Tag: nikolas cox

EXPLAINER | Pocket Podcast: Key Position Defenders kicking comparison

THIS week, Draft Central launched its brand new series of pocket podcasts, a collection of short-form discussions which narrow in on a range of topics heading into the 2020 AFL Draft. In the series premiere, Chief Editor Peter Williams sat down with AFL Draft Editor Michael Alvaro to compare their rankings of the top four key position defenders in this year’s crop, but with a twist.

The players in question; Heath Chapman, Nikolas Cox, Denver Grainger-Barras, and Zach Reid are all touted as first round prospects, and it just so happens that they are also all key position defenders who use the ball brilliantly by foot. Their linear traits got our editors thinking – ‘if our club was looking for a key defender in the first round, which one would we take?’ and ‘all four players boast excellent kicks, but which one is best?’.

Here are Peter and Michael’s respective orders:

Peter – Reid, Chapman, Cox, Grainger-Barras
Michael – Chapman, Reid, Cox, Grainger-Barras

Taken into account in the ranking process were parameters such as; efficiency, damage, penetration, technique, style, decision making, and dual-sidedness, making for some tough decisions. In the end, the orders were relatively similar. Remember, these charts are purely indicative of our opinions on their kicking, and not of their overall potential. For the latter, check out our latest Power Rankings.

Here is a breakdown of each player’s kicking prowess:

Heath Chapman – An attacking defender of sorts, Chapman’s combination of penetration and accuracy made him hard to deny as Michael’s first choice. The West Australian opens up play with his distribution, not just in the back half, but also as he dashes further afield. The 193cm talent makes great decisions and is a damaging force across half-back.

Nikolas Cox – The Northern Knights utility can play just about anywhere, but his kicking truly comes to the fore when stationed across half-back or even on the wing. Cox is comfortable kicking on either foot and hit targets with aplomb. His efficiency is up there with each other contender, but his arching style makes his 199cm height a touch more evident when on the move.

Denver Grainger-Barras – The most highly touted player of the lot, Grainger-Barras’ place on either list is hardly a knock on his proficiency by foot. While he may not prove as offensively creative or penetrative, the West Australian is a composed user of the ball in defence and simply gets the job done.

Zach Reid – At 202cm, Reid’s efficiency and fluency by foot is something to behold. His technique and style on the ball replicates that of a player 20cm shorter than him, meaning he was an easy choice for Peter in top spot. Reid is as reliable as anyone on the ball, with his relieving use by foot important when forming transitional play.

While we may well essentially be splitting hairs, it is interesting to see just what makes a player good at their craft. The two Victorians – Cox and Reid – are both around the 200cm mark, so are somewhat boosted by being so outstanding in their disposal for a player of their size. Even at 195cm and 193cm respectively, Grainger-Barras and Chapman are fantastic ball users considering their roles and physical make-ups.

It means that whichever order these players fall in come draft time, each club is poised to gain an elite key position defender with great versatility, and the all-important bonus of being able to kick the ball at an elite level. After all, the game is called football for a reason, and this quartet has that fundamental down pat.

To hear the podcast in full, click here.

PODCAST | In a new special series leading up to the #AFLDraft we are releasing a number of Pocket Podcasts every couple…

Posted by Draft Central on Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Draft Central Power Rankings: October 2020

COMBINES, All-Star showcases, and state league finals have brought new life to the 2020 AFL Draft scene, as budding prospects around the nation look to prove their worth ahead of that one day in (likely) early-December. Victorian talents remain in the unknown, but feature aplenty in our list which has undergone a series of minor shuffles. In Draft Central’s latest Power Rankings, the form guide has shot out to 30 names; compared to 25 in our September analysis, and 20 in both August and July.

Among the fresh faces, a South Australian bolter enters the top 25, while two Fremantle Next-Generation Academy (NGA) prospects make their way onto the board alongside a highly-touted Sydney Swans Academy gun. All that, and more in our October Power Rankings update.

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

#1 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 194cm | 84kg

Western Bulldogs fans may not entirely enjoy seeing Next Generation Academy (NGA) product, Ugle-Hagan perched atop the tree given the hefty price that comes with it, but should be buoyed by their club having first dibs on such a remarkable talent. The 194cm key position forward has been compared to champion goalkicker Lance Franklin for his athleticism and left-foot kick, but he plays a little differently. Ugle-Hagan’s pace off the lead and sticky hands overhead set him apart, while elite scores in each of the preseason testing events make him an irresistible prospect alone. He is the consensus number one choice at this point, having delivered on the hype as he moved to the Oakleigh region via a scholarship with Scotch College.

September Ranking: #1

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

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

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

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

September Ranking: #2

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League, and recovery from long-term knee injury.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

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

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

September Ranking: #3

Last Month: McDonald showed off his endurance at last week’s West Australian combine, scoring third in the 2km time trial. On-field, the key forward capped off his season by helping Perth qualify for the WAFL League finals for the first time in over 20 years, but was kept goalless in the Demons’ week one loss. He booted one major the week before, and managed three against Swan Districts before Denver Grainger-Barras was switched onto him.

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus | Player Focus

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

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

September Ranking: #4

Last Month: Grainger-Barras was another to showcase his high-level athleticism at the West Australian combine; scoring third in the running vertical jump (left), fifth in the 20-metre sprint, and second in the agility test. After a terrific outing against Logan McDonald’s Perth, the prolific defender rounded out his season with just six disposals and two marks as Swan Districts failed to make finals.

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

#5 Will Phillips
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
22/05/2002 | 179cm | 78kg

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

September Ranking: #5

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

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

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

September Ranking: #6

Last Month: The West Adelaide bigman has battled through injury trouble over the last month, unable to get back on the park at SANFL League level despite being named. A niggling groin injury also kept him from testing at the South Australian combine.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

#7 Braeden Campbell
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Balanced Midfielder/Forward
4/02/2002 | 181cm | 72kg

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

September Ranking: #7

Last Month: The exciting Swans Academy prospect booted a goal in each of his three AFL Sydney Premier Division outings for Pennant Hills in September. The Demons won two of those games, but lost most recently in their lone finals dig against St George. The NSW/ACT combine on October 25 will be Campbell’s next point of call.

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

#8 Tanner Bruhn
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
27/05/2002 | 182cm | 73kg

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

September Ranking: #8

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

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

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

September Ranking: #10

Last Month: Jones is another to have missed some football over the past month, but thankfully not much. An ankle injury kept him from testing at the recent South Australian combine, and also saw him miss Round 14 in the SANFL. After some hit-and-miss form, the big-bodied defender returned in week one of the finals with 19 disposals and 11 rebound 50s as his Eagles went down to North Adelaide.

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

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

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

September Ranking: #11

Last Month: O’Driscoll finished off his top-age campaign as a regular fixture in Perth’s League midfield. While a disposal average of 11 over his last three games does not jump off the page, O’Driscoll looked composed on the ball and was able to impact defensively as well. He runs all day, and proved as much my finishing second in WA’s 2km time trial. He also came runner-up in the 20-metre sprint, while taking out the agility test. He boasts an impressive speed-endurance mix through midfield.

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

#11 Nikolas Cox
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Key Position Defender/Utility
15/01/2002 | 199cm | 82kg

A 199cm player who can run, kick on both sides, and play just about anywhere? It sounds too good to be true, but that is exactly what Cox brings to the table as his region’s most outstanding draft candidate. Cox cut his teeth as a tall wingman and key position swingman in 2019, juggling his time between school football, 10 NAB League outings, and a berth in the Under 18 Vic Metro squad as a bottom-ager. In 2020, the Northern Knights co-captain was set to develop as a centre-half back, with his athleticism and versatility in the role lending to the fact he has an enormous ceiling. He was also set to be a prime candidate to lead Vic Metro this year, lauded for his professionalism and the example he sets via training standards.

September Ranking: #9

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and AGSV Football.

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

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

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

September Ranking: #12

Last Month: Davies has been inactive due to an elbow injury sustained in August, missing out on Broadbeach’s run to the QAFL Seniors Grand Final.

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

#13 Reef McInnes
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
12/12/2002 | 192cm | 84kg

Sitting outside the top 10 due to others’ rises is another inside midfielder and a second NGA product from both the Scotch College and Oakleigh Chargers systems. Attached to Collingwood, McInnes is set to be yet another in the production line of academy and father-son prospects made available to the Magpies, and looms as a first round candidate. While he was pushed out to the forward line in Oakleigh’s stacked premiership side, McInnes is a bull on the inside who can dominate at stoppages. He is hardly the typical slow, strength-dependant type either, able to lean on his agility and awareness to effectively extract from midfield. The versatility he was made to learn as a bottom-ager adds another string to his bow, with goals a valuable part of his game in 2019.

September Ranking: #13

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

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

#14 Zach Reid
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Key Position Defender/Utility
2/03/2002 | 202cm | 82kg

A versatile tall who could push for top 10 status, Reid returned a consistent output during his bottom-age season as a key member of Gippsland’s spine. He was tried up either end and through the ruck across 15 NAB League outings, but looked most comfortable down back and should find a home there once again in 2020. At 202cm, Reid is filling out nicely and can utilise that added strength to compete better one-on-one against big key forwards. He is a terrific judge of the ball in flight and positions intelligently, not just relying on his height to compete aerially. Reid is also both a sound handler and user of the ball for his size, providing a cool head in rebounding transitions.

September Ranking: #15

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and Gippsland Football League.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

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

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

September Ranking: #14

Last Month: Inactive due to recovery from long-term knee injury. Earned a National Combine invite for September 30 but did not participate.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

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

A player who has risen into top 20 calculations, Chapman is a key position defender with many points of difference. Having cut his teeth in the role during his bottom-age year, the 193cm prospect has been able to roll off as a third tall down back for West Perth in 2020, utilising his shrewd reading of the play and athleticism to provide dominant intercept marking prowess. His ability to open up the play in transition with long, rebounding kicks is Chapman’s other key strength, making him a versatile defensive outlet who finds plenty of the ball. Given his size and athletic attributes, that third tall prototype seems his most likely avenue to the elite level, though he is just as capable competing as a more traditional key position player.

September Ranking: #16

Last Month: Chapman earned a League call-up in Round 8, but saw his senior stint prove one-and-done after 11 disposals against Claremont. He made a terrific return to the Colts level with 24 disposals and eight marks against eventual premier Subiaco, before managing 16 disposals and six marks amid tough conditions as the Falcons went down to East Fremantle in a preliminary final. He was an impressive performer at the combine too, faring well in the 2km time trial.

>> Draft Watch

#17 Oliver Henry
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Medium Utility
29/07/2002 | 187cm | 77kg

A brother-of who could eventually feature at the top end of this year’s rankings is Henry, the younger sibling of Geelong Cats defender, Jack. The Geelong Falcons product has top 10 potential, able to play up either end of the ground and pull down big marks. While he looks most comfortable up forward as a high-flying third tall type, Henry is just as capable down back where his aerial prowess translates to intercept value. At 187cm, he plays above his size through sheer athleticism and reading of the play, with the potential to also move up onto a wing. If Victorian prospects had been allowed back onto the park in 2020, Henry would likely have been one to rise quite steeply given his enormous upside and versatility.

September Ranking: #17

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League, local, and school football.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#18 Archie Perkins
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
26/03/2002 | 186cm | 77kg

Perkins has all the makings of a special talent. Having caught the eye as a forward and outside midfielder in 2019, the Sandringham Dragons standout was poised to spend more time on the inside as a top-ager, with just the right size and some incredible athletic attributes to aid his transition. Perkins boasts a monster vertical leap, covers 20 metres in less than three seconds, and is brilliantly agile, making for an ideal athletic base. His finishing touch is an area he can refine, but the 186cm prospect is no stranger to finding the goals and can be a real game changer when required. Damage or impact is a key trait which is often hard to measure, but Perkins ranks highly in that department.

September Ranking: #20

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

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

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

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

September Ranking: #23

Last Month: Poulter’s stocks have risen not only on the back of a Reserves call-up and some solid form, but also due to his outstanding combine results. The tall midfielder came fourth in South Australia’s 20-metre sprint, second in the running vertical jump (right), and fifth in the 2km time trial. On-field, he managed four Reserves outings before returning to the Under 18s with a bang, booting two goals from 18 disposals. He also managed 20 touches in the Eagles’ finals win over South Adelaide, most recently. Poulter has spent a bit of time on a wing, and boasts great versatility in the sense that he can also roam forward or impact on the inside.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch

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

Trew is one of many top-end prospects who have had to battle injury throughout their bottom-age seasons, but he looks primed to bounce back well in 2020. Hailing from the talent-stacked Swan Districts program, Trew is a classy inside midfielder who can rack up plenty of ball in style, backed by his 40-disposal effort in last year’s WAFL Colts competition. While he was limited to just three outings and missed Under 18 selection for WA, the 186cm prospect should not be forgotten in first round discussions. Trew is a handball-happy extractor, able to flick out releasing touches to his runners, but he is just as effective by foot with clean skills at short range and penetration when required. Should be a lock for the WA engine room this season with representative games ahead.

September Ranking: #19

Last Month: Despite Swan Districts’ inability to make finals, Trew finished his WAFL Colts campaign on a high. The inside midfielder was seemingly teased with a senior call-up, but instead racked up 22 and 32 disposals in his final two Colts appearances. He also laid a combined 19 tackles in those games, and took part in the West Australian draft combine. Trew achieved a much more consistent run this season, despite some slight injury troubles.

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

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

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

September Ranking: #18

Last Month: Calf tightness restricted Powell in light of the recent South Australian combine, and he seemed to carry the same niggle into his latest game. The midfielder returned a rare performance of under 20 disposals in Sturt’s semi final loss to Norwood, but averaged 31.7 disposals and 8.3 clearances across his other three September appearances. It will take something big to keep him down for a second week, as he looks to help the Double Blues qualify for an Under 18s Grand Final.

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

#22 Finlay Macrae
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
13/03/2002 | 184cm | 75kg

You may recognise the name and yes, Finlay is the half-brother of Western Bulldogs midfielder, Jack. They are quite clearly cut from the same cloth, with the younger Macrae possessing a similar ball winning appetite and class on the ball to his established older sibling. The 184cm Charger also boasts a terrific balance in his traits, able to impact the play moving forward with sound decision making and precise execution via foot, on top of his obvious exploits in extraction. While he is not overly quick, Macrae’s evasiveness comes through agility and awareness, which would have been on full show as he prepared to feature prominently for Oakleigh, Xavier College, and Vic Metro in 2020.

September Ranking: #21

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

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

A fresh face to last month’s expanded list, Carroll has plenty of first round suitors. Coming into his top-age season, Carroll was pegged as a classy outside midfielder or half-back who moved well and used the ball efficiently by foot. But after nearly a full season of WAFL Colts football through midfield, the 187cm prospect has also shown his worth inside the engine room. Carroll measures up at a good height and while he may be a touch light around the contest, he uses his high-level agility and poise to weave through traffic before effectively disposing of the ball. A versatile talent with good upside, Carroll is destined to rise even further.

September Ranking: #22

Last Month: Carroll’s season ended after he suffered a broken wrist in Round 8 of the WAFL Colts, having run out the game against Subiaco to collect 18 disposals. He still managed to test at the West Australian combine, achieving second place in the standing vertical jump, and fifth in the running jumps off either foot. He faces a race against time to play in the upcoming All-Star fixtures.

>> Draft Watch

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

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

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Cook enhanced his draft stocks with some handy combine results; coming fifth in the 20-metre sprint, fourth in the standing vertical jump, and fifth again in the running vertical jump (right). Most recently, he was kept goalless as South Adelaide bowed out of the Under 18s finals race, though Cook has proven his worth with a bag of five goals this month, and two majors in every other effort.

>> Draft Watch

#25 Joel Jeffrey
NT Thunder/Allies | Utility
12/03/2002 | 192cm | 80kg

The sole representative from the Northern Territory in our top 25, Jeffrey is arguably the region’s most promising draft prospect this year. Having grown to 192cm, Jeffrey is a true swingman who can dominate aerially up either end. His reading of the ball in flight is exceptional, and his sticky hands do the rest of the work as he pulls down big marks. The son of NT legend Russell Jeffrey, Joel comes from good pedigree and is terrifically athletic for his size; boasting speed to burn, a sizeable leap, and clean hands at ground level. Having gained senior football experience with Wanderers in the NTFL, Jeffrey was set to move to Queensland this year given his ties to the Gold Coast SUNS via their access to the Darwin zone. The move was ultimately put on hold due to the current pandemic, but Jeffrey looks likely to end up in the Sunshine State come season’s end.

September Ranking: #25

Last Month: The NT native took part in the recent Queensland combine, while also starring in the NT All-Stars game with three goals. He was utilised as a lead-up forward in that outing, the position he is said to prefer, although he is arguably just as good as an interceptor down back.

>> Draft Watch

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

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

September Ranking: #24

Last Month: A sore foot post WAFL Colts finals football kept Walker from performing at the WA combine, though he has shown some handy form on-field. The defender averaged 18 disposals over his last four games, and managed 15 in East Fremantle’s preliminary final loss to Subiaco. He has been named at centre half-back most weeks, but loves to break the lines and deliver forward. He’ll be a half-back at the next level.

>> Draft Watch

#27 Bailey Laurie
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
24/03/2002 | 178cm | 76kg

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

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#28 Eddie Ford
Western Jets/Vic Metro | Medium Forward/Midfielder
21/06/2002 | 186cm | 80kg

If you’re after one of the best Under 18s highlight packages among this year’s crop, then look no further than Western’s Ford. The Jets’ leading prospect is capable of taking high marks, booting long goals, and bursting forward to break the lines with his explosive athleticism and speed. Having cut his teeth as a medium forward, the 186cm Victorian has recently requested tape of Fremantle skipper Nat Fyfe as he looks to sharpen his midfield craft. He certainly has the size and athletic profile to make the transition, and would have done so with some time on the park as a top-ager. You may remember his Under 17 Futures All-Stars performance from last year, which is what he can produce at his best. Consistency will be key.

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League.

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

#29 Errol Gulden
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Small Forward/Midfielder
18/07/2002 | 172cm | 68kg

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

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Gulden’s month began brightly with two goals, and second-best afield honours as his AFL Sydney Premier Division side beat the Inner West Magpies. He returned against the North Shore Bombers but was held goalless, with a Grand Final appearance against Sydney University and the NSW/ACT combine his next points of call.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

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

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

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Claremont’s Colts Grand Final commitments saw Western become unavailable for the WA combine, though it mattered little given his on-field performance. Playing predominantly through midfield, Western raised his stocks with a consistent end to the year, averaging 23 disposals across his last three games. He stands up in big games and can find the goals, making for a couple more handy points of difference.

>> Draft Watch

IN THE MIX:

The recent combines and finals football has brought out the best in a lot of players, who may be flirting with top 30-40 contention. Adelaide NGA hopeful James Borlase was recently best afield for Prince Alfred College in the SA All Schools Cup Grand Final, while Port father-son prospect Taj Schofield lit up the South Australian combine. Zac Dumesny made a solid return from injury in the SANFL Under 18s, as did Luke Edwards in the Reserves. The likes of Corey Durdin and Luke Pedlar remain sidelined, however.

Over in WA, Isiah Winder was another to test well in his state’s combine, while Subiaco’s Lachlan Vanirsen and Claremont’s Jack Avery have shot into draft contention on the back of fantastic finals series. Vanirsen took out the Jack Clarke Medal and was also named best afield in the WAFL Colts Grand Final, which the Lions won.

Brodie Lake‘s impressive All-Stars outing and combine results will have Gold Coast fans smiling, as the NT native falls under their Darwin zoning. Brisbane Academy members Blake Coleman and Saxon Crozier recently helped Morningside upset Broadbeach in the QAFL Seniors Grand Final, while Tasmanian Jackson Callow was in a rich vein of form before being injured.

Victorians Connor Downie, Jake Bowey, Max Heath, and Cody Brand are among those also around the mark.

Draft Central Power Rankings: September 2020

THE VERDICT is in after another terrific month of football from the latest crop of budding AFL draftees. Victorian prospects remain starved of action, but the best and brightest from around the nation have been stamping their claims, making for some interesting movers and sliders. In Draft Central‘s third Power Rankings edition for 2020, we extend our list out to 25 names, with key adjustments made to our initial July and August analyses. A certain West Australian key forward continues to rise steeply, while the Northern Territory gains a representative in the extended cut. All that, and more in our September Power Rankings update.

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

#1 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 194cm | 84kg

Western Bulldogs fans may not entirely enjoy seeing Next Generation Academy (NGA) product, Ugle-Hagan perched atop the tree given the hefty price that comes with it, but should be buoyed by their club having first dibs on such a remarkable talent. The 194cm key position forward has been compared to champion goalkicker Lance Franklin for his athleticism and left-foot kick, but he plays a little differently. Ugle-Hagan’s pace off the lead and sticky hands overhead set him apart, while elite scores in each of the preseason testing events make him an irresistible prospect alone. He is the consensus number one choice at this point, having delivered on the hype as he moved to the Oakleigh region via a scholarship with Scotch College.

August Ranking: #1

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

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

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

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

August Ranking: #2

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League, and recovery from long-term knee injury.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#3 Logan McDonald
Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 196cm | 85kg

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

August Ranking: #9

Last Month: McDonald has been arguably the most consistent key position performer of all the players on this list; at the highest possible level, no less. He now sits second in the WAFL League goalkicking charts, having booted 13 goals across his five August/September outings. He boasts 20 goals in seven games overall, and has not yet failed to kick multiple goals. Even if he is having a quiet patch, McDonald has been able to make an impact and take full toll with what the Perth midfielders deliver his way. He will continue to provide a focal point as the Demons push for finals, with his conversion from range, marking on the lead, and one-on-one work deep inside 50 all excellent for his age.

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

#4 Denver Grainger-Barras
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
14/04/2002 | 195cm | 78kg

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

August Ranking: #4

Last Month: Another consistent performer, Grainger-Barras is still capable of delivering some ‘wow’ moments. Most recently, he produced a starring second half against McDonald and the Perth Demons, bouncing back from a lacklustre opening half to help Swan Districts power to victory. While he is still quite light for a key position prospect, Grainger-Barras showed he is not afraid to wear contact on that day, leaping for some incredible intercept marks while directly opposed to his State Under 18s teammate. He may get knocked around a touch, but loves a bit of niggle and stands up against mature bodies. Over the past month, the 18-year-old averaged 11.6 disposals and 5.2 marks per his five games, good enough to hold his spot.

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

#5 Will Phillips
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
22/05/2002 | 179cm | 78kg

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

August Ranking: #3

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#6 Riley Thilthorpe
West Adelaide/South Australia | Ruck/Key Position Forward
7/07/2002 | 200cm | 99kg

In a welcome change from last year’s crop, key position prospects will be in abundance at the top end. Thilthorpe is one of them, an athletic ruck/forward who possesses enormous running capacity and can dominate the airways. In his ruck duties, the 200cm West Adelaide product plays more like a fourth midfielder, able to follow up at ground level and cover the ground like a small. He has been utilised in a more forward-oriented role for the Bloods at SANFL League level though, with his goalkicking attributes and diverse skillset already making him a handful for senior players with more mature bodies. Ask any of the South Australian Under 18s who they are most looking forward to playing alongside in 2020, and Thilthorpe is among them. Jot the name down, he should be among those you are most looking forward to watching, too.

August Ranking: #5

Last Month: West Adelaide has managed Thilthorpe over the last two weeks as he nurses a groin complaint, bringing an end to his streak of nine-straight League appearances since Round 1. The bigman had been enjoying some time in a variety of roles; from his usual key forward post, to some added responsibility in the ruck rotation, and even venturing up onto a wing. In his four August outings, Thilthorpe was kept goalless thrice, averaging 11.8 disposals, four marks, and over 12 hitouts to be squeezed just outside of the top five. He still has runs on the board and hopefully gets back into the swing of things to finish off the SANFL season.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

#7 Braeden Campbell
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Balanced Midfielder/Forward
4/02/2002 | 181cm | 72kg

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

August Ranking: #6

Last Month: Campbell returned to AFL Sydney Premier Division football this past weekend for Pennant Hills, booting a goal in the Demons’ 80-point victory over East Coast. That came after he turned out twice for the Sydney Swans Academy, helping his side claim Academy Series points over the GWS GIANTS Academy on both occasions. He looked a class above in those outings, able to win the ball at will through midfield, while showcasing his versatility and remaining a goalkicking threat going forward.

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

#8 Tanner Bruhn
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
27/05/2002 | 182cm | 73kg

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

August Ranking: #7

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#9 Nikolas Cox
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Key Position Defender/Utility
15/01/2002 | 199cm | 82kg

A 199cm player who can run, kick on both sides, and play just about anywhere? It sounds too good to be true, but that is exactly what Cox brings to the table as his region’s most outstanding draft candidate. Cox cut his teeth as a tall wingman and key position swingman in 2019, juggling his time between school football, 10 NAB League outings, and a berth in the Under 18 Vic Metro squad as a bottom-ager. In 2020, the Northern Knights co-captain is set to develop as a centre-half back, with his athleticism and versatility in the role lending to the fact he has an enormous ceiling. He is also set to be a prime candidate to lead Vic Metro should the Vics get on the park, lauded for his professionalism and the example he sets via training standards.

August Ranking: #8

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and AGSV Football.

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

#10 Lachlan Jones
WWT Eagles/South Australia | General Defender
9/04/2002 | 185cm | 89kg

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

August Ranking: #12

Last Month: Jones remains the sole South Australian Under 18 on this list to have turned out at League level for every round this season, as he goes from strength to strength. The Eagles are in the box seat to take out the minor premiership, with the Port Adelaide NGA prospect an established part of the side’s defence in a variety of roles. In his six outings since August 1, Jones has averaged 11.5 disposals, 3.5 marks, and four rebound 50s, returning to his best with 16 touches and eight rebounds against North Adelaide in Round 11. He has consistently been able to intercept, play both tall and small, and rebound effectively against mature bodies, bumping him up to #10.

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

#11 Nathan O’Driscoll 
Perth/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
17/05/2002 | 187cm | 76kg

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

August Ranking: #13

Last Month: After his third and final Colts outing in early-August, O’Driscoll earned a Reserves berth in Round 5, before being immediately promoted to the League side. After a steady debut, O’Driscoll has racked up 20 and 15 disposals over the last fortnight, benefitting from being allowed an extended run through midfield. The 18-year-old has showcased his toughness and hard-running ability at senior level, leaving nothing left in the tank. He works hard for his possessions and is equally as relevant in his defensive duties for the most part. There has been some conjecture about his range, we feel his current form and future scope lands him just outside the top 10.

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

#12 Alex Davies
Gold Coast SUNS/Allies | Inside Midfielder
18/03/2002 | 191cm | 85kg

A second Northern Academy prospect and the first Queenslander on this list, Davies is one of the more highly touted big-bodied midfielders of his cohort. Standing at 191cm and filling out to 85kg, the SUNS Academy hopeful boasts the ideal size to not only dominate his junior competitors, but more importantly make an immediate impact at the next level. He has been his state’s prime ball winner for some time and thrives on racking up high contested numbers, but has also displayed terrific poise in traffic and adds releasing handballs to his thumping kicks away from the stoppages. He ran out for four of Gold Coast’s NAB League outings as a bottom-ager, and should prove a key figure among the Allies squad in 2020.

August Ranking: #10

Last Month: Davies was set to line up for the Gold Coast SUNS in August’s Academy Series, but suffered an elbow injury which ruled him out of action early in the month. He faces a race against the clock to return in time for Broadbeach’s upcoming QAFL finals campaign, which begins next week for the minor premiers.

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

#13 Reef McInnes
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
12/12/2002 | 192cm | 84kg

Sitting outside the top 10 due to others’ rises is another inside midfielder and a second NGA product from both the Scotch College and Oakleigh Chargers systems. Attached to Collingwood, McInnes is set to be yet another in the production line of academy and father-son prospects made available to the Magpies, and looms as a first round candidate. While he was pushed out to the forward line in Oakleigh’s stacked premiership side, McInnes is a bull on the inside who can dominate at stoppages. He is hardly the typical slow, strength-dependant type either, able to lean on his agility and awareness to effectively extract from midfield. The versatility he was made to learn as a bottom-ager adds another string to his bow, with goals a valuable part of his game in 2019.

August Ranking: #11

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

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

#14 Kaine Baldwin
Glenelg/South Australia | Key Position Forward
30/05/2002 | 193cm | 92kg

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

August Ranking: #14

Last Month: Inactive due to recovery from long-term knee injury, but earned a National Combine invite for September 30.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#15 Zach Reid
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Key Position Defender/Utility
2/03/2002 | 202cm | 82kg

A versatile tall who could push for top 10 status, Reid returned a consistent output during his bottom-age season as a key member of Gippsland’s spine. He was tried up either end and through the ruck across 15 NAB League outings, but looked most comfortable down back and should find a home there once again in 2020. At 202cm, Reid is filling out nicely and can utilise that added strength to compete better one-on-one against big key forwards. He is a terrific judge of the ball in flight and positions intelligently, not just relying on his height to compete aerially. Reid is also both a sound handler and user of the ball for his size, providing a cool head in rebounding transitions.

August Ranking: #15

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and Gippsland Football League.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#16 Heath Chapman
West Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
31/01/2002 | 193cm | 81kg

A player who has risen into top 20 calculations, Chapman is a key position defender with many points of difference. Having cut his teeth in the role during his bottom-age year, the 193cm prospect has been able to roll off as a third tall down back for West Perth in 2020, utilising his shrewd reading of the play and athleticism to provide dominant intercept marking prowess. His ability to open up the play in transition with long, rebounding kicks is Chapman’s other key strength, making him a versatile defensive outlet who finds plenty of the ball. Given his size and athletic attributes, that third tall prototype seems his most likely avenue to the elite level, though he is just as capable competing as a more traditional key position player.

August Ranking: NR

Last Month: Chapman is the only new player inside this month’s top 20, rising all the way up to #16 on the back of some impressive form. From Rounds 3 to 6 in the WAFL Colts, Chapman averaged a remarkable 25.8 disposals and 8.8 marks down back, enough to earn him a League debut this past weekend. The 18-year-old reeled in five marks among his 11 touches, making for a promising start to life at senior level. With the ability to mark and use the ball so efficiently for his size, Chapman is a player with plenty of desirable traits. West Perth is in the finals race, so hopefully Chapman can hold his League spot and impress under post-season pressure.

>> Draft Watch

#17 Oliver Henry
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Medium Utility
29/07/2002 | 187cm | 77kg

A brother-of who could eventually feature at the top end of this year’s rankings is Henry, the younger sibling of Geelong Cats defender, Jack. The Geelong Falcons product has top 10 potential, able to play up either end of the ground and pull down big marks. While he looks most comfortable up forward as a high-flying third tall type, Henry is just as capable down back where his aerial prowess translates to intercept value. At 187cm, he plays above his size through sheer athleticism and reading of the play, with the potential to also move up onto a wing. Should Victorian prospects finally be allowed back onto the park in 2020, expect Henry to be one who could rise quite steeply given his enormous upside and versatility.

August Ranking: #17

Last Month: Henry ran out for St Joseph’s all the way back in the first week of August, battling both with and against plenty of his Geelong Falcons teammates. The 187cm prospect booted two goals for Joey’s against Geelong College in a more forward-oriented role, and was also named among his side’s best players. He has since been inactive due to fixture cancellations and a lack of NAB League football.

>> Feature
>> Marquee Matchup

#18 Tom Powell
Sturt/South Australia | Midfielder
2/03/2002 | 180cm | 73kg

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

August Ranking: #18

Last Month: Powell was teased with senior selection after amassing a whopping 47 disposals, 10 clearances, and two goals in Round 10, but continues to plug away at Under 18s level. It is there where the prolific midfielder has averaged nearly 36 disposals and nine clearances across his last five games, remaining atop the charts in both areas despite missing out in Round 9. The Double Blues maestro has also added goals to his game, booting seven from midfield in the last month. His numbers stack up as well as anyone in the draft pool, but whether he can maintain that output at senior level obviously remains to be seen.

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

#19 Zane Trew
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder
26/04/2002 | 186cm | 78kg

Trew is one of many top-end prospects who have had to battle injury throughout their bottom-age seasons, but he looks primed to bounce back well in 2020. Hailing from the talent-stacked Swan Districts program, Trew is a classy inside midfielder who can rack up plenty of ball in style, backed by his 40-disposal effort in last year’s WAFL Colts competition. While he was limited to just three outings and missed Under 18 selection for WA, the 186cm prospect should not be forgotten in first round discussions. Trew is a handball-happy extractor, able to flick out releasing touches to his runners, but he is just as effective by foot with clean skills at short range and penetration when required. Should be a lock for the WA engine room this season with representative games ahead.

August Ranking: #16

Last Month: Another prospect who has flirted with senior promotion, Trew only really finds himself sliding down a few spots due to others’ promotions. Barring an injury-stricken outing at the start of August, the Swan Districts product has been at his ball winning best. Having returned from his lay-off due to concussion, Trew has averaged 27 disposals across his last three WAFL Colts outings. A senior berth may prove tough to crack given the Swans’ winning effort last time out, with only one more game in any grade possible due as the regular season comes to a close this week – Swan Districts have also not made finals in any competition. He did earn a National Combine invite though, and will have the opportunity to impress in Western Australia’s All-Star fixture pegged for October.

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

#20 Archie Perkins
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
26/03/2002 | 186cm | 77kg

Perkins has all the makings of a special talent. Having caught the eye as a forward and outside midfielder in 2019, the Sandringham Dragons standout was poised to spend more time on the inside as a top-ager, with just the right size and some incredible athletic attributes to aid his transition. Perkins boasts a monster vertical leap, covers 20 metres in less than three seconds, and is brilliantly agile, making for an ideal athletic base. His finishing touch is an area he can refine, but the 186cm prospect is no stranger to finding the goals and can be a real game changer when required. Damage or impact is a key trait which is often hard to measure, but Perkins ranks highly in that department.

August Ranking: #19

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

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

#21 Finlay Macrae
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
13/03/2002 | 184cm | 75kg

You may recognise the name and yes, Finlay is the brother of Western Bulldogs midfielder, Jack. They are quite clearly cut from the same cloth, with the younger Macrae possessing a similar ball winning appetite and class on the ball to his established older sibling. The 184cm Charger also boasts a terrific balance in his traits, able to impact the play moving forward with sound decision making and precise execution via foot, on top of his obvious exploits in extraction. While he is not overly quick, Macrae’s evasiveness comes through agility and awareness, which would have been on full show as he prepared to feature prominently for Oakleigh, Xavier College, and Vic Metro in 2020.

August Ranking: #20

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#22 Jack Carroll
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
20/12/2002 | 188cm | 79kg

Another entirely fresh face on our list, Carroll’s name is unearthed due to our expansion to an order of 25. That is not to say that he would not have featured otherwise, with the East Fremantle product a player who has plenty of first round suitors. Coming into his top-age season, Carroll was pegged as a classy outside midfielder or half-back who moved well and used the ball efficiently by foot. But after nearly a full season of WAFL Colts football through midfield, the 188cm prospect has also shown his worth inside the engine room. Carroll measures up at a good height and while he may be a touch light around the contest, he uses his high-level agility and poise to weave through traffic before effectively disposing of the ball. A versatile talent with good upside, Carroll is destined to rise even further.

August Ranking: NR

Last Month: This week will serve as Carroll’s last chance to earn senior selection before finals, though East Fremantle is only really in that frame across the Reserves and Colts grades. He would inevitably come into consideration after an outstanding performance against Claremont in Round 7, collecting 31 disposals and booting two goals as the Sharks knocked off their highly-fancied opponents. In five games over the past month, Carroll has averaged 23.4 disposals to put himself right among the top 20 mix. For us, he remains just outside it for now at #22, but has all the class to move on up.

>> Draft Watch

#23 Caleb Poulter
WWT Eagles/South Australia | Midfielder/Forward
12/10/2002 | 190cm | 79kg

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

August Ranking: NR

Last Month: Poulter earned a call-up to the Eagles’ Reserves side in Round 10, booting a goal on debut and retaining his spot in the latest weekend of action. The League side will be tough to crack given its success this season, but the 190cm prospect will be keen to join fellow top-age gun, Lachlan Jones in the lineup. Prior to his promotion, Poulter averaged a tick under 28 disposals in his four Under 18s outings across August, generating plenty of forward momentum and hitting the scoreboard in two of those games. In that time, Poulter gained a big tick for his consistency and has found the ball in all areas of the ground, highlighting his versatility in production.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch

#24 Brandon Walker
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Half-Back
17/10/2002 | 184cm | 75kg

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

August Ranking: NR

Last Month: Walker returns to our rankings as we expand the list, and has produced a solid month of football. The Dockers NGA hopeful has averaged bang-on 20 touches and over six marks across five games in August/September, with 74 per cent of his disposals in that time released via foot. These numbers are quite good for a prospect of his type, who pops up rather than accumulates. His marking ability, combined with speed and poise across the ground makes him a dual-pronged defensive outlet with plenty of weapons. While he is able to impact further afield and even find the goals, we feel Walker has showcased his best form at half-back.

>> Draft Watch

#25 Joel Jeffrey
NT Thunder/Allies | Utility
12/03/2002 | 192cm | 78kg

The sole representative from the Northern Territory in our top 25, Jeffrey is arguably the region’s most promising draft prospect this year. Having grown to 192cm, Jeffrey is a true swingman who can dominate aerially up either end. His reading of the ball in flight is exceptional, and his sticky hands do the rest of the work as he pulls down big marks. The son of NT legend Russell Jeffrey, Joel comes from good pedigree and is terrifically athletic for his size; boasting speed to burn, a sizeable leap, and clean hands at ground level. Having gained senior football experience with Wanderers in the NTFL, Jeffrey was set to move to Queensland this year given his ties to the Gold Coast SUNS via their access to the Darwin zone. The move was ultimately put on hold due to the current pandemic, but Jeffrey looks likely to end up in the Sunshine State come season’s end.

August Ranking: NR

Last Month: After a long waiting period since his last NTFL outing in February, Jeffrey returned to action with the Gold Coast SUNS as part of August’s Academy Series. He took part in game two against the Brisbane Lions Academy, and built into the contest well after a steady start. Having initially lined up down back, where he looks a touch more impactful as he drifts across to intercept, Jeffrey was swung forward in the second half and booted a goal. He looked lively with his turn of speed and athleticism, despite some scratchy moments early on.

>> Draft Watch

IN THE MIX:

It is no secret now that South Australian Brayden Cook is bolting into top 25 calculations, as the South Adelaide wingman/forward continues to impress at Under 18s level. He remains just outside our rankings as others have more runs on the board, but another month of similar form would make him hard to ignore.

Errol Gulden has been in serious form in the AFL Sydney Premier Division, with 10 goals in his last three games – including a bag of six – putting him in the mix. West Australians Joel Western (Fremantle NGA) and Isiah Winder have also caught the eye, as the former made his return from injury, while the latter again earned a spot at League level for Peel Thunder.

Of the most unlucky Victorians to miss due to a lack of action, Bailey Laurie has previously featured in our top 20, while Hawthorn NGA prospect and Eastern Ranges captain Connor Downie is also one to consider. Sandringham Dragons bigman Max Heath is a ruck prospect who lingers around the mark, along with Essendon NGA defender Cody Brand. Jake Bowey and Eddie Ford also boast top 25 potential.

Back across in South Australia, small forward Corey Durdin made a short lived return from injury this week at SANFL League level, while Luke Edwards got back on the park in the Reserves. Zac Dumesny is still recovering from an ankle complaint, and all three are around the 30-35 range in our eyes.

All four Tasmania Academy hub members earned National Combine invites. Jackson Callow has been unleashed in a slightly different role down back, increasing his stocks of late in the TSL, with Oliver Davis proving consistent, and Patrick Walker continuing to show promising upside across half-back and on the wing.

Draft Central Power Rankings: August 2020

BUDDING AFL Draft prospects from around the nation have stamped their claims over the last month with football returning across multiple states, making for a top-end list boasting plenty of movers and sliders. In Draft Central‘s second Power Rankings edition for 2020, we again stick to a list of 20 with only a few adjustments made to our initial July rankings. A certain West Australian key forward has pushed into the top 10, while a couple of South Australian midfielders have bolted in from the clouds to also warrant a spot each. All that, and more in our August Power Rankings update.

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

#1 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 194cm | 84kg

Western Bulldogs fans may not entirely enjoy seeing Next Generation Academy (NGA) product, Ugle-Hagan perched atop the tree given the hefty price that comes with it, but should be buoyed by their club having first dibs on such a remarkable talent. The 194cm key position forward has been compared to champion goalkicker Lance Franklin for his athleticism and left-foot kick, but he plays a little differently. Ugle-Hagan’s pace off the lead and sticky hands overhead set him apart, while elite scores in each of the preseason testing events make him an irresistible prospect alone. He is the consensus number one choice at this point, having delivered on the hype as he moved to the Oakleigh region via a scholarship with Scotch College.

July Ranking: #1

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

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

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

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

July Ranking: #2

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and long-term knee injury.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#3 Will Phillips
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
22/05/2002 | 179cm | 78kg

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

July Ranking: #3

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#4 Denver Grainger-Barras
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
14/04/2002 | 195cm | 78kg

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

July Ranking: #5

Last Month: Grainger-Barras has picked up right from where he left off in 2019, slotting back into Swan Districts’ League side after making his senior debut last year. Across the first three rounds, he has averaged 9.3 disposals, 4.3 marks, and 2.3 tackles from half-back, with his most recent outing earning him best afield honours against Subiaco. The promising defender is so assured in the air and reads the game better than most, though can work on finding more of the ball to make even better use of his smarts and composure.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#5 Riley Thilthorpe
West Adelaide/South Australia | Ruck/Key Position Forward
7/07/2002 | 200cm | 99kg

In a welcome change from last year’s crop, key position prospects will be in abundance at the top end. Thilthorpe is one of them, an athletic ruck/forward who possesses enormous running capacity and can dominate the airways. In his ruck duties, the 200cm West Adelaide product plays more like a fourth midfielder, able to follow up at ground level and cover the ground like a small. He has been utilised in a more forward-oriented role for the Bloods at SANFL League level though, with his goalkicking attributes and diverse skillset already making him a handful for senior players with more mature bodies. Ask any of the South Australian Under 18s who they are most looking forward to playing alongside in 2020, and Thilthorpe is among them. Jot the name down, he should be among those you are most looking forward to watching, too.

July Ranking: #4

Last Month: Another key position player who is thriving at senior level, Thilthorpe has become a consistent figure up forward for West Adelaide’s League side. He has booted four goals across his six games thus far, finding the big sticks in half of his outings. The area Thilthorpe has impressed most in is his marking, having shown a terrific forward 50 presence and the ability to use his reach to take the ball at its highest point. He is difficult to stop when doing so, and doubles his threat with good ground level efforts. Yet to take a game by the scruff of its neck, though that may prove difficult as the Bloods sit at 1-4-1.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

#6 Braeden Campbell
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Balanced Midfielder/Forward
4/02/2002 | 181cm | 72kg

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

July Ranking: #6

Last Month: Like many of the Swans Academy prospects, Campbell has been plying his trade in the AFL Sydney Premier Division, running out for the Pennant Hill Demons over the last three weeks. He booted six goals in his first two appearances and was named in the best both times.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#7 Tanner Bruhn
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
27/05/2002 | 182cm | 73kg

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

July Ranking: #7

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#8 Nikolas Cox
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Key Position Defender/Utility
15/01/2002 | 199cm | 82kg

A 199cm player who can run, kick on both sides, and play just about anywhere? It sounds too good to be true, but that is exactly what Cox brings to the table as his region’s most outstanding draft candidate. Cox cut his teeth as a tall wingman and key position swingman in 2019, juggling his time between school football, 10 NAB League outings, and a berth in the Under 18 Vic Metro squad as a bottom-ager. In 2020, the Northern Knights co-captain is set to develop as a centre-half back, with his athleticism and versatility in the role lending to the fact he has an enormous ceiling. He is also set to be a prime candidate to lead Vic Metro should the national carnival swing around, lauded for his professionalism and the example he sets via training standards.

July Ranking: #8

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and AGSV Football.

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

#9 Logan McDonald
Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 196cm | 85kg

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

July Ranking: #20

Last Month: McDonald is the big riser this month having put his name in lights at WAFL League level. The 196cm key position forward put on a show in his senior debut with 16 disposals, four marks, and three goals, before going one-better in Round 2 to boot four majors from 15 disposals and seven marks. His marking strength both on the lead and one-on-one has been exceptional, as has his finishing. After a bye in Round 3, expect McDonald to continue to rise.

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

#10 Alex Davies
Gold Coast SUNS/Allies | Inside Midfielder
18/03/2002 | 191cm | 85kg

A second Northern Academy prospect and first Queenslander on the list, Davies is one of the more highly touted big-bodied midfielders of his cohort. Standing at 191cm and filling out to 85kg, the SUNS Academy hopeful boasts the ideal size to not only dominate his junior competitors, but more importantly make an immediate impact at the next level. He has been his state’s prime ball winner for some time and thrives on racking up high contested numbers, but has also displayed terrific poise in traffic and adds releasing handballs to his thumping kicks away from the stoppages. He ran out for four of Gold Coast’s NAB League outings as a bottom-ager, and should prove a key figure among the Allies squad in 2020.

July Ranking: #9

Last Month: Davies has managed to squeeze a QAFL game into his schedule, appearing for the Broadbeach Cats a fortnight ago and booting a goal in their 57-point win over Mt Gravatt.

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

#11 Reef McInnes
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
12/12/2002 | 192cm | 84kg

Just slipping outside the top 10 due to McDonald’s rise is another inside midfielder and a second NGA product tied to both the Scotch College and Oakleigh Chargers systems. Attached to Collingwood, McInnes is set to be yet another in the production line of academy and father-son prospects made available to the Magpies, and looms as a first round candidate. While he was pushed out to the forward line in Oakleigh’s stacked premiership side, McInnes is a bull on the inside who can dominate at stoppages. He is hardly the typical slow, strength-dependant type either, able to lean on his agility and awareness to effectively extract from midfield. The versatility he was made to learn as a bottom-ager adds another string to his bow, with goals a valuable part of his game in 2019.

July Ranking: #10

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

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

#12 Lachlan Jones
WWT Eagles/South Australia | General Defender
9/04/2002 | 185cm | 89kg

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

July Ranking: #17

Last Month: Another SANFL League representative, Jones’ form has been enough to warrant a decent rise up our board. The solidly-built defender has cemented his spot at senior level, running out in all six of WWT’s fixtures thus far. While he has returned a few down games of under 10 disposals, Jones’ best is first round quality and indicative of a readymade player. Port fans and staff alike may want to downplay his value, but he looms as a prospect just outside of the top 10 range.

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

#13 Nathan O’Driscoll 
Perth/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder/Defender
17/05/2002 | 187cm | 76kg

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

July Ranking: #13

Last Month: O’Driscoll has been plying his trade at WAFL Colts level, featuring in Rounds 1 and 2 before a bye most recently. He has been named as the Demons’ starting centre half-forward, but after a steady opening performance, looks to have returned to his usual form through midfield with 25 disposals, six marks, and five tackles in Round 2. Enough to hold his spot.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#14 Kaine Baldwin
Glenelg/South Australia | Key Position Forward
30/05/2002 | 193cm | 92kg

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

July Ranking: #11

Last Month: Inactive due to long-term knee injury.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#15 Zach Reid
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Key Position Defender/Utility
2/03/2002 | 202cm | 82kg

A versatile tall who could push for top 10 status, Reid returned a consistent output during his bottom-age season as a key member of Gippsland’s spine. He was tried up either end and through the ruck across 15 NAB League outings, but looked most comfortable down back and should find a home there once again in 2020. At 202cm, Reid is filling out nicely and can utilise that added strength to compete better one-on-one against big key forwards. He is a terrific judge of the ball in flight and positions intelligently, not just relying on his height to compete aerially. Reid is also both a sound handler and user of the ball for his size, providing a cool head in rebounding transitions.

July Ranking: #12

Last Month: While the competition has now been suspended, Reid managed to fit in three outings for Leongatha in the Gippsland League. He was named among the best for his two goals in the Parrots’ Round 2 win over Moe, and looks to be shuffling around to a few different positions as he has done previously. Hardly a slide, others in more competitive interstate leagues have just gone ahead of him.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#16 Zane Trew
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder
26/04/2002 | 186cm | 78kg

Trew is one of many top-end prospects who have had to battle injury throughout their bottom-age seasons, but he looks primed to bounce back well in 2020. Hailing from the talent-stacked Swan Districts program, Trew is a classy inside midfielder who can rack up plenty of ball in style, backed by his 40-disposal effort in last year’s WAFL Colts competition. While he was limited to just three outings and missed Under 18 selection for WA, the 186cm prospect should not be forgotten in first round discussions. Trew is a handball-happy extractor, able to flick out releasing touches to his runners, but he is just as effective by foot with clean skills at short range and penetration when required. Should be a lock for the WA engine room this season.

July Ranking: #16

Last Month: The Swan Districts midfielder has already matched his games tally from 2019, but had his most recent WAFL Colts outing cut short through injury. The bye comes at a good time for Trew as he works to wear off his concussion, but he has otherwise fared well in the junior competition. Across Rounds 1 and 2, Trew averaged 28 disposals, three marks, and five tackles in displays consistent enough to see him hold down the number 16 ranking.

>> Draft Diary 1 | 2
>> Marquee Matchup

#17 Oliver Henry
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Medium Utility
29/07/2002 | 187cm | 77kg

Another brother-of who should feature at the top end of this year’s rankings is Henry, the younger sibling of Geelong Cats defender, Jack. The Geelong Falcons product has top 10 potential, able to play up either end of the ground and pull down big marks. While he looks most comfortable up forward as a high-flying third tall type, Henry is just as capable down back where his aerial prowess translates to intercept value. At 187cm, he plays above his size through sheer athleticism and reading of the play, with the potential to also move up onto a wing. Should he finally be allowed back onto the park in 2020, expect Henry to be one who could rise quite steeply given his enormous upside and versatility.

July Ranking: NR

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and school football.

>> Feature
>> Marquee Matchup

#18 Tom Powell
Sturt/South Australia | Midfielder
2/03/2002 | 180cm | 73kg

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

July Ranking: NR

Last Month: As by far the most prolific Under 18s ball winner in South Australia, and potentially the entire country, Powell is proving impossible to ignore at this stage. He leads the competition for total disposals, clearances, and inside 50s after six rounds, averaging 37.2, 9.2, and 6.8 in those respective categories. Having also added goals to his arsenal most recently, Powell continues to add strings to his bow. Gaining much-deserved recognition after an injury-riddled 2019 campaign.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch

#19 Archie Perkins
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
26/03/2002 | 186cm | 77kg

Perhaps a slightly speculative choice of ranking at this stage, but Perkins has all the makings of a special talent. Having caught the eye as a forward and outside midfielder in 2019, the Sandringham Dragons standout is poised to spend more time on the inside as a top-ager, with just the right size and some incredible athletic attributes to aid his transition. Perkins boasts a monster vertical leap, covers 20 metres in less than three seconds, and is brilliantly agile, making for an ideal athletic base. His finishing touch is an area he can refine, but the 186cm prospect is no stranger to finding the goals and can be a real game changer when required. Damage or impact is a key trait which is often hard to measure, but Perkins ranks highly in that department.

July Ranking: #18

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

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

#20 Finlay Macrae
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
13/03/2002 | 184cm | 75kg

You may recognise the name and yes, Finlay is the brother of Western Bulldogs midfielder, Jack. They are quite clearly cut from the same cloth, with the younger Macrae possessing a similar ball winning appetite and class on the ball to his established older sibling. The 184cm Charger also boasts a terrific balance in his traits, able to impact the play moving forward with sound decision making and precise execution via foot, on top of his obvious exploits in extraction. While he is not overly quick, Macrae’s evasiveness comes through agility and awareness, which should be on full show as he prepares to feature prominently for Oakleigh, Xavier College, and Vic Metro in 2020.

July Ranking: #14

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

IN THE MIX:

Off the bat, Caleb Poulter and Heath Chapman are essentially number 21 and 22 on our list, making them the hardest to leave out of the top 20. Both have enjoyed impactful starts to their respective seasons; with Poulter a midfielder who packs presence in the SANFL Under 18s, and Chapman an intercept defender who has roamed further afield in the WAFL Colts. They are both terrific sizes, and have a range of weapons at their disposal.

Bailey Laurie and Brandon Walker are the two who slid out of the 20 from July’s rankings. It has been no real fault of their own, with the inactive Laurie a victim of others’ rises, while Walker has made a solid start to his WAFL Colts campaign but is ultimately just squeezed out.

Walker’s fellow Fremantle Next Generation Academy member, Joel Western has enjoyed a terrific start to the year to come into contention, but missed last weekend’s action through injury. Isiah Winder is another on the rise having earned his WAFL League debut for Peel Thunder, so keep an eye out for his name in future. Midfielder/half-back Jack Carroll is also in form, along with left-field ruck hopeful, Kalin Lane, but both are still just outside this kind of range.

The likes of Corey Durdin and Zac Dumesny linger around the top 30 for some given their SANFL League form, while Tariek Newchurch could be a first round smokey, but can work on becoming a more consistent threat. He and Jamison Murphy have been prominent for North Adelaide, while Bailey Chamberlain and Mani Liddy are hard to ignore at SANFL Under 18s level. Potential Adelaide father-son Luke Edwards also earned a SANFL Reserves call-up this month.

Down in Tasmania, Jackson Callow and Oliver Davis have made promising starts to their TSL campaigns. Of those who are around the mark, but cannot currently stake their claims due to a lack of top-level competition are Connor Downie, Eddie Ford, Jake Bowey, Sam Berry, and ruck bolter Max Heath. NT Thunder utility Joel Jeffrey has top 25 potential, as does Sydney Academy prospect Errol Gulden.

If you like the content that Draft Central provides and don’t want to miss any of it, then sign up to our subscriber list where you can be emailed out the latest AFL Draft Guide or sport-specific magazines, as well as the option to sign up to a monthly newsletter. Fill in the form below to subscribe and be notified!

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 17 – Chargers, Ranges win thrillers amid dual triple-headers

ROUND 17 of the 2019 NAB League was split into two triple-headers, with the six Metropolitan sides going head-to-head at Avalon Airport Oval on the Saturday, while Queen Elizabeth Oval hosted the six Country regions on Sunday, and Tasmania enjoyed a bye. Top three challengers Oakleigh and Eastern won out in thrillers, with a certain number two pick dragging the Chargers home, while a gun Next-Generation Academy prospect snatched four points for the Ranges with a kick after the siren.

But the weekend’s action started with a clash between Western and Northern, a game which saw the Knights handle the conditions better to run our 32-point winners. The Jets could not take full toll of their promising start, booting 1.4 to Northern’s 2.2 in the first quarter, before the latter pulled away with six goals to nil in term two to set up a game-defining margin. There would be little scoring after that, with the sides combining for just five goals after half-time.

The competition’s two leading goalkickers went head-to-head, with Josh D’Intinosante booting four goals to Archi Manton‘s three, but the Jets forward taking out top honours for his season tally. Promising bottom-ager Nikolas Cox added two for Northern, while Adam Carafa (23 disposals) and Darcy Cassar (22) led the ball winning stakes for their respective sides. Josh Watson enjoyed a breakout game with 21 touches and a goal, and in a cool quirk, Carlton draftees Sam Philp and Josh Honey competed on opposite sides shortly before becoming teammates.

Things really ramped up in the following fixture, as Connor Downie‘s post-siren set shot helped Eastern nab a four-point win over Calder from nowhere. The Cannons looked to have poked their noses in front at the ideal time as the lead changed hands on multiple occasions throughout the match, but a two-goal margin in the final term was quickly reigned back. In a last roll of the dice play, Downie would win a free kick inside 50 and sink the resultant shot to break Calder hearts and seal the minor premiership.

Eastern’s Lachlan Stapleton was massive in the clutch moments, and finished with 23 disposals and two goals in a terrific display of heart. Calder’s Jake Sutton beat him out in the goalkicking department with three majors, while Carlton draftee Sam Ramsay (27 disposals) and Mitch Mellis (26) led all comers in terms of disposals amid their back-and-forth midfield battle. Essendon’s Harrison Jones also looked lively up forward, booting a goal from 17 disposals and four marks.

If spectators thought that game would be the peak of entertainment for the afternoon, they were in for a treat when Oakleigh and Sandringham took the field. 11 eventual draftees were in action, including the top two selections, in what was one of the highest quality Under 18 games in recent history. After Finn Maginness booted the Dragons out to a 29-point lead early in the final term, Noah Anderson stepped up with back-to-back majors to help put the Chargers in front, before Cooper Sharman sealed the remarkable comeback to see Oakleigh home by seven points.

The cream truly rose to the top, with Anderson’s match-winning efforts seeing him finish with 24 disposals and three goals. Potential 2020 number one pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan was spectacular in the air in his four-goal display, while Matt Rowell wowed again with a mammoth 34 touches. Darcy Chirgwin led the way in that department for Sandringham with 30 disposals, but it was Maginness who stole the show with three goals from his 17 touches. Bottom-ager Archie Perkins also snagged a hat-trick of majors, as the wealth of talent on show made for scintillating viewing.

Fast forward to Sunday and switching over to the Country regions, Gippsland opened the show with a 10-point win over hosts, Bendigo at Queen Elizabeth Oval. In another heartbreaker, the Pioneers led at every break, albeit by slim margins, but faltered at the last as the Power surged home with 4.5 to the home side’s 3.0. The quality was evident in this clash too, with eight future draftees running out for their respective sides.

Among them, Fraser Phillips was one of six players on either team to boot two goals, also adding three behinds from his 19 disposals. Riley Baldi put in a terrific shift with a game-high 27 disposals and two majors, while Thomson Dow was among Bendigo’s best ball winners with 24 touches and a goal. Charlie Comben showed promising signs in his ruck/forward role, collecting 12 disposals, three marks, 13 hitouts, and 1.3, while a pair of Pioneers bottom-agers also fared well – with Jack Ginnivan and Seamus Mitchell both earning multiple goals.

Geelong notched just its third win of the season, accounting for reigning premier Dandenong to the tune of 31 points in a convincing effort. The Falcons shot to a five-goal buffer at half time and never looked back, extending the margin to an even 50 points heading into the final break, and coasting home despite the Stingray’s best efforts to claw back the deficit. Remarkably, the Falcons only registered one more scoring shot than their opponents, with their accurate 15.9 proving the difference when compared to Dandenong’s 9.14.

Charlie Sprague capped off his over-age season with a bang, booting six goals as the Falcons’ spearhead. Bottom-age jets Oliver Henry and Tanner Bruhn also contributed two majors each, while Dandenong’s Lachlan Williams (three goals) was his side’s most potent mover. Another 19-year-old, Will Lewis led all comers with 24 disposals, followed by Geelong captain Jesse Clark on 23. The likes of Hayden Young and Cody Weightman ran out for Dandenong, but could do little to thwart the Falcons’ emerging talents from taking hold.

The final game of the 2019 regular season saw the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels down Murray by 15 points in a relatively low-scoring affair, with neither side able to take full advantage of their opportunities. It mattered little in the end for the Rebels, who produced a greater wealth of chances throughout the day, while the Bushrangers could only manage a goal per the first three terms.

Glenelg recruit Mitch Martin snagged a game-high three goals from 17 disposals as the only multiple goalkicker afield, showcasing all of his individual quality. Fellow Rebel Cooper Craig-Peters led all comers with 24 disposals, while Jye Chalcraft (22 disposals) and Cam Wild (21) fared best for the Bushies. Draftees Jay Rantall and Lachlan Ash were kept to 20 and 19 touches respectively, while a bunch of Under 16 talent shone through for both sides.

2020 AFL Draft Positional Analysis: Key Position Defenders

THE KEY position stocks among this year’s potential AFL Draft crop are quite rich when compared to 2019, with a couple of tall defenders currently featuring at the pointy end of ranking boards. While not all of them currently have the opportunity to show their worth on the field, exposed form and long preseasons for most allow for a window into how the current stocks stack up.

In ramping up our 2020 AFL Draft analysis, Draft Central continues its line-by-line positional breakdowns, moving on to the best key position defenders. The following list features pocket profiles of top-age (2002-born) prospects who are part of their respective AFL Academy hubs, while also touching on some names who we may have missed, or will feature on another list.

Without further ado, get to know some of the premier key defenders who are eligible to be drafted to your club in 2020.

Note: The list is ordered alphabetically, not by any form of ranking.

James Borlase
Sturt/South Australia
18/06/2002 | 190cm | 94kg

His father, Darryl may have played 246 games for the Port Adelaide Magpies, but Adelaide lay claim to first dibs on the next generation of Borlase via its academy ranks. The 190cm prospect landed in the Crows’ zone and was born in Egypt, allowing him to join and develop through the Crows’ Next Generation Academy (NGA). Currently plying his trade in Sturt’s Reserves side, Borlase has been a mainstay in the South Australian state ranks, utilised at either end of the ground. But with his strength and sound reading of the play, the 18-year-old is looking to cement a spot down back this year. He is a little short on true key position height but has the frame to compete, and may become more of a third-tall type at the next level.

>> Q&A

Cody Brand
Calder Cannons/Vic Metro
23/05/2002 | 195cm | 84kg

Another NGA hopeful, Brand came on strong towards the back end of last year’s NAB League season having regained some confidence during his school football campaign. He is a good size at 195cm and 84kg, able to utilise his strength in one-on-one situations to pose attributes which slightly lean towards the shutdown role among the back six setup. But Brand is relatively adept athletically too, with a decent spring and closing speed allowing him to both impact aerial contests and rebound effectively. He is one of the few talls at Calder this year, and looks like locking down a key defensive post once again having also been trialled up forward.

>> Feature

Heath Chapman
West Perth/Western Australia
31/01/2002 | 193cm | 81kg

A prospect who may rise quickly up draft boards is Chapman, an athletic key position type who is built for the modern game. The West Perth product mixes defence with offence well, able to read the play and intercept with aplomb, while also finding plenty of the ball and using it soundly on the rebound. While he still has time to grow, Chapman’s slight 193cm frame and terrific athletic attributes throw up the potential for him to be freed from the key position caper, in order to truly enhance his speed-endurance mix. But for now, expect to see Chapman dominating across centre half-back at Colts level for the Falcons, and a partnership alongside Denver Grainger-Barras also looms in future for the Black Ducks.

Nikolas Cox
Northern Knights/Vic Metro
15/01/2002 | 199cm | 82kg

There is a lot to like about the 2020 Northern Knights co-captain, who brings precise dual-sided disposal, speed-endurance running, aerial prowess, and clean hands all in one versatile 199cm package. Cox cut his teeth in a range of different positions as a bottom-ager, roaming the wing at times while also being tried with great success up forward. But his sound disposal, leadership, and reading of the play have him pinned for a role at centre half-back this year, having appeared once already for Vic Metro among the back six. Should he put all the pieces together, Cox has the potential to be a true top 10 prospect, but as is the case with most high-upside prospects, he is still quite raw.

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

Denver Grainger-Barras
Swan Districts/Western Australia
14/04/2002 | 195cm | 78kg

Speaking of true top 10 prospects, Grainger-Barras is the early clubhouse leader among the key defenders having shown outstanding form to this point in his junior career. After earning All Australian honours at Under 16 level, the Swan Districts product went on to impress across two Under 18 National Championship games for WA, before being ruled out for the remainder of his bottom-age season with a serious shoulder injury. While he is still a touch light-on, Grainger-Barras is more than capable of competing in a lock-down defensive role, but thrives in being able to intercept and showcase his versatility across the backline. He should feature early at WAFL League level having cracked the grade in 2019.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

Jack Johnston
Gold Coast Academy/Allies
5/07/2002 | 195cm | 95kg

Another academy member among our list and one who has flown a little under the radar is Johnston, who looks a likely type. He is tied to the Gold Coast SUNS Academy, and played all five games in the NAB League Northern Academy series last year, playing an important role at centre half-back. Like many on this list, he possesses a good amount of athleticism to add to his defensive capabilities, able to impact the play aerially and at ground level. His frame makes him a readymade type, and he looks poised for an Allies berth in 2020 having made the squad as a bottom-ager.

Cody Raak
Western Jets/Vic Metro
8/10/2002 | 191cm | 77kg

While he might fall just under the genuine key position quota at 191cm, the Western Bulldogs NGA hopeful is one who plays the defensive role well. Having already turned out 11 times at NAB League level for the Western Jets, Raak is one of the more seasoned members of his region and provides a good deal of versatility to the potential Vic Metro back six. Raak is able to read the play well across the backline and intercept aerially, while also using the ball soundly when in possession and notching up a solid amount of disposals. He is working on his strength and one-on-one craft, but looms as an exciting third tall type going forward.

Zach Reid
Gippsland Power/Vic Country
2/03/2002 | 202cm | 82kg

The only player on this list to tip over the 200cm mark is Reid, who brings a bunch of desirable traits to the table. The leading Gippsland Power prospect does not just lean on his height and vertical leap to have an impact aerially, as he positions well and is improving on his strength-related game. Reid is also a terrific kick for his size and combines his slick use by foot with clean hands and athleticism to help sweep up at ground level. Having been tested through the ruck and up forward for periods as a bottom-ager, Reid looks primed to continue as a key defender with plenty to suggest he has all the right attributes for the next level.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

OTHERS TO CONSIDER

There were a few players who were tricky to omit from this list, but most will feature on others as they did not quite fit the true key defensive mould. Among them, the 188cm Jye Sinderberry is a very capable lockdown defender at Under 18 level, who competes well in all areas against players about his size. Geelong’s Cameron Fleeton is another versatile type who can adapt to the key position role as it stands, but is likely to be let off the leash going forward. Late bloomer Blake Morris possesses similar intercept marking power, but is again a touch short and light at 188cm/66kg. You can add Will Schreiber to the list, too, although he has also been utilised through midfield this season.

Oakleigh’s Sam Tucker is of a true key position mould, but can be considered a swingman of sorts given he has also played up forward, while the likes of Jack Driscoll double as ruck cover, and Jack Briskey narrowly missed the cut due to his athleticism suiting a slightly different role. Gold Coast Academy prospect Ryan Pickering is another who may impress in 2020, almost adding to the 200cm club.

Picture: AFL Media

Positional Analysis: Inside Midfielders | Outside Midfielders | Key Position Forwards

>> CATCH UP ON OUR OTHER SERIES

July 2020 Power Rankings

Squad Predictions:
Allies
South Australia
Vic Country
Vic Metro
Western Australia

Features
AFL Draft Watch

Preseason Testing Analysis:
Jumps
Speed
Agility
Endurance

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 15 – Murray the lone home victor

MURRAY Bushrangers ended Round 15 of last year’s NAB League season as the only side to pick up a win on home turf, with four travelling teams making their away trips memorable ones across a shortened, five-game round. Five unique venues were also used over the eventful weekend, and Sandringham took a major leap towards the top three as Oakleigh and Eastern were among the three regions to enjoy a bye.

The Dragons’ move into third spot came on the back of a 65-point thumping of Tasmania on the Apple Isle, with the Devils unable to thwart their opponents’ scoring power. It didn’t take long for Sandringham to click into gear, setting up a handy 31-point margin at the main break, and doubling it over the course of the second half to win comfortably in a consistent effort.

Over-ager Angus Hanrahan was once again the Dragons’ leading ball winner, booting three goals from 33 touches in a massive outing, while Saints draftee Ryan Byrnes notched 28 and Port Adelaide first rounder Miles Bergman (19 disposals, one goal) looked lively. North Melbourne rookie Matt McGuinness led the way for Tasmania, picking up a team-high 26 disposals, with bottom-age guns Sam Collins (21 disposals) and Oliver Davis (19) also standing up in the losing effort.

Gippsland kept the ball rolling for away sides as it travelled to Dandenong’s Shepley Oval to take on the Stingrays. Akin to Sandringham, the Power got ahead early and never looked back, coasting home comfortably to a 34-point victory. After conceding a 33-point deficit to half time, the Stingrays had more than enough opportunities to get back into the contest, but could only manage 1.9 in the third term while keeping Gippsland goalless. It proved costly, as the Power got off the ropes to recover in the final quarter.

Future Fremantle young gun Hayden Young led all comers with 26 disposals and a goal, with Ned Cahill the next best on 22. Clayton Gay was a culprit of Stingrays’ the inaccuracy with four behinds, but got in the right areas, while Lachlan Williams and Will Bravo booted multiple goals for the Stingrays. Speaking of, Harvey Neocleous notched a game-high three majors for Gippsland, while skipper Brock Smith 22 disposals) and Sam Flanders (21) were among their side’s better ball winners. Ryan Sparkes led the way though with 23 touches.

In another Country-based fixture, Murray got the better of Western, credit to a resounding performance in the forward half. The Bushrangers booted 18.13 (121) to blow the Jets away by 72 points, booting at least four goals in each of the first three terms to set up the big victory. The Jets won some ground back in the final period of play after managing a goal per the previous quarters, and booted four majors to Murray’s two.

A 16-year-old star in Josh Rachele did plenty of damage with three goals from 21 disposals, alongside Jimmy Boyer‘s effort of 26 disposals and three goals. Remarkably, Western’s Josh Honey matched their feat in front of goal, contributing a third of Western’s total scoring shots. Cam Wild led all comers with 29 disposals, while Lachlan Ash (26 disposals, one goal) was in the thick of things, and Jets bottom-ager Cody Raak (24 disposals, 11 rebound 50s) was kept busy down back.

Bendigo’s road trip to Preston proved a fruitful one, as the Pioneers notched a brilliant upset win over Northern. After a tight first half which saw Bendigo claim the slight edge, a three-goal to one third quarter put the Pioneers 24 points ahead heading into the last turn. The Knights would do their best to sneak back into the game, but the away side had all the answers and ran away with the 37-point triumph.

One positive on the day for Northern was the emergence of Nikolas Cox in a true key position role, as he booted four goals to be the game’s most dangerous forward. Bendigo’s Jack Evans was the only other multiple goalkicker (two), as Knights pair Justin Davies and Sunny Brazier led the ball winning stakes with 24 touches each. Carlton draftee Sam Philp collected 22 disposals, while Swans recruit Brady Rowles looked threatening in his 11-disposal effort.

The final game of the round produced a thriller, as Calder snuck over the line against the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels at Mars Stadium. The game was only ever edged in the Rebels’ favour by a margin of one to two goals, but they seemed the superior side on the day and could have been even further ahead if not for some inaccuracy. The Cannons took full toll, booting three goals to one in the final term to snatch a four-point win.

Former Essendon father-son prospect Mason Fletcher came up clutch with three goals, matched by teammate Ned Gentile. Three Rebels booted multiples, while Collingwood draftee Jay Rantall dominated with a game-high 35 disposals. The cream had clearly risen to the top as Sam Ramsay followed with 33 touches, as the pair displayed all of the traits which saw them bolt into AFL Draft calculations.

Draft Central Power Rankings: July 2020

THROUGH pandemics and great uncertainty, draft hopefuls and fans alike have been assured that the 2020 AFL Draft will go ahead in some capacity, albeit at a later date. As budding elite-level players across the country return to action, it is time to let the cat out of the bag with our first, monthly Power Rankings list for the year. In this edition, we have compiled who we deem to be the top 20 draft eligible prospects and a bunch more to look out for based off under-age form, testing results, and preseason movement.

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

#1 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 194cm | 84kg

Western Bulldogs fans may not entirely enjoy seeing Next Generation Academy (NGA) product, Ugle-Hagan perched atop the tree given the hefty price that comes with it, but should be buoyed by their club having first dibs on such a remarkable talent. The 194cm key position forward has been compared to champion goalkicker Lance Franklin for his athleticism and left-foot kick, but he plays a little differently. Ugle-Hagan’s pace off the lead and sticky hands overhead set him apart, while elite scores in each of the preseason testing events make him an irresistible prospect alone. He is the consensus number one choice at this point, having delivered on the hype as he moved to the Oakleigh region via a scholarship with Scotch College.

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

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

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

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#3 Will Phillips
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
22/05/2002 | 179cm | 78kg

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

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#4 Riley Thilthorpe
West Adelaide/South Australia | Ruck/Key Position Forward
7/07/2002 | 200cm | 99kg

In a welcome change from last year’s crop, key position prospects will be in abundance at the top end. Thilthorpe is one of them, an athletic ruck/forward who possesses enormous running capacity and can dominate the airways. In his ruck duties, the 200cm West Adelaide product plays more like a fourth midfielder, able to follow up at ground level and cover the ground like a small. He has been utilised in a more forward-oriented role for the Bloods at SANFL League level though, with his goalkicking attributes and diverse skillset already making him a handful for senior players with more mature bodies. Ask any of the South Australian Under 18s who they are most looking forward to playing alongside in 2020, and Thilthorpe is among them. Jot the name down, he should be among those you are most looking forward to watching, too.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch

#5 Denver Grainger-Barras
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
14/04/2002 | 195cm | 78kg

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

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#6 Braeden Campbell
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Balanced Midfielder/Forward
4/02/2002 | 181cm | 72kg

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

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#7 Tanner Bruhn
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
27/05/2002 | 182cm | 73kg

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

>> Q&A

#8 Nikolas Cox
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Key Position Defender/Utility
15/01/2002 | 199cm | 82kg

A 199cm player who can run, kick on both sides, and play just about anywhere? It sounds too good to be true, but that is exactly what Cox brings to the table as his region’s most outstanding draft candidate. Cox cut his teeth as a tall wingman and key position swingman in 2019, juggling his time between school football, 10 NAB League outings, and a berth in the Under 18 Vic Metro squad as a bottom-ager. In 2020, the Northern Knights co-captain is set to develop as a centre-half back, with his athleticism and versatility in the role lending to the fact he has an enormous ceiling. He is also set to be a prime candidate to lead Vic Metro should the national carnival swing around, lauded for his professionalism and the example he sets via training standards.

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

#9 Alex Davies
Gold Coast SUNS/Allies | Inside Midfielder
18/03/2002 | 191cm | 85kg

A second Northern Academy prospect and first Queenslander on the list, Davies is one of the more highly touted big-bodied midfielders of his cohort. Standing at 191cm and filling out to 85kg, the SUNS Academy hopeful boasts the ideal size to not only dominate his junior competitors, but more importantly make an immediate impact at the next level. He has been his state’s prime ball winner for some time and thrives on racking up high contested numbers, but has also displayed terrific poise in traffic and adds releasing handballs to his thumping kicks away from the stoppages. He ran out for four of Gold Coast’s NAB League outings as a bottom-ager, and should prove a key figure among the Allies squad in 2020.

>> Q&A
>> Marquee Matchup

#10 Reef McInnes
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
12/12/2002 | 192cm | 84kg

Rounding out the top 10 is another inside midfielder and a second NGA product tied to both the Scotch College and Oakleigh Chargers systems. Attached to Collingwood, McInnes is set to be yet another in the production line of academy and father-son prospects made available to the Magpies, and looms as a first round candidate. While he was pushed out to the forward line in Oakleigh’s stacked premiership side, McInnes is a bull on the inside who can dominate at stoppages. He is hardly the typical slow, strength-dependant type either, able to lean on his agility and awareness to effectively extract from midfield. The versatility he was made to learn as a bottom-ager adds another string to his bow, with goals a valuable part of his game in 2019.

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

#11 Kaine Baldwin
Glenelg/South Australia | Key Position Forward
30/05/2002 | 193cm | 92kg

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

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#12 Zach Reid
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Key Position Defender/Utility
2/03/2002 | 202cm | 82kg

A versatile tall who could push for top 10 status, Reid returned a consistent output during his bottom-age season as a key member of Gippsland’s spine. He was tried up either end and through the ruck across 15 NAB League outings, but looked most comfortable down back and should find a home there once again in 2020. At 202cm, Reid is filling out nicely and can utilise that added strength to compete better one-on-one against big key forwards. He is a terrific judge of the ball in flight and positions intelligently, not just relying on his height to compete aerially. Reid is also both a sound handler and user of the ball for his size, providing a cool head in rebounding transitions.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#13 Nathan O’Driscoll 
Perth/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder/Defender
17/05/2002 | 187cm | 76kg

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

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#14 Finlay Macrae
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
13/03/2002 | 184cm | 75kg

You may recognise the name and yes, Finlay is the brother of Western Bulldogs midfielder, Jack. They are quite clearly cut from the same cloth, with the younger Macrae possessing a similar ball winning appetite and class on the ball to his established older sibling. The 184cm Charger also boasts a terrific balance in his traits, able to impact the play moving forward with sound decision making and precise execution via foot, on top of his obvious exploits in extraction. While he is not overly quick, Macrae’s evasiveness comes through agility and awareness, which should be on full show as he prepares to feature prominently for Oakleigh, Xavier College, and Vic Metro in 2020.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#15 Brandon Walker
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Defender/Midfielder
17/10/2002 | 184cm | 75kg

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

>> Draft Watch

#16 Zane Trew
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder
26/04/2002 | 186cm | 78kg

Trew is one of many top-end prospects who have had to battle injury throughout their bottom-age seasons, but he looks primed to bounce back well in 2020. Hailing from the talent-stacked Swan Districts program, Trew is a classy inside midfielder who can rack up plenty of ball in style, backed by his 40-disposal effort in last year’s WAFL Colts competition. While he was limited to just three outings and missed Under 18 selection for WA, the 186cm prospect should not be forgotten in first round discussions. Trew is a handball-happy extractor, able to flick out releasing touches to his runners, but he is just as effective by foot with clean skills at short range and penetration when required. Should be a lock for the WA engine room this season.

>> Draft Diary 1 | 2
>> Marquee Matchup

#17 Lachlan Jones
WWT Eagles/South Australia | General Defender
9/04/2002 | 185cm | 89kg

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

#18 Archie Perkins
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
26/03/2002 | 186cm | 77kg

Perhaps a slightly speculative choice of ranking at this stage, but Perkins has all the makings of a special talent. Having caught the eye as a forward and outside midfielder in 2019, the Sandringham Dragons standout is poised to spend more time on the inside as a top-ager, with just the right size and some incredible athletic attributes to aid his transition. Perkins boasts a monster vertical leap, covers 20 metres in less than three seconds, and is brilliantly agile, making for an ideal athletic base. His finishing touch is an area he can refine, but the 186cm prospect is no stranger to finding the goals and can be a real game changer when required. Damage or impact is a key trait which is often hard to measure, but Perkins ranks highly in that department.

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

#19 Bailey Laurie
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
24/03/2002 | 178cm | 76kg

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

>> Feature
>> Marquee Matchup

#20 Logan McDonald
Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 196cm | 85kg

Rounding out the top 20 is McDonald, who adds to the strong key position and West Australian representation among the top-end of his cohort. The high-marking key forward represented his state thrice during last year’s Under 18 National Championships, averaging a goal per game and impressing with his ability to clunk marks leading up the ground. He has terrific hands on the lead and usually has no trouble finding the big sticks, while his high-level endurance confirms his status as a true, modern-day centre half-forward. Having grown and filled out to a more conventional key position size, expect McDonald to better showcase his game-winning ability from forward of centre – something which earned him All Australian honours as an Under 16s player.

>> Draft Watch

IN THE MIX:

While narrowing down an initial list for the year is always difficult, it has proven especially so with the evenness of this year’s talent pool making for a real bottle-neck around the 15-30 range. Established names from all around the country could come into contention, with the likes of South Australian pair Corey Durdin and Luke Edwards currently featuring around the top 30, while fellow Croweater Zac Dumesny has impressed at League level, as have Caleb Poulter, Tom Powell, Bailey Chamberlain, and Jamison Murphy as Under 18s.

While the academy representation is heavy among the list as it is, those with keen eyes may query Errol Gulden‘s absence, while other prospects with ties to AFL clubs like Tariek Newchurch and Connor Downie were also unlucky to miss the cut. There are a few game-winners who could push their way in, as Eddie Ford and Oliver Henry neared contention, while fellow Victorians Jake Bowey and Sam Berry could also push a case based on bottom-age output. Speaking of, Tasmanian standouts Jackson Callow and Oliver Davis were considered, while Sandringham ruck Max Heath looms as a bolter.

Squad predictions: 2020 Vic Metro Under 18s

THE annual Under 18 National Championships may be the only chance we get to catch a glimpse of the class of 2020 before draft day, with a decision on the recommencement of competition pushed back to at least September. In the meantime, Draft Central takes a look at how each regional squad may line up should the carnival come around, but with a few stipulations in place.

RULES:

  • Top-agers (2002-born) have been prioritised due to the limited season and exposure
  • Of those, AFL Academy Hub members also gain priority for the starting squad
  • Bottom-agers (2003-born) in the hub, and top-agers outside it are named for depth
  • 19-year-old prospects miss out, having already staked their claims in previous years

A lot may change between now and when the squad will be announced, but all players look likely to be available. Of course, the sides may vary greatly as players look to shift and develop in different positions, but each member has been selected based on the roles they have previously played. Given only previous form, preseason testing and scratch matches are what we have to go off, bolters are also difficult to gauge at this point.

But without further ado, let’s get stuck into the first stipulated squad, with Vic Metro’s talent broken down line-by-line. An alternate squad with no limitations will also be provided below.

DEFENCE

FB – Cody Raak (Western), Cody Brand (Calder), Wil Parker (Eastern)
HB – Joshua Clarke (Eastern), Nikolas Cox (Northern), Connor Downie (Eastern)

There’s a real Eastern Ranges flavour to the back six, with regional skipper and Hawthorn NGA prospect Connor Downie a potential leadership candidate. Athletic Northern utility Nikolas Cox is another NAB League captain in line for those honours, and the two are joined across half-back by Josh Clarke.

The forward penetration Clarke and Downie provide makes for an exciting proposition, though Downie may well find his way up onto a wing or into the midfield in the final squad. The third Eastern product of the defence, Wil Parker can also add value on the rebound, but joins Bulldogs NGA candidate Cody Raak as a capable intercept marker inside defensive 50.

Essendon-aligned hopeful Cody Brand looks set to lock down a role at full back, making for a fairly sturdy last line. The combination of aerial threat and attacking ball use among the six bodes well for Metro, and should set the side up nicely.

MIDFIELD

C – Jake Bowey (Sandringham), Reef McInnes (Oakleigh), Lochlan Jenkins (Oakleigh)
FOL – Max Heath (Sandringham), Will Phillips (Oakleigh), Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh)

If there was an Eastern feel to the defence, then the midfield is all-Oakleigh. Following on with the NGA theme too is Collingwood academy member Reef McInnes, who takes up a spot in the centre with eyes on fulfilling a more midfield-oriented role in 2020.

The familiar faces of Will Phillips and Finlay Macrae look set to join him at the centre bounces, as smaller outlets who can find plenty of the ball. On the outer, we’ve opted for a small combination with the 174cm Jake Bowey on one side, and 177cm Lochlan Jenkins on the opposite.

Should the Metro coaches opt for more grunt through the middle, the likes of Downie and explosive Sandringham product Archie Perkins could add some extra power, though the chosen core should have little trouble finding the ball. Max Heath is the chosen ruck, one of the few pure talls among the ranks at the moment.

FORWARD

HF – Archie Perkins (Sandringham), Liam McMahon (Northern), Bailey Laurie (Oakleigh)
FF – Jackson Cardillo (Calder), Ollie Lord (Sandringham), Eddie Ford (Western)

Akin to last year’s squad, the forwardline is one of the weaker areas of the squad – not for a lack of talent, but due to the lack of a pure small forward. The likes of Perkins, Bailey Laurie, Jackson Cardillo, and Eddie Ford all pack dynamism, speed, and smarts, but fall into the category of midfielder/forwards.

This forward bunch should also have no troubles in competing aerially, with the high-marking prowess of Perkins and Ford aided by vertically apt key position prospects Liam McMahon and Ollie Lord. Though at 193cm and 195cm respectively, the pair falls a touch short of traditional key position height, so may prove less impactful against some of the bulkier defenders one-on-one.

Within the starting lineup, Cox is also able to swing forward if needed, while Heath may well earn a rest up there in between his ruck duties. In terms of mid-sizers, Macrae and McInnes spent plenty of time forward for Oakleigh in 2019, while Downie is another who can find the goals.

INTERCHANGE

INT – Jack Diedrich (Eastern), Conor Stone (Oakleigh), Luke Cleary (Sandringham), Josh Eyre (Calder)

The interchange bench sees two remaining top-age Academy Hub members named, incidentally also providing good depth down the spine. Eastern’s Jack Diedrich and Calder’s Josh Eyre can play in key position posts, with Diedrich adding ruck depth and Eyre a more dynamic option around the ground.

Conor Stone could fill the traditional medium-forward void given his promising form in Oakleigh’s 2019 premiership side, while Sandringham defender Luke Cleary is one of the few non-Academy choices, though his Under 17 experience and squad balance earns him a look-in.

TOP-AGE DEPTH

There are plenty of top-agers who will fancy their chances of cracking into the final squad, but there will always be the unlucky few who don’t. The beauty of having a carnival with multiple games means there is always room for rotation, so plenty of prospects should get their opportunity.

Under 16 representative Darby Hipwell was stiff to miss the Academy cut-off, and provide some great midfield depth. Oakleigh’s Fraser Elliot is a big-bodied mid who could also sneak in, but that midfield is hard to crack.

In terms of smaller options at either end, Lucas Failli could be the small forward Metro is searching for, with the agile 170cm Western product already boasting Under 16 and 17 representative honours.

Northern co-captain Ewan Macpherson skippered the Under 16 Metro side in 2018, and may be another small option. The potential Bulldogs father-son choice would fit in as a defender after his work for the Knights in 2019, though he is set on more midfield minutes in 2020. His Knights teammates Josh Watson, and fellow Under 16 rep Jaden Collins are others who are thereabouts.

Speaking of father-sons, Carlton may want to get a look at Charlie McKay (son of Andy, 244 games), who has impressed during preseason and provides a big body on each line.

Dragons pair Fraser Rosman and Lachlan Carrigan are others who may fly under the radar and into the side, along with raw Calder duo Jack Keeping and Matthew Allison. There are of course two more Academy members – Campbell Edwardes, and Sam Tucker – who could enter the fray, but are unlucky to miss our sides.

THE BOTTOM-AGERS

Having taken out the 2019 Under 16 National Championships, Metro has the luxury being able to top up its squad with a raft of capable bottom-age talents. MVP Tyler Sonsie is arguably the best of the lot, and could well find his way into the starting 18 on a wing or up forward.

Sonsie’s Eastern teammate Jake Soligo is another who may rise the ranks alongside him, while Vic Metro Under 16 squad member Lachlan Rankin is another handy outside type in the mix.

Sandringham dasher Josh Sinn is another who is capable of settling into the starting side, perhaps at half-back despite his midfield prowess. Potentially filling out the flanks is Nick Daicos, whose selection in the Academy Hub in his first year through the pathways speaking volume of his talent.

Twin talls Dante Visentini and Alex Lukic would provide key position depth up either end under normal circumstances, with Lukic the Under 16 All Australian centre half-forward. Others to gain that honour and Academy selection were Blake Howes, Youseph Dib, Lachlan Brooks, and Braden Andrews, who could all fill roles around the ground.

There are a number of others outside of the current representative and academy bubbles who could also break through in their own top-ager seasons, but it simply remains to be seen.

With these additional top and bottom-age prospects in mind, below is our potential Vic Metro squad, without any provisions.

FB – Cody Raak, Cody Brand, Wil Parker
HB – Joshua Clarke, Nikolas Cox, Josh Sinn
C – Jake Bowey, Connor Downie, Finlay Macrae
HF – Archie Perkins, Liam McMahon, Bailey Laurie
FF – Tyler Sonsie, Ollie Lord, Eddie Ford
FOL – Max Heath, Will Phillips, Reef McInnes
INT – Felix Flockart, Lochlan Jenkins, Conor Stone, Jackson Cardillo

EMG
– Luke Cleary, Nick Daicos, Josh Eyre

Marquee Matchups: Jamarra Ugle-Hagan vs. Nikolas Cox

DESPITE remaining in the unknown of football’s temporary absence, Draft Central is set to ramp up its draft analysis with another new prospect-focussed series, Marquee Matchups. We take a look at some of the high-end head-to-head battles which look likely to take place should the class of 2020 take the field, comparing pairs of draft hopefuls to help preview who may come out on top.

The series’ first edition features two of the most promising key position players available in NAB Leaguers Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and Nikolas Cox. A Western Bulldogs Next Generation Academy (NGA) product, Oakleigh’s Ugle-Hagan originally hails from Warrnambool, but boards at Scotch College in the Chargers’ region. While he has been utilised in defence while playing school football, the 18-year-old is more prominently known for his work as a high-marking key forward.

His potential foe, Cox is one of two Northern Knights products in this year’s Vic Metro Hub, and takes on the co-captaincy responsibility for his region in 2020. The 199cm utility has already won plaudits for his remarkable athletic traits and clean hands at all levels, with versatility another key string to his bow. Having played on a wing and as a key forward at times last year, Cox will look to secure a spot a centre half-back in his top-age season.

The pair’s similarly brilliant athleticism, aerial threat, and versatility make them an ideal match-up should they meet during the NAB League, national carnival, or beyond, while their raw talents more than account for the question of marquee status. With the contest teased as the respective talents went toe-to-toe in a preseason practice match, take a look at how the two compare statistically, athletically, and otherwise in our breakdown of their junior careers to date.

Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country), Key Forward
vs.
Nikolas Cox (Northern Knights/Vic Metro) Centre half-back/Utility

ATHLETIC PROFILES: 

Ugle-Hagan shone at the 2020 NAB League preseason testing day, returning elite numbers across every test to only elevate his claim as frontrunner to be taken first off the draft board. While it may seem like Cox lags in comparison, his jumping numbers were outstanding and endurance figures elite for a player who almost tips 200cm.

HEIGHT/WEIGHT:

Ugle-Hagan – 194.3cm/83.9kg
Cox – 199cm/82.1kg

SPEED (20m):

Ugle-Hagan – 2.95 seconds
Cox – 3.15 seconds

AGILITY:

Ugle-Hagan – 8.28 seconds
Cox – 8.78 seconds

ENDURANCE (Yo-yo):

Ugle-Hagan – 21.3
Cox – 21.1

VERTICAL JUMP:

Ugle-Hagan – 68cm
Cox – 52cm

RUNNING VERTICAL JUMP (R/L):

Ugle-Hagan – 84cm/93cm
Cox – 80cm/76cm

ON-FIELD PROFILES:

2019 NAB LEAGUE STATISTICS:

Ugle-Hagan – 9 games | 10 disposals (50 per cent contested) | 5.2 marks | 1.4 tackles | 1.7 inside 50s | 24 goals
Cox – 10 games | 12.5 disposals | 4.9 marks | 2 tackles | 2.3 inside 50s | 1 rebound 50 | 9 goals

BEST GAME:

Ugle-Hagan – Prelim. Final vs. Sandringham; 12 disposals (11 kicks) | 9 marks | 4.2
Cox – Rd 15 vs. Bendigo; 12 disposals (10 kicks) | 6 marks | 2 inside 50s | 4.1

The differences in either player’s game come through in the key base statistics, with Ugle-Hagan’s dominance inside 50 shining through, and Cox’s ability to impact around the ground also evident. During Oakleigh’s premiership-winning campaign, Ugle-Hagan was delivered silver service from a stacked midfield, and often proved too quick on the lead for his direct opponent. The spearheads’s clean hands and set shot routine would do the rest, hence the terrific marks and goals-per-game ratios.

On the other hand, Cox edged his opponent in the disposal stakes, while also earning a tick for his versatility in averaging at least one breach of either arc per game. That is a product of Cox playing on each line throughout the year, with his season-high haul of four goals a highlight in his time up forward. Just as capable in the air, Cox’s average of almost five marks is also handy, showcasing his own ability to dominate the airways around the ground.

STRENGTHS:

Ugle-Hagan – Athleticism, overhead marking, acceleration on lead, game-breaker
Cox – Athleticism, versatility, vertical leap, high ceiling

The pair’s strengths line up well, with athleticism being the pillar of their games. That aside, Ugle-Hagan’s weapons lie in his forward craft; finding separation on the lead with his pace, and clunking strong marks hitting up at the ball. His high-marking ability makes him a constant threat inside 50, with the potential to break games open in elite patches of form.

Cox’s versatility is a strong asset, able to play virtually anywhere credit to his freakish skills on either side of his body, one-touch abilities in the air and below his knees, and again, that athleticism at 199cm. With all those features combined, it means Cox could be anything at the next level, with his potential as vast as anyone in the draft pool. Cox’s attitude and leadership also make for solid additions to his resume.

IMPROVEMENTS:

Ugle-Hagan – Field kicking
Cox – Raw, strength

One of Ugle-Hagan’s main areas for improvement, and the only one listed here is his field kicking. While he often has little trouble finding the goals, he can be wayward at times and it only becomes more evident when he gathers the ball further afield.

A prime example would be in his Under-17 Futures All Star performance, where he leapt beautifully at the ball and intercepted well at half-back, but would often have a hard time finding targets up the ground. If he can refine that area, versatility could become another strength with ball retention important for playing in defence.

Cox’s areas for improvement largely come in his overall development, with his raw talent set to be honed in more specific areas this season. While being an everyman is always helpful to coaches, building the strength to become a true key position prospect will be key to finding a spot at the next level.

KEY SCOUTING NOTES:

Ugle-Hagan – 2018 Under 16 National Championships vs. South Australia

By: Michael Alvaro

“Ugle-Hagan was one who didn’t do a whole lot throughout the course of the game, but always caught the eye when he was in possession. A few twists, turns, strong contested marks and clean pick ups were enough to suggest we may see a few more highlights from him in the future.”

Cox – 2019 NAB League Round 13 vs. Gippsland

By: Craig Byrnes

“This kid has some exciting attributes. “It was no surprise to see the 197cm bottom-ager play for Vic Metro at the Championships, the talent is there for all to see. “He is almost freakishly clean for his size at ground and possesses a left foot that any 180cm footballer would be proud of… he moves with a bit style and is a player that everyone should be keeping tabs on over the next 18 months.”

ACCOLADES:

Ugle-Hagan – 2018 Vic Country Under 16 representative, 2019 Australian Under 17 representative, 2019 NAB League premiership player, 2019 Under 17 All Stars selection
Cox – 2019 Australian Under 17 representative, 2019 Vic Metro representative, 2020 Northern Knights co-captain

For more on these two budding stars, including words from the men themselves, follow the links below.

Ugle-Hagan – Draft Watch
Cox – Draft Watch | Q&A