The Coronavirus pandemic threw an enormous curveball at those preparing for this year's AFL Draft, with junior competitions across the country suspended or cancelled.
But clubs and draft prospects are still preparing for the draft despite a lack of action on the field, although the AFL is yet to confirm a date for this year's event.
Here's everything you need to know about the current state of play.
Who will be the top pick in this year's Draft?
Western Bulldogs Next-Generation Academy product Jamarra Ugle-Hagan is the frontrunner at this point in time. Ugle-Hagan is the most dominant key forward close to goal I have seen since Tom Boyd was drafted with pick No. 1 in 2013. With the variety of ways he can take advantage of opposition key defenders, the 194cm, 84kg prospect has the scope to become one of the competition's premier key forwards.
Just imagine if Lance Franklin had hops - that's Ugle-Hagan. He is unstoppable when launching at the football aerially, timing his jumps to perfection, leaping high and protecting the ball drop in the air so he can't be spoiled. From day one, his scouting report will read 'do not give him a run and jump at the football, or he's taking the mark'. Ugle-Hagan is the most unstoppable inside-50 threat that I've seen of his age and is the most dangerous I've seen in the junior ranks when isolated deep inside 50m.
With his combination of aerial work, creation of separation on the lead and ground level prowess, he is a matchup nightmare. Bulldogs fans have someone to get excited about and should expect to see Jamarra lining up alongside Aaron Naughton early next year.
Who is currently playing?
With all Victorian junior and senior competitions shut down, prospects from other states will be the players we will be able to analyse this season.
Some of the names to watch between now and the end of the season include:
New South Wales: Braeden Campbell (Sydney Academy), Errol Gulden (Sydney Academy), Joshua Green (GWS Academy).
Northern Territory: Joel Jeffrey (Gold Coast - Northern Territory Zone)
Queensland: Alex Davies (Gold Coast Academy), Max Pescud (Gold Coast Academy), Saxon Crozier (Brisbane Academy), Carter Michael (Brisbane Academy), Blake Coleman (Brisbane Academy)
South Australia: Riley Thilthorpe, Luke Edwards (Adelaide Father-son - son of Tyson), Corey Durdin, Tariek Newchurch (Adelaide - Next-Generation Academy), Caleb Poulter, Zachary Dumesny, Lachlan Jones (Port Adelaide - Next-Generation Academy), Jamieson Murphy, Tom Powell, Bailey Chamberlain and Taj Schofield (Port Adelaide Father-Son - son of Jarrad).
Tasmania: Sam Collins, Oliver Davis, Jackson Callow and Patrick Walker
Western Australia: Logan McDonald, Denver Grainger-Barras, Zane Trew, Nathan O'Driscoll, Heath Chapman, Brandon Walker (Fremantle Next-Generation Academy), Joel Western (Fremantle Next-Generation Academy), Isiah Winder, Jack Carroll, Finn Gorringe and Chris Walker (Fremantle Next-Generation Academy).
An #AFLDraft special! The team is joined by @ChrisDoerreESPN— footytips (@footytips) December 7, 2020
and @championdata's Christian Joly to chat:
🦠 COVID curveballs
🧐 A top 20 phantom draft
📈 Risers and sliders
👀 Ranking the No. 1 picks since 2000
Stream the latest @ESPNAusNZ#AFL pod herehttps://t.co/XHlrbAAC7Y
Whose draft stocks have risen this year?
Logan McDonald has started the season with a bang, not only debuting at WAFL League level but kicking seven goals across his opening two games. With the Western Bulldogs sure to match bids on Ugle-Hagan, expect McDonald to firm for the club with the first selection if he continues his rapid rate of improvement. If there is a player who could contend for the No. 1 draft position, it may be McDonald, with the Western Australian drawing comparisons to Nick Riewoldt.
After two rounds, he leads the WAFL for goals kicked - a great indicator that he will be able to adapt to AFL play from his first season in 2021 given he's performing against grown men already.
Seen as a late first or early second round choice heading into the off-season, McDonald, while still developing physically, is a key forward with an enviable combination of endurance, mobility, skill, marking and scoreboard impact. McDonald also possesses the scope to switch back into defence where the way he reads the ball in flight, intercepts and uses the ball is not dissimilar to that displayed by Gold Coast's Jack Lukosius. Though with the way he is hitting the scoreboard as a key forward, and with great key forwards a rare commodity, McDonald appears to have found his spot.
Who are the other No. 1 contenders?
Ugle-Hagan, McDonald, Riley Thilthorpe, Will Phillips, Tanner Bruhn and Elijah Hollands are the most widely spoken about prospects.
The question recruiters will be asking is whether they want:
a) the most talented inside-50 threat since Franklin (Ugle-Hagan)
b) a high-motor key forward with a game resembling Nick Riewoldt (McDonald)
c) an athletic 200cm key forward who can relieve through the ruck (Thilthorpe)
d) the most advanced and dominant midfielder in the pool (Phillips)
e) a classy goalkicking midfielder (Bruhn) or
f) the highest impact per possession player in the draft who generates meaningful and effective drive by foot and with his run (Hollands)
Other changes up the pointy end of the draft
Looking like a probable first-round selection had he decided to stick with footy, athletic medium defender Wil Parker has withdrawn from draft to pursue cricket. If Parker ever decides to switch back to footy, clubs would be quick to welcome him back as a category B rookie.
If not for tearing his ACL, Elijah Hollands would likely have been one of the first two or three selected. Could Hollands replicate the success of Joel Selwood as someone else who sustained a serious knee injury in his draft year and fall into the 5-9 range himself?
Sustaining his second ACL tear in two years, Kaine Baldwin may have featured inside the top-10 if not for the second (albeit unrelated) ACL injury, but he is no longer a first round certainty with the key forward's durability a question mark.
Which clubs hold the best hands at this year's draft?
At this stage, Adelaide is holding the best cards, with not only their own first and second round picks but Greater Western Sydney's first-round choice and the Western Bulldogs' second selection.
North Melbourne appear to have the next strongest draft hand, with not only their first-round choice but also Melbourne's.
Geelong are in possession of the largest draft hand inside the first round. They will have their own first-round pick, Gold Coast's first-round assistance package pick and West Coast's first-round selection.
Brisbane are the fourth and final club with two first-round selections, possessing not only their own but also Port Adelaide's which will provide the premiership contender with great flexibility during this year's trade period.