SINCE the new bidding system came into effect for Academy and father-son prospects in 2015, there has been widespread doubt a club would ever place a bid on a player with the No.1 pick.

"It would be a huge call, because the No.1 pick carries more to it than just being the top pick," said one recruiter.

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"It's a big marketing tool for a club, a lot of people are invested in the decision and if a bid was made – and then matched – the club would lose all the hype and hope that comes with a club having a No.1 pick. The player they then took at pick two would know they were their second choice, which is a risk. 

"But maybe this is the year it happens."  

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No.1 contender Ugle-Hagan in action

Watch the potential No.1 pick in the 2020 NAB AFL Draft Jamarra Ugle-Hagan in action

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As it sits, the standout prospect in this year's NAB AFL Draft pool is Jamarra Ugle-Hagan. Ugle-Hagan, a tall forward from the Oakleigh Chargers, is a brilliant mark and does special things in attack. 

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No.1 contender Ugle-Hagan in action

Watch the potential No.1 pick in the 2020 NAB AFL Draft Jamarra Ugle-Hagan in action

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Debate will rage throughout 2020 about whether a club will pull the trigger on a bid for Ugle-Hagan at pick one, but if it doesn't, it is an interesting field of contenders for the spot on the eve of the season. 

Elijah Hollands loomed as a real chance at the No.1 spot, having pieced together an exciting bottom-age season as a midfielder/forward.

But the 18-year-old will undergo a knee reconstruction this week after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament.

He will still be a relatively early selection, but a season on the sidelines all but rules out a shot at the No.1 position. 

Recruiters look at the top end of this year's draft with more uncertainty than in recent seasons.

This time two years ago, you could have penciled in Sam Walsh as the likely No.1 pick. 

Few thought there could be any more bulletproof players to come through the draft, and then Matt Rowell showed up last season, being the nominal No.1 choice for more than 12 months before Gold Coast called his name.

The early part of this year's draft shapes as having more talls and medium-sized players than midfielders, who generally develop faster and have an impact more consistently at under-18 level than their bigger counterparts. 

West Australian Denver Grainger-Barras is already well on the radar as an early choice. The competitive centre half-back was excellent for his state at last year's under-18 carnival and although he missed out on the NAB All Stars 'Futures' clash on Grand Final day last season with injury, he is viewed as a genuine top-three chance.

Riley Thilthorpe is another tall likely to feature in the early selections. The athletic South Australian forward is 201cm but can be used all over the ground and catches the eye with his high marking.

Clubs will be closely watching the development of Ugle-Hagan, Grainger-Baras and Thilthorpe, with all three well-credentialed heading into their draft season.

If Ugle-Hagan is to be pushed out of the No.1 place, or the club that holds the selection doesn't choose to use it to bid on him, then Grainger-Baras and Thilthorpe are two of the main challengers. 

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Denver Grainger-Barras shows his talents

Young defender Denver Grainger-Barras shows off his intercept marking in the 2019 NAB AFL Under 18 Championships

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Oliver Henry (the younger brother of Geelong's Jack), Logan McDonald, Zach Reid, Kaine Baldwin and Nik Cox are other versatile talls who start the year with high hopes.   

Will Phillips is considered one of the standout midfielders of his class, having impressed towards last season with the Oakleigh Chargers. 

He is a strong ball-winner who should dominate this season, while Nathan O'Driscoll, Swans Academy member Braeden Campbell, Jake Bowey, Tanner Bruhn and Finlay Macrae are other midfielders who are tipped to shine. Archie Perkins is another recruiters will be following closely.