Post JLT wrap: Which draftees are ready to step up

With the JLT series -- and AFLX -- now finished, Christopher Doerre assesses your club's draftees to predict who will step up when the real stuff starts.


Most impactful draftee: With the departure of Charlie Cameron, a vacancy for a forward pressure specialist has opened. During JLT1, Lachlan Murphy led Adelaide's goalkicking with three goals and set the tone with his forward pressure. Murphy can earn games this year and will be in the mix to fill Cameron's void.

Breakout contender: A shock first round selection in 2015, Tom Doedee, after coming second to Scott Thompson in Adelaide's SANFL Best and Fairest, is set to fill the shoes of Jake Lever as a third tall, intercept marking defender.

Rebound season: Spending all but two games in 2016 in the SANFL and missing 2017 with a ruptured ACL, Cam Ellis-Yolmen averaged a formidable 12 contested possessions and five clearances during the JLT Community Series. Expect Ellis-Yolmen to provide pressure at the selection table and earn senior opportunities.


Most impactful draftee: Pick one in the 2017 draft, Cameron Rayner is round one-ready and is set to have an immediate impact up forward. His first season will likely be similar to Christian Petracca as a powerful forward of similar talent.

Breakout contender: Looking likely to receive regular opportunities at stoppages and rotate forward, the strong bodied Tom Bell averaged 18 disposals, 12 contested possessions and 7.5 clearances through Brisbane's two JLT matches. Expect Bell's production to spike with the midfield opening left by the departure of Tom Rockliff.

Rebound season: Last playing in round 11, 2016, Allen Christensen is ready to return to the AFL ranks and should re-establish himself as a regular in Brisbane's senior team as a forward who can push up through the midfield.


Most impactful draftee: Set to play early and often through the midfield, Paddy Dow is a contested ball winning beast who will figure prominently in Carlton's senior outfit in his first season. Through the JLT series his skill and acceleration caught the eye.

Breakout contender: Showing positive signs in JLT2 with 11 contested possessions and an equal team high five clearances, Matthew Kennedy has the capacity to become a regular through Carlton's midfield. Kennedy is the latest acquisition from GWS and should feature more prominently for the Blues.

Rebound season: Returning from a fractured fibula and missing the latter portion of 2017, Patrick Cripps is fit and ready to return to his best. Cripps has worked hard on his forward craft over the offseason and is set to play the Patrick Dangerfield/Dustin Martin role, where he will rest forward and hit the scoreboard more in 2018.


Most impactful draftee: Tall outside runner, Jaidyn Stephenson offers Collingwood much needed outside pace and will receive senior opportunities in 2018 either as a tall wing or forward.

Breakout contender: Traded for from Sydney's rookie list, Sam Murray was targeted to provide meaningful drive off half-back. Murray's performance in JLT2 was outstanding with 24 disposals, nine marks and a team high 503 metres gained. Expect regular senior appearances in 2018 with Murray providing drive from defence like no other Pies can.

Rebound season: He's had his fair share of off-field issues but Jordan De Goey will be looking to redeem himself in 2018. With a commanding performance in Collingwood's intra-club match, De Goey is expected to receive greater midfield opportunity in 2018 and repay the club's faith through on-field performance.


Most impactful draftee: Matt Guelfi, as a 20-year-old from the WAFL, is the most ready-to-go of Essendon's draftees and will push for opportunities as a midfielder or forward.

Breakout contender: Averaging 21 disposals per game in the VFL in 2017, Kobe Mutch, who is entering his second season, is likely to receive senior opportunities in 2018 as a midfielder. He is set to miss the start of the season due to knee surgery, but when he is back, he will provide competition for spots and likely earn senior opportunities.

Rebound season: Restricted to playing as a pressure forward for GWS in recent seasons after showing promise through the midfield during his first few seasons, Devon Smith looks set for greater midfield opportunity in 2018 since the offseason trade from GWS. Through the JLT Series, Smith averaged 24 disposals, 9.5 contested possessions, 4.5 clearances and 1.5 goals per game.


Most impactful draftee: After an impressive overage season in the WAFL at League level where he gathered 484 disposals and laid 112 tackles from 20 games, it should come as no surprise that Bailey Banfield has fit in seamlessly for Fremantle during the JLT. Expect regular opportunities up forward and pushing up through the midfield.

Breakout contender: Leading Fremantle for marks taken and goals kicked through the JLT series, Matthew Taberner will be looking to take the next step in his development. Playing only seven games in 2017 due to inconsistent form, Taberner who is one of the game's premier contested marks should find his consistency improves through adopting the role of relieving ruckman.

Rebound season: Coming back to play the two senior games for Fremantle in 2017, Harley Bennell still needs to earn the trust of his teammates and coaches. Once recovered from a calf injury, if Bennell can meet the professional standard expected, he has the talent to re-establish himself as one of the AFL's most damaging players.


Most impactful draftee: Starring last year in the WAFL, Tim Kelly is a highly skilled mature age recruit with the talent to slot straight into Geelong's senior side in round one. He has been touted as the likely Steven Motlop replacement across half-forward and has the capability to push through the midfield.

Breakout contender: Unable to hold his position in the senior side in 2017, this is a make or break season for Jackson Thurlow. With the recent retirements of Corey Enright and Andrew Mackie over the past two seasons, Thurlow can become a regular as a clean kicking half-back flanker.

Rebound season: Playing only two senior games in 2017 for Western Bulldogs after returning from suspension, Stewart Crameri should see greater opportunities for Geelong with Tom Hawkins needing a second powerful forward who he can share the load with.

Gold Coast

Most impactful draftee: Ex-Blue, Nick Holman is a ready-to-go ball-winning midfielder. His performance in JLT1 was particularly impressive laying nine tackles and impressing with his forward pressure. Holman will be in the mix for selection as a rotational midfielder and forward.

Breakout contender: Set to take on greater midfield responsibility with the departure of Gary Ablett, Jarryd Lyons led Gold Coast through both JLT matches in contested possessions and clearances averaging 13 contested possessions and 6.5 clearances.

Rebound season: While untried during the JLT Series, Michael Barlow is back from a broken leg and ready to play. With a developing midfield group, Barlow will likely be asked to play a prominent role at stoppages in 2018.

Greater Western Sydney

Most impactful draftee: With the departure of Devon Smith, 22-year-old Zac Langdon, as a mature age forward/midfielder, will vie to take his place as a forward who pressures the opposition and pushes up the field.

Breakout contender: Playing just the one game in 2017, rebounding defender, Jeremy Finlayson will be seeking greater opportunities in 2018. With the season ending injury to Zac Williams and the trade of Nathan Wilson, Finlayson will be vying for one of those positions.

Rebound season: After starting 2017 late due to a six-month suspension and returning to play in round eight, Lachie Whitfield will seek to begin 2018 on a more positive note. Gathering 25 disposals in each of his two JLT matches off half-back and using the ball effectively, Whitfield looks like a solution to GWS' backline issues.


Most impactful draftee: 26-year-old, David Mirra was recruited for a reason and is a ready-to-go defender who generates drive off half-back. He may not be a round one starter, but should earn games and fit in seamlessly when he does having spent seven years with Hawthorn's VFL affiliate, Box Hill.

Breakout contender: Finishing 2017 like a house on fire down back after making the switch to the backline after the bye, James Sicily looks ready to become one of Hawthorn's best and take his game to another level in 2018 as a rebounding defender.

Rebound season: Ruled out for round one, Grant Birchall after offseason posterior cruciate ligament surgery is progressing well and should be ready to reclaim his post down back within the first few rounds.


Most impactful draftee: After an injury plagued few years, Bayley Fritsch had a breakout season in the VFL last year and developed into an exciting forward, kicking 42 goals as a highly skilled, strong marking forward. Kicking three goals in JLT1, Fritsch will be in the mix for round one selection.

Breakout contender: If Angus Brayshaw can avoid further concussions, he will become a regular in Melbourne's senior side and should see his production rise.

Rebound season: After missing nine games in 2017 due to a hamstring injury and struggling to recapture his 2016 form, Max Gawn is in shape and has the performances behind him through the JLT Series to suggest he can reclaim the mantle as the competitions premier ruckman.

North Melbourne

Most impactful draftee: Ready-to-go midfielder, Luke Davies-Uniacke as an explosive ball winner is likely to receive regular senior opportunities early and often in 2018.

Breakout contender: Entering his third season, Ryan Clarke is ready to become a fixture in North Melbourne's senior side. He is a running machine who finished 2017 off strongly, averaging 27 disposals over his last five games.

Rebound season: Struggling through personal issues in 2017, Todd Goldstein has re-engaged with the game and is expected to have a greater impact this season.

Port Adelaide

Most impactful draftee: Ex-Demon, Dominic Barry appears to have returned to the AFL a new man. With his speed and endurance, Barry can contend for a position on a wing. In JLT1, Barry led Port Adelaide with a team-high 20 disposals while also kicking a goal.

Breakout contender: With no less than 17 disposals in each of his four senior games over two seasons, Riley Bonner is expected to receive greater opportunity in 2018 as a half-back flanker who provides meaningful drive.

Rebound season: While dominant through the first eight rounds in 2017 averaging 30 disposals per game, Tom Rockliff was struck down with a shoulder injury which saw his production dip markedly over the second half of the season. Expect Rockliff to perform closer to his best again in 2018.


Most impactful draftee: While unlikely to be a round one starter given Richmond's depth, Morrish Medallist, Jack Higgins is ready-to-go and should receive senior opportunities in 2018. He averaged 23 disposals, five tackles and two goals per game in 2017 as a midfielder/forward.

Breakout contender: After showing glimpses in six senior games and looking like the best player afield to quarter time in last year's VFL Grand Final, Shai Bolton is ready to become a regular as a damaging forward who take games by the scruff of the neck when he gets hot. His three goals and relentless pressure applied in JLT1 will do his senior chances no harm.

Rebound season: While part of last year's premiership side, Josh Caddy's production has dropped away over the past two seasons. Preseason signs have been positive averaging 21 disposals, 11.5 contested possessions and two goals. This can be Caddy's best season yet.

St Kilda

Most impactful draftee: Looking at home in defence through the JLT Community Series, Nick Coffield fit seamlessly into St Kilda's back half with 20 disposals and 17 disposals in his two games. Competition for spots will be stiff down back, but Coffield is good enough to push for senior opportunities in 2018.

Breakout contender: Yet to play an AFL game and currently recovering from another hamstring setback, explosive midfielder, Nathan Freeman played 13 VFL games in 2017 and got better with each opportunity. If he can remain healthy, expect Freeman to earn senior games.

Rebound season: With his form dipping in 2016 and playing only two games in 2017 due to groin issues, David Armitage looks refreshed and ready-to-go in 2018, leading the way for St Kilda in JLT1 against Carlton with a team high eight clearances and equal team highs in disposals (24), contested possessions (14) and tackles (four).


Most impactful draftee: While he faces an uphill battle to earn senior games, rebounding defender Ryley Stoddart, who featured in both of Sydney's JLT matches, appears the most likely of a group that requires time to develop.

Breakout contender: With the retirement of Kurt Tippett and the ACL injury to Sam Naismith, ruck opportunities are expected for Darcy Cameron. He will likely share the ruck duties with Callum Sinclair but has proved capable in the forward line kicking 36 goals in 2016 at WAFL League level.

Rebound season: Struggling with a hip problem he came back too early from last season, Kieren Jack is healthier entering 2018 and is expected to again play a key role as a midfielder/forward.

West Coast

Most impactful draftee: Playing an exciting brand of football, Liam Ryan can set the AFL alight with his highlight-reel aerial marking prowess up forward. He kicked 73 goals from 23 WAFL League games in 2017 and should see senior action in 2018.

Breakout contender: Suffering a torn hamstring before the start of the 2017 season, William Rioli was unable upon return to break into West Coast's senior outfit. Rioli has had a strong preseason and is expected to receive senior opportunities in 2018.

Rebound season: After missing 2017 due to knee reconstruction, Nic Naitanui is set to reclaim his post as West Coast's number one ruckman. His durability remains a question mark, but if he can remain healthy, he can again be one of the game's most influential ruckman.

Western Bulldogs

Most impactful draftee: Western Bulldogs first draft choice, Aaron Naughton is a ready-to-go key defender with the capability to play senior football in 2018. He is a strong one-on-one defender who impressed late in 2017 averaging 14 disposals and seven marks through seven WAFL League matches and will provide competition for spots in 2018.

Breakout contender: Spending more time through the midfield during the second half of 2017, Toby McLean is set to continue his improvement as part of the midfield rotation. McLean has been one of the club's stars through the preseason and impressively 26 disposals against Collingwood in JLT2.

Rebound season: After a disappointing 2017 season, Tom Liberatore has re-discovered his hunger for the game and is attacking the ball in a manor more like we are accustomed to seeing. Through the JLT series, Liberatore averaged a formidable 23 disposals, 12 contested possessions and a team high 6.5 clearances.