AFL Phantom Draft 2021: Round 1 begins to take shape

AFL Phantom Draft 2021
Jason Horne-Francis, Nick Daicos and Sam Darcy are selected in the top three of the AFL phantom draft for 2021.

The AFL Draft is under six weeks away and the first round is beginning to take shape with The Inner Sanctum’s Phantom Draft for 2021.

North Melbourne – having turned down offers for the first selection – will be on the clock when the night of November 24 rolls around. The biggest movement of the draft order comes at pick two, where GWS finds itself selecting in Collingwood’s place after a trade between the sides last year saw them gain the Pies’ first-rounder.

The 2021 talent pool is deep, with the phantom draft accounting for 20 prospects despite delays and cancellations in just about every league around the country, and the State Championships reverting to Challenge Games.

Read: AFL Draft 2021: Top 30 Prospect Power Rankings

For all your information on draft, free agency, trades, retirements and delistings stay up to date with The Inner Sanctum’s AFL off-season hub.

The Inner Sanctum’s 2021 AFL Phantom Draft for October

21/06/2003 | 184cm | 78kg | Midfielder

SANFL League: 20 games | 16.5 disp | 0.8 goals

North has knocked back mammoth offers for the first pick and it’s easy to see why. Horne-Francis has the makings of a bonafide superstar with highlight plays forward of centre and match-winning ability in multiple positions. The South Australian joins a young nucleus including Jy Simpkin and Tarryn Thomas for the next decade at Arden Street. He’s ready to play AFL football in Round 1, 2022.

Around the mark: Nick Daicos

3/01/2003 | 183cm | 72kg | Midfielder

NAB League: 5 games | 35.8 disp | 2.0 goals

The Pies have prepared for Nick Daicos over the last year, trading out their first round pick to the Giants. He’s as prolific a player that has come through the NAB League in years, able to win the ball on the inside and outside of contests and hit the scoreboard going forward. A bid will be matched wherever it comes on draft night.

19/08/2003 | 204cm | 75kg | Key Forward/Ruck

NAB League: 3 games | 16.0 disp | 6.0 HOs

The second father-son in the top three of this draft, the Dogs will gain another young gun key forward by matching the Giants’ bid. Son of former Bulldog Luke, Darcy has developed extraordinarily in the last 12 months, showcasing elite marking ability at 204 centimetres. He fits perfectly between developing talls Tim English and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan as a key forward that can chop out in the ruck over the next decade.

12/04/2003 | 200cm | 70kg | Ruck/Utility

NAB League: 6 games | 12.6 disp | 12.6 HOs

The biggest riser of the 2021 draft pool, Mac Andrew has shown off freakish attributes for his size. He’s aerobically off the charts and makes the most difficult things look easy, soaring over opposition ruckmen and bounding away from stoppages quicker than midfielders. The Giants won’t have Andrew on the board at their next selection and won’t shy away from reaching up to take the standout ruckman in the draft.

Around the mark: Finn Callaghan, Josh Gibcus

4/04/2003 | 195cm | 84kg | Key Defender

NAB League: 10 games | 12.5 disp | 4.4 marks

Gibcus is the top key defender in the pool. Boasting similarities to Melbourne’s Jake Lever, he is best equipped as an interceptor where his vertical leap and reading of the play come to the fore, but he’s equally adept at locking down opposition forwards one-on-one. He gives the Suns a trio including Sam Collins and Charlie Ballard that can form the nucleus of an improving backline.

Around the mark: Sam Darcy, Finn Callaghan

​​26/04/2003 | 189cm | 82kg | Midfielder

NAB League: 6 games | 24.3 disp | 4.5 marks

Callaghan made the most of his opportunities in 2021 to cement his credentials as a top prospect in the open pool. He offers elite inside/outside midfield craft and a smooth style of play, able to take 15 metres of ground with his legs and deliver the ball on a plate from 50 metres away. The Crows will find it difficult to pass on Callaghan if he falls to them on draft night given his output this season.

Around the mark: Josh Rachele, Arlo Draper

15/08/2003 | 181cm | 79kg | Midfielder

5 games | 30.2 disp | 4.8 tackles

Proving undeniable in his form across 2021, Ward beats his opponent from contest to contest and uses the ball beautifully. He kicks goals when he gets forward, hits the contest at top speed and applies elite defensive pressure around the ball. There are shades of Sam Walsh with the Northern Knight, who could have featured in the top three on draft night if he got a full season under his belt.

Around the mark: Tyler Sonsie

2/12/2003 | 188cm | 80kg | Midfielder/Forward

WAFL Colts: 4 games | 28 disp | 7.7 marks

Erasmus has gone from goal-kicking half-forward to contested ball machine in 2021. The local product is athletic and agile in the clinches, with a competitive appetite and ability to impact the play in multiple positions. He hasn’t been able to feature at state level this year but there are enough examples of Erasmus’ sky-high upside for the Dockers to claim him with their first selection.

Around the mark: Jye Amiss, Ben Hobbs

16/09/2003 | 183cm | 80kg | Inside Midfielder

NAB League: 6 games | 25.0 disp | 5.0 tackles

Coming back from an ankle injury and dominating, Hobbs has suitors well within the top 10 of the draft. He’s a contested beast, able to rip the ball out of stoppages to feed outside runners, or get the ball to boot and follow up with a good work rate. He’s also grown into a leader of the Rebels and Country, and could be the best like-for-like replacement of skipper Trent Cotchin in the draft.

Around the mark: Jye Amiss, Josh Ward

31/07/2003 | 195cm | 85kg | Key Forward

WAFL Colts: 15 games | 10.9 disp | 2.9 goals

Amiss is a dead-eye, and the key forward with the most runs on the board in the pool is exactly what the Dockers need in the forward line. He led the WAFL Colts for goals on the season and has a relaxed, repeatable set shot motion that will translate well to the AFL. His forward pressure is also a highlight with a good burst of acceleration holding him in good stead on the lead and with the ball at ground level.

Around the mark: Josh Rachele, Jacob van Rooyen

11/04/2003 | 180cm | 78kg | Forward/Midfielder

NAB League: 4 games | 18.5 disp | 2.7 goals

The board is wide open for the Saints at 11, and Rachele stands out as arguably the best available and also fitting a need. He’s the best small forward in his class, able to play above his size in the air and produce highlight-reel moments around goals to hit the scoreboard as well as pinch hit on-ball. His leadership potential is huge, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone around the youngster who isn’t quick to rave about his professionalism and work ethic.

Around the mark: Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera, Josh Goater

16/03/2003 | 193cm | 80kg | Inside Midfielder

WAFL Reserves: 6 games | 21.3 disp | 0.5 goals

The Eagles need to re-energise their midfield, and Johnson presents as a terrific inside midfielder thanks to his height and quick hands. He wins his own ball at a good rate and has impressed on the outside of contests equally with eye-catching agility and a selfless attitude. Johnson was best on ground against South Australia in the Grand Final curtain raiser to signal his standing in the draft pool.

Around the mark: Neil Erasmus, Josh Rachele

22/02/2003 | 187cm | 70kg | Wingman/Utility

SANFL Reserves: 11 games | 15.5 disp | 0.4 goals

There are several who could drop to this selection, but a late riser is nephew of Essendon legend Gavin, Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera. The best ball user in the entire draft, Wanganeen-Milera enjoyed scintillating games against Western Australia to boost his stock. With the ability to pinpoint passes inside 50 and evade would-be tacklers with ease, the wingman fits into Ben Rutten’s fast-moving game-plan perfectly and could form a potent partnership with Nik Cox on either side of the centre square for the next decade.

Around the mark: Josh Goater, Josh Rachele

20/01/2003 | 185cm | 71kg | Midfielder/Forward

SANFL League: 2 games | 11 disp | 0.5 goals

If the Ladhams deal allows the Power to shift up and nab local product Arlo Draper they’ll be delighted. The X-factor forward-half player has looked comfortable at league level in the SANFL and had dominant patches at lower levels after dealing with a syndesmosis injury. His turn of pace and vertical leap offers shades of Connor Rozee, and the two could form a dynamic half-forward tandem.

Around the mark: Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera, Matthew Roberts

27/01/2003 | 181cm | 77kg | Midfielder/Forward

NAB League: 5 games | 23.0 disp | 1.0 goals

Injury crueled Sonsie’s 2021 season, but he was able to show his ability with a terrific display for Box Hill in the VFL kicking two goals. He is silky with ball in hand and has looked comfortable at every level he’s played at, showcasing the class and skills that had him touted as a top-five selection last season. At 15, GWS can go best available with the future in mind and Sonsie ticks all of the boxes.

Around the mark: Arlo Draper, Jacob van Rooyen

7/01/2003 | 186cm | 82kg | General Defender

NAB League: 5 games | 17.6 disp | 3.4 marks

A daring half-backman, Sinn combines a raking kick and tantalising speed/endurance mix to be an attacking weapon out of defence. He offers similarities to Jack Crisp with his big frame, and when he learns to use his physicality effectively he projects to become a fantastic lockdown defender on top of his offensive weapons. The Lions have trialed various players alongside Daniel Rich and Brandon Starcevich, but Sinn could be the perfect option for the future.

Around the mark: Matthew Roberts, Darcy Wilmot

16/04/2003 | 195cm | 88kg | Key Defender/Forward

WAFL Colts: 8 games | 14.4 disp | 3.8 goals

Playing up forward at club level and in defence for his state, van Rooyen is a genuine swingman that can impact at both ends of the ground. His most eye-catching qualities were on display against South Australia where-in he attacked the ball like a forward to chop attacking forays off and get the ball moving the other way quickly. The Tigers have a need for tall depth at both ends of the ground and van Rooyen can be moulded into a high-echelon swingman at the next level.

Around the mark: Josh Sinn, Darcy Wilmot

2/06/2003 | 190cm | 79kg | Inside Midfielder/Utility

NAB League: 7 games | 24.0 disp | 5.0 marks

Moving back a few places in the draft still gives the Swans a plethora of options, and Goater is a player that can become anything at the next level. He has incredible athletic traits including stop-on-a-dime evasiveness and a quick turn of pace which gives an indication he could play well off half-back. However, his work as a contested midfielder has been a revelation in 2021. The Swans will back their development team in to fix Goater’s kicking technique, as it’s his biggest detractor as a prospect that could otherwise feature in the top 10.

Around the mark: Charlie Dean, Matthew Roberts

31/07/2003 | 183cm | 81kg | Midfielder

SANFL League: 7 games | 11.1 disp | 0.9 goals

Roberts has been touted as a top-five selection for periods over the past two years, and he has played consistent football for South Adelaide at SANFL level. The aggressive midfielder wins his own ball and has played a selfless role for the Panthers in a sign that he could start his career up forward or on a wing. The Demons are stocked for talent and could add midfield depth if it’s the best available option like Roberts is.

Around the mark: Jacob van Rooyen, Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera

08/01/2003 | 193cm | 83kg | Inside Midfielder

NAB League: 9 games | 24.3 disp | 4.3 tackles

After blitzing his combine testing, Knevitt has announced himself as a first-round smoky and he fits the billing for a Lions side looking to add to its future midfield mix. His work in the clinches for the Falcons on the eve of Victoria’s latest lockdown was superb. Add to it the endurance/speed mix that he displayed in testing and there is huge upside for the six-foot-three inside midfielder.

Around the mark: Jack Williams, Rhett Bazzo

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About Jasper Chellappah 204 Articles
Jasper writes on Aussie Rules, basketball, tennis and netball for The Inner Sanctum. His main area is player analysis, with a keen focus on the AFL Draft. He also lends his voice to The Checkside and the SuperCoach Sanctum PODcast each week.


  1. I really like your phantom draft it’s base a lot around needs not best available and a part from the first couple of players it’s a very even draft.
    If GWS go with Mac Andrew at pick 4, it could be a genuine move or a disaster, either way he’ll be worth the risk.

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