It’s officially draft season. The unofficial final of the State Championships between Vic Metro and Country showed the top-tier talent on offer in the 2022 AFL Draft, and testing at the Draft Combine has helped solidify their rankings.
The finish to the 2022 campaign proved how elite those top five to six prospects this year are – each has a genuine argument to be the number-one pick, and it’s been no surprise to see clubs clamouring to get higher up the draft board in trade period.
With the football and testing out of the way, this is The Inner Sanctum’s 2022 AFL Draft Power Rankings for October.
Ashcroft has ticked every box asked of a potential number-one pick. He’s accumulated like no one else and added elements to his game throughout the year. He won best afield honours in the NAB League Grand Final and State Championships Final, proving his credentials in the biggest games of the year. Ashcroft is set to feature early in 2023 for Brisbane.
Previous ranking: 1
Best traits similar to: Andrew BrayshawEmbed from Getty Images
Cadman’s second half of 2022 has been as good as any, despite GWV’s premature end to its campaign. He kicks goals in a variety of ways, making the most of one-on-ones with his strength and reading of the play, plus pushing up the ground and beating his opponent back to goals. Cadman has proved he’s the premier key position player this year.
Previous ranking: 5
Best traits similar to: Jeremy CameronEmbed from Getty Images
Sheezel is mercurial in the forward half, creating a bounty of chances for his side every game. He was huge in the NAB League Grand Final, and kicked one of the best goals of the State Champs against Country. He has an innate ability to find the goals from anywhere in the forward 50, and loves to wheel around onto his right and get the ball moving.
Previous ranking: 2
Best traits similar to: Zac BaileyEmbed from Getty Images
We haven’t seen Wardlaw since the early rounds of the year, where he was arguably the best player in the country. Injury has frustrated his campaign, but clubs have more than enough to go off. He’s ferocious when the ball is up for grabs in the middle and has genuine game-breaking traits with his power, aerial ability and penetrating kick. A full campaign could have had him firmly in the first pick conversation.
Previous ranking: 3
Best traits similar to: Luke ParkerEmbed from Getty Images
Tsatas is an accumulator with an elite burst of pace. He racks up the ball at will with clean hands and links play together with his aerobic capacity. He has a variety of AFL-level tools already, and will become a centre bounce midfielder as he builds his body over pre-seasons.
Previous ranking: 4
Best traits similar to: Hugh McCluggageEmbed from Getty Images
Humphrey’s combination of aerial ability in the forward line and dogged determination in the midfield has seen him rocket up draft boards since returning from injury in the back half of the year. He skippered his side to a Grand Final appearance and split his time as a goal-kicking forward and hard-running midfielder, where his explosive traits come to the fore.
Previous ranking: 8
Best traits similar to: Isaac HeeneyEmbed from Getty Images
Ginbey is an elite competitor that tackles and pressures as well as anyone in the pool. He’s spent time down back, but in the midfield for his state is where he played his best football, extracting the ball time again and forcing the opposition into mistakes with his maniacal pressure. Ginbey had the best Draft Combine of any prospect, dominating endurance, speed and vertical tests.
Previous ranking: 12
Best traits similar to: Elliot YeoEmbed from Getty Images
A constant presence for his sides, Clark wins his own ball with lightning reflexes and courage in the clinches. He has an abundance of class and leadership, captaining the Falcons and Country. The midfielder makes life easier for his teammates with the grunt work in the middle.
Previous ranking: 9
Best traits similar to: Joel SelwoodEmbed from Getty Images
Busslinger headed in for shoulder surgery to curtail his draft year, but he’s shown more than enough to warrant status as the best key defender in the pool. Playing in the WAFL he’s shown brilliant hands and reading of the play, and backs himself to intercept the ball and get it moving the other way quickly. He’s a neat kick and is no-fuss about locking down his direct opponent.
Previous ranking: 10
Best traits similar to: A taller Jordan RidleyEmbed from Getty Images
Hewett’s blend of speed and endurance is a tantalising prospect when matched with his power out of stoppages and attacking mentality. When he exits the front of contests he’s irresistible with ball in hand, making good decisions to pick out teammates or taking the shot on himself. His best against men in the WAFL is a compelling prospect for recruiters.
Previous ranking: 6
Best traits similar to: Chad WarnerEmbed from Getty Images
Mackenzie faded a little bit in the back-end of the year, but it shouldn’t effect his stock much come draft night. He applies himself well defensively and is crafty with the ball, able to pick out passes few other draftees would dare attempt. There are a lot of AFL-level elements already present with his consistency and composure. A St Kilda NGA prospect, but the only way he’ll end up at the Saints is through their first-round pick.
Previous ranking: 7
Best traits similar to: Travis Boak
Phillipou is the perfect modern-day midfielder size, and has an explosive streak to go with it. He uses his size to advantage in the air, and has had some special moments in the forward 50 to kick goals all year. There remain some question marks on his outside ball-winning and ball use, but Phillipou is a unique type that should adapt well to the next level.
Previous ranking: 11
Best traits similar to: Jake StringerEmbed from Getty Images
Keeler offers something no other prospect can as a ruck-forward that has superstar traits. He has a 60-metre set shot, moves around the ground well for his size, has soft hands in the ruck and offers a tendency of dropping into the hole to assist his defenders. There’s sky-high upside with Keeler, which sees him entrenched in the top 20 despite lesser output than some around him in 2022.
Previous ranking: 15
Best traits similar to: Paddy Ryder
Hollands is a different player to his Suns brother Elijah. He’s a hardworking two-way midfielder that has tidy skills and is brilliant below his knees. He took out the 2km time trial at the Combine with a blistering time of 5:54 minutes, and looks set to ply his trade as a wingman at the next level.
Previous ranking: 17
Best traits similar to: Ed LangdonEmbed from Getty Images
Jefferson has done it all for Metro and the Chargers as a forward. He’s intelligent in his positioning and has really improved his conversion across the year, plus has a leap that few possess. He will need pre-seasons in the gym to become a genuine key forward, but there’s a lot to work with for clubs.
Previous ranking: 16
Best traits similar to: A taller Ollie Henry
Davey is a nimble midfielder that hits the scoreboard and finds the ball in dangerous positions. He’s one of the best players in the draft with ball in hand going inside 50, able to weight passes to the leading forward beautifully. Davey is yet to nominate Essendon under the father-son rule, but with football out of the way it seems only a matter of time.
Previous ranking: 14
Best traits similar to: Connor RozeeEmbed from Getty Images
Cowan is a special player to watch with his flowing mullet and pace off half-back. He takes the game on at every opportunity and is accurate by foot with the whole ground in front of him. There have also been some exciting moments as he’s moved into the engine room, allowing scope for a possible transition in the future.
Previous ranking: 18
Best traits similar to: Zac WilliamsEmbed from Getty Images
Classy and poised, Hustwaite is a fluid mover that executes by foot superbly. He’s spent time on-ball and down back, and has shown off genuine versatility to go from a prolific ball-winner to interceptor. There’s scope for him to play in both positions, but his true value will lie wherever he can best distribute the ball.
Previous ranking: 13
Best traits similar to: Jordan Dawson
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Barnett has emerged as the best pure ruck prospect. His tap work is great and he move around the ground really well to go with some impressive aerial ability. He’s had a 29-disposal match and has kicked some goals when he’s resting forward to go with his ruck craft.
Previous ranking: 24
Best traits similar to: Tom De KoningEmbed from Getty Images
A heartbreaking ACL tear in his return to the NAB League will see George ruled out for close to the full 2023 season. Regardless, the clever medium forward with a turn of pace and aerial ability has shown why he’s a top-20 pick on talent. He’ll give you a set shot goal from outside 50, a mark of the year contender and a highlight-reel fend-off on any given day.
Previous ranking: 19
Best traits similar to: Toby Greene
Hayes has been a lockdown defender throughout his junior years, but with his growing confidence has come some exciting intercept marking, and some high possession games in the NAB League. He had a scary moment at the end of the 2km time trial at the Draft Combine after collapsing due to fatigue just prior to the finish line.
Previous ranking: 20
Best traits similar to: Sam Taylor
Binns works at a higher pace than others, getting to contest after contest with his desire. He’s had some huge outings for club and state, and has cemented himself in the top 30 of this year’s prospects due to his work rate and effort.
Previous ranking: Unranked
Best traits similar to: Ben KeaysEmbed from Getty Images
Clubs are always on the look out for key defenders, and Weddle is a prospect that plays above his height and can do a bit of everything from the backline. He loves flying for his marks and reads the play well which is a great sign, and is a well-developed body already.
Previous ranking: 26
Best traits similar to: Tom Doedee
Fletcher had a brilliant State Champs for Allies. He moves around the ground well and applies good defensive pressure with his athletic traits, and should find his way to the Lions with their option to match a bid at any point.
Previous ranking: 23
Best traits similar to: Noah Anderson
Jones proved his elite evasion is backed up off the field, breaking Stephen Hill’s long-standing agility test record at the Draft Combine. He’s difficult to tackle, applies pressure well and uses the ball beautifully. Jones has the capacity to be an elite small forward at AFL level.
Previous ranking: 28
Best traits similar to: Sam SwitkowskiEmbed from Getty Images
Konstanty is an elite tackling small forward that clubs will love. He latches on to defenders and forces a lot of mistakes out of the back 50, and has also shown he can make the most of his opportunities.
Previous ranking: Unranked
Best traits similar to: Lachie Schultz
As reliable as they come, Szybkowski is a link-up midfielder that is proficient in the congestion with lightning-quick hands. He’s added to his outside game throughout the year and rounded out his impact well, but hasn’t shown the dynamic traits that some other midfielders possess.
Previous ranking: 21
Best traits similar to: Tom Liberatore
D’Aloia has been on recruiter radars for a while with his contested proficiency showcased over the years. He’s a pure inside midfielder that loves the grunt-work. There are some deficiencies to his work on the outside, but it hasn’t stopped him from collecting the ball at will and looking a class above his opponents at U18s level, and he’s also hit the scoreboard on occasion.
Previous ranking: 25
Best traits similar to: Dion Prestia
Ryan is a clean ball user with a turn of pace and great size. He’s an outstanding defender first and foremost, with his size allowing him to play on a multitude of opponents. Glenelg sought to free him up from defensive assignments and give him the licence to fully attack from the back half which resulted in some fantastic performances in the SANFL.
Previous ranking: 29
Best traits similar to: Mason Redman
A classy midfielder who has spent a chunk of time up forward due to Metro and the Dragons’ midfield riches, Hotton has had an impressive draft year. He’s creative with ball in hand and has real pace on the outside. He also tested very well, which reflects his athletic traits on-field.
Previous ranking: 30
Best traits similar to: Max HolmesEmbed from Getty Images
The Inner Sanctum’s 2022 AFL Draft Top 30 Power Rankings for October
- Will Ashcroft – Vic Metro
- Aaron Cadman – Vic Country
- Harry Sheezel – Vic Metro
- George Wardlaw – Vic Metro
- Elijah Tsatas – Vic Metro
- Bailey Humphrey – Vic Country
- Reuben Ginbey – WA
- Jhye Clark – Vic Country
- Jedd Busslinger – WA
- Elijah Hewett – WA
- Cam Mackenzie – Vic Metro
- Mattaes Phillipou – SA
- Isaac Keeler – SA
- Oliver Hollands – Vic Country
- Matthew Jefferson – Vic Metro
- Alwyn Davey Jr. – Vic Metro
- Lachlan Cowan – Tasmania
- Henry Hustwaite – Vic Country
- Harry Barnett – SA
- Brayden George – Vic Country
- Lewis Hayes – Vic Metro
- Jaxon Binns – Vic Country
- Josh Weddle – Vic Metro
- Jaspa Fletcher – Queensland
- Darcy Jones – WA
- Jacob Konstanty – Vic Country
- Mitch Szybkowski – Vic Country
- Adam D’Aloia – SA
- Jakob Ryan – SA
- Olli Hotton – Vic Metro
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