AFL Draft State of Play: Everything you need to know

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ESPN's AFL Draft expert Chris Doerre has taken a break from his weekly wraps to put together his 2021 Draft state of play.

Here's everything you need to know ahead of this year's AFL Draft.


The pick one contenders

At this point in time there are two top contenders and one outside chance.

Collingwood father-son prospect Nick Daicos has starred so far this season and is one of the favourites to feature first overall. In every game he has played, Daicos has either been his side's best player, or in the conversation. Averaging 36 disposals and two goals per game, there is little more Daicos can do. The special sauce from Daicos is his work in traffic, his ability to evade opponents and display of rare composure in traffic with ball in hand.

The second contender for the top pick is South Australian midfielder Jason Horne. Playing strong football in the SANFL, fans have fallen in love with his acceleration out of the contest and high-flying marks. What sets Horne apart from other top picks is his strong tackling and pressure on the ball carrier, which have become staples to his game.

The outside chance is Western Bulldogs father-son prospect and son of Luke, Sam Darcy. Darcy is this year's premier tall, displaying the versatility to play as a key forward, key defender or ruckman. Standing at 204cm, with long arms and an appealing blend of overhead and ground level capabilities, Darcy is a late bloomer who continues to develop rapidly and arguably has as high of a ceiling as any in this draft pool.

Whose stocks have risen

As mentioned above, Darcy has been the big riser. Seen as a possible mid-draft consideration prior to the start of the season, Darcy has shattered all expectations and become this year's premier tall, with a possible top-three selection looming.

One of the most exciting midfielders in this draft, Finn Callaghan is arguably the most freakish mover through traffic to come through the junior ranks in recent years. His agility, evasion and speed are all features to the game of the 190cm midfielder. In the top-five conversation, Callaghan's stocks have risen in recent months as he has spent more time through the midfield.

Over the past two months, Josh Ward has come into his own and established himself as Victoria's second best midfielder, behind Daicos. With his run, skills, vision, decision making, composure with ball in hand and ball winning capabilities, Ward is a complete midfielder and another in the top-five conversation.

Melbourne next-generation academy ruckman Mac Andrew demonstrated some exciting signs earlier this year in the AFL Academy game against Geelong with a brief stint late in the game through the ruck. He also stood out in the Vic Metro vs. Vic Country trial where he played as a key position player.

Who are the relevant father-son, academy and next-generation Academy prospects?

Father-sons:

As mentioned, Collingwood father-son prospect Daicos (son of Peter) and Western Bulldogs father-son prospect Darcy (son of Luke) stand clearly ahead of other father-son prospects. Smooth moving Port Adelaide father-son Jase Burgoyne (son of Peter) is a third highly likely father-son and is likely to attract a bid towards the middle of the draft.

Tex Wanganeen (son of Gavin) will come under consideration by both Essendon and Port Adelaide. Wanganeen will be hoping to return from a navicular stress fracture to give us a taste of his capabilities before the season concludes.

As late draft considerations, Taj Woewodin (son of Shane) is eligible as a Melbourne father-son and has shown promise as a ball-winning midfielder with good skills. While Charlie McKay (son of Andrew) and Ewan MacPherson (son of Steve) are eligible as overagers to join Carlton and Western Bulldogs, respectively. McKay has been a reliable and consistent ball winner through the midfield for Sandringham, while MacPherson's competitiveness and tackling has been a highlight.

Academy:

Winning the MCC Presidents Medal for the best performer for AFL Academy in their loss to Geelong's VFL side, GWS Academy super boot Josh Fahey is expected to be the first Academy prospect to be chosen this year. He is likely to attract a first half of draft bid.

From Gold Coast's Academy, Bodhi Uwland was a standout in his two NAB League appearances. He showed AFL talent with his aggressive play and penetrating kick a highlight.

As overagers, Gold Coast's athletic goal sneak Max Pescud, Brisbane's hard working midfielder Saxon Crozier and Greater Western Sydney's prolific defender Sam Frost have each taken the next step this year and all appear to be draftable.

Next-Generation Academy:

Looking likely to be the first Next-Generation Academy prospect drafted, it is unlikely that Melbourne can match bids on Mac Andrew, who is expected to attract a bid inside the top 20.

Son of Daniel, Jesse Motlop is a Fremantle Next-Generation Academy prospect and a second player at some risk of being bid on inside the top 20. Motlop, a pressure forward, is seen as a top 15 to 30 choice at this stage, following an impressive WAFL League debut where he kicked two goals.

St Kilda may have the largest hand of draft relevant Next-Generation Academy prospects with Marcus Windhager and Mitch Owens both improving their draft stocks in recent months, while the speedy Scott Beilby could be a third.

Adelaide may go from short to shorter in 2022 with talented duo Isaiah Dudley (sub 170cm) and Blayne O'Loughlin (sub 180cm) as a forward and rebounding defender, respectively, looming as likely choices.

Youseph Dib is a Next-Generation Academy prospect Collingwood may look to add to their list as a lively tackler and ground ball winner, while strong marking and explosive forward Ethan Regan will come under strong consideration by West Coast.

As overagers, Domanic Akuei for Carlton presents an intriguing consideration late draft as a high leaping defender while Cody Raak for the Western Bulldogs is a prospect who has been thereabouts, and as a rebounding defender may be looked at late draft or as a rookie.