AFL Draft Wrap: Shades of Gray as Mitch Mellis boosts his claims

Each week, ESPN.com.au AFL draft expert Chris Doerre 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 wraps, 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

After earning two Under-18 Championships matches for Vic Metro, Mitch Mellis was the star for top-of-the-table Eastern in their win again Tasmania. His first quarter was pivotal in keeping Eastern within reach before they took control in the second quarter.

Putting his head over the ball and winning first possession at stoppages, it was Mellis' ground ball-winning in combination with his bursts of speed with ball in hand over 10-20 metres that stood out most. His distribution by hand, high work rate, agility, evasion and the composure and sound decision making he demonstrated under pressure were further highlights.

The 173cm midfielder amassed 33 disposals, 16 contested possessions, 10 clearances and one goal.

With a game baring similarity to Sam Gray, Mellis projects to contend to play a similar forward/midfield role at AFL level and should receive draft consideration in the second half of this year's AFL Draft.

NAB League

Eastern

Hurting the opposition with his kicking and applying himself defensively, Connor Downie made clear that he is a player to watch in next year's draft. The skilful underager managed 19 disposals and one goal.

Breaking the lines, demonstrating clean hands in close at ground level and agility, Joshua Clarke had enough moments to suggest he will be another player to watch in next year's draft. The speedy underager secured 13 disposals and six inside 50s.

Providing heavy forward pressure and tackling with force, the enthusiasm of Jonte Duffy was a highlight. His crumbing and work at ground level in addition to his forward pressure suggests scope to develop as a small forward. The aggressive tackler contributed 11 disposals and nine tackles.

Tasmania

With three tackles that resulted in holding the ball in the first quarter alone, Oliver Davis' tackling and pressure throughout were features. Davis' ball-winning, run, quick ball movement and clean work by hand and foot were further strong points. The Tasmanian captain and arguably their best prospect despite being an underager secured 23 disposals, 11 contested possessions, 13 tackles, five clearances, six inside 50s and two score assists.

Hurting the opposition with his ball use, underager Sam Collins -- who proved himself earlier in the season with his intercept marking in defence -- performed strongly through the midfield with 16 disposals, nine contested possessions and five clearances.

Dominating during the first half before struggling in the second half with knee soreness, underager Jackson Callow was a force to be reckoned with. His strong hands overhead, one-on-one marking, reading of the ball in flight and body work were key features of the strong-bodied key forward's game. He combined this with good work at ground level taking the ball off the bounce, keeping his feet, turning his opponent inside out several times and showing good agility. He produced 14 disposals, six marks (five contested) and four goals.

SANFL

League

Under-18 All-Australian Will Gould was prolific for Glenelg in win against Norwood with 17 disposals and six marks.

Enhancing his reputation as one of this year's best forwards, Cameron Taheny starred with 15 disposals, four marks and four of Norwood's eight goals.

Reserves

Gaining confidence and elevating his game on the back of a strong Under-18 Championships, Dyson Hilder played a pivotal role in North Adelaide's four-point win against West Adelaide. The promising key defender with clean skills managed 21 disposals and 11 marks.

Pairing well in defence with Hilder for North Adelaide, Karl Finlay who is one of this year's best tall intercept marking defenders collected 20 disposals and nine marks.

After showing promise during the Under-18 Championships, Joshua Shute continued his strong vein of form. A composed and evasive midfielder, Shute amassed 29 disposals and 12 marks for Sturt in their win against Central Districts.

A prolific first possession-winner, Lachlan McNeil led the way through the midfield for Woodville-West Torrens in their win against South Adelaide. The ball-winning midfielder delivered 23 disposals, 13 tackles and seven clearances.

Sharing the midfield load with McNeil for Woodville-West Torrens, South Australian MVP Harry Schoenberg was also important with 23 disposals, five marks, six clearances and one goal.

WAFL

League

In his League debut, underager Denver Grainger-Barras -- who impressed during the Under-18 Championships at 192cm with his intercept marking and athleticism -- contributed strongly for Swan Districts in their loss to East Fremantle. The potential early 2020 choice managed 12 disposals and four marks.

Having a dominant League season after playing only three League games in 2018, Jeremy Goddard who was overlooked in the 2016 draft may receive draft consideration as a mature age ruckman. In a dominant display against Subiaco, Goddard delivered 12 disposals and 49 hitouts. Goddard averages a competition-leading 38 hitouts per match and is creating separation with an average of 46 hitouts over his past five matches.

Reserves

Overage midfielder Tristan Hobley who was considered by clubs in the mid-season draft was named Subiaco's best in his third reserves game. The classy midfielder competed hard with 21 disposals and nine tackles.

NEAFL

Winner of the Hunter Harrison Medal for the best player during the Academy Series, Connor Budarick was industrious for Gold Coast in their loss to Sydney University with 21 disposals and six tackles.

Speedy ground ball-winner Samuel Thorne, a part of Sydney's Academy who captained Sydney's Under-18 side, contributed strongly for Sydney with 17 disposals, six marks and one goal.

Creative overage midfielder James Peatling performed strongly for GWS with 21 disposals, seven marks and one goal in their win against Northern Territory.

After spending most of the Under-18 Championships playing in defence for the Allies, Liam Delahunty returned to the front half for GWS, providing a strong marking target forward of centre. The Academy product managed 14 disposals, six amarks and three goals.