Sneak peek: Top AFL draft prospects to watch in 2021
As one draft crop enters the AFL system, another is just getting started.
The 2021 draft pool is set to be the biggest we have seen as competitions like the NAB League shift to under-19s and early indications suggest that high-quality talent will be on offer.
It is one reason why clubs opted to trade out of the 2020 draft which had a great deal of uncertainty surrounding it.
Geelong and Richmond, in particular, didn't play a major role last Wednesday night, but they should be very happy with their current hand for next year.
Kayo is your ticket to the best sport streaming Live & On-Demand. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
While 2021 draft eligible prospects from Victoria were denied the opportunity to show their wares as bottom-agers, many already turned heads at the under-16 national championships in 2019.
Meanwhile, young guns from other states, like South Australian pick one contender Jason Horne, were able to get a year of footy under their belt ahead of their draft year.
Which top-age players should we keep an eye out for in 2021?
Dan Batten, Jordan Pinto and Matt Turner look at the next wave of draftees on the horizon.
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country
Rachele claimed the Kevin Sheehan Medal as the best player at the under-16 national carnival and got a taste of NAB League footy in 2019 for Murray Bushrangers against players two years his senior. A damaging midfielder/forward with an array of weapons, Rachele showed he was already capable at the level in his four games for the Bushrangers, averaging 17.8 disposals, 3.0 inside 50s, 107 ranking points and two goals per game. It is understood some clubs rated Rachele among the top talents taken in the 2020 draft and he looms as a number one pick contender next year.
Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro
Midfielder/forward, 181cm, 84kg
The MVP of a star-studded Vic Metro line-up at the under-16 carnival, Sonsie had a devastating impact in the final game, tallying 19 disposals and booting four majors - including three snaps from tight angles. Sonsie brings X-Factor, has a nice kick and is a prolific ball-winner. He featured in six NAB League last year for the Ranges and held his spot during all three of their finals.
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro
Midfielder/defender, 186cm, 72kg
Sinn is extremely classy traffic and takes the game on with his evasive skills and penetrating left boot. The Sandringham product excelled across halfback and through the middle for Vic Metro at the under-16 carnival, earning All-Australian honours and averaging 17 touches, 4.3 intercept possessions and 96 ranking points. One who is going to be a favourite of draft followers next year.
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Country
Defender/midfielder, 185cm, 78kg
Partnering Sinn on the other back-flank of the U16 All Australian team was Chessar, who possesses electrifying speed and uses it to his advantage. A line-breaking defender who is a good interceptor, Chessar has also tried his hand as an inside-midfielder, where his contested ball-winning and burst has stood out.
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro
Midfielder, 182cm, 77kg
Daicos has attracted more attention than any player in the 2021 draft pool due to his famous surname but also his talent. The Collingwood father-son prospect, who is the brother of Magpies wingman Josh, has been touted as one of the top prospects in the pool, with his exquisite ball-use and ability to hit the scoreboard as a midfielder being his standout traits. Magpies fans will be eagerly watching the progress of Daicos in 2021.
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro
Midfielder, 189cm, 83kg
Andrews is a tall midfielder with great agility. The Chargers ball-winner has and a knack for winning the ball cleanly, weaving his way out of congestion and finding targets by hand. Expect Andrews to be one of the key pillars in the Oakleigh midfield next season - big shoes to fill following Chargers graduates and top three selections Matt Rowell, Noah Anderson and Will Phillips.
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro
Key forward, 195cm, 86kg
In a draft class dominated by midfielders, Lukic brings something different to the table as an athletic and mobile key forward. Lukic slotted nine goals in three games for Vic Metro at the under-16 championships - including a bag of five in their final game against Western Australia. Most of his goals came from general play, moving well for a tall and showing good skills below his knees.
GWV Rebels/Vic Country
Midfielder, 182cm, 76kg
Hobbs is a ball-magnet who wins the footy on the inside and gets it out cleanly to his teammates with his tidy skills. The Rebels midfielder produced a mammoth effort in Vic Country's final game at the U16 carnival against South Australia, finishing with 25 disposals (18 kicks at 72 per cent), eight clearances, six inside 50s, two goals and 196 ranking points - trumping the exploits of Horne and Rachele. Hobbs was utilised at the coalface and across halfback in his five NAB League games for the Rebels in 2019.
Defender/midfielder, 186cm, 72kg
The Apple Isle's leading 2021 draft prospect. Banks has brilliant skills by foot on both sides and strong hands overhead, displaying these strengths on repeat at the division two under-16 carnival last year, where he won a mountain of footy on the outside. The defender/wingman also stepped up into Tasmania's NAB League side, playing eight matches and averaging 11.5 disposals. In 2020, he showed positive signs for Clarence in the Tasmania State League against senior bodies ahead of his draft year.
Midfielder/forward, 182cm, 75kg
The South Adelaide star has it all and it's why he's the early favourite to be taken with the first pick of the 2021 draft. He's strong on the inside, but also electrifying away from the contest and boasts a mix of speed, eye-catching evasiveness and terrific hands overhead. Horne was SA's MVP at the under-16 national carnival and after a dominant start to 2020 in the under-18s, played the final nine games of the year in South's league side.
Midfielder/forward, 185cm, 71kg
Draper was another standout bottom-ager in the SANFL under-18s this year, showing off his versatility with a number of blistering performances through the midfield and as a marking target inside-50. The classy ball-user had 21 contested possessions and 11 clearances in Round 9, before booting 4.1 in the semi-final loss to the Eagles.
Midfielder, 183cm, 76kg
The hardworking left-footer is a ball-magnet - and one of the most promising midfield prospects in the 2021 pool. He may not have as many weapons as his Panthers teammates Horne and Draper, but Roberts is tough, competitive, makes good decisions and is always in the right spot. Even inside-50, where he booted 12 goals in seven games this year.
Midfielder/forward, 177cm, 66kg
The 177cm midfielder had a standout national junior carnival last year to land a spot on the bench in the Under-16 All-Australian side then backed that up by winning Norwood's under-18 best and fairest this past season as the Redlegs claimed the flag. Murley is slightly built but has pace and is neat with both feet. Averaged 26.6 disposals in the under-18s as a bottom-ager this year and ranked second for inside 50s.
Defender, 188cm, 72kg
An Andrew Mackie or Will Day-like rangy defender who impressed in the SA All-Stars game in October. Like Mackie and Day, Beecken has long arms, allowing him to float in for marks or spoils, is calm under pressure and also boasts a tidy kick. In his case, he is a left-footer.
Port Adelaide has access to the Eagles half-back flanker, whose brother is Power rookie Trent Burgoyne and dad is club great Peter Burgoyne, as a father-son prospect in 2021. At 184cm Jase, who averaged 28 disposals at under-18 level this year, is seven centimetres taller than Trent, loves to run and carry and takes kick-ins. Only North Melbourne draftee Tom Powell gathered more possessions than Burgoyne's 409 in the under-18 competition this year.
A tall athletic forward who kicked 22 goals from just six games to finish second in the SANFL's under-18 competition this season, behind new Crow Brayden Cook (26 majors in 12 matches). Can clunk a mark and looms as one of the best SA forward prospects in 2021.
A smooth mover with great closing speed and slick skills, he can fly for a mark and is instinctive around goals. Wanganeen - the nephew of Port Adelaide and Essendon great Gavin Wanganeen - makes the most of his possessions and has plenty of X-factor.
JACOB VAN ROOYEN
Key forward, 194cm, 88kg
Among a number of highly-rated midfielders, Van Rooyen stands out as a key-position prospect. He booted 19 goals in 10 WAFL Colts games in his bottom-age year and rated elite for contested marks, marks inside-50, goals and score involvements. Van Rooyen is terrific in the air, whether it be on the lead or one-out, given his outstanding bodywork.
Midfielder, 192cm, 80kg
The tall midfielder is one to watch in 2021. He was a standout in the WAFL Colts grand final in his bottom-age season, tallying 22 disposals, 10 contested possessions, eight score involvements, five clearances and 143 Champion Data rankings points. Johnson is tough, clean, clever in traffic and looks to have big scope for improvement.
Originally published as Sneak peek: Top AFL draft prospects to watch in 2021