Main content

Cal Twomey's Phantom Form Guide: November update

Cal Twomey's top-30 draft prospects The draft expert delivers his verdict on this year's talent pool

THE TIME has come for the final Phantom Form Guide of 2018.

The prospects have played, tested, interviewed, been medically assessed and are now a week away from learning their draft fate. 

So here's our take on who are the best 30 players in the 2018 NAB AFL Draft pool.

THE DRAFT MACHINE Pick the top 10, win $10K

It is not a Phantom Draft (that will come next week), and nor does it take into account where bids will come on father-son or Academy prospects. It is simply our take on who the best players are based on what we've seen and what we project they'll become.

INDICATIVE DRAFT ORDER Your club's picks

POS: Midfielder
Ht 183cm, Wt 74kg, DOB 2/7/00
From Geelong Falcons/Vic Country
October ranking: 1

Walsh has pieced together one of the most complete seasons seen by an under-18 prospect in recent years. The Geelong Falcons midfielder has starred at every level he's played – in the TAC Cup, for Vic Country at nationals level and also for the NAB AFL Academy. He's also been captain of all of those teams and been recognised for his leadership. Walsh works hard up and down the ground, his skills are good, he's tough and he just continues to find the ball (he averaged 32 touches for the Falcons). An outstanding draftee who will be a long-term midfield gun. 

Where does he go? Walsh has been the leading candidate to be Carlton's No.1 choice, but the Blues are also considering others. If Carlton don't choose Walsh, Gold Coast will. It's one of two for him.

POS: Tall forward
Ht 194cm, Wt 85kg, DOB 9/8/00
From Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia
October ranking: 2

Lukosius has been touted as a top-three pick for two years for a reason. The South Australian forward is a very smart option in attack and his leading patterns make him difficult to contain when the ball is on the move. He rates as one of the best kicks – for any player – to come through the draft in many seasons, with his graceful set-shot kicking action drawing praise from recruiters. Lukosius is a hard worker and he can also play as a defender and on the wing, meaning he presents as a very versatile and talented option.

Where does he go? Lukosius met with the Blues while in Melbourne last week and he's being considered for their top choice. But, unless another club trades up, it's unlikely he'll get past the Suns if the Blues don't pick him.

POS: Half-forward/midfielder
Ht 180cm, Wt 76kg, DOB 23/4/00
From West Adelaide/South Australia
October ranking: 3 

We can't wait to watch Rankine at AFL level, and we get the sense Rankine can't wait to be unleashed at that level, too. The electric half-forward/midfielder didn't have the most consistent season, but he still stepped up when it was required in big games. That included his five-goal haul in the title decider of the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships. The only back-to-back All Australian in the pool and a player who will be seen regularly at senior level next season given his class and pace.

Where does he go? The Blues have always liked Rankine. Could they grab him at No.1? Otherwise Rankine looks headed to the Suns as pick two or three. He'd be a nice addition for the Saints if he surprisingly got through to No.4.

POS: Tall forward
Ht 202cm, Wt 86kg, DOB 7/7/00
From Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro
October ranking: 4

If not for his knee reconstruction at the beginning of this season, King would have been spoken about far more regularly as a potential No.1 pick. His commanding eight-goal performance for the Dragons just before the injury struck was one of the most dominant displays seen at under-18 level, and he has genuine star factor. He's a huge threat in the air but is also agile and deft at ground level, and he wants to be a match-winner.

Where does he go? St Kilda has been strongly linked to King for a long time and he seems a good fit. Port Adelaide has also been strongly linked, and Gold Coast would also strongly consider at No.6 if King was available.

Will Max King end up at the Saints? Picture: AFL Photos

POS: Midfielder
Ht 186cm, Wt 82kg, DOB 7/12/00
From Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro 
October ranking: 5 

Achilles injuries kept Smith out of action for the last three months of the season, including seeing him sit out testing at the NAB AFL Draft Combine, but he had made every post a winner before then. Smith transformed himself from a half-back last year into a hard-running, powerful and explosive midfielder this season, dominating at the under-18 carnival for Vic Metro. He can run all day, is tough and likes to float forward and hit the scoreboard. You won't find a more dedicated prospect than Smith.

Where does he go? St Kilda may consider Smith at No.4, otherwise he should be available for the Dogs' pick No.7. They've been linked closely for a while. But if the Bulldogs don't swoop, it's difficult to know where Smith ends up. Geelong could be in for a bonus at No.12. 

POS: Half-forward/midfielder
Ht 185cm, Wt 74kg, DOB 22/1/00
From North Adelaide/South Australia
October ranking: 7

Rozee carried a little niggle throughout the under-18 carnival, which may have contributed to him not being at his best. But he shrugged off those issues with a terrific finish to the season when he was part of North Adelaide's SANFL premiership win. Can play as a half-forward, half-back or through the midfield, and has genuine spark and spring in his game that sets him apart from others. Rozee is a piercing and damaging kick as well, and showed his athleticism at the Draft Combine when he tested second quickest of all players.

Where does he go? St Kilda is in the mix, but Port Adelaide will be watching closely at pick No.5. If not, the Suns could grab Rozee at No.6. It's hard to see Rozee getting any further than Adelaide's pick No.8.

POS: Tall forward/defender
Ht 202cm, Wt 85kg, DOB 7/7/00
From Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro 
October ranking: 6

The most versatile tall in the pool, King proved this year he can be a dominant force at both ends of the ground. The 18-year-old started the season as a key defender, where his reach and athletic ability made it hard for forwards to get away from him. But after his brother's season-ending knee injury, King swapped forward and dominated there. His marking ability on the lead, plus his turn of pace (he ran 2.97 seconds over 20m at the Draft Combine), makes him dangerous in all situations.

Where does he go? Port Adelaide likes King and could go for him with one of their top-10 picks. The Suns and Adelaide will also look at King with their early selections.

POS: Tall forward/midfielder
Ht 195cm, Wt 80kg, DOB 27/2/00
From Sydney Swans Academy/Allies 
October ranking: 8 

Blakey is headed to the Swans as an Academy selection, having also had the option of nominating as a father-son to North Melbourne and Brisbane, where his father John was a former player for both clubs. But Blakey is set to stay in Sydney, where the club will gain another top talent from its Academy. Blakey had more injury concerns this year, following back stress fractures last season, but when up and going he is a unique talent: he's a rangy, wiry 195cm forward who can also play in the midfield and use his raking left foot kick to break the lines.

Where does he go? A bid is likely to come for Blakey between picks No.5 and 10, which will see the Swans use their picks to match it and move up the order.

POS: Midfielder
Ht 184cm, Wt 78kg, DOB 28/9/00
From Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country 
October ranking: 9 

It was a challenging year for Caldwell, who battled a range of injuries, including a couple of hamstring setbacks. But clubs have dug deeper into his vision from the past two seasons and seen his ability, which is why he's still ranked so highly and seen by some as the second-best midfielder in the crop. Caldwell won't care who's in his way when the ball's up for grabs; he'll just run through them to get it in his hands. Powerful, explosive and damaging, Caldwell will be playing senior footy next year.

Where does he go? Port Adelaide, Gold Coast, the Dogs and Adelaide all like Caldwell, with the Suns looking like potential suitors at No.6. The Giants would snap him up if he somehow was available at No.9.

Caldwell is seen by some as the crop's second-best mid. Picture: AFL Photos

POS: Half-back
Ht 182cm, Wt 78kg, DOB 16/10/00
From Claremont/Western Australia
October ranking: 10

It's been a fruitful year for Clark, who gave away dreams of playing cricket for Australia to instead focus on his football. It's a move that will pay dividends next week when he's drafted early. Clark is an attacking half-back who sets up the play with his daring ball use and smart decisions. He was named an All Australian at the under-18 championships and also played well for Claremont's WAFL side late in the year. Clark could face a delayed start to the pre-season after recently being diagnosed with glandular fever.

Where does he go? Adelaide, Port Adelaide and GWS are in the mix to take Clark, while Fremantle would also strongly consider if he gets to pick 14. 

POS: Midfielder
Ht 190cm, Wt 81kg, DOB 21/10/00
From Central District/South Australia 
October ranking: 11

Hately is a tall and strong-bodied midfielder who also played across the half-forward line at stages this season. His size will appeal to clubs looking to beef up their midfield units. He reads the game well and has shown he can find the ball at all levels he plays, plus he won All Australian selection for his form throughout the championships for South Australia.

Where does he go? GWS has long been fans of Hately and could swoop at No.9 or 11, with Port Adelaide also linked at No.10. Geelong is a chance at No.12 as well.

POS: Midfielder
Ht 181cm, Wt 70kg, DOB 8/9/00
From Western Jets/Vic Metro
October ranking: 13

The Western Jets prospect had some challenges this year, playing with a shoulder injury before surgery cut short his season in July. Nevertheless, in his time on the field Butters proved what he's good at – finding the ball, running with it and not wasting his touches. He's a smart midfielder/half-forward with polish and creativity, and a doggedness that belies his size.

Where does he go? The Giants will look at Butters with their No.11 selection, while Adelaide is also a chance. The Dockers are also keen and could land Butters with pick 14.

POS: Midfielder
Ht 189cm, Wt 73kg, DOB 25/3/00
From North Launceston/Tasmania/Allies 
October ranking: 12

Thomas entered the season with big wraps placed upon him. He didn't have the perfect season – his form for the Allies was hampered by a thumb injury and he was inconsistent as stages – but he still showed his ability at different stages, particularly for Tasmania at the under-18s Academy series earlier in the year. Is eligible to join North Melbourne as a Next Generation Academy prospect, and he played with the Roos in the VFL late in the year. Is a good size for a midfielder who can push forward, and Thomas is tough and loves to tackle.

Where does he go? North accrued some more points to pay for their Academy and father-son players, so it's most likely Thomas heads to Arden Street. But if a club bids very early inside the first six-to-eight picks it would make for an interesting decision.

Thomas is likely to end up a Roo. Picture: AFL Photos

POS: Half-back
Ht 182cm, Wt 82kg, DOB 15/1/00
From Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro
October ranking: 14

The Vic Metro and Oakleigh Chargers defender has shown a number of times this season how versatile he is as a defender. He can play on smaller forwards and has the pace and power to match up with them, but can also be given a role to shut down a taller marking option because of his strength and balance. Quaynor offers good rebound out of the backline – he loves to get things going from his defensive 50 – and can join Collingwood as a Next Generation Academy member.

Where does he go? GWS and Adelaide have been linked to making a bid on Quaynor, at which point Collingwood would need to decide whether to match the bid or not.

POS: Midfielder
Ht 180cm, Wt 74kg, DOB 14/1/00
From Launceston/Tasmania/Allies 
October ranking: 20 

Jones appeals because of his ability to play in a number of spots. He is a midfielder by trade, and someone who is tidy by foot, hard at the contest and can accumulate disposals. But he's also adept at holding down a role in other areas of the ground, including as an attacking defender or as a half-forward. He overcame a bad ankle/foot injury last year but returned to be a consistent contributor for the Allies at this year's NAB AFL Under-18 Championships before blitzing at the Combine.

Where does he go? Jones looms as a potential top-12 pick. GWS, Adelaide, Port Adelaide and Geelong are all interested in the versatile Tasmanian.

POS: Midfielder
Ht 193cm, Wt 88kg, DOB 3/2/00
From Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro
October ranking: 15

After a growth spurt in recent years it took some time for Collier-Dawkins to know how to use his size and frame in the midfield this season. He felt it come together more in the back-end of the year and that came through in his finals series for the Oakleigh Chargers, when Collier-Dawkins was excellent and averaged 21 disposals and a goal over three games. A big-bodied midfielder whose flashes of brilliance at the stoppages take the eye and whose upside is promising.

Where does he go? The Giants have been linked to Collier-Dawkins, as have the Cats. It's unlikely he gets through to Richmond at pick 17 but if he does they'll consider.

POS: Half-forward/midfielder
Ht 186cm, Wt 79kg, DOB 6/4/00
From Calder Cannons/Vic Metro
October ranking: 16

The ability to make something out of nothing is something that can separate Taylor from many of his peers in this draft class. The classy half-forward battled some injury niggles across the year, but showed he has genuine class around goal and brilliant finishing skills. He leads well at the ball as a medium forward and can be trusted to convert his chances.

Where does he go? Has received a late call-up to the draft, so is in the mix for the top-20. West Coast will look at him at No.20 and 22, while he will also be in the mix for the Tigers (pick 17) and Giants (pick 19).

Taylor has scored a late invite to the draft. Picture: AFL Photos

POS: Midfielder/half-forward
Ht 175cm, Wt 76kg, DOB 9/2/00
From Perth/Western Australia
September ranking: 17

With genuine speed, dash and skills, Hill has traits that few in the draft possess. The West Australian started the season viewed as a potential top-five pick, but his year was also bookended by shoulder surgeries, which meant he never quite got going. But Hill has pace (he has run the 20m sprint in 2.82 seconds), he can jump on heads and take big marks and he's also clever around goal. The cousin of Fremantle pair Stephen and Bradley Hill is small and light, but he packs in plenty of ability.

Where does he go? Port and the Giants met with Hill recently, so he's a chance for their picks in the teens. Richmond will also look at him if he gets through to their selection, while he has been linked to West Coast.

POS: Midfielder
Ht 183cm, Wt 83kg, DOB 23/1/00
From Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro
October ranking: 18

An excellent second half of the season saw Stocker storm home to take out the TAC Cup's Morrish Medal. He's a hard-bodied, big and strong inside midfielder who kicks the ball well on both feet. He's confident in his ability and averaged 22 disposals a game for the Dragons this year. Stocker has come from a little further back than others given he missed the national carnival with a broken jaw, but he made up for lost time to push himself into first-round contention.

Where does he go? Another who is a chance to end up as a Giant, while Richmond could also have a think about Stocker with their first choice. Melbourne looks a possible home at No.23 if he got that far.

POS: Midfielder
Ht 180cm, Wt 80kg, DOB 12/7/00
From Calder Cannons/Vic Metro
October ranking: 19

The tenacious son of former Bulldogs champion Scott West averaged 22 disposals for Vic Metro at the under-18 championships and 20 for the Calder Cannons in the TAC Cup, showing his capacity to find the ball. He's better with his hands than his feet, but he often gets the crucial first touch at a stoppage and then feeds the ball out to a teammate. West also has real power in his frame – he tests very well for the agility and enjoys jumping for high grabs when the chance presents.

Where does he go? Headed to the Dogs as a father-son pick, most likely in the second round. The Demons have been linked as the club to possibly place a bid with their pick 23, where the Dogs are expected to match.

POS: Half-forward
Ht 188cm, Wt 78kg, DOB 12/5/00
From Dandenong Stingrays
October ranking: 23

The bolter of this year left quite an impression in the last couple of months of the year. The exciting left-footed half-forward was creative around goal, sharp on the lead and set things up for teammates and played a pivotal role in the Stingrays' TAC Cup Grand Final win. Sturt performed well at the Draft Combine, running 2.96 seconds over the 20m sprint, and clubs like the upside he has given he has been in the Victorian cricket pathway until the mid-point of this year.

Where does he go? Been invited to the draft so there's top-20 interest in him. GWS (pick 19), West Coast (20 and 22), Melbourne (23) and Gold Coast (24) are the most likely candidates. 

There's plenty of interest in Sturt. Picture: AFL Photos

POS: Midfielder
Ht 186cm, Wt 80kg, DOB 8/5/00
From Norwood/South Australia
October ranking: 22

As South Australia's captain at its victorious national championships, Valente showed his talents as a leader and worker through the midfield. Valente also impressed as a player, averaging 23 disposals and 84 per cent efficiency and five tackles, and was picked as vice-captain of the under-18 All Australian team. He can use the ball well on both feet and ticks most boxes as a prospect.

Where does he go? Adelaide and Port Adelaide could look at the local prospect with their mid-teens picks, while Brisbane might also think about him. If not, Gold Coast will consider at No.24.

POS: Midfielder/small forward
Ht 178cm, Wt 71kg, DOB 13/7/00
From Geelong Falcons/Vic Country
October ranking: 26

McHenry's relentless run and tireless work ethic underpins his game. He's a tough, competitive small forward/midfielder who works up and down the ground and uses his outstanding aerobic base to impact games. He averaged 21 disposals in eight games for the Geelong Falcons, and played a crafty role closer to goal for Vic Country. Can get in the face of opponents and always plays with enthusiasm and spark. 

Where does he go? Richmond is interested in McHenry, and their pick 17 would probably be the earliest he could go. Adelaide is keen at No.21, while Melbourne's picks in the 20s will also be a chance.

POS: Key defender
Ht 193cm, Wt 83kg, DOB 16/8/00
From Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro
October ranking: 24

The key defender had an excellent carnival for Vic Metro and showed himself to be one of the leading key defenders in the pool. He also played out the end of the season with an ankle fracture that required surgery after Oakleigh's campaign was over. Collingwood has first access on Kelly as the son of 1990 premiership player Craig. 

Where does he go? Collingwood looks set to match a bid for Kelly, although there has been speculation Adelaide could place a bid on the brother of current Crows backman Jake.

POS: Midfielder
Ht 185cm, Wt 71kg, DOB 7/7/00
From Gippsland Power/Vic Country
October ranking: 27

The versatile and rangy midfielder had a strong season with the Gippsland Power, showing he can break the lines through the midfield or when he's stationed across half-back. Duursma is a good size to play a number of roles and he tends to take the game with him, gaining meterage when he has the ball in his hands and with a good turn of pace to make space (he ran 2.98 seconds in the sprint).

Where does he go? Port Adelaide is a chance at No.15 for Duursma, while the Lions also like him with their pick No.18. West Coast loom large at No.20 if he's still there.

Duursma is a versatile prospect. Picture: AFL Photos

POS: Midfielder
Ht 190cm, Wt 88kg, DOB 4/12/00
From Brisbane Lions Academy/Queensland/Allies
October ranking: 25

McFadyen is tied to Brisbane via its Academy, and the tall midfielder looks likely to join the club at the draft next week. Before a serious foot injury struck later in the season, McFadyen showed his ability as a big and strong ball-winner who was also capable of taking a mark closer to goal. He played well for the Allies at the mid-year championships and has already represented the Lions at NEAFL level.

Where does he go? It's unlikely a bid comes for McFadyen before the Lions' first pick, and they'll be desperate for him to get past their pick 30 before a rival bids. Some concerns over his injury could see that eventuate.

POS: Half-back
Ht 183cm, Wt 81kg, DOB 7/9/00
From Central District/South Australia
October ranking: 21

McLennan is one of the best players available of his type – an attacking half-back who can intercept grabs in the air and propel his team forward. McLennan was an important member of South Australia's championships win earlier in the year, and is trusty with the ball coming out of the backline. Can play on a range of opponents which makes him a versatile option for his side.

Where does he go? Gold Coast has shown interest in McLennan and could look to him with their fourth or fifth picks (24 or 29). 

POS: Midfielder
Ht 186cm, Wt 74kg, DOB 9/7/00
From Gold Coast Academy/Allies
October ranking: 28

Scott enjoyed a consistent season in 2018. He has proven to be a hard-working, reliable midfielder who plays mainly on the wing but can use his excellent endurance base to work hard up and down the ground. The son of former Cat and Roo Robert Scott, Bailey captained the Allies at the national carnival and was named an All Australian as well.

Where does he go? North won the battle for Scott's preference when he was deciding whether to join the Roos or Geelong as a father-son or the Suns as an Academy pick. He is expected to join the club somewhere in the second round.

POS: Midfielder
Ht 187cm, Wt 83kg, DOB 11/7/00
From Vic Metro/Western Jets
October ranking: 30

O'Halloran has a few strings to his bow as a midfield prospect. He has the size to bustle others out of the way, and the athleticism to take the game on (he ranked highly for the sprint and agility tests at the Draft Combine). He could probably find a bit more of the ball, having averaged 18 disposals in 13 games for the Western Jets last season, but he captained Vic Metro at the championships and is a highly regarded midfielder.

Where does he go? The Suns are a chance to take O'Halloran at No.24, and he has family on the Gold Coast. He might be on the radar of the Giants and Brisbane, too, and the Eagles. 

POS: Ruckman
Ht 200cm, Wt 98kg, DOB 6/10/99
From GWS Academy/Allies
October ranking: -

The leading ruckman in the crop this year. Briggs is an aggressive, physical big man who enjoyed a strong season and was named the ruckman of the under-18 All Australian team. He imposes himself on the contest and around the ground, and he can be a marking option as well. A member of Greater Western Sydney's Academy.

Where does he go? Is tied to the Giants so they get first call on him, and they do need to boost their ruck stocks. Adelaide has been mooted as a possible bidder on Briggs with pick 16 or 21. 

Will Briggs (left) stay at the Giants? Picture: AFL Photos