With just six home and away rounds remaining, many clubs are casting an eye towards the post-season and which players can address their pressing list concerns.
Foxfooty.com.au, with the help of Champion Data, assesses every club’s biggest list need and the 2022 draftees that could assist plugging those holes.
Note: The below picks are based on club ladder positions before Round 19.
Watch every blockbuster AFL match this weekend Live & Ad-Break Free In-Play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
NEW FOX FOOTY PODCAST — Noble gone, now what’s next for North?
Listen below or subscribe in Apple Podcasts or Spotify
Draft picks: 4, 22
List state of play: The Crows have prioritised the draft significantly across the past decade, with 16 top-30 picks in the past eight years. However there’s still a need for some outside class and polish by foot. Adelaide this season is ranked 18th in the competition for kicking efficiency. Overall, midfield depth does loom as a bit of an issue.
Ideal draft prospects: With the Crows set to have an early pick, Geelong Falcons co-captain Jhye Clark would be a suitable selection. Renowned earlier this season as an inside, competitive beast with a thirst for the contest and great leadership traits, Clark’s decision-making and skills have improved as the year has progressed, going at 79 per cent by foot while averaging 25.5 disposals and 8.5 score involvements during the national championships. If Clark was off the board, the Crows could turn to a local product in Woodville-West Torrens on-baller Mattaes Phillipou, who’s rising up draft boards. Phillipou has averaged 22.0 disposals and 13.5 contested possessions for SA in the carnival, while also going at 74 per cent by foot. Vic Country’s Oliver Hollands, who has a kicking efficiency of 79 per cent at the champs this year, is also in the first-round mix.
Draft picks: 15, 33, 43, 69
List state of play: The Lions have a reasonably well-balanced list, with a strong group of key-position players across both arcs. And there’s already ample class among the on-ball brigade, but another inside midfielder would be handy, with the Lions ranked 13th for clearance differential.
Ideal draft prospects: Here’s the good news, Lions fans: Not only is your father-son prospect Will Ashcroft widely considered the Pick 1 favourite at this stage of the season, he’ll also help with the clearance issue. A midfielder in the Sam Walsh mode that’s just as capable of winning inside ball, Ashcroft has barely put a foot wrong so far this season, racking up the footy for fun at every level he’s played — including in the VFL for Brisbane. Ashcroft has had a blistering start to Vic Metro’s carnival campaign, averaging 31.0 disposals, 16.5 contested possessions, 10.0 clearances, 9.0 score involvements and 7.0 tackles — a fair return, to say the least. The son of triple premiership Brisbane defender Marcus Ashcroft, the on-baller is yet to nominate the Lions as his preferred club under the father-son rule, with that call likely to come later in the year. But the sense among recruiters is he’ll eventually nominate Brisbane, which would then have to bank draft picks to match a rival club bid. And the Lions have another father-son prospect in Jaspa Fletcher – the son of former 231-game player Adrian Fletcher — who’s averaged 22.7 disposals and 3.7 clearances for the Allies.
Draft picks: 14, 32, 61, 68
List state of play: Outside of injuries to several key defenders — who are starting to return to the senior side — the Blues’ list is well set. They are 13th for forward-half intercepts, which is seen as a more team-orientated issue rather than personnel. But if they were to look at draftees to improve that area, they could look at another intercept defender that plays higher up the ground, or add to their high-pressure small forward stocks. A bit of speed through the midfield might be handy too.
Ideal draft prospects: The Blues are likely to have a mid to late first-round pick. From an intercepting perspective, Eastern Ranges defender Lewis Hayes — who’s averaging 14.5 disposals and 7.0 intercepts for Vic Metro — could be in the mix then, along with fellow Victorian Luke Teal and South Australian Jakob Ryan. If they wanted a bit more outside speed — especially across half-back or on the wing — Vic Metro leader Blake Drury, who’s impressed with his run during the champs, could be a first-round option, while Vic Country’s Finn Emile-Brennan, Tasmania’s Lachie Cowan or even WA’s Sam Gilbey all possess decent pace with an ability to intercept. Ultimately, the Blues could just be looking for best talent available with their first pick.
Draft picks: 13, 41, 45, 47
List state of play: Some key-position players – ideally at both ends of the field — would be handy. Collingwood is ranked 14th for goals conceded from key forwards this season. With Jordan Roughead retiring and several other tall backs struggling with injuries, the Pies could be on the hunt for a key defender. Mind you, if Mason Cox and Darcy Cameron are going to be sharing the ruck-forward load long-term, a key forward could be just as important, especially with Brody Mihocek turning 30 before next season.
Ideal draft prospects: There are several key-defensive options in this draft class, although not many at the top of the draft. WA’s Jedd Busslinger, a 197cm backman, is widely regarded as the best intercept defender of this year’s class and a possible top-10 pick. He averaged 22 disposals, seven marks and 5.5 intercepts for WA in the champs before being wrapped in cotton wool due to a shoulder injury. Whether he’s still available at the Pies’ pick, though, remains uncertain. If not, Eastern Ranges’ Lewis Hayes would be in the mix, as would Vic Country’s James Van Es and WA’s Hugh Davies — three players that have shown strong spoiling and intercepting traits during the champs. Tassie’s Tom McCallum and Oakleigh Chargers’ Josh Weddle have also impressed as key backs in the carnival. As for the forwards, athletic 198cm North Adelaide prospect Isaac Keeler is rocketing up after an exciting few months, to the point where he’s in late first-round contention, which is where the Pies are set to pick. The key forward, who can also play in the ruck, has averaged two goals per game for SA in the champs. He’s tied to the Crows through their Next Generation Academy, but Adelaide can’t match a rival bid inside the top 40 picks — and it’s hard to see Adelaide using its first pick on him at this stage.
Draft picks: 3, 21, 39, 57
List state of play: There’s a few holes, but the Bombers’ lack of pressure on the ball-carrier has been glaring this season, ranking 18th in the competition for pressure applied. Obviously it takes an entire team, not one player, to rectify that, but new personnel can help. The Bombers will keep a close eye on the top forward prospects this year, considering they’re among the bottom-four teams for contested marks. Harry Jones is an emerging star, but he and Peter Wright might need extra support, while there’s also a need for a crumbing forward and perhaps some outside polish.
Ideal draft prospects: If the Bombers go key-position, West Adelaide key forward Harry Lemmey could be an option at the Bombers’ first pick. A terrific size for a key forward with strong hands and an efficient kick, Lemmey entered the year in the Pick 1 conversation, but has struggled for continuity this year. He recently regained confidence with a six-goal haul in the SANFL Under 18s, but recruiters are keen to see him perform at a higher level. But maybe Harry Sheezel — the best hybrid forward in the draft with awesome goal sense and skills — might be the best option. As for crumbers, Alwyn Davey Jr — who’s eligible to be drafted as a father-son prospect by Essendon as his dad Alwyn Sr played 100 games exactly and kicked 120 goals — would tick the box. Davey had arguably his best game of the year against WA a fortnight ago, kicking two goals from 19 disposals and five inside 50s as he showed cleanliness below his knees and a nimble sidestep. Recruiters now believe Davey is a top-40 prospect – but he could easily attract an earlier bid on draft night should he continue to impress across the back-half of the season. Davey, though, wouldn’t fix the Bombers’ pressure issue as he’s seen as an offence-first player among recruiters at the moment. Jhye Clark and George Wardlaw’s pressure as midfielders is outstanding and could still be available with Essendon’s first selection, but would the Bombers really go for another mid-sized midfielder with, what looms as, a top-five selection? The smooth-moving Elijah Tsatas might be the better answer, with the Oakleigh Chargers prospect in outstanding form in the NAB League before suffering a foot injury. And Cam Mackenzie is coming with a rush into top-10 calculations.
Draft picks: 16, 72
List state of play: The Dockers’ list build over the past six years has been outstanding and helped the team surge into top-four calculations this season. However their ability to transition the ball from defensive 50 to inside 50 in recent months has dropped off considerably, with Justin Longmuir’s men now ranked 16th in the league in that category. And if Rory Lobb does end up leaving the club, the Dockers will be looking for another key forward target — again.
Ideal draft prospects: If the Dockers want players with run that can help the team with its transition issues, there’s an array of players to consider. Local Swan Districts product Darcy Jones — a quick, skilful with a high footy IQ — might fall into late first-round calculations. He’s averaging 20.5 disposals, 5.0 score involvements and 1.5 goals per outing for WA at carnival level. Victorian quartet Charlie Clarke, Finn Emile-Brennan, Blake Drury and Henry Hustwaite might also be around that mark. Should the Dockers opt for a tall, exciting North Adelaide prospect Isaac Keeler would be a bold pick, while West Adelaide’s Tom Scully and Oakleigh Chargers’ Matthew Jefferson — who booted seven goals for Metro a fortnight ago — would be around the mark.
Draft picks: 18, 36, 50, 51, 54, 59
List state of play: Hard to pick many holes in Geelong’s set-up, particularly after recent personnel adjustments at the coalface. The reality is the Cats are the oldest list in the competition and have primarily been entering the draft in the 20s since 2015. Best available looks the best choice.
Ideal draft prospects: If they hold their first pick, the Cats could be entering the draft in the 20s again, depending on how deep they go in September and how many father-son prospects attract early bids. While it’s hard at this stage to say which ‘best available’ players will be up for grabs late in the first round, there should be ample hybrid-type players to choose from. Stingray Mitch Szybkowski and East Perth’s Reuben Ginbey would bring inside grunt, Blake Drury, Henty Hustwaite and Jaxon Binns would provide run and carry and Jakob Konstantey and Charlie Clarke would add pressure, connection and scoreboard impact.
GOLD COAST SUNS
Draft picks: 8, 26, 31, 34, 44, 49, 67, 70
List state of play: Like Fremantle, the Suns’ list build is starting to pay dividends for the club. There’s still a few holes to fill, especially some classy ball users forward of the centre, with the Suns ranked 16th for percentage of kicks inside 50 retained. The other consideration would be finding more ruck support, considering Jarrod Witts is taking the brunt of stoppages with Levi Casboult and Mabior Chol pinch-hitting, Ned Moyle plugging away in the VFL and raw top-five pick Mac Andrew being used as a key defender.
Ideal draft prospects: The Suns are stacked with picks for this year’s draft, so they could package some later ones up to help them move up the draft order. With their mid first-round pick, the Suns could add a classy ball user such as Vic Metro’s Cam Mackenzie or SA’s Mattaes Phillipou. Mackenzie, who’s tied to St Kilda via its Next Generation Academy, is rising up draft boards with every game he plays – and the Saints now can’t match a bid on Mackenzie within the first 40 picks of the draft after AFL rule changes. He’s averaged 28.0 disposals, 6.5 score involvements and 402m gained across the champs — and he could be around the mark at the Suns’ pick. Phillipou has impressed as an inside ball-winner for SA, but his kicking efficiency of 74 per cent suggests he’s just as accomplished on the outside. WA’s Elijah Hewett might still be available at the Suns’ pick, but Harry Sheezel — an excellent inside 50 kick — is unlikely to be there. Or could the Suns bring Oliver Hollands — the younger brother of Gold Coast’s top-10 draftee Elijah Hollands — to the club? Hollands is averaging 18.5 disposals and 2.5 score assists at 79 per cent kicking efficiency in the champs so far. The top ruck prospects this year are West Adelaide’s Harry Barnett and Peel Thunder’s Jackson Broadbent, while SA’s Isaac Keeler is a forward-ruck prospect to consider.
Draft picks: 6, 24, 42, 58, 60
List state of play: A hybrid defender with the ability to shut down small forwards would be handy, considering the Giants have conceded a lot of goals to small forwards this season. They’re also ranked 15th in the league for opposition rebound 50 to inside 50 percentage. Again, a team issue, but a strong two-way runner could help.
Ideal draft prospects: Perhaps in an ideal world for the Giants, Oakleigh Chargers’ Elijah Tsatas slips to their pick. A speedy mover with an efficient kick that can break lines and clean hands, Tsatas is everything a club is looking for in a wing/midfield prospect looking for transition help. Murray Bushrangers on-baller Oliver Hollands is arguably the hardest working and best two-way on-baller of the class. Hollands applies great pressure and has the versatility to push forward if needed — he’s averaging 2.5 score assists for Vic Country in the champs. If Tim Taranto leaves, could Hollands fill the void? Elijah Hewett is also an outstanding midfielder that can hit the scoreboard as well as apply great pressure. The 18-year-old was WA’s best player recently against Vic Metro, finishing with a game-high 29 disposals, 11 inside 50s, six marks, five clearances and two telling goals.
Draft picks: 5, 23, 52, 62
List state of play: Yes the Hawks have preferred youth on the ball this season, but it’s meant the team has somewhat suffered at the coalface. Hawthorn is ranked last in the AFL for clearance differential and third-last for contested possession differential. Considering the decreased amount of on-ball time Tom Mitchell and Jaeger O’Meara have had this season, the Hawks might be looking to add another midfielder at the draft.
Ideal draft prospects: George Wardlaw would be very nice, but he’s likely to be off the board by the time the Hawks pick. But they could be in the mix for Jhye Clark — the Geelong Falcons leader who’s strong at the coalface yet also polished on the outside. Swan Districts’ Elijah Hewett would be another consideration as a midfielder that possesses explosive power to break the lines or burst away from stoppages. Woodville-West Torrens’ Mattaes Phillipou is another strong inside ball-winner, while Cam Mackenzie and Mitch Szybkowski are also big ball-winners.
Draft picks: 35, 40, 53, 64, 71
List state of play: Very few issues as it stands. That could change, though, if Luke Jackson opts to be traded, leaving a chasm in the ruck-forward department. There’s a few question marks over their general forward set-up, particularly with the club ranking 11th for scores per inside 50 percentage.
Ideal draft prospects: The Demons at this stage don’t have a first-round pick. Should Jackson leave, that scenario would clearly change. If the Dees are after a straight ruck-forward replacement, Isaac Keeler is one of the most exciting and talented key-position prospects in the draft class. A key forward-ruck in the Paddy Ryder mould at 197cm that has ample talent upside, Keeler is averaging two goals per outing for SA in the champs, while he’s proving a handful for opposition teams in the SANFL Under 18s competition. West Adelaide’s Harry Barnett and Peel Thunder’s Jackson Broadbent are arguably the top two pure ruck prospects in this year’s draft class and might be still available at the Dees’ second-round selection if they wanted to address a possible ruck chasm at that pick. Or if the Dees wanted to add a key forward, West Adelaide’s Tom Scully and Oakleigh Chargers’ Matthew Jefferson — two full forwards that have booted bags of goals at varying levels this season — would be around the mark.
Draft picks: 1, 55, 65
List state of play: Where to start? The Roos are also already stacked with young on-ballers, using their past six top-13 draft picks on midfielders in Jy Simpkin, Luke Davies-Uniacke, Tarryn Thomas, Will Phillips, Tom Powell and Jason Horne-Francis. What they really need is some firepower forward of centre – specifically a smaller forward to support Nick Larkey and Cam Zurhaar – as this year they’re ranked last for points scored and scores per inside 50. At this stage they don’t have a second or third-round pick — although the Roos are set to apply to the AFL for a priority pick — so this draft might be more about best available talent.
Ideal draft prospects: At this stage, it would be a major surprise if, one, Will Ashcroft didn’t nominate the Lions under the father-son rule, two, the Roos didn’t bid on him with the first pick and, three, the Lions didn’t match the bid. Outside of Ashcroft, Oakleigh Chargers duo Elijah Tstatas and George Wardlaw are considered the top two prospects — and they’re very different players, with Tsatas silky and smooth-moving and Wardlaw dynamic and explosive. Both have had recent injury issues, but that won’t turn clubs with early picks — including the Roos — off them. Considering the Roos are 17th for contested possessions and 15th for clearances, Wardlaw — a powerful, competitive and combative inside midfielder that plays with great intensity and models his game on Melbourne’s Clayton Oliver — might be the better option over Tstatas. But do the Roos really need another midfielder? On a pure needs basis, Sandringham Dragons’ Harry Sheezel would be a fantastic alternative. Arguably the best pure hybrid forward prospect in the draft class at 184cm, Sheezel is a crafty, classy mover inside 50 that can conjure goals in so many ways — be it from a set-shot, a ground-level crumb or a quick snap from nearly inside the arc — and set up teammates. Considering the Kangaroos’ plight, Sheezel would bring great excitement and a point of difference.
Draft picks: 7, 48, 56
List state of play: The Power are set to lose Karl Amon to a rival club. And considering they’re ranked 15th for chain to score percentage in the competition, a wing/half-back connector would be ideal. Also the Power seem to have a heavy reliance on their key forwards to kick goals this season. Orazio Fantasia’s injury issues haven’t helped, but with Connor Rozee and Zak Butters spending more time in the middle and Robbie Gray and Steven Motlop 34 and 31 respectively, maybe the draft presents Port with an opportunity to bring in a small forward.
Ideal draft prospects: Harry Sheezel — the best hybrid forward in the class with incredible goal sense and a lovely field kick — would be outstanding, but hard to see him slipping to the bottom-half of the top 10. This might be where Vic duo Cam Mackenzie or Oliver Hollands come into consideration — two players that have shown an ability to not only win plenty of the ball but gain territory with run and carry. As for smaller goalkickers, Charlie Clarke, Darcy Jones, Blake Drury and Jacob Konstantey might fill a need, although it’s hard to see the Power using their first pick on any of those players at this stage.
Draft picks: 11, 19, 29
List state of play: The Tigers need another star midfielder, particularly considering Kane Lambert’s long-term hip issue and that Trent Cotchin remains one of their best clearance players. While Shai Bolton, Jayden Short and Liam Baker are all stepping up, the Tigers are still ranked 15th for contested possession differential.
Ideal draft prospects: Assuming most of the big inside ball-winners are gone by the Tigers’ pick, there should be still plenty of gun mids to choose from. Victorian duo Cam Mackenzie and Mitch Szybkowski have shown how capable they are as ball-winning midfielders, while SA’s Mattaes Phillipou continues to impress with every game he plays. A wildcard would be WA’s Reuben Ginbey — a 188cm prospect that’s been playing in defence for East Perth but in the midfield for WA in the champs, averaging 20.0 disposals and 10.5 contested possessions.
Draft picks: 10, 28, 46
List state of play: The Saints could go in a couple of different directions. A genuine intercept backman would be handy, considering only one defender at St Kilda is ranked in the top 35 per cent for intercept marks based on their individual position this season. Or the Saints could go for a runner or classy distributor to help with their ball movement, considering they’re among the league’s worst teams at converting a rebound 50 into an inside 50 and scoring from the defensive half.
Ideal draft prospects: Luke Teal could be in the mix here. A 191cm hybrid defender that’s raw but incredibly talented, Teal reads the ball superbly in defence, is a strong intercept marker and not afraid to take the game on. Injuries have hindered his 2022 season so far, but his NAB League glimpses were excellent for the Oakleigh Chargers, averaging 17.0 disposals, 6.0 marks, 5.0 intercepts and going at 84 per cent by foot. If the Saints wanted a taller interceptor, WA’s Jedd Busslinger could still be available at their pick. Other hard-running players the Saints would consider include Cam Mackenzie — who’s tied to the Saints’ Next Generation Academy but can’t match a bid on him within the top 40 picks — Blake Drury and potentially Oliver Hollands, should he slip that far.
Draft picks: 12, 17, 30, 66
List state of play: Like the Tigers, Sydney has an emerging young midfield brigade that’s getting lots of exposure this season. Still, the Swans are ranked 10th in both contested possession and clearance differential.
Ideal draft prospects: Similar names to the Tigers as they’ll be in a similar draft range — although the Swans at this stage have two first-round picks. Cam Mackenzie, Mattaes Phillipou and Mitch Szybkowski would be a chance, while another option would Phillipou’s SA teammate Adam D’Aloia — a genuine ball magnet that’s strong in the contest and has excellent vision. It’s unlikely the Swans would pick two midfielders within five selections.
WEST COAST EAGLES
Draft picks: 2, 20, 25, 38
List state of play: It’s been a horror year for the Eagles, particularly down back, ranking 18th for points against and opposition score per inside 50 percentage. Better pressure and more contested ball up the ground would give the Eagles’ defence a chop out — the Eagles are bottom two in both contested possession and clearance differential — but the backline has often looked overwhelmed.
Ideal draft prospects: The Eagles look like they’ll have Pick 2, which should turn into Pick 3 with an early Will Ashcroft bid. And you sense whoever the Eagles pick will have a big bearing in how the rest of the first round pans out. At least one of George Wardlaw (powerful inside midfielder), Elijah Tsatas (smooth-moving midfielder/wing) or Harry Sheezel (exciting hybrid forward) will be available — and Wardlaw would undoubtedly help address their coalface issues. But two local WA products would be hard to ignore: Swan Districts on-baller Elijah Hewett and East Perth defender Jedd Busslinger. A hybrid yet competitive midfielder, Hewett possesses excellent workrate, which allows him to get to the outside and drive the ball forward for his team, while his kicking and contested ball-winning ability continue to improve. Busslinger, a rangy 195cm defender, reads the ball superbly in the air and has the defensive nous and composure of knowing when it’s most appropriate to drop off his opponent and set up attacking forays. The Eagles already have key defenders like Tom Barrass, Harry Edwards and Rhett Bazzo, but Busslinger’s potential is exciting.
Draft picks: 9, 27, 37, 63
List state of play: As the 2022 season has progressed, the Dogs’ key defensive depth has been exposed. They’ve conceded a lot of goals to key forwards, ranked 15th for opposition score per inside 50 percentage and struggled to intercept the ball in the back. The Dogs could address this deficiency during the trade period, but there’s a few key defensive prospects in the draft.
Ideal draft prospects: WA’s Jedd Busslinger could still be up for grabs by the time the Dogs pick, but he’d have to get through local club West Coast first — and possibly St Kilda — first. But there’s ample other options. Eastern Ranges’ Lewis Hayes — the brother of Port Adelaide’s Sam Hayes — is racking up the intercepts for Vic Metro in the champs. If the Dogs wanted to use a later pick on a key back, they could turn to Tasmania’s Tom McCallum — an exciting 192cm prospect that averaged nearly four intercept marks for the Allies in the champs — WA’s Hugh Davies or Victorian duo James Van Es and Josh Weddle.