The AFL Draft picture is quickly becoming clearer, and the first two rounds of the draft are taking shape. This is ESPN's two round phantom draft with five days to go until the first highly anticipated night of the 2023 AFL Draft rolls around.
Marvel Stadium will again play host to the first round of the draft, set to begin at 7pm AEDT on Monday, Nov. 20. Up to 28 picks are expected in an extended first round due to free agency compensation, plus academy and father-son bids.
The remainder of the national draft will be held on November 21st, with the rookie draft set for November 22nd.
Live trades are well and truly in play on the first night, but haven't been included in this phantom draft. What has been accounted for are picks being absorbed with matched bids, meaning club selections begin to move up the order as bids are matched.
While pick one now has little chance of being moved, top-10 clubs Geelong and Essendon are canvassing offers to split their prized selections. North Melbourne and Adelaide are candidates to move up for those picks, with Connor O'Sullivan heavily linked. Additionally, West Coast and Hawthorn remain a chance to offer up their coveted future first-rounders in pursuit of another top talent this year.
ESPN's two round phantom provides the 2023 AFL Draft state of play with just five days to go.
Who could your club take in the AFL Draft?
1. West Coast - Harley Reid
Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country MID, 187cm, 85kg
ESPN draft rank: 1
West Coast can still deal pick one on Monday night, but Harley Reid is keen to head west and the Eagles are primed to select the generational midfielder. Explosive, confident and mature, Reid has all the tools to become one of the most damaging forward-half midfielders in the league. He's only consolidated his standing at the top of the draft this year and is now set to join fellow Pioneer Noah Long at the Eagles. West Coast has a long history of retaining interstate talent and will be confident in keeping Reid around for the long haul.
If not Reid? Reid's name will be read out as the first pick in the 2023 draft, but there's still a slim chance North Melbourne convinces West Coast to part with the pick. It would likely require a package including picks 2 and 3, with one of those selections and their raft of late firsts not swaying the Eagles up to this point. It's a deal North appears unwilling to pull the trigger on.
2. North Melbourne - Colby McKercher
Tasmania Devils/Allies MID, 182cm, 78kg
ESPN draft rank: 3
McKercher is the first burgeoning star heavily linked to the North, with the midfield maestro dominating all year. The joint Morrish Medallist as the Coates League's best and fairest, McKercher's creativity and run separated him from the chasing pack of midfielders. It remains to be seen if North can prise pick one out of West Coast's hands, but Brady Rawlings' team is unwilling to give up both Duursma and McKercher to do so.
3. North Melbourne - Zane Duursma
Gippsland Power/Vic Country FWD/MID, 189cm, 80kg
ESPN draft rank: 4
Will North bid on Jed Walter, or will they mirror 2022's picks 2 and 3 where they brought in Rising Star Harry Sheezel and fierce midfielder George Wardlaw? Whichever way they go, Duursma is poised to join the Roos, adding speed, class and scoreboard impact to a list that is finally ready to move up the ladder. His silky smooth game should translate well; the brother of Essendon's Xavier is set to add immediate flair to North's forward half.
If not McKercher and Duursma? North is still linked to W.A. key defender Dan Curtin at this point, with the big body fitting an obvious need. But North wants to go best available at this stage and target need with their three later first round picks. Don't rule out one last ditch offer for Harley Reid, but an offer that doesn't include both picks 2 and 3 hasn't made West Coast budge.
4. Bid matched: Gold Coast - Jed Walter
SUNS Academy/Allies FWD, 194cm, 97kg
ESPN draft rank: 2
Could Walter's mid-year knee injury - that he played through in his brilliant national championships - see him drop down the draft order a touch? It wouldn't be the first time an Academy player slid, but it won't matter where a bid comes with the Suns positioned to match at any stage. An earlier North bid may leave the Suns in a tricky position to match points on Ethan Read, Jake Rogers and potentially Will Graham in the first round. A trade for their pick 24 could be in the works to accumulate more points, with Essendon and Brisbane in a position to make a play.
5. Hawthorn - Nick Watson
Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro FWD, 170cm, 68kg
ESPN draft rank: 10
Will Watson become the Wizard of Waverley Park? The Hawks kept close tabs on the gun small forward all year, and he didn't disappoint with 70 goals across all competitions in 2023. He's a marvel to watch and would form an exciting forward combination with prized recruit Jack Ginnivan in the brown and gold.
If not Watson? Hawthorn can go multiple ways here - if Duursma slides through he'll likely be the selection, and they've flown Dan Curtin over from W.A. for a final interview before Monday night. This pick will shape the rest of the top 10 - and Sam Mitchell's team have kept their cards close to their chest - but clubs still expect Watson's name to be read out.
6. Western Bulldogs - Ryley Sanders
Sandringham Dragons/Allies MID, 186cm, 87kg
ESPN draft rank: 7
The Dogs are eyeing a new era in their star-studded midfield, and have pencilled in accumulating beast Ryley Sanders as the perfect addition. Sanders is a winner, with two Dragons flags and an Allies championship to his name in the past two seasons. He steadily improved his ball use throughout the year and his meticulous preparation and professionalism has impressed clubs.
If not Sanders? The Dogs are tipped to take whoever falls to their selection out of goal sneak Nick Watson and Sanders, with their host of young talls meaning Dan Curtin won't be in consideration here.
7. Bid matched: Gold Coast - Ethan Read
SUNS Academy/Allies RUC, 202cm, 92kg
ESPN draft rank: 8
Read's name is set to be read out in the top 10 of the draft after a campaign in which the 202cm ruckman turned heads of all recruiters. He ran a sub-six minute 2km time trial at the combine, and that elite athleticism is on display around the ground. He processes the game quickly and uses the ball beautifully by hand and foot. The Dees would love Read as a long-term Max Gawn replacement in the mould of Luke Jackson, but Gold Coast will match a bid wherever it comes. As he builds size, Read may begin his career in defence for the Suns.
8. Melbourne - Dan Curtin
Claremont/Western Australia DEF, 197cm, 95kg
ESPN draft rank: 6
Curtin is the slider in this phantom draft, but the highly touted defender could go as early as North Melbourne at picks 2 and 3. He's a proactive interceptor with composure and skill in abundance, able to play on a variety of forwards and nullify their influence. Curtin played great football as an inside midfielder as well where his clean hands come to the fore, but he'll settle down back early in his career.
If not Curtin? The Dees will likely pounce on Duursma or Watson if either makes it to this point, while a decision between Sanders and Curtin would be lineball. James Leake and Caleb Windsor are smokies at this point. West Coast could also consider a pitch for this selection if the homegrown product slides, but it would require their coveted future first round selection to entice Melbourne.
9. GWS - James Leake
Tasmanian Devils/Allies DEF/FWD, 187cm, 77kg
ESPN draft rank: 20
It would no longer be a surprise to see Leake taken in the top 10, such is his meteoric rise and the interest from a number of clubs around this mark. The classy utility has spent most of his time in defence where he reads the play and rebounds, but arguably his best football came late in the season as a marking target up forward. Leake plays above his height and has pure footballing instincts. While his midfield proficiency is largely untapped, there are elements of Nat Fyfe to the way Leake attacks the ball in the air and on the ground. There's no one like him on the Giants' list, and he gives Adam Kingsley immediate flexibility on gameday.
If not Leake? The Giants have been linked to a host of players at this pick, including Albury tall Connor O'Sullivan and dashing wingman Caleb Windsor. They're also a good chance to bid on Ethan Read if he's still on the board.
10. Geelong - Nate Caddy
Northern Knights/Vic Metro FWD/MID, 193cm, 88kg
ESPN draft rank: 5
If the Cats stay put, Caddy is right in their calculations as a powerful key forward with brilliant contested marking attributes. He's shown flashes through the midfield and has kicked remarkable ground-level goals, but it's his aerial prowess that will see him drafted around the top 10. The nephew of Josh could follow his uncle's footsteps into the Cattery a decade on.
If not Caddy? If Ryley Sanders doesn't make it to the Cats, expect this pick to be a live trade chance on draft night. Adelaide could offer two first-rounders to get up in the pursuit of Connor O'Sullivan, while the Hawks, Roos and Swans are all linked to a trade up the order. Leake, O'Sullivan and Darcy Wilson are a chance at this selection.
11. Essendon - Connor O'Sullivan
Murray Bushrangers/Allies DEF/FWD, 198cm, 92kg
ESPN draft rank: 9
The Bombers must sit and wait to see who slides out of the consensus top prospects, but it would be a great result if Connor O'Sullivan is still on the board. The Allies MVP is a mature body down back, able to play on a range of opponents and intercept with safe hands. He gets involved in transition, has the agility and skills to play through the midfield and would add immediate best-22 competition for the Dons.
If not O'Sullivan? This selection is in play on draft night - the Bombers will entertain the possibility of splitting this pick for two late firsts with Adelaide and North potential trade partners. Could the Crows give up the very next selection and a late first to snare O'Sullivan? It would give Essendon a look at a group including Riley Hardeman, Darcy Wilson and brother of Zach, Archer Reid. If the Dons hold this pick, others in contention include power forward Nate Caddy and the speedy Caleb Windsor.
12. Adelaide - Darcy Wilson
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country MID, 186cm, 74kg
ESPN draft rank: 11
It's difficult to split the choice between lightning fast wingmen Darcy Wilson and Caleb Windsor, but Wilson's added height, endurance and goal-kicking penchant would be an immediate boost for Adelaide. He's been prolific and one of the most consistent draftees this year, with his professionalism lauded by clubs. Wilson would add to Bushrangers-turned-Crows Josh Rachele and Patrick Parnell at West Lakes.
If not Wilson? The Crows would love to get up the order and snare O'Sullivan, but there's great options at pick 12 if they stay put. Caleb Windsor being on the board would give them a headache while Tasmanian James Leake is a chance of being here still - he's unlikely to make it further than this.
13. Melbourne - Caleb Windsor
Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro MID, 185cm, 74kg
ESPN draft rank: 19
The Dees will consider Windsor at pick 8, but they would be ecstatic to see him slide to 13. The wingman boasts elite speed on the edge of packs, able to use his burst to get forward of centre and hit the scoreboard. He holds his width and is damaging with his disposal, and he is likely to be a high metres gained player at AFL level. Windsor's speed and ball use forward of centre suits Melbourne perfectly.
If not Windsor? The Dees are heavily linked to W.A. hard nut Koltyn Tholstrup, and could grab Darcy Wilson if the Crows don't. It's hard to see Windsor making it past them at this point, though
14. Sydney - Koltyn Tholstrup (pronunciation: Foal-strup)
Subiaco/Western Australia FWD/MID, 186cm, 86kg
ESPN draft rank: 18
Sydney has drafted from WA consistently over the years with the likes of Chad Warner, Logan McDonald, and Angus Sheldrick. Tholstrup would add to that list as an aggressive forward that loves the physical side of football. He's a high character and elite athlete with top-end speed, agility and endurance. Tholstrup has suitors from the Swans through to the Pies in the first round.
If not Tholstrup? Sydney is often the wildcard team at the draft, and 2023 will be no different with Kinnear Beatson's draft room linked to a variety of players at this point. Ruckman Will Green has ties but it may be a bit early at this stage, while a group including Charlie Edwards, Harry DeMattia and Riley Hardeman are in play. Could they pull a huge surprise and take WA bolter Zane Zakostelsky?
15. St Kilda - Harry DeMattia (pronunciation: De-matt-e-ya)
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country MID, 184cm, 77kg
ESPN draft rank: 29
Ross Lyon sides place an emphasis on speed and fitness, and the Saints will head to the draft looking to improve their run. No one provides that better than DeMattia, the star junior cricketer that impressed all season with his burst out of congestion. His consistent campaign included stints as a lockdown defender, centre bounce accumulator and goal-kicking half-forward. He showed great traits off halfback, which is where he may be utilised to start his career.
If not DeMattia? Dragons prospect Charlie Edwards is coming with a bullet and his speed through the midfield suits the Saints. Other options include St Kilda supporter and WA rebounder Riley Hardeman, and the enigmatic Tholstrup.
16. Bid matched: Hawthorn - Will McCabe
Central District/South Australia DEF/FWD, 197cm, 86kg
ESPN draft rank: 22
The Hawks are anticipating a bid in the teens for McCabe, their South Australian father-son prospect. He's an ultra-athletic tall defender that gets involved in transition and can play at either end of the ground. Adelaide would love to pinch him here, but the Hawks have accumulated the points to match a bid in the first round for the high-upside tall.
17. Adelaide - Charlie Edwards
Sandringham Dragons MID, 191cm, 85kg
ESPN draft rank: 36
It would be an incredible rise for Edwards if he's taken here after being overlooked for Vic Metro and the national combine, but clubs are growing increasingly enamoured with his physical profile and rate of development late in the season. The Dragons midfielder has speed and endurance at 191cm, finding the ball in space and using it well forward of centre. His burst adds a point of difference to the Adelaide engine room.
If not Edwards? The Crows have interviewed the speedy Harry DeMattia and have their eye on local ruckman Taylor Goad - though will be hoping he makes it through to their late first rounder. This selection could still be packaged up to move inside the top 10.
18. Bid matched: Western Bulldogs - Jordan Croft
Calder Cannons/Vic Metro FWD, 201cm, 80kg
ESPN draft rank: 15
Croft is a dynamic key forward, capable of aerial highlights and height-defying play at ground level. He leads hard at the leg playing deep forward, but he's also played in defence through his junior years. The Dogs may look to develop him as a defender with their influx of talented talls. North Melbourne and Adelaide are a chance to bid on Croft, but the Dogs are well prepared to match for the father-son prospect.
19. North Melbourne - Riley Hardeman
Swan Districts/Western Australia DEF, 188cm, 75kg
ESPN draft rank: 21
Hardeman has suitors earlier than this, including the Saints and Crows, and it's easy to see why. He's an attacking halfback with a penetrating kick to go alongside great intercepting ability and leadership attributes. Hardeman would add immediate best-22 competition for a team that needs good ball use out of the back 50 next to Harry Sheezel.
If not Hardeman? North will target talls with these late first round selections, but they also need to grab the best talent available. Around the mark will be ruckmen Will Green and Taylor Goad, but Victorian duo Ollie Murphy and Archie Roberts are tipped to get past them.
20. Bid matched: Gold Coast - Jake Rogers
SUNS Academy/Allies MID, 171cm, 69kg
ESPN draft rank: 12
A fall down the order for Rogers would be welcome for the Suns, but the pocket rocket midfielder is a bona-fide first-rounder on talent. Rogers is tough and tenacious at the coalface, tackling with vigour and using his acceleration to get out of trouble. His diminutive stature doesn't stop him from throwing his body around in the clinches.
21. GWS - Phoenix Gothard
Murray Bushrangers/Allies FWD, 178cm, 72kg
ESPN draft rank: 39
Gothard is an elite level athlete for a small forward, and he uses that speed defensively to pressure and tackle. The Allies star has also shown ability up on a wing and loves to run and carry with the ball. He suits the Giants as an Albury product with a rounded defensive game to complement their firepower.
If not Gothard? The Giants have shown interest in DeMattia and Edwards, who they may favour if available at this pick. This is the first spot that Hawks NGA defender Tew Jiath could be taken, as well.
22. North Melbourne - Will Green
Northern Knights/Vic Metro RUC, 204cm, 93kg
ESPN draft rank: 32
Green's ruck craft has steadily improved throughout the year, but he's set to be drafted in the first round because of his clean hands in the contest as a point of difference to other big men. He has the size and skillset to develop into something special at AFL level in due course.
If not Green? Could North shock and opt for rucks Mitch Edwards or Taylor Goad instead? There also remains a chance Sydney has swooped on Green already, which could leave them targeting other talls including Ollie Murphy and Arie Schoenmaker.
23. North Melbourne - Zane Zakostelsky (pronunciation: Zac-oh-stel-ski)
Claremont/Western Australia DEF/RUCK, 196cm, 90kg
ESPN draft rank: 25
It would be a brave call, but Zakostelsky has a top-three athletic profile in this draft and his rate of development has rocketed him into first round calculations on Monday. He's gone from a basketball convert to best on ground in Claremont's Colts premiership as a ruckman. Down back is where Zakostelsky is likely to settle, with his closing speed and length paramount to his upside as a key defender.
If not Zakostelsky? Key defenders Arie Schoenmaker and Ollie Murphy are a chance, and best available could include the names of Archie Roberts, Archer Reid and Luamon Lual.
24. Bid matched: Gold Coast - Will Graham
SUNS Academy/Allies MID/DEF, 186cm, 81kg
ESPN draft rank: 35
Graham has received an invitation to Marvel Stadium so clubs are considering placing a bid in the first round. It makes sense, given Graham's speed, physicality and composure form an exciting package for a midfielder. He also played off halfback where his defensive instincts were impressive for the Allies.
25. Collingwood - Luamon Lual (pronunciation: Loo-mon Loo-al)
GWV Rebels/Vic Country DEF, 181cm, 71kg
ESPN draft rank: 26
Lual is right in the first-round frame, and his athletic profile and ball use would suit the reigning premiers to a tee. The Rebels defender plays above his height with an excellent vertical leap, intercepting and kick-starting transition with neat ball use. Lual is a Western Bulldogs NGA prospect but can only be matched after pick 40.
If not Lual? The Pies have been heavily linked to Koltyn Tholstrup but the physical forward will likely be gone by this stage. Talls Archer Reid and Wil Dawson may come into calculations, but are more likely to be taken in the second round.
26. Adelaide - Taylor Goad
South Adelaide/South Australia RUCK, 206cm, 97kg
ESPN draft rank: 31
At 206cm, Goad runs an incredible sub-three second 20m sprint and has developed well this year for a late convert to football. He plays like a midfielder, running on and linking play together, but he also improved his marking and ball skills as the season wore on. An SA product, Goad will take time but would be the perfect long-term successor to Reilly O'Brien.
If not Goad? This pick could be on the move if the Crows find a top 10 trade partner, but other names around the mark include Ollie Murphy and Wil Dawson as much-needed key defenders.
27. St Kilda - Lance Collard
Subiaco/Western Australia FWD, 180cm, 65kg
ESPN draft rank: 16
Collard has a wide range in the draft, with some clubs concerned about a go-home factor for the WA livewire forward. At his best, he offers shades of Shai Bolton with his incredible speed and evasiveness, and he kicked 10 goals in his two Colts finals games to propel himself into first round consideration. The Saints aren't afraid to take a punt in the draft and Collard is the most talented player on the board, which would mean the Eagles can't match the bid for their NGA product.
If not Collard? Dragons key defender Ollie Murphy fits a need and is under the nose of list manager Stephen Silvagni. The club has also been linked to the Dragons' Archie Roberts, while Zane Zakostelsky would be an upside swing.
28. Carlton - Ashton Moir (pronunciation: Moy-ah)
Glenelg/South Australia FWD, 187cm, 85kg
ESPN draft rank: 33
The Blues hold the final pick of the first round, and Moir presents as a mercurial forward-half talent that could become anything at the next level. Ranked inside the top five coming into the season, he's struggled with injury and consistency this year but is still a tremendous talent, adept at kicking off either foot and stop-on-a-dime evasiveness. There's no one quite like Moir on Carlton's list, who are in a position to punt on upside in the draft.
If not Moir? Another ruckman could be an option with Mitch Edwards a small chance, but the group linked to the Blues at this pick include running defender Tew Jiath and WA forward-midfielder Koen Sanchez.
29. West Coast - Archie Roberts
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro DEF, 184cm, 77kg
ESPN draft rank: 23
What a position this would be for the Eagles with the first selection on night two. Archie Roberts has speed, class and the leadership attributes to make an immediate impact off halfback for West Coast. He's won premierships with the Dragons and in the APS with Haileybury, and has demonstrated elite professionalism in his junior career.
If not Roberts? Key defensive depth is a need for the Eagles and Ollie Murphy will appeal if still available. Other names linked include Ashton Moir, Koen Sanchez and Clay Hall, but the big name that West Coast will hope can fall to this mark is Lance Collard. Clubs have some concerns about his willingness to move interstate which may help him slide to this selection.
30. Geelong - Ollie Murphy
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro DEF, 200cm, 85kg
ESPN draft rank: 17
It's an area of need for the Cats and Murphy has demonstrated attributes that will make him a great key defender in the long-term. Named Vic Metro's MVP, Murphy has long limbs and a happy knack of spoiling at the last minute. He doesn't get involved in transition but his defensive profile as a no-nonsense fullback is impressive.
If not Murphy? Wil Dawson and Zane Zakostelsky are other key defenders that could be picked here. Or, could Andrew Mackie take a punt on brutish midfielder George Stevens after his starring performance in their VFL side?
31. Carlton - Arie Schoenmaker (pronunciation: Show-en-maker)
Tasmania Devils/Allies DEF/MID, 194cm, 89kg
ESPN draft rank: 13
This would be a slide for Schoenmaker, but his draft range is wide with clubs split on his projection at the next level. What isn't up for debate is his brilliant left boot; he is able to pick out teammates from 60 metres away and hit the scoreboard when further up the ground. Schoenmaker is a good runner for his size, has improved his professionalism leaps and bounds, and has impressed recruiters with his maturity. As an interceptor and weapon out of defence, he fits the Blues' list profile well.
If not Schoenmaker? The Blues have targeted need in the past with the likes of Jesse Motlop and Ollie Hollands, but a list ready to take the next step can afford punts on upside like Moir and Schoenmaker. Archer Reid and Tew Jiath also fit the billing at this point.
32. Bid matched: Sydney - Caiden Cleary
Swans Academy/Allies MID, 180cm, 78kg
ESPN draft rank: 24
Cleary is the star of this year's Swans Academy, a hard-nosed on-baller with a real appetite to pressure and get from contest to contest. Cleary would be taken earlier than this if he was in the open draft; it gives the Swans another inside midfielder to build around.
33. Richmond - Archer Reid
Gippsland Power/Vic Country FWD, 203cm, 93kg
ESPN draft rank: 30
If Reid makes it to this point, it's the perfect selection for the Tigers. His upside is tremendous as a key forward that can pinch hit in the ruck with his long limbs and running capacity. Reid had an interrupted year but his best is elite.
If not Reid? Logan Morris is another key forward linked to the Tigers with their first pick, while midfielders Cooper Simpson, George Stevens and Clay Hall will also be considered.
34. Brisbane - Logan Morris
Western Jets/Vic Metro FWD, 191cm, 90kg
ESPN draft rank: 41
One of the most prolific goal-kickers this year was Morris, who has one of the best set shots in the draft. He's a consistent kick and reliable target up forward, leading hard at the leg. Morris has question marks over his size as a genuine tall at the next level, but his output can't be questioned.
If not Morris? The Lions are keen to target talls in this draft, and the likes of Archer Reid and Wil Dawson will be in their mix. Speed off halfback and small forward depth could also be on the agenda - Angus Hastie or a slide from Phoenix Gothard would fit the bill.
35. Essendon - Tew Jiath (pronunciation: T-ow Gee-ath)
Gippsland Power DEF, 188cm, 72kg
ESPN draft rank: 28
Does Adrian Dodoro have one last ploy up his sleeve? Jiath has suitors in the first round - including GWS - and it's easy to see why. He plays above his size with a fantastic vertical leap, and his speed is on display rebounding out of defensive 50. Jiath doesn't take the game on as much as his older brother Changkuoth but is a reliable ball user and his rate of development this year has impressed recruiters. The Hawks can match a bid outside the top 40 for their NGA prospect, so this would be a cruel blow.
If not Jiath? Half-back depth is a need for the Dons, so if they go tall in the first round there will be ample prospects who suit. Falcons speedster Angus Hastie and Rebels rebounder Luamon Lual will be in their mix, while Matt Rosa could look to bring in ruckman Mitch Edwards from his former club Peel.
36. Collingwood - Wil Dawson
Gippsland Power/Vic Country DEF, 200cm, 86kg
ESPN draft rank: 44
Dawson has suitors in the second round with the key defender demonstrating impressive touch below his knees for a defender of his size. He's played through the ruck and had stints up forward, but it's as a key defensive pillar where his strength and instincts are best utilised. The Pies have a need for height down back and have been linked to the stout tall.
If not Dawson? The Pies have an interest in WA athletic halfback Joe Fonti, who has come on in the second half of the year. Ollie Murphy would be a tremendous selection if he made it to this pick, and SA defender Will Patton is around the mark.
37. Fremantle - Koen Sanchez
East Fremantle/Western Australia FWD/MID, 178cm, 71kg
ESPN draft rank: 37
Fremantle finally enters the draft at this point, and it would be a welcome surprise if smart forward Koen Sanchez is still on the board. Sanchez had a remarkable campaign for WA where his speed, football IQ and skill execution under pressure were all highlights. He's spent a lot of his year on-ball but will likely settle as a half-forward at the next level.
If not Sanchez? The Dockers will hope NGA product Mitch Edwards makes it past pick 40, but could be tempted to grab him here to take any risk away. Mature-ager Shaun Mannagh has been heavily linked but may come into calculations later, while tough midfielder Clay Hall would suit their list profile. Keep an eye on Fremantle if Lance Collard slides on draft night - with three firsts to play with next year they could be a live trade candidate.
38. Essendon - Cooper Simpson
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country MID, 181cm, 79kg
ESPN draft rank: 27
With speed a focus for the Dons over the past two drafts, Cooper Simpson's elite burst from congestion and ability to hit the scoreboard will appeal late in the piece. Simpson had an epic bottom-age campaign but injury ruled him out of the national championships this year. His upside remains one of the best in the draft, with shades of Luke Davies-Uniacke in the way he moves through congestion and gets his hands free. If Simpson had a full campaign, he could have played himself into top 15 contention.
If not Simpson? Angus Hastie is in the frame here as a rebounding halfback, and big-bodied midfielder George Stevens would be a best available pick if he slides. Could the Dons make a bid on Hawks father-son Calsher Dear? The key forward has impressed in the back half of the year.
39. West Coast - Clay Hall
Peel Thunder/Western Australia MID, 189cm, 87kg
ESPN draft rank: 48
Hall was a beacon of consistency during a tough championships for WA, with the hard-nosed on-baller turning heads when he went head-to-head with the best midfielders in the country. His hard running and professionalism should see him taken in the national draft, and both WA sides have been linked to the son of former Eagle and Cat Derek Hall.
If not Hall? Best available talent is needed for the Eagles, but could they turn to some of Harley Reid's Vic Country mates to make the trip over with him? Smooth-moving wingman Joel Freijah is around the mark here, along with halfback Angus Hastie and explosive midfielder Cooper Simpson.
40. Brisbane - Angus Hastie
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country DEF, 190cm, 74kg
ESPN draft rank: 36
The Lions often target speed and a long-term rebounding option is speed demon Hastie, who tucks the ball and runs at every opportunity. Hastie has the size to develop into a reliable defender in addition to his offensive game, and some clubs have him rated inside the top 30 given his potential as a metres gained backman at the next level.
If not Hastie? If Brisbane don't snare a tall with their first pick, expect the likes of Luke Lloyd, Sam Van Rooyen and Wil Dawson to be considered. Smart forward-half playmakers Kade De La Rue and Harvey Johnston should also be around the mark.
41. Hawthorn (bid matched) - Calsher Dear
Sandringham Dragons FWD, 195cm, 87kg
ESPN draft rank: 50+
Dear is a father-son prospect set to join the Hawks in the national draft regardless of a bid being placed. The Dragons product enjoyed a consistent second half of the year that elevated his standing in a draft lacking tall forwards; his aerial exploits (including an eye-catching vertical leap) and scoreboard impact have turned recruiters heads.
42. St Kilda - Tarkyn O'Leary
Sandringam Dragons/Vic Metro MID, 178cm, 70kg
ESPN draft rank: 50+
O'Leary smashed Ollie Hollands' 2km time from 2022 at the draft combine - he's an elite aerobic athlete who also looked the part for the Sandringham Zebras this year. O'Leary gets the best out of himself and his running power will tempt Ross Lyon at this stage of the draft.
If not O'Leary? There are a number of Dragons linked to the Saints at this point including Will Brown and Luke Lloyd. The upside of dashing defender Nathan Philactides may tempt as well as the small forward craft of high-flyer Jack Delean.
43. Richmond - George Stevens
GWV Rebels/Vic Country MID, 189cm, 100kg
ESPN draft rank: 14
This would be an extraordinary slide for Stevens, but clubs are split on the big-bodied midfielder's fit at the next level. For Richmond, however, Stevens can offer immediate best-22 competition. He's an elite extractor, has beautiful skills in space and is one of the best leaders in the draft class.
If not Stevens? Midfielders will appeal for the Tigers who need depth - Cooper Simpson, Harvey Johnston and Joel Freijah will all be options.
44. Fremantle (bid matched) - Mitch Edwards
Peel Thunder/Western Australia RUCK, 206cm, 88kg
ESPN draft rank: 34
The Dockers can only match a bid outside the top 40 for Edwards, and such an event seemed impossible halfway through the year. But the rise of Will Green and Taylor Goad, plus the trend towards rookie and mid-season ruck picks, means Edwards has a chance of getting through and the Dockers wouldn't think twice about matching at this stage. Edwards is a brilliant contested mark and is already a great size to compete against bigger bodies.
45. Melbourne - Kade De La Rue
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country FWD, 183cm, 79kg
ESPN draft rank: 42
A balanced and smart forward-half midfielder, De La Rue weights balls to leading forwards and hits the target more often than not. His ball use is sublime, and it's an area of the ground the Dees were found wanting late in the year.
If not De La Rue? Harvey Johnston is a chance here, and Melbourne will eye off small forward talent with Jack Delean and Jack Callinan appealing.
46. GWS - Joel Freijah (pronunciation: Free-jah)
GWV Rebels/Vic Country MID/FWD, 190cm, 88kg
ESPN draft rank: 40
The final selection in the second round belongs to the Giants, and Freijah has been linked to the orange team. The Rebel is a smooth-moving wingman capable of the extraordinary, which included a six-goal performance in the Talent League this year. Freijah is classy and attacking, and fits the mould as a Vic Country talent for the Giants to pair with former teammate Aaron Cadman.
If not Freijah? There's a group around this mark that includes Harvey Johnston, Billy Wilson, Aiden O'Driscoll and Nathan Philactides that could all be in consideration. The Giants will also have a decision to make on Academy prospects Charlie McCormack and Harvey Thomas.