Knightmare's AFL Draft Power Rankings: April

Each month, ESPN.com.au AFL draft expert Christopher Doerre - aka Knightmare - unveils his power rankings to give readers an early insight into the top 20 prospects ahead of the 2017 draft.

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 analysis.

However, these rankings are his personal opinions, and are not reflective of the thoughts of AFL clubs.

Aside from his monthly power rankings Doerre also produces a weekly draft wrap and he will also predict who goes where with his annual phantom draft in November.

1. Jarrod Brander (VIC)
Position: Key forward
Height, weight: 195cm, 83kg
Recruited from: Bendigo Pioneers
Projected draft range: Top five
Profile: Brander is regarded as one of 2017's premier key forward prospects. He possesses a combination of speed, agility and strong hands overhead. From his four TAC Cup games in 2016, Brander averaged a very promising 2.5 goals and 6.5 marks per match.

2. Darcy Fogarty (SA)
Best position: Inside midfield/General forward
Height, weight: 190cm, 86kg
Recruited from: Glenelg
Projected draft range: Top five
Profile: A dynamic goal kicker, Darcy Fogarty kicked seven goals from three Under-18 Championships games in 2016. Fogarty is equally adept through the midfield with impressive contested possession and clearance numbers through the SANFL Under-18s, suggesting potential as a rotating midfielder/forward.

3. Sam Hayes (VIC)
Best position: Key forward/ruck
Height, weight: 200cm, 90kg
Recruited from: Eastern Rangers
Projected draft range: Top 10
Profile: Hayes was the only player during the Under-18 Championships to be awarded a position as an All-Australian as a bottom-ager. He has proven to be arguably the most advanced tap ruckman from the 2017 draft class while also showing promising signs in the forward half, taking strong contested marks. He averaged one contested mark per game last season in the TAC Cup, attacking the ball in flight and holding his position in body-on-body contests.

4. Connor Ballenden (QLD - Brisbane Academy)
Best position: Key forward/ruck
Height, weight: 198cm, 95kg
Recruited from: University of Queensland
Projected draft range: First round
Profile: Ballenden is a strong contested mark in the forward 50m who attacks the ball in flight, hits the scoreboard and is also an effective tap ruckman. His 15 disposals, nine marks (three contested) and five goals against Tasmania during division two of the Under-18 Championships is just a small glimpse into what Ballenden can offer.

5. Noah Balta (VIC)
Position: Key forward
Height, weight: 193cm, 88kg
Recruited from: Calder Cannons
Projected draft range: First to second round
Profile: Freakishly athletic key forward, who breaks the lines like a small or medium size running specialist. He possesses rare speed, leaping ability and some Lance "Buddy" Franklin-like traits. Balta kicked 18 goals from his eight TAC Cup games and with continued improvement has the scope to be as good as anyone in the 2017 draft class.

6. Callum Coleman-Jones (SA)
Position: Key forward/ruck
Height, weight: 199cm, 98kg
Recruited from: Sturt
Projected draft range: First to second round
Profile: Coleman-Jones is the most physically advanced of the talls from the 2017 draft class. He is proficient as a tap ruckman who plays with a physical edge and uses his size effectively. Coleman-Jones is a dominant contested marking force who reads the ball in flight as well as any of next year's ruckman taking powerful contested marks inside the forward 50m. He also hits the scoreboard and pushes into the back half for intercept marks. His 10 contested marks from four Under-18 Championships games speaks to the contested marking force he already is.

7. Luke Davies-Uniacke (VIC)
Position: Outside midfield/general forward
Height, weight: 187cm, 86kg
Recruited from: Dandenong Stingrays
Projected draft range: First to second round
Profile: Davies-Uniacke is a name to listen out for in 2017. The midfielder/forward, who played just two TAC Cup games and one Under-18 Championship game last season, has pace, skill, size, strength overhead and ability to hit that scoreboard.

8. Cameron Rayner (VIC)
Best position: General forward
Height, weight: 185cm, 84kg
Recruited from: Western Jets
Projected draft range: First to second round
Profile: Strong contested marking forward who kicked 17 goals from eight TAC Cup games, leading Western Jets goalkicking and also taking 12 contested marks. Rayner has a classy feel to him, avoiding tackles, hitting targets and finishing on goal from outside 50m.

9. Lochie O'Brien (VIC)
Best position: Outside midfield
Height, weight: 184cm, 74kg
Recruited from: Bendigo Pioneers
Projected draft range: First round
Profile: Finding a lot of the ball and doing his best work on the outside, Lochie O'Brien is an outside runner, who evades tackles, uses the ball cleanly on his left foot, is strong overhead and in the one-on-one contests. O'Brien averaged 24 disposals per game through his five TAC Cup games and has also showed proficiency winning the contested ball.

10. James Worpel (VIC)
Position:
Inside midfielder
Height, weight: 185cm, 82kg
Recruited from: Geelong Falcons
Projected draft range: First to second round
Profile: Big bodied midfielder who thrives on the contested side of the game. In 2016 he was already a contested ball and clearance winning beast and may lead the TAC Cup in those categories in 2017. Worpel fends off powerfully, reminiscent of Dustin Martin, and is often found diving courageously to either tackle the opposing ball carrier or smother their kicks.

11. Hunter Clark (VIC)
Best position: Outside midfield
Height, weight: 186cm, 79kg
Recruited from: Dandenong Stingrays
Projected draft range: First to second round
Profile: Clean kick on both his left and right, Clark plays predominantly as an outside player, running off half-back and pushing up onto the wings. Clark, possesses pace, moving easily through traffic and displaying a high leap and strong hands overhead. While best suited to playing on the outside, Clark does not shirk the issue when it is his time to go, winning the contested ball and laying tackles.

12. Jaidyn Stephenson (VIC)
Best position: General forward
Height, weight: 188cm, 76kg
Recruited from: Eastern Rangers
Projected draft range: First to second round
Profile: Came onto the radar in 2015 with a dynamic finals series for Eastern Rangers. Stephenson confirmed his reputation as a big game player giving eventual premier Sandringham a scare during the first round of the TAC Cup finals kicking four important goals. Stephenson is a high leaping athletic forward who is freakish at ground level.

13. Aaron Naughton (WA)
Best position: Key defence
Height, weight: 194cm, 84kg
Recruited from: Peel Thunder
Projected draft range: First to second round
Profile: It's early days, but it looks as though Naughton will be West Australia's best draft prospect and this year's best key defender. During his first three games this season, Naughton has taken 27 marks - including many intercepts. He is a good mover, looking comfortable with ball in hand, rarely getting caught and is also clean at ground level.

14. Cassidy Parish (VIC)
Best position: Inside midfield
Height, weight: 190cm, 84kg
Recruited from: Geelong Falcons
Projected draft range: First to second round
Profile: The younger brother of Essendon's Darcy Parish, Cassidy is a taller and more strongly built midfielder than Darcy. By contrast he is more of a pure inside midfielder who does his best work at the coalface without possessing the versatility or skillset Darcy possesses.

15. Jackson Edwards (SA - Adelaide - Father-Son)
Best position: Outside midfield
Height, weight: 184cm, 73kg
Recruited from: Glenelg
Projected draft range: First to second round
Profile: The son of Adelaide's Tyson, Jackson Edwards is eligible as a possible Father-Son choice. Edwards, has the production behind him in the SANFL Under-18s and Reserves. He is a left footed midfielder displaying class, using the ball cleanly on both feet, providing run and winning his own ball through the midfield.

16. Lachlan Pascoe (SA)
Best position: General defence/general forward
Height, weight: 189cm, 94kg
Recruited from: Norwood
Projected draft range: Second round onwards
Profile: Physically already a very mature half-back flanker and averaging 18 disposals, five marks and five rebound 50s from his three SANFL League games, Pascoe is among the most advanced players. He provides run off half-back, takes marks one-on-one, is a penetrating kick who hits his targets and is also a genuine goal kicking threat when he pushes forward.

17. Isaac Hewson (SA)
Best position: Inside midfield
Height, weight: 183cm, 79kg
Recruited from: Norwood
Projected draft range: Second round onwards
Profile: Already playing Reserves for Norwood in the SANFL. Hewson is a stoppage specialist who wins high contested possession and clearance numbers. His game is very advanced for his age and is one of the more, ready-to-play midfielders among this group.

18. Ethan Penrith (VIC)
Position: Outside midfield
Height, weight: 179cm, 74kg
Recruited from: Northern Knights
Projected draft range: First to second round
Profile: The outside line breaker takes on the game at every opportunity, dodging and weaving past opposition players effortlessly. His skills are silky, using the ball efficiently and impacting the game heavily with each possession. Penrith, for someone who does his best work on the outside, displays an aggression uncommon in line breakers, bumping opposition players with force, tackling and winning the contested ball.

19. Jack Higgins (VIC)
Best position: General forwars/inside midifeld
Height, weight: 176cm, 73kg
Recruited from: Oakleigh Chargers
Projected draft range: First to second round
Profile: Arguably one of the most advanced players in this draft class with several games of 30 or more disposals in the TAC Cup. Higgins has booted 19 goals from his 10 games and is a classy ball user who wins his share of the contested ball through the midfield. He is also a natural crumber who keeps his feet, draws high free kicks and finishes effectively around goal.

20. Joel Garner (VIC)
Best position: Utility
Height, weight: 184cm, 78kg
Recruited from: Eastern Rangers
Projected draft range: First to second round
Profile: One of the prime ball users of the 2017 draft class, Garner, is a classy kick with the versatility to play on a forward or back flank or through the midfield. He is a strong, athletic mark overhead and a damaging player who is expected to play a more prominent role for Eastern in 2017 through the midfield.