Knightmare's AFL draft wrap: Early AFL prospects

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: Isaac Morrisby

Possessing rare talent, Sandringham's Isaac Morrisby, will be a player to watch. The 192cm, 95kg, key forward had several exciting moments in Sandringham's win over Oakleigh. Morrisby's evasiveness with ball-in-hand was particularly eye-catching for someone of his size.

On one play, Morrisby avoided two would-be tacklers, making quick evasive steps and raising his arms into the air to generate time and space for himself. On another play, Morrisby picked the ball up cleanly off the deck and avoided a tackler in similar fashion.

Morrisby had only the 12 disposals, four marks (one contested), two goals and one score assist, but it was his efficiency that stood out with 11 of his 12 disposals effective and six of his seven kicks also effective.

Morrisby is best known for his strong overhead marking, both leading up to the ball and in one-on-one situation. Beyond this, what makes Morrisby interesting and relevant as an AFL prospect is that he also displays cleanness collecting the ball below his knees and is a precise kick of the football both on goal and to a target.

The next stage in Morrisby's development is improving his endurance and pushing up the ground more. Can Morrisby pinch-hit at centre bounces? Can he develop the engine to play as a high half-forward flanker, collecting the ball up the ground and when he has a favourable match-up against a smaller defender, punish them by taking them into the goal square?

One thing that is certain is Morrisby will need to add something else to his arsenal to appeal to AFL clubs. There is more than enough talent there though to think from the second round onwards that with a strong season Morrisby may enter the minds of recruiters. It's just adding that extra versatility that may see him feature earlier rather than later in what is a draft class stacked with quality talls.

TAC Cup:

Bottom age midfielder for Calder, Jack Bytel, a 188cm, 79kg, midfielder appears a likely top prospect for 2018. Against Eastern he did much of the grunt work with 28 disposals, 19 contested possessions, seven tackles and five clearances.

Adam Cerra, 186cm, 85kg, was industrious through the Eastern midfield with, 26 disposals, 15 contested possessions, five tackles, seven clearances, five inside 50s and one goal.

Under-18 All Australian, Sam Hayes continued on from where he left off last year for Eastern with 17 disposals, nine contested possessions, three marks (two contested), 32 hitouts and one goal. At 203cm, 93kg, Hayes is imposing both through the ruck and up forward.

Honing his craft as a forward, Jaidyn Stephenson for Eastern amassed 15 disposals, five marks (one contested), six tackles, five goals and one score assist. At 189cm, 76kg, Stephenson is a proven forward who has played best in big games.

Possessing upside, 192cm, 75kg, Eastern forward, Jackson Ross has some class to him. He impressed with 20 disposals (18 kicks), five marks, eight contested possessions, seven inside 50s and three score assists.

Contributing strongly for Eastern, Joel Garner, 183cm, 81kg, showed his wears up forward and through the midfield with 19 disposals, seven marks (one contested), nine contested possessions, five tackles, four inside 50s and two goals.

Younger brother of Essendon's Darcy, Cassidy Parish for Geelong at 190cm, 84kg is taller than his brother. Cassidy is likely to feature prominently this season, starting strongly with 26 disposals, four marks, 10 contested possessions, six clearances, five inside 50s, one goal and one score assist.

Bottom ager, Sam Walsh, 182cm, 68kg, played a major part through Geelong's midfield with 28 disposals, 14 contested possessions, seven marks, three clearances and five rebound 50s.

David Handley, a 181cm, 76kg, bottom age forward for Geelong made the most of his team's midfield dominance kicking six goals, to go with 19 disposals, 11 contested possessions, seven marks (three contested), four tackles, and three inside 50s.

Aiden Domic appears Greater Western Victoria's (formerly known in the TAC Cup as North Ballarat) most promising prospect with 17 disposals (16 kicks of which 15 were efficient), eight marks (one contested), four tackles and one goal assist. At 185cm, 81kg, Domic is versatile and a clean ball user who provides outside run and carry.

Lloyd Meek, for Greater Western Victoria was a shining light. The 202cm, 104kg ruckman dominated with seven disposals, six tackles and 38 hitouts, keeping Geelong to just the 15 hitouts.

Possessing genuine acceleration and agility, Nick Hogan, a 175cm, 78kg midfielder and forward, was again electric for Gippsland. Hogan had 18 disposals (10 kicks of which eight were efficient), 12 contested possessions, seven inside 50s and one goal.

After displaying strong potential in 2016, Luke Davies-Uniacke in a best on ground performance for Dandenong had a breakout performance. The 187cm, 85kg midfielder was spectacular with 30 disposals, 11 contested possessions, six marks, nine clearances (seven centre clearances) and nine inside 50s. Possessing pace, skill, size and strength overhead, Davies-Uniacke with further dominant performances may push for an early selection in this year's AFL draft.

Contributing positively down back for Bendigo, bottom-ager Jacob Atley may in a couple of years join his brothers Shaun and Joseph in the AFL ranks. The 189cm, 75kg running half-back flanker impressed with 19 disposals, six marks (one contested), nine contested possessions and nine rebound 50s.

Bottom age Sandringham key forward, Max King, cut a striking figure up forward. King, 201cm, 82kg gathered eight disposals, six marks (four contested) and four goals. It was most impressive seeing King's physical presence. He drew a free kick inside 50m and in a pack situation bodied his way into the contest and extended the dukes to the highest point to take the mark. This game felt like a sign of things to come from King, and looking like the best key forward in a front half also containing the talented Isaac Morrisby and strong marking Hayden McLean, both of whom are firmly in the mix to get selected this year.

Bottom ager, Ben King, the twin of Max was used as a key defender. Ben managed 14 disposals and seven marks (three contested). The 201cm, 79kg key defender's reading of the flight and intercept marking makes him a prospect to watch in 2018.

Andrew Brayshaw, the younger brother of Melbourne's Angus, at 183cm, 80kg, lead the way for Sandringham through the midfield. He contributed 25 disposals, 10 contested possessions, six marks, four tackles, three clearances, four inside 50s, one goal and one score assist.

Oakleigh forward, Toby Wooller, 193cm, 90kg, collected 14 disposals, four marks, three inside 50s, one goal and three score assists. Wooller has long been a marking threat on the lead. What he did particularly well in this game was set up teammates in better positions inside 50m, with his three score assists a game high.

With rare cleanness at ground level, impressive agility and a quick first step, Oakleigh midfielder and forward, Nick Boucher, 170cm, 68kg, was impactful. He gathered 23 disposals, seven marks, nine contested possessions, three clearances, three inside 50s and one goal.

Doing it all for Western, Lachlan Fogarty gave us a preview of things to come. The 179cm, 75kg midfielder collected 30 disposals, 13 contested possessions, 11 tackles, eight clearances, 14 inside 50s, two goals and one score assist. He won first possession at stoppages, hit targets inside 50m, moved evasively through traffic and finished around goal including from outside 50m.

Cameron Rayner, as he so often does, imposed his will on the contest. The 187cm, 88kg, Western forward and midfielder gathered 22 disposals, 18 contested possessions, three marks (three contested), four clearances, two goals and one score assist. Rayner through the midfield won first possession and up forward proved both clean at ground level and dangerous overhead, even taking a specie. The next stage in Rayner's development will be improving his endurance so that he can spend longer periods of games through the midfield.

Bottom ager, Jake Hazik, a 168cm, 64kg forward for Western heaped on the forward pressure and was lively every time he went near the ball. He crumbed well and felt dangerous every time the ball hit the deck. Hazik contributed 14 disposals, four marks (one contested), eight contested possessions, three inside 50s, one goal and two score assists. Hazik was however wasteful in front of goal and could easily have kicked another two goals.

Showing some power through the midfield, Stephen Syme, a 174cm, 79kg midfielder for Western had just the 13 disposals, three inside 50s and one score assist. His impact per possession is what stood out. Syme linked up well on the outside overall but it was his power that impressed most, accelerating away from the contest and most notably on one play running 40m off a half-back flank and kicking for goal from 55m. While he missed, making the distance on the kick after running 40m is highly impressive.

Seeming to struggle with the warm conditions in the first quarter, Joel Grace was impactful and arguably the difference between the two sides. The 199cm, 90kg ruckman collected 13 disposals, nine contested possessions, four marks (three contested), six tackles, 18 hitouts, three inside 50s and one score assist. What was impressive from Grace was the physical and uncompromising brand he played with. Grace took his marks around the ground, tackled with aggression, following up well from the ruck contests and laid a forceful bump that saw an opposition player stretchered off in the third quarter.

Using the ball efficiently and doing damage with ball in hand, Nicholas Coffield for Northern, a 190cm, 83kg utility impressed as a forward. He secured 22 disposals (18 effective disposals), six marks and four goals. Coffield was also a reliable marking target inside 50m and provided run at stages up the field.

WAFL

WAFL Colts - Round 1

Demonstrating potential in defence, Aaron Naughton, a 194cm, 84kg key defender, contributed 20 disposals and 10 marks. Naughton is an intercepting marking threat who is also adept in one-on-one contests. Early days, Naughton is arguably the most promising WA prospect.

South Fremantle's John Frampton, a 199cm, 87kg ruckman, while he did not dominate the hitouts, intrigued with his work around the ground, accumulating 22 disposals to go along with four marks and 23 hitouts.

WAFL League - Round 2

Ex Pie, Jon Marsh has made the transition from defence to play more up through the midfield this year. Marsh collected 27 disposals, 8 marks, 5 tackles and 1 goal.

After getting overlooked in last years' draft, talented forward Liam Ryan has continued where he left off with 18 disposals, 6 inside 50s and 6 goals.

WAFL Colts - Round 2

With 22 disposals, five marks, seven inside 50s and one goal in his first game and 24 disposals in round two, Subiaco, 186cm, 86kg midfield Kyron Hayden appears a player to watch. Hayden possesses a strong frame and demonstrates an appetite for the contest.

NB: The NEAFL season will commence April 1st and the SANFL season will begin Friday April 7th.