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Knightmare's Draft Combine Wrap: Bonar's rise continues

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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.

The annual AFL Draft Combine is an opportunity for AFL clubs to interview, observe, measure and test the athleticism and skills of the best up and coming talent.

With clubs possessing data on almost all prospects stretching back to their under-16 days, testing at the combine rarely reveals anything surprising. Improvements made or lack of progress in key areas is what clubs will take notice of with most draft prospects.

Those of greatest interest at the combine tend to be those who have little recorded testing data. Sandringham Dragon Nathan Murphy was a key player of interest this year because previously his focus was cricket.

Similarly players coming off niggling or major injuries are also closely monitored, such as Dandenong Stingray Aiden Bonar, who only mid-way through the year returned to playing football after recovering from two knee reconstructions in two years.

Noteworthy combine results

Dispelling any fears that he had lost his athleticism after two knee reconstructions, Aiden Bonar recorded the highest standing vertical jump, finished equal second in the 20m sprint, equal 10th in the agility test and also secured a top 10 place in the goal kicking. Bonar on match day is a contested marking threat which is aided by not only his leap but also his strength in the contest. He shows glimpses of pace, recently using it well to pressure the opposition, and also can use it offensively.

Where Bonar struggled at the combine was endurance testing, finishing in the bottom 20 percent in both the 2km time trial and the Yo-Yo test (an endurance test replacing the beep test at this year's combine that better replicates AFL running intensity). Given the two knee reconstructions, these performances are to be expected and suggest Bonar will likely need time to build his endurance before he plays regular senior football at AFL level.

The versatile playmaker, after a promising combine and finish to the season, looms as a likely first round choice.

Likely top 10 draft choice Jaidyn Stephenson performed across all athletic tests, with his strongest results an equal third in Yo-Yo test, eighth in the 20m sprint and equal eighth in 2km. His speed and endurance numbers were both excellent as expected from the tall, line-breaking midfielder.

While Jack Petruccelle was unable to beat his best 20m sprint time -- 2.80 seconds earlier in the year -- he still won the event as expected. Acceleration from the contest and breaking the lines are key features of Petruccelle's, high-impact-per-possession style game. It was also no surprise to see Petruccelle finish equal seventh in the standing vertical jump - he has taken countless hangers and is a substantial aerial marking threat who reads the ball in flight well and has strong hands overhead, allowing him to take momentum changing marks. He looms as a likely second or third round choice.

Potential top 10 draft choice and brother of Melbourne's Angus, Andrew Brayshaw won the Yo-Yo test. He also secured fourth in the 2km time trial, highlighting his strong endurance, fifth in the goal kicking and equal 10th in the agility. While Brayshaw moves well on game day, he is not typically someone who breaks games open with his run and carry or overlap run. He is instead more of a skilled, well-rounded midfielder with the capacity to play an inside or outside role.

Dylan Moore also tested strongly in the endurance events. He finished first in 2km time trial and second in Yo-Yo test. Moore has a reputation for running out games well and has a high work rate on match day, always being in motion and often receiving several touches in chains forward. Moore is viewed as a second or third round chance as a neatly skilled and clever midfielder and forward.

TAC Cup grand final hero Gryan Miers finished third in the 2km time trial and equal ninth in Yo-Yo, highlighting his endurance. Miers is a lively forward, with a game and hairstyle not unlike a young Luke Dahlhaus. While Miers plays almost exclusively forward of centre, his work rate is exceptionally high and he also possesses genuine football smarts and real knack for knowing where the ball will go before it gets there, allowing him to be involved in the game a lot of the time. Miers is believed to be a strong second round chance.

West Australian key defender Aaron Naughton impressed finishing equal third in the Yo-Yo, equal fourth in the goal kicking and sixth in the agility. Naughton is arguably this year's best key defence prospect and has performed strongly in the WAFL at League level. Naughton has received some interest from clubs with top 10 picks and appears set to feature inside the first round as potentially this year's first key position player chosen, in what is a very even pool of tall players late in the first round and through the second round.

Exciting key forward Oscar Allen, following a strong Under-18 All Star game, also impressed at the combine finishing equal sixth in the running vertical and impressively eighth in agility. While Allen is an undersized key forward at just 191cm, he more than makes up for it with his running vertical jump in combination with early reading of the drop of the ball and precise timing on his jumps. His agility is also obvious at ground level, with his movement in combination with his cleanness at ground level a further weapon.

Allen led all goal kickers through the Under-18 Championships with 11 and is one of this year's best performed key position players, looking arguably the most impressive of all the talls in the Under-18 All Star game. He looms as a possible late first round choice.

One of the noteworthy performers to enhance his profile with a strong combine was Ben Miller. The 196cm, 98kg, West Australian key position player finished equal first in the agility test, equal fourth in the 20m sprint and he was also one of the four with a perfect score in the goal kicking. In the Under-18 All Star game, Miller's agility was obvious, moving with ball in hand to create time and space for himself under pressure up forward.

In the WAFL Colts, he kicked seven goals and six behinds from nine games splitting his time between playing through the ruck and as a forward. Miller is viewed as a late draft chance, with the combine enhancing his chances to get selected.

Cricket convert Nathan Murphy performed solidly without being one of the most exceptional performers. His strongest event was the 2km time trial where he placed equal eighth. Murphy, a tall utility at 188cm, 84kg, covers the ground well and is predicted to feature somewhere in the second or third round, on the back of a strong APS Season with Brighton where he starred up forward and a solid back end to the season for Sandringham.

Who didn't test?

It is becoming increasing common at draft combines in all codes that many of the top prospects and anyone carrying niggling injuries will not test, out of fear their stocks may drop or understanding that testing will do nothing to enhance their draft stocks.

Projected top five draft choices Adam Cerra, Luke Davies-Uniacke, Paddy Dow and Cameron Rayner did not test. Charlie Constable, Darcy Fogarty, Callum Coleman-Jones, Brayden Crossley, Tom De Koning, Lachlan Fogarty, Andrew McPherson, Tom North, Brandan Starcevich, Charlie Spargo and mature age prospect Tim Kelly also did not test. Meanwhile, Brayden Ainsworth, Oscar Allen, Noah Balta, Hunter Clark, Hugh Dixon, Patrick Naish, Harrison Petty, Ryley Stoddart and Toby Wooller completed only some of the testing.

With such a large number of players of notable standing not involved in the testing, the results at the combine are not reflective of the draft pool as a whole, with many of those not testing sure to figure prominently.

Testing results

Goalkicking test (score out of 30)
Jordan Houlahan - 30
Angus Schumacher - 30
Jackson Ross - 30
Ben Miller - 30
Jake Patmore - 25
Ryley Stoddart - 25
Changkuoth Jiath - 25
Andrew Brayshaw - 25
Connor Ballenden - 25
Aaron Naughton - 25
Aiden Bonar - 25

Kicking test (score out of 30)
Connor Balldenden - 30
Jack Higgins - 29
Angus Schumacher - 29
Jack Payne - 29
Hayden McLean - 29
Jackson Ross - 29
Ned Reeves - 29
Jordan Houlahan - 28
Hunter Clark - 28
Lloyd Meek - 28

Smartspeed 20-metre sprint
Jack Petruccelle - 2.87 seconds
Kane Farrell - 2.90
Aiden Bonar - 2.90
Ben Miller - 2.91
Nick Coffield - 2.91
Ben Paton - 2.95
Brent Daniels - 2.95
Stefan Okunbar - 2.95
Jaidyn Stephenson - 2.95
Nicholas Shipley - 2.97

Smartspeed agility test
Kane Farrell - 8.10 seconds
Ben Miller - 8.10
Brent Daniels - 8.11
Trent Mynott - 8.20
Nathan Kreuger - 8.21
Aaron Naughton - 8.22
Mitchell Podhajski - 8.26
Oscar Allen - 8.27
Stefan Okunbar - 8.29
Matthew Ling - 8.30
Callan England - 8.30
Aiden Bonar - 8.30
Andrew Brayshaw - 8.30

Standing vertical jump
Aiden Bonar - 89cm
Kyron Hayden - 82cm
Ben Paton - 80cm
Harrison Jones - 79cm
Jordan Houlahan - 77cm
Jordan Johnston - 75cm
Jack Petruccelle - 74cm
Noah Balta - 74cm
Adam Sambono - 73cm
Hayden McLean - 73cm

Running vertical jump
Kyron Hayden - 103cm
Kane Farrell - 95cm
Jordan Houlahan - 95cm
Hayden McLean - 92cm
Noah Balta - 89cm
Harrison Jones - 88cm
Oscar Allen - 88cm
Tom McCartin - 88cm
Matthew Day - 87cm
Nathan Kreuger - 87cm

Yo-Yo test
Andrew Brayshaw - 22.4 level
Dylan Moore - 22.3
Matthew Ling - 21.8
Alex Martini - 21.8
Aaron Naughton - 21.8
Jaidyn Stephenson - 21.8
Callan England - 21.6
Nicholas Shipley - 21.6
Brent Daniels - 21.5
Ethan Floyd - 21.5
Tom McCartin - 21.5
Cillian McDaid - 21.5
Gryan Miers - 21.5

2km time trial
Dylan Moore - 6:09 minutes
Lochie O'Brien - 6:12
Gryan Miers - 6:13
Andrew Brayshaw - 6:14
Aiden Domic - 6:15
Angus Styles - 6:17
Changkuoth Jiath - 6:17
Nathan Murphy - 6:21
Jaidyn Stephenson - 6:21
Ethan Floyd - 6:25