2015 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 2015.

No. 1: Clayton Oliver
Where he was picked: (No. 4)
Analysis: Oliver is the standout prospect in this year's crop. He is one of the premier midfielders and among the most dominant ball winners in the competition.

No. 2: Charlie Curnow
Where he was picked: (No. 12)
Analysis: One of the competition's most exciting young key forwards, Curnow possesses excellent athleticism, strength in one-on-one contests, freakish contested marking ability and the scope to push up through the midfield.

No. 3: Jacob Weitering
Where he was picked:
(No. 1)
Analysis: Likely to become one of the best key defenders in the league, Weitering is as an intercept marking threat, a damaging kick and powerful one-on-one defender.

No. 4: Jacob Hopper
Where he was picked:
(No. 7 - academy bid matched)
Analysis: 2018 was a breakout season for Hopper, who established himself as a midfielder in a stacked GWS lineup. Hopper has the scope to become one of the AFL's most dominant stoppage players and is likely to take steps towards that over the next few years.

No. 5: Callum Mills
Where he was picked:
(No. 3 - academy bid matched)
Analysis: Mills started his career strongly in defence and is expected to evolve into one of this draft's best midfielders over the next few seasons. With his ball-winning capabilities, he should be able to maximise his talents when released into Sydney's midfield.

No. 6: Eric Hipwood
Where he was picked:
(No. 14 - academy bid matched)
Analysis: One of the league's most promising key forwards. At 204cm, Hipwood displays good mobility and consistently hits the scoreboard. He has improved every season and can in time become one of Brisbane's most dangerous players.

No. 7: Harry McKay
Where he was picked:
(No. 10)
Analysis: McKay earns this spot on the back of a breakout 2018. He provides a strong focal point inside 50m thanks to contested marking prowess, while he hits the scoreboard at an impressive rate.

No. 8: Wayne Milera
Where he was picked:
(No. 11)
Analysis: Milera is one of the AFL's most exciting young players. In 2018 he found a spot in defence and demonstrated creative run and clean skills.

No. 9: Jade Gresham
Where he was picked:
(No. 18)
Analysis: Gresham is one of the competition's best small forwards. He is a high-production forward who hits the scoreboard, uses the ball effectively inside 50m and can push up through the midfield.

No. 10: Josh Dunkley
Where he was picked:
(No. 25 - father-son)
Analysis: Sydney overlooked Dunkley, feeling they had too many similar types in their squad already. Considering their next pick (Tyrone Leonardis at pick 51) was delisted at the end of 2017, hindsight says they should have matched bids on Dunkley. Impressively, through the last nine rounds of 2018, Dunkley did not accrue fewer than 23 disposals, becoming one of the competition's most prolific ball-winning midfielders and tacklers during that time.

No. 11: Ryan Burton
Where he was picked:
(No. 19)
Analysis: Burton is an excellent intercept mark and has the capability to switch ends and play as a lead-up forward. If he adds some more strings to his bow and improves one-on-one, he can improve his standing on this list.

No. 12: Tom Stewart
Where he was picked:
(No. 40 in 2016)
Analysis: Stewart is four years older than his peers here and still 'one year away' from getting drafted, but on performance is the best available. In 2018, he became one of the competition's premier defenders -- winning one-on-ones consistently, intercepting with ease, and playing both tall or small.

No. 13: Tim Kelly
Where he was picked:
(No. 24 in 2017)
Analysis: Kelly is three years older than most of his peers and entered the league two years later, but on the back of his 2018 season he appears the best available. He is a damaging midfielder/forward and explosive ball winner who impacts games when they're there to be won.

No. 14: Sam Menegola
Where he was picked:
(rookie draft pick No. 66)
Analysis: Menegola had prior stints with Fremantle and Hawthorn, but has made the most of a third AFL chance at Geelong. An excellent endurance athlete and accumulator through the midfield and front half, Menegola has performed consistently since his debut and has become a valuable contributor.

No. 15: Daniel Rioli
Where he was picked:
(No. 15)
Analysis: One of the competition's premier forward pressure specialists. If he starts kicking more goals or finding more of the ball up the field, Rioli can improve his position on this list in the future.

No. 16: Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti
Where he was picked:
(rookie draft pick No.22)
Analysis: McDonald-Tipungwuti is four years older than his peers but provides elite forward pressure and impacts games more than any remaining player on the board. The bonus is he averaged 22 games across his three seasons which helps his projected career value.

No. 17: Tom Phillips
Where he was picked:
(No. 58)
Analysis: Phillips was picked as an overager but has developed into an elite outside runner and accumulator with clean skills.

No. 18: Blake Hardwick
Where he was picked:
(No. 44)
Analysis: After playing his junior football as a forward and his first AFL season also in attack, Hardwick has developed into an excellent defender. He intercepts, uses the ball effectively and limits the influence of his direct opponent.

No. 19: Aaron Francis
Where he was picked:
(No. 6)
Analysis: Francis earns this position with the combination of his strength of VFL form throughout 2018 and his close to the season at AFL level. His intercept marking, athleticism and long kicking are his standout attributes.

No. 20: Tom Papley
Where he was picked:
(rookie draft pick No.14)
Analysis: Picked as an overager, Papley provides excellent forward pressure, uses the ball effectively and pushes through the midfield contributing at stoppages.