<
>

Knightmare's AFL Draft Wrap: A ruckman with the 'greatest upside'

play
Kelly to head down the coaching path (0:23)

Essendon's James Kelly admits he has post-football aims to become a senior coach in the AFL. (0:23)

Each week, ESPN.com.au AFL draft expert Christopher Doerre - aka Knightmare - casts his eye over the country's best junior footballers to give readers an early insight into the next generation of AFL stars.

As well as attending live games, Doerre pores through match vision, analyses the stats and talks to industry sources to ensure he can offer the most insightful draft analysis.

Aside from the weekly wrap, Doerre will also unveil his power rankings at the end of each month.

And as we get closer to November's national draft, Doerre will also predict who goes where with his annual phantom draft.

Player Focus

Gold Coast Academy ruckman Brayden Crossley arguably possesses one of the greatest upsides of this year's draft crop.

The 198cm, 105kg, man mountain was named one of Gold Coast's best players in their seven-point win against Brisbane in the NEAFL at the weekend. Coming up against seasoned Brisbane ruck duo Archie Smith and Oscar McInerney, Crossley secured 17 disposals, four tackles, 33 hitouts, five clearances and six inside 50s as Gold Coast's lead ruckman.

Crossley's style of play is not unlike that of GWS ruckman Shane Mumford. Crossley plays with an insatiable appetite for the contest and his efforts following up from the ruck contest are as good as any nationally. He recovers quicker from ruck contests than opponents and attacks the ball with force, often winning first possession or failing that, tackling forcefully.

In ruck contests, Crossley is not much of a leaper. Knowing this, he uses his body to take away his opponent's leap and make the contest into a physical tussle, which more often than not Crossley wins.

Crossley may feature somewhere around the third round in this year's AFL draft. Signs however suggest he may be one of this year's draft bargains based on his points of difference, standard of performance and rate of improvement.

Victoria Metro Under-17s v Victoria Metro Under-17s (2018 draft eligible prospects)

Vic Country

Toby Bedford was the game's leading possession winner for the victorious Vic Country side. He amassed 27 disposals, 10 contested possessions, eight tackles, three clearances, five inside 50s and two score assists. His clean hands on a wet field were exceptional.

Using the ball efficiently and winning the ball in close, Scott Carlin was a strong contributor for Vic Country through the midfield with 23 disposals, 12 contested possessions, three tackles, four clearances and four inside 50s.

Displaying some exciting outside run and carry, Jai Taylor had several eye-catching moments with 18 disposals, three marks, three inside 50s and one score assist.

Proving Vic Country's best at stoppages, Campbell Hustwaite accumulated 17 disposals, 11 contested possessions, three marks (one contested), five tackles, five clearances, six inside 50s and one score assist.

The game's only multiple goalkicker was Vic Country key forward Bailey Schmidt. Schmidt collected 15 disposals, eight contested possessions, six marks, three inside 50s and two goals.

Showing his tricks early on in the contest, Hudson Garoni, 193cm, 92kg, had several impressive moments. Garoni gathered 12 disposals, three marks and one score assist. His clean ball use and a spin in traffic to break a tackle were highlights.

Vic Metro

Connor Thar was Vic Metro's most prolific accumulator mixing his time between the midfield and backline. Thar gathered 23 disposals, 10 contested possessions, six marks, four clearances, nine rebound 50s and one goal. His pace and contested ball-winning are his standout attributes.

Impressing with his overhead marking and run, Joel Crocker collected 15 disposals, nine marks (two contested) and four inside 50s.

Joel Burleigh was one of Vic Metro's better midfielders. He gathered 14 disposals, nine contested possessions, seven tackles, three clearances and one goal. Burleigh's best moment was a 40m goal on a difficult angle on his left foot.

Possessing time and space with ball in hand and using it cleanly, Tom McKenzie was one of Vic Metro's more exciting performers with 13 disposals, six marks and two clearances.

Impressing with his grunt work at stoppages, Xavier O'Halloran was Vic Metro's best around the ball. O'Halloran gathered 13 disposals, 12 contested possessions, five clearances, three tackles, four inside 50s and one score assist.

Ruckman and key forward Thomas Hallebone, 200cm, 82kg, took a very impressive contested mark in a one-on-one contest off of an O'Halloran clearance. While only having five disposals, three marks (two contested), four tackles, 19 hitouts and one goal, his contested marking up forward appeared to be a developable weapon.

APS v AGSV (yearly showdown between the two prestigious Victorian private school competitions)

APS

Through the midfield, Andrew Brayshaw was the driving force for APS in their 56-point win with 31 disposals, eight tackles and one goal.

Ed Richards down back was exceptional with 33 disposals. His ball use on his left and pace were on full display as usual. Richards, who has received a draft combine invite, will only see his draft stocks rise on the back of this performance.

Underage key forward Max King continues to mount a case for an early draft position in 2018 with five goals, of which, four came in the first half. King at 201cm is simply too tall and hard to defend, marking the ball at the highest point and regularly finding space inside 50m.

Kicking four goals, Seb Williams was one of the key players for APS as a forward and midfielder.

Using the ball cleanly and efficiently, Angus Styles set up a several important entries into the forward 50m, taking time with ball in hand, lowering his eyes and hitting targets.

AGSV

Ed Newman was AGSV's most impactful both at stoppages winning the ball and as a ball user both through the midfield and when used down back.

Lachlan Wilson also performed strongly with three goals.

SANFL

League

Overager and brother of Collingwood's Matthew Scharenberg, Jonty Scharenberg has been a consistent performer all year. Against Sturt he collected 25 disposals and six marks. He has placed in the bests for Glenelg in six of his past eight matches.

Receiving a state combine invite, possible Adelaide father-son choice Jackson Edwards in his second league game for Glenelg was named one of the best players with 25 disposals and six marks.

Damaging, underage forward Izaz Rankine was West Adelaide's leading goal scorer and most impactful forward against Port Adelaide with 14 disposals, six marks, three inside 50s and two goals.

Reserves

Continuing his contestant play for Woodville-West Torrens, Cooper Gaffney continued his consistent play with 26 disposals, eight marks, four tackles, four inside 50s and two goals.

Making his long-awaited return from a quad injury, Andrew McPherson 186cm, 78kg, played his first game since May. He collected 31 disposals, nine marks and seven rebound 50s. He was one of Woodville-West Torrens' best players.

Underage key forward Jake Lukosius continues to go from strength to strength with 14 disposals, nine marks and four goals against West Adelaide. While it's still early days, South Australian duo Izaz Rankine and Lukosius appear the early favourites for the top selection in 2018.

Powerful midfielder Mitch Crowden put forward a strong performance with 25 disposals, four tackles, four inside 50s and one goal.

In one of his best performances, match-winning forward Jordan Houlahan contributed 17 disposals, five inside 50s and five goals.

Figuring prominently through Glenelg's midfield, Alex Martini, was one his side's best players with 22 disposals and five inside 50s.

Overage midfielder Lyndon Hupfeld continued his consistent play with 26 disposals, nine marks, six tackles and one goal.

Under-18s

Ruckman Ben Oborn, 199cm, 93kg, in one of his stronger performances this season, secured 20 disposals, eight marks, 36 hitouts and two goals.

One of this year's most consistent performers through the midfield, Josh Smithson, 185cm, 84kg, amassed 30 disposals, nine marks, 10 inside 50s and two goals.

Jackson Mead, 183cm, 76kg, who is draft eligible in 2019 as a Port Adelaide father-son choice put forward an impressive performance with 18 disposals and five marks. Jackson is the son of Port Adelaide's Darren Mead.

WAFL

League

Key defender Sam Taylor, 196cm, 85kg, while only contributing nine disposals and three marks for Swan Districts played his role in their loss to East Perth and was named the second-best player for his team. Taylor, who is well regarded for his shut-down capabilities is one of 10 West Australians to receive draft combine invites. This was Taylor's third consecutive league match and arguably his best yet.

Aaron Naughton was again solid for Peel down back with 13 disposals and six marks.

In his second league game, Oscar Allen contributed nine disposals, five marks and three inside 50s.

Colts

For the second week with 30 or more disposals, Lochie Huntley continues to excel through the midfield for Swan Districts with 30 disposals, five marks and nine inside 50s.

In his most commanding match of the season and a best on ground performance, Tim Bockman, 181cm, 72kg, contributed 23 disposals, three marks, three inside 50s and five goals.

NEAFL

Brisbane Academy tall Connor Ballenden, who may feature inside the first round on draft day, contributed a solid 16 disposals and seven marks in their loss to Gold Coast.

Overage defender Tom Highmore was one of Canberra's best with 20 disposals, 14 marks and four rebound 50s.

Sydney University 20-year-old defender Ryan HeBron was his sides best with 26 disposals, 15 marks and three rebound 50s.

Overage forward Matt Wilson has gone from strength to strength over the past five weeks. Wilson gathered 26 disposals, nine marks and two goals.