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.
After earning AFL Academy squad selection during the week, Josh Gibcus confirmed his status as one of this year's premier key defenders, patrolling the airways for Greater Western Victoria in their 11-point win against Murray.
Gibcus could be found flying for everything and showing off his incredible vertical jump. Gibcus combines his brilliant running power with his A-grade vertical leap and is arguably best in class when it comes to ball reading capabilities and strong hands overhead. He is this draft's most threatening intercept marking presence.
The story of Gibcus' game was a tale of flying for and getting up high with frequency to take intercept marks, in a style not dissimilar to Nick Haynes. The highflyer managed 17 disposals and nine marks (two contested).
While the way Gibcus impacts games, and the frequency he takes intercept marks is as good as any in this year's draft pool, the hope will be that over time he is able to add additional ways of impacting games.
TWO THINGS I LEARNED
Oakleigh looked for Nick Daicos on what seemed like every drive forward in their 46-point win against Western. Amassing 40 disposals, nine marks, six clearances, 11 inside-50s, two goals, four behinds and two score assists, Daicos has entered the No. 1 pick conversation. The Collingwood father-son prospect has made a statement through his consistency and dominance during his first three NAB League performances, averaging 33 disposals and three goals through three games.
Exciting with the way he took on the game, including a 60m run at high speed which included an impressive change of direction on the move to avoid a tackle, Kai Lohmann was lively and exciting for Greater Western Victoria. He impressed with aerial marking and his ability to take on the game with his speed. While he spent most of his time as a forward, his game looks ideally suited to allow for a switch into defence. Lohmann secured 19 disposals, five marks (one contested), six tackles, three behinds and six score assists.
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MID-YEAR DRAFT WATCH
Generating meaningful drive from defence with both his run and penetrating kick, Patrick Parnell was the standout for Murray. Despite standing at 178cm and 60kg, his one-on-one marking was noticeable, with two one-on-one marks in the first quarter. With his surprising one-on-one capabilities, the way he intercepts, his speed, agility and penetrating kick, Parnell offers an intriguing opportunity for a club that doesn't mind going small in defence. The exciting defender managed 24 disposals, nine contested possessions, five marks (two contested) and six rebound 50s.
Impressing with his run and intercepting in defence, Western Bulldogs Next-Generation Academy member Cody Raak was Western's standout in their heavy loss to Oakleigh. The tall defender amassed 33 disposals, seven marks and 10 rebound 50s.
Big-bodied ball winning midfielder Joel Trudgeon starred for Northern in their convincing 68-point win against Gippsland. The Northern Knights captain collected 29 disposals, 17 contested possessions, five marks (two contested), eight tackles, three goals and two score assists.
Impressing through the ruck for Williamstown, ex-GWS Giant ruckman Tom Downie performed strongly with 32 hitouts, 18 disposals, nine marks and six tackles in a best-on-ground display. The component that was pleasing was Downie's willingness to push back behind the ball and take intercept marks, with his value being felt around the ground.
An elite intercept marking defender who can push through the midfield, Jack Avery was widely considered unlucky to be overlooked in 2020. Performing to a standard that will ensure recruiters won't forget about him, Avery amassed 39 disposals and nine marks for Perth in their 43-point loss to Claremont.
Dandenong's Connor MacDonald continues to rise up draft boards and could with further improvement be a first-round choice in this year's draft. The ball winning midfielder secured 25 disposals, 11 contested possessions, six marks, six inside-50s, one goal and two score assists in Dandenong's 50-point loss to Sandringham.
Continuing to impress for Northern, tall midfielder and forward Ned Long is looming as a potential first round selection. He gathered 25 disposals, 12 contested possessions, laid five tackles and kicked three goals on the weekend.
Starring through the ruck, Toby Conway routinely either got the tap down or won his own ball, in a style not dissimilar to Brodie Grundy. Doing most of his damage at ruck contests, Conway managed 17 disposals, 13 contested possessions, 29 hitouts, six clearances and one goal.
Enhancing his first-round draft chances, Neil Erasmus continued his strong vein of form with 28 disposals, six marks and five tackles. One of the off-season's big improvers, Erasmus has not dropped below 28 disposals in his three games so far.
STATS WHICH CAUGHT THE EYE
Receiving greater midfield opportunity, after starting the season in defence, potential top-10 choice Josh Sinn showed his versatility, securing 20 disposals, 10 contested possessions, five clearances, 10 inside-50s and three score assists for Sandringham.
Tasmania's standout prospect Sam Banks backed up his strong performance against Calder with another 29 disposals, seven marks and a goal on the weekend in a 27-point win against Eastern. Banks is one of this year's premier rebounders, with his penetrating and damaging kick from defence a highlight.
SANFL UNDER 18s
Classy midfielder Hugh Jackson is looking like one of South Australia's best this year. Jackson amassed 31 disposals, nine marks and seven rebound 50s in North Adelaide's 11-point loss to Norwood. Jackson has yet to drop below 30 disposals through his first three games this season.
Top-10 draft contender Matthew Roberts was the standout for South Adelaide in their 16-point loss to Woodville-West Torrens. The ball winning midfielder amassed 37 disposals, nine marks, eight tackles, five clearances, eight inside-50s and kicked one goal in what is likely a sign of things to come.