The AFL Draft has been run and done with 59 players realising their footballing dreams.
There were third opportunities in the form of Fremantle’s Corey Wagner, draft bolters including Max Gruzewski, and a healthy dose of rivalry between clubs, including comedically-timed bids and selections from Sydney on GWS midfielder Harry Rowston and former Hawthorn NGA prospect Cooper Vickery.
The Inner Sanctum runs through every club’s selection across the two nights.
Pick 17: Max Michalanney – Norwood Football Club/Glenunga Football Club
After being nominated by the Crows, Michalanney becomes the first father-son selection taken by Adelaide in the National Draft. Playing as a defender in the SANFL, he made a solid impact at the level and even played in Norwood’s premiership this season. Although the Crows had to match a bid earlier than expected, they would be rapt to add Michalanney as another intercepting defender to the Crows’ list playing similarly to new teammate Tom Doedee.
Pick 43: Billy Dowling – North Adelaide Football Club/Walkerville Football Club
In the first pick swap that the Crows engaged with, they swooped on North Adelaide’s Billy Dowling with Gold Coast’s pick 43. Named MVP of the SANFL’s under-18 competition, he continues the South Australian focus on talent that the Crows have had in the last two drafts notably. He is a hard-working accumulating midfielder who averaged 31 disposals, seven marks, five tackles, five clearances and six inside 50s in the SANFL U18s season. Impressing on-lookers with a career-best 44-disposal, four-goal game in Round 16 against Glenelg, he can also finish off his own work in front of goal for his team.
Pick 50: Hugh Bond – Greater Western Rebels
Further bolstering the youth in their midfield rotation, Adelaide selected Hugh Bond with their final pick after securing the pick in a pick swap with the Brisbane Lions. He is a tough as nails midfielder who has played 12 games for the Rebels this season as well as representing Victoria Country in the Championships where he played in defence instead. He looms as another bright prospect for the Crows with his tackling and physicality, a presence with great running capacity to match.
Pick 2: Will Ashcroft – Father/Son selection – Sandringham Dragons
Widely regarded as the best player in the draft pool, Will Ashcroft has known where he was going for months and the Brisbane Lions have been celebrating ever since. The prolific ball winner at NAB League level with Sandringham Dragons and in a handful of VFL games with the Brisbane Lions is as ready-made as ever to step up to the next level.
He faces a tall order breaking into the stacked Lions engine room but Ashcroft’s class and versatility could see him make a Sam Walsh and Nick Daicos-like impact in his first season at the Lions.
Pick 12: Jaspa Fletcher – Father/Son selection – Brisbane Lions Academy
The Lions finished their business on night one of the draft, walking away with two Father-Son selections. Jaspa Fletcher, the son of Adrian, joins Ashcroft in going up to Brisbane, with the midfielder selected at Pick 12.
Fletcher, whose state championships for the Allies rocketed him into first round contention, plays his best football on the outside, taking the game on with his speed and breaking games open with his run and carry and long and precise kicking inside 50.
Pick 11: Ollie Hollands – Murray Bushrangers
It was earmarked from a long way out and proved to be no surprises come draft night, selecting the boyhood Blues fan in Ollie Hollands who immediately adds to Carltons wing and running stocks. The younger brother of Gold Coast’s Elijah – who models his game on Sam Walsh – will share a locker room with his idol.
The two-way midfielder that has tidy skills and composed below his knees has blistering speed taking out the 2km time trial at the Combine with a time of 5:54 minutes, and looks set to ply his trade as a winger early in his career under Michael Voss.
Pick 30: Lachie Cowan – Tasmanian Devils
The Blues said they were hunting an extra pick and they went and got it after trading away their future second round pick to secure Lachie Cowan – the first Tasmanian taken in this years draft.
A player who enjoys taking the game on and generating meaningful drive from defence, Cowan has spent some burst in the engine room for the Tassie Devils this season, adding scope for future development at the top level.
Pick 32: Jaxon Binns – Dandenong Stingrays
Outside run and speed was the name of the game for Carlton heading into this draft and Jaxon Binns has it in spades. He’s one of the best endurance runners in the pool with a strong work rate to work from contest to contest.
Binns is another option who can find his home on a wing in Michael Voss’ side but can also be pushed forward and is dangerous around goal. He looms as an exciting prospect for Blues fans to watch with his flash and fleet of foot.
Pick 47: Harry Lemmey – West Adelaide
A high ceiling pick, the Blues either this year or next year needed to find another key forward prospect. Harry Lemmey was high on draft boards at the start of the year and arrives at Ikon Park to be guided under the tutelage of the two most recent Coleman Medalists.
The 202cm West Adelaide big man can play at both ends, but has been recruited in mind to be a long term forward prospect at the Blues, future-proofing the list.
Pick 19: Ed Allan – Claremont
A big-bodied mid out of the WAFL that was widely expected to go to West Coast, the Pies are the beneficiary of a slight draft slide here. Averaged 25 disposals and six marks over his six games at WAFL colts level. Is set to be the next imposing midfielder at Collingwood who has freakish athleticism, topping the chart for the 20-metre sprint. A two-way runner who rarely plays a bad game, will be a great addition to the Magpies squad.
Pick 28: Jakob Ryan – Glenelg
Another draft slide that Collingwood pounced on, Ryan could’ve been taken anywhere from 15. An athletic running defender who has line breaking speed and the skill execution to perform at those speeds. Acts well as an intercepting defender and as a distributor out of the defensive area. He should suit the Collingwood style of running and moving the ball quickly from defensive 50.
Pick 48: Joe Richards – Wangaratta/Murray Bushrangers
Richards is one of the great stories of the draft as a mature-ager who was teaching in Wangaratta. He’s a shorter midfielder who relies on speed and evasion to move around opposition defenders. He’s deadly on the outside of the stoppage with a high running capacity and the discipline to track back on defence, and has been fighting through a tag in just about every game he’s played this year, such is his ability at local level.
Pick 5: Elijah Tsatas – Oakleigh Chargers
After weeks of speculation about the Dons’ coveted first pick, they went with the known commodity in prolific midfielder Tsatas. The speedster collected 34 touches a game in the NAB League and won the Chargers’ best and fairest from just six games. He adds elite speed and confidence with ball in hand to a midfield unit that was one-paced in 2022.
Pick 25: Lewis Hayes – Eastern Ranges
The Dons were sweating on a potential Alwyn Davey Jr. bid before this pick, but will be delighted to capture a top talent instead of trading out for points. Hayes is an interceptor in the defensive half at 199 centimetres – he reads the ball well and knows when to mark or spoil, plus has position-defying agility and is a tidy user of the footy, going at 88 per cent by foot in the NAB League.
Pick 45: Alwyn Davey Jr. – Oakleigh Chargers
A first-rounder on talent, the only reason Davey slid to the third round was the inevitable father-son match that Essendon would submit once a bid was made. Davey is wonderfully gifted on the field; he’s one-touch below his knees, positions himself in dangerous spots and has the capacity to be a genuine on-baller at AFL level with his smarts, evasiveness and skills.
Pick 54: Jayden Davey – Oakleigh Chargers
We haven’t seen much of Davey, but his talent is undeniable in the little football he’s played over the past three years. Faster and more of a goal threat than his brother, Jayden is a pure small forward with real goal nous, composure with ball in hand and an ability to read the ball off hands which lends himself to being a brilliant crumber. The Dons will rehab his ACL tear in 2023, move him to the long-term injury list, and look towards a full pre-season for 2024.
The Dons have also added Tiwi Islander Anthony Munkara to the list as a Category-B rookie after he slid through the draft. Incredible kicking off both feet and a wonderfully balanced footballer, Munkara hasn’t played much football this year but has shown immense potential as a forward.
Pick 33: Hugh Davies – Claremont
Fremantle has hoarded another talented key defender – Davies is an aggressive intercepter who thrives on dropping off his opponent to jump over the top. Will do well in Fremantle zone defence where attackers can’t take advantage of his slight frame in a one-on-one contest. Comfortable with the ball in hand for a man of his size, Davies has good skill execution and decision making when exiting the back 50.
Pick 41: Tom Emmett – Sturt
A mature-age selection who turns 21 on Wednesday, Emmett is a medium forward who built into his career. After being goalless in his first five outings away from the forward line, he kicked 15 in his next seven. A strong and determined character who has the ability to use his size to his advantage, Emmett is a good athlete with elite showings in both the agility test and 2km time trial.
Pick 42: Max Knobel – Gippsland Power
A project ruckman as Fremantle plan for the future, standing at 206cm at 18 years old Knobel has the potential to grow into a monster frame. He’s built a strong block of work over the season, displaying potential in both his ruck craft and contested marking abilities. Knobel will benefit from learning off the young talents of both Darcy and Jackson.
Pick 57: Corey Wagner – Port Melbourne
The former Demon and Kangaroo gets another chance on an AFL list. After two years with Port Melbourne he’s developed his outside game and defensive capabilities. A running winger/half-back, his elite endurance allows him to break the opposition lines and change angles at dangerous speeds. Comfortable with the ball in hand and will be good depth for the Dockers.
Pick 8: Jhye Clark – Geelong Falcons
Geelong get their man, the clone of the retired Joel Selwood who’s been appraised by many as a potential future captain. A durable and consistent midfielder that’s super clean at ground level, Clark was named MVP for Vic Country in the State Championships. Will push for selection as Selwood’s role in the team and provide the contested grunt work early on in his career.
Pick 52: Phoenix Foster – Norwood
Strong full-forward who boosted his draft stocks with stints in the ruck that showed his versatility. Kicked at least one goal in every game for Norwood’s Under 18s, finishing with 26 from 11 games. Incredibly athletic for his size with strong contested marking makes him a problem for opposition defenders. Can be a good development player as Hawkins enters his twilight years.
Pick 6: Bailey Humphrey – Gippsland Power
Shooting up the draft order in the back end of the year, Bailey Humphrey will bring some x-factor to a Gold Coast Suns side that are searching for the final pieces to complete their climb into the Top-8. His versatility will be useful, with the speed and strength to impact in the contest, as well as the ability to contribute up forward. Wherever the Suns need him to play, he will slot in comfortably.
Pick 1: Aaron Cadman – GWV Rebels
The reason the Giants traded for pick one. GWS fill the key forward void left by Jeremy Cameron by drafting a replica. Finds plenty of the ball and turns it into goals. Dominated defenders at NAB League level kicking almost three goals a game, looked a class above. Displays a complete forward game that will be improved in an AFL system.
Pick 16: Harry Rowston – Calder Cannons/GWS Academy
A surprise bid from the Swans at 16, an inside midfielder through and through. Excels at getting the ball out of stoppages and to the advantage of teammates, has the potential to play early in the season after their exodus in the trade period.
Pick 21: Darcy Jones – Swan Districts
A wiley Mid/Forward blend, Jones broke the long-standing record held by Stephen Hill in the Agility test at the draft combine. Clean hands with the ball and hard to tackle, will be a nightmare for opposition defenders to lock down. Has the capacity to apply incredible levels of pressure without the ball as well.
Pick 22: Max Gruzewski – Oakleigh Chargers
A genuine swingman with elite aerial ability, has the capacity to take marks at both ends of the ground. Strong hands and a good ability to read the flight of the ball. Great reaction times and ground-ball ability for a man of his size. A good pick to extend the depth of the GWS key position stocks.
Pick 34: Toby McMullin – Sandringham Dragons
Incredible athleticism as a medium forward sets him apart from other prospects and helps him find the balls and put impact on the scoreboard. Good balance and a strong in the contest give him a multi-faceted avenue to goal. Jumped up in the rankings late after impressing at the combine.
Pick 7: Cameron Mackenzie – Sandringham Dragons
As a lifelong Hawthorn supporter, Cameron Mackenzie will live out his childhood dream and don the brown and gold. A silky midfielder with terrific foot skills, Mackenzie complements the Hawks’ current midfield mix, especially given his size at 188cm. His decision-making and ability to play on both the inside and outside also adds to his impressive repertoire.
Pick 18: Josh Weddle – Oakleigh Chargers
After striking a trade with Sydney to move up the draft order, Hawthorn quickly seized the opportunity to select Josh Weddle with pick 18. Weddle was a consistent performer at NAB League level in the backline, showcasing his strength, speed, and aerial ability. Sam Mitchell has already floated a potential move to the midfield for the athletic Weddle, drawing comparisons to Geelong’s Mark Blicavs.
Pick 37: Henry Hustwaite – Dandenong Stingrays
Earmarked by many to be drafted inside the top 30, Hustwaite looms as a steal for Hawthorn at pick 37. Standing at 194cm, Hustwaite has demonstrated an ability to play as both an intercepting defender and midfielder. His class, composure and kicking skills will suit the Hawks’ aggressive ball movement.
Pick 45: Jack O’Sullivan – Oakleigh Chargers
A lightly framed midfield-forward, Jack O’Sullivan endured an injury interrupted draft year. Yet his clean hands, nimbleness at ground level, and work in tight spaces likely attracted Hawthorn’s attention. He will take time to develop, but his strength around the contest should serve him and the Hawks well moving forward.
Pick 51: Bailey Macdonald – Oakleigh Chargers
Hawthorn once again utilised live trading to secure pick 51, this time selecting dashing defender Bailey Macdonald. Blessed with incredible leg speed, Macdonald isn’t afraid to take the game on from the back half. He will likely relish working with Changkuoth Jiath, Will Day, and Jack Scrimshaw.
Pick 15: Matthew Jefferson – Oakleigh Chargers
The Demons have filled a need by selecting Matthew Jefferson with Pick 15. Standing at 195cm, Jefferson is an impressive key-forward who can contribute on the scoreboard in a variety of ways. While he may not be Melbourne’s main man straight away, he is one to develop alongside last year’s draftee Jacob Van Rooyen, as experienced names such as Ben Brown, Tom McDonald, and Mitch Brown decide to move on.
Pick 38: Jed Adams – Peel Thunder
Shooting up the draft order, Jed Adams is a strong one on one defender, and another player that the Demons will be able to develop over the coming seasons. Adams is a strong contested mark and while it may be hard to break into the side now, he would be a solid eventual replacement for one of Melbourne’s key-defenders if allowed the opportunity.
Pick 3: Harry Sheezel – Sandringham Dragons
The mercurial forward, Sheezel is elite both in the air and on the ground. Has proved his ability to be able to find the goals from anywhere and has phenomenal skill execution to follow through. Plays a lot like Zac Bailey in that he can kick goals as a forward or find the ball as a midfielder, will add versatility to the Kangaroos line-up.
Pick 4: George Wardlaw – Oakleigh Chargers
Missed a lot of his top-age season with multiple hamstring injuries, although North is confident it won’t be a consistent issue. Was an elite performer when he made it on the ground. Won the Best on Ground medal in the star-studded AFL academy game that featured both Will Ashcroft and Harry Sheezel. Averaged 21 disposals and 6 tackles in his NAB league games.
Pick 26: Brayden George – Murray Bushrangers
A huge slider after tearing his ACL that will likely see him miss the entire 2023 season. A great get at 26 for North who continue to put together a superdraft, a medium forward who pushes up the ground, he averaged 10 disposals and two goals over his eight games in the NAB league and was considered a potential top-10 talent before the injury.
Pick 56: Cooper Harvey – Northern Knights
Son of club legend and AFL games record holder Brent, Cooper is an agile midfielder who loves to be in the contest. The standout player for the Knights this season, he’ll bring heart to the Kangaroos and an infectious love for the club. Has excellent goal sense and is more than capable of hitting the scoreboard.
Pick 36: Tom McCallum – Tasmania Devils
With the first pick of the draft coming on night two, Port Adelaide was keen to get another defender onto their list with classy Tom McCallum in their sights. Known for his explosive burst of speed, his versatility as a defender and his running he looms as one that could really turn into a long-term player for Port Adelaide. Playing for the Allies in the Championships, he averaged 17 disposals, showing he can not only play on tall or small forwards but also get his own ball. He also featured on the interchange in the NAB League Team of the Year.
Pick 53: Tom Scully – West Adelaide Football Club/Lockleys
Looking at South Australian talent, Port Adelaide looked for a forward with their second pick selecting tall forward Tom Scully from West Adelaide. In the Under-18 competition, Scully was dominant kicking 50 goals in 14 games with his strong marking and accuracy a feature. His season was rewarded with a selection in the AFL Academy team as well as a place in West Adelaide’s reserves side for two finals.
Pick 59: Kyle Marshall – South Adelaide/McLaren Vale
With height an obvious lure for Port Adelaide, they added tall timber to their backline with the final pick of the evening, Kyle Marshall. A tall and athletic defender, Marshall finished top five in six of the tests in the South Australian State Draft Combine. He was also very agile and quick for a tall body finishing second in the 20-metre sprint and third in the 2km time trial. He played 15 games for South Australia’s Under 18 side while averaging 13 disposals and four marks.
Pick 49: Kaleb Smith – East Fremantle
A former state-level junior cricketer, Kaleb Smith was selected by the Tigers with their first pick of the Draft on night two. Smith is renowned for his great vertical leap and his ability to mark and spoil for his size. Being able to play taller than his 180cm frame would suggest, he can play as a utility with dynamic turn of pace in all three areas of the ground. Playing as a defender for East Fremantle he averaged seven rebound 50s a game where he utilised his leg speed to open the game up from the back half.
Pick 55: Steely Green – South Fremantle
Playing in the WAFL this season, Green arrives at Tigerland looking to play as a small defender after an impressive year. Averaging 18 disposals and four tackles, he looks to attack the contest and win his own ball. He is also clean on the outside which can get others into the game, his versatility only added to the Tiger’s interest as he could also become a midfield prospect with time.
Pick 10: Mattaes Phillipou – Woodville-West Torrens
Falling to the Saints at Pick 10 after being considered by the Bombers five picks earlier, Mattaes Phillipou is an explosive player who will add something to St Kilda going forward. Averaging 28 disposals along with 1.8 goals per game, Phillipou is a versatile product with his speed, size, and aerial ability being some of his key strengths. The Saints will be able to use that to their advantage in the years to come.
Pick 31: James Van Es – GWV Rebels
A quick, rebounding key-defender, James Van Es will be a strong prospect for the Saints to develop over the coming years. His intercept marking is one of his biggest strengths, and his athleticism will serve him well when it comes to playing senior football.
Pick 35: Olli Hotton – Sandringham Dragons
Another versatile product, Olli Hotton is a skilful player who can impact with his good ball use and speed in the middle. Having played up forward throughout the year as well, he also has the ability to impact up forward with his athletic style of play.
Pick 44: Isaac Keeler – North Adelaide
Showcasing impressive abilities in the ruck and up forward, Isaac Keeler will be a brilliant replacement for the retired Paddy Ryder at the Saints. With plenty of speed and athleticism through the middle, the big man has shown some brilliant patches throughout the year, and he has the potential to develop into a powerhouse in the coming years.
Pick 20: Jacob Konstanty – Gippsland Power
After making back-to-back bids and then trading away their first pick of the draft, the Swans used their second pick on live wire small forward Jacob Konstanty. He’s an elite pressure forward who often finishes his work when in front of goal. Finds lots of the footy and has clean skill execution.
Pick 27: Cooper Vickery- Gippsland Power
A surprise pick for the Swans at 27, Vickery was part of the Hawthorn Next Gen Academy and was expected to be taken past pick 40 by the Hawks, who traded the pick the Swans used to secure him on the first night of the draft. Known for his running capacity as well as strong kicking ability, Vickery’s 72kg frame may require a few pre-seasons under his belt before being ready for the rigours of AFL football. A long term prospect for the Swans down back, potentially to replace one of Dane Rampe or Jake Lloyd in a couple of years.
Pick 40: Caleb Mitchell – Murray Bushrangers
Another bolter for the Swans at Pick 40: Mitchell rode the wave of a strong season with the Bushrangers all the way to a pick earlier than predicted. Although not as damaging with his possessions as he could be, his two way ability and overhead marking skill make him a promising prospect for the wing, as does his work rate and 187 metre frame. And with him as low as the 70s in some power rankings, could this turn into another piece of Beatson brilliance?
Pick 9: Reuben Ginbey- East Perth
With West Coast having to basically start from ground zero in 2023, four top 30 picks will begin the slow climb back to the top for the Eagles. First of these is local boy Ginbey, the Western Australian state MVP. Ginbey has been likened to Jack Crisp for his breakaway speed and his MVP win came after he was thrown into the midfield after mostly playing as a defender throughout the year, versatility that will hold him in good stead. With West Coast’s midfield desperately needing some fresh blood, Ginbey may be rubbing shoulders with Tim Kelly in 2023.
Pick 14: Elijah Hewett- Swan Districts
Another local boy, Hewett has a bit of Dustin Martin and Christian Petracca about him through his constant efforts to push the ball forward and his creation of scoring opportunities that saw him average a goal every other game at WAFL level. His top five placing for agility at the National Combine helped get him into first round contention, and he can now assist with getting the scoreboard ticking over for West Coast.
Pick 23: Harry Barnett- West Adelaide
West Coast will be thrilled to have landed perhaps the highest rated ruck prospect in this years draft, a welcome signing with Nic Naitanui well into the twilight years of his career. Already rather well built at age 18, Barnett uses his 202cm frame to his advantage at every opportunity, and was rewarded for a strong National Under 18s championship with an AA nod as primary ruck. Hailed as an excellent character, Barnett will no doubt grow quickly under the tutelage of one of the greatest rucks of the 2010s.
Pick 29: Cody Burgiel- Gippsland Power
With speed and versatility under his belt, having played all three lines at some point during the season, Burgiel may very well be an inspired choice for a West Coast side presently in rebuild. His 20m sprint was a very impressive 2.88 seconds (equal second at the combine) Like Hewett, Burgiel knows where the goals are, and hits them often, kicking 12 goals throughout the NAB League season. With Willie Rioli’s move to Port Adelaide, and Josh Kennedy’s retirement, a spot in the Eagles forward line may be where his journey begins.
Pick 58: Noah Long- Bendigo Pioneers
The second-last pick of the draft- Long’s injury history that includes knee and collarbone injuries may prove to be a blessing in disguise for West Coast. Another versatile player to add to the Eagles depth, Long proved his skills up forward with three goals against Western Australia, after playing mostly in the midfield for the Pioneers. Having worked hard to return to draft contention after injuries, could he, having slid out of the top 40, be the biggest steal of the draft?
Pick 13: Jedd Busslinger – East Perth
Joining the Bulldogs with their first pick of the 2022 Draft was Western Australian defender Jedd Busslinger. Busslinger will join the likes of Sam Darcy, Liam Jones, Ryan Gardner and Alex Keath as the tall defenders down at the Bulldogs. Busslinger has a great read on the play where he’s able to put himself in the right position to get the intercept. He’ll be able to sure up the Bulldogs defensive stocks.
Pick 24: Charlie Parker- Sandringham Dragons
The Bulldogs added a bit more X-Factor into their front end, taking Charlie Parker at pick 24. Parker is the type of player that will make something out of almost nothing and uses his speed to his advantage to slip past the opposition to make him hard to catch. He’ll work well with the likes of Cody Weightman in the Bulldogs front line and be able to complement the side’s tall forwards.
Pick 39: Harvey Gallagher- Bendigo Pioneers
The Bulldogs kicked off round three proceedings selecting Pioneers captain Harvey Gallagher. One of the biggest improvers of this draft, having found his place on the half back line at Bendigo with a big improvement on his ball movement that’s allowed him to take his game to the next level. Gallagher will be working with the likes of Bailey Dale and Ed Richards on the Bulldogs half back line but also has the versatility that the Bulldogs like, with Gallagher able to move into the middle if needed.
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