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WAFL star firming as first mature-age pick

Tim Kelly at the 2012 state draft combine - AFL,Draft,Tim Kelly
Tim Kelly at the 2012 state draft combine

WEST Australian midfielder Tim Kelly shapes as the first mature-age player to be picked at this year's NAB AFL Draft after an impressive season at WAFL level.

The 23-year-old had a brilliant year for South Fremantle and finished second in the competition's Sandover Medal to win an invitation to the NAB AFL Draft Combine.

A knee injury ruled him out of testing at the Combine at Etihad Stadium, but he remains in the mix as a top-30 pick on November 24.

West Coast has a bevy of second-round selections (No.21, 26, 32, 37) and has been linked to the local product, while Geelong is another club who could look at the 183cm prospect who kicked 26 goals from the midfield this season. The Cats hold three second-round picks (No.22, 24, 35).

Kelly first nominated for the draft in 2012 but enjoyed the best season of his career this year to place himself with a genuine shot at being listed by an AFL club.

Oskar Baker is another mature-ager who looms as a player to find an AFL home at the NAB AFL Draft.

The speedy midfielder from Queensland had an eye-catching season playing in the NEAFL, including a breakout four-goal and 20-disposal game against Southport.

He was interviewed by clubs throughout the season and many recruiters headed interstate specifically to watch him during the year.

Baker, 19, was overlooked at last year's draft and isn't tied to a northern club via an academy having been cut by the Brisbane Lions at the end of 2015.

Ben Paton and Brayden Ainsworth also failed to be drafted last year when eligible but have returned this season to be strong chances to find a home.

Both were named in the All Australian team after the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships, Paton as a defender after a dashing carnival and Ainsworth in the midfield after he averaged 24 disposals in the four games. They are considered most likely to fit into the later stages of the draft.