AFL Draft September Power Rankings: First round bolters emerging?

The 2023 AFL Draft rankings have been expanded to 30 prospects, with a consolidated top group of 13 prospects breaking away from an even group that is splitting recruiter opinions.

The Coates Talent League (CTL), WAFL and SANFL are all gearing up for huge finals campaigns and prospects including Zane Duursma, Tew Jiath and Arie Schoenmaker are hitting their straps at the pointy end of the season.

These are ESPN's top 30 power rankings for September.

Other rankings: Post-combine | October | September | August | July | June | May | April

1. Harley Reid (previously 1)
Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country
MID, 185cm, 82kg
Talent League: 6 games, 18.5 disposals, 2.0 goals

Reid has been the nominal pick one for 18 months now. It's a credit that his performances have kept pace with the gaudy expectation following him to all of six of the teams he's run out with in 2023. Reid is supremely confident with ball in hand, loves competing in the contest and is the only midfielder in the top 15 for contested marks in the CTL (at 1.7 per outing). As he was anointed last year, Harley will enter the draft as the top prospect in the country.

2. Jed Walter (2)
SUNS Academy/Allies
FWD, 197cm, 91kg
Talent League: 4 games, 18.2 disposals, 4.5 goals

Walter has sat out post-champs with a knee injury he played through, but he's done enough to command a top-three bid on draft night. The hulking key forward kicked goals for fun at every level and showed off impressive defensive tenacity to go with a forward 50 package including straight-line speed, strong hands, and a fluid goal-kicking action. The Suns will match a bid wherever it comes for Walter.

3. Colby McKercher (5)
Tasmania Devils/Allies
MID, 181cm, 73kg
Talent League: 8 games, 30.6 disposals, 1.4 goals

McKercher is a maestro on-baller, able to pick apart defences with a laser left boot and a wicked turn of pace. He has a nice inside-outside blend, averaging the most uncontested possessions in the CTL but also ranking top 10 for clearances and top 15 for contested possessions. McKercher makes his disposals count and hits the scoreboard with regularity. It's a compelling package that has him rated as the best pure midfielder in the pool.

4. Dan Curtin (4)
Claremont/Western Australia
DEF, 195cm, 93kg
WAFL: 5 games, 17.2 disposals, 4.0 marks

Curtin has now played five games at League level for Claremont and has fitted in seamlessly down back. His composure and skill execution with ball in hand is a highlight, adding to his elite intercepting ability through the air. Curtin has played -- and dominated -- as a defender, midfielder, and forward this year; he's a pure footballer with the perfect modern day defensive game.

5. Zane Duursma (7)
Gippsland Power/Vic Country
FWD/MID, 189cm, 79kg
Talent League: 11 games, 19.5 disposals, 2.9 goals

Duursma has been the best performing prospect in the second half of the year. After attempting to play heavy midfield minutes early in the season, he's found consistency at half forward where his speed, balance and composure come to the fore for Gippsland and in VFL games with Casey. While he may never become a pure midfielder, Duursma's ability to hit the scoreboard and impact games consistently in the forward half has been ultra-impressive.

6. Nate Caddy (5)
Northern Knights/Vic Metro
FWD/MID, 192cm, 91kg
Talent League: 8 games, 17.0 disposals, 2.9 goals

Caddy has awesome upside as a key forward, splitting packs and buttering up at ground level all season for the Knights. He averages 2.4 contested marks per game, but also 8.4 contested possessions in stints on-ball. Caddy would be an undersized key position player at 192 centimetres, but he's also a centimetre taller than Charlie Curnow was in his draft year and possesses a similarly top-heavy frame to grow into.

7. Ryley Sanders (8)
Sandringham Dragons/Allies
MID, 186cm, 85kg
Talent League: 6 games, 32.3 disposals, 7.0 clearances

Sanders joins a list of Larke Medallists -- as the National Championships MVP -- that includes Sam Walsh, Christian Petracca and Stephen Coniglio. He's the best contested midfielder in the draft, continually producing eye-watering numbers with his work rate to contest a highlight. Sanders doesn't boast great penetration in his kick and doesn't exhibit the same level of skill as McKercher, but his proficiency in the clinches is undisputed.

8. Ethan Read (9)
SUNS Academy/Allies
RUC, 202cm, 87kg
Talent League: 4 games, 20.0 disposals, 6.0 marks

Read is set to be the AFL's next 'unicorn' - supremely skilful 202 centimetre tall that can play in all three areas of the ground. His work rate is huge and he has clean hands in the contest as well. Read is extremely lean and will take years to build the size to become a first-choice ruckman, but an intercepting back may be where he plays his best football regardless. A bid may come earlier than this placing for Read, but the Suns will be quick to match.

9. Nick Watson (6)
Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro
FWD, 170cm, 66kg
Talent League: 6 games, 22.3 disposals, 1.3 goals

It's unlikely Watson will slide further than this point on draft night, but there are enough concerns for clubs to bypass him at the very top right now. At his best, he's a masterful small forward with a bag of tricks, electrifying pace and aerial ability. But he hasn't flourished in his stints on-ball or at halfback. Watson looks to be a small forward in the mould of Cody Weightman at the next level.

10. Connor O'Sullivan (10)
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country
DEF/FWD, 198cm, 92kg
Talent League: 9 games, 20.4 disposals, 7.0 marks

O'Sullivan is an assured key defender that combines stout defensive work with intercepting ability and a want for the football in his hands. He's a mature body and plays with a country physicality, setting the tone and winning carnival MVP for the Allies. O'Sullivan has spent time up forward and even on-ball in short bursts, but will be drafted as a reliable backman.

11. Jake Rogers (11)
SUNS Academy/Allies
MID, 171cm, 68kg
Talent League: 4 games, 25.5 disposals, 7.0 clearances

Rogers is another diminutive figure in the draft, but he brings pressure and intensity in abundance through the engine room. He adds a defensive presence to the midfield but also has the burst to exit the front of the contest and deliver inside 50. He's a good ball-user at speed and makes the right decisions. The Suns will match a bid to make Rogers their third first-rounder of the 2023 draft.

12. Ollie Murphy (13)
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro
DEF, 200cm, 85kg
Talent League: 6 games, 9.7 disposals, 4.2 marks

Murphy's competitiveness and reading of the ball has been a revelation after spending time forward and on a wing in previous seasons. He spoils more than intercepts and doesn't get involved in transition out of defence, but his positioning, reading of the play and closing speed on the lead make for a really solid foundation as a key defender.

13. Darcy Wilson (12)
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country
MID, 185cm, 73kg
Talent League: 11 games, 25.4 disposals, 1.5 goals

Wilson is an outside accumulator well suited to a wing with his speed-endurance blend. He played as a third tall in a Vic Country forward line that lacked height, and continues to demonstrate ability to outwork his man and hit the scoreboard. It's a great modern game package for clubs searching for two-way running.

14. Arie Schoenmaker (15)
Tasmania Devils/Allies
DEF/MID, 194cm, 89kg
Talent League: 6 games, 26.5 disposals, 5.7 marks

Schoenmaker is one of the best kicks in the draft, effortlessly launching it 60 metres when he wheels onto his left foot out of defence. He has third tall size at either end of the ground, but his ability to find the ball in space and kickstart transition is invaluable for the Devils. Schoenmaker knows how good his ball use is - he averages six more kicks than any other player in the CTL.

15. Jordan Croft (17)
Calder Cannons/Vic Metro
FWD, 200cm, 80kg
Talent League: 11 games, 10.2 disposals, 2.1 goals

Croft is a super athlete, flying high and boasting superb acceleration on the lead. He's a nightmare match-up because of these traits as a 200-centimetre key forward. He lacks consistency because he struggled to get involved up the ground, but is an exciting player set to join the Dogs as a father-son selection.

16. George Stevens (14)
GWV Rebels/Vic Country
MID/DEF, 189cm, 84kg
Talent League: 12 games, 29.6 disposals, 7.0 clearances

Stevens is a polarising player in this draft - he lacks speed and doesn't have the tricks of other midfielders. But he's an elite ball-winner, makes good decisions and executes well by hand and foot. His athleticism is peripheral to these traits as an inside midfielder, and clubs know his leadership and professionalism are top notch after rehabbing a torn ACL last season and returning to captain the AFL Academy.

17. Will McCabe (19)
Central District/South Australia
DEF/FWD, 197cm, 81kg
SANFL U18s: 9 games, 21.8 disposals, 5.9 marks

McCabe's incredible athleticism at either end of the ground is a sight, and has the propensity to kickstart transition with a bounding gait. McCabe loves getting involved in attack, and comes at a good time for Hawthorn as a father-son given their lack of key position depth.

18. Riley Hardeman (20)
Swan Districts/Western Australia
DEF, 188cm, 80kg
Talent League: WAFL Colts: 7 games, 22.1 disposals, 4.9 tackles

Another leader in the draft pool is Hardeman, who features as the first of a talented group of half backs. Hardeman is a tough defender with good intercepting instincts. He's a good size, impacts aerially and makes the right decision coming out of the backline.

19. Mitchell Edwards (18)
Peel Thunder/Western Australia
RUCK, 207cm, 90kg
WAFL Reserves: 5 games, 8.8 disposals, 20 hitouts

It's a good ruck crop in 2023 and Edwards has the best ruck craft of the group. He mauled ruckmen at Colts level, averaging over 40 hitouts per game. In the Reserves he's performed well against the bigger bodies, but needs to round out his endurance and skills around the ground.

20. Archie Roberts
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro
DEF, 184cm, 77kg
Talent League: 6 games, 21.3 disposals, 3.2 marks

Roberts was part of Haileybury's APS triumph and has been one of Sandy's best performers all year off half back. He tucks the ball under his arm and takes metres with his legs before picking out teammates with carefully crafted kicks off his right foot. He has a turn of pace, reliable ball use and has been a leader throughout the year.

21. Caiden Cleary (16)
Swans Academy/Allies
MID, 180cm, 78kg
Talent League: 4 games, 27.0 disposals, 6.5 clearances

Cleary is an in-and-under midfielder with an appetite to get to as many contests as possible. He pressures at the coalface and it's reflected in his best-in-class tackling numbers, and consistently gets the ball to outside runners. Cleary is part of the Swans Academy who have first dibs on him.

22. Koltyn Tholstrup
Subiaco/Western Australia
FWD/MID, 188cm, 80kg
WAFL: 8 games, 10.4 disposals, 0.8 goals

Tholstrup has cult figure written all over him. He loves the physical aspects of games and is hugely competitive, given tagging tasks throughout the year in the WAFL. He's held his own and hit the scoreboard on occasion - at his best he's a powerful forward-half midfielder that can kick goals and play a high impact game.

23. Will Green
Northern Knights/Vic Metro
RUC, 204cm, 89kg
Talent League: 12 games, 11.0 disposals, 23.5 hitouts

Green rounds out the three ruckmen in the top 30, impressing with his rate of improvement with his ruck craft but more importantly a healthy appetite for the contest. He gets to work in the second phase of the contest which is a great sign for his ability to help his midfielders at the next level.

24. Koen Sanchez
East Fremantle/Western Australia
FWD/MID, 178cm, 71kg
WAFL Colts: 6 games, 25.3 disposals, 4.2 marks

Sanchez is a speedy midfielder that was able to make an impact as a forward with WA in the champs, being one of their best performers at the carnival. He has clean hands in congestion and can mix it with bigger bodies in there, but it was important that he showed off a capacity to hit the scoreboard with WA as he hasn't been able to do so with the Sharks.

25. Caleb Windsor
Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro
MID, 185cm, 74kg
Talent League: 13 games, 20.5 disposals, 4.5 marks

Windsor has suitors in the first round with his speed on the outside of contests a feature of his game. He's grown into his role for the Ranges this year, now taking the game on more than ever and becoming one of the most exciting players to watch in the league. Few opponents can go with him when he's in full flight, but he's yet to show a contested side to his game.

26. James Leake
Tasmanian Devils/Allies
DEF/FWD, 188cm, 75kg
Talent League: 9 games, 15.7 disposals, 1.6 goals

Leake is a riser after a move forward produced bags of goals for the Devils. He had a fantastic campaign for the Allies in defence where his intercepting came to the fore, and his ability to produce at both ends will appeal to clubs. Leake doesn't have the size to play key position but he has innate footballing touch.

27. Joel Freijah
GWV Rebels/Vic Country
MID, 191cm, 86kg
Talent League: 13 games, 20.5 disposals, 1.0 goals

Freijah is a smooth-moving outside midfielder with some tricks around goals. He sometimes tries a bit too much with the ball, but he also possesses skill and speed to make the difficult look very easy. If he can build a consistent finals campaign with the Rebels, Freijah could shoot into the first round.

28. Tew Jiath
Gippsland Power
DEF, 187cm, 71kg
Talent League: 9 games, 18 disposals, 3.8 marks

Coming with a bullet is the younger brother of Hawthorn's Changkuoth Jiath, with Tew producing a special month of football. He ranks second in the CTL for kicking efficiency at 80% across the year (minimum of six games played) and his willingness to take on the game is a big feature of Gippsland's play in the back half of the year. The Hawks are able to match a bid on their NGA prospect outside the top 40, but that is becoming less likely as the weeks go on.

29. Harry DeMattia
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country
MID, 184cm, 77kg
Talent League: 11 games, 19.0 disposals, 4.8 tackles

A talented cricketer and footballer, DeMattia has turned his focus to football full time this year and is reaping the rewards. He's fast and tough in the midfield, willing the ball forward at all costs. His work at half back in stints is where his game could really flourish - he has good skills in space and works hard defensively as well.

30. Luamon Lual
GWV Rebels/Vic Country
DEF, 181cm, 71kg
Talent League: 13 games, 17.6 disposals, 3.0 marks

An ever-reliable half back, Lual has been a beacon of consistency for a talented Rebels side. He doesn't try to do too much and doesn't often venture forward, but his defensive instincts and sound ball use make for an exciting package when coupled with his closing speed and a leap that allows him to play above his size.