The 2023 AFL Draft is less than four weeks away and, while we aren't any closer to knowing who will hold pick 1 on November 21st, we are seeing the first round take shape. The 2023 edition will see a first round that could be extended out to as many as 27 selections on the opening night. The AFL may need a bigger green room.
Clubs are finalising draft boards after combine testing and a final round of interviews, and ESPN have delivered its extended first round phantom for the 2023 AFL Draft including draft intel on all 18 clubs for night two.
1. West Coast - Harley Reid
If the Eagles stay put at No. 1, they will call out Harley Reid's name with no qualms of flight risk. But West Coast still has time -- up until November 10's pick swap deadline and even draft night -- to canvas offers for Harley. Melbourne has thrown picks 6, 11, 42 and a future first at them, but North Melbourne seems the more realistic trade partner with their hand of 2, 3, 15, 17 and 18. The Eagles highly covet Reid; it would take a monumental offer to make them budge and up to this point it appears extremely unlikely that North will offer both picks 2 and 3 to get a deal over the line. West Coast knows it needs an influx of young talent, but Reid's generational projection could be too difficult to pass up.
2. Bid Matched: Gold Coast - Jed Walter
Walter has been Reid's only possible competition for pick 1 this season, and if he were in the open pool a lot more would be spoken about the monster forward from Queensland. The Suns will match a bid for Walter wherever it comes on draft night and he's set to form a formidable partnership with Ben King as soon as next year.
3. North Melbourne - Colby McKercher
North is primed to take speedy Tasmanian on-baller McKercher if this selection isn't moved for pick 1. The left-footed maestro has been likened to Essendon skipper Zach Merrett, boasting similar precision by foot and an ability to rack up the ball at will. McKercher would join a midfield group brimming with talent, including superstar Luke Davies-Uniacke, co-captain Jy Simpkin and second-year bull George Wardlaw.
4. North Melbourne - Zane Duursma
Coming with a bullet in the second half of his campaign, Duursma is set to remain in Victoria on draft night with the Hawks keen after North's top three picks. The Roos are desperate for scoring power in the forward 50 to help Nick Larkey, and Duursma provided that in abundance this year, averaging 2.8 goals per game for the Gippsland Power and 1.8 goals for Vic Country. His combination of speed, evasiveness and supreme skill with ball in hand mirrors Power star Connor Rozee in his draft year.
5. Hawthorn - Nick Watson
A freakish small forward who creates goals out of nothing, Watson is favoured to land at the Hawks and create a dynamic ground level partnership with prized recruit Jack Ginnivan. Hawthorn has been heavily linked to Duursma as well, but Watson provides scoring power with 3.5 goals per game for Vic Metro. With Chad Wingard set to miss a big chunk of the season and Tyler Brockman off to the Eagles, Watson can break into the Hawks' lineup from Round 1.
6. Western Bulldogs - Ryley Sanders
The Dogs have done well to get ahead of a likely first-round bid for father-son tall Jordan Croft, and Ryley Sanders looms as the choice if Watson and Duursma are off the board. Sanders is a competitive inside midfielder who has now won back-to-back flags with the Sandringham Dragons to go with Larke Medal honours in the State Championships with the undefeated Allies. With Jack Macrae and Tom Liberatore entering seasons 12 and 13 respectively, Sanders appeals alongside Bailey Smith in the next generation of the Dogs' midfield.
7. Bid Matched: Gold Coast - Ethan Read
The next unicorn entering the league is 202cm ruckman Read, who ran a ridiculous sub-six minute 2km at the combine. He combines his aerobic capacity with poise and skill in the clinches. Read possesses similarities to former Demon Luke Jackson and the Dees would love to pair him with an evergreen Max Gawn, but the Suns are set to match a bid wherever it comes.
8. Melbourne - Dan Curtin
There's always a slider on draft night, but it won't be for a lack of talent if it's Curtin. WA's premier prospect was their best performer at the carnival where he averaged 23.5 disposals and 6.5 marks as an inside midfielder. He does his best work as an intercepting defender but also kicks crucial goals as a forward, and it would be difficult for the Dees to pass his talent up at this spot. Nate Caddy would also be heavily considered given the Dees' dearth of key forward options last season.
9. GWS - Connor O'Sullivan
An Albury product who came from a long way back at the start of the year, O'Sullivan is a top-10 fancy as one of the best key defenders in the pool. He took out Allies MVP honours under Mark McVeigh averaging a championships-high eight marks per game. The Giants have made a habit of drafting Vic Country prospects and O'Sullivan suits their recruiting tendencies and list build.
10. Geelong - Nate Caddy
The nephew of former Cat and two-time premiership Tiger Josh, Caddy is an elite key forward prospect that thrives in the air. The Cats are in the twilight years of Tom Hawkins and tutelage under the modern great will set Caddy up to make good on his talent. Ryley Sanders is the ideal pick here but that hope is fading for Geelong.
11. Bid Matched: Western Bulldogs - Jordan Croft
The Dogs are well positioned to match a bid for father-son tall Croft, even if it comes this early from Adrian Dodoro's last hurrah at the Dons. Croft is an athletic key forward that ran a brilliant 6:05 minute 2km at the combine. He spent time down back in past years which could help him break into the seniors quicker at the Dogs.
12. Essendon - Caleb Windsor
Windsor is a speed demon on the edge of packs, adept at tucking the ball under his arm and moving the chains with dare. He's steadily risen through the pool to the fringes of top-10 contention, and would complement an Essendon side that has lost a considerable amount of pace over the past few years. Windsor adds speed and precision to a group of wingmen that includes new recruit Xavier Duursma, Sam Durham and burgeoning star Nic Martin.
13. Adelaide - Darcy Wilson
The Crows hit a six with a Murray Bushranger two years ago in Josh Rachele, and outside accumulator Darcy Wilson fits the bill for the Crows to go back to the well in 2023. Wilson finished second in the combine's 2km time trial in 5:52 minutes; he covers the ground beautifully, uses the ball well and has a happy knack of bobbing up for goals with regularity. The Crows are still looking to move up the order with their three selections in the top 20.
14. Melbourne - Lance Collard
The draft bolter could be mercurial WA goalsneak Collard, who kicked 10 goals in his two WAFL Colts finals games and tested superbly at the combine. He's quick and difficult to tackle, and has extraordinary goal sense in the tightest of spots. Collard moves a little like Shai Bolton and that enticing ceiling has clubs considering him in the first round. West Coast and Fremantle are heavily linked to the small forward but his rising stock means a club could pounce even earlier than this spot with the Dees.
15. Sydney - Ollie Murphy
The Swans missed out on free agency defenders Ben McKay and Esava Ratugolea, and could instead go to the draft to add depth in their backline. Murphy would be a great selection at this spot after winning Vic Metro's MVP and demonstrating all the right traits to become an elite full back at the next level. He reads the play well, plays physically on his man and flies for his marks when the opportunity comes.
16. Bid Matched: Gold Coast - Jake Rogers
A pocket rocket through the midfield, Rogers plays a lot like superstar Sun Touk Miller with his speed, hands in traffic and direct style of play. A bid may come earlier than this for the third Suns Academy prospect pegged to go in the first round.
17. St Kilda - James Leake
An even spread past the top 10 means the Saints won't have a great indication of who will be available at this spot, but Leake has the talent to go much earlier than at 17. The Tasmanian swingman is a smooth-mover with a high impact game, whether it's intercepting and rebounding off halfback or kicking bags of goals up forward. He plays above his 186cm in the air and his work rate, competitiveness and smarts will quickly make him a Ross Lyon favourite.
18. Adelaide - Harry DeMattia
A star cricketer and footballer, DeMattia was running water for Australia on Boxing Day and could end up a first-rounder by November. His speed and aggression is the Stingrays' best attributes which would add to the contested midfielders of Rory Laird, Matt Crouch and Jordan Dawson.
19. Matched Bid: Hawthorn - Will McCabe
Father-son key defender McCabe is set to be bid on towards the end of the second round after a breakout year in defence. The athletic tall has previously played up forward but found his position as an interceptor that can kickstart transition. McCabe is a leading prospect out of South Australia this year and will find his way to the Hawks.
20. North Melbourne - Archie Roberts
Clubs rave about Roberts, a leader who's won flags at school and club level across the past two years. He's a quick and clean halfback with a long boot and dare to take the game on, but his leadership traits set him apart from the other flankers at this stage of the draft. Roberts and Zac Fisher could allow Harry Sheezel to play more on-ball or up forward in future years.
21. GWS - Riley Hardeman
The Giants are in an enviable position with a suite of picks and a strong list to continue building under Adam Kingsley, so best available makes sense at every stage. Hardeman is a quick and classy halfback that breaks lines with a big left boot, and he has the size to intercept as well. He captained WA and was one of their best performers across the carnival.
22. North Melbourne - Archer Reid
Reid boasts one of the higher upsides in the draft, standing at 203cm with a long reach and athletic ability that defies his size. He's played as a key forward and ruckman and shown flashes of brilliance in both areas. Reid would add much-needed key position depth at the Roos.
23. North Melbourne - Arie Schoenmaker
Another tall with outstanding upside in the right environment, clubs have been impressed with Schoenmaker's improved professionalism and consistency in the back half of the year. The 194cm defender boasts the longest kick in the pool and has AFL attributes to develop at the next level. Shoenmaker has shades of Jordan Dawson in his early years.
24. Collingwood - Koltyn Tholstrup
The reigning premiers would love WA's Tholstrup to fall to this selection, with his power, aggression and confidence all hallmarks of Craig McRae's side. Tholstrup plays a similar style to Cam Zurhaar in the forward half, crashing packs and applying pressure as well as being able to move through the midfield as a bigger body.
25. Adelaide - Taylor Goad
Goad's stocks continue to rise off the back of an excellent combine where he posted a sub-three second 20m dash, unheard of for a 205cm ruckman. He took three contested marks in the u18s Grand Final and continues to round out his game behind a fantastic athletic base. The Crows have relied on Reilly O'Brien with Kieran Strachan his deputy - and have been hesitant to give Riley Thilthorpe a big ruck workload. Goad offers a high ceiling from a local prospect.
26. St Kilda - Charlie Edwards
A local Dragons product with an impressive athletic profile, Edwards has a great speed-endurance blend at 190cm. The inside midfielder had a strong back half of the year on his way to a second Sandringham premiership and would bring complementary speed to a midfield mix including Jack Steele and Brad Crouch.
27. Carlton - Ashton Moir
Moir is a homerun play for a team at the backend of the first round. Rated within the top handful of prospects coming into the season, the SA goalkicker struggled to make an impact through illness and consistency. However, his skills off both feet, plus ability in the air and on the ground makes him a dangerous forward that could explode at the next level. There isn't a general forward with the talent that Moir possesses on the Blues' list.
Who could your club take in the AFL Draft?
Picks 10, 14, 20, 89
The Crows remain in talks to trade up the order by packaging two of their first-rounders. Bushrangers key defender Connor O'Sullivan presents as the prime candidate to trade up for. At this stage, the Crows will use three picks at the draft with Darcy Wilson and Caleb Windsor likely targets at 10.
Picks 30, 39, 51, 54, 67, 97
The Lions traded their first-rounder last year in the Josh Dunkley deal so will enter the draft on night two. They may only take two picks into the draft with rookie elevations and the pre-season supplementary selection period in their thinking, but adding to their talls depth will be a priority after trading Tom Fullarton and losing Marcus Adams to retirement. Key defender Wil Dawson could be an option, while Vigo Visentini will be a ruck option later in the draft.
Picks 22, 28, 70, 78, 96
The Blues will likely take three picks in the draft. While Ashton Moir is the upside swing, another exciting prospect in the range of their first selection could be Tew Jiath, who bounds off halfback and uses the ball well like his older brother Changkuoth. A ruckman to compete with Alex Mirkov behind Tom de Koning and Marc Pittonet may be an area to address with the likes of Will Green and Mitch Edwards in the second round frame.
Picks 19, 33, 80, 98
The reigning premiers held onto their first round pick and still brought Lachie Schultz in to fill the void left by Taylor Adams and Jack Ginnivan. They could use competition in that half forward area in a Koltyn Tholstrup, but are also in need of ruck depth and could target Mitch Edwards or Will Green early. The Pies are unlikely to use more than two picks on draft-age prospects.
Picks 9, 31, 35, 61, 88
Expect the Dons to take three picks, with a waiting game on who gets through to their first selection. Nate Caddy may be the best fit; he would become the first key forward taken by the Bombers in the AFL Draft first round since father-son Joe Daniher in 2011. WA athletic freak Zane Zakostelsky has steadily risen up draft boards with the swingman producing the goods in the ruck on Grand Final day - Zakostelsky has been playing in front of incoming list boss Matt Rosa all season. NGA prospect Mahmoud Taha has had a strong season and may find his way onto the Dons list as well.
Picks 34, 46, 60, 64, 85
Freo has NGA access to ruck Mitch Edwards after pick 40 but he's expected to be gone by then. Instead, they've been heavily linked to speedster Lance Collard and could trade one of their three future firsts to make a move if he's available late on night one. Aiden O'Driscoll dominated the sprint and 2km at the draft combine and would make a trio of O'Driscolls at the Dockers if they were to call his name in the latter stages. Clay Hall looms as an ideal big body in the midfield, while small forward presence will be highly sought after with Jack Callinan, Jack Delean and Koen Sanchez in the mix. Keep an eye on Jeremy Sharp as a possible draft selection after the Suns let him walk.
Picks 8, 25, 76, 87, 94
The Cats are fielding offers for pick 8 with the likelihood of taking four prospects in the draft. Nate Caddy, Dan Curtin and Connor O'Sullivan all suit Geelong if they stay put, but Ryley Sanders would be the dream selection if the on-baller were to slide through. If they trade back with a team like Adelaide, the Cats could then target a group including key defender Ollie Murphy, utility James Leake or hard-nosed on-baller Harry DeMattia.
Picks 24, 26, 27, 32, 36, 38, 66, 71, 74, 84
The Suns are the big winners of the draft, set to welcome three first round stars to the club through their Academy. Jed Walter, Ethan Read and Jake Rogers will all be Gold Coast players by the end of night one. They will also be keen to scoop up Will Graham in the latter stages. Picks in the 30s will come in considerably as the Suns' picks are absorbed by bids.
Picks 7, 16, 43, 59, 77, 79, 95
The Giants are poised to take the best available, but consistently target country prospects to reduce flight risks. Connor O'Sullivan suits as an Albury product in the top 10, and Allies teammates James Leake and Arie Schoenmaker will be considered around pick 16. The Giants will take three picks in the draft with academy tall Charlie McCormack and Harvey Thomas possible late round selections and GWV Rebel Joel Freijah a Giants style of player.
Picks 4, 44, 47, 49, 62, 63, 83
Does the Jack Ginnivan acquisition change the thinking of the Hawks? Nick Watson has loomed as the prime option at pick 4 for a long time, but inside midfielder Ryley Sanders will be a strong consideration for Sam Mitchell's team. They've accumulated the points to match a bid for Will McCabe and will be hoping that Tew Jiath makes it past pick 40 so they can match a bid for the NGA prospect. It looks unlikely that the brother of Changkuoth will be in the brown and gold next year, however.
Picks 6, 11, 42, 93
The Demons are hellbent on trading up for Harley Reid, and will also consider a play for Zane Duursma at North's picks 2 or 3. Fremantle's poor season helps Melbourne to pick 6 where they can target a key position player like Dan Curtin or Nate Caddy, but the Dees are focused on forward-half gamechangers and that's where Lance Collard will tempt. The Dees will take two or three selections depending on potential pick swaps.
Picks 2, 3, 15, 17, 18, 57, 82
Ben McKay compensation and AFL assistance has given North an enviable draft hand, and they're set to take up to six prospects at the draft. Colby McKercher and Zane Duursma are pencilled in for their picks if they're unable to trade up for Harley Reid, while they need to focus on key position depth with their late first-rounders. Archer Reid and Arie Schoenmaker are high-upside shots, and Archie Roberts and Tew Jiath present as exciting playmakers in defence. They could also consider small forwards Jack Delean and Jack Callinan later in the piece, while mature Werribee star Shaun Mannagh would add immediate best 22 competition.
The Power got what they needed from the trade period and sold their draft hand to do it. With their one selection a local product may be the route and SA captain Will Patton has slid down the draft order this year. At 193cm he can play on a variety of opponents and his defensive instincts are top notch. Kobe Ryan has dominated at SANFL level this year and should be on an AFL list in 2024, and Kane McAuliffe tested well at the combine and could be available still.
Picks 29, 41, 65, 68, 86
Deals for Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper mean the Tigers need to get inventive to bring young talent into the club for Adem Yze. Undersized key forward Logan Morris has kicked goals for fun all year and is around the 29 mark, but Archer Reid would be the perfect selection at that spot after losing Ivan Soldo. The Tigers will likely take two selections at the draft.
Picks 13, 21, 40, 92
Favourable Jade Gresham compensation gives the Saints two nice picks to work with. Liam Henry satiates the need for outside running power but Darcy Wilson or Caleb Windsor would be nice pickups. Key defensive depth is much-needed and local product Ollie Murphy is a chance there, while later in the piece the competitiveness of Koltyn Tholstrup, Harry DeMattia or Charlie Edwards will appeal through the middle of the ground for Ross Lyon's men. St Kilda is set to be active at the draft with up to five spots available.
Picks 12, 45, 55, 91
Connor O'Sullivan will likely be gone before the Swans' first pick but his defensive intensity at his size suits Sydney to a tee. Ollie Murphy would be a nice consolation prize for the Bloods who are expected to take two picks in the draft. Kinnear Beatson is impossible to predict at the draft, but it would be difficult to imagine the Swans walking away without star Academy midfielder Caiden Cleary on their primary list.
Picks 1, 23, 37, 58, 81
The Eagles could use five picks in the draft, but it may depend on offers for pick 1. A swathe of picks such as North's pick 2 and three late first-rounders would give West Coast a strong influx of talent for its rebuild, but you'd be missing out on one of the greatest prospects of the draft era in Harley Reid. That is the decision the Eagles may face by November 10's pick swap deadline (or even on draft night, though more unlikely). At this stage, expect the Eagles to take Reid and back in their club culture to retain the burgeoning superstar, like they did with departing interstate captains Shannon Hurn and Luke Shuey. The Eagles will likely miss out on NGA prospect Lance Collard as well as Koltyn Tholstrup, but have a chance at Riley Hardeman at 23 and have been linked to strong WA midfielder Clay Hall. Zane Zakostelsky and Koen Sanchez could have a shot to get to 37, while contested on-ballers Charlie Edwards and George Stevens would be welcome additions. Oscar Hine-Baston is an Academy prospect who could end up at the Eagles as well.
Picks 5, 48, 50, 52, 53, 56, 69, 72, 75, 90
The Dogs have traded ahead of an impending bid for Jordan Croft, with Nick Watson or Ryley Sanders the choice. If both are available, the Dogs may lean for Watson, but that decision will be left to the Hawks one spot ahead of them. A Croft bid will be matched quickly on the first night of the draft. The Dogs will be hoping NGA prospect Luamon Lual slips through the first 40 picks.