Inner Sanctum’s AFL Draft rankings

Jamarra Ugle-Hagan. Picture: AFL.com.au

In the lead up to tonight’s AFL Draft, three of our AFL journalists have given their rankings on the 20 best players.

Listen to our AFL Draft podcast below as well.

Zac Standish

  1. Logan McDonald (Key Forward) – Western Australia (Perth Demons)

A potentially controversial selection, the 2020 WAFL form of Perth Demons young gun Logan McDonald has been too much to ignore and has him placed firmly up the top of my 2020 draft power rankings. 

Blessed with phenomenal skills, an excellent aerobic capacity and eye-catching athleticism, McDonald is one of the best key forward prospects to come out of the draft since the turn of the millennium. 

Slotting 21 goals in nine games to finish runner up in the WAFL’s goal kicking award, McDonald has already proved he can produce against the bigger bodies and will be set for the rigours of AFL footy from the outset. 

  1. Jamarra Ugle Hagan (Key Forward) – Victoria (Oakleigh Chargers)

Dubbed as the next Lance Franklin, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan is one of the more hyped draft prospects of the last decade and its easy to see why. 

A powerful athlete, Ugle-Hagan has elite speed and agility for a player of his size, whilst his strong hands and expert goal sense see him become an absolute nightmare for opposition defenders. Throw in his incredible vertical leap and it is clear that Ugle-Hagan has the potential to be a special player at AFL level. 

There are question marks over his skill and field kicking, but the Bulldogs will have no hesitations in matching a bid for the academy star wherever it may fall. 

  1. Elijah Hollands (Midfielder/Forward) – Victoria (Murray Bushrangers)

The most highly touted midfielder in this draft, Hollands has the ideal archetype for the modern player. Built in the mould of a Christian Petracca and Marcus Bontempelli, Hollands is an extremely skilful player that can have an impact breaking through stoppage, whilst also creating havoc around the goals. 

Going down with an ACL injury earlier this year, there are still question marks over the young mans health.

Despite this, he has the potential to become the most damaging player in this draft and add his name to the extremely small list of elite hybrid midfielder/forwards. 

  1. Denver Grainger-Barrass (Key Defender) – Western Australia (Swan Districts)

Clearly the most accomplished key defender in this years pool, Grainger-Barrass will have an instant impact for the Swans at senior level, having already matched up against the best the WAFL has to offer this past season.

He is an elite intercept mark, strong one on one and has all the tools to be among the competitions elite defenders. 

  1. Riley Thilthorpe (Key Forward) – South Australia (West Adelaide) 

Another prodigiously athletic talent, Riley Thilthorpe has drawn comparison to star Richmond forward Tom Lynch due to his strong hands and is set to be a top selection in this draft. 

Standing at 201cm and 100kg, Thilthorpe is what is commonly known as a power forward who is able to beat his defenders through his height, power and athleticism. He is also able to pinch hit in the ruck at times, and loves getting up the ground and getting his hands on the ball. 

Playing senior football at West Adelaide in the SANFL this season, Thilthorpe showed he has the ability to match it with the bigger bodies and should continue to develop into a solid performer at AFL level. 

  1. Lachlan Jones (Medium Defender) – South Australia (Woodville-West Torrens)

The most ready-made prospect in this years draft, Lachlan Jones is coming off a remarkable season at SANFL level in 2020, being a key contributor in Woodville-West Torrens premiership side. 

Tied to Port Adelaide as apart of its Next Generation Academy, Jones is an old school half back flanker who works hard to shut down his opponent his his physicality. He has also showcased the ability to go out and win the footy, blossoming into one of the more reliable ball users in the SANFL this season.

  1. Will Phillips (Midfielder) – Victoria (Oakleigh Chargers)

The draft’s top accumulator, Will Phillips is the consummate professional that is willing to get his hands dirty and lead from the front.

Playing alongside Gold Coast pair Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson for the Oakleigh Chargers in the 2019 NAB League, Phillips was able to produce some standout performances and showed himself to be a top ten prospect. 

An extremely clever footballer that uses the ball well and can run all day, there is a lot of Joel Selwood about the way he attacks his footy, with his leadership qualities and courage particularly impressive. 

  1. Archie Perkins (Midfielder) – Victoria (Sandringham Dragons)

The wild-card of this years draft, there has been much talk about Archie Perkins in recent weeks, with his elite combine testing results seeing many clubs garner interest in the young midfielder. 

Blessed with extreme athleticism, speed and a will to win the ball around the contest, Perkins is the type of player that will have an instant impact at AFL level.

He also has the ability to impact the game up forward, with his height and speed causing a nightmare matchup for all defenders. 

  1. Braeden Campbell (Midfielder) – New South Wales (Sydney Academy)

It will be interesting to see where the bid comes for Swans academy young gun Braeden Campbell, who many view as one of the more complete midfielders in this year’s crop.

An extremely quick and clever on baller, Campbell will add an extra dimension to this Swans midfield with his ability to break the lines and create for his teammates seeing him almost certainly attract a top ten bid. 

  1.  Nik Cox (Key Forward/Defender) – Victoria (Northern Knights)

Moving into the second rung of key position players, Nik Cox stands out as an exciting prospect with his ability to impact the game at both ends a huge advantage in the eyes of recruiters. 

Absurdly fit and agile for a man standing over 200cm, Cox is an incredible athlete who’s skills with ball in hand could see him even float through across the wing at times.

He also has an excellent pair of hands and loves impacting the contest in the air. 

  1. Oliver Henry (Medium Forward) – Victoria (Geelong Falcons)

Younger brother of Geelong defender Jack, many see Oliver Henry as one of the most exciting prospects in this years draft, with his ability to change a game off his own boot eye-catching to say the least. 

A medium sized forward, Henry can impact the game both in the air and on the ground with his fantastic goal sense and strong hands making him a nightmare matchup for all defenders. 

  1. Finlay Macrae (Midfielder) – Victoria (Oakleigh Chargers)

Younger brother of Bulldogs star Jack, Finlay Macrae is an excellent distributor of the ball who knows how to accumulate and put his teammates into dangerous positions.

Similar in build to his older brother Macrae has the ability to have an immediate impact at senior level straight away, as his IQ should see him win the ball at a high level from the outset. 

He has also shown an ability to perform as a forward, with this versatility adding to his standing as a top 15 prospect. 

  1. Tanner Bruhn (Midfielder) – Victoria (Geelong Falcons)

Tanner Bruhn is another exciting midfield prospect, whose skill and poise have had many excited about what he can produce at the highest level. 

Despite playing limited footy over the past two years, Bruhn has shown enough throughout his junior career to warrant being an early draft selection.

Whether he is on the outside setting up play with his elite skills or winning the contested ball at the cold face, Bruhn has the potential to be an extremely well rounded midfielder. 

  1. Zach Reid (Key Defender) – Victoria (Gippsland Power)

When it comes to reliable key defenders in this year’s pool it is hard to go past Gippsland Power prospect Zach Reid. 

Tall and athletic, Reid makes life hell for all opposition forwards as he rarely gives an inch and has the capacity to create play from the back half.

Whether he is intercepting through the air or using the ball out of the back half, Reid is renowned for his composure and poise.

  1. Tom Powell (Midfielder) – South Australia (Sturt)

Outside of Logan McDonald, it is hard to find anybody who put together a better 2020 season than Tom Powell who simply dominated for Sturt at Under 18 level. 

An extremely clever footballer, Powell finds the footy at will averaging 34 disposals and eight clearances with his ability to impact at stoppage and pick up the ball cleanly drawing comparisons to reigning Brownlow medallist Lachie Neale. 

The big riser of this year’s pool, Powell has the tools to have an immediate impact at AFL level. 

  1. Heath Chapman (Key Defender) – Western Australia (West Perth)

One of the more intriguing prospects in this year’s pool, Heath Chapman has all the tools to be an influential defender in the modern game. 

Standing at 193cm, Chapman has the ability to play on both talls and smalls and have a genuine impact setting up play from the back half. Originally a wingman, Chapman has sublime skills and an innate ability to win the footy, averaging an impressive 23 disposals at colts level in 2020. 

  1. Brayden Cook (Midfielder/Forward) – South Australia (South Adelaide)

Another South Australian prospect coming off an excellent 2020 season, Brayden Cook is one to watch in the coming years with his raw talent and X-Factor making him extremely intriguing to AFL clubs. 

Likened to Jaidyn Stephenson, Cook is a powerful athlete who’s speed, agility and height make him the prototypical elite modern day midfielder.

He also managed to kick 26 goals in just 13 games this season, showing he has the capacity to impact the game in a number of ways. 

  1. Caleb Poulter (Midfielder) – South Australia (Woodville-West Torrens)

Shooting up draft boards following an excellent finish to the 2020 season, Caleb Poulter is well and truly in the mix to be a first round selection, with his height making him an intriguing midfield prospect. 

Standing at 191cm, Poulter is an extremely consistent footballer, who’s damaging left foot kick allows him to have an impact both inside and outside the contest.

He also has the capacity to cause problems up forward, with his height and agility causing matchup nightmares for defenders.

  1. Errol Gulden (Midfielder) – New South Wales (Sydney Academy) 

The second of Sydney’s academy prospects, Errol Gulden is a classy, hard running wingman who’s footy IQ sees him rack up the ball at will. 

A lightly built player, Gulden is as determined as any and loves getting his hands dirty and winning the ball in and around the contest.

His clean hands and craftiness around stoppage are particular highlights of his game, which should see him adapt nicely to the rigours of AFL footy. 

  1. Nathan O’Driscoll – Western Australia (Perth Demons)

Your stereotypical inside midfielder, Nathan O’Driscoll is a player built for the AFL as he thrives playing against the bigger bodies and loves getting into the contest. 

Earning his way into Perth’s senior side towards the end of the season, O’Driscoll was able to have an immediate impact on the Demons run to finals, with his work around stoppage particularly impressive.

Clubs will be buoyed by his tenacity and ability to win his own ball, which should see him seriously considered as a first round selection.

Thomas Grattan

  1. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan 
  2. Logan Macdonald 
  3. Riley Thilthorpe 
  4. Denver Grainger-Barass 
  5. Will Phillips 
  6. Elijah Hollands 
  7. Tanner Bruhn 
  8. Braeden Campbell 
  9. Archie Perkins 
  10. Lachie Jones 
  11. Zach Reid 
  12. Finlay Macrae 
  13. Nik Cox 
  14. Tom Powell
  15. Oliver Henry 
  16. Heath Chapman 
  17. Blake Coleman 
  18. Conor Stone
  19. Reef McInnes 
  20. Errol Guiden

Jamarra Ugle-Hagan is easily the best one in this draft, and would be going number one without the NGA. 

Logan Macdonald is highly rated, and won’t leave the top 5.

Thilthorpe I have after McDonald, although recent injuries may go against him and I can see him sliding out of the top five.

Essendon have three top 10 picks, so will be able to walk away with three of the best of the crop.

GWS also has three picks in this group.

Of the top 20, I have five players tied to next generation academies, including the number one in Ugle-Hagan.

James Strebinos

  1. Jamarra Ugle Hagan – Not everyday you get compared to Buddy Franklin, this guy is the real deal.
  2. Denver Grainger-Barrass – Best KPP available, will be a clubs’ full-back for the next 10 years.
  3. Elijiah Hollands – Plenty of x-factor and great at stoppages, despite recovering from an ACL, he’s the best mid in the draft. 
  4. Braden Campbell – Sydney have priority to Campbell who is a pacey, penetrating left footer with great smarts.
  5. Will Phillips – Ready made leader who may possibly be a future AFL captain. He’s ready to slot straight into a side’s best 22 come round 1.
  6. Logan McDonald – Best key forward in the draft and has shown he can compete in the WAFL. Very good on the lead, may struggle in contests. 
  7. Riley Thilthorpe – A forward who can play ruck. Likes to get around the ground but like most big men, may take a while to develop.
  8. Archie Perkins – Speed, endurance and good overhead. At 188 cm, he is a big body midfielder and has all the attributes to be a star.
  9. Tanner Brunh – Great ball user who rarely makes mistakes. The Geelong Falcon is ready to make a sudden impact.
  10. Nik Cox – A versatile player who can play in defence or up forward. At 200 cm, he is an appealing option.
  11. Lachie Jones – A shutdown backman who played in a premiership for the Woodville-West Torrens. Jones will be playing for Port Adelaide as an NGA pick and will slot straight into their side.
  12. Zach Reid – A clean key defender that has great skills and an ability to read the play.
  13. Oliver Henry – The younger brother of Geelong defender Jack, shows some key x-factor. He has strong hands and can be a weapon across both parts of the ground.
  14. Connor Downie – The best of his type in the draft. An outside midfielder with the ability to run all day and is precise by foot.
  15. Heath Chapman – The most unusual prospect in the draft. A 193cm key defender that seems to rack up plenty of disposals. 
  16. Finlay Macrae – Younger brother of Jack, can use the ball on both sides and just like his brother, has hunger for the ball.
  17. Alex Davies – A part of Gold Coast’s Academy, Davies is a 192cm midfielder who will use his big frame to extract the ball from contests.
  18. Tom Powell – An accumulator that is always first to the ball. Playing with SANFL club Sturt all year, Powell is ready to take his ball winning abilities to the AFL.
  19. Bailey Laurie – A creative small forward with a great footy IQ. His ability to read the play makes him dangerous around goals.
  20. Brayden Cook – Knows where the goals are and can be a marking target at 190cm.

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