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AFL: Draftee watch

January 22, 2018 10:34 AM

A versatile and big-bodied youngster, Darcy Fogarty has trained with the Crows forwards this pre-season and completed a large block of training so far. The club's coaches and senior players have been thrilled with his skill level and the way he has used his size to advantage in training, with the No.12 draft pick bringing a strong presence to the track. Andrew McPherson had a quad injury in 2017, but he has overcome that since arriving at West Lakes and has trained more minutes than any first-year player. Training as a half-back, he has picked up the Crows' gameplan well. Rookie Patrick Wilson started his AFL career in rehab last year with a toe injury, but he has completed every session post-Christmas, training with the midfielders and focusing on building his engine after a late start. Fellow rookie Lachlan Murphy has been identified as a player who could replace Charlie Cameron in attack and is training as a half-forward with a lot of intensity. Father-son rookie Jackson Edwards has done the majority of the pre-season with the midfield, working on his endurance and speed away from contests.

The standout: While Fogarty is an eye-catcher, Andrew McPherson has backed up most training sessions and has quickly become conditioned to train at AFL level. His game knowledge has impressed his coaches. - Nathan Schmook

All eyes have been on prized No.1 draft pick Cam Rayner and the powerful youngster has shown enough glimpses over pre-season to be in the frame for round one selection. Coach Chris Fagan recently lauded the Victorian's competitiveness, appetite for hard work and football smarts. There were concerns about Rayner's aerobic capacity before the draft, however the Lions' skipper Dayne Beams has expressed his confidence that the bullish youngster will make significant gains in a full-time football environment with changes to his diet and training regime. Meanwhile, Beams has been equally impressed with fellow first-round picks Zac Bailey (15) and Brandon Starcevich (18), believing the duo will compete with Rayner, who has already signed a two-year contract extension on top of his initial two-year deal, for spots across half-forward early in the 2018 campaign.

The standout: It's tough to go past Cam Rayner. His coach and teammates have been full of praise and the young gun appears an excellent chance of making a round one debut. – Travis King

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Paddy Dow arrived at Ikon Park amid plenty of fanfare as the No.3 pick in last November’s NAB AFL Draft and he has not disappointed, according to track-watchers. The hard-running midfielder from Swan Hill has settled in well despite having surgery on his right shoulder last year, and the Blues are rapt with his progress. Not far behind Dow is his former Bendigo Pioneers teammate Lochie O’Brien, who has impressed with his enthusiasm, work ethic and bubbly demeanour. Carlton is confident about the prospects of this midfield pair, who should help cover the loss of experienced campaigner Bryce Gibbs to Adelaide. Former Port Adelaide defender Cameron O’Shea is determined to make the most of his second chance at AFL level after starring with the Northern Blues last season.

The standout: Paddy Dow, who is on track for a round one debut. - Howard Kotton 

The Blues are already thrilled with Paddy Dow's work on the track. Picture: AFL Photos

Leading into the 2017 NAB AFL Draft, Collingwood had two players in the gun for its first-round selection (No.6 overall). The Magpies decided to go with pacy half-forward/midfielder Jaidyn Stephenson after medical staff gave his heart issues the all clear. The other player they were weighing up with the same pick was talented cricketer Nathan Murphy who fell to their next selection, No.39 overall. Stephenson's ability to kick goals running through half-forward is one of his standout qualities. Murphy placed among the top half-dozen in the club's 2km time trial recently and his agility and game sense in drills has been impressive. Tyler Brown still has a skinny frame but the coaches have been impressed with the way he has thrown himself into the contest. Rookie Flynn Appleby came third ahead of Steele Sidebottom in the time trial, while Brody Mihocek has been training with the defenders and has the size and frame to play senior football this year.

The standout: Stephenson has put himself in the running for a round one spot with his efforts in the pre-season. A strong JLT Community Series could be enough to cement his position in the Magpies' best 22. - Ben Guthrie 

The Bombers' bullish and successful trading strategy meant they didn't enter the draft until pick 49, where they nabbed Sturt product Jordan Houlahan. Houlahan, who projects as a high half-forward, has had some minor niggles throughout pre-season and remains quite light. The injury story is much the same for rookie midfielder Trent Mynott, who is focusing on his stoppage craft. Essendon's last selection in the national draft, Claremont's Matt Guelfi, is already paying dividends. The 20-year-old has senior WAFL experience, has not looked out of place in match simulation and seems the most likely to perform a role in the AFL side in 2018. Brandon Zerk-Thatcher, another from Sturt, has impressed with his closing speed and competitiveness, but, like Houlahan, needs to work on his body size. Category B rookie Luke Lavender, a former cricketer, fits in athletically and has pleasantly surprised with his kicking skills for someone with a limited football background.

The standout: Matt Guelfi - the No.76 pick is older than fellow draftees, has already played against men, and is showing an appetite for feedback and to improve. – Marc McGowan

Jordan Houlahan will look to add some weight over coming months. Picture: AFL Photos

The Dockers invested heavily in the drafts – bringing in 10 new faces - and have been impressed by their eagerness to get down to business and learn from their new teammates. Number two draft pick Andrew Brayshaw has been shadowing superstar skipper Nat Fyfe, who he moved in with after crossing from Victoria, and is quickly earning respect. Brayshaw found plenty of the ball in close-quarters match simulation on Wednesday but his tenacity to chase down Cam Sutcliffe moments after turning over a kick drew plenty of applause and backslapping. Freo's second pick, No.5 overall, Adam Cerra has slotted into the football program well after arriving at the club still recovering from a shoulder issue, impressing with his class and time in traffic. Both top-five picks shape as possible round one debutants, while contested beast Tom North - a potential steal at pick No.65 - received Fyfe's tick of approval during the week. East Perth ruck product Scott Jones is in a rehab phase.

The standout He already looks like he belongs in an AFL environment, has signed on until 2021 and is being spoken about as a future captain, so it's tough to go past Andrew Brayshaw. – Travis King

With its first pick not coming until selection No.22, Geelong was forced to wait and see what talent would fall its way. The Cats did not think Lachlan Fogarty, a small midfielder, would be available but when he was they jumped at taking him. Fogarty is filled with tenacity and has already demonstrated he's a good tackler in training drills. Geelong drafted Tim Kelly, 23, straight out of the WAFL with the view that he would ready for senior football sometime in 2017. Kelly's ability to find the ball and move it quickly has put him in line for a debut early in the season. Charlie Constable slipped in the draft order with queries over his endurance and he has had an interrupted pre-season after having his tonsils out. Lively half-forward Gryan Miers has been eased into the program but he moved impressively in the 15-minute run the Cats completed before Christmas. Mature-aged rookie Stewart Crameri has not yet been able to join the main group in any competitive drills but has had a solid block of conditioning. The Cats are hopeful Crameri will be ready for the start of the season but are mindful of the surgery he had on his hip during his time at the Bulldogs last year.

The standout: Tim Kelly is a ready-made midfielder who could step straight into the Cats' lineup from the opening round. - Ben Guthrie

Last year's top-20 draft bolter, Wil Powell, has impressed with his awareness, footy smarts and thirst for the less-glamorous defensive side of the game. Charlie Ballard has stood out for his marking and the way he is understanding more complicated concepts. Like Powell, he is still light and increasing his body size is a priority. Suns Academy graduates Brayden Crossley and Connor Nutting are benefitting from their experience coming through the program. Crossley is a high-energy individual who has fitted in seamlessly, while Nutting is already displaying attributes that will translate well to AFL level. Ex-Blue Nick Holman is working on developing his outside game and improving his kicking efficiency to complement his inside play. Redrafted rookie Mackenzie Willis has emerged as a leader in the pre-season and looks primed to make his second chance count. Josh Jaska's competitive qualities and success in adding 4kg to his frame have caught the coach's attention.

The standout: Holman and Willis might be closer to senior selection based on their AFL experiences, but 196cm Charlie Ballard has quickly endeared himself to the coaches. – Marc McGowan

The club's first two selections at last year's NAB AFL Draft have both had injury setbacks, and while Aiden Bonar (hamstring) is back in full training, small forward Brent Daniels (knee) is out for another 6-8 weeks after having surgery. As a big-bodied forward/midfielder, Bonar has looked good when he has been on the track, as has mature-aged forward Zac Langdon, with his WAFL experience no doubt helping him slot into the AFL system. Langdon and midfielder Nick Shipley are in fantastic shape and placed inside the top 10 at the Giants' 3km time trial after the Christmas break. Former Carlton defender Dylan Buckley has overcome a slight knee issue and has worked well as a small forward, while key position prospects Sam Taylor and Jack Buckley are developing.

The standout: He was a draft bolter, but Zac Langdon looks best placed to have an early impact when the pre-season action starts. - Adam Curley 

Track-watchers have been impressed with each Hawthorn’s draftees to date, and the good news is that they have got through all the training so far, but the stand-outs at this stage appear to be James Worpel and David Mirra. Strong-bodied midfielder Worpel was the club’s first selection last November, No.45 overall and has more than held in his own in contested ball drills and match simulation. Last week, he impressed at one such session with his pace from the contest and clean disposal into the forward line. Midfield depth is an issue for Hawthorn and hopes are rising that Worpel can debut sooner rather than later. Mirra is 26 and was picked in the rookie draft, but knows the Hawthorn defensive structures intimately after playing for Box Hill for several years. He has impressed during match simulation with his reading of the play and his intercept marking. Look for him during the JLT series.

The standout: James Worpel has looked at home among the bigger bodies from day one. A good AFLX and JLT campaign will leave him in the selection frame for the first few weeks of the season. - Ashley Browne

James Worpel feels the love from Tom Mitchell on the Hawks' pre-season camp. Picture: AFL Photos

The Demons first draft selection wasn't until pick No.29, so landing Charlie Spargo was a fine result. After having a shoulder operation in July, Spargo has spent his first two months in rehab. However, he is almost ready to join in main training. He has been working closely with rehab coach Daniel Cross who has been putting Spargo through his paces in running drills. Bayley Fritsch already looks a polished player and has been working hard to complement the other forwards in match simulation. Fritsch booted 42 goals for Casey in the VFL last year, so he is in line to be contending for a spot early in the season. Tall defender Harrison Petty is another who had an interrupted start to his pre-season. Petty fractured his elbow when he tripped over a wire fence before the draft, but he joined in main training just before Christmas. Oskar Baker has been impressive and has already earned plaudits from coach Simon Goodwin and captain Nathan Jones. He is a determined player with excellent speed and an ability to use the ball well. 

The standout: Bayley Fritsch has been impressive, but Oskar Baker has some special attributes that make him a prospect worth tracking. - Ben Guthrie

No.4 draft pick Luke Davies-Uniacke has overshadowed the rest of the Roos' draft class, such is the excitement about him. North eased the man known as 'LDU' into AFL life, but he has shown in match simulation and drills he is ready to play at senior level. Ex-Hawk Billy Hartung comes with a profile and aced North's time trial and Yo-Yo test. Coaches are already utilising rookie Thomas Murphy's elite kicking as a weapon in match simulation. The Kangaroos are quietly excited about nabbing Will Walker and he has shown glimpses of his potential, while working hard on his kicking. Lightly-framed speedster Gordon Narrier is highly skilled, but will take time to develop. Category B rookie Tom Jeffries, a legitimate project ruckman, has slowly increased his workload in his first AFL pre-season. Kyron Hayden had right shoulder surgery in mid-December and is likely to be sidelined for up to five months.

The standout: Luke Davies-Uniacke has Arden St buzzing and is already mixing it with the big boys in drills. A round one lock. – Marc McGowan

Luke Davies-Uniacke seems to be a ready-made Roo. Picture: AFL Photos

The Power didn't have a draft pick before No.47 – which they used to snare highly-rated ruckman Sam Hayes – but it was their fifth and final selection Dom Barry who has really turned heads over pre-season. The former Demon has been making the most of his second chance this summer and climbed into second spot in the Power's time trial when the players returned from the Christmas break. Hayes has been working with Paddy Ryder and impressed with his skills and ruck craft, but the 203cm big man is raw, has plenty of bulking up to do and needs to build his aerobic capacity. Joel Garner is another whose endurance is a work in progress, however his footy smarts and versatility have been on show in match simulation drills. Claremont product Jake Patmore's appetite for the contest has stood out, while ex-Kangaroos veteran Lindsay Thomas has slotted in seamlessly after being thrown a rookie opportunity.

The standout: Dom Barry showed his talent in five games for Melbourne before he walked away from the game and looks like pushing for a senior berth early in 2018. – Travis King 

After a week-long bonding camp in Tasmania, many of Richmond's new recruits have spent time away from the main training group as they're eased into an AFL program. Second-round selection Callum Coleman-Jones has been working through knee and Achilles soreness, with athletic tall Noah Balta also managing soreness in the early weeks of pre-season. Prized draftee Jack Higgins arrived well prepared and has completed the most work this pre-season, impressing the coaching group while training with both the midfielders and forwards. Bringing a lot of energy to training, he finished third in the January time trial and is making a case for selection early in the season. Rookie Liam Baker is another who has managed Achilles soreness, gravitating towards small forwards Dan Butler and Jason Castagna as he seeks to emulate their feats in attack. Father-son selection Patrick Naish has been focusing on adding size and strength, with his kicking skills turning heads on the track. Kalgoorlie recruit Ben Miller has taken everything in his stride after commuting long distances to play in the WAFL last year, while Next Generation Academy rookie Derek Eggmolesse-Smith is progressing well after playing VFL in 2017.

The standout: Jack Higgins may well start his career as a small forward, but he is training like a genuine midfielder and is the Tigers' most advanced first-year player at this stage. - Nathan Schmook 

The Saints' new recruits have completed 70 to 75 per cent of the pre-season program as they build their fitness and strength up to AFL standard. Hunter Clark has trained with the midfielders and shown the ability to make good decisions under pressure in training. He has done a lot of work off a wing and impressed the coaches with his disposal and evasiveness. Nicholas Coffield has also trained with the midfielders, rather than at half-back where the Saints are comfortable with their depth. He has looked AFL standard as an inside midfielder and has been a sponge with the club's established on-ballers. Oscar Clavarino has worked closely with backline coach Henry Playfair and has impressed with his intercept marking. Adding size is a key focus for the slightly-built 195cm defender. Ben Paton is the most physically ready of the recruits, training with the midfielders and using his hardness in contested drills. Rookie Doulton Langlands has brought the outside run and carry the group craves, showcasing his speed regularly in training.   

The standout: Both Hunter Clark and Nicholas Coffield are expected to push in for JLT Community Series games, but Coffield has been clearly the best performed and already looks comfortable with every aspect of AFL training. - Nathan Schmook 

Nicholas Coffield looks likely to put his hand up for round one selection. Picture: AFL Photos

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The Swans have been extremely pleased with their top two draft picks, Matthew Ling and Tom McCartin, who have both showed exactly why they were targeted by recruiting boss Kinnear Beatson. McCartin has an exceptional pair of hands and has impressed the coaches with his aggression at the ball and his bodywork for such a young player. Ling's speed and ability to break the lines off half-back has shone out, as has his disposal, both qualities the Swans went after at the draft. Riley Stoddart and rookie Angus Styles are in the same boat as Ling, with all three runners adding pace to the squad. Athletic big man Joel Amartey has done some exciting things on the track, highlighted by his agility and prodigious leap, while fellow rookies James Bell and Jake Brown have slotted in well after coming through the Swans academy system.

The standout: They don't grow on trees, so as an athletic key forward with some physical presence, Tom McCartin looks an exciting prospect. - Adam Curley 

There were nine new players who arrived at the Eagles via last year's drafts, with Subiaco excitement machine Liam Ryan always looming as the most likely early debutant. The way the high-flying forward pocket has settled in to a professional environment has done nothing to change those perceptions, while coaches and teammates alike have been excited by his electric pace and phenomenal leap during match simulation drills. Top pick Jarrod Brander, No.13 overall, has a way to go putting bulk on his 195cm frame but his athleticism and strong-marking, mostly in attack, bodes well for the future. Fellow tall forward Oscar Allen came to the club with a tibia injury and is still some time away from joining full training, while exciting Kenyan-born rookie ruckman Tony Olango has been restricted to rehab after knee surgery pre-Christmas. Brayden Ainsworth's competitive fire has helped his transition to AFL ranks while level-headed Hamish Brayshaw hasn't put a foot wrong this summer.

The standout: Liam Ryan was the WAFL's brightest star before he was drafted and his freakish talent and X-factor have been on vivid display at Eagles training ahead of a likely round one debut. - Travis King 

Subiaco gun Liam Ryan fires out a handball at Eagles training. Picture: AFL Photos

The latest litter of pups have made a strong start to their careers at Whitten Oval, with all having uninterrupted pre-seasons. Ed Richards has impressed with his running and foot skills, with the red-headed defensive playmaker also working hard in the gym to develop his frame. Inside midfielder Callum Porter is a bundle of energy and that verve has been evident out on the track. The Officer product has been working hard on his kicking. Rookie Billy Gowers has demonstrated why the Dogs revived his AFL career after a stint at Carlton, with the hard-running forward not missing a beat so far.

The standout: After playing senior footy in the WAFL with Peel Thunder last year, Aaron Naughton looms as the draftee to make his debut first. The 195cm key defender has impressed with his competiveness and ability to match it with more seasoned teammates. - Ryan Davidson