AFL Draft Combine: Which prospects shone the brightest?

play
What's it like for players during trade period? (1:10)

Jude Bolton recalls the time he thought he was 'in the gun' as the Swans looked to rejuvenate their list. (1:10)

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.

As we get closer to the draft itself -- on November 20-21 -- Doerre will produce several phantom drafts. This is his analysis of the recent Draft Combine testing.


The annual AFL Draft Combine brought together 79 of this year's most desirable prospects in an opportunity for clubs to interview, observe, test and measure the draft eligible talent. The athletic testing is used to measure the progress of each prospect, with clubs holding data dating back several years and to gain context into what they see on matchday.

In past years, there has also been skill testing at the combine but it was removed for this year's event due to critics' concerns it was not a strong representation of what happens on matchday.

Noteworthy combine results

Likely top-10 choice Sam Flanders, a strongly built and explosive forward and midfielder, was one of the combine standouts. Exceeding expectations, it was encouraging to see the powerfully build Flanders place inside the top-10 in the yo-yo endurance test, agility, vertical jump and running vertical.

Finishing third in 2km time trial and top-10 in the agility and 20m sprint, Dylan Stephens showed his all-around running ability. During games, the top-10 draft chance runs relentlessly, whether he is bursting out of stoppages, breaking the lines or providing repeat leads up at the ball. He is not just someone who tests well, but on the field his run is one of his most defining points of difference.

Hawthorn father-son prospect and potential first-round choice Finn Maginness (son of Scott) enhanced his stocks with a strong combine. He came second in the 2km time trial (breaking the previous combine record) and featured inside the top-10 in the yo-yo and 20m sprint. It is a pleasant surprise to see Maginness test so well given his most notable points of difference on field primarily are his ball-winning, decision making and marking inside 50m.

Athletically, Maginness is a relatively quick and agile type without showing his elite running capabilities consistently on matchday.

First round contender Miles Bergman won the vertical jump and came second in the running vertical. The tall flanker is one of this year's strongest marks and best at reading the ball in flight. Bergman uses his leap in games, often flying for marks and possesses the body control when airborne to absorb contact and take the mark.

Athletic key forward Harrison Jones furthered his top-30 draft chances, displaying a full bag of tricks. The lightly built but strong marking Jones placed inside the top-10 in the yo-yo, 20m sprint and running vertical jump.

Ball-winning midfielder and basketball convert Jay Rantall placed first in the yo-yo and 2km. His 2km time trial time was a new combine record and helped his mid-draft prospects.

Top-five contender Hayden Young took out the agility test. This was a positive result for Young who, while a good mover, has developed a reputation more for his precise and damaging kick from defence more-so than as an athlete.

In a great result coming off fractured fibula, Cooper Stephens -- who has not played since Round 3 -- came second in the yo-yo and top-10 in the 2km time trial and running vertical jump. Stephens, a strong-bodied, hard-running midfielder with explosive pace, enhanced his draft stocks. Coming into this season, Stephens was viewed as a likely first-round choice off the back of his strong 2018 season and despite the time missed, is seen as a potential late first or second round choice.

Missing the season with a quad injury, key forward Mitch Georgiades placed fourth in the 20m sprint. With the promise he showed during the 2018 Under-18 Championships, Georgiades -- despite missing the season -- remains firmly in the draft mix.

Arguably this year's fastest line-breaker with ball in hand, Brady Rowles won the running vertical, came second in the vertical and finished inside the top-10 in the 20m sprint.

Recognised for the drive he generates from defence with his run and damaging kick, Jeremy Sharp surprised no one by finishing inside the top-10 in the yo-yo, 2km time trial and 20m sprint. Likely to feature inside the first or second round on draft day, Sharp only enhanced his stocks.

Gold Coast Academy midfielder Connor Budarick placed inside the top-three in the yo-yo and top-10 in the 2km time trial and agility. He is a hard-working tackling machine and his results explain how he gets to so many contests, applies so much pressure and lays so many tackles. Viewed as a potential second-round choice, Gold Coast will be able to pre-sign Budarick to their list without going through the draft or bidding process due to the AFL's assistance package.

As expected, Brisbane Academy utility Noah Cumberland place inside the top-five in the 20m sprint and top-10 in the agility. Cumberland is an ultra-explosive line-breaker who makes things happen with ball in hand and may attract a bid mid-draft.

Projected No. 1 selection Matt Rowell surprised no one by finishing inside the top-10 in the yo-yo and 2km time trial. His close friend and projected No. 2 choice Noah Anderson finished inside the top-10 in the 2km time trial.

Who didn't test?

Of this year's top end prospects, likely top-10 choices Tom Green (GWS Academy - knee) and Brodie Kemp (ACL) did not test.

First round contenders Liam Henry (Fremantle Next-Generation Academy - kneecap), Deven Robertson (shoulder), Fischer McAsey (foot), Josh Worrell (shoulder), Sam De Koning (ankle) and Dylan Williams (back) also sat out.

Mitch O'Neill (medial ligament), Flynn Perez (ACL), Liam Delahunty (GWS Academy - kneecap), Jack Bell (ankle), Riley Garcia (ACL), Josh Honey (hip) and Jake Pasini (shoulder) were also unable to test.

Key test results

Yo-Yo test (level)
Jay Rantall 21.8
Cooper Stephens 21.8
Connor Budarick 21.6
Chad Warner 21.6
Oscar Lewis 21.5
Sam Philp 21.5
Lachlan Ash 21.4
Harrison Jones 21.4
Finn Maginness 21.4
Trey Ruscoe 21.4
Riley Baldi 21.3
Sam Flanders 21.3
Matt Rowell 21.3
Jeremy Sharp 21.3

2km time trial results (min:sec)
Jay Rantall 5:50
Finn Maginness 5:51
Dylan Stephens 6:01
Louis Butler 6:09
Hugo Ralphsmith 6:12
Jeremy Sharp 6:12
Connor Budarick 6:15
Jai Jackson 6:15
Will Martyn 6:16
Ned Cahill 6:17
Matt Rowell 6:17
Noah Anderson 6:17
Cooper Stephens 6:17
Cian McBride 6:17

Agility (seconds)
Hayden Young 7.940
Elijah Taylor 8.005
Thomson Dow 8.061
Trent Rivers 8.100
Oisin Gallen 8.197
Chad Warner 8.203
Sam Flanders 8.206
Noah Cumberland 8.208
Connor Budarick 8.242
Dylan Stephens 8.245

20m sprint (seconds)
Sam Philp 2.867
Ben Johnson 2.885
Malcolm Rosas 2.924
Mitch Georgiades 2.925
Noah Cumberland 2.931
Finn Maginness 2.957
Harrison Jones 2.963
Jeremy Sharp 2.966
Brady Rowles 2.968
Dylan Stephens 2.972

Vertical jump (cm)
Miles Bergman 77
Brady Rowles 73
Ben Johnson 70
Daniel Mott 70
Cody Weightman 69
Sam Flanders 69
Lachlan Williams 69
Sam Philp 69
Nick Bryan 69

Running vertical jump (cm)
Brady Rowles 98
Miles Bergman 90
Sam Flanders 88
Cian McBride 87
Lachlan Williams 86
Hugo Ralphsmith 86
Jaxon Prior 85
Nick Bryan 85
Oscar Lewis 83
Kysaiah Pickett 83
Cody Weightman 83
Will Day 83
Cooper Stephens 83
Harrison Jones 83