Tag: tom powell

Throwback: 2019 AFL Grand Final curtain-raiser

WITH news that Western Australia will take on South Australia in an epic Under 19-themed AFL Grand Final curtain-raiser event, we take a look back at the last time budding AFL Draft prospects took the field ahead of their future counterparts, in 2019. The annual Under 17 Futures All Star clash has been scrapped for the last two years due to Covid restrictions, but proved a valuable sighter for the 2020 crop.

46 of the nation’s best talents got together to form Team Brown (black) and Team Dal Santo (white), battling it out on the big stage in what ended up being a very rare occasion for last year’s draft class, given it was ridded of an Under 18 National Championship and plenty of regular season football.

Of the 46 players afield, 36 have since been drafted with 22 making their AFL debuts this season. Among them was Sydney Swans Academy graduate Braeden Campbell, who shot into top 10 consideration with a best afield performance for Team Brown, who ran out 47-point winners.

A teammate of Campbell’s on the day, Jake Bowey also showcased his class with quick and clean skills, and will likely line up for Melbourne in this year’s AFL decider – bringing his journey full circle. Also available for selection in the big dance is Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, who featured for Team Brown and was last year’s number one pick.

Eight of 2020’s top 10 draftees took the field, and it would have been a perfect record had Denver Grainger-Barras and Nik Cox been available. The earliest pick to miss selection was Luke Pedlar, who was snapped up by Adelaide with pick 11. A range of first round bolters also missed, including 2021 debutants Tom Powell, Conor Stone, Max Holmes, and Brayden Cook.

While the showcase nature of the game makes for required viewing for most keen draft watchers, fans would also have taken a keen interest given the whopping 18 club-tied players who were selected. It was no secret from even that early stage that the 2020 draft would be heavily compromised, and that figure only proved as much.

Nine Northern Academy talents took the field, with Campbell and his Swans Academy teammate Errol Gulden the standouts. Of the seven-man Next Generation Academy crew, Ugle-Hagan, Lachlan Jones (Port Adelaide), and Reef McInnes (Collingwood) were all selected in the first round, while Taj Schofield landed at Port as a father-son candidate. Luke Edwards also fell under father-son eligibility, but was taken by West Coast in the open draft after Adelaide passed on nominating him.

While there were plenty of eventual draftees who missed out on selection in this game, but later proved their worth, the Futures fixture has long been an important one in identifying the next generation of talent. In 2019, it proved particularly essential given the class of 2020 endured a heavily interrupted season and limited opportunities to shine on the big stage.

This year, with another clash between WA and SA, there looms another critical opportunity for budding prospects to stake their claims as genuine contenders under a grand spotlight. There will inevitably be a riser, a surprise packet, one who stamps his first round credentials. We’ll find out who on September 25.

Featured Image: Port Adelaide’s Taj Schofield in action during the 2019 Futures All Star showcase | Credit: AFL Photos

2020 AFL Draft recap: North Melbourne

NORTH Melbourne came away with one of the more significant hauls at this year’s AFL Draft, introducing a total of seven new faces to its developing list. The Kangaroos will see great opportunity in their midst having grasped an elite talent with pick three, and incoming head coach David Noble setting lofty expectations on his side’s future projection. It comes after a season which was hardly short of disastrous at most times, but the upside of a fresh start and plenty of young talent will hopefully keep supporters tuned in as North looks to head in exactly that direction.

NORTH MELBOURNE

National Draft:
#3 Will Phillips (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#13 Tom Powell (Sturt/South Australia)
#36 Charlie Lazzaro (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#42 Phoenix Spicer (South Adelaide/South Australia)
#56 Eddie Ford (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

Rookies:
Patrick Walker (North Hobart), Connor Menadue (Werribee)

The first real surprise of the draft came as North Melbourne opted to select Will Phillips with Pick 3. While the durable inside midfielder is perhaps much like what the Kangaroos already have through the engine room, he looks every bit the 250-game lock who will impact immediately at AFL level.

At 180cm, the Oakleigh Chargers graduate has a good balance of inside and outside traits; proving clean in congestion and a touch handball happy, but also boasting a zippy burst away from traffic with the ability to chain possessions. He was a key part of Oakleigh’s 2019 premiership, waxing with the likes of Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson through midfield. Being given Brent Harvey‘s number 29 only proves the faith North Melbourne has in its primary selection.

With Pick 13, the Kangaroos doubled up on ball winning midfielders with South Australian Tom Powell. The Sturt product averaged over 35 disposals per game in the SANFL Under 18s, making for a monster season in which he proved difficult to ignore. He is best suited to the stoppages with his clean hands and composure, proving arguably the best exponent of the handball in his draft class. Much like Phillips, the reliability and honesty this selection brings will go a long way to helping North Melbourne turn its fortunes around quickly and he could well earn an early berth in the senior squad.

More smalls were in the offing later down the order, but this time bringing a touch of speed and dynamism to the squad. Geelong Falcons product Charlie Lazzaro is a quality character who brings toughness and tackling pressure on-field, able to play on both sides of midfield or as a small forward at 179cm. Phoenix Spicer was somewhat of a bolter, but a prospect with clear AFL interest this year having impressed for South Adelaide’s Under 18s and Reserves. He has pace to burn and loves to take the game on, able to hit the scoreboard from a wing or more simply ply his trade as a lively small forward.

Dynamic forward Eddie Ford rounded out the National Draft intake, a bargain at Pick 56. The spring-heeled Western Jets graduate is capable of taking big marks and bombing home long goals, making for an eye-catching highlight reel thus far. He would have looked to move more permanently into midfield as a top-ager, but was denied the opportunity. Tasmanian Patrick Walker adds some outside class as a rookie option, while 24-year-old former Richmond dasher Connor Menadue was a surprise selection after being delisted in 2019. Overall, it was a midfield-first approach from North with seven overall selections, though key position pillars still require fulfilment down the line.

Featured Image: Credit: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images via AFL Photos

2020 AFL Draft: Club by club

IF you are waking up to try and scroll through and find who your club’s newest players are, look no further as we piece together last night’s National Draft club by club. To check out the player profiles of each player selected, click below:

Adelaide:

#2 Riley Thilthorpe (West Adelaide/South Australia)
#11 Luke Pedlar (Glenelg/South Australia)
#25 Brayden Cook (South Adelaide/South Australia)
#28 Sam Berry (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
#38 James Rowe (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

Brisbane:

#24 Blake Coleman (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies)
#43 Harry Sharp (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
#48 Henry Smith (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

Carlton:

#37 Corey Durdin (Central District/South Australia)
#41 Jack Carroll (East Fremantle/Western Australia)

Collingwood:

#17 Oliver Henry (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#19 Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#23 Reef McInnes (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#30 Caleb Poulter (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)
#31 Liam McMahon (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
#44 Beau McCreery (South Adelaide/South Australia)

Essendon:

#8 Nik Cox (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
#9 Archie Perkins (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#10 Zach Reid (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
#39 Josh Eyre (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
#53 Cody Brand (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

Fremantle:

#14 Heath Chapman (West Perth/Western Australia)
#27 Nathan O’Driscoll (Perth/Western Australia)
#50 Brandon Walker (East Fremantle/Western Australia)
#54 Joel Western (Claremont/Western Australia)

Geelong:

#20 Max Holmes (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#33 Shannon Neale (South Fremantle/Western Australia)
#47 Nick Stevens (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

Gold Coast:

#7 Elijah Hollands (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

GWS:

#12 Tanner Bruhn (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#15 Conor Stone (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#18 Ryan Angwin (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
#58 Cameron Fleeton (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#59  Jacob Wehr (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

Hawthorn:

#6 Denver Grainger-Barras (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
#29 Seamus Mitchell (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)
#35 Connor Downie (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
#46 Tyler Brockman (Subiaco/Western Australia)

Melbourne:

#21 Jake Bowey (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#22 Bailey Laurie (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#34 Fraser Rosman (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

North Melbourne:

#3 Will Phillips (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#13 Tom Powell (Sturt/South Australia)
#36 Charlie Lazzaro (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#42 Phoenix Spicer (South Adelaide/South Australia)
#56 Eddie Ford (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

Port Adelaide:

#16 Lachlan Jones (Woodville West-Torrens/South Australia)
#49 Ollie Lord (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

Richmond:

#40 Samson Ryan (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies)
#51 Maurice Rioli Jnr (Oakleigh Chargers/NT Thunder/Allies)

St Kilda:

#26 Matt Allison (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
#45 Tom Highmore (South Adelaide/South Australia)

Sydney:

#4 Logan McDonald (Perth/Western Australia)
#5 Braeden Campbell (Sydney Swans Academy/Allies)
#32 Errol Gulden (Sydney Swans Academy/Allies)

West Coast:

#52 Luke Edwards (Glenelg/South Australia)
#57 Isiah Winder (Peel Thunder/Western Australia)

Western Bulldogs:

#1 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country)
#55 Dominic Bedendo (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

2020 AFL Draft: Pick by pick

AFTER an unconventional season of football, the 2020 AFL National Draft has come to a close with a number of young and exciting players finding their way to new homes for the 2021 season. Here is the full run down of picks, with the highly touted Jamarra Ugle-Hagan making his way to the Western Bulldogs at Pick 1.

Round 1

1 Western Bulldogs – Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

2 Adelaide Crows – Riley Thilthorpe (West Adelaide/South Australia)

3 North Melbourne – Will Phillips (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

4 Sydney Swans – Logan McDonald (Perth/Western Australia)

5 Sydney Swans – Braeden Campbell (Sydney Swans Academy/Allies)

6 Hawthorn – Denver Grainger-Barras (Swan Districts/Western Australia)

7 Gold Coast Suns –  Elijah Hollands (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

8 Essendon –  Nik Cox (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)

9 Essendon – Archie Perkins (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

10 Essendon – Zach Reid (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

11 Adelaide Crows – Luke Pedlar (Glenelg/South Australia)

12 GWS GIANTS – Tanner Bruhn (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

13 North Melbourne – Tom Powell (Sturt/South Australia)

14 Fremantle – Heath Chapman (West Perth/Western Australia)

15 GWS GIANTS – Conor Stone (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

16 Port Adelaide – Lachlan Jones (Woodville West-Torrens/South Australia)

17 Collingwood – Oliver Henry (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

18 GWS GIANTS – Ryan Angwin (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

19 Collingwood – Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

20 Geelong –  Max Holmes (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

21 Melbourne Demons – Jake Bowey (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

22 Melbourne Demons – Bailey Laurie (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

23 Collingwood – Reef McInnes (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

24 Brisbane Lions – Blake Coleman (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies)

25 Adelaide Crows – Brayden Cook (South Adelaide/South Australia)

26 St Kilda – Matt Allison (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

Round 2

27 Fremantle – Nathan O’Driscoll (Perth/Western Australia)

28 Adelaide- Sam Berry (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

29 Hawthorn – Seamus Mitchell (Bendigo Pioneers)

30 Collingwood – Caleb Poulter (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

31Collingwood – Liam McMahon (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)

32 Sydney Swans – Errol Gulden (Sydney Swans Academy/Allies)

33 Geelong – Shannon Neale (South Fremantle/Western Australia)

34 Melbourne – Fraser Rosman (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

35 Hawthorn – Connor Downie (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)

36 North Melbourne – Charlie Lazzaro (Geelong Falcons)

37 Carlton – Corey Durdin (Central District/South Australia)

38 Adelaide – James Rowe (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

39 Essendon – Josh Eyre (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

40 Richmond – Samson Ryan (Brisbane Lions Academy)

41Carlton – Jack Carroll (East Fremantle/Western Australia)

42 North Melbourne – Phoenix Spicer (South Adelaide/South Australia)

Round 3

43 Brisbane Lions – Harry Sharp (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

44 Collingwood – Beau McCreery (South Adelaide/South Australia)

45 St Kilda – Tom Highmore (South Adelaide/South Australia)

46 Hawthorn – Tyler Brockman (Subiaco/Western Australia)

47 Geelong – Nicholas Stevens (GWV Rebels)

48 Brisbane Lions – Henry Smith (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

49 Port Adelaide – Ollie Lord (Sandringham Dragons)

50 Fremantle – Brandon Walker (East Fremantle/Western Australia)

51 Richmond – Maurice Rioli Jnr (Oakleigh Chargers/NT Thunder/Allies)

52 West Coast – Luke Edwards (Glenelg/South Australia)

53 Essendon – Cody Brand (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

54 Fremantle – Joel Western (Claremont/Western Australia)

55 Western Bulldogs – Dominic Bedendo (Murray Bushrangers)

56 North Melbourne – Eddie Ford (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

57 West Coast Eagles – Isiah Winder (Peel Thunder/Western Australia)

58 GWS GIANTS – Cameron Fleeton (Geelong Falcons)

59 GWS GIANTS – Jacob Wehr (Woodville-West Torrens)

2020 Draft Central Phantom Draft: First Round prediction

THE STAGE is set for the 2020 AFL National Draft to get underway tomorrow night, poised to present one of the most unpredictable and even events in history. It has been an unprecedented year in many aspects; with Victorian talents, who typically make up over half of the selected players, unable to take the field as top-agers, while prospects from around the nation showed their wares throughout improvised state league seasons.

There are plenty of moving parts to play out, but Draft Central can finally reveal its first round Phantom Draft ahead of the big day. Live trading has not been taken into account in this effort, but club needs, preferences, and our own rankings have been considered with each pick. The shape of the first round will likely look much different after high-stakes live trades and academy bids, but this is an insight into what each club at the top end may be looking for with their picks.

Pick 1 | Jamarra Ugle-Hagan – Western Bulldogs (Adelaide bid matched)
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 195cm | 90kg

The consensus best player in the draft pool yields a bid where he ultimately should, at pick one. Adelaide will not have access to the Lance Franklin-like key forward though, as he is tied to the Western Bulldogs’ Next Generation Academy (NGA). The Dogs will quickly match the bid, putting Adelaide back on the clock. Ugle-Hagan promises to bring great athleticism and aerial prowess to the Bulldogs’ forwardline alongside Aaron Naughton, coincidentally fitting their most pressing list need perfectly.

Pick 2 | Logan McDonald – Adelaide
Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 196cm | 86kg

Having bid on a key forward with pick one, Adelaide will almost inevitably snap up another when its selection slides to number two. McDonald is arguably the next best option in his position and has enjoyed a stunning campaign at WAFL League level with Perth. His contested marking and endurance combine for a package similar to that of Nick Riewoldt, but the West Australian is set to blaze his own trail. While it has been a talking point, the go-home factor is minimal here, with local talent Riley Thilthorpe also in the mix and Crows supporter Elijah Hollands another who has been considered for much of the year.

Pick 3 | Elijah Hollands – North Melbourne
Murray Bushrangers/Vic County | Forward/Midfielder
25/04/2002 | 188cm | 80kg

One who could easily have pushed to be the number one ranked player with a top-age campaign, Hollands fits North Melbourne’s need for a dynamic midfielder in the long-term. He spent 2020 recovering from an ACL tear and has mainly cut his teeth as a half-forward thus far, but has all the traits necessary to make a more permanent midfield transition down the line. Given the Roos’ need for key forward support with Ben Brown out the door, McDonald and Riley Thilthorpe could also be desired options here, but Hollands has long been linked with this pick – which North Melbourne has also committed to.

Pick 4 | Will Phillips – Sydney
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
22/05/2002 | 180cm | 80kg

While others are bullish on linking key defender Denver Grainger-Barras to this pick, the Swans may also look to add to their long-term inside midfield depth with Phillips. He may not be the big body to replace Josh Kennedy down the line, but is a reliable ball winner with very few weaknesses who looks every bit the 250-game prospect. As far as comparisons go, he may well be this year’s Matt Rowell, who he spent time alongside in Oakleigh’s premiership midfield during 2019. He looms as the best pure midfielder available at the top end.

Pick 5 | Braeden Campbell – Sydney (Hawthorn bid matched)
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Balanced Midfielder/Forward
4/02/2002 | 181cm | 75kg

Hawthorn, who could well be looking for a midfielder like Phillips, might then be the one to keep Sydney accountable with a top 10 bid on academy product, Campbell. The 181cm midfielder has some elite traits, headlined by his versatility, searing speed, and damaging left-foot kick. The Swans will likely be a touch perturbed by a bid this early, but should take little time to match the selection and end up with consecutive picks. They will then sweat on when a bid for Errol Gulden arrives, ideally in the second round.

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

With its first top five pick in 15 years, Hawthorn is in a great position to stock up in a couple of key areas. With McDonald and Phillips off the board in our draft, Thilthorpe is a terrific option should he survive Adelaide’s first selection. The 201cm ruck/forward has two years of senior SANFL football under his belt and moves incredibly well for his size, covering plenty of ground and winning the ball both in the air and at ground level. He plays mostly as a key forward, but can also rotate through the ruck as a quality second option.

Pick 7 | Denver Grainger-Barras – Gold Coast 
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
14/04/2002 | 194cm | 78kg

This is your typical best available kind of pick, with Grainger-Barras a true bargain outside of the top five. He is clearly the best key defender available and showed off all of his intercept marking prowess against top three fancy, McDonald during the WAFL League season. He is quite lean but makes up for it with courage and athleticism and has plenty of time to fill out. The Suns may already lay claim to a solid key defensive set-up, but they also tend to look for star power with their picks and the West Australian has plenty of it. A midfielder could also come into consideration here.

Pick 8 | Tanner Bruhn – Essendon
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
27/05/2002 | 183cm | 74kg

Essendon fans may bemoan this selection because of the current profile of their team’s midfield. At 183cm, Bruhn is not exactly the big-bodied ball winner the Bombers have been crying out for, but has plenty of classy qualities on the inside with the potential to also utilise his skill on the outer or up forward. The Geelong Falcons product may not have gained a ton of exposure on-field over the last two years, but has shown all of his worth when given the opportunity and would be a terrific addition to Essendon’s starting side.

Pick 9 | Zach Reid – Essendon
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Key Position Defender/Utility
2/03/2002 | 202cm | 83kg

The Bombers will almost certainly look for a tall option with one of their three-consecutive picks within the top 10, and Reid looms as the best of the lot in that range. He looked incredibly sharp at the recent Victorian testing day and at 202cm, possesses wicked skill by foot. The Gippsland product is also incredibly versatile and has a knack for swinging forward to kick clutch goals, but looks most suited to a key defensive post where he can read the play, intercept, and rebound.

Pick 10 | Archie Perkins – Essendon
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
26/03/2002 | 188cm | 79kg

Linked to clubs as high as the top five, Perkins has also long been attached to Essendon’s picks and we have taken the opportunity to snap him up. It looms as somewhat of a prospective selection, but Perkins is exactly the kind of explosive, powerful midfielder which Essendon fans would love to get on-board. He is billed as one who could turn into that prototype midfielder/forward in the mould of Nat Fyfe, especially given his aerial ability and knack for finding the goals. A bid on Collingwood NGA member Reef McInnes could also be considered here, and the Bombers could field bids for the pick from the likes of GWS and Collingwood.

Pick 11 | Finlay Macrae – Adelaide
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
13/03/2002 | 186cm | 78kg

Having already snared a tall, Adelaide can focus on building its midfield at this range and Macrae is a terrific option should that be the case. The half-brother of Jackson, he boasts a similar appetite for the ball and is exactly the kind of player you want delivering it inside 50. He is clean and dual-sided with terrific decision making to boot. The Crows could also be the ones to bid on McInnes here, though Collingwood may be proactive and trade with Adelaide to this pick, thus ensuring that is not the case.

Pick 12 | Lachlan Jones – Port Adelaide (GWS bid matched)
WWT Eagles/South Australia | General Defender
9/04/2002 | 186cm | 89kg

Jones would be a very handy fit for the Giants’ backline, but is tied to Port Adelaide through its NGA and will quickly have a bid in this range matched. Essendon is another club which has been linked to Jones, but the feeling is that he will slide into the teens, potentially even further than this point. A bid here is still quite realistic though, especially given Jones’ exposed form at senior level in 2020. He was a key part of the Eagles’ premiership defence and stood out with his mix of aggression and class on the rebound. A readymade player if there ever was one.

Pick 13 | Nik Cox – GWS
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Key Position Utility
15/01/2002 | 200cm | 87kg

With their first defensive choice unavailable to them, GWS would likely spend little time in looking for someone like Cox to fill that gap in the long-term. While he is a versatile type who can also play up forward, Cox’s magnificent ball use on either side and athletic traits suit the defensive caper. He still has plenty of filling out to do and improvements to be made in the contested side of the game, but should develop well alongside the likes of Phil Davis and Nick Haynes. Heath Chapman is another who could be snapped up here, while Macrae would be an enticing midfield option if still on the board.

Pick 14 | Tom Powell – North Melbourne
Sturt/South Australia | Midfielder
2/03/2002 | 183cm | 74kg

The Kangaroos may already lay claim to a bunch of inside types through midfield, but Powell would be hard to pass up at this range. He averaged over 35 disposals in the SANFL Under 18s this year and was a consistent clearance machine. His outside game and damage by foot are areas to work on, but the 183cm prospect is well aware of that and even showed improvement there throughout the year. Could form the future of North’s midfield alongside Hollands, Jy Simpkin, and Luke Davies-Uniacke.

Pick 15 | Nathan O’Driscoll – Fremantle
Perth/Western Australia | Balanced Midfielder
17/05/2002 | 187cm | 78kg

Perhaps a bold choice here by the Dockers, O’Driscoll is one whose range divides many a draft watcher. What we do know for certain is that he gives 100 per cent each time he plays, making him one of the hardest working midfielders going both ways. His character will appeal to clubs and the local factor makes him a desirable choice for Fremantle. The likes of Chapman, Jack Carroll, and Brayden Cook may also be around the mark here.

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

One who had top 10 potential, was pegged for such status, and has perhaps now slipped back out of that range, Henry would be a quality choice for GWS at pick 16. The brother of Geelong’s Jack, he is able to play up either end of the ground and thrives aerially. He could be the dynamic marking forward which many clubs are after, so would be too hard to ignore if he slides all the way back here.

Pick 17 | Heath Chapman – Collingwood
West Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
31/01/2002 | 192cm | 81kg

After a disastrous trade period, Pies fans would be absolutely chuffed if Chapman gets to their first pick and he would suit their needs well; potentially freeing up Darcy Moore to fill a key forward post, or acting as another intercept defender in tandem with Jeremy Howe. Collingwood could also be one to trade up and get a selection like Chapman in just outside the top 10, with Cox and Reid other players in contention. The concern will also surround a potential McInnes bid, but that is allayed in this scenario.

Pick 18 | Bailey Laurie – GWS
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
24/03/2002 | 179cm | 78kg

Laurie has been heavily linked with the Giants’ first round picks and would be a shrewd selection in our eyes. He is another classy ball user who adds to GWS’ strong creative element in the front half and while he may be pegged as a bolter, Laurie looms as one who could quickly repay the faith. He makes things happen and will quickly endear himself to fans.

Pick 19 | Conor Stone – Collingwood
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Medium Forward/Wing
22/04/2002 | 188cm | 81kg

Another first round bolter of sorts from the Oakleigh Chargers, Stone has attracted interest from Collingwood on the back of some promising form as a bottom-ager. His five-goal haul on NAB League debut was a particular highlight, but the medium forward also showed some star power on the wing while running out for St Kevin’s. His running power and goal sense make for a versatile package who could prove too hard to ignore.

Pick 20 | Reef McInnes – Collingwood (Richmond bid matched)
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
12/12/2002 | 193cm | 86kg

While this bid has been linked to picks as high as the top 10, one at pick 20 would arguably suit McInnes’ true value a little more. The inside midfielder tore up the draft combine with a searing 20m sprint time and has risen up draft boards as a result, making him a player of interest inside the top 20. Collingwood would be more than happy to match here, after their first two selections.

Pick 21 | Zavier Maher – Richmond
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
5/05/2002 | 184cm | 83kg

Richmond is not afraid to make surprise selections and Maher could be the next in that category. The Murray midfielder has recently been linked to the top 25 and might match the Tigers’ need for some long-term squad depth, despite the array of midfielders they already boast. With his burst from the contest, he looms as one with a point of difference from the others, though.

Pick 22 | Jack Carroll – Melbourne
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
20/12/2002 | 187cm | 76kg

This was one of the more straightforward picks across a very even first round. The West Australian looks like developing into the wingman Melbourne is crying out for and did not quite cover last trade period, while also having the potential to cover as a classy half-back or develop into an inside type. He uses the ball beautifully, can find the goals, and is a great size for modern-day football.

Pick 23 | Brayden Cook – Melbourne
South Adelaide/South Australia | Wing/Forward
18/07/2002 | 189cm | 82kg

Yes, perhaps another wingman, but one who looks likely to develop as a forward early in his career. Cook is this year’s great bolter and shot onto the scene on the back of a SANFL Under 18s season where he averaged over two goals per game. He is terrific in the air and makes good decisions going forward, while also boasting the wildcard of being a game-winning type close to goal.

Pick 24 | Luke Pedlar – GWS
Glenelg/South Australia | Inside Midfielder/Forward
17/05/2002 | 183cm | 80kg

The Giants are said to have great interest in Pedlar and should they not pounce with a pick in the teens, he would be a steal for them at this stage. While injuries have curtailed his last two seasons at different points, Pedlar has shown his outstanding hunger for the ball and eye-catching burst from congestion on every occasion afforded to him. Add leadership quality and forward potential to the mix, and you have a very handy bolter.

Pick 25 | Max Holmes – St Kilda
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Wingman
29/07/2002 | 189cm | 74kg

Holmes’ running capacity is what will appeal most to clubs around this range and he has come from seemingly nowhere to jet into draft contention in 2020. He comes from good athletics pedigree but has played high-level football throughout his junior career and will be a handy developable pick. Jake Bowey and Eddie Ford could also be in the mix here.

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

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

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

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

THE BOLTERS

STATE BY STATE

South Australia:

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

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

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

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

Victoria:

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

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

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

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

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

Western Australia:

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

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

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

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

2020 AFL Draft Preview: Richmond Tigers

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

Next under the microscope is Richmond, the reigning premier and most dominant team of the last five years. As has largely been the case over that time, the Tigers do not have any glaring list needs which require attendance at the draft, but will rather look to replenish their squad depth with a steady turnover of more mature players. In recent intakes, Richmond has done well to snare a highly-fancied prospect in the first round while also taking on some smokies at the back-end and also being impartial to an academy bid. While they won’t be massive players in this pool, there should be some good value to be had for the premiers.

>> Power Rankings: November Update

CURRENT PICKS*: 17, 36, 61, 79, 97

2021 PICKS*: RIC Rd 1 | RIC Rd 2, STK Rd 2 | RIC Rd 3, GCS Rd 3

* – denotes as of December 2

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

LIKELY ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Maurice Rioli Jnr (father-son)

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

LIST NEEDS:

Long-term squad depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 17)

With no glaring needs and some decent long-term midfield depth, the Tigers have a great opportunity to snare a slider or a players they rate highly at that range. Midfielders tend to be Richmond’s main type of choice at this range and that may again be an area which is bolstered given how the tall talent in this year’s pool falls. South Australian Tom Powell is arguably the most consistent ball winner available in the first round and is fresh off a SANFL Under 18s season in which he averaged over 35 disposals. He could be off the board, but would prove a very Richmond pick. Brayden Cook and Nathan O’Driscoll loom as developable options who could also come into consideration, with the former bolting into first round contention and the latter one whose range has been hotly debated. Cook looks likely to develop as a forward who thrives close to goal but can also play on the wing, while O’Driscoll is a hard-working midfielder who can play both inside and out. O’Driscoll could also be a half-back option early on, as Richmond needs long-term, much like fellow West Australian Jack Carroll. Carroll has garnered comparisons to Trent Cotchin, but has also cut his teeth off half-back. Richmond fans may wish for their club to target a tall and cover long-term depth there, but pick 36 may be a better range for that to happen.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

The Tigers’ claim to a current first rounder, one for next year, and a couple more 2021 second-rounders makes them a team able to trade up if need be. However, the most likely live trade action from Richmond could surround if and when a bid comes in for father-son gun, Maurice Rioli Jnr. The son of Maurice Rioli is a small forward with great goal sense and defensive pressure, suiting Richmond’s game to a tee. While he is expected to attract suitors beyond Richmond’s current pick 36, he could also come into consideration for sides around that mark. That would set Richmond into action, looking to squeeze a pick in before the bid.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Where will a bid for Maurice Rioli Jnr come in?

Will Richmond target a tall with its second round pick?

Is another midfielder in the offing with pick 17?

Featured Image: Richmond father-son hopeful Maurice Rioli Jnr in action for St Mary’s | Credit: Keri Megelus/News Corp Australia

2020 AFL Draft Preview: GWS GIANTS

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

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

>> Power Rankings: November Update

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

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

* – denotes as of November 27

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

LIKELY ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Josh Green (Academy)

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

LIST NEEDS:

Speedy/outside midfielders
Long-term key position depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 10)

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

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

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

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

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Can GWS trade further into the top 10?

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

Will GWS move up the order in live trading?

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

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

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

Draft Central Power Rankings: November 2020

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

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

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

>> 2020 Draft Profiles

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

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

October Ranking: #1

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

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

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

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

October Ranking: #2

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

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

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

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

October Ranking: #3

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

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus | Player Focus

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

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

October Ranking: #4

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

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

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

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

October Ranking: #5

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

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

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

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

October Ranking: #6

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

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

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

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

October Ranking: #8

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

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

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

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

October Ranking: #7

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

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

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

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

October Ranking: #9

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

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

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

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

October Ranking: #14

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

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

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

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

October Ranking: #16

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

>> Draft Watch

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

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

October Ranking: #12

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

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

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

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

October Ranking: #11

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

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

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

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

October Ranking: #10

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

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

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

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

October Ranking: #15

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

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

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

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

October Ranking: #17

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

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

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

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

October Ranking: #18

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

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

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

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

October Ranking: #13

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

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

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

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

October Ranking: #19

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

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch

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

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

October Ranking: #29

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

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

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

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

October Ranking: #21

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

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

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

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

October Ranking: #22

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

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

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

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

October Ranking: #23

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

>> Draft Watch

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

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

October Ranking: #24

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

>> Draft Watch

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

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

October Ranking: #20

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

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

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

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

October Ranking: #25

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

>> Draft Watch

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

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

October Ranking: #27

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

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

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

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

October Ranking: #26

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

>> Draft Watch

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

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

October Ranking: #28

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

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

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

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

October Ranking: #30

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

>> Draft Watch

IN THE MIX:

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

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

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

EXPLAINER | Pocket Podcast: The top non-aligned midfielders

OVER the last week, Draft Central launched its brand new series of pocket podcasts, a collection of short-form discussions which narrow in on a range of topics heading into the 2020 AFL Draft. In the fourth edition, Chief Editor Peter Williams again sat down with AFL Draft Editor Michael Alvaro to discuss the best midfielders who are not already aligned to AFL clubs, available in this year’s crop.

Three Victorian prospects in said category were identified as clear top 10 candidates; namely Elijah Hollands, Will Phillips, and Tanner Bruhn. While all slightly different players, clubs in the market for the best midfielders available inside the top 10 will most likely look no further than this trio. There were a bunch of others mentioned as first and second round candidates in the ‘pure’ midfield mould, including the likes of Finlay Macrae, Tom Powell, and Zane Trew. Also around the top 25 mark are some types who, like Hollands, can impact just as profoundly in other positions. Those include Caleb Poulter, Nathan O’Driscoll, Archie Perkins, and Jack Carroll.

To listen to the podcast in full, click here.

Below are pocket profiles on each player, split into respective categories:

The top 10’ers:

Elijah Hollands (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
Hybrid | 188cm | 85kg | 25/04/2002
Range: 1-5

The most highly touted of the lot, Hollands’ true midfield value remains somewhat unknown given he has spend a year on the sidelines – not only due to a lack of competition, but also a long-term knee injury. He remains a top five candidate and was poised for greater midfield minutes in 2020 having cut his teeth as a game-winning forward with terrific athleticism and X-factor.

Will Phillips (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
Balanced | 180cm | 79kg | 22/05/2002
Range: 3-10

Arguably the best pure midfielder of the bunch, Phillips is a tough and consistent ball winner who won last year’s NAB League premiership with Oakleigh, running alongside Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson at the centre bounces. His clean hands in extraction and short burst of acceleration make up much of his play, and Phillips is also lauded for his character on and off the field.

Tanner Bruhn (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
Inside | 182cm | 73kg | 27/05/2002
Range: 5-10

Bruhn has endured his fair share of injury setbacks since bursting onto the scene as a 16-year-old. He brings class to each contest, able to win the ball at ground level and gain great meterage from tight spaces. The 18-year-old is coming off just two NAB League appearances in 2019 and another knee issue early this year, but remains a reliable option within the top 10 range.

The pure midfielders:

Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
Balanced | 184cm | 75kg | 13/03/2002
Range: 12-20

The half-brother of Western Bulldogs star, Jack, Macrae is the kind of player you want delivering the ball into attacking 50. The Oakleigh Chargers premiership player oozes class and a beautiful side-step, which which aids his delivery on both sides of the body. He was squeezed out of the midfield at times last year, but can rack up plenty of possessions on the inside and outside.

Tom Powell (Sturt/South Australia)
Inside | 183cm | 74kg | 2/03/2002
Range: 15-25

One of, if not the most consistent and prolific possession getters in this year’s pool, Powell enjoyed a stellar 2020 season which saw him earn the McCallum Tomkins Medal as the best SANFL Under 18s player. Averaging over 30 disposals for minor premier, Sturt, Powell has shot into first round contention and boasts wonderfully quick hands at the contest.

Zane Trew (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
Inside | 185cm | 80kg | 26/04/2002
Range: 20-30

Trew is a strong-bodied type who consistently wins plenty of the ball at stoppages and is renowned for his use of the ball by hand. The West Australian has spent a fair amount of time on the sidelines, but has good two-way presence on the field with his ability to extract, deliver eye-catching releases, and tackle hard. He remains within top 25 calculations.

The hybrids:

Nathan O’Driscoll (Perth/Western Australia)
Balanced | 187cm | 78kg | 17/05/2002
Range: 20-30

One whose range is hotly debated among draft followers, O’Driscoll is fresh off a season which ended in a WAFL League finals appearance. The 18-year-old overcame an interrupted preseason to showcase his hard-running ability and value on either the inside or outside of midfield. At 187cm, has great upside given his athleticism and versatility.

Archie Perkins (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
Fwd/In. Mid | 186cm | 77kg | 26/03/2002
Range: 12-20

Potentially the best athlete of the lot, Perkins is a prospect with plenty of upside given those explosive athletic traits and his strong tendency to hit the scoreboard. He played at half-forward, on a wing, and through the engine room as a bottom-ager, with eyes on consolidating that midfield role in 2020. He is the type who bustles through congestion with bursting speed.

Caleb Poulter (WWT Eagles/South Australia)
Fwd/Bal. Mid | 192cm | 79kg | 12/10/2002
Range: 15-25

A late bloomer of sorts, Poulter has rocketed into first round calculations on the back of a season where he dominated the Under 18s and earned a Reserves berth. The Eagles product provides great presence on both sides of midfield and is as stylish as they come, able to clunk big overhead marks or kick long-range goals. At 192cm, he is the prototype modern day midfielder.

Jack Carroll (East Fremantle/Western Australia)
Def/Out. Mid | 187cm | 76kg | 20/12/2002
Range: 15-25

Having previously proven his worth off half-back and on the wing, Carroll was able to improve his standing this year with some time at the centre bounces during his WAFL Colts campaign. His season was ultimately cut short by a wrist injury, but he was able to show good consistency and class on the ball. He is a December birth too, meaning he may have plenty of good development left.

>> Power Rankings: October Update

Past Episodes:
Key defenders kicking comparison
Offence from defence
Denver Grainger-Barras vs. Heath Chapman