best ‘Footy IQs’ in the 2016 draft pool. Battle reads the play superbly inside 50 and his endurance is another one of his major assets when he gets up the ground on long leads. Battle can kick quick bags of goals and his fluid set shot routine means he kicks more than he missing, where he kicks the ball well through whether he is 20m or 55m out from goal. A Year 11 boy at Haileybury College will likely see him stay in Victoria wherever he is drafted to complete his schooling, similar to how Patrick Dangerfield and Jack Watts have done in the past. An ok mark overhead, but at 192cm it is unlikely he can play as a number one tall in an AFL environment. Can just be a straight line runner and will need to work on his agility.
#22 Sam Powell-Pepper
Inside Midfielder (East Perth/Western Australia)
08/01/1998 | 186.5cm | 90.2kg
Sam Powell-Pepper can have some moments that make you go wow. Some of these moments want you to cross his name off your list, whereas others make you more and more intrigued the more you watch. His decision making needs work, with a passage against South Australia in the Under 18 championships one to forget – as does his kicking which was below 50 per cent in the WAFL League, AFL Academy games and the Under 18 Championships. To Powell-Pepper’s credit, his kicking and decision making improved towards the latter half of the season and was much better throughout the NAB AFL U18 All Stars game. The powerful midfielder can win the ball in the contest and burst away from opposition players. Plays not too similar to a Dustin Martin.
#21 Harrison Macreadie
Key Position Defender (Henty/NSW-ACT)
11/04/1998 | 195.5cm | 90.9kg
Twelve months ago, if you didn’t have Harrison Macreadie written down as a top five prospects your ability to follow junior football would’ve been question. Whatever has led to him dropping down the rankings, i’m not too sure but after being moved schools by the Giants earlier this season his form in 2016 hasn’t been able to reach what it was in 2015. He finished the year better than he started in the NEAFL, but in the Under 18 championships he was below that expected from him. Is a good rebounder who can intercept mark the ball – but one-on-one work will need some work. May turn into a midfielder at the next level pushing onto a wing or across half back.
#20 Daniel Venables
General Forward/Inside Midfielder (Western Jets/Vic Metro)
19/11/1998 | 185.2cm | 82.1kg
Daniel Venables is an aggressive midfielder who can break through opposition tackles at ease. He has had a few injury concerns with a foot injury seeing him in a moon boot for the latter part of the season as well as a bad concussion earlier in the season. Venables has a powerful burst from the stoppages and has the ability to hit the scoreboard. Later in the season he played across half back for PEGS, but his best footy is on the inside or playing up forward. Didn’t put a full game together in 2016, but his flashes were simply outstanding.
#19 Will Hayward
Medium forward (North Adelaide/South Australia)
26/10/1998 | 184.7cm | 76.6kg
Will Hayward is the medium forward who has played tall in the SANFL U18s. His marking is outstanding and is good in the one-one-one contests for his size. He kicked nine goals in a SANFL U18s final where he truly dominated. Is clean below his knees, but may need some work on his set shot routine and technique at the next level. Booted eight goals in the Under 18 championships for South Australia but didn’t get too much recognition. Has some midfield craft and did a few nice things there in the midfield through the NAB AFL U18 All Stars game at Punt Road on Grand Final Day Eve. Could be a top 10 smokey.
#18 Todd Marshall
Key Position Forward (Murray Bushrangers/NSW-ACT)
08/10/1998 | 196.6cm | 85.9kg
Todd Marshall is an athletic tall with a strong pair of dukes. Still raw only returning to AFL full time in 2016, after spending two winters in the UK playing cricket. At times his set shot goal kicking routine can see him hook the ball across his leg. Played his best game of the season in the TAC Cup Preliminary Final, where he had seven marks imposing himself on the game – but then followed that up with two quiet games in the important TAC Cup Grand Final and NAB AFL U18 All Stars contest. His flashes can be very good, but is yet to put a full game together and the consistency side of things is what is stopping him being worthy of a top 10 selection.
#17 Jy Simpkin
Small Forward (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
05/03/1998 | 181.7cm | 74.7kg
Jy Simpkin is a crafty small forward who burst onto the scene with seven goals in six Under 18 championship games in 2015. Knows where the goals are- but does he become a full time midfielder at AFL level? Broke his leg at school football earlier in the season for Scotch College in their game against Caulfield Grammar. Was good to see him around the draftees after needing a second surgery after infection, helping move the magnets around in the NAB AFL U18 All Stars game. Didn’t test at the combine, but has begun to kick the football again. May stake a claim to be a top 15 selection.
#16 Alex Witherden
?Medium Defender (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
10/05/1998 | 186.2cm | 80.0kg
Alex Witherden is another talented prospect who missed a big chunk of 2016. Witherden suffered a broken leg playing school football for Geelong College against St Kevin’s College and missed the remainder of the season. A very good kid who has done all he can to ensure he’ll be ready to go when the preseason kicks off at his AFL club. His vision and kicking are two of his greatest strengths and these were on show early in the season for the Geelong Falcons. Witherden can play a role in multiple positions and will be able to fill a role where required. Is composed in traffic and is agile enough to get around opponents in close. Could be one of the steals of the draft.
#15 Oliver Florent
Outside Midfielder (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
22/07/1998 | 182.0cm | 74.4kg
Oliver Florent is an exciting half forward/outside midfielder. In his usual eye catching orange boots, Florent has plenty of X-Factor around the ball inside 50. Liked his work last year for Sandringham and has continued that into this season. Outside midfielder who is a capable overhead mark. A good kick around the ground, but does have the ability to shank the odd kick on the run. Looks likely to start his AFL career as a half forward and push onto a wing. Has pushed through a family loss and finished the season on a high with a TAC Cup Grand Final win and best afield in the NAB AFL U18 All Stars game where he had 27 disposals, seven clearances and seven inside 50s – despite coming off a five-day break on a hard Etihad Stadium surface.
#14 Brad Scheer
Inside Midfielder (Palm Beach/Queensland)
31/08/1998 | 183.2cm | 83.7kg
Brad Scheer is a tough inside midfielder who just gets the job done with plenty of clearances. His strong contested work is his strength and he won the Allies the match against Vic Country in the Under 18 championships, with a snap deep in the pocket (Video can be found here). A heel injury kept him out of the combine and the NAB AFL U18 All Stars selection. Good runner around the ground, who likely receives a late first round or second round bid for the Gold Coast academy member.
#13 Josh Rotham
Medium Defender (West Perth/Western Australia)
25/02/1998 | 191.9cm | 77.4kg
Josh Rotham is a hybrid defender who has played both tall and small this season. Against VFL opposition was undersized playing key back for the AFL Academy, but looked best in the championships further up the ground, wonder if he becomes a midfielder in the future? Strong mark who got better as the championships went on and is one of the top handful of kickers in this draft pool. Possesses elite speed but probably didn’t come on in 2016 as some would’ve hoped.
#12 Griffin Logue
?Key Position Defender (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
13/04/1998 | 191.0cm | 93.9kg
Strong lockdown defender who doesn’t lose too many one-on-ones. Rowing background at school has helped his physic, with a strong upper body enabling to outmuscle his opponents. Pinch hit in the ruck in the final match for WA in the Under 18 championships and kicks the ball well off his left foot. Has the tendency to double grab the ball when he possesses it – but overall looks to be the best key position player in the draft pool. Could play from Round one and it’s believed the Swans have been keeping close tabs on him. His work in the 3km run to mow down Josh Battle was an outstanding bit of gut strength. Despite his height (191cm), Logue should be able to match it with strong opposition forwards.
#11 Will Setterfield
?Inside Midfielder (Sandringham Dragons/NSW-ACT)
05/02/1998 | 189.4cm | 79.7kg
Will Setterfield is a tall midfielder who is still finding his feet as to where he best plays his football. The GWS Giants academy member was down on form in the championships, carrying a foot niggle. Can play in multiple positions, but looks best forward of centre. Needs some consistency as can float in and out of games. Setterfield laid 16 tackles in a huge performance for the Sandringham Dragons in their elimination final against Eastern Ranges, before suffering an AC-joint injury in the preliminary final which saw the AFL Academy rule him out of the TAC Cup Grand Final and the NAB AFL U18 All Stars contest. His hands in close are very good and is firmly in the Bombers sights at Pick 1- But the million dollar question is will they bid on him at Pick 1?
#10 Ben Ainsworth
Small Forward/Inside Midfielder (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
10/02/1998 | 178.0cm | 76.2kg
Ben Ainsworth is a strong overhead mark and has the ability to change a game in 10 minutes. An interupted season with injury and suspension, but has had more midfield time in recent months. Booted four goals before being shut down by Andrew McGrath for Vic Country in the Under 18 championships, with one of his best games through the midfield being against South Australia. Did push through the midfield at TAC Cup level, but was against poor opposition including a junk time 15 disposals in the final term in the Power’s final TAC Cup outing. Damaging inside 50 but can be a bit goal hungry at stages. Ainsworth has declared his love to be drafted for the Brisbane Lions and seems likely to be heading interstate with a top five selection.
#9 Tim English
Ruckman (South Fremantle/Western Australia)
10/08/1997 | 204.7cm | 89.5kg
Tim English is a tall ruckman who uses his strong leap in the ruck contests. Only averaged 13 disposals through the championships, but showed plenty with his ability to find and dispose of the ball well off his right boot. Could mount a case that his kicking is better than some of the midfielders in the draft. Some think he may have the ability to play as a tall defender, such is his ability to read the play and kick the ball. Will need to add some size before he reaches the AFL, but is likely to be one of the few ruckman drafted in 2016.
#8 Harry Perryman
Outside Midfielder (Collingullie-GP/NSW-ACT)
19/12/1998 | 183.9cm | 79.4kg
GWS academy member Harry Perryman is a good decision maker, reads the play well. He didn’t look out of place, where he was composed off the half back flank throughout the championships. Kicks on both feet and ideally will transition into the midfield. Does lack speed that some of the other midfielders have. Caught clubs eyes in 2015 when he booted goals for Collingullie-GP in 2015 when clubs flocked to see 2015 draftee Matthew Kennedy play. Was impressive in the trial game for NSW-ACT at the start of the season and won their MVP- as well as claiming the Allies’. Expect a bid in the teens on draft night.
#7 Jack Scrimshaw
Medium Defender (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
04/09/1998 | 193.1cm | 83.7kg
Sandringham Dragons’ Jack Scrimshaw is a hybrid defender that is better playing small than tall. Scrimshaw plays with plenty of X-Factor and is appealing to the eye across defence. He can dash in between packs, take some eye catching marks and pinpoint a left foot pass that looks impossible to the naked eye. His versatility is appealing to clubs as there is no position he couldn’t play, with teammate Andrew McGrath declaring he could even play in the ruck if required. Scrimshaw pushed onto a wing during the championships and in the TAC Cup he has floated forward on occasions, most notably in the TAC Cup Finals and particular the second half of the Grand Final. He does look most at home controlling the defence. Mutliple injuries have affected him over the last two seasons, but has been injury free since mid year. If Scrimshaw wants to become an inside midfielder, in the ‘Bontempelli’ category he will need to improve his competitiveness and contested ball winning abilities.
#6 Sam Petrevski-Seton
Balanced Midfielder (Claremont/Western Australia)
19/02/1998 | 179.7cm | 72.7kg
Sam Petrevski-Seton is an exciting midfielder who has the ability to use either side of his body. Looked a touch underdone in the championships returning from hamstring issues. Not a noted huge disposal winner, but does have x-factor about him. Isn’t a midfielder that hits the scoreboard with just one goal for Claremont this season. Performed well in the WAFL Colts Grand Final- but I was disappointed we didn’t get a chance to see him push into the Reserves or League team. His All Stars match saw him collect 23 disposals, eight tackles and six clearances where he was outstanding. Is one of the midfielders in the draft that has plenty of pace to burn.
#5 Will Brodie
?Inside Midfielder (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
23/08/1998 | 188.0cm | 82.4kg
Will Brodie is a strong inside midfielder and is one of the best clearance players in the draft. Goes in hard at the ball, can’t see him being anything less than a 200 game AFL footballer. Real professional, could step into an AFL team in Round One next season. Kicking has improved from earlier in the season. Brodie had a very quiet game with just the 12 disposals in the TAC Cup Preliminary Final for the Bushrangers. He collided with the umpire in the opening quarter of the TAC Cup Grand Final, leaving his nose bloodied. Finished the day with 22 disposals, seven clearances and six tackles, but I thought bar a patch in the third term his day was largely influential. Sat out the All Stars game through injury and clubs have questioned his finish to the season and his ball winning ability. Wouldn’t be a complete shock to see him fall outside the top 10.
#4 Tim Taranto
?Inside Midfielder (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
28/01/1998 | 185.6cm | 84.1kg
Tim Taranto is an athletic forward that can play through the midfield. Very good in traffic, helped by his basketball background. Willing to give the ball off to teammates in better positions. Strong overhead mark means he has the ability to play deeper inside 50, where he has plenty of smarts and can hit the scoreboard. Has plenty of shots on goal. Taranto capped off his steller finals series with best on ground honours for the All Stars match. Four goals from 19 disposals was outstanding and his ability to play inside, along with up forward sees him push into top five selection come draft night – the only question is whether Gold Coast will nab him at four or will Carlton collect him at five that is of course is the Giants overlooked him with Pick two. Had 29, 23 and 31 disposals in his final three games in the TAC Cup for the Dragons.
#3 Jack Bowes
?Balanced Midfielder (Cairns/Queensland)
26/01/1998 | 187.0cm | 77.7kg
Jack Bowes is a silky smooth midfielder who doesn’t waste too many of his disposals. He moves well through traffic, willing to pump the ball long inside 50. Was a slow starter for the Allies but got better with each game in division one. Gold Coast Academy member. Did not look out of place playing in the NEAFL and his first diposal in their Elimination Final loss just screamed elite. Is an absolute farce that a bid might not come on the talented Gold Coast teen until Pick 9. If not for McGrath’s huge TAC Cup Finals, Bowes would’ve been my number two on my rankings and he has been a great performer right from the opening AFL Academy game at the beginning of the season to the final NAB AFL U18 All Stars game at Punt Road.
#2 Andrew McGrath
Small Defender/Inside Midfielder (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
02/06/1998 | 177.4cm | 76.7kg
Andrew McGrath is an exciting rebounder from defence. The agile runner has an elite athletics background and is not afraid to take the game on- with that comes his kicking which can be shaky at stages when he tries to break the game open. Can win his own ball on the inside too. Depth of kicking over 50m a question mark, but McGrath gives you 10m in run and a 40m kick to your advantage. Excellent leadership skills as indicated by being Co-Captain of Vic Metro and school captain of Brighton Grammar School. Can play last line of defence and shut down an opponent as indicated by blanketing Ben Ainsworth & Jaidyn Stephenson. Has had a huge year, which included a steller interschool athletics carnival that saw him blitz the 100metres running a sub 11 second time. Racked up huge numbers in the TAC Cup Finals and his 38 disposal & eight clearance effort in the Grand Final saw him earn the TAC Medal for best on ground. Should be ready for action come Round One. I am expecting him to be a Bomber come next week.
#1 Hugh McCluggage
?Balanced Midfielder (North Ballarat Rebels/Vic Country)
03/03/1998 | 185.8cm | 75.9kg
Despite McGrath’s huge season, McCluggage remains as my Number One on my ‘Power Rankings’- which he has held since August. He appears like Scott Pendlebury in traffic, making everything appear in slow motion. Clears the ball with ease via quick hands or off his preferred right boot. A few people questioning his contested ball winning abilities, but averaged 20 disposals in the Under 18 Championships (43 per cent contested). McCluggage’s contested numbers are similar at TAC Cup level and has been able to deal with the extra attention from opponents. McCluggage had some great moments in the Rebels’ semi-final loss. McCluggage collected 25 disposals, but did lack some polish by foot. His game in the All Stars match was outstanding, with the goal kicking mid slotting four majors alongside having 17 disposals. Goal kicking midfielders don’t grow on trees, but all the mail as of late will be that Essendon may overlook the talented Rebel.
So that’s my players ranked 25-1, if you want to know more: Send me a Tweet @MattBalmer7 – Keep your eye out for our ‘early’ Phantom Draft online later this week.