With the last U18 games of the season done and dusted, the Draft Team here at Footy Prophet have finalised their top 40 rankings ahead of this week’s Draft Combines. Using the AFL Draft points system, we have combined all seven rankings lists to provide you with our consensus Top 20. To see the full Top 40 lists from each of our experts head to the Big Draft Board here.
So who are the players we think will make up the majority of this year’s first round? Who will your club be keeping an eye on? Let’s take a look:
1 | Cam Rayner | Inside Mid/Forward | Western Jets | 187cm | 88kg
FP Draft Points: 20034 | FP Team Ranking variance: 1-2
The clear consensus pick from the FP team is Western Jets star, Cam Rayner. Rayner has barely put a foot wrong this year, building on an impressive bottom age year in 2016. Powerful and quick around the contest, very strong in one on one situations, and a nightmare for defenders inside 50. The big question is his limited tank, but when he’s as dangerous forward as he is in the centre, this should put few off.
2 | Luke Davies-Uniacke | Inside Mid | Dandenong Stingrays | 187cm | 85kg
FP Draft Points: 16897 | FP Team Ranking Variance: 1-4
LDU, or ‘UDL’ as he is affectionately known as here at FP HQ, ticks all the boxes of the modern inside midfielder. Big bodied, with a burst of pace that can see him accelerate away from stoppages, he has finished the season in superb form. He has the ability to hit the scoreboard when resting forward, and has even shown ability when used on occasions behind the ball. A lacklustre U18 Championships casts question marks over his consistency, but he clearly as plenty of upside.
3 | Paddy Dow | Inside Mid | Bendigo Pioneers | 184cm | 78kg
FP Draft Points: 16204 | FP Team Ranking Variance: 1-6
Pios’ Paddy Dow has proven to be one of the big risers in this year’s Draft class, and is certainly in contention for pick number one. Dow impressed last year as a bottom ager with his ability to win the ball at the coal face and distribute cleanly, but after bulking up and working on his kicking he has turned into a different beast altogether. His ability to create space in congestion and burst from stoppages is elite, and when you add the ability to hit up teammates with accuracy inside 50 you have a major weapon.
4 | Jaidyn Stephenson | Gen Forward / Outside Mid | Eastern Ranges | 189cm | 76kg
FP Draft Points: 14409 | FP Team Ranking Variance: 2-5
The Ranges star is the first player on the list to have not been ranked number one by any of the team, which is ironic since he has been in the mix for pick one since blowing the 2015 TAC Cup Grand Final apart as a 16 year old. Electrifyingly quick with a prodigious leap, Stephenson provides plenty of ‘X-Factor’ in the forward half and has superstar written all over him. His athleticism makes him a very difficult match up forward, and he has shown plenty when used through the midfield this year. His field kicking could still do with improvement, but he has moved in the right direction as the season has progressed. (read our interview with Jaidyn here)
5 | Adam Cerra | Complete Mid | Eastern Ranges | 186cm | 85kg
FP Draft Points: 12648 | FP Team Ranking Variance: 4-10
Cerra entered the 2017 season somewhat a forgotten man after missing the majority of his bottom age year with a meniscus injury, but soon stamped himself as a major player in this year’s draft with some accomplished performances early in the year. Cerra simply oozes class on the ball, and rarely puts a foot wrong. He can create space inside, and makes great decisions by hand or foot, while his ability overhead has seen him used to great effect at both ends of the ground. He has missed the end of the year due to shoulder surgery, but he has no doubt shown enough.
6 | Darcy Fogarty | Inside Mid / Gen Forward | Glenelg | 192cm | 92kg
FP Draft Points: 11987 | FP Team Ranking Variance: 3-13
South Australian Fogarty entered the 2017 season on top of a lot of people’s lists, but an uninspiring year has seen him slide dramatically – highlighted by our team ranging from pick 3 to pick 13. A big bodied, strong marking half-forward, Fogarty showed real talent during spells through the midfield in 2016 with his strength, evasiveness and distribution; however, didn’t progress in 2017 as many hoped. Carrying a knee injury, Fogarty was utilised as a half-back in the U18 Championships, and while he impressed with his marking, composure and ball use, it wasn’t the contested ball winning midfielder that many had hoped to see. His year was put on ice with knee surgery after the Champs, and could shape as a bargain if he slides down the order.
7 | Jack Higgins | Small Forward / Inside Mid | Oakleigh Chargers | 178cm | 76kg
FP Draft Points: 10816 | FP Team Ranking Variance: 5-14
The first sub 180cm to make the list, and you can’t help but think if he were taller many would have him higher. With Andy McGrath and Ben Ainsworth selected in the first four last year, however, it goes to show when there’s talent, size doesn’t matter – and in Higgins there’s no shortage of talent. Higgins’ midfield abilities have been lamented by some for lacking impact, but by the season’s end, his hard work in making every possession count was evident. His real appeal is his huge impact forward, however, and with his incredible smarts and speed, he could easily become the number one small forward in the AFL one day.
8 | Nick Coffield | Gen Defender / Midfield | Northern Knights | 190cm | 83kg
FP Draft Points: 10281 | FP Team Ranking Variance: 7-12
The Northern Knights captain has surged up the rankings into the top ten on the back of a number of eyecatching performances in the TAC Cup and for Vic Metro. There are not many better users of the ball in this year’s draft, and his ability launch attacks with accurate long kicking from the defensive half has at times been sublime. What’s most impressive is his leadership and will to win, seeming to save his best performances for when the game is on the line. He has the ability to roll forward and impact the scoreboard, while he has also proven to be a prolific ballwinner when used in the midfield – although his contested work in the centre has question marks around it. While he may not progress as a full-time mid he is Elite behind the ball.
9 | Jarrod Brander | Key Position | Bendigo Pioneers | 195cm | 90kg
FP Draft Points: 10165 | FP Team Rankings Variance: 6-12
Former GWS Academy member Brander looks to be in with a big shout of being the first ‘tall’ off the board in November. Blessed with great acceleration that allows him to close down opponents or create separation, his size and speed make him a very attractive proposition. It’s still unknown whether his best position will prove to be forward or back, but on sheer athleticism, there is no doubt clubs will be happy to take on the project.
10 | Aaron Naughton | Key Defender | Peel Thunder | 194cm | 84kg
FP Draft Points: 9973 | FP Team Ranking Variance: 7-14
Naughton is another well in the frame to be the first tall off the board in November after an impressive year in the
WAFL and the U18 Champs. A superb intercept defender, Naughton is one of the best readers of play in the back half. He has a decent level of speed for his size and isn’t afraid to put his body on the line against bigger opponents. This was no more evident than in his form for Peel this year. After an impressive U18 carnival he was thrust straight into senior WAFL footy and didn’t look out of place against AFL listed players. His use in the seniors may have actually meant we didn’t see his full potential, as he was touted earlier in the year to spend more time forward and through the midfield in the Colts. (read our interview with Aaron here)
11 | Sam Hayes | Ruck / Key Forward | Eastern Ranges | 203cm | 93kg
FP Draft Points: 9831 | FP Team Ranking Variance: 8-13
You have to feel a little for Sam Hayes. He is undoubtedly one of the best players in the draft this year, but with the modern aversion to ruckmen, he will likely slide below his true position. As a modern ruck, Hayes is everything you would want – great soft tap work, athletic for his size, great above his head and yet incredibly agile below the knees. He is likely to be judged more on his role as a key forward, however, which although impressive is still somewhat raw. Regardless, he shouldn’t slide far out of single digits if at all.
12 | Charlie Constable | Inside Mid | Sandringham Dragons | 190cm | 83kg
FP Draft Points: 9751 | FP Team Ranking Variance: 5-17
Constable is a player that seems to be flying well under the radar, highlighted by a big variance in our team rankings. Often used across half-back for Sandringham early in the year, Constable was solid yet unassuming, but when rotated through the midfield it was clear to see he had a stack of talent. A prolific extractor of the ball, he is incredibly clean in tight and consistently demonstrates fantastic awareness and vision with his ball release. He proves a handful in the forward arc too, evidenced by his two quick goals when resting forward in the TAC Cup GF. More than a little Patrick Cripps about him.
13 | Andrew Brayshaw | Inside Mid | Sandringham Dragons | 183cm | 80kg
FP Draft Points: 9104 | FP Team Ranking Variance: 7-14
The younger brother of Melbourne’s Angus, and fellow draft hopeful Hamish, has had a big year for the Dragons, and as such has moved right up plenty of rankings tables. Smaller in size than his brothers, Andrew certainly looks a classier player, and is a much better kick than his siblings, although he is still happy to get into the guts of the contest – averaging 12 contested possessions and six tackles a game. Not a flashy player, but leads from the front and does what he does well.
14 | Hunter Clark | Gen Def / Inside Mid | Dandenong Stingrays | 186cm | 79kg
FP Draft Points: 8220 | FP Team Ranking Variance: 10-16
After making a name for himself as a rebounding defender last year, Clark has made a name for himself as very accomplished inside midfielder in 2017. His reading of the drop at contests is one of the best in this year’s class and his ability to ghost through traffic is as good as anyone, plus, he has truly developed into a ballwinner – averaging nearly 27 disposals a game. He is equally adept on both sides of his body, and while his ball use is generally very good, he sometimes lacks the impact you would expect.
15 | Patrick Naish | Outside Mid | Northern Knights | 180cm | 69kg
FP Draft Points: 7508 | FP Team Ranking Variance: 11-19
After a stunning Premiership under their belt, the Tigers will be rubbing their hands together at the prospect of claiming their first father-son selection in 14 years, and perhaps their most significant since Richo. Naish has emerged as one of the top outside talents in this year’s draft, and has shown ability between the arcs and in defense as a rebounding half-back. He has the ability to create space for himself when under pressure, and can impact the scoreboard either with pinpoint delivery inside 50, or off his own boot. His contested game needs some work, and he has gone missing on occasions, but Richmond will be very happy if they need to only use one of their first round picks (Currently 15 and 17).
16 | Lochie O’Brien | Outside Mid | Bendigo Pioneers | 184cm | 75kg
FP Draft Points: 6932 | FP Team Ranking Variance: 17-23
O’Brien seemed to have drifted off the radar as the season progressed, but has bounced back when it matters with a strong finish to the year. He started the year in top 10 calculations and recently he has shown exactly why. Able to be utilised off half-back or on a wing, O’Brien is a genuine line-breaker, with speed and stamina the legacy of his athletics background. He possesses a true elite weapon in his penetrating left boot, and rarely misses a target delivering inside 50. Another whose contested game could do with developing, but never the less someone looks set to grab a bargain if he slides.
17 | Oscar Allen | Key Forward | West Perth | 191cm | 83kg
FP Draft Points: 6908 | FP Team Ranking Variance: 10-34
No player split the team more than WA’s Larke Medal winning captain Oscar Allen, with our rankings ranging from top 10 to late 2nd round. There’s no questioning the love for him though, or what he is capable of, after he demonstrated plenty at the U18 carnival and again in the All-Stars game on Grand Final day. A versatile forward, Allen has a big leap and is very good below his knees, making him a very difficult matchup inside 50. His leadership and work rate are what sets him apart, however, as he is able to stretch defenses to either present as a target himself or create space for others. At 191cm, he doesn’t fit the criteria of what clubs are after from the modern centre half forward, but his athleticism and game sense could see a club take him from the board early. (Read our interview with Oscar here)
18 | Noah Balta | Key Position / Utility | Calder Cannons | 194cm | 92kg
FP Draft Points: 6861 | FP Team Ranking Variance: 15-22
Balta is yet another player who heads to the Draft with a question mark over exactly where he is best deployed, but looks certain to go early based purely on physicality. There are few players of his size that possess the explosive pace and agility that Balta has, and on a number of occasions this year he has turned games on their heads with his speed, agility and thumping right boot. He is a great mark overhead, and his vertical leap makes him a tough matchup when forward and also competitive when rucking – an area where he has some very nice traits. When defending, his attack out of defence can be great to watch, however, he relies heavily on his physical attributes rather than positional nous to win contests.
19 | Oscar Clavarino | Key Defender | Dandenong Stingrays | 195cm | 86kg
FP Draft Points: 5895 | FP Team Ranking Variance: 15-29
Heading into the season, mobile backman Clavarino was heavily touted as one of the first names to be called out on Draft night. As a negating, intercepting tall, he had proven that he was one of the best in this year’s class, however, little had been seen of his ability to impact the other way. As such, attention on him as cooled as the year progressed, but his performances for the Stingrays at the end of the year have him firmly back in first round contention. Clavarino was often a key to the Stingrays attacks, intercepting strongly before demonstrating superb vision to immediately hit up targets with raking kicks up the ground. His kicking is one area that has been inconsistent in the past, but it certainly looks to be improving.
20 | Aiden Bonar | Forward / Inside Mid | Dandenong Stingrays | 190cm | 89kg
FP Draft Points: 5751 | FP Team Ranking Variance: 16-26
After recovering from two ACL reconstructions, Bonar has only just returned to footy, and has had little chance to show what he can do – but boy has he grabbed that chance. His performances for the Stingrays at the end of the year, along with a superb performance in the wide spaces of the MCG in the All-Stars game has seen him rocket up the rankings. An absolute specimen, Bonar has speed and power in spades and you would not want to be the person in between him and where he wants to be. Used mainly as a forward, he proved a very tough matchup due to his size and athleticism, and during stints through the middle he showed plenty of scope as an inside midfielder, bullocking in to get the footy before feeding it out cleanly. Difficult one to place on limited form, but so much to like.