Each year, another crop of talented budding young AFL players joins the competition in the annual AFL draft. This year’s draft pool being deemed shallow, but there is no denying the talent it offers. We breakdown the projected top 10 picks for 2017.
1 Cam Rayner
Clubs: Vic Metro/ Western
Cam Rayner is the undisputed number one pick for this draft. He has drawn lots of comparisons to Richmond superstar Dustin Martin in terms of his ball winning and goal kicking ability. He averaged 21 disposals in the TAC cup this season, and with Brisbane holding the number one selection, it is almost a no-brainer for the Lions to pick him with the top pick. The 18-year-old has a high ceiling and expect him to develop rapidly as he takes on an important role in the Brisbane midfield and forward line.
2 Luke Davies-Uniacke
Clubs: Vic Country/Dandenong
Davies-Uniacke already has the body of an elite AFL player. His big frame and solid build, he is a ball magnet at stoppages. He averaged 24 disposals in the TAC cup and his disposal efficiency, especially on the run, is second to none. He also has the ability to win his own ball in the middle and is fantastic at remaining calm when under pressure. The Dockers have the second pick, so they will hope to pair this youngster alongside the likes of Fyfe and Walters to fast track his development and turn him into an elite midfielder as quickly as they can.
3 Paddy Dow
Clubs: Vic Country/Bendigo
Another top class young midfielder from Victoria to round out the projected top three picks. An explosive midfielder, Dow's ability to break away from contested areas and hit a target has seen many experts compare him to the likes of Dangerfield. A niggling shoulder injury may deter teams from selecting him, but his positives far outweigh his negatives. Carlton have the third selection, and with the departure of Bryce Gibbs, they may be persuaded to add this young star to their large list of youth midfielders as they look to build for the future.
4 Adam Cerra
Clubs: Vic Metro/ Eastern
The hardest working and most AFL ready player in this draft class, Cerra knows what it takes to be a professional. A player who can pinpoint forwards with a deadly accurate kick coupled with the composure he shows when under pressure, these skills could see him drafted higher than thought. Similar to Dow, niggling injuries held him back somewhat during this year's TAC cup, but he showed more than enough to suggest he is ready to make it in the big time. With North Melbourne in desperate need of another quality midfielder, it would surprise to see him drafted any lower than the fourth pick.
5 Jaidyn Stephenson
Clubs: Vic Metro/ Eastern
A massive breakout game for Stephenson in the State Championships which yielded 27 disposals and 5 goals significantly boosted his draft stock and his confidence. He has a great motor and his ability to run hard all over the ground will serve him well come draft day. He is a proven match winner and one day will be capable of turning a game on the pack of his solid midfield and forward line play. Fremantle's desperate need for a forward will see them hoping that Stephenson is still on the board for the draft's fifth selection.
6 Jarrod Brander
Positions: Key Forward/ Defender
The ultimate utility player in this year's draft, Brander is a real jack-of-all-trades. He is very capable of matching up on top forwards and can also convert shots for himself while leading up and marking the ball at the other end of the ground. Brander is being touted as the best non-midfielder in this year's draft, and his ability to perform at both ends of the ground backs that up. The Magpies hold the sixth selection, but may not draft Brander as much as they would like to, as key position players in this draft are few. His play style will suit any team that is lucky enough to draft him.
7 Aaron Naughton
Positions: Key Defender
The only Western Australian in the projected top ten, Naughton has established himself as a reliable key defender for Peel Thunder. Despite only playing 13 games for Peel, he showed many experts why he deserves to be drafted highly. Naughton is very capable of locking down key forwards and the ability to rebound out of the back-line. A strange kicking style may be a downfall for Aaron, but his high level of potential should see teams look past it. He may be in for a move east as St Kilda hold both the seventh and eighth pick in the draft.
8 Jack Higgins
Clubs: Vic Metro/ Oakleigh
Any team in need of an explosive small forward should not look past Higgins at this years draft. The kid fills up the stat sheet with goals and disposals while also adding spark into the midfield. Higgins has a great football brain and his clean skills make him an asset for any team. Averaging over 2 goals a game in the TAC cup is no easy task, but Higgins proved he is very capable of producing consistent football over a season. The Saints will also look to add Higgins to a developing forward line with lots of promise for the future.
9 Andrew Brayshaw
Clubs: Vic Metro/Sandringham
The younger brother of Angus at the Dees, Andrew Brayshaw is a genuine ball magnet. Easily racks up large numbers of possessions and is very effective in his ball use. Adept at finding space to work in and his forward line delivery is top class. Also, superb at applying tackle pressure, shown by his 7 tackles per game in the TAC cup. The Bulldogs will look to add Andrew to their list to add ball winning and tackling pressure they were desperately missing last season.
10 Nick Coffield
Clubs: Vic Metro/ Northern
Coffield is a reliable half-back whose ability to run and carry off the halfback line make him valuable to any team who look to counterattacking as a main source of scoring. A very skilled player, Coffield has shown the ability to intercept mark at an elite level and set up his team with classy foot skills. Has also shown that he is a capable midfielder, averaging 21 disposals a game for Northern in this year's TAC cup. Carlton's crop of talented youngsters should grow further if Coffield is available for selection at this pick.
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