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Phantom form guide: October update

Callum Twomey  October 7, 2014 10:34 PM

AFL 2014 Media - NAB AFL Draft Combine Day 1

Callum Twomey ranks Christian Petracca as the top player in the 2014 draft

THE SEASON is over, the NAB AFL Draft Combine has been completed, and now the pieces of the draft order are starting to fall into place.

Given the evenness of this year's pool, we have extended the third Phantom Form Guide of the season from 20 players to 25.

Remember, this is simply a ranking of the players in AFL.com.au's view, and does not take into account which clubs hold certain draft selections.

Motivated and determined, Petracca has pushed his case all season with top results. The most dominant player in the draft pool has evolved from a hard and strong marking half-forward to a dynamic and game-changing midfielder who kicks goals. He hunts the footy, barges through packs headfirst, shrugs out of tackles and has done it all year. Ran a personal best 14.12 in the beep test at last week's combine before pulling out of the three-kilometre time trial with hip soreness mid-race.


After a year interrupted by small injuries, McCartin finished his season on the sidelines with a groin strain. It saw him miss the Geelong Falcons' semi-final and sit out testing at the combine. Nevertheless, he remains a big chance to be the No.1 draft choice. McCartin's marking, smarts and power make him the best forward in the draft. He attracts plenty of the ball, has an aggressive streak you can't manufacture, and can move up the ground when required.


Heeney is everything you'd want in a midfielder. He's committed and willing, he can bust through congestion with speed and awareness, his hands are quick and sharp, and he gets plenty of the ball. On Monday he joined the Sydney Swans as an academy selection with the club's first draft pick (No.17) and most clubs would have used a top-five selection on him. Look for Heeney to have an impact next season for he couldn't have done much more in his draft year. Some patella tendinitis saw him on the sidelines for the combine.



The irrepressible midfielder played one of his best games of the year in the final round of the TAC Cup, gathering 29 touches and kicking three goals to lead the Sandringham Dragons to a one-point win. Brayshaw doesn't stop fighting for the ball, and more often than not he'll win it. He's a modern midfielder: big and strong, suited inside and out, and takes people with him. He can also go forward, kicking 17 goals in 11 TAC Cup games. An ankle injury limited him late in the year and ruled him out of testing.


An injury-free season was dashed at just the wrong time for the Calder Cannons big man, who missed his team's TAC Cup Grand Final with a minor knee injury. Everyone has different opinions on where he plays best, but Wright feels most comfortable as a lead-up centre half-forward and dominated some games there this year. Athletically he is very sound and it is rare a player of his size kicks so well.



Few players could have jumped, hung in the air, grabbed the mark and almost had enough time to take in the view like Moore did with his huge 'speccie' a few weeks ago for the Oakleigh Chargers. That it was done in front of plenty of recruiters was a reminder of the 199cm prospect's huge talent. Moore can play at both ends of the ground, is quick and agile and does things you might not always expect, like scoop the ball off the turf, turn an opponent inside out, and get to a contest that looks too far away. He joined Collingwood on Monday as a father-son selection.


Pickett entered last week's combine knowing it was his endurance, not his sublime speed, that he needed to prove to recruiters. By surpassing level 14 in the beep test he did just that, and again performed well over the 20-metre sprint, recording a time of 2.87 seconds. Pickett most loves running with the ball, looking ahead and taking the game on. In his five games in South Fremantle's senior WAFL side to finish the year he played mainly as a deep forward.


A quad injury saw Laverde miss the Western Jets' finals series and then the draft combine, but there is no doubt on his exciting traits. Laverde can turn a game through a mark, goal, precise pass or daring run. He likes to have the ball in his hands and to create. Mostly it is moving forward – he kicked at least one goal in all bar one of his 10 games for the Jets this year – but Laverde can also start across half-forward or as a tall wingman.


It might be hard to imagine, but one of the most impressive prospects this year has been Lever, despite not playing a game. The running, combative and physical tall defender continues his diligent and determined rehabilitation from a knee reconstruction and took important steps last week. At the combine he ran 3.2 seconds for the 20-metre sprint and also competed in the three-kilometre time trial. Everything is on track for Lever to start pre-season ready to go.


Although Weller's season wasn't as consistent as he had hoped, he still showed the things that make him one of the top midfielders available. He's quick, can kick, finds space and you want him with the ball. After a month off, he played his last game of the season for the Allies against the NAB AFL Academy on Grand Final morning. Every time he got the ball he arched his back and went looking for gaps to split. He also kicked two very good goals, one a bomb from outside 50 that speared through. He suffered bone bruising in his leg in that game, which ruled him out of testing at the combine.


Durdin's up and down year ended on a good note by being named best afield in West Adelaide's under-18 Grand Final win. That night Durdin played in the ruck and had 48 hit-outs, 12 disposals and nine marks and moved all around the ground. At the next level he seems best placed to be a key defender, where he can use his mobility and strength in the air to hold down a spot.


Ahern put his hand up for the Calder Cannons in their Grand Final defeat, collecting 26 disposals and kicking a goal. Ahern glides through the midfield, going quicker than he sometimes looks, and then delivers with ease as well – his kicks telling teammates where to lead, and not the other way around. Has to close the gap between his outstanding games and the others, but has the pace and class to be a really good player who sets things up.



De Goey is a unique mix of competitiveness and class. It's what makes him an attractive proposition for clubs, who like his hard-headedness as well as his ability to provide some flash. He kicked three goals in the Oakleigh Chargers' Grand Final win, playing mainly as a deep medium forward, but he can just as comfortably be used in the midfield. Doesn't pick up big numbers of possessions but makes them count and is a natural footballer who goes at the ball.


Widely seen among clubs as one of the most impressive prospects to interview, Duggan is smart, articulate and genuine. As a player he ticks the boxes, too. Having started the year as a neat left-footed small defender, he has progressed to the midfield, and done well as a ball-winner and an outside option. Duggan finished the home and away season for the Western Jets with 30 disposals and 12 tackles against Gippsland Power.


Lamb reminded people of his elite running power last week with a 15.5 beep test and 9.45 minutes in the three-kilometre time trial. The next step is bringing that into games more consistently for the ultra-talented and unpredictable half-forward, who has also been used in the midfield and across half-back at different times this year. Lamb produces a few 'How did he do that?' moments, but has to do it more and more, and with fewer lapses. It's difficult to project his draft position given his turns in form.


Ellis missed the end of the season with a foot injury, which he recently found out was a little more serious than first thought. Although he watched on at the combine wearing his moonboot, he has done enough to highlight his traits. Ellis is a versatile, clear-thinking midfielder who makes quick and correct decisions. He doesn't collect huge numbers of the ball but does the right things with it and without any fuss.


Marchbank continues his recovery from a meniscus injury in his knee, which ruled him out of the last part of the TAC Cup season. However, he had already proved his capabilities in the under-18 championships as a tall defender who can swing forward on occasions and do the job. Marchbank is mobile and marks well on the lead, and had an encouraging first few months of the year given he missed so much footy last year with a serious back injury.


In the mix to be one of the first West Australians selected at November's draft after a strong season. The midfielder/half-forward ran a level 15.2 beep test last week at the combine, and also had plenty of club interviews. The confident youngster moves through traffic easily, lopes down the wing and looks in control with the ball in his hands. Tasted senior footy towards the end of the season for South Fremantle and then returned to colts level.


Goddard's end to the season should give him a boost of confidence after being moved around through the year. He played his best footy as a key defender, where he was able to lock down on an opponent, put a fist into marking contests and kick it long when the ball was in his hands. A big, wide-shouldered player who gives his all.  


Blakely's full season in the WAFL playing seniors for Swan Districts will have him better prepared for what lies ahead. The midfielder averaged 17 disposals in 15 games and used his size and body strength to make an impact. His championships for Western Australia further lifted his stocks and he was named an All Australian. Blakely does his best work at the clearances.  


A dislocated kneecap ruined Steele's chances of being drafted last year, but he has returned a far improved prospect in his over-age season. A tall and mobile wingman who sometimes starts forward, Steele has a knack for reading the play well and kicking goals. He's good overhead, and led NSW-ACT for marks, effective kicks, contested possessions, goals and score assists in the national carnival. A strong effort at the draft combine highlighted his athletic traits (15.1 beep test, 10.11 time trial) and on Monday he joined the Giants as an academy selection from Canberra. Looks a real player.


Langford is able to bend and stretch for marks, jump high, pick the ball up at his ankles and run around with it in one hand. The 190cm prospect begun his year with back-to-back five-goal hauls, showing his ability as a quick and agile half-forward. He has pushed through the midfield at different stages of the year but appears most comfortable as a roaming and active forward who makes things happen. He averaged eight marks a game in the TAC Cup this season, proving his aerial capabilities.


The Sandringham Dragon has adapted to a few roles throughout the year, from deep in defence, to the half-back flank, to a tagging midfield position and also getting the responsibility to go and win his own ball. A modern size with good athleticism, Vickers-Willis provides some run and carry but is relatively unassuming, managing to get his job done with a minimum of stress. A recruiter last week called him the "smartest player I've ever interviewed", and he knows what he wants and how to best go about getting there.


The Bulldogs' father-son pick-up has risen steadily across the year and is a promising tall defender. A hamstring strain kept him from testing last week, but his capabilities have been on show for much of the year. As a tall and agile backman he closes down space quickly, sneaking arms into contests that look out of reach. Cordy joined brother Ayce at the Dogs via Monday's bidding meeting as a fourth-round pick – a bargain for the Dogs.


An inconsistent season means his draft position is hard to pinpoint, but Smith is powerful, physical and aggressive prospect. Smith isn't the type to test well, and his running will need to improve, but put a footy in front of him and he will fight and fight until he's got it. Smith has played his best footy as a rebounding defender, shutting down opponents and then offering some drive.