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Noble on Draft

11:50am  Nov 24, 2017

Draft Day: Part 1

10:18am  Nov 24, 2017

ONE YEAR ON: Jarrod Berry

3:19pm  Nov 23, 2017

Phantom Form Guide: October Edition

Callum Twomey, AFL Media  November 1, 2017 10:24 AM

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Draft prospect Cameron Rayner during the AFL Draft Combine at Etihad Stadium.

With all eyes now firmly on the NAB AFL Draft, it is time for another update of the Phantom Form Guide. 

AFL Media has ranked the best 25 players in the draft pool, not taking into account where they might actually get drafted or where bids may come for father-son or academy prospects. It is not a mock draft. 

There will be one more update of the Phantom Form Guide ahead of this month's draft, which will be held at Sydney Showgrounds on November 24.

1 Cameron Rayner

POS: Half-forward/midfielder, Ht 187cm, Wt 88kg, DOB 21/10/1999
From Western Jets/Vic Metro
September ranking: 1

Rayner did not test at the NAB AFL Draft Combine due to a nagging knee injury that bugged him a little towards the end of the season. However, his best work had well and truly been done by then, proving to recruiters his unparalleled ability in this year's draft pool to impact a game. After blitzing the under-18 carnival with Vic Metro, he went back to school and TAC Cup level and played some imposing footy. Rayner knows he will need to improve his endurance before being a full-time midfielder, but you know what? That aside, he's a very good half-forward who can win a game for his side. And that's a rare quality.  

2 Luke Davies-Uniacke

POS: Midfielder, Ht 187cm, Wt 85kg, DOB 8/6/1999
From Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country
September ranking: 2

The most complete midfielder in the pool enjoyed a very strong finals series for the Dandenong Stingrays, including a best afield display in their come-from-behind elimination final against the Eastern Ranges when Davies-Uniacke dragged his side over the line. Tall, strong, powerful and able to get the ball going his side's way, Davies-Uniacke is hard to stop when up and going. A toe complaint, plus a corkie, kept him from testing at the Combine. Can be a little rushed by foot occasionally but it's a small knock on an overall impressive package.

3 Paddy Dow

POS: Midfielder, Ht 184cm, Wt 78kg, DOB 16/10/1999
From Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country
September ranking: 4

It's easy to like what Dow brings to the table as a prospect. He's competitive and you can count on him to deliver in big moments. He's quick and can get himself out of trouble. He kicks goals and did it regularly from the midfield this season. And he's consistent. It's hard to think of a game where Dow wasn't one of his side's better players this year, which saw him rise to the top group of prospects available to clubs. Unfortunately, shoulder surgery late in the year ended his season a little early, but by then he had done enough to show what he's about.

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4 Adam Cerra

POS: Midfielder, Ht 186cm, Wt 85kg, DOB 7/10/1999
From Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro 
September ranking: 3

Cerra brings real poise and class to the draft pool. He's also a very tough midfielder, who doesn't shy away from big hits in order to win the footy and get it going for his team. He can be trusted with the ball to set up the play, and averaged 26 disposals a game this year for the Eastern Ranges. Although he is already rated highly, it would be interesting to see where he fitted in if had a clean run at things over the past two years (a knee injury ruined his 2016 campaign before a shoulder reconstruction prematurely ended this season). A cool head under pressure.

5 Jaidyn Stephenson

POS: Half-forward, Ht 189cm, Wt 76kg, DOB 15/1/1999
From Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro
September ranking: 5

Stephenson highlighted his pace at the Combine, running 2.95 seconds in the 20-metre sprint. Anyone who has seen him play would have known that, though. However, it was his very good endurance results – level 21.8 in the Yo-Yo test and a 6:21 minute 2km time trial – which probably meant more. Stephenson was one of the best performed players in the second half of the season, successfully moving into the midfield after starting the year in his more customary forward role. He finished the season averaging 23 disposals in 15 games for the Ranges, and is an exciting player who can thrill. 

6 Andrew Brayshaw

POS: Midfielder, Ht 183cm, Wt 80kg, DOB 8/11/1999
From Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro
September ranking: 11

Brayshaw capped his brilliant end to the season by being the star of the Combine earlier this month, winning the inaugural Yo-Yo endurance test, finishing fourth in the 2km time trial and in the top-10 for agility. He also was among the best prospects in the goalkicking test, highlighting his mix of athleticism and footy nous. Brayshaw is one of the most rounded midfielders available and perhaps the best user of the ball by foot in the top bunch. He's neat, tidy, tough, competitive, attacking and determined. You can see why clubs are keen on him. 

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7 Darcy Fogarty

POS: Half-forward/midfielder, Ht 192cm, Wt 92kg, DOB 25/9/1999
From Glenelg/South Australia
September ranking: 7

Fogarty's season was ended early after knee surgery, but the powerful and strong-bodied South Australian was back running at the Combine so isn't too far away from a return to full training. Fogarty has played his best footy as a marking forward who can push, bump or bulldoze past opponents to make the ball his. He has sticky hands on the lead and is a long and penetrating right-foot kick. Fogarty didn't have the sort of influence he would have liked throughout this season, but remains a top-end talent.

8 Jack Higgins

POS: Small forward/midfielder, Ht 178cm, Wt 76kg, DOB 19/3/1999
From Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro
September ranking: 8

It was no surprise that Higgins was one of the top performers (scoring 29 points out of 30) in the kicking test at this month's draft Combine. The small forward/midfielder's skills are one of his most appealing selling points – he is deft in short passes, damaging over longer kicks and deadly around goal. He kicked 32 majors from 14 games for the Oakleigh Chargers on his way to winning the Morrish Medal this season as the best player in the TAC Cup. Higgins is ready to play in the AFL and he will next year, such is his consistency and all-round craft up forward. 

9 Hunter Clark

POS: Half-back/midfielder, Ht 186cm, Wt 79kg, DOB 26/3/1999
From Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country
September ranking: 13

Because he has been seen as one of the top prospects in this year's group for a couple of years, Clark's season has been a little underrated. But his performances in the second half of the year, in particular, should not go unnoticed. He transitioned from playing as a half-back to a tough, strong willed midfielder who can get the ball out and dominate games. He completed his TAC Cup season averaging 27 disposals (half contested), six inside-50s and six clearances. He can use the ball well on both feet and is very courageous. Teammates are fond of Clark because of the way he attacks the game.

10 Nick Coffield

POS: Midfielder/half-back, Ht 190cm, Wt 83kg, DOB 23/10/1999
From Northern Knights/Vic Metro
September ranking: 9

Coffield proved his extreme leg speed by running 2.91 seconds in the 20-metre sprint at the Combine, and it's a real quality that he has and can use more in games to offer run and drive from half-back. At this stage that's where he's best placed, as a general defender capable of stopping talls and smalls and also giving some rebound. He's also shown some qualities through the midfield and is dangerous when he goes forward as well, kicking 13 goals in 16 games for the Knights this year.

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11 Jarrod Brander

POS: Key defender/key forward, Ht 194cm, Wt 89kg, DOB 11/2/1999
From Bendigo Pioneers/Allies
September ranking: 6

Brander is one of the leading key position players available this season, and has shown genuine promise at both ends of the ground. As a key defender, he can intercept mark and rebound with his long right-foot kicking, and when on song his work as a forward is also strong, leading at the ball and having a good natural goal sense. At his size, he is a legitimate key position option, and one of the few towards the top end of the draft in a pool dominated by midfielders and smaller types. 

12 Aaron Naughton

POS: Key defender, Ht 194cm, Wt 84kg, DOB 30/11/1999
From Peel Thunder/Western Australia
September ranking: 14

Naughton's rise up the ranks can be traced back to his Under-18 Championships for Western Australia, when he was named an All Australian defender. He took confidence out of that and went on to play at senior level for Peel Thunder, Fremantle's WAFL affiliate, where he averaged seven marks in seven games. Naughton's elite athleticism was on show at the Combine – he placed in the top six for the agility run (8.22 seconds) and finished fifth in the Yo-Yo (level 21.8) – and he matches that with good awareness in the air to take important defensive marks. His kicking is the main knock and will continue to be developed.

13 Patrick Naish

POS: Midfielder, Ht 183cm, Wt 73kg, DOB 15/1/1999
From Northern Knights/Vic Metro
September ranking: 12

Naish looks likely to become a Tiger next month as the leading father-son pick in this year's draft. His dad Chris played 143 games with the club as a small goalkicker, and it's clear his smarts around the big sticks has carried on in Naish, who loves a goal when he floats forward from the midfield/wing. Naish is lightly bodied and an outside player at this stage, but he uses the ball well and breaks the lines with his kicking, running and dashing nature. It's a rare trait in this year's pool. 

14 Sam Hayes

POS: Ruckman/key forward, Ht 203cm, Wt 93kg, DOB 9/6/1999
From Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro
September ranking: 10

The best ruckman in the draft also showed good signs as a forward at stages this season, including kicking six goals in a game for the Ranges. That's a bonus rather than a necessity, because Hayes' best work still comes as a ruckman and roaming player, where he's capable of finding the ball regularly. He averaged 15 disposals at TAC Cup level this season and some scouts see him as one of the most talented rucks to come through the pool in recent years. Having finished right near the bottom in the endurance tests at the Combine (the Yo-Yo and 2km time trial) Hayes will need to improve his aerobic base.

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15 Charlie Constable

POS: Midfielder, Ht 190cm, Wt 83kg, DOB 23/10/1999
From Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro
September ranking: 15

Clubs are looking for tall midfielders who can win the footy and Constable ticks both of those boxes. He averaged 26 disposals at the mid-year under-18 carnival for Vic Metro, and is capable of finding the ball in amongst a pack and shipping it off to teammates. Constable overcame injury to play in the Dragons' TAC Cup Grand Final – and he performed well with 23 disposals and two goals – but sat out testing at the Combine a couple of weeks later after a long year.

16 Lochie O'Brien

POS: Midfielder, Ht 184cm, Wt 75kg, DOB 18/9/1999
From Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country
September ranking: 16

If anyone needed any reminding of O'Brien's running power, he put it on display on the final morning of the Combine. O'Brien ran the 2km time trial in 6:12 minutes, seeing him finish second overall and in elite company near the six-minute mark. O'Brien finished his season strongly with 21 disposals and a goal in the NAB All Stars clash on Grand Final morning, and it was good to see his running, attacking style combine with his dangerous left-foot kicking.

17 Ed Richards

POS: Medium defender, Ht 184cm, Wt 77kg, DOB 3/7/1999
From Oakleigh Chargers
September ranking: 17
Richards' piercing left foot, real pace, toughness and composure makes him an appealing choice for clubs who are looking for a rebounding defender. The Oakleigh Chargers prospect didn't play in the national carnival, but stormed up the draft board with his finish to the season at school level and in the TAC Cup. He's a crafty user of the ball, and can be trusted to set up the play from the half-back flank. His kicking efficiency of 75 per cent illustrates his neat use, and he also slipped forward to kick a crafty checkside goal in the NAB All Stars game in the Grand Final curtain-raiser.

18 Oscar Allen

POS: Key forward, Ht 191cm, Wt 83kg, DOB 19/3/1999
From West Perth/Western Australia
September ranking: 18

Allen was rewarded for his consistent form throughout the Under-18 Championships when he was named the Larke medallist. He is a leading forward who can mark the ball running at it, or coming in from the side and into a pack. He's also a straight kick generally, and someone who converts his chances when he gets them. In the All Stars game he showed his long reach for the ball and competitive instincts, when he kicked two goals from 18 disposals and seven marks in a losing side.

19 Aiden Bonar

POS: Forward, Ht 190cm, Wt 89kg, DOB 8/3/99
From Dandenong Stingrays
September ranking: None

Two knee reconstructions in the past couple of years means we haven't seen as much of Bonar as others, but there is no doubting his raw talent and skills. Bonar is a powerful and athletic forward who in time may also play in the midfield, where some see him being a big and strong inside prospect. Bonar's speed and leap came to the fore at the NAB AFL Draft Combine, when he came equal second in the 20-metre sprint (2.90 seconds), top-10 in the agility (8.30 seconds) and also equaled the all-time record in the standing vertical jump (89cm). He found 20 disposals and kicked a goal in the All Stars game, and showed real dash.   

20 Connor Ballenden

POS: Key forward, Ht 199cm, Wt 95kg, DOB 29/3/1999
From Brisbane Lions academy/Allies
September ranking: 20

The Brisbane Lions academy prospect didn't have a great year but remains one of a small group of genuine tall prospects who could feature in the top-25 on draft night. He was tried all over the ground this year to find some form – as a deep forward, key back and also in the ruck. He is one of the best kicks for a player his size to come through the draft in recent years and doesn't waste his shots for goal when playing in that role. It will be interesting to see where a bid comes for him on draft night. 

AFL 2017 U18 Championships - Vic M v Allies

21 Matthew Ling

POS: Medium defender, Ht 182cm, Wt 74kg, DOB 21/4/1999
From Geelong Falcons/Vic Country
September ranking: 21

The speedy half-back was a key member of the Geelong Falcons' premiership side in the TAC Cup, with his run and carry from defence helping to set up the play. Ling is a really nice kick on his preferred left side, and is able to step out of trouble and into space when he gets some steam up. He tested well at the Combine for agility, with his 8.30-second time putting him in the top-10 performers.

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22 Nathan Murphy

POS: Forward, Ht 188cm, Wt 83kg, DOB 15/12/99
From Brighton Grammar/Sandringham Dragons
September ranking: 22

After a promising junior cricket career, which has seen him selected in underage Victorian sides, Murphy has turned his attention to footy. He is a versatile player who can be used off half-back and across half-forward, having kicked plenty of goals at school level with Brighton Grammar before getting into the Dragons' TAC Cup side. Is a natural player with a good ability to read the game.

23 Noah Balta

POS: Key defender, Ht 194cm, Wt 92kg, DOB 23/10/1999
From Calder Cannons/Vic Metro
September ranking: 19

It was no surprise that Balta was one of the standout performers in the jumping tests at the Combine, with the Calder Cannon finishing in the top 10 in both the standing vertical (74cm) and the running vertical (89cm). It's obvious in the way he plays: he leaps at the ball, contests everything he can and is a good mark. He has also played in the ruck at times this year. His best position is as a key defender, where he can run straight at the ball, be given a job and send the ball 60 metres back down his team's way with his long kick.

24 Lachlan Fogarty

POS: Midfielder, Ht 179cm, Wt 75kg, DOB 1/4/1999
From Western Jets/Vic Metro
September ranking: 23

It was a shame for Fogarty that illness ruled him out of attending the Combine, but it won't hinder his draft hopes after he pieced together a consistent season. Fogarty is a smaller midfielder who has good hands in close and is also a reliable user of the ball by foot. He can provide some inside grunt but also some overlap run, and likes to get on the end of a goal.

25 Zac Bailey

POS: Midfielder, Ht 180cm, Wt 68kg, DOB 23/9/99
From Norwood/NT Thunder/NT
September ranking: None

The hard-at-it and dogged midfielder has had a strong and consistent season, going back to the under-18 academy series playing for the Northern Territory right into his championships for the Allies where he won All Australian honours. Bailey has a good mix of inside ball-winning traits with a genuine turn of speed to get out of the contest and blitz away (he ran the 20 metres in 2.98 seconds at the Combine).

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