With the AFL Mid-season Draft set for June 1, ESPN’s AFL drafting expert Chris Doerre has his eye on the top candidates vying for a spot on an AFL roster.
With the immediate success that Jai Newcombe and Sam Durham have enjoyed, the emergence of Ned Moyle for Gold Coast, a ready-made ruckman with a great future ahead of him, and others who are earning AFL opportunities and battling for themselves To settle towards regular roster, last year’s mid-season draft was an opportunity for clubs with good talent identification to secure long-term pieces and fulfill urgent roster needs.
Each year, recruits in adulthood are among the best drafted, and the mid-season draft gives clubs the opportunity to bring in the best pair instead of slipping through to the National Draft at the end of the year.
1. Jai Culley
An exaggerated striker and midfielder, the 193cm Culley has everything it takes to be the best kick of this design, with his penetration, accurate kick placement, vision and the composure he shows with the ball in hand. Culley is a weapon that takes strong contentious markings, hits the scoreboard hard, moves well, likes the football a lot, and has a high impact per possession. Culley performed strongly in his first two rounds for Dandenong and was the star in the Young Guns vs. Vic Subway. He scored four goals in the first half, while racking up four assists and two disputed points in the game. If there was no season draw, Culley would be worthy of a first-round selection at the end of the season.
2. Casey Voss
Michael’s son, Casey Voss, was unlucky not to be called up in 2021 after a breakthrough season in which he earned a position on the SANFL Team of the Year, winning Sturt’s best and fairest. Continuing to improve through the first half of this season, Voss has arguably developed into the premier general defender outside the AFL, impressing with averages of 23 disposals and 10.6 points per game in the SANFL. Voss routinely ignores the influence of his opponents as he develops into one of the league’s foremost interceptors and ball users on the defensive. Voss, 22, is a ready-made defender good enough to establish himself at the AFL level for the long haul this season. Voss won the Fos Williams Medal for best on the ground in the SANFL vs. WAFL, after 29 divestments and 15 points.
3. Wade Derksen
As a late bloomer, Derksen has grown no less than 12 cm in the past two years and now stands at 197 cm. 20-year-old Derksen is emerging as one of the most important key players of the WAFL and, alongside Fremantle 2021, first round choice Jye Amiss, was impressive. The past two seasons in the VFL and just one game last year with Essendon and another with Greater Western Sydney, Derksen has found a new level in his game this season, emerging as a draft prospect in the early rounds. Derksen is a strong marking key forward, a good jumper and a smooth mover who hits the scoreboard and can provide illuminating ruck minutes when needed.
4. Josh Carmichael
Carmichael, a 22-year-old midfielder, has impressed in his first year in the SANFL and is now entering his first full pre-season of football. Carmichael is a powerful midfielder who has high impact per possession and can push forward and hit the scoreboard. Carmichael has averaged 24.6 divestments, five clearances and 1.1 goals per game this year. He is a strong ball winner who shows good hands inside, a strong overlay mark and a piercing, damaging field kick.
5. Bailey Rogers
It was a surprise to see Bailey Rogers overlooked after a season in which he established himself as the best midfielder outside the AFL and even won the Sandover Medal. Rogers is a stylish ball-winning midfielder who is hard to stop when he kicks forward. He is an instant plug and play piece and good enough to add value to any AFL midfield and forward rotation. Rogers has averaged 1.5 goals per game this season and has scored three goals in the SANFL vs. WAFL game.
6. Blake Schlensog
Former Geelong-listed Category B rookie, Schlensog was arguably fired prematurely. He developed quickly at Geelong and took significant strides in the WAFL last year. Playing his best football as a key defender, Schlensog reads and anticipates the game as does everyone outside the AFL. Behind the ball, Schlensog intercepts at a high level and not only beats his direct opponent, but also uses the ball neatly and shows good mobility. But to play in the WAFL this year due to injury, Schlensog remains the key defender outside the AFL.
7. Angus Baker
One of the foremost general defenders outside of the AFL since his days in the NEAFL, Angus Baker is a plug-and-play piece that adds value as an interceptor and ball user from defense. With an average of more than 30 divestments in the NEAFL in 2019 and more than 25 divestments in the VFL last year, Baker is good enough to put directly into an AFL defense. Baker has played one game so far this year with Greater Western Sydney in the VFL and has spent the rest of his time playing locally for Wodonga.
8. Jake Florenca
A COVID fill-in for West Coast in their Round 8 AFL clash against Brisbane, Florenca stepped up and secured a team-high 13 contested possessions and an equal team-high seven tackles in a strong midfield display. The 25-year-old mid has enjoyed a breakthrough start to 2022, averaging 32.8 disposals, 6.6 tackles and 1.3 goals per game in the WAFL. Playing to a competitive best level for the past month, Florenca is a plug-and-play midfielder who can add much-needed competitiveness and winning balls.
9. Hugo Hall-Kahan
With a meaningful impact in every game he has played this season, Hall-Kahan has heavily influenced the scoreboard, headlined by scoring five goals against Calder and four against Tasmania. Hall-Kahan has been a constant, strong overhead mark. When he has pushed further away, he has been a weapon with which he has picked up the game with the ball in hand and broke the lines with great speed. Hall-Kahan routinely lowers his eyes on stairs within 50 yards, further emphasizing his kicks and sight. While Hall-Kahan plays forward, with the way he handles the game, hitting meaningful goals on foot and how strong he is over his head, he could become an even more damaging footballer if he moves to defense.
10. Massimo D’Ambrossio
A rebounding defender, D’Ambrossio is one of the defense’s best kickers outside of the AFL. He boasts a desirable blend of kick penetration, sight and precise kick placement. In addition to having the kick, he takes the game with his speed, often breaking the lines and showing the dodge to weave through traffic with ease. Importantly for a small defender at just 178cm, he plays taller than his height, with the strength to compete one-on-one and the jump, strong hands over the head and ball-reading abilities to be an intercepting marking threat.
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