Is there another Marlion Pickett waiting to be uncovered? And which young guns overlooked in last year's NAB AFL Draft will get their shot?
Clubs will next Wednesday get the chance to replenish their list at the NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft.
Here is AFL.com.au's list of some of the leading prospects vying to make their way to an AFL club – some for the first time, and some for another crack at the top level.
The running half-back trained with Essendon's AFL side in the pre-season in the hope of winning a list spot before the Bombers looked elsewhere. He then signed with the club's VFL team where he has averaged 26 disposals across four games, including a 31-possession outing against North Melbourne last weekend. Formerly part of Sydney's Academy, Baker played NEAFL as a 17-year-old before rupturing his ACL. He later headed to the Canberra Demons, winning the NEAFL Rising Star award in 2019.
Begg recently suffered a season-ending shoulder injury, which will be looked at by clubs considering him, but the versatile tall thrust his name into the mid-season mix earlier this year. Begg has played as a ruckman at under-19 level but can also hold down a key forward or back role.
The former Geelong and Port Adelaide tall presents as a readymade key position option as he searches for a third AFL club. Delisted by the Power in November after one season on the list without a game, the 25-year-old arrived at Werribee with a point to prove. He's since kicked two hauls of four goals and is averaging nine hitouts per game. Played nine games for Geelong across 2017-2018 before being cut at the end of 2019.
The 18-year-old has bolted into contention with a blistering start to the SANFL season, leading the competition in contested marks. The North Launceston product was overlooked in last year's NAB AFL Draft and moved to Norwood to further his chances. His most recent game against the Crows' reserves side netted 3.7 from seven contested marks and 24 disposals. Callow has interest from Collingwood and also trained with Hawthorn in the pre-season before the Hawks chose to select Lachie Bramble with their last list spot.
Cleary had some attention from clubs last year who were considering him in the 2020 intake despite not playing any games last season. He has come back to under-19 level with the Dragons and been a consistent contributor across half-back as a medium defender who often takes the kick-outs and helps shape his side's play.
The Tasmanian product is firmly on Adelaide's radar with one of their vacant list spots after moving to South Australia this year to play with the Crows' reserves side. He's played just one game to date with instant impact – collecting 26 disposals in a loss to Norwood last week. The 18-year-old ball-winning midfielder won the Matthew Richardson Medal as the Tasmanian State League's best under-23 prospect while playing for Clarence. Davis also captained the Tasmanian Devils' under-18 team as a bottom-ager in 2019.
There are plenty of clubs considering Durham, who was first eligible for the draft in 2019. He has taken his game up a few notches this season playing for Richmond's VFL side, including a 23-disposal effort in round one against Sandringham. At a versatile size and shape, Durham has been linked to a number of clubs, including the Tigers, who now have a list spot available.
The expected No.1 choice has pieced together a very impressive first half of the season, jumping into contention with exciting showings in Sandringham’s intra-club matches before taking that form into the NAB League season. An athletic tall forward/ruckman who uses the ball well, can mark strongly, is agile at ground level and has good goal sense, Edwards is still finishing year 12 but is viewed as a long-term investment and the standout prospect in the mid-year pool and is set to join North Melbourne.
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The former Collingwood top-10 pick and St Kilda midfielder has nominated for the mid-season draft after a brilliant opening to the VFL season with Frankston. Freeman has been the best ball-getter in the competition, averaging 41 disposals in the first five rounds of the year and regaining his power after injury hit his AFL career.
The younger brother of Greater Western Sydney young star Tom, Green is also a budding big-bodied midfielder. He trained with Richmond over the summer as part of the group vying for a pre-season supplemental selection spot, but did not win a place with the Tigers. He has pieced together some good form playing with the Giants' VFL side.
The Falcons midfielder is hitting the midway point of the year in strong form, having picked up 36 disposals, eight marks and six inside-50s in the NAB League last weekend. Gribble played in the NAB All Stars game on Grand Final day in 2019 alongside some of his draft class's best players, but then suffered a knee injury that saw him ruled out of all of last season even before the pandemic struck. He has been linked with Carlton.
Overlooked in last year's draft after not playing in 2020 due to the COVID-19 shutdown, Heath has been watched by clubs to track his development. The ruck prospect can also float forward and hit the scoreboard and provide a marking option closer to goal.
Could he become the latest Halls Creek product on an AFL list? The spring-heeled forward has grabbed the attention of Collingwood and Gold Coast this season with 13 goals from six games, including four against Adelaide's reserves in round five. Johnson has followed a similar path to the SANFL as half-brother and housemate Shane McAdam after starring for local side Scotch Old Collegians across 2018-2019. Is also a cousin of Carlton's Sam Petrevski-Seton and Gold Coast's Jy Farrar.
Could become the first ever two-time mid-season draftee with Gold Coast showing significant interest in Knoll to fill a void in its ruck department. The former basketballer was taken by Sydney out of South Adelaide in the 2019 NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft but failed to win an AFL debut and was delisted by the Swans at the end of 2020. Has since returned to the SANFL where he impressed in the state game win over WAFL and has averaged 31 hitouts from seven games for the Redlegs.
Murray Bushrangers/Carlton VFL
The explosive ball magnet has wasted little time impacting in his return from a pre-season knee injury. Maher dominated in a win for Goulburn Valley Football League side Shepparton United earlier this month before collecting 30 disposals in his first NAB League game of the season for Murray Bushrangers last weekend. Maher had interest from clubs in last year's NAB AFL Draft but was overlooked before training with Carlton over summer in the hope of winning a list spot.
Another prospect who did not get a chance at last year's NAB AFL Draft but has entered discussions for clubs. McLeod kicked two goals in each of the opening two rounds of the season before booting four goals last week against the Chargers from 15 disposals and six marks. McLeod is a marking forward option who is creative around goal.
Carlton VFL/Old Ivanhoe
The ex-volleyballer has shot onto the radar of clubs – most notably Carlton – after being added to Blues' VFL list this season. The 21-year-old even received special exemption to nominate for the NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft having not met the criteria after failing to register for the NAB AFL Draft last year. At 21-year-old he is viewed as an incredibly raw prospect with plenty of upside. Has played two VFL games this season and registered 36 hitouts against Brisbane in round two.
Moyle has had a terrific season, including being close to best afield in the NAB League last weekend with 19 disposals, 23 hit-outs and eight clearances for the Oakleigh Chargers. The giant ruckman can move around the ground and follow up when the ball is up for grabs, and has impressed in the VFL as well in matches with Collingwood's state league side. Being looked at closely in the first handful of picks, including Hawthorn.
Box Hill Hawks VFL
A hard-at-it midfielder who has been impressing in the VFL with Box Hill, where he has averaged 23 disposals and seven tackles so far this season. Newcombe has been a big talking point in the lead-up to the draft after being the only player to nominate extra financial terms when lodging his application for the mid-season draft. Will the Hawks be adding him to their list?
The running defender has put himself on the radar of clubs with a strong start to the NAB League season with the Bushrangers. There's not much of Parnell but he uses the ball well out of defence and can be relied upon to set up some play creatively. He collected 30 disposals and seven rebound-50s last week in Murray's win over Oakleigh, with many recruiters in attendance. Has been linked to Adelaide.
Emerged as a draft smokey after an impressive showing for Ferntree Gully at local level in 2019 before winning a spot at the Eastern Ranges only for the season to be called off due to COVID-19. Has returned to the Ranges this year and played three games which included a four-goal haul against the Calder Cannons. Preston, who doesn't turn 19 until December, has shown a strong ability to mark above his head for his size and has a smart goal sense. Trained with the Western Bulldogs during the pre-season before the Dogs turned to another Anthony Scott for their last list spot.
The key defender was eligible to join the Western Bulldogs as a Next Generation Academy prospect last year and also trained with the club over summer in the pre-season supplemental period. Raak has had a strong season playing for the Jets as a tall defender who can set up the play from defence and backs himself with the ball.
Cut by Geelong as a Category B rookie at the end of last year, the key position swingman arrived at South Fremantle on the advice of former teammate Tim Kelly. Has settled in defence at the Bulldogs with a 12-mark, 28-disposal match against East Perth an early highlight. Schlensog's strong early season form also saw him selected in the WAFL's state game against the SANFL in early May. Spent two seasons at the Cats across 2019-2020 without playing an AFL game but is said to have matured considerably in the last 12 months.
The 22-year-old parted ways with Adelaide in March after a string of off-field indirections, however part of his settlement ensured he was eligible to be taken by another club in June. Stengle, who also played two games for Richmond in 2017, has since produced a sizzling start to the SANFL season, including four goals in the opening round against the Crows and three in the state game against the WAFL. Collingwood has shown interest, while the Tigers are keeping tabs on him. Now it's up to clubs to decide whether he deserves another chance.
The soon-to-be 20-year-old has dominated in the WAFL this season, averaging 23 disposals. It was enough to win a call-up to the state side to play against the SANFL earlier this month. His exquisite skills have been a highlight, while he has also pushed into the midfield. Thorne recorded a blistering 7.761 seconds in the agility test at the 2019 WA State Combine after playing in WA's winning 2019 NAB AFL Under-18 Championships side alongside Luke Jackson, Logan McDonald and Liam Henry.
A small goalkicker who has caught the eye playing for South Adelaide in the SANFL, Wilkinson has a strong work-rate and also puts on defensive pressure as a good tackler. He went down with a leg injury last week, however, which could harm his mid-season chances.