With the AFL Draft just days away, The Inner Sanctum has released its final power rankings of the season, an extended top 50 for the 2022 season.
It’s been a welcome return to a full calendar of junior football. Atop the perch of the 2022 cohort sits Will Ashcroft, who has delivered one of the all-time great top-age years. He’s set to follow in his father’s footsteps at Brisbane when the draft’s first night of November 28 rolls around.
This is The Inner Sanctum’s top 50 power rankings for 2022.
NAB League: 14 games | 34.5 disposals | 4.9 tackles
Ashcroft is prolific on the inside and outside, accumulating possessions and making winning plays for his team throughout games. His consistent excellence has been one of the storylines of the draft season. The son of Marcus, Will is set to head to Brisbane within the first two selections on draft night.
Previous ranking: 1
Best traits similar to: Andrew BrayshawEmbed from Getty Images
NAB League: 12 games | 16.8 disposals | 2.8 goals
Cadman separated from the rest of the key forwards through his dominance in the NAB League for the Rebels. He continually put together complete forward games by showing off dexterity and poise to go with elite aerial ability. He gets a plethora of opportunities in front of goal and works hard up the ground as well.
Previous ranking: 2
Best traits similar to: Jeremy CameronEmbed from Getty Images
NAB League: 3 games | 20.7 disposals | 5.7 tackles
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 his best is hard to forget. He’s ferocious in the contest and wills his side forward through effort plays. Clubs are confident his multiple hamstring injuries are not a long-term concern going into the draft.
Previous ranking: 4
Best traits similar to: Luke ParkerEmbed from Getty Images
NAB League: 14 games | 19.3 disposals | 2.8 goals
Sheezel is mercurial in the forward half, creating a bounty of chances for his side every game. He stood up on the big stage in the NAB League Grand Final, but as with any general forward is a bit at the mercy of his side further up field giving him opportunities. When he gets them, he doesn’t often miss.
Previous ranking: 3
Best traits similar to: Zac BaileyEmbed from Getty Images
NAB League: 11 games | 19.8 disposals | 1.9 goals
Since rocketing into first-round calculations towards the end of the year, Humphrey settles as the fifth-best prospect in these power rankings. He’s a competitor that has explosive aerial ability and a contested-ball game to go with it. Humphrey is a match-winner in multiple positions – it just depends where the game needs to be won.
Previous ranking: 6
Best traits similar to: Isaac HeeneyEmbed from Getty Images
NAB League: 6 games | 33.8 disposals | 7.2 marks
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. Questions remain over his disposal by foot, but the technique and decision-making is in place for him to become a good ball-user forward of centre.
Previous ranking: 5
Best traits similar to: Hugh McCluggageEmbed from Getty Images
WAFL League: 9.5 disposals | 1.5 marks
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 just about any prospect, dominating endurance, speed and vertical tests.
Previous ranking: 7
Best traits similar to: Elliot YeoEmbed from Getty Images
WAFL Colts: 4 games | 23.8 disposals | 8.0 marks
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: 9
Best traits similar to: A taller Jordan Ridley
SANFL U18s: 8 games | 28.0 disposals | 1.5 goals
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. He wasn’t able to produce his very best in the State Championships, but clubs will love his upside as an imposing midfielder who’s also one of the youngest in the draft pool.
Previous ranking: 12
Best traits similar to: Jake StringerEmbed from Getty Images
NAB League: 9 games | 25.4 disposals | 4.8 tackles
A constant presence for his sides, Clark wins his own ball with lightning reflexes and courage in the clinches. He has an abundance of leadership potential, captaining the Falcons and Country. The midfielder makes life easier for his teammates with the grunt work in the middle, but potentially doesn’t have the superstar qualities that others at the top possess.
Previous ranking: 8
Best traits similar to: Joel SelwoodEmbed from Getty Images
NAB League: 10 games | 24.1 disposals | 3.7 tackles
Mackenzie is a rock-solid midfielder that does a bit of everything. He gets his hands to the ball first, positions himself well to link up play and can push forward to impact. He looks set to grow into an inside midfielder build with his strong hips and contested appetite.
Previous ranking: 11
Best traits similar to: Travis Boak
WAFL League: 9 games | 13.6 disposals | 2.9 marks
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. He had an up-and-down campaign in a tough competition, but the talent is evident.
Previous ranking: 10
Best traits similar to: Chad WarnerEmbed from Getty Images
NAB League: 5 games | 23.8 disposals | 6.0 tackles
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: 14
Best traits similar to: Ed LangdonEmbed from Getty Images
NAB League: 6 games | 12.8 disposals | 4.5 marks
Weddle is the biggest riser in the final power rankings. His consistency and reliability has stood out through the year, and his combine results reflected what he shows on the field. Weddle produced elite times in speed and vertical tests, showing his ability to play above his height and on a variety of opponents in defence. This defensive flexibility and athletic profile appeals to clubs in the first round.
Previous ranking: 23
Best traits similar to: Dane Rampe
SANFL U18s: 15 games | 17.9 disposals | 1.3 goals
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, but a lot of work ahead of him to reach his potential.
Previous ranking: 13
Best traits similar to: Paddy RyderEmbed from Getty Images
NAB League: 8 games | 8.8 disposals | 2.2 goals
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. Watching back his early-season games, his poise and execution under pressure stands out from the chasing pack of goal-kickers.
Previous ranking: 20
Best traits similar to: Toby Greene
NAB League: 12 games | 22.7 disposals | 3.8 tackles
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: 18
Best traits similar to: Jordan DawsonEmbed from Getty Images
NAB League: 11 games | 20.7 disposals | 5.3 marks
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: 21
Best traits similar to: Sam Taylor
NAB League: 6 games | 16.0 disposals | 3.0 marks
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. He’s set to land at Essendon, but the club will be hoping a bid doesn’t materialise until after their second-round pick.
Previous ranking: 16
Best traits similar to: Connor RozeeEmbed from Getty Images
NAB League: 3 games | 18.7 disposals | 7.0 marks
Fletcher had a brilliant State Champs for the Allies. He moves around the ground well and applies good defensive pressure with his athletic traits, plus makes the most of his disposals with damaging accuracy. He will find his way to the Lions as a father-son with their option to match a bid at any point.
Previous ranking: 24
Best traits similar to: Noah Anderson
NAB League: 6 games | 9.5 disposals | 2.1 goals
Jefferson was a superb talisman for Metro in the State Championships. He kicked goals in a variety of ways and produced in the big moments. However, he’s also struggled for consistency in the NAB League at points and may not have the array of weapons that he needs to make an impact at the next level immediately.
Previous ranking: 15
Best traits similar to: A taller Ollie Henry
NAB League: 12 games | 26.9 disposals | 5.0 marks
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: 17
Best traits similar to: Zac WilliamsEmbed from Getty Images
NAB League: 14 games | 14.6 disposals | 1.2 goals
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 in the forward 50. He projects to be a great small forward.
Previous ranking: 26
Best traits similar to: Lachie Schultz
WAFL Colts: 5 games | 25.2 disposals | 5.8 marks
Ed Allan returned to football from a stress fracture halfway through the year and made up for lost time. He accumulated the ball and showed flashes of huge upside with balance and ball use as a tall. He blitzed the combine speed test to be the fastest player in the country – it doesn’t always show up in games, but the chance that it does will have clubs in the first round heavily invested.
Best traits similar to: Mark Blicavs
SANFL U18s: 12 games | 18.1 disposals | 5.2 marks
Barnett has emerged as the best pure ruck prospect. His tap work is great and he moves around the ground 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: 19
Best traits similar to: Tom De Koning
WAFL Colts: 6 games | 25.5 disposals | 4.1 tackles
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: 25
Best traits similar to: Sam SwitkowskiEmbed from Getty Images
SANFL U18s: 8 games | 28.4 disposals | 6.8 marks
The first thing you’ll notice with Ryan is his flowing blonde mullet. The second thing is his courage in the defensive 50, drifting back into oncoming traffic and flying for his marks. He’s a clean ball user and a stout defender that clubs have loved through the draft process.
Previous ranking: 29
Best traits similar to: Mason RedmanEmbed from Getty Images
NAB League: 8 games | 17.4 disposals | 3.5 marks
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 Holmes
NAB League: 15 games | 18.6 disposals | 1.9 goals
A goal sneak who creates chances out of nothing. Clarke only needs a sliver of daylight to make the opposition pay, and he creates opportunities for his teammates with anticipation and pressure. Clarke is a role player that can turn the game on its head.
Best traits similar to:
SANFL U18s: 2 games | 11.0 disposals | 1.5 goals
Clubs haven’t seen much of Munkara. After moving to Adelaide, he headed back home in the second half of the year, but not before he produced some special moments in the forward 50. He’s an adept kick on both feet and has stop-on-a-dime evasiveness that creates time and space in traffic. Essendon can match a bid on Munkara as a NGA prospect after pick 40 in the draft, which looks a good chance given clubs simply don’t have enough to go off with the Tiwi Islander.
Best traits similar to: Joel JeffreyEmbed from Getty Images
NAB League: 8 games | 21.5 disposals | 1.0 goals
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 draft calculations with his effort. He needs to tidy up his disposal and making it easier for his teammates, but there’s an exciting player to work with for clubs.
Previous ranking: 22
Best traits similar to: Ben Keays
NAB League: 7 games | 13.7 disposals | 5.0 marks
Gruzewski is a talented swingman in the air – some of the marks he’s taken across his top-age campaign have been sensational. He reads the ball beautifully and is able to contort himself to get two hands to the ball in almost any position. His marking is his best trait, but he can also produce some important moments at ground level with his fast reactions.
Best traits similar to: Jeremy HoweEmbed from Getty Images
SANFL U18s: 8 games | 30.5 disposals | 5.9 tackles
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: 28
Best traits similar to: Dion Prestia
NAB League: 7 games | 23.1 disposals | 4.0 tackles
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: 27
Best traits similar to: Tom Liberatore
NAB League: 9 games | 21.6 disposals | 1.3 goals
Burgiel was a star for the Power throughout their NAB League campaign, putting together elite midfield games and being able to spend time forward and hit the scoreboard. He has elite speed around the ground and hits the ball at full pace.
Best traits similar to: Jai Newcombe
SANFL Reserves: 7 games | 14.1 disposals | 4.6 marks
One of the best pure defensive players in the draft, Michalanney will make his way to Adelaide via the father-son rule. He’s stout in his defensive assignments, able to play on a range of forwards and play above his height with good aerial ability.
Best traits similar to: Jake KolodjashnijEmbed from Getty Images
WAFL League: 8 games | 13.3 disposals | 1.0 goals
Hagan is pound-for-pound one of the best pure footballers in the draft pool. He spent a lot of the season playing against men, filling a small forward role with the Sharks and pushing up the ground to pressure off the back of contests. Hagan has been on the radar of recruiters for years.
Best traits similar to: Brent Daniels
NAB League: 3 games | 26.0 disposals | 6.7 marks
A real in-and-under midfielder that extracts the ball with quick kicks forward and handballs into space, Rowston is set to join GWS as an NGA prospect. He plies his trade well as a centre bounce midfielder – it remains to be seen how he performs outside of the engine room.
Best traits similar to: James Rowbottom
WAFL Colts: 4 games | 16.0 disposals | 4.0 tackles
Gilbey has been seriously unlucky in his top-age campaign with injury. In the few games he played, the medium defender has looked a class above the opposition with his poise and physicality. It’s a combination that makes Gilbey a reliable player when he can get on the park.
Best traits similar to: Isaac Cumming
NAB League: 13 games | 14.2 disposals | 5.2 marks
There’s something special about McCallum. His athletic profile, as a quick-off-the-mark, fluid mover that can soar through the air and hit the ground running, is tantalising when matched with his reading of the play as a defender. He’s a touch undersized currently, and hasn’t shown the confidence to intercept off his direct opponent much, but there’s untapped upside with the Tasmanian.
Best traits similar to: Darcy Moore
SANFL U18s: 12 games | 30.9 disposals | 1.5 goals
Dowling is an accumulator that does his best work on the outside of stoppages. He has brilliant spatial awareness and positions himself in the eye of his teammates to receive handballs. Dowling isn’t a high-impact player, but could be moulded into an effective wingman at the next level with his smarts.
Best traits similar to: Jack Billings
NAB League: 13 games | 11.9 disposals | 4.1 marks
Van Es tested superbly at the combine for his speed and vertical. It comes through on the field with his intercept marking, propelling his side forward off the rebound. He enters the draft more developed than a lot of other talls in the draft, and could blossom in a professional environment with his athletic profile.
Best traits similar to: Noah Balta
NAB League: 8 games | 20.1 disposals | 5.1 marks
The son of North legend Boomer, Harvey is set to make his way to Arden Street in the draft. He’s been the Knights’ standout player this season, collecting the ball in the middle and forward of centre, and hitting the scoreboard with some excellent goal nous. Harvey is tough and uncompromising.
Best traits similar to: Alex DaviesEmbed from Getty Images
WAFL Colts: 15 games | 12.1 disposals | 3.3 marks
There are some exciting traits with Broadbent, who uses the ball well and has quick hands in traffic. He’s an advanced size and got some exposure to League football with Peel, but he needs to work on his aerobic capacity and ruck craft over a few years before featuring at the next level.
Best traits similar to: Rowan Marshall
NAB League: 10 games | 21.9 disposals | 5.3 marks
Gillbee is one of the best runners in the draft pool, finishing alongside Oliver Hollands in the 2km time trial. He uses that capacity to good use off half-back and on a wing, able to accumulate and rack up metres gained for his side.
Best traits similar to: Justin McInerny
SANFL U18s: 10 games | 22.4 disposals | 2.3 goals
Magor is a match-winner in the forward half who has shown flashes of serious potential with his ball-winning in the midfield. He suffered an ankle injury midway through the year that curtailed his State Championships, but then returned as a pure forward and hit the scoreboard heavily in the SANFL to keep his name at the front of recruiter minds.
Best traits similar to: Ben AinsworthEmbed from Getty Images
NAB League: 7 games | 18.7 disposals | 1.0 goals
Drury is a crafty, smart mid-forward that looks a coach’s dream. He pressures the ball-carrier, sets the ground for his teammates, directs on the ground with his voice and takes his opportunities when they come. He gets the absolute best out of himself and plays with real consistency.
Best traits similar to: Errol Gulden
WAFL Colts: 6 games | 21.7 disposals | 3.9 marks
Smith bombs off half-back with reckless abandon, taking on would-be tacklers with consummate ease. His confidence and speed is a special combination when he takes the game on, and he’s become one of the late draft bolters of 2022 after his season built in the back end of the year.
Best traits similar to: Darcy Wilmot
NAB League: 10 games | 23.8 disposals | 1.2 goals
The only over-ager in these power rankings, Gallagher found his spot on the half-back line to end the season and began to make significant strides with his ball use. He was prolific and propelled the Pioneers forward at every opportunity, and has the scope to produce similarly at the next level with a full pre-season.
Best traits similar to: Jake Lloyd
SANFL U18s: 14 games | 11.4 disposals | 3.6 goals
Scully was kicking bags of goals for fun to start the year, producing serious draft buzz. His season struggled to reach those heights as it went on, and he didn’t have the opportunity to make an impact in the State Championships. At his best, his height and reach on the lead gives him the opportunity to hit the scoreboard with regularity, but he hasn’t shown the ability to impact in other facets of the game as of yet.
Best traits similar to: Logan McDonald
This is The Inner Sanctum’s top 50 power rankings for 2022.
- Will Ashcroft – Vic Metro
- Aaron Cadman – Vic Country
- George Wardlaw – Vic Metro
- Harry Sheezel – Vic Metro
- Bailey Humphrey – Vic Country
- Elijah Tsatas – Vic Metro
- Reuben Ginbey – WA
- Jedd Busslinger – WA
- Mattaes Phillipou – SA
- Jhye Clark – Vic Country
- Cam Mackenzie – Vic Metro
- Elijah Hewett – WA
- Oliver Hollands – Vic Country
- Josh Weddle – Vic Metro
- Isaac Keeler – SA
- Brayden George – Vic Country
- Henry Hustwaite – Vic Country
- Lewis Hayes – Vic Metro
- Alwyn Davey Jnr – Vic Metro
- Jaspa Fletcher – Allies
- Matthew Jefferson – Vic Metro
- Lachlan Cowan – Allies
- Jacob Konstanty – Vic Country
- Ed Allan – WA
- Harry Barnett – SA
- Darcy Jones – WA
- Jakob Ryan – SA
- Olli Hotton – Vic Metro
- Charlie Clarke – Vic Metro
- Anthony Munkara – Allies
- Jaxon Binns – Vic Country
- Max Gruzewski – Vic Country
- Adam D’Aloia – SA
- Mitch Szybkowski – Vic Country
- Coby Burgiel – Vic Country
- Max Michalanney – SA
- Jed Hagan – WA
- Harry Rowston – Allies
- Sam Gilbey – WA
- Tom McCallum – Allies
- Billy Dowling – SA
- James Van Es – Vic Country
- Cooper Harvey – Vic Metro
- Jackson Broadbent – WA
- Jason Gillbee – Allies
- Jaiden Magor – SA
- Blake Drury – Vic Metro
- Kaleb Smith – WA
- Harvey Gallagher – Vic Country
- Tom Scully – SA
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