With junior football underway across the country, The Inner Sanctum takes a look at the top prospects in the 2023 AFL Draft pool.
After three rounds of the Coates Talent League and Torrens University SANFL competitions, the WAFL Colts kicked off this week, giving recruiters a glimpse of the country’s premier underage footballers.
Featuring 18 AFL Academy members, some of The Inner Sanctum’s top April prospects will be on display in an exhibition match against Port Adelaide’s SANFL team during Gather Round this week, as the squad takes part in its second training camp of 2023.
While some of the biggest names in the pool were prominent as bottom aged players last season, there have already been some big performances in the early rounds of the season, causing some early movement at the top of the draft board.
See the April Edition of The Inner Sanctum’s 2023 AFL Draft Rankings below:
1. Harley Reid
VIC Country/Bendigo Pioneers
UTL, 185cm, 85kg
Perhaps the most hyped draft prospect ever, Harley Reid is the standout player in this year’s pool, already sparking talk around the league of a potential trade for the top selection. Starting in the centre for Bendigo in 2023, Reid has shown he is a dominant force in all parts of the ground, being named off half back in the 2022 National Championships All Australian team, before starring at full forward against VIC Metro.
2. Ashton Moir
FWD, 188cm, 84kg
With genuine x-factor and skill on both feet, Moir is South Australia’s top prospect, already adding six goals to his name in Glenelg’s opening three rounds. Moir’s ability to play in the middle of the ground while consistently hitting the scoreboard separates him from the rest of the pack, with a call up to SANFL League side right around the corner.
3. Zane Duursma
VIC Country/Gippsland Power
FWD, 189cm, 79kg
The younger brother of Port Adelaide’s Xavier, the big bodied Duursma’s cleanliness and speed have caught the eye of recruiters throughout his juniors, possessing the ability to play both in the midfield and up forward. Duursma trained with Melbourne during the preseason and will look to solidify himself as a top three selection in November.
4. Daniel Curtin
KEY DEF, 195cm, 93kg
Best on ground in the AFL Futures curtain raiser last year, Curtin is considered both the best player from the West and the pool’s top defender, rarely losing a one-on-one contest. Although he missed a chunk of last season through injury, he is set for a big year in Claremont’s defence as he looks to move up the order.
5. Jed Walter
KEY FWD, 195cm, 91kg
An NGA product tied to the Gold Coast Suns, Walter is the premier key forward in the 2023 pool, using his frame and presence to impose himself on a contest. Named in the 2022 National Championships All Australian team as a bottom-ager, Walter has started strongly in the Coates Talent League, earning praise for his unselfish nature, setting up multiple goals for his teammates against Eastern Ranges last week.
6. Nate Caddy
VIC Metro/Northern Knights
FWD, 192cm, 91kg
Returning from a nasty leg injury that kept him sidelined over preseason, Caddy began his 2023 campaign with a strong performance, winning one-one-one battles with ease, with his height and reach standing out against other prospects in the pool. The nephew of dual premiership winning Tiger Josh, Caddy added two majors in his return against Murray, before following up with three against Eastern Ranges in Round 3.
7. Nick Watson
VIC Metro/Eastern Ranges
FWD, 170cm, 67kg
Nicknamed ‘The Wizard’, Watson has been deployed all over the ground for Eastern this season, most recently recording 34 disposals and two goals in a best on ground performance against Northern Knights. The electric small forward is set to feature for Box Hill in the VFL this year, after training with Hawthorn in the preseason.
8. Will Lorenz
VIC Metro/Oakleigh Chargers
MID, 186cm, 70kg
With composure, footy smarts and a favoured left foot, the big bodied Lorenz looks set for a big campaign for VIC Metro this season, featuring in the middle, up forward and off half back for the Chargers this year. The grandson of Hawthorn’s Graham Arthur, he impressed in last year’s U17 Futures game on Grand Final day.
9. Archer Reid
VIC Country/Gippsland Power
KEY FWD, 203cm, 93kg
Unlike his older brother in Essendon defender Zach, Archer Reid lines up in the forward half of the ground, with his height making him an impossible task for opposition defenders to shut down. His athleticism and contested marking ability have been highly rated during his climb through the junior ranks, with nine marks and three goals to his name in Gippsland’s opening fixture against Murray.
10. Koltyn Tholstrup
FWD, 188cm, 80kg
A creative and exciting forward option out of Western Australia, Tholstrup kicked 25 goals from his 13 games at Colts level last season, earning him a call up to the AFL Academy. Combining his style with his skill, the country boy is sure to be a fan favourite at AFL level.
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11. Colby McKercher
MID, 181cm, 73kg
The top prospect out of Tasmania this season, the classy McKercher has a sharp left foot, playing both inside and outside midfield roles for the Devils. With a 31 disposal outing against Bendigo last week, McKercher announced himself to the competition, with many AFL recruiters present at Arden Street.
12. Ryley Sanders
MID, 186cm, 85kg
A fellow Tasmanian, Sanders is lining up for Sandringham in the Coates Talent League this season and has already begun to turn heads with his strong start to the year. Averaging 32 disposals over the Dragons’ first three games, Sanders’ strength and stoppage work has been highly praised throughout the league, with North Melbourne showing interest in adding the midfielder to their Next Generation Academy program.
13. Kane McAuliffe
South Australia/North Adelaide
MID, 187cm, 90kg
Accumulating 90 disposals from his first three games, McAuliffe has been North Adelaide’s best player on all three occasions to start 2023, making him one of South Australia’s most touted prospects. After a strong start to the year, his running ability and high clearance numbers have him poised to potentially break into the top 10 in November.
14. Logan Morris
VIC Metro/Western Jets
KEY FWD, 191cm, 90kg
Despite missing out on AFL Academy selection, Morris has had one of the biggest starts to the season of any player on this list. With eight goals in his first three games, the Western Jets key forward has shown his ability to take big pack marks, converting well from set shots.
15. Mitchell Edwards
Western Australia/Peel Thunder (Fremantle NGA)
RUCK, 206cm, 88kg
The premier ruckman of the pool, Edwards has dominated in the WAFL and enjoyed his time playing for Western Australia at last year’s National Championships. A premiership player in Peel’s Colts side, the Fremantle NGA product is a strong force around the ground and looks set for a big year.
16. Connor O’Sullivan
KEY DEF, 198cm, 92kg
One of the most versatile players in the pool, O’Sullivan has set the world on fire in almost every position to start the Coates Talent League season. Starting in defence, O’Sullivan did well to limit the influence of Gippsland’s Zane Duursma in the season opener, before lining up at the centre bounce as a rover. With three majors also to his name, the Albury product is sure to excite, creating headaches for recruiters.
17. Jack Delean
South Australia/South Adelaide
FWD, 181cm, 73kg
A pressure applying small forward, Delean looks a class above for South Adelaide, hunting the ball and consistently hitting the scoreboard. Despite his low disposal numbers, Delean’s impact has been highly regarded, making him a dangerous forward threat and match winning candidate.
18. Will Patton
South Australia/West Adelaide
DEF, 193cm, 79kg
A South Australian intercept defender, Patton’s aerial ability is one of the best in the class, with his rebound work from half back on display in West Adelaide’s Round 2 clash with North Adelaide. Earmarked as a future leader at AFL level, Patton’s footy smarts and teamwork have earned praise from his peers.
19. Nathan Philactides
VIC Metro/Oakleigh Chargers
DEF, 181cm, 78kg
A speedy half back, Philactides has shown he loves to take the game on in pressure situations, with his pace considered his strongest attribute. While his numbers are not quite as high as some of the others on this list, his natural running ability and burst with ball in hand makes him a serious threat to opposition players.
20. Harry De Mattia
VIC Country/Dandenong Stingrays
MID, 184cm, 77kg
An intriguing prospect coming into 2023, the Stingray’s co-captain has excited recruiters with five goals from his first three outings to go with a best on ground performance against Brisbane. DeMattia featured for Melbourne in Victorian Premier Cricket this season, while he was lucky enough to be a sub fielder for Australia during the Boxing Day Test.
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