Knightmare's AFL Draft Power Rankings: August

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. Cameron Rayner (VIC)

Best position: General forward/inside midfielder
Height, weight: 187cm, 88kg
Recruited from: Western Jets
Projected draft range: top five
Similar to: Dustin Martin
July Ranking: 1
Rationale: Contested-ball winning beast who is hitting the scoreboard in bunches. Rayner is this year's most dominant performer.
Strengths:
Damaging both as a forward and midfielder
Aggression
Scoreboard impact
Strength
Powerful fend-off
Can burst through tackles at speed or stand up through tackles and deliver handball to target
Clean at ground level
Contested-ball winning
Clearances
Draws free kicks
Explosive pace
Evasiveness in traffic
High leap
Tackles with force
Plays with desperation and provides second and third efforts
Powerful and damaging kick over distance
Vision
Decision-making
One-on-one marking
Marking threat on the lead
Aerial marking
Production
Big game performer
Weaknesses:
Endurance
Set shot goalkicking

2. Paddy Dow (VIC)

Best position: Inside midfield
Height, weight: 184cm, 78kg
Recruited from: Bendigo Pioneers
Projected draft range: first round
Similar to: Luke Shuey
July Ranking: 2
Rationale: Possesses a winning mix of attributes and impact per possession through the midfield with contested-ball winning, acceleration from the contest and skillset. Under-18 Championships performances have made clear that he is a top-end prospect. May be the best midfielder in this draft.
Strengths:
First possession winner at coalface
Stoppage work
Wins clearances
Burst out of stoppages at speed
Acceleration
Desperation
Tackling
Clean skills
Lowers eyes
Composure in traffic
Evasiveness
High impact per possession
Scoreboard impact
Weaknesses:
Needs to find more of the ball

3. Adam Cerra (VIC)

Best position: Inside midfielder
Height, weight: 186cm, 85kg
Recruited from: Eastern Ranges
Projected draft range: first round
Similar to: Trent Cotchin
July Ranking: 6
Rationale: Despite missing much of 2017 with a meniscus injury in his knee, he is performing strongly. He's winning clearances, first possession at stoppages and displaying class and clean ball use. One of this year's best midfielders.
Strengths:
Contested-ball winning
Stoppage work
Wins clearances
Stands up through tackles
Strong build
Production
Strong mark overhead
One-on-one marking
Clean at ground level
Clean ball user
Decision-making
Vision
Composure under pressure
Production
Evasiveness
Endurance
Work rate
Best suited through midfield but can also be utilised down back or up forward
Weaknesses:
Acceleration

4. Luke Davies-Uniacke (VIC)

Best position: Inside midfield/general forward
Height, weight: 187cm, 85kg
Recruited from: Dandenong Stingrays
Projected draft range: top five
Similar to: Ollie Wines
July Ranking: 3
Rationale: Slight drop with below expectation Under-18 Championships performances.
Strengths:
Stoppage work
Contested-ball winning
Reading of ruck taps
Gets to best spots at stoppages
Clearances
Explosive 10m burst of speed to break away from contest
Clean at ground level
Vision
Decision-making
Quick hands in close
Scoreboard impact
Overhead marking
Strength
Strength through core and hips to keep his feet in the contest and stands up through tackles
Midfielder with versatility to play forward or back
Has played his best football against more mature bodies
Weaknesses:
Placement of kicks mildly inconsistent
Can have quiet games or quiet patches in games

5. Jarrod Brander (VIC)
Best position:
Key forward/key defence
Height, weight: 195cm, 83kg
Recruited from: Bendigo Pioneers
Projected draft range: top 10
Similar to: Josh Bruce
July Ranking: 5
Rationale: Possesses attributes to suggest he could develop at either end of the field.
Strengths:
Clean at ground level
Agility
Pace
Endurance
Work rate
Marking threat on the lead
Strong hands overhead
Contested marking
Intercept marking
Clean field kick
Stands up through tackles
Versatility to play key forward or key defence
Weaknesses:
Conversion in front of goal
Can struggle down back to contain key forwards

6. Connor Ballenden (QLD - Brisbane Academy)

Best position: Key defence
Height, weight: 199cm, 95kg
Recruited from: University of Queensland
Projected draft range: first round
Similar to: Jeremy McGovern
July Ranking: 9
Rationale: Recent four-goal performance for Brisbane in the NEAFL against Canberra and convincing play as a key defender through Under-18 Championships sees Ballenden rise. Looks best suited as a key defender.
Strengths:
Intercept marking
Reading of the flight
Size and strength
Contested marking
Kicking
Vision
Decision-making
Physical style of play
Scoreboard impact
Forceful tackler
Versatility to play key defence, ruck or key forward
Weaknesses:
Endurance
Work rate
Athleticism
Agility
Acceleration
Inconsistent performances

7. Noah Balta (VIC)

Best position: Key forward/key defence
Height, weight: 194cm, 92kg
Recruited from: Calder Cannons
Projected draft range: first to second round
Similar to: Jonathon Marsh
July Ranking: 10
Rationale: Has had some big performances but also is lacks consistency from game to game. Rises with Will Sutherland dropping out of draft and Callum Coleman-Jones and Darcy Fogarty out for season.
Strengths:
Freakishly clean and one touch at ground level
Pace
Breaks the lines
Agility
Leap
Strength
Contested marking
Difficult to contain on the lead or leaping up at the football
Takes marks at full stretch
Stands up through tackles
Tackling
Scoreboard impact
Versatility to play either end well
Possible scope to develop into a tall midfielder
Weaknesses:
Unclear best position
Inconsistent performances
Football smarts

8. Aaron Naughton (WA)

Best position: Key defence
Height, weight: 194cm, 84kg
Recruited from: Peel Thunder
Projected draft range: first to second round
Similar to: Jack Hombsch
July Ranking: Not ranked
Rationale: Has transitioned to playing WAFL League football over the past month. His averages of 19 disposals and 10 marks over his three games so far have been outstanding and sees Naughton's draft stocks rise.
Strengths:
Intercept marking
Strong hands overhead
Reading the flight of the ball early
Football smarts
Contested marking
One-on-one marking
Keeps his feet in the contest
Agility
Acceleration
WAFL League performances
Weaknesses:
Kicking while reliable enough is of a high, loopy style which is too easily intercepted

9. Oscar Clavarino (VIC)
Best position:
Key defender
Height, weight: 194cm, 80kg
Recruited from: Dandenong Stingrays
Projected draft range: first to second round
Similar to: Heath Grundy
July Ranking: Not ranked
Rationale: Improving his rebounding capabilities. Has progressed from reliable shutdown key defender in 2016 to key defender who takes intercept marks and rebounds by foot. A 20 disposal, 11 mark (three contested), best-on-ground performance against Northern, in combination with his dominant play for Haileybury and Vic Metro sees Clavarino rise.
Strengths:
Strength
Body work one-on-one
Intercept marking
One-on-one marking
Reading the flight of the ball early
Keeps his feet in the contest
Shuts down opponents influence
Reliable kick to target
Weaknesses:
Pace
Athleticism
Agility

10. Darcy Fogarty (SA)

Best position: Utility
Height, weight: 192cm, 88kg
Recruited from: Glenelg
Projected draft range: first round
Similar to: Jack Darling
July Ranking: 10
Rationale: Out for the season with a small meniscus tear he carried through the Under-18 Championships. Lack of a clear best position and below expectation 2017 performances sees Fogarty rated here despite early season hype.
Strengths:
Strength
Contested-ball winning
Clearances
Contested marking
Body-on-body strength
Fend-offs
Stands up through tackles
Courage
Competitiveness
Versatility to play anywhere other than ruck
Scoreboard impact
Clean ball user by hand and foot
Vision
Decision making
High leap
Evasion
Agility
Weaknesses:
Endurance
Unclear best position
Production
Inconsistent performances
Poor Under-18 Championships

11. Brayden Crossley (QLD - Gold Coast Academy)

Best position: Ruck
Height, weight: 198cm, 105kg
Recruited from: Labrador Tigers
Projected draft range: second round onwards
Similar to: Braydon Preuss
July Ranking: 16
Rationale: Strength in the ruck combined with his rare followup work by position gives Crossley the scope to be the best ruckman in this draft.
Strengths:
Recovery after ruck contests rare
Followup work with ground-ball winning and tackling exceptional
Freakish cleanness at ground level for someone his height/size
Roves off a contest like a small
Physical impact around the ball
Strength
Bodywork in the contest
Agile
Weaknesses:
Endurance
Leap
Acceleration

12. Callum Coleman-Jones (SA)
Best position:
Ruck/key forward
Height, weight: 199cm, 98kg
Recruited from: Sturt
Projected draft range: first to second round
Similar to: Toby Nankervis
July Ranking: 8
Rationale: Big body who can take a mark, find a lot of the ball around the ground and has the performances on the board both through the ruck and up forward. Appears an ideal relieving ruckman. Out for the season with knee surgery to solve a patella issue, but has done more than enough.
Strengths:
Contested marking
Strong hands overhead
Intercept marking
Reading of the flight
Size
Strength
Physicality
Clean at ground level
Disposal numbers per game through the ruck
Scoreboard impact
Taps to advantage
Mobility
Production
Prolific both as a key forward and ruckman
Very advanced game for age
Weaknesses:
Poor leap
Lacks explosiveness
Awkward kicking style

13. Sam Hayes (VIC)

Best position: Ruck/key forward
Height, weight: 203cm, 93kg
Recruited from: Eastern Ranges
Projected draft range: first round
Similar to: Matthew Kreuzer
July Ranking: 7
Rationale: Continues to perform strongly through the ruck and present a marking option when he pushes forward. While Hayes is the most advanced ruckman at this stage, by position he lacks one dominating element to his game to suggest he'll be a star.
Strengths:
Taps to advantage
Often takes ball out of ruck contest himself
Football smarts
Vice-like hands overhead, taking marks at the highest point
Contested marking
Body-on-body strength
Marking on the lead
Scoreboard impact
Finds the ball around the ground
Production
Advanced game for age
Mobile
Capable as ruckman or key forward
Weaknesses:
Pressure defensively
Only average leaper
Lacks a point of difference

14. Jack Higgins (VIC)

Best position: General forward/outside midfield
Height, weight: 178cm, 76kg
Recruited from: Oakleigh Chargers
Projected draft range: first round
Similar to: Lewis Taylor
July Ranking: 12
Rationale: Continuing to perform both as a midfielder and forward to a high level. Only drops slightly with the rises of Naughton and Clavarino.
Strengths:
One touch at ground level
Natural crumbing forward
Kicking skills on both sides of the body
Goal sense
Lowers his eyes and hits forward 50m targets
Plays taller than his height with his overhead marking
Capable one-on-one mark
Tackling pressure
Plays well as forward or midfielder
Production
Leap
Agility
Endurance
Work rate
Work ethic
Consistent performer
Weaknesses:
Impact per possession low as midfielder

15. James Worpel (VIC)

Best position: Inside midfield
Height, weight: 185cm, 84kg
Recruited from: Geelong Falcons
Projected draft range: first to second round
Similar to: Brad Sewell
July Ranking: 15
Rationale: Dominant stoppage work and contested ball winning sees Worpel hold his position.
Strengths:
Stoppage specialist
Powerful tackler
Contested ball winning
Clearances
Strong build
Strength through the hips allows Worpel to stand up when tackled and deliver a clean handball to a target without going to ground
Powerful fend offs
Courageous
Can hit the ball at speed and win it at full pace
Consistent performer
Acceleration
Agility
Leadership
Able to play forward and hit the scoreboard
Weaknesses:
Unreliable kick

16. Nicholas Coffield (VIC)

Best position: General defence/inside midfield
Height, weight: 190cm, 83kg
Recruited from: Northern Knights
Projected draft range: first to second round
Similar to: Jackson Nelson
July Ranking: 14
Rationale: One of the few players this year with genuine class and composure with ball in hand. At his height and with his mix of attributes has the scope to develop into a midfielder with time. Just needs to start winning more of the ball in the contest and develop greater consistency from game to game.
Strengths:
Sidestepping and composure in traffic
Sound decision maker in traffic
Classy ball user and clean kick over a variety of distances
Agility
Clean at ground level
Intercept marking
Production
Weaknesses:
Having played mostly back, he remains somewhat unproven as a midfielder other than for short periods
Contested ball winning
Stoppage work
Inconsistent production from game to game.

17. Jaidyn Stephenson (VIC)
Best position: Outside midfield
Height, weight: 189cm, 76kg
Recruited from: Eastern Ranges
Projected draft range: first round
Similar to: Kamdyn McIntosh
July Ranking: 13
Rationale: Stephenson's continued inconsistency sees him drop slightly. Has had his best moments as a tall, line-breaker on a wing.
Strengths:
High leaper
Aerial marking threat
Clean at ground level
Takes on the game with his run and is a genuine line breaker
Acceleration
Agility
Tackling pressure
Reading of ruck taps
Composed with ball in hand
Vision
Versatility to play wing, forward or on the ball for patches as needed
Weaknesses:
Hands overhead inconsistent
Strength
Consistency from game to game
Kicking mildly inconsistency

18. Andrew Brayshaw (VIC)

Best position: Inside midfield
Height, weight: 183cm, 80kg
Recruited from: Sandringham Dragons
Projected draft range: first round to second round
Similar to: Angus Brayshaw
July Ranking: 17
Rationale: Strong production and mix of attributes see Brayshaw placed inside the top 20.
Strengths:
Contested ball winning
Tackling
Stoppage work
One touch at ground level
Footy smarts
Kicking
Vision
Endurance
Weaknesses:
Athleticism
No clear second position

19. Patrick Naish (VIC - Richmond - father-son)
Best position: Outside midfield
Height, weight: 180cm, 69kg
Recruited from: Northern Knights
Projected draft range: first to second round
Similar to: Connor Menadue
July Ranking: 20
Rationale: Playing high impact per possession football and is one of this year's premier ball users and line breakers.
Strengths:
Agility
Evasiveness
Kicking
Vision
Awareness and composure in traffic
Class
Acceleration
Run and carry
Impact per disposal
Scoreboard impact
Weaknesses:
Contested ball winning
Size

20. Lochie O'Brien (VIC)
Best position: Outside midfield
Height, weight: 184cm, 75kg
Recruited from: Bendigo Pioneers
Projected draft range: first round
Similar to: Jimmy Toumpas
July Ranking: 18
Rationale: Does damage on the outside by foot and with his run. Finds enough of the ball but would be higher if he won more contested ball.
Strengths:
Arguably the best kick in the draft with his precision, variety of kicks he can execute, hurt factor and dual sided kicking
Lowers eyes
Vision
Decision Making
Line breaker
Acceleration
Evasiveness
Agility
Overhead marking
Production
Versatility to play midfield or on flanks at either end
Weaknesses:
Stoppage work
Contested ball winning