Main content

Phantom draft form guide: November update

Phantom form guide special Draft experts Callum Twomey and Nat Edwards take a look at 30 of the hottest prospects ahead of the NAB AFL Draft
Get to know your club's future stars at the NAB AFL Draft Hub
Going places: Four incredible draft stories
Draft trumps: Insider access to this year's gun prospects

RANKING the best 30 players available at this year's NAB AFL Draft was no easy task, mainly because of the evenness of performances. 

Aside from a few players right at the top, all of the prospects have a question mark – an injury, inconsistency or exposed form. 

But they also carry different qualities, which makes this a deeper draft than the last couple of years without perhaps the same standouts early on. 

Please remember, this is not a mock draft and does not take into account what picks clubs hold and where players might get drafted. It is simply a ranking of the best 30 players in our eyes.  

There isn't much more Petracca could have done this season to prove himself worthy as an early draft pick. He's a game-busting, try-and-stop-me midfielder who can impact the contest in a number of ways. At clearances he is intense and physical, and pushes his way through congestion with his big frame and tenacious attitude. Quick and agile, he likes tackling and chasing, and has improved his endurance to become a midfielder. But he has plenty of tricks, having shown he is a very natural forward who creates something from nothing near goal. A driven, extremely motivated character who wants to be a great player, Petracca will handle the pressure of being a top draft choice with a smile and a laugh and get on with things. 

Where does he go? In a two-horse race for St Kilda's No.1 pick, such has been his outstanding season. Melbourne, with picks two and three, will likely pounce if he gets through. 

Click here to check out Christian Petracca's draft profile and watch his 2014 highlights

The most dominant key forward in the draft, McCartin's performances stood up through the year despite a few niggling injuries. McCartin's strengths are what you see – his marking, goalkicking and forward craft – and then things that don't as readily meet the eye, like his pace off the mark, ability to find space and his selfless approach. His fitness will need to continue to build before moving further up the ground, but at the moment he's best as a deep forward who hunts chances at goal. He lets opponents know it's not a great idea to stand in front of him by flying for marks and charging at contests, with no concern for his safety. McCartin takes things in his stride, has not let the pressure of being a possible No.1 pick affect him, and will be a popular teammate at the club he joins. 

Where does he go? In real contention with Petracca as the first pick. Melbourne is keen, and Greater Western Sydney (pick No.4) and Collingwood (pick No.5) would strongly consider him if he surprisingly gets past the Dees. 

Click here to check out Paddy McCartin's draft profile and watch his 2014 highlights

Heeney is almost the best player in the draft. The midfielder is tough, rugged and physical, but combines that competitive approach with smarts: he knows where to go to get the ball, how to make it his, and then what to do with it. His kicking has sharpened over the past year to be precise, and he likes pushing forward to hit the scoreboard. The regular image of Heeney is him breaking away from an opponent, past a stoppage, and then finding a target. As a member of the Sydney Swans academy, he was relocated from Newcastle at the end of last year closer to the Sydney, and played with the club's reserves side in the NEAFL. Heeney is ready for the next level – in fact, he probably would have played for some AFL teams this year had he been eligible. Melbourne bid its No.2 pick on him for a reason. 

Where does he go? Locked in for the Swans at pick No.18. A steal. 

Click here to check out Isaac Heeney's draft profile and watch his 2014 highlights

When a game is up for grabs you don't have to look far for Brayshaw. He'll be there in the thick of it, digging into contests, throwing his body at the ball without any worry for his wellbeing. The midfielder is a contested ball winner who has developed an outside element to his game. He exits stoppages on either side and can deliver the ball just as well on his left foot as his preferred right. Brayshaw is comfortable enough to spend time deep in attack and can kick goals, but is most at home in the centre. He has quick hands and a clear mind, has picked up some speed in the last year (he ran a 2.81 second 20m sprint) and there are few knocks on his game. You could easily expect he will play a significant amount of games next year in the AFL. 

Where does he go? The word for a long time has been Melbourne. Has been considered for St Kilda's first pick but he sits behind the main two contenders.   

Click here to check out Angus Brayshaw's draft profile and watch his 2014 highlights

Perhaps the most versatile and adaptable player in the draft pool, and one who can do almost anything and play almost anywhere. Clubs won't stress about finding a position for Laverde. At different stages this year he was used across half-back, on the wing, in the midfield rotation and on a forward flank, and seemed comfortable in all spots. Laverde's pace, agility and size makes him a valuable commodity, and he's also able to see what's going to unfold, intercept a mark and then bolt off to kick the ball long. His best spot seems to be as a crafty, clever and creative big-bodied midfielder, with his foot skills strong. He might need to build up his engine a little more before he gets to that stage in an AFL side, but you can expect Laverde to produce some breathtaking moments – his highlight reel is full of leaping and twisting marks, and running goals. 

Where does he go? Linked strongly to Collingwood if he gets past GWS at pick No.4. Otherwise it's hard to see him getting past West Coast's pick No.11. 

Click here to check out Jayden Laverde's draft profile and watch his 2014 highlights

The key position player has dealt with pressure for a long time as the son of dual Brownlow medallist Peter Moore, and was relieved to join Collingwood as a father-son selection at October's bidding meeting. Despite some talk, there was never really any doubt that a bid would come early for Moore, and that the Pies would match it with their first pick. Moore is an athletic tall who can play at either end, but has seemed to perform most consistently as a leaping and attacking centre half-back. His kicking can at times be a touch wayward but for his size and shape he has terrific agility and athleticism. It's not uncommon to see Moore pick up a ball at his toes, and then moments later be flying for a high grab. He captained the Oakleigh Chargers to their TAC Cup premiership and is an ambitious character.  

Where does he go? Moore has already started training with Collingwood, and will have his name called at pick No.9.
Click here to check out Darcy Moore's draft profile and watch his 2014 highlights

The more you see De Goey, the easier it is to like him. Why? Because he mixes a no-fuss approach with some freakish things. De Goey is a natural footballer, and he can sense what's going to happen next and then influence the play. He likes getting his hands dirty, and is more than prepared to scrap for a possession and win it the hard way through the midfield. He's this high because he changes games. De Goey isn't a high possession player, but his best form has generally come as a half-forward, where his solid kicking, quick decision-making and strong overhead marking make him difficult to match up. De Goey has all the essentials you'd want plus a little bit of spark. Add in some confidence and a hardheaded attitude, and he's not out of place among the best players this year.  

Where does he go? Geelong is keen, as is West Coast. Has also been linked to GWS and Collingwood as a top-five pick.  

Click here to check out Jordan De Goey's draft profile and watch his 2014 highlights

It has been an interesting season for Wright, who started the year as a possible No.1 choice and ends it as one of the main mysteries of the draft. At his best, Wright is a marking, leading, straight-kicking giant who is unstoppable up forward. He can move into the ruck, runs a level 14 beep test and his pace and agility results are sound. But Wright still needs to work on his contested marking for a player his height, and he can be pushed off the ball too easily. Back and hamstring injuries have limited his time in the gym to build his strength. A knee injury ruled him out of the Calder Cannons' Grand Final defeat and testing at the NAB AFL Draft Combine, but he should be fully fit by the time he starts pre-season. 

Where does he go? The big question. Gold Coast (pick No.8), Geelong (No.10) and Richmond (No.12) will consider him if he got past Greater Western Sydney's batch of picks, but other clubs in the teens have started doing more homework on him in the expectation he drops. 

Click here to check out Peter Wright's draft profile and watch his 2014 highlights

There isn't a player quite as good to watch as Pickett when he is up and going. He tucks the ball under his arm, arches his back and just runs. He has lightning speed (and probably could use it even more) and he's good at whisking the ball from one end to the other in a flash. His best games have generally come as a midfielder, but he is also dangerous when he is stationed in attack. At his best, Pickett is brilliant: he can take big marks overhead, land on his feet and then zip away. At stoppages he can also hit them at pace, take the ball with him and be gone in a blink. Pickett's season was inconsistent and he needs to tackle more to stay involved in games. However, if he can do that, he has a lot of tools that his peers don't possess. A bubbly, happy and warm personality who should become a fan favourite.   

Where does he go? GWS has put in plenty of work for one of their three selections, and he is right in Gold Coast's mix for pick No.8. Geelong and West Coast also have strong interest in him. 

Click here to check out Jarrod Pickett's draft profile and watch his 2014 highlights

Lever hasn't played since September last year, having undergone a knee reconstruction in December. It means recruiters have to look at his 2013 form as a bottom-aged player to assess his standing and, fortunately for him, his season was good. He's a defender who likes the physical side of the game. Lever enjoys running at packs and spoiling an opponent, and if someone gets in the way, so be it. He has a settling influence on teammates and is a commanding force in the backline, and enjoys being physical (he was, after all, on the cusp of a boxing career as a teenager). Aside from the injury, the only knock might be that he doesn't have super speed. Lever's rehabilitation since the reconstruction has been seamless and he tested in some events at last month's draft combine. A likable leader, he'll step into a club and impress his peers right away. 

Where does he go? Don't count him out for the Demons at pick No.3. If he doesn't land there, he could get right down to Adelaide's pick No.14. In between, GWS, Geelong and Fremantle would consider. 

Click here to check out Jake Lever's draft profile and watch his 2013 highlights

Weller brings class and composure to the midfield group of this year. Best suited as an outside player, Weller can find the footy and use it. His kicking is elite and he makes life easier for forwards, often directing them where to lead with his kicks. As the year went on he used his top-end speed more, regularly spotting a gap and then breaking through it, and he also showed a liking for edging forward and slotting goals. At his size he's not a big midfielder, and he still needs to develop his inside game, but he has plenty going for him. He's a professional, hard-working prospect who takes nothing for chance and thinks a lot about his game and how to improve. 

Where does he go? Gold Coast is the obvious link and he's of interest to them, but that may be for its second pick (No.15). West Coast and Richmond also like him and further back Essendon and Carlton will look closely. 

Click here to check out Lachie Weller's draft profile and watch his 2014 highlights

A cool head and even cooler left foot match up to make Duggan a prospect with a strong draft CV. He moved this year from a small defensive role to the midfield, where he also became a regular ball-winner and keen tackler. Duggan makes it easier for others around him: he's happy to play a team-focused role, and to feed the ball out, but is just as capable of running with it and making the play. He's low-risk. His kicking is strong and he's able to put his body on the line when it matters. Among clubs Duggan is seen as one of the most presentable players and best to interview, and he is well liked by his teammates. 

Where does he go? Firming as a pick in the 8-12 range, with Gold Coast a big shot. West Coast and Richmond are also in the hunt.  

Click here to check out Liam Duggan's draft profile and watch his 2014 highlights

Durdin ended a tough year in the best form he had shown all season, dominating in the ruck for West Adelaide as it claimed the SANFL under-18s premiership. But, despite his natural flair as a running big man, Durdin won't be tall enough to hold down that spot at the top level. He seems better placed to continue as a key defender. There he can use his mobility and marking strength to stop and then repel, but he's also been used in attack at times. A thumb injury at the start of this season threw out his confidence and he didn't manage to get back to the form he would have liked, but Durdin still has plenty to offer.  

Where does he go? Difficult to place. Richmond, Fremantle and Adelaide will consider if he isn't taken inside the first 10, with Geelong a shot. 

Click here to check out Sam Durdin's draft profile and watch his 2014 highlights

You might need to watch Ellis closely before you can appreciate what he does well, as he isn't the type of player with a blinding highlights package. However, with some inspection, you'll notice he's a damaging kick, he reads the play smartly, doesn't get flustered, and can play in a number of spots. Ellis doesn't have the breakaway speed that others might possess, but he does the little things right. He had a foot injury at the end of the season that ended up being diagnosed as a crack, which might push back his start to the pre-season. At times this year he was deployed to use his skills across half-back but appears more at home in the midfield. Ellis is a quietly determined personality who understands the work that's ahead. 

Where does he go? The Tigers like him and have put in a fair bit of work. North Melbourne will strongly consider at pick No.16. 

Click here to check out Corey Ellis' draft profile and watch his 2014 highlights

Ahern moves smoothly, sizes things up and seems to play at a different speed to others  – which can be a good and bad thing. When he's on song it means things fly past him and he always looks in control. His kicking is damaging, he marks nicely overhead and is crafty around goal. He has a good mix of speed and agility and that's noticeable in his play, twisting and turning out of trouble and then scooting through. Consistency is his issue and he had some quiet games in the second half of the year when more recruiters were looking for him to dominate. On those days, his gliding look can see him float in and out.    

Where does he go? GWS likes him, but might need to get in at pick No.4 before Collingwood at pick No.5, given the Pies' interest. Some clubs predict he could be another to be available a little later in the first round. 

Click here to check out Paul Ahern's draft profile and watch his 2014 highlights

With a bucket load of self-belief and the dedication to match, Garlett produced an excellent draft season to throw his name into first-round consideration. His years of rising at 5.30am for a six-kilometre run has paid dividends, as Garlett carries excellent aerobic capacity, and he blends that with top speed. Garlett can play at half-back, on the wing or in the forward line, and is a flank-to-flank player who sweeps it forward. Exciting, brilliant, thrilling – all of those apply to Garlett and he has the confidence to use his skills on the field. Sometimes he can bite off more than he can chew, but he's a person who aims high. When you've already taken on and got past two opponents, why not try a third? 

Where does he go? Gold Coast (pick No.15), North Melbourne and Essendon are all a chance. 

Click here to check out Jarrod Garlett's draft profile and watch his 2014 highlights

Sometimes it takes a little longer for talent to come to the fore. That was the case for Steele, who was overlooked at last year's draft after suffering a knee injury. He quickly overcame that disappointment and planned to put his name forward in 2014. The tall midfielder demonstrated his talents as a mobile and marking on-baller who likes to float forward and kick goals. His kicking is reliable, he backs himself in the air and he has tested well for endurance. Steele isn't especially quick, but plays a classic wingman's role of working up and down the ground and making a presence. He's also hard to tackle – he uses his bigger frame and hips to wiggle out of congestion and into space. Steele's a natural footballer, with a bit of gusto. 

Where does he go? Will join GWS as an academy pick-up at selection No.24.  

Click here to check out Jack Steele's draft profile and watch his 2014 highlights

Has played nearly everywhere, can do nearly everything, and yet nobody really knows where to put Lamb in an order. In his favour is the fact he's 193cm, can run all day, has sharp disposal and can quickly turn games. He's exciting, leaps for grabs and produces brilliant passages of play. But he's also inconsistent, gets down on himself and is unpredictable. Lamb has elite endurance and loves working hard on the track, and if he can replicate that on the field and gets into a good system he has so much talent to work with. His athleticism, particularly, is rare for a player his size and shape. 

Where does he go? It seems his spot is somewhere in the 17-30 mark, with Essendon and Carlton in the mix.  Some clubs wouldn't pick him.

Click here to check out Tom Lamb's draft profile and watch his 2014 highlights

Just playing footy was a good thing for Marchbank this year after a 2013 campaign ruined by injury, and he performed nicely for Vic Country at the national carnival. He played forward and moved smoothly on the lead, but looked most at home in defence playing as a tall back. But what he does at the next level is the question, and perhaps why he's a few spots lower in this list than others. At a touch under 192cm, some might think he is not quite big enough for a third tall spot and instead see him as a mobile midfielder. Unfortunately his second half of the season was interrupted by knee surgery, which also ruled him out of testing at the combine.  

Where does he go? The Giants have been fans for a while, and could pick him with No.6 or No.7. Geelong, at pick No.10, might also consider, while Fremantle, Adelaide and Gold Coast are chances later on. 

Click here to check out Caleb Marchbank's draft profile and watch his 2014 highlights

Supporters will enjoy Maynard's physical, don't-get-in-my-way attitude. A precise and penetrating left-foot kick, Maynard spent most of the year as an aggressive medium defender who stopped his man and provided run. But his end to the season, when he moved into the midfield for the Dragons' finals series and performed well, saw him rise up the draft board. He used his strength at clearances to make an impact. Maynard is combative and enjoys ruffling the feathers of his opponents - it gets him going. But it's a competitive streak that separates him from other prospects. A powerful athlete, he will need to continue to work on his running at the next level to complement his vigour with endurance.  

Where does he go? Has been strongly linked to Adelaide (pick No.14), but that could be a touch too high. Carlton and Essendon may consider. 

Click here to check out Brayden Maynard's draft profile and watch his 2014 highlights

It requires extra focus (or a pair of binoculars) when assessing Blakely as a player, because some of his best work is done in tight and busy situations. He has quick hands, is more than happy to chase, tackle and then feed the ball out to a runner, and does it consistently. The West Australian is a stoppage player. He understands how to use his body to find the ball, and works hard both ways on the ground. Blakely's kicking is fair without being superb and he isn't an explosive mover, but he's a get-it-out player rather than a finish-it-off type. He was his team's standout player at the mid-year championships despite a hamstring niggle, and he carried that form across the season playing for Swan Districts' senior side. There he had no troubles replicating what he does well: getting the ball.    

Where does he go? Seems likely to fit into the 20s range. 

Click here to check out Connor Blakely's draft profile and watch his 2014 highlights

Langford is a half-forward who leaps, stretches, bends and more often than not comes back down to earth with the ball in hand. While he can play in a number of roles, and has excellent endurance to eventually push into the midfield, he will start as a leading and exciting medium forward. As well as being good in the air, his signature move is scooping the ball up in one hand and then holding it there as he works out what to do next. Langford has his fans very early and others further back but will still be 17 on draft night, so it would be expected he has some upside. He already has a point of difference in his clever marking and anticipation.  

Where does he go? Been linked heavily to the Suns' pick No.8, but seems unlikely to go top 10. A few spots back more possible.    

Click here to check out Kyle Langford's draft profile and watch his 2014 highlights

Goddard is a key defender who scraps and fights hard for the ball, marks strongly and offers counterattack. He's best when he's given a task to shut someone down and can focus on that role. Moving back and forth between attacking and defensive roles has probably stunted Goddard's development a bit, but he thinks hard about his footy and approaches it the right way. He has been touted as an early selection for some time but it's also worth noting that hip surgery before his bottom-age year held him back. He is working on keeping his feet more in contests, but would have taken some confidence from his finish to the year and solid testing at the combine. 

Where does he go? The Giants are frontrunners at pick No.6 or No.7. Geelong is interested, while Fremantle and Adelaide will strongly consider if he gets through to their selections.  

Click here to check out Hugh Goddard's draft profile and watch his 2014 highlights

In one game, Cockatoo reminded recruiters of his sublime talents. The Northern Territory prospect played for the Allies in the Grand Final day curtain raiser at the MCG in what was his first game for nearly a year-and-a-half, having suffered ongoing foot stress fractures. He was explosive, powerful, strong and fast. Cockatoo's a big-bodied midfielder with a unique blend of speed and strength, one who pushes, fends or shoves opponents out of the way to clear room for himself. Clubs are weighing up that game against the fact he has missed so much action, but if he can get a good run at it, the happy and caring teenager could go boom – and make us look silly for having him at No.24. 

Where does he go? West Coast has put a lot of time into him, but No.11 could be a tad too high. North Melbourne and Gold Coast have also been linked to him.  

Click here to check out Nakia Cockatoo's draft profile and watch his 2014 highlights

A smart, disciplined team player whose versatility is a major strength, Vickers-Willis has played a majority of the year as a close-checking medium defender, and one who can be used to stop taller or shorter opponents. He has also spent periods in the midfield matched up against high-quality players. With Vickers-Willis, you can trust that he'll put everything into whatever task he's handed, even if it means he might not get on the end of the play as much as others. At his height he probably won't be a long-term key defender, but he is a reliable prospect who manages to get a fist into marking contests. Clubs have also been blown away by his intelligence in interviews. 

Where does he go? Essendon and Carlton could take a look in the late teens, but he might get through to North Melbourne's pick No.25. Bulldogs ready to swoop if available at No.26 and No.27. Hawthorn, back at No.31, is interested too. 

Click here to check out Ed Vickers-Willis' draft profile and watch his 2014 highlights

McKenzie's a player who occasionally surprises, his main trick being his marking. For a midfielder and flanker, he is a very accomplished overhead mark, and teammates kick the ball to him knowing he'll do the rest. Plenty of McKenzie's best work comes because of his top-notch athleticism: at the draft combine he recorded brilliant jumping, speed, power and endurance results. All of that comes through in McKenzie's footy; he often takes a grab and then sprints off and away from an opponent. McKenzie's finish to the season – he was almost best afield in the TAC Cup Grand Final for the Oakleigh Chargers – underlined his versatility and talent. 

Where does he go? Has been interviewed by every club, so has strong interest. Likely to fit in between pick No.20 and No.30, with North Melbourne, the Western Bulldogs and Collingwood a chance. 

Click here to check out Daniel McKenzie's draft profile and watch his 2014 highlights

If there's a group of players around a stoppage, it won't surprise if Neal-Bullen is the one to exit with the ball. That's the South Australian's main strength: he can get his hands on the ball and do the right things with it. The inside midfielder is consistent and, although his kicking doesn't always look flashy, it gets the job done. He enjoys tackling and can handle himself against senior company, playing good footy for Glenelg's SANFL team. He isn't the type to be overawed by a situation; Neal-Bullen is a levelheaded, mature prospect. 

Where does he go? In the mix for St Kilda's second-round selections (No. 21 or No.22).

Click here to check out Alex Neal-Bullen's draft profile and watch his 2014 highlights

With a long stretch and an innate ability to nudge an opponent out of position, Cordy's a tall defender with a bit going for him. He has enough athleticism to run off and create (although he could do that more), and he's a reliable kick and user of the ball. Cordy might be a couple of centimetres short of being able to play on monster forwards, but his agility means some viewed him during the year as becoming a tall wingman. The Western Bulldogs went to last month's father-son bidding meeting happy to use their second-round pick on Cordy, whose dad Brian played for them, and were rapt to get him with their fourth-round selection after a bid finally came. 

Where does he go? Pick No.64. He's bound for the Bulldogs to join brother Ayce.   

Click here to check out Zaine Cordy's draft profile and watch his 2014 highlights

You can count on Menadue to go for it. The wiry half-back/wingman loves to run with the ball and break the lines. Occasionally he runs himself into trouble, but more often than not he has the speed to get around and the engine to keep going. His running balance is a strength, and at the combine he ran 2.88 for the 20m sprint and 10:07 for the three-kilometre time trial. Menadue likes to take the ball from the backline, dodge a few, and then kick a long goal. At 69kg, don't expect him to come in next year and have an impact right away.  

Where does he go? Essendon and Carlton are in the mix with their top-20 picks, and the Bulldogs might consider too. 

Click here to check out Connor Menadue's draft profile and watch his 2014 highlights

The compact and powerful small defender is something of a throwback. He seeks body contact, loves to lay crunching bumps and makes his presence felt. Things tend to happen when Smith's around the ball: he might break through and win it, he might help clear the way for a teammate, or he might give away a free kick. After a brilliant 2013 season as a bottom-aged player that saw him touted as an early draft pick, Smith struggled at times this year playing mainly as a back pocket. His fitness is an issue, and he needs to focus on improving his endurance. However there is no denying his natural eye for the contest and for winning a ball that's up for grabs. 

Where does he go? Impressed at West Coast when he trained there earlier this year and may be a chance for one of their later picks. 

Click here to check out Clem Smith's draft profile and watch his 2014 highlights

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs