Form Guide (L-R): Errol Gulden, Oliver Henry, Finlay Macrae, Elijah Hollands. Pictures: AFL Photos

GOOD luck, recruiters.

Ranking this year's NAB AFL Draft class is no mean feat, given the absence of under-18 games in Victoria due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

How will scouts rate those players who haven't played against others who have gotten in full, albeit shorter, seasons? How can players impress via interviews when it is only online and not in person? How are prospects meant to train and test and show their athletic traits?

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They're all questions that clubs will need to work out as the draft – which is yet to have a confirmed date – grows closer. Usually, our first Phantom Form Guide is released at the end of the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships in July. But this is no usual year, so we've waited a little longer to put out our top-25 players in order.

A reminder that this is our view of the best players, not taking into account where they will be picked or where bids on father-son and Academy prospects may come.

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro
Key forward

The best player in the draft and one who already knows his destination. The Bulldogs will get access to Ugle-Hagan under Next Generation Academy rules and he's a great get: a tall, athletic, fast, smart and skilful forward who dominated last year as a bottom-ager. He kicked 24 goals in nine games for the Oakleigh Chargers and was set for an even bigger 2020. The Bulldogs have been preparing for his arrival for some time and will match a bid wherever it comes at the very top end of the draft.


Perth/Western Australia
Tall forward

The best performed draftee in the country this season has pushed himself up the order with every game he plays. McDonald is a hard-working key forward who takes contested marks and converts his chances in a similar form to Richmond gun Tom Lynch. McDonald has booted 17 goals in six games for Perth's senior WAFL side, leading the competition's goalkicking in what is an amazing effort for an 18-year-old. McDonald's run of form has seen him push right into top-three consideration.


Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country

When he went down with a torn ACL in February, Hollands might have expected the injury would see him drop down some spots in the draft order. But the fact no other Victorians have been able to show their talents this year means he remains placed right in the top rung of prospects. Hollands is a powerful midfielder with a penetrating right-foot kick who hits the scoreboard and can also play as a deep forward option. A nice, modern sized prospect with the ability to impact games.

West Adelaide/South Australia
Key forward

Thilthorpe hasn't dominated at senior level this season whilst playing for West Adelaide, but he has done his bit as a tall forward who can help out in the ruck. Not many big forwards move as well as he can, having overcome some groin issues at the start of the season to show his athleticism. Thilthorpe has also played as a defender and on the wing at stages so his versatility will appeal.

Swan Districts/Western Australia
Key defender

It's been a solid season for Grainger-Barras playing in Swan Districts' senior side. He's a competitive marking defender who backs himself in the air to intercept and then get things going for his side. Not many key defenders go very early in the draft but Grainger-Barras highlighted his traits last year as a bottom-ager for Western Australia.


Geelong Falcons/Vic Country

Bruhn is one of the leading midfielders available in this year's crop. He is light-bodied but is a brilliant user of the ball on both sides of his body and has the composure of few others in the 2020 group. This year's draft isn't jam-packed with premium midfielders in the early stages but Bruhn, who impressed when he trained at Geelong over summer, is certainly one of the best out there.

Richmond's Jack Higgins presents Tanner Bruhn with his NAB AFL Academy jumper in 2019. Picture: AFL Photos

Geelong Falcons/Vic Country

The younger brother of Geelong's Jack is a different and more dynamic prospect who looms as a possible top-10 choice. Henry is good above his head, smart at ground level and simply makes things happen. He can play across the ground in a number of spots but is best stationed as a creative attacking option. If Henry can package up his exciting elements then he'll be an enticing player for clubs.


Sydney Academy/Allies

Sydney could pick up another top-10 Academy talent with Campbell, who has been playing at local level in New South Wales and also represented the Swans in their recent Academy Series games. Campbell is a fast midfielder who also plays well as a half-forward, which he showed last year on Grand Final day when he was named the best player in the NAB AFL All Stars 'Futures' game. With a striking left foot and genuine speed, Campbell brings some eye-catching moments.


Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro

The only silver lining of this year for Phillips has been the extra time he has had to get his body right after some niggling injuries. Clubs know what they will get with Phillips: a tough, inside midfielder who competes, finds the footy and can also drift forward and contribute there. He's considered a leader within his teams and last year impressed in Oakleigh's NAB League premiership. In a season of uncertainty around some prospects, recruiters know what Phillips provides.


Gippsland Power/Vic Country
Key defender

A tall defender with good foot skills who can set up the play from the defensive 50. Reid is one of a number of key position players jockeying for positions inside the first round of the draft and he has good claims on a spot – he's smart, reads the play well and has also got some footy in this season, playing with local club Leongatha.


Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia

Port Adelaide has a good one coming in Jones. The Power will get first access to the sturdy half-back under the Next Generation Academy rules and he should attract a bid in the first round given his performances this season. Jones has spent all of the SANFL season in Woodville-West Torrens' senior line-up, offering a sure hand and damaging kick out of defence. Two weeks ago he even moved forward late in the game and kicked a goal.

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro

The younger brother of Bulldogs star Jackson, Macrae would likely have been a high possession winner this season around the ball for the Oakleigh Chargers and Vic Metro. Macrae is like his older brother in that he can find the footy: he averaged 17 disposals for the Chargers playing some forward line time last year, including 22 touches and two goals in the preliminary final. A nice kick on both feet.

Gold Coast Academy/Allies

Davies has missed a fair chunk of the second half of this season after suffering an elbow injury that ruled him out of playing for the Suns in the Academy Series. The Gold Coast Academy product will join the Suns automatically under the list concessions they received last year and he looks a likely player. Davies is a tall midfielder who is agile and strong when the ball's up for grabs.

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro

Perkins would likely have generated some buzz this season had things gone ahead for Victorian prospects. He produces some eye-catching plays: as a midfielder he can burst through the middle of the ground and past opponents, and when forward he also has some craft to make him a dangerous goalkicker. He's tough and powerful and has the knack of stepping up in games.

Sydney Academy/Allies

Gulden was the sensation of the recent Academy Series, dominating the clashes for Sydney's Academy side. He proved he is best suited as a smart, tough and consistent midfielder instead of a small forward, even if he might start his AFL career in that spot. His size could see some push him back a few spots but Gulden plays with energy and spirit and doesn't waste his disposals.

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro

Collingwood has first call on McInnes as a member of its Next Generation Academy and he looks an exciting prospect. McInnes is a nice size and versatile, having shown last year he can play in defence, attack and through the midfield. He was a member of the Chargers' NAB League flag last year having played with a back injury late in the season and is a trusty user of the ball.


West Perth/Western Australia
Key defender

Chapman has been a consistent performer in West Perth's under-18 season, becoming a high-possession getter playing as a third tall defender. He is a strong overhead mark and intercept player and has shown recruiters he will be able to grow into that role at the next level.


East Fremantle/Western Australia

Carroll was best afield for East Fremantle's colts side on the weekend with 31 disposals and two goals in his best game of a consistent season. He is a nice size but can also effectively move through traffic without appearing too rushed, and the midfielder is a good decision-maker who always looks pretty composed when he has the ball. He has his fans as a first-round selection.

Perth/Western Australia

After a scratchier start to the WAFL season restart, O'Driscoll worked his way into Perth's reserves side then its League line-up two weeks ago, where he impressed on the weekend with 20 disposals. O'Driscoll is a bigger bodied midfielder who enjoys the cut and thrust of the contest. He featured for Western Australia during last year's winning run in the under-18 championships.

NT Thunder/Allies

Jeffrey is a highly talented prospect who is set to join the Suns under their expanded Academy region. Jeffrey was due to relocate to Queensland before COVID-19 hit and changed plans, however he recently spent time with the club and is considered a first-round talent. Can play at both ends and impact with his speed and foot skills. His father Russell played 50 games for St Kilda and Brisbane.

Joel Jeffrey flies for a mark in an Academy Series game in August. Picture: AFL Photos

Swan Districts/Western Australia

The stoppage midfielder continued his solid form this season with 28 disposals and a goal for Swan Districts' under-18 side two weeks ago and backed it up with 31 touches on Saturday. Trew, who had a serious shoulder injury last year, has worked his way back into the frame as a possible top-20 selection and has proven his ability to find the ball and feed it out.

South Adelaide/South Australia

The bolter in this year's pack. Cook has come from deep in the pool to present as a possible top-20 selection with a run of exciting performances for South Adelaide. Playing as a wingman who is good above his head, the mobile Cook has also been switching into attack to effect, including a breakout four-goal performance and then booting 5.5 (including four in the final quarter) to take his side to a one-point victory a few weeks ago. Could jump even higher with a big finish to the season.

Northern Knights/Vic Metro
Key forward/defender

Cox would have been a player scouts would have watched closely this season given the obvious athleticism and ability he has as a 199cm tall. He was at least able to show some of that last season in the NAB League with the Northern Knights. Cox can move brilliantly for a key position player but will need to develop his body once in a system. The son of former Fitzroy, Melbourne and Brisbane player Darryl Cox.

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro

Laurie pops up in most games he plays with a nice move, a quick burst of speed and a precise pass. He was excellent in Oakleigh's finals series last year playing as a half-forward but he has also shown he can take his nippy traits into defence and the midfield. Laurie brings pace and a frenetic nature and makes things happen as a smaller player.


Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro

The hard-working midfielder played 14 games for the Ranges last year and averaged 16 disposals. Downie, whose mother is Chinese, qualifies as a Hawthorn Next Generation Academy player, and has played off half-back as well as an inside ball-getter.