2014 AFL draft: Who are the real top 20?

Hindsight is always 20-20, and that's especially the case when you look back at previous AFL drafts and wonder 'what if?'

The draft is where list managers really earn their money. Nail the early picks and your club will be that much closer to a finals campaign or even a premiership tilt. But if you miss the mark, trouble awaits.

Of course every club has had its fair share of hits and misses in recent years but the endless question from each draft remains - who are the best players, and in what order? ESPN.com.au draft expert Chris Doerre has revisited the drafts from 2013 to 2017 and re-selected who he believes are the top 20 talents, based on career output so far and future potential.

Doerre has analysed every player available during that particular year's draft, with often completely overlooked players who were subsequently selected in following seasons ending up being among the best of their initial draft class.

This is Doerre's top 20 from 2014.

No. 1: Harris Andrews
Where he was picked:
No. 61 - Academy bid matched (Brisbane)
Analysis: The best young key defender in the competition and my highest rated player in the 2014 pool. An excellent stopper who wins one-on-ones and intercepts even when given the hardest defensive assignments. He was obtained at the bargain-basement price of pick 61 thanks to the now outdated academy bidding system.

No. 2: Jake Lever
Where he was picked:
pick 14 (Adelaide)
Analysis: Lever is not as effective one-on-one as Andrews but is one of the competition's best intercepting key defenders. Lever started his career strongly with the Crows but after his third season, requested a trade to Melbourne. Lever was traded along with pick 37 and 2018 pick 47 for pick 10, 2018 pick 19 and 2018 pick 67. Despite a second ACL injury during his debut season with the Demons, he projects to be one of the best players in this draft.

No. 3: Christian Petracca
Where he was picked:
No. 2 (Melbourne)
Analysis: Petracca possesses the scope to improve and stands narrowly ahead of Isaac Heeney and Jordan De Goey as an even more powerful one-on-one player and contested ball-winner. A rare impact player as a forward who will gradually see more midfield time as his endurance improves.

No. 4: Isaac Heeney
Where he was picked:
No. 18 - Academy bid matched (Sydney)
Analysis: Sydney were able to use pick 18 to match bids on Heeney -- who was regarded a consensus top-four selection going into the draft and as high as No. 1 on some draft boards -- which was an extreme example of value secured through the academies that resulted in the introduction of the points system the following year. Heeney is one of the draft's best midfielders as one of its most prolific contested-ball winners and is set to take on a more prominent midfield role in coming seasons.

No. 5: Jordan De Goey
Where he was picked: No. 5 (Collingwood)
Analysis: De Goey's scoreboard impact and capacity to push up through the midfield sets him apart from the remaining prospects. He hurts opponents one-on-one inside 50m and hits the scoreboard like few in the competition can. Expect De Goey to receive greater midfield opportunities in coming seasons with his contested ball-winning through the midfield untapped given his strength and power.

No. 6: Angus Brayshaw
Where he was picked:
No. 3 (Melbourne)
Analysis: While Brayshaw started his career slowly with numerous concussions, he established himself in 2018 as one of the game's elite midfielders, finishing a surprise third place in last year's Brownlow Medal count. It has taken Brayshaw time to establish himself, but if he remains concussion free and continues from his second half of 2018 form, he is the clear standout of those remaining.

No. 7: Toby McLean
Where he was picked:
No. 26 (Western Bulldogs)
Analysis: McLean has improved every season since being drafted, progressing from a threatening forward to take on greater midfield responsibly the past two seasons. A well-rounded player who wins it, uses it effectively, is a threat forward of centre and puts opponents under pressure with his tackling.

No. 8: Peter Wright
Where he was picked:
No. 8 (Gold Coast)
Analysis: Wright in 2016 and 2017 was an effective key forward, and assuming continued development, should become an excellent key forward/ruckman and one of Gold Coast's best prospects.

No. 9: Tom Stewart
Where he was picked:
No. 40 in 2016 (Geelong)
Analysis: Even though Stewart was selected two years later and is three years older than his peers in this draft, he is an already established defender of high quality. He intercepts and has the versatility to play tall or small and beat his opponents consistently.

No. 10: Tim Kelly
Where he was picked: No. 24 in 2017 (Geelong)
Analysis: Kelly is two years older than most of his peers here and entered the league three years later. Off the back of his debut 2018 season though, he looms as one of the best available. Kelly is a damaging midfielder/forward and established ball winner.

No. 11: Darcy Moore
Where he was picked:
No. 9 - father-son bid matched (Collingwood)
Analysis: While Moore struggled with hamstring injuries in 2018, he is an athletic and versatile key position player or ruckman who impacts games and should become one of Collingwood's better players if he can overcome his injury issues.

No. 12: Adam Saad
Where he was picked:
Rookie draft No. 25 in 2015 (Gold Coast)
Analysis: While Saad is two years older than his peers in this draft, he injects speed, metres gained, clean ball use and is an able one-on-one defender. Saad in 2017 requested a move to Essendon and was traded to the Bombers for Essendon's 2018 second round pick, No. 35.

No. 13: Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti
Where he was picked: Rookie draft pick No. 22 in 2015 (Essendon)
Analysis: McDonald-Tipungwuti is three years older and drafted one year later than his peers but provides elite forward pressure and ball use while impacting games more heavily than any remaining player. The bonus is he is averaging 22 games across his three seasons which helps his projected career value.

No. 14: Tom Phillips
Where he was picked:
No. 58 in 2015 (Collingwood)
Analysis: Phillips, who was drafted the following year, has developed into an elite outside runner and accumulator with clean skills.

No. 15: Alex Neal-Bullen
Where he was picked:
No. 40 (Melbourne)
Analysis: One of the competition's elite endurance runners, Neal-Bullen covers as much ground per game as any, provides excellent forward pressure and is a precise kick inside 50m.

No. 16: Tom Papley
Where he was picked: Rookie draft pick No. 14 in 2015 (Sydney)
Analysis: Selected in the following draft, Papley provides excellent forward pressure, uses the ball effectively and pushes through the midfield, contributing at stoppages.

No. 17: Jayden Short
Where he was picked:
Rookie draft No. 11 (Richmond)
Analysis: On the back of a breakout 2018, Short has developed into an excellent rebounder from defence with his drive and long kicking a highlight.

No. 18: Jack Sinclair
Where he was picked:
Rookie draft pick No. 1 (St Kilda)
Analysis: With a well-rounded game, Sinclair was selected as an overager and provides substantial pressure on a wing while possessing speed and clean skills.

No. 19: Caleb Daniel
Where he was picked:
No. 46 (Western Bulldogs)
Analysis: From his second season, Daniel has played a consistent brand of football with his precise kicking and decision-making a highlight.

No. 20: Ed Langdon
Where he was picked: No. 54 (Fremantle)
Analysis: With his speed and production impressing in a breakout 2018 following an injury-interrupted start to his career, Langdon looks like he will be a dangerous outside runner for a long time.