Tag: louis butler

2019 AFL Draft club review: Western Bulldogs

POISED nicely among the first round, the Western Bulldogs perfectly met the need for a pure small forward with arguably the best available, while filling out flanker depth and taking a punt on a different type of midfielder to their own who is coming off a long-term injury. With only three picks taken in the National Draft and none for the rookie list, the Bulldogs’ haul is short but sweet.

National Draft:
15. Cody Weightman (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country) | 178cm | 75kg | Small Forward
53. Louis Butler (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) 185cm | 75kg | Medium Defender
62. Riley Garcia (Swan Districts/Western Australia) | 177cm | 70kg | Balanced Midfielder

Rookie Draft:
Nil

Having Cody Weightman available at pick 15 was seemingly the perfect result for the Bulldogs, especially given the Dandenong Stingrays product had toured the Kennel just prior to draft day. With the other considerations in Kysaiah Pickett and Miles Bergman conveniently off the board at that point, Weightman was the natural choice and could make an impact early given the Bulldogs’ shortage of pure small forwards. The all-action, high marking draftee impressed on the big stage for Vic Country with two bags of four goals, showcasing his fearless attack on the ball which suits the Footscray-based side.

The Dogs only re-entered the draft much later on at pick 53, opting for talented runner, Louis Butler. A Vic Metro representative, Butler is another who gets to a number of contests and can rack up the ball across half back. A usually sound and penetrating user of the ball, Butler’s drive could also become an asset through the midfield if a spot is available down the line.

Riley Garcia was the last of the Bulldogs’ picks, taken at number 62 as a good news story out of the National Draft. The small midfielder has loads of ability and can win his own ball, but ended a terrific National Championships on a sour note as he tore his ACL against Vic Country. While he won’t be able to impact straight away given the recovery time, Garcia is a point of difference in the big-bodied Dogs midfield who could be used on on the flanks long-term.

It was an overall sound draft from the Bulldogs, with little to work with but a lot of value coming in and a perfect fit in the first round. Weightman could have an impact straight away, with the other two pick-ups providing some long-term depth.

2019 Draft Central Phantom Draft

THE 2019 AFL National Draft is just a couple of days away and it is clear that trying to work out which clubs favour which players is incredibly difficult given the evenness of the draft crop outside the first round. Even inside the first round, preferences will play a huge role in where players go with certain clubs battling with another one or two for certain players. In this Phantom Draft, we have done the first three rounds, but have not included any live trades which will undoubtedly come in on the night.

ROUND 1:

1 Gold Coast – Matt Rowell
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
01/07/2001 | 180cm | 78kg

The number one pick has been in little doubt for many months now, with the Oakleigh Chargers ball magnet a standout player throughout the 2019 season. He won nearly every accolade he possibly could, and never played a bad game. Rowell will have been prepared for the move north for some time now and he will be a Round 1 starter for the SUNS.

2 Gold Coast – Noah Anderson
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Midfielder/Forward
17/02/2001 | 191cm | 87kg

Like Rowell, expect Anderson to suit up in Round 1, likely playing forward as a marking target who can also rotate through the midfield. He has a high scope of improvement given he is that prototype tall midfielder who has a nice burst of speed through the middle, so expect him to be one who catches the eye quite often.

3 Melbourne – Luke Jackson
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Ruck
29/09/2001 | 199cm | 94kg

The Demons caused a bit of a stir when they announced Jackson as a potential top three pick. Not because of his ability because that was never in doubt, but the fact they were willing to risk a top three pick on a ruck which bucks the trend of recent years. A former Australian basketballer, Jackson was highly sought after by the GIANTS and Dockers among others, so the Dees had to pull the trigger at pick three. Hayden Young was the other consideration at the selection.

4 GWS – Lachlan Ash
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country | Defender
21/06/2001 | 187cm | 83kg

While at first many thought that Hayden Young might be the pick here – or Jackson if the Dees went with Young – the GIANTS have opted towards the speedy and slick half-back Lachlan Ash who provides great run and carry out of defence. Nathan Wilson left to go to Fremantle two years ago, and the inclusion of Ash allows Zac Williams to play more midfield time if required. An elite kick with terrific athleticism.

5 Sydney – Sam Flanders
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Mid/Forward
24/06/2001 | 183cm | 82kg

The Swans are believed to be tossing up between Gippsland Power teammates, Sam Flanders and Caleb Serong. Flanders provides that slight more height and elite hands on the inside, while being a match-winner up forward. He still has areas of consistency to work on, but in terms of what he could become, the ceiling is endless. At this selection, Sydney cannot do too much wrong, but Flanders will offer them plenty of highlights inside 50 in the early days before developing into a midfielder in time.

6 Adelaide – Fischer McAsey
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Key Position Utility
08/03/2001 | 197cm | 91kg

The Crows were weighing up four potential players at this selection, and expected this pick to be a choice between Dylan Stephens and Fischer McAsey. McAsey is the option to be that key defensive replacement for Alex Keath, while being able to play inside 50 if required as a switch man. If Sydney opt for Stephens, then Flanders would be another thought for the Crows potentially.

7 Fremantle – Hayden Young
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Defender
11/04/2001 | 188cm | 83kg

An absolute steal here at Pick 8, but that is the way it looks like panning out, with Fremantle picking up elite kick Hayden Young with Pick 8. The Dockers would consider Stephens if available, and given Stephens is still on the board, might even lean towards the Gippsland Power mid/forward. Fremantle seem pretty settled with this selection given Young could well have been gone by Pick 3.

8 Fremantle – Caleb Serong
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Midfielder/Forward
09/02/2001 | 178cm | 83kg

Another steal here with the Gippsland Power strong midfielder/forward Caleb Serong landing in Fremantle. Fremantle might have looked at grabbing West Australian captain Deven Robertson to begin with, but once it became clear Serong would be available, the Dockers have narrowed their sights on Vic Country’s Most Valuable Player (MVP). He is so strong overhead he is more than capable of matching it with taller players, while his competitive nature and desire to be the best possible player will provide the Blues with a really strong option going forward.

9 Carlton – Dylan Stephens
Norwood/South Australia | Outside Midfielder
08/01/2001 | 183cm | 74kg

While the Blues were originally thought to have eyed off Caleb Serong, it looks like Dylan Stephens will be the one left on the board presuming Adelaide opt for Fischer McAsey. Stephens is the best available and also fits a need, with the outside mover capable of playing from next year. Already having played at SANFL League level, Stephens adds a high work rate and strong character to the side. Deven Robertson would be a consideration here, as would down-trading to grab a couple of first round picks.

10 GWS (matched/bid) – Tom Green
GWS GIANTS Academy/Allies | Inside Midfielder
23/01/2001 | 190cm | 89kg

There is a reason the GIANTS moved from Pick 6 to Pick 4, and that was because the Swans had committed to bid on GIANTS Academy member Tom Green. They have publicly said they are unlikely to do so now, but will still force GWS out of the draft and into deficit, but the GIANTS will happily cop that given they pick up Green to join Ash as a couple of elite talents at the club. Either could start from early on, and expect Green to have a real impact from the moment he gets out there.

11 Melbourne – Cody Weightman
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Forward
15/01/2001 | 178cm | 75kg

The Demons are set on picking up a small forward at this selection, with Cody Weightman and Kysaiah Pickett the two most talked about at this selection. The Demons have put plenty of time and effort into Weightman and might just get the nudge over Pickett, but it is a lineball call. The Dees also could consider Miles Bergman at this pick given the Dragons’ forward could develop into a taller midfielder, but the firepower up forward is what the Dees are after.

12 Fremantle (matched/bid) – Liam Henry
Claremont/Western Australia | Midfielder/Forward
28/08/2001 | 180cm | 68kg

A bid for Liam Henry was always going to come in the first round and push Fremantle well down to the back-end of the draft, but the Dockers will not be too worried in matching this bid. Having already picked up Hayden Young and Caleb Serong, they have filled three different spots in their team and the exciting Next Generation Academy prospect in Henry will provide plenty of highlights over the coming years.

13 Hawthorn – Brodie Kemp
Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country | Utility
01/05/2001 | 192cm | 89kg

Versatile tall Brodie Kemp is somewhat of a slider here and could well slide further to Port Adelaide or Geelong. Will eventually be an inside midfielder, but can play a third tall role at either end of the ground and had a terrific Under-18 Championships. Is overcoming an ACL injury sustained mid-year.

14 Port Adelaide – Will Day
West Adelaide/South Australia | Defender
06/05/2001 | 189cm | 76kg

Get the feeling the first of Port Adelaide’s picks will be between Day, Bergman and Kemp depending on who is available. The slick ball user from West Adelaide, Day has links to Gold Coast with his cousin Sam there, and would be a huge chance to be off the board before Port Adelaide’s second selection. After adding skilled users last year in Connor Rozee, Xavier Duursma and Zak Butters, Day adds that extra touch of class coming off half-back and is a good size at 189cm.

15 Western Bulldogs – Kysaiah Pickett
WWT Eagles/South Australia | Small Forward
02/06/2001 | 171cm | 71kg

One of a couple of draft bolters, Kysaiah Pickett is well in consideration to be taken by Melbourne at Pick 10 (to become 11), but the Dogs will be all over the tenacious small forward if he drops. Miles Bergman is the other potential choice here, while if the Dees go with Pickett, expect Cody Weightman to be the strong chance for Pick 15. Pickett is still very light but loves the contested aspect of the game and the Dogs have shown through drafting Caleb Daniel, they are not worried about height but instead look at skill and Pickett has bucketloads of that.

16 Geelong – Deven Robertson
Perth/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder
30/06/2001 | 184cm | 81kg

Robertson was rumoured to be a possible top 10 selection, with the West Australian captain leading from the front during the Under-18 Championships to win the Larke Medal and state Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. Would be a steal here for Geelong but a number of clubs along the way would be looking at him carefully. A future captain at AFL level.

17 Gold Coast – Trent Bianco
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Midfielder/Defender
20/01/2001 | 178cm | 73kg

It is thought that this selection will be between Will Day and Trent Bianco, and with Port taking Day off the board in this scenario, Bianco is the man to step up to the plate. Port would also be keen on picking up Bianco if Day is snapped up elsewhere, so the Suns will want to use this selection on him. He joins Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson from the Oakleigh Chargers program up on the Gold Coast and adds more leadership to the side coming into that team. Will provide skill and dash off half-back.

18 Port Adelaide – Josh Worrell
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Key Position Utility
11/04/2001 | 195cm | 83kg

With the skilful defender in Will Day secured, Port will look to bring in a tall to replenish some of their stocks lost over the off-season. Well aware that Geelong is in the business of finding a key position player, the Power will have to pounce at this selection rather than wait another two picks. Knowing they will likely just take the one tall, getting one here and knowing the Cats will take a tall at the next pick allows them to go best available at Pick 20. Josh Worrell can play either end and is great value here as a long-term developing tall.

19 Geelong – Harrison Jones
Calder Cannons/Vic Metro | Key Position Utility
25/02/2001 | 196cm | 78kg

After a couple of talls dropped in the top 10, Geelong and Port may well do a merry dance to snap up the next couple and see who will pounce on who in the back-end of the first round. With Port having the first chance at Pick 18, Geelong will either need to pounce on Josh Worrell and risk losing Deven Robertson, or take the chance and secure the developing utility in Harrison Jones. Jones is as versatile as they come and has even spent time in the ruck this year. Whilst he might be considered a bolter to land in the first round, his athletic attributes – mainly his speed and endurance – make him a player to watch.

20 Port Adelaide – Miles Bergman
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Mid/Forward
18/010/2001 | 189cm | 83kg

Port would look at teaming up Will Day with Trent Bianco at this selection – if Bianco was left on the board – to continue the influx of speed and skill, but Miles Bergman being on the board is the choice here. Bergman could well be snapped up by Melbourne, or the Western Bulldogs who are both in the market for a small forward, meaning one of Weightman or Pickett could be left for the Power to secure. Bergman has the height on the others and could well develop into a midfielder who can hit the scoreboard, and played most of the year sore but still had terrific moments in 2019.

21 Hawthorn (matched/bid) – Finn Maginness
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
23/02/2001 | 189cm | 82kg

Given Richmond is targeting inside midfielders, it is tipped that the Tigers will place a bid on Finn Maginness at the end of the first round. The Hawks will quickly match the bid to bring the midfielder into the club, and traded picks to ensure they have plenty of points available. This bid would see the Hawks lose Picks 44 and 52 (which are given up due to Academy bids, whilst Pick 56 would slide to Pick 63).

22 Richmond – Cooper Stephens
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
17/01/2001 | 188cm | 83kg

With the Maginness bid match, Richmond will focus its attention on securing that inside midfielder. Geelong Falcons’ Cooper Stephens is among a number of selections left on the board and could well be snapped up at this pick. Jay Rantall is a consideration, though Stephens is more readymade to slot straight into the line-up and will be that pure inside midfielder with time. A good size at 188cm, Stephens is one who will have an immediate impact.

ROUND 2:

23 Gold Coast – Trent Rivers
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
30/07/2001 | 188cm | 83kg

There is every chance Rivers is at a new club by Wednesday night, but if he is not, then he will not take long at all to come off the board at this selection. The four clubs over the next five picks would all be keen on the tall midfielder who can also play other roles around the ground, and has good development left.

24 Brisbane – Jay Rantall
GWV Rebels/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
10/06/2001 | 185cm | 83kg

Could go as high as Richmond in Round 1, but more likely to land at either Brisbane or Adelaide in Round 2. The Lions cannot not risk him dropping to their next pick, so would need to pounce with #24 and add an extra Rebel to the mix. Elite endurance and can play multiple roles through the midfield. A former Australian basketballer.

25 Adelaide – Jeremy Sharp
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
13/08/2001 | 189cm | 79kg

Picked at this selection because of his ability to provide outside run and carry, and can fulfil that role coming off half-back. A dual All-Australian, the knocks are whether or not he can win the contested ball, but at 189cm and the ability to hit penetrating passes makes him too good to turn down. Not completely out of the question for him to slip a bit further, however.

26 Adelaide – Sam De Koning
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Key Position Utility
26/02/2001 | 201cm | 86kg

Given the Crows have picked up Fischer McAsey, they may err on collecting another key position player, but like McAsey, Sam De Koning has an ability to play at both ends, or even through the ruck. He is the last of the top 30 talls available, so the Crows might want to bundle him up with McAsey. If they end up with Dylan Stephens at Pick 6, expect De Koning to be a massive shot here – if available.

27 Geelong – Thomson Dow
Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country | Midfielder/Forward
16/10/2001 | 184cm | 76kg

A number of picks the Cats could make at this selection, but Thomson Dow seems very ‘Geelong’ like. Another Geelong Grammar boy to possibly go with Brodie Kemp or in this phantom, Deven Robertson, Dow is the brother of Carlton’s Paddy. While he is not as readymade as his brother, he has similar athleticism and is good inside 50 on the lead. A forward to start his career, but will eventually develop into a full-time midfielder.

28 Sydney – Elijah Taylor
Perth/Western Australia | Medium Forward
01/05/2001 | 188cm | 77kg

Elijah Taylor is incredibly talented and adds more X-factor to a Swans side that will have already brought Sam Flanders earlier in the draft in this Phantom Draft scenario. Taylor is a good size at 188cm, and while staying in Western Australia might be a priority, the Swans have a good system in place to make players from interstate fit in well. Far too good to ignore at this selection, and if bypassed, chances are he will not be there at the Swans’ next selection.

29 North Melbourne – Will Gould
Glenelg/South Australia | Tall Defender
14/01/2001 | 192cm | 106kg

Surely the South Australian captain could not drop this far? It is possible, and some think it might be into the 30s. He could go as high as Gold Coast at 23, or maybe even Adelaide at 26 if De Koning is off the board, but Gould will slide outside the top 20. He is an unbelievable talent, and one we have rated in the top 15 most of the year. Elite footballing qualities, once he gets into an AFL environment, he will likely prove a few people wrong. A bargain at this selection.

30 North Melbourne – Cameron Taheny
Norwood/South Australia | Medium Forward
03/08/2001 | 185cm | 80kg

There is a feeling the Roos will pick a small forward at their selections, whether it be Cameron Taheny, Elijah Taylor or Dylan Williams. With Williams touted to slide the furthest when it is all said and done, Taheny looks to be the more readymade prospect for North, and the transition into the blue and white stripes will be made easier in this scenario coming across with Gould. Another bargain pick.

31 Melbourne – Darcy Cassar
Western Jets/Vic Metro | Utility
31/07/2001 | 184cm | 82kg

Providing some speed and dash off half-back with neat kicking skills, Darcy Cassar is a player with some top shelf traits, and just needs to iron out inconsistencies to take the next step. At his best he is contending for a top 20 spot, and Melbourne fit the need they were targeting at the top end of the draft in a skilful half-back by adding Cassar to their list in the second round.

32 Brisbane – Dylan Williams
Oakleigh Chargers | Medium Forward
01/07/2001 | 186cm | 81kg

An interesting selection looms for the Lions at this pick, and the likes of Harry Schoenberg and Sam Philp were considered, but given the Lions have picked up a number of exciting players with upside in recent years, Dylan Williams is one who might appeal to them. He might not fit a direct need, but at this selection he is a bargain and also has those leadership qualities – co-captaining Oakleigh Chargers – and is surely too good to pass up because he will not be there at the next pick.

33 Port Adelaide (matched/bid) – Jackson Mead
WWT Eagles/South Australia | Balanced Midfielder
30/09/2001 | 183cm | 83kg

Port has enough points to match a bid for Jackson Mead at this point in the draft, and will not have a problem matching should a team like North Melbourne put the offer out there. North is known for making bids on players that fill needs, and Mead’s range is tipped to be in this hitting zone. Expected to make his way to the Power without any fuss.

34 North Melbourne – Hugo Ralphsmith
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Midfielder/Forward
09/11/2001 | 188cm | 75kg

A few options to pick from here, but North has interest in Hugo Ralphsmith, and may well take him with one of their picks inside the top 30. If not and he is still on the board here, Ralphsmith will be difficult to pass up. Sam Philp, Harry Schoenberg and Mitch O’Neill will be considerations, but Ralphsmith may be the first choice.

35 Essendon – Harry Schoenberg
WWT Eagles/South Australia | Inside Midfielder
21/02/2001 | 182cm | 83kg

The South Australian Most Valuable Player (MVP) winner offers a solid inside presence at the selection for the Bombers, with his inside craft and ball-winning abilities among his strengths. Essendon might consider Sam Philp at this selection as well, with the Bombers and Swans potentially targeting similar types to round out their list.

36 Sydney – Sam Philp
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
04/08/2001 | 186cm | 79kg

A perfect fit for the Swans, Sam Philp is a running machine on the inside with terrific burst speed out of the contest – a 2.87-second 20m sprint – which fills a need whilst adding his contested ball winning ability. Despite missing out on Vic Metro selection, Philp offers plenty to the club that picks him, and Sydney could be that club.

37 Essendon – Charlie Comben
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Forward/Ruck
20/07/2001 | 199cm | 84kg

The Bombers need another ruck for depth, and Comben is a player who can also play that key position forward role. He is a good size and still developing, and given the likes of Collingwood and Geelong are not far away, Essendon might have to make their move at this pick to secure him.

38 Brisbane – Mitch O’Neill
Tasmania Devils/Allies | Small Utility
21/02/2001 | 176cm | 72kg

A steal at Pick 38, Tasmania’s top player makes his way north and will be a welcome addition given his ability to play anywhere on the ground. He adds to the Lions’ skilful and exuberant young side and is another player like Gould who may prove a fair few wrong in the coming years.

39 Collingwood – Mitch Georgiades
Subiaco/Western Australia | Tall Forward
28/09/2001 | 192cm | 87kg

Seems to be the obvious pick for Collingwood, with Mitch Georgiades the best tall forward available at this selection and a clear need for the Magpies. Collingwood might be tempted to opt for a tall defender in Karl Finlay or Dyson Hilder, or maybe the upside of Fraser Phillips, but these are all the selections coming in the next few selections.

40 Geelong – Karl Finlay
North Adelaide/South Australia | Tall Defender
14/07/2001 | 193cm | 90kg

Geelong may not opt for a second tall, but Finlay is the type who has great agility and is able to play on a tall or small in defence, which in this Phantom Draft would allow Harrison Jones to play forward. Finlay is an Under 16s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award winner and it would not be surprising to see him go higher and perhaps even pounced on in the 20s – particularly if De Koning joins the other talls in the first round. Like many talls, it is often a needs basis, so could slide to around here, but Collingwood would seriously consider him with their last pick.

41 Adelaide – Fraser Phillips
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Medium Forward
15/05/2001 | 187cm | 72kg

Has the talent to become anything, and could end up at a number of clubs in the 30s, but the Crows could not take a chance any longer with Richmond and Carlton no doubt keen to acquire his services. Has the potential to become a midfielder long-term and just moves well and creates havoc inside 50. A player who has drawn traits similar to Jack Macrae and Scott Pendlebury at the same age – even if much rawer than those players.

42 Richmond – Dyson Hilder
North Adelaide/South Australia | Key Defender
31/03/2001 | 196cm | 91kg

With three consecutive selections, Richmond is likely to select one key position player just to add to the depth in the squad, and given they have picked up Cooper Stephens with the first selection, the additional inside midfielder need is filled. Hilder is a readymade key position option, but can work with the Tigers’ back six to become a strong negating defender who is also capable of creating offensive rebound. Another key position player who might go higher than this due to needs.

43 Richmond – Brock Smith
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Defender
13/03/2001 | 189cm | 82kg

The Gippsland Power captain is a hard nut and would be a perfect fit for Richmond given his accountability in defence and willingness to put his body on the line for his teammates. He showed in 2019 that he can also create offensive drive, and that will be attractive for the Tigers to fill that Brandon Ellis role, or play deeper and release one of the other defenders.

ROUND 3:

44 Richmond – Jack Mahony
Sandringham Dragons | Small Midfielder/Forward
12/11/2001 | 178cm | 72kg

Hard to see Mahony slipping this far, but if he did it would certainly be a bargain. Capable of playing midfield or forward, Mahony rarely wastes a kick and is able to set up his forwards with neat 45-degree passes that can be deadly for the opposition. A high footy IQ and one who will develop into a very handy player.

45 Carlton – Ned Cahill
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Small Forward
11/01/2001 | 179cm | 78kg

Has been long linked to Carlton at this selection, but will he be there? It is possible, and he fills a perfect need which allows the Blues to go best available at Pick 9. Has a lot of growth left in his game, and is more consistent than a lot of other small forwards. Adds a touch of class inside 50.

46 Sydney – Josh Shute
Sturt/South Australia | Outside Midfielder
28/03/2001 | 187cm | 74kg

While it is becoming increasingly difficult to try and predict which way clubs will go by this stage, the Sturt winger adds some terrific pace and line-breaking willingness that can attract clubs in the third round. He takes the game on and is a good size, just needs to iron out a few things and could be a real valuable contributor on the outside.

47 Adelaide – Daniel Mott
Calder Cannons/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
01/05/2001 | 183cm | 80kg

While Mott is not the fastest midfielder going around, he has such clean hands and skill on the inside, which he has been developing over the past 12 months. Mott can also play outside where he uses his terrific kicking ability to advantage and replaces the wealth of midfield depth that has been lost at the Crows this year.

48 West Coast – Jake Pasini
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Defender
06/02/2001 | 193cm | 82kg

West Coast seem tipped to look local at this selection, and one of Jake Pasini, Trey Ruscoe or Riley Garcia might be a choice. Pasini is the tallest option and able to replace one of the Eagles’ key defenders in time, having worked on areas of his game such as his kicking and decision making.

49 North Melbourne – Emerson Jeka
Western Jets/Vic Metro | Key Forward/Defender
18/09/2001 | 198cm | 90kg

A number of clubs over the next few picks are still in the market for a key position player, and with North Melbourne having picked up a number of faster, outside types – as well as Gould – Jeka presents a different option for the Roos. He can play at either end and is an elite contested mark, potentially sharing the forward line with Nick Larkey in years to come, learning from Ben Brown.

50 Collingwood – Jake Riccardi
Werribee/VFL | Key Position Forward
07/11/1999 | 194cm | 96kg

One of the strongest rumours floating around the mid and later stages of the draft is Jake Riccardi to Collingwood, and the Magpies will not want to wait too much longer from here. Could well end up the first State Draft Combine invitee to go in the National AFL Draft, but the question will be whether or not the Magpies pick up two tall forwards – Georgiades and Riccardi – or if they go best available then take Riccardi.

52 St Kilda – Cooper Sharman
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Tall Forward
25/07/2000 | 192cm | 79kg

A long-term developing forward, Sharman has great upside and would be considered by some clubs in the 40s. As accurate shot on goal as anyone else, Sharman will not immediately step in due to needing to improve his endurance, but when he does, he would add some great speed on the lead, strong overhead and convert his opportunities. Saints could go a number of ways, but they will like Sharman’s upside.

53 Western Bulldogs – Nick Bryan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Ruck
22/10/2001 | 202cm | 87kg

Arguably the hardest to place in the draft, Nick Bryan could go anywhere from the late 30s, up into the 60s, but Western Bulldogs could opt for some ruck depth at Pick 53 and has been linked here if available. A long-term prospect, Bryan is more a player who will take over in a few years and given his athletic traits, could be something special.

54 Richmond – Ryan Byrnes
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
03/05/2001 | 182cm | 84kg

A workhorse through the middle, Byrnes has transitioned from a player on the fringes of his NAB League side Sandringham Dragons, to captaining the side, representing Vic Metro and making himself all but a certain draft candidate. He has to build his kicking, but he is dual-sided and a threat out of stoppages with a quick burst here and there and often pumps the ball to the danger zone inside 50. A perfect fit for the Tigers.

55 Carlton – Darcy Chirgwin
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
25/07/2001 | 191cm | 80kg

A big-bodied midfielder tipped to slide down later in the draft, Pick 55 for Darcy Chirgwin could be another selection that makes people look silly in the future. He is a perfect fit for the Blues to provide assistance for Patrick Cripps in the midfield and is not afraid to crash and bash around the stoppages.

Others not far away had the draft extended out: Riley Garcia, Callum Jamieson, Trey Ruscoe (Western Australia), Luke Partington, Callum Park, Josh Morris (South Australia), Angus Baker, Liam Delahunty (NSW-ACT), Brady Rowles, Lachlan Williams (Vic Country), Louis Butler, Josh Honey, Lachlan Stapleton (Vic Metro), Frank Anderson, Sam Lowson (VFL)

ACADEMY/FATHER-SON SELECTIONS IN CONTENTION LATE/ROOKIE WITH COMBINE INVITES OR HAVE BEEN NOMINATED:

*Note the below does not mean the club has committed to them – although in some cases they have – it is merely a list of those clubs with players tied to the club that received combine invitations and were in the respective club’s Academy or father-son prospect at the start of the year.

Anzac Lochowiak -> Adelaide
Noah Cumberland, Keidean Coleman, Lachlan Johnson, Bruce Reville and Will Martyn, Tom Griffiths -> Brisbane
Cameron Wild -> Carlton
Isaiah Butters, Leno Thomas -> Fremantle
Ryan Gilmore, Josh Gore, Dirk Koenen -> Gold Coast SUNS
Liam Delahunty, Matt McGrory, James Peatling, Jeromy Lucas, Ed Perryman -> GWS GIANTS
Harrison Pepper -> Hawthorn
Matthew McGuinness -> North Melbourne
Trent Burgoyne -> Port Adelaide
Bigoa Nyuon -> St Kilda
Luke Parks, Hamish Ellem, Jackson Barling, Nicholas Brewer, Samuel Gaden, Max Geddes, Harry Maguire, Samuel Thorne-> Sydney

2019 AFL Draft Preview: St Kilda Saints

AFTER a bumper trade period which saw St Kilda bring in a bunch of talent, the Saints are set for a much more subdued draft night. They will open their draft all the way back in Round 3, with just three selections at their disposal but not a massive amount they would be seeking to improve. They have fulfilled a lot of their needs during that trade period and will now likely be a quiet player in the draft, but could deal with a club such as Essendon who has multiple picks in the 60s but will not use them all.

CURRENT PICKS: 51, 82, 100, 118

NOMINATED ACADEMY/FATHER-SONS: Bigoa Nyuon (NGA)

LIST NEEDS:

Long-term ruck depth
Overall depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:

Entering the draft all the way back at Pick 51 – which will ultimately become Pick 54 post-bids – is a bizarre position to be in, and is often the approach sides in the premiership window take. But the Saints will back their hand and result of their trade period, with many bases covered and the potential to bring in either project players or readymade mature-agers. They are at the mercy of other clubs’ selections at pick 51, but rucks like Nick Bryan and Callum Jamieson could provide the long-term ruck depth St Kilda looks to be needing as Rowan Marshall matures and Paddy Ryder ages. Flanker types may also interest the Saints as the likes of Jade Gresham, Jack Billings, Hunter Clark and Nick Coffield battle for more midfield minutes, with Brisbane academy product Will Martyn one who could fit the bill along with Louis Butler, Isaac Wareham, Mitch Martin, and Lachlan Williams. Another option might be a versatile tall forward to replace Josh Bruce, such as the dead-eye accurate Cooper Sharman.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

There is not much the Saints have to play with, but they could split pick 51 to give themselves a bit more to work with slightly down the order – such as Essendon with the picks in the 60s. Given they have covered so many bases in the trade period and have immediate cover almost everywhere, it may well be a case of just building that depth.

REMAINING CROP:

Next Generation Academy product Bigoa Nyuon is currently training with the club and could either be taken at pick 82 or in the rookie draft, able to play in each key position post and with good upside as a raw prospect. Mature-agers and real project players come into the fold at the 82-mark, with the Saints lacking any real wriggle room in terms of being able to rely on targeted players still being on the board.

2019 AFL Draft Preview: Richmond Tigers

THERE is seldom much any reigning premier needs to improve on, let alone this Richmond side after a redemptive 2019 campaign. Topping up depth for the future will likely be the go for the Tigers, with long-term replacements for some of their older premiership heroes perhaps on the agenda. They are set to come in at the end of the first round, and could be ripe for the picking in terms of live trades given their lack of a pressing need.

CURRENT PICKS: 19, 38, 39, 41, 56, 75, 77, 95

NOMINATED ACADEMY/FATHER-SONS: Nil.

LIST NEEDS:

Future squad depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:

Pick 19 throws up a few interesting options for the Tigers, with hardened and consistent products often favoured at Tigerland. Geelong Falcons co-captain Cooper Stephens looms as a prospect who would be fresh in the mind of recruiters after a solid national combine showing having missed most of the year through injury, with the inside midfielder a classy future replacement for the likes of Trent Cotchin. Larke Medallist Deven Roberston is another arguably more similar to the Cotchin mould but will likely be off the board at that stage, while Jay Rantall would be a good option if he bolts up the order. Will Gould is a player who loves the tough stuff and would be able to develop his athletic base while trying to break into the ones, while Trent Bianco is a very different half-back with elite kicking skills and leadership who could grow into the role of Bachar Houli.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

Live trading may well come to Richmond more than the Tigers actively seek it out, but their package of picks 38, 39, and 41 could be used to move up into the late-20s if a slider is still on the board. Their hand of five picks past the 40-mark would also typically be a target of clubs looking to cover academy bids, but given the draft is not overly compromised at the top-end, that may not be so much of a query.

REMAINING CROP:

The Tigers can bring in some real midfield and outside class should they hold on to picks 38, 39, and 41, with Sandringham trio Hugo Ralphsmith, Jack Mahony, and Darcy Chirgwin around the mark, while Daniel Mott, Darcy Cassar, Sam Philp and Harry Schoenberg could also fall their way. All of them provide ball-finding ability, have good scope for the future, and have their own points of difference – which suits Richmonds current position. Elsewhere, a player like Louis Butler could be packaged with a Dragons teammate slightly later on, while the Tigers’ last few picks are anyone’s guess, with mature agers potentially coming into the fold.

2019 AFL Draft Preview: North Melbourne Kangaroos

NORTH MELBOURNE comes into the 2019 Draft with a middle-of-the-way hand, allowing the Roos to top up stocks with no real risk at the back end while also having the potential to nab a few real bargains in the second round. With no academy or father-son prospects to make up picks for, they can go in as-is and add some flair to a midfield with bigger, slower bodies.

CURRENT PICKS: 26, 27, 30, 47, 84

NEXT GEN ACADEMY/FATHER-SONS – COMBINE INVITES: Matthew McGuinness

LIST NEEDS:

Midfield speed/class
Goalkicking forwards

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:

The Kangaroos could package up a couple of handy players with picks 26, 27 and 30 able to land a potential slider without worry of missing out on a player they came in hoping to pick up. Ever the antagonists, the Roos have form in making bids and could even be the team to force Port up the order with a bid on Jackson Mead in that range. Elsewhere, Thomson Dow would be a great fit with his power from the stoppages, while the likes of Hugo Ralphsmith and Mitch O’Neill would both be terrific outside options with nice skills. A trio of dynamic medium forwards could also be available in the form of Dylan Williams, Cameron Taheny, and Elijah Taylor – all able to win games off their own boots with bags of goals. Developing key position players Sam De Koning and Charlie Comben could also be thereabouts, with clubs looking to pounce in a draft short of talls.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

While North Melbourne seemed fairly comfortable heading into the 2019 AFL Draft with a couple of mid-20s picks, they picked up another pick shortly after in Pick 30 from Hawthorn, while sending picks 50, 73 and a future second rounder back to the Hawks. It was an interesting trade considering North’s second rounder next year will likely be prior to Pick 30, but the more immediate need for another player, and the fact the Roos have two first rounders next year in a draft where the depth is not as strong, means the second rounder – along with picks 50 and 73 which they would not use – suits them just fine.

REMAINING CROP:

The last of the Kangaroos’ crop will depend on what is available to them earlier on, with picks onwards from the third round always difficult to predict. Cooper Sharman is a third tall with plenty of potential who could slide to pick 47, and GWS Academy product Liam Delahunty is a player with similar attributes who the Roos could bid on in that range. The theme of outside class or midfield zip could see the likes of mature-ager Luke Partington come into the fold, with Under-18s Josh Honey, Josh Shute, and Louis Butler all capable of creating damage going forward. Tall Tasmanian utility Matt McGuinness is another option who could be packaged with the likes of O’Neill to provide that Apple Isle link.

AFL Draft Preview: Brisbane Lions

THE big bolters of 2019 look a complete unit coming into the draft having already added a couple of neat players during trade period. Best-available looks like being the approach for the Lions, although they did throw a slight curveball in selecting Ely Smith in the first round last year. With a premiership tilt in the frame and no massive requirements, the Lions can add some high-upside prospects with their first few picks, while covering for academy bids later on.

CURRENT PICKS: 16, 21, 34, 48, 52, 55, 72

ACADEMY/FATHER-SONS: Noah Cumberland (NA), Keidean Coleman (NA), Lachlan Johnson (f/s) are those with confirmed interest. Will Martyn and Kobe Tozer are other Academy prospects who received Combine invitations.

LIST NEEDS:

Squad depth
Outside speed

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:

The Lions’ first pick falls at an intriguing point of the draft, with great value to be had should players slide just out of top 10 consideration. With no glaring list needs and just depth to sure up, Brisbane is primed for another top four tilt and have the freedom to recruit players who may require some time to develop – rather than readymade prospects. They would then arguably look towards picking the best available, with some exciting players set to remain up for grabs. Speedy outsider Trent Bianco would be a shrewd choice, with the recent addition of Grant Birchall possibly serving as a mentor for the classy half-back. It would also see Bianco join Noah Answerth as an ex-Oakleigh skipper at the Lions. South Australian Will Day is another defender around the mark, but may well be snapped up by Gold Coast at pick 15, and West Australian Trent Rivers would be an apt replacement in the Luke Hodge mould. Dynamic Sandringham wingman/forward Miles Bergman is also in the mix if he gets past the Bulldogs’ pick 13, with high-flying small forward Cody Weightman in the same boat.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

Most of the live trading will have to do with selections at the bookends of the draft, with Brisbane a relevant entity in terms of later picks with academy prospects and a father-son in the frame. Picks 16 and 21 could be packaged among others for an earlier pick should the Lions be ultra-keen on a certain prospect for their first pick, while other sides may look to split their earlier pick to gain more value. But Brisbane has the luxury of not having to necessarily stress on their draft hand, and should get enough value as it is.

REMAINING CROP:

Academy products Keidean Coleman and Noah Cumberland will be snapped up among this year’s crop, with the price on Cumberland possibly falling within the late-30s given his upside. But unless another club is really keen on him, they could well cover a bid with pick 48, 52, or 55, picking up 19-year-old Coleman around that mark and father-son Lachlan Johnson later-on. Pick 21 is an interesting one, and could waver depending on what they get with pick 16. If a defender is snapped up, midfielders Cooper Stephens and Jay Rantall could fall around the mark, while Oakleigh forward Dylan Williams would be a handy player to package with Chargers co-captain Bianco. If a forward is selected, Will Gould is a readymade option to fill the half-back role. It is a lucky dip after pick 50 or so, with the likes of Daniel Mott, Darcy Cassar, Louis Butler, and Josh Honey all versatile movers who can develop into whatever the Lions need around that mark. The Lions have not confirmed interest in academy products Will Martyn or Kobe Tozer for National Draft selection (with Tozer invited back for a 19-year-old year in 2020), but both have received interest from other clubs with a National and State Combine invite respectively.

2019 AFL Draft Preview: Collingwood Magpies

COLLINGWOOD heads into the 2019 AFL National Draft with a less than inspiring draft hand which means the 2018 Grand Finalists and 2019 Preliminary Finalists will need to get creative with their picks. Luckily for the Magpies, they have been two kicks away from a flag and a second Grand Final, so the strength in the list is there, with just depth needed across the board. They need to address a lack of key position players, with both form and injuries taking a toll, particularly a lack of key position forwards, and perhaps another ruck – though they acquired Darcy Cameron in the off-season. Otherwise some speed and skill around the ground to replace the recently retired or ageing stars most of whom possessed pace with enough elite inside midfielders at the Magpies’ disposal.

CURRENT PICKS: 35, 62, 74

NOMINATED ACADEMY/FATHER-SONS: Nil

LIST NEEDS:

Key position depth – forward first priority
Ruck depth
Fast and skilful half-back or half-forward

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:

At Pick 35, the Magpies will either need to hope there is a slider or perhaps pluck out a surprise player at the selection. West Australian Mitch Georgiades could well slide into that range, which would be a risk given he missed all of his top-age year, but his athleticism and high flying marks would certainly provide the Magpies with something different from a tall. However he is not the traditional key forward height, so if Harrison Jones is available he might be the first choice, while Jake Riccardi might be considered here, though they could hope he slides to their next selection. A couple of left field choices could be Fraser Phillips or Karl Finlay, with the former providing some X-factor and skill inside 50, while the latter provides the rebounding key position depth in defence.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

The Magpies need to do something as they seem to be stuck in the AFL Draft’s version of no-man’s land. They are just beyond the picks likely to secure a key position player they need, and ahead of the next batch which might be 10-20 picks below. This means Collingwood will need to either trade up – perhaps looking at Brisbane’s Pick 21 for a second rounder in 2020 along with their Pick 35, or one of North Melbourne’s Pick 26 or 27 to try and secure one of their key targets. Or perhaps the Magpies will trade down, offering up Pick 35 to perhaps Brisbane again who might want another pick before they need to match their Academy picks, which Picks 48, 52 and 55 are there, or more likely perhaps a Hawthorn with Pick 42 or 54.

REMAINING CROP:

With what the Magpies have left, they could hope Riccardi slides to Pick 62, or perhaps snatch up another available tall such as Charlie Comben, Nick Bryan or Callum Jamieson, or Cooper Sharman if the tall forward is on the board. Dyson Hilder down back could be a consideration if around, or Jake Pasini. If they go smaller, perhaps the Magpies pluck out a school footballer again with a Derek Hine special – picking up a Louis Butler or Kaden Schreiber. One player to keep an eye on is Angus Baker with the Canberra Demons’ half-back a terrific user of the ball and one that the Magpies would be keen to snap up as he fills an immediate role in the side. While their picks are not great, the Magpies can look to mature-agers and plug holes where required.

Draft Central Power Rankings: November 2019 – 60-41

AS the 2019 AFL National Draft is just around the corner, we work up to the November 27-28 event with a three-part Power Rankings series, counting down our top 60 players heading into the AFL Draft. We have not taken into account any draft selections or club needs, it is purely our opinion. Furthermore, given the evenness of the draft, there were plenty of unlucky players on the cusp of making it into the top 60. This edition looks at those players we have ranked 60-41.

#60 Lachlan Stapleton
Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
14/04/2001 | 179cm | 73kg

The only State Draft Combine player in our Power Rankings, the Eastern Ranges ball magnet has been one of the more consistent players this year. One of the few unlucky not to get a National Draft Combine invite, Stapleton has plenty of tricks despite his size, and can win the ball inside or out. In season 2019, Stapleton averaged 22.3 disposals, 2.5 marks, 5.2 clearances, 4.5 inside 50s and 7.1 tackles from 13 games, predominantly playing an inside role. His hands in close were very good, with athletic traits that are handy but could still improve such as his in-game acceleration – clocking a sub-three second 20m sprint at the State Combine, and his kicking consistency. A rough chance still, but should have done enough to find a place on an AFL list.

#59 Ryan Byrnes
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
03/05/2001 | 182cm | 84kg

Mr Consistent, Sandringham’s fearless captain has been as reliable as just about anyone in the NAB League this season. Byrnes can play inside or out, wins the ball out of a stoppage and has a trademark five-step burst to create separation from his opponent and send the ball inside 50 to leading teammates. His kicking could certainly sharpen up, but he can use either foot which makes him more of an asset, and while he is shorter compared to some inside midfielders, he has the readymade frame to compete at senior level. Almost missed out on a bottom-age year at Sandringham and has been a workhorse to put himself in a position where he could be drafted. Just a no-fuss footballer who leads by actions and will be a popular player at a club should he be selected.

#58 Emerson Jeka
Western Jets/Vic Metro | Key Forward/Defender
18/09/2001 | 198cm | 90kg

On upside, Jeka is a lot higher, but it is just piecing all of his traits together for some consistency. He is an elite contested mark, is virtually an eight-second flat agility test and near three seconds 20m sprint candidate. This athleticism is something rare in players of his size, but the inconsistencies of the past few years, as well as finding his best position – between forward and back – means he is still a raw prospect who has to develop. Given his traits, if he can be put to work and learn off a more aggressive mentor at an AFL club, then he will add more to his game. He has the physicality to really worry opposition defenders when leading out, it is just showing it on a more consistent basis. His best is winning a game off his own boot, but it just happens in seldom, so the best is yet to come from the Western Jets tall.

#57 Louis Butler
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Defender
25/04/2001 | 185cm | 74kg

An interesting prospect, Butler at his best can be a damaging half-back who floats through the middle and wins plenty of the ball. When it comes to off-field testing, Butler’s numbers do not jump off a page. But when it comes to in-game work, he moves well and has the smarts to evade opponents with ball-in-hand and open up space for his teammates. He seems a confidence player, because when he starts hitting targets, he can hardly miss, but when he sprays the odd kick early, he can be a bit more error prone throughout the game. Showed plenty throughout his school footballing, and finished the NAB League season averaging 23 disposals and three rebounds a game.

#56 Josh Shute
Sturt/South Australia | Outside Midfielder
28/03/2001 | 187cm | 74kg

A lightly built, but talented outside midfielder with some good size, Shute is the stereotypical winger who likes to run and create from the back half going forward. Shute has nice foot skills with a touch of class, as well as a high work rate that sees him push up and down the ground. His endurance could still improve, as could his impact per possession, and while standing at 73kg, Shute could add size to his frame. Overall though, Shute has a nice outside game from which clubs can work with, and is one of the more prominent wingers available in the AFL Draft crop. He could go higher than this based on his ball use and outside run, but is still a developing talent.

#55 Flynn Perez
Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country | Outside Midfielder
25/08/2001 | 188cm | 81kg

One of the players hardest to rate this year, Perez has missed his entire top-age season after injuring his knee late last year at a Vic Country camp. From what he showed as a bottom-ager, Perez has some neat outside traits, and class when in close. He moves well and is a creator for his team, it is just about getting some consistency in both his disposal and game. At 188cm, Perez is a nice height for a midfielder, and when adding in his athleticism, the Bendigo Pioneers’ midfielder is unlikely to be forgotten by an AFL club come November.

#54 Nick Bryan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Ruck
22/10/2001 | 202cm | 87kg

Considered a potential first rounder at the start of the year, Bryan has slipped down the order after an inconsistent year. He had a good finals series, particularly in the last couple of games which gave recruiters another glimpse at the highly athletic ruck. While he is far from the finished product, it is hard to imagine he will be overlooked based on his sub three-second 20m sprint and his size at 202cm makes him a valuable commodity. While he might not have the consistency of some of the other talls higher on the list, he has plenty of upside and a club could certainly find a need for Bryan should they be on the lookout for another ruck.

#53 Josh Honey
Western Jets/Vic Metro | Mid/Forward
17/10/2001 | 185cm | 82kg

Another player with great upside, Honey has the versatility to rotate between midfield and forward, and is an athlete to-boot. Honey was one of the more impressive performers at the National Draft Combine, clocking up times of 2.97 seconds (20m sprint) and 8.10 seconds (agility test). His consistency can be a worry at times, particularly when it comes to influence throughout long periods in games, with his accumulation lower than most other comparable players – 16.1 disposals per game. But when on his game, Honey has that hurt factor about him, with his clean hands and defensive pressure – 4.6 tackles per game – a feature, as well as his ability to hit the scoreboard regularly, contributing 12 goals in 14 games at NAB League level, and two from two at the Under-18 National Championships.

#52 Jake Pasini
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Defender
06/02/2001 | 193cm | 82kg

A really consistent and reliable defender, Pasini is a player who could step up and play from early on in his career. At 193cm, Pasini is a little undersized to match up against the bigger-bodied key forwards, so will likely fill out as a running defender who takes a third tall, or could play on smaller players if need be. He has the skill level to be that offensive running back, and he reads the ball in flight really well. Averaging 18.3 disposals and 4.1 marks at WAFL Colts level from seven games, Pasini also got a call-up to both the Reserves and League sides for Swan Districts where he did not look out of place in two and one games respectively. After playing for Western Australia at the Under-18 Championships as a bottom-ager, Pasini returned as a top-ager and again was able to provide a steadying influence, picking up his rebound numbers to average two per game.

#51 Mitch Georgiades
Subiaco/Western Australia | Tall Forward
28/09/2001 | 192cm | 87kg

Similar to Perez, Georgiades is one who is hard to read where he goes. On talent, he could be a top 30 pick, but the fact a quad injury has kept him out of action throughout his entire top-age year would be a concern. He is too talented and has too much upside to not be looked at, and with his vertical leap (85cm running) and acceleration (2.925 seconds 20m sprint), Georgiades is a headache for any defender. Once the air space is clear and there is a body in front of him, expect the high-flying forward to sit on their head and bring the ball down. While he has not been able to show any improvements this year due to injury, he could also improve his defensive attributes, with few tackles despite his obvious athletic talent. In terms of what he offers offensively however, Georgiades can be a dominant goal kicker both in the air and at ground level and be that X-factor that sets him aside from other tall forwards in this draft.

#50 Charlie Comben
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Forward/Ruck
20/07/2001 | 199cm | 84kg

A versatile player who could well end up as a key forward and second ruck, Comben is capable of playing either role to a high standard. His ruck craft itself is good, and his second efforts at ground level such as laying a follow-up tackle or providing a block or shepherd is impressive. He can float forward and lead out of the goalsquare with sticky hands and an ability to crash a pack if needed. He has had his fair share of injuries over the journey so is arguably a tad behind on his development. But the fact he has come such a long way in his top-age year means Comben has plenty of upside for the future and is one who clubs can look to for the long term if they are after a bigger body up forward who can play that second ruck role to a t. Could be the second ruck picked in the AFL Draft, depending on how clubs view his progress against Bryan’s and what they are looking for, but we have him here due to his versatility and greater consistency over the season, as well as impact at the Under-18 National Championships for Vic Country.

#49 Liam Delahunty
GWS GIANTS/Allies | Forward/Defender
13/02/2001 | 192cm | 91kg

A member of the GWS GIANTS Academy, where Delahunty ends up on draft night will be interesting considering the GIANTS’ picks in this year’s draft. With Pick 6 likely to be Tom Green, Delahunty could be matched with one of the later picks, potentially 59 or 60. If the GIANTS choose to trade up to grab a second elite talent to avoid using Pick 6 on Green, then matching Green with their few picks, they might struggle to match a bid. Either way, Delahunty has shown enough to suggest a club could use a player of his services, with his kicking ability and reliability up forward – or in defence at times. He is a strong mark and covers the ground well, and while he is undersized, he could develop into a midfielder with time if required, and given his smarts could be very handy there. He could improve his accumulation numbers from ground level with the majority of his touches coming from marks. Once he develops that area of his game, he can have an equal impact at ground level as he can in the air.

#48 Karl Finlay
North Adelaide/South Australia | Tall Defender
14/07/2001 | 193m | 90kg

The Under 16s Most Valuable Player (MVP) winner from the championships two years ago, Finlay has remained consistent across all areas. While his ground balls and decision making at times could improve, his work without the ball is top notch, able to intercept at will across half-back. He will likely play as that third tall defender, and has superb agility for a player of his size, and captained his school, Prince Alfred College (PAC) during the season. He reads the play well and is a dominant one-on-one player who could play from early on in his career if given the chance, but still has those areas to work on and will undoubtedly do so. A potent defensive weapon, Finlay might be the awkward size at 192cm, but he is a two-way player, nullifying an opponent and creating drive from half-back.

#47 Noah Cumberland
Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies | Forward
15/03/2001 | 183cm | 79kg

A player we at Draft Central are a fan of, Cumberland has some seriously great athletic traits. In particular his break-neck speed coming off a flank or charging down the ground, recording a 2.931-second 20m sprint and 8.208-second agility test at the National Draft Combine. Tied to the Lions’ Academy, Cumberland could well be the first Lion bid on in the AFL Draft, and his versatility and high upside would be something attractive to the club and other clubs. He is a great pressure player as well, with his aggression at both the ball and opponent, and with ball-in-hand or without. He averaged almost five tackles a game at the championships, and while he will want to lift his accumulation and kicking consistency – he averaged just the 11 touches per game – he has some great traits from which a club can develop.

#46 Brock Smith
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Defender
13/03/2001 | 189cm | 82kg

As reliable and competitive as they come, Smith is a defender who can play both offensive and defensive roles, and almost always achieve the team requirement of him by the end of the game. Rarely having a game where he does not in some part contribute, Smith will attack contests without fear for his own safety, and also provide rebound out of the back half. He ticks a lot of boxes across the board, and while he could improve his speed, and add more dimensions to his game up the ground, his flexibility to play against taller or smaller opponents is a bonus. His one-on-one strength helps him take on the stronger players, while his competitive nature helps him challenge those with greater athletic traits. His rebounding and intercept marking, as well as his penetrating kick are other features of his game, and he is a player who will be loved by teammates, but bemoaned by opposition players.

#45 Dyson Hilder
North Adelaide/South Australia | Key Defender
31/03/2001 | 196cm | 91kg

There are not too many readymade key defenders in this AFL Draft, which makes Hilder a unique prospect for clubs. If an AFL club is contending and needs a key position player who is more prepared to tackle senior footy earlier in his career, then Hilder looms as a value mid-draft option. While he is not as agile as some others, and could work on his ground ball craft, Hilder is strong in the air, and composed with ball-in-hand in defence. Much like his North Adelaide teammate Finlay, Hilder has experienced all three levels of SANFL football this year, with eight games at Reserves level his predominant grade. He was as reliable as they came for South Australia at the national carnival, and is a nullifying defender who can take an opposition forward out of the game, averaging almost five marks from 12.5 disposals per game at the championships.

#44 Cooper Sharman
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Tall Forward
25/07/2000 | 192cm | 79kg

Another player who is difficult to rate and could go anywhere from 30 to 60 is Sharman, who had plenty of highlights this year since joining the Oakleigh Chargers program. Having made the move from New South Wales to Victoria and playing out at Balwyn, Sharman burst onto the scene with a few hauls of goals, including four against Eastern Ranges in a tight game. His goal kicking accuracy and marking is quite impressive, and while he has to build his endurance and other areas of his game to be more of a complete package, Sharman has that upside which clubs will hope to harness. For a player of his size with his smarts and X-factor, Sharman could play that third tall role inside 50 and with his athleticism, he is able to play as a leading forward out of the square.

#43 Jack Mahony
Sandringham Dragons | Small Midfielder/Forward
12/11/2001 | 178cm | 72kg

A smart player who knows how to find the ball and use it delicately to hit targets over short distances like very few can, Mahony is a bit of a unique option as a small utility. Predominantly used in the forward half, Mahony is still light, but can compete with players in contested situations, and with his footy IQ and creativity, Mahony rarely makes too many mistakes by hand or foot. In saying that, his size will always come into question as a sub-180cm player, with Mahony lacking that explosiveness that others have playing a similar role. He will likely become that half-forward who can rotate through the middle, mainly because of his ability to pinpoint players inside 50 with sharp 45-degree kicks in between a host of opponents. Importantly, Mahony does not try and go for too much outside his limitations and therefore is highly influential with the game he employs.

#42 Trey Ruscoe
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Tall Defender
03/11/2001 | 192cm | 87kg

A bit undersized to be a key defender at the elite level, Trey Ruscoe has proven to be a player who can easily play that role in the WAFL Colts, and while that is against lighter bodies, he will be challenged to do so against bigger-bodied forwards. In saying that, Ruscoe has great strength and the skills to also play as a running half-back. He has spent time in the midfield which is an area he can further develop and potentially become a readymade inside midfielder who can have an influence around the stoppages. Ruscoe is ultra-competitive and positions himself well in the defensive 50, but could play a midfield-defence hybrid role with his running capacity and versatility to play either position.

#41 Darcy Chirgwin
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
25/07/2001 | 191cm | 80kg

A good sized inside midfielder who might be somewhat underrated compared to his peers due to injury issues that ruled him out of early season games then was injured in the opening quarter of his Under-18 Championships match. What he offers to a club is a big body with an appetite for winning the ball in the contest. His disposal (24.7), clearance (5.2) and tackling (7.9) numbers are right up there with the best, and his defensive approach to the game will certainly win him over at AFL level. His outside game and athleticism could do with some work, as could his ability to hit the scoreboard, but lock him in to be a inside midfielder who can provide a presence around the stoppages, especially once he has added more size to his frame in the coming years.

NAB League Boys team review: Sandringham Dragons

AS the NAB League grand final approaches, we take a look at the sides that are no longer in contention for the title; checking out their draft prospects, Best and Fairest (BnF) chances, 2020 Draft Crop and a final word on their season. The next side we look at is the Sandringham Dragons.

Position: 4th
Wins: 9
Losses: 6
Draws: 0

Points For: 1135 (Ranked #2)
Points Against: 856 (Ranked #2)
Percentage: 132.60
Points: 36

Top draft prospects:

Miles Bergman

The dynamic forward/wingman has improved out of sight to become a genuine first round bolter. A player with real x-factor, Bergman has strong hands in the air, an explosive vertical leap and the ability to find the goals from range. His game-defining mark in the Herald Sun Shield grand final will also stick in the minds of recruiters as part of a strong back end of the year.

Fischer McAsey

The versatile tall has been touted for a while now, and lived up to expectations in his top-age year to be named All Australian centre half-back. While he was enormous as an intercepting type in Vic Metro’s back six, McAsey also showed his ability to make a difference in the forward half in his games for Sandringham. Will be favourite to be the first Dragon taken on draft night.

Finn Maginness

Maginness has shot into first round contention on the back of a bed of high quality performances for both Sandringham and Vic Metro. His clearance winning ability and strong hands are terrific, as is his knack of finding the goals when moving forward. As a father-son prospect tied to Hawthorn, Maginness may slide a bit on draft night but has some fantastic traits for an inside midfielder.

Josh Worrell

A genuine utility, Worrell adapted his prowess as an intercept and rebound defender to become the unlikely leading goal kicker for Vic Metro this year. His reading of the play, overhead marking and effective kick are all traits that make him a smoky for the top 10, but injury has sidelined him in the back end of the season.

Others in the mix:

Where do we start? The Dragons have unprecedented numbers in terms of representative squad members and combine invitees (18), making their talent across the board hard to miss. Midfield/forward types Jack Mahony and Hugo Ralphsmith look the next best of the lot, while skipper Ryan Byrnes has put his hand up with a brilliantly consistent season from midfield, with Louis Butler a constant in defence and Oscar Lewis and Darcy Chirgwin showing signs around the ground. The raw raft of Sandringham talls should also feature, with the likes of Jack Bell, Corey Watts, Andrew Courtney, and Charlie Dean all garnering combine invites. The list goes on, so expect Dragons to litter the draft board.

BnF chances:

Byrnes seems the obvious choice given his consistency and prominence when a raft of other key names were out of the side during the school football season and national carnival. Butler is another to have performed well across each game at either end of the season, while Jackson Voss enjoyed a purple patch in the middle of the year, over-ager Angus Hanrahan was undeniable when available and Kyle Yorke was one to have garnered attention for his performances. Count out 2018 best and fairest Corey Watts at your own peril, as well as the bottom-age talent looking to match his feat in Jake Bowey.

2020 Draft Crop:

While matching their 2019 haul will be a tough ask, Sandringham is set to have another strong cohort with some exciting types having already made their mark. The clean and classy Bowey looks to be leading the lot on the back of his reliability on the wing, while Archie Perkins is a player with enormous scope, set for more midfield time next year alongside Darby Hipwell. Up forward, Ollie Lord looks a leading candidate to follow on from this year’s batch, already showing some aerial prowess.

Final word:

The Dragons’ ability to adapt to the mass changes they face each week is so impressive and was a feature of their season once again. They looked to be an early premiership favourite as they toppled Oakleigh in Round 3, but had to overcome some mid-season hurdles to recover and finish fourth. In the end, they could not quite get it done often enough against the two grand finalists, with another three losses to Oakleigh going alongside a hat-trick of losses to Eastern. Still, the Dragons are well poised to have the biggest haul of drafted players among each NAB League side.

Caught the Eye: NAB League – Preliminary Finals

THE Eastern Ranges and Oakleigh Chargers won through to the 2019 NAB League grand final on Saturday after impressive wins at Princes Park. In this week’s edition of Caught the Eye, we highlight two key performers from all four sides who garnered combine invites or are prominent bottom-agers. For extended profiles on each player, click on their names highlighted in red, and for our full scouting notes, click here.

Oakleigh Chargers vs. Sandringham Dragons

Nick Bryan
Oakleigh Chargers | Ruck
22/10/2001 | 202cm | 87kg

Stats: 15 disposals (11 kicks), 5 marks, 2 tackles, 21 hitouts

Our scouts said:Bryan had one of his better games for the year… His hitout work again was great, often giving his midfielders first use.” – Ed Pascoe

Verdict: Was touted earlier in the year as having the potential to rise as the number one tall in this year’s crop. While that has not quite eventuated for Bryan, he again showed on the weekend a glimpse of his high upside and impressive athleticism for a ruck. It was his best game in terms of disposal output (15) and his ruck craft is already sound, so he should have no trouble finding a home come draft time given his future scope.

Kaden Schreiber
Oakleigh Chargers | Wing/Defender
21/09/2001 | 186cm | 79kg

Stats: 24 disposals, 8 marks, 3 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s

Our scouts said:Schreiber enhanced his draft stocks with an eye catching display on the wing, winning plenty of the ball and showcasing his ability to hit targets with his trusty left foot.” – Ed Pascoe

Verdict: One who was a slight surprise to some as a state combine invitee, Schreiber has taken strides towards alleviating any doubts around his talent over the last few weeks. His game on the weekend was one of his best for the year, flying well for intercept marks and using the ball well by foot. He has good traits as a solid two-way mover and is a decent size, making him desirable as it is, and he just always seemed likely in possession against Sandringham.

Miles Bergman
Sandringham Dragons | Forward
18/10/2001 | 188cm | 77kg

Stats: 14 disposals (10 kicks), 5 marks, 5 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 1 goal

Our scouts said:This guy is a really exciting talent… the eye catching AFL attributes continued to emerge as the day went on… You can add courage to his list of qualities too, as he threw himself with the flight of the ball to impact an aerial contest late in the day, despite his side being done and dusted.” – Craig Byrnes

Verdict: Bergman just keeps on impressing and left a timely reminder of his talent for recruiters in his final Under 18 game. He may not always be the best player afield across the whole game or impress on the stat sheet, but Bergman is so often a match-winner. His overhead marking is top notch and he continues to find the goals with his booming kick, putting him right in the first round mix come draft night. Do not be surprised to see a keen side snap him up with a pick among the first dozen.

Louis Butler
Sandringham Dragons | Defender
26/08/2001 | 183cm | 74kg

Stats: 19 disposals, 4 marks, 3 tackles, 1 inside 50, 1 rebound 50

Our scouts said:His ball use was much better, picking out safe options in the corridor and down the line. He spent more time in the midfield as time went on, winning a couple of excellent ground balls in the final term.” – Craig Byrnes

Verdict: The impressive thing about Butler’s game here was his ability to bounce back from a couple of disappointing moments both with and without the ball. His strengths are obvious and useful in any side, able to impact a raft of contests and break the lines out of defence, often finishing with a smart kick. Rebounding half-backs are commonplace, but Butler’s competitiveness and scope to move into the midfield help as points of difference for the national combine invitee.

Eastern Ranges vs. Gippsland Power

Lachlan Stapleton
Eastern Ranges | Midfielder
14/04/2001 | 177cm | 72kg

Stats: 22 disposals, 6 marks, 8 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s

Our scouts said:It was another typical game from Stapleton, showcasing his hard edge at the contest in winning the contested ball and tackling hard to once again be an important cog in the Eastern Ranges midfield.” – Ed Pascoe

Verdict: Stapleton’s form has been impossible to ignore, consistently finding the ball and being able to compete against bigger top-end midfielders. The ultimate test for him will come against the likes of Noah Anderson and Matt Rowell in the grand final, but you would back in the ferocious ball winner to hold his own once again. His two-way work rate, reliability, and handling of the big moments all bode well for some attention come draft time.

Wil Parker
Eastern Ranges | Defender
29/05/2002 | 180cm | 76kg

Stats: 23 disposals (16 kicks), 6 marks, 4 tackles, 1 inside 50, 8 rebound 50s

Our scouts said:The young defender Parker was cool, calm and collected with his ball use a real feature coming out of defence. Often tasked with the kickouts, his ability to sum up his options and hit a target was superb.” – Ed Pascoe

Verdict: Parker has been a consistent feature in the Ranges back six, able to accumulate high numbers and relieve his defence of any pressure. His kicking is the most obvious strength at this point, with the bottom-ager finding targets at will and taking on the responsibility of being a designated Eastern kicker from the back half. Looks a promising type, but will need to put together games like his one on the weekend more consistently.

Ryan Sparkes
Gippsland Power | Wing
13/04/2001 | 184cm | 78kg

Stats: 26 disposals (18 kicks), 10 marks, 3 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 5 rebound 50s

Our scouts said:Sparkes has had some great games throughout 2019, but I feel Saturday’s effort was one of his best for the season. Starting on the wing, he ran hard up and down the ground to provide a target or impact any contest he could.” – Craig Byrnes

Verdict: As has been somewhat of a theme, Sparkes saved one of his better games for the year for his side’s most important outing. His match-up against Eastern’s Connor Downie was touted as an important one coming into the clash, and the outside mover did not disappoint with his breaking of the lines in the highly contested game. It will be touch and go in terms of his draft hopes, but he is one who can impress at the combines.

Harrison Pepper
Gippsland Power | Defender
9/08/2001 | 180cm | 83kg

Stats: 23 disposals (16 kicks), 6 marks, 1 tackle, 3 inside 50s, 5 rebound 50s, 1 goal

Our scouts said:Another outstanding final by the thick set defender, who has come to life and given recruiters (particularly Hawthorn) a bit to ponder over the coming months.” – Craig Byrnes

Verdict: Pepper is the kind of player coaches and teammates love to have, and he once again stepped up at crunch time. His combativeness worked well in defence in this game, cutting off a wealth of Eastern entires and pushing the ball out of danger with his bustling runs. His versatility as a medium-small is something clubs will like, but Hawthorn is set to have the final say as he is tied to them as an NGA product.