Matt Crouch: A prolific ball-winner, Crouch has played seven senior games in his debut year and didn't do much wrong to get dropped. To his credit, his SANFL form since has been nothing short of spectacular – it's already quite clear he belongs in the AFL.
Riley Knight: Terrific season in the SANFL and has featured in the best players six times in 15 games. The midfielder's kicking and consistency has improved as the season has worn on.
James Battersby: The solidly-built midfielder played senior SANFL football last year and is beginning to show the consistency required to take his game to the next level. Uses the ball well and can win it on the inside.
Charlie Cameron: A groin injury has proved a recent setback but Cameron's speed, enthusiasm, defensive pressure and smarts around goal have already made him a fan favourite. Alongside veteran Eddie Betts his development could prove rapid.
Jake Kelly: A fearless defender, Kelly's attack on the ball is a real highlight of his game. He's spent time at half back in the SANFL as he comes to grips with senior football.
Alex Spina: Has been used at both ends of the ground this season for the Crows in the SANFL. Spina shows good decision-making skills when in possession and his skills when under pressure have really stood up. - Harry Thring

Brisbane Lions

James Aish: Terrific first season for the No.7 pick. Averaged 17 disposals and looks right at home in the midfield. Uses the ball well, shows a hunger to win contested ball and fitting into Brisbane more every day.
Tom Cutler: Hampered by some niggling injuries, but has shown a touch of class in seven senior games. Spends extra hours at the club learning his craft and will make a bigger impact off half-back in 2015.
Jono Freeman: A strong development year at NEAFL level. The key forward has added much-needed size and competed well. Has a future, but needs time.
Darcy Gardiner: Not as flashy as his fellow draftees, but a brilliant first season for the key defender. Loves to niggle and do the dirty work and has exceeded expectations.
Daniel McStay: Justin Leppitsch believes his ceiling is limitless and three goals against Melbourne started to show that. Can easily play key position at either end.
Nick Robertson: Just gone off the boil as the season wares on, but another fine debut campaign and two-year contract extension. Relentless trainer who probably just needs more polish on his skills.
Lewy Taylor: A disrupted pre-season hasn't stopped the lightning quick Taylor playing every game in an exceptional first year. Loves the club and already looks a future leader.
Isaac Conway: Spent the entire season in the NEAFL, and while being a solid contributor, is still working on most areas to get his game to a senior level.
Zac O'Brien: Ultimate professional who was rewarded for strong NEAFL form with a mid-season elevation. The midfielder's decision-making has improved but is constantly being worked on.
Archie Smith: Project ruckman who has made a great fist of his first season since switching from basketball. Running out of legs late in the season, but a genuine surprise packet who should push for games in the next year or two.  - Michael Whiting

Playing amongst bigger, harder bodies is tough for draftees, as James Aish finds out. Picture: AFL Media


Patrick Cripps: Has been used sparingly at AFL level this year, but he is going to be a key player for Carlton in years to come if his VFL performances are anything to go by. A clearance king, the 19-year-old is back playing with the Northern Blues after breaking his leg. 
Cameron Giles: Still plenty of scope for development, the key defender is working on his one-on-one contested work. Has missed the past seven games with foot and leg injuries. 
Nick Holman: Competitive over the ball, Holman has made some significant strides in the VFL this season. The Blues are working with him on impacting games more and finding more of the football through the midfield. 
Ciaran Byrne: Still learning the game, but has showed his talent in patches running out of defence at VFL level. Injured earlier in the year, but coming into his own in the last few weeks for the Northern Blues. 
Blaine Johnson: The 19-year-old has managed four games in his first season in the AFL. Based mainly up forward, Johnson has averaged eight disposals a game. The Blues love his pressure skills, although he's still working on locating more of the footy.
Luke Reynolds: Yet to debut after impressing in the pre-season. Was dubbed the 'ice man' after kicking the winning goal after the siren in round two against Frankston earlier in the season. Carlton is working with him on being more consistent during games.
Ciaran Sheehan: Mick Malthouse nominated him as one who was "on the cusp" of making his debut earlier in the year. Has not panned out that way, but the Irishman's improvement has been impressive and the Blues will persevere with him. 
Cameron Wood: The former Magpie has pushed his way into the team in the last two weeks and has already made an impact. Recruited mainly as a depth player, Wood may have earned himself a place on the senior list next year. Ben Guthrie

Cameron Wood may have revived a career that looked over before this year. Picture: AFL Media


Nathan Freeman: Hamstring problems have bedeviled the speedster since he played the first round of the NAB Cup. He has not played a game in what has become a frustrating season. 
Tom Langdon: Excelled in defence playing 17 games and shapes as Nick Maxwell's successor. Although his form dipped as the season went on he returned to his best against Port Adelaide. A real find. 
Jonathon Marsh: An athletic tall he began the season up forward, showing flashes but not being consistent. He was moved into defence mid-season and has been better, contesting well and learning to stick to the task.  
Matt Scharenberg: An operation on both feet preseason effectively ended hopes of senior football but he impressed in the VFL when he returned a fortnight ago. In his two games he has shown he has poise, is a good decision maker and is a strong build. 


Orazio Fantasia: After being eased through the first half of his debut AFL season, Fantasia was named an emergency for the senior side several weeks ago. The club likes his pace and agility and capacity to add some spark to the forward line and he would have probably made his debut already if not for a few smalls ahead of him. 
Zach Merrett: Has impressed since the moment he stepped into the club. Merrett has played 15 games and already cemented a place in the senior line-up across half-forward and the midfield. With elite hands, kicking and goal sense, the second-round draftee has already shown he has a promising future at the club.
Patrick Ambrose: Elevated to the senior list before the season, Ambrose made his debut in round one and has had a big impact. Has played the forward role Stewart Crameri vacated at the end of last year. Athletic, tough and competitive, and a reliable shot for goal, the mature-ager has been a terrific addition.
Johnny Rayner: The category B rookie has been used mainly on the wing, where he can use his running background. The club knew the 23-year-old would be a work in progress given his time away from the game.    
Fraser Thurlow: The developing ruckman hasn't enjoyed a great first year in the system, first suffering a back complaint and then a serious shoulder ailment. Working on getting more into the play around the ground. –  Callum Twomey

Taken with pick 26 in the 2013 draft Zach Merrett is looking great value for the Bombers. Picture: AFL Media


Michael Apeness: Powerful key forward prospect who has impressed at Peel Thunder. He has played two AFL games this season against Melbourne and GWS and has huge potential. Ross Lyon describes him as "a competitive beast".
Brady Grey: A utility that has played a variety of roles at Peel including small defender, defensive forward, wing, and run-with. He was an emergency for Fremantle on a couple of occasions but has been ruled out for the year with stress fractures in his back.
Alex Pearce: Injury interrupted start to the year for the 19-year-old. He's found some form in the WAFL in recent weeks. At 198cm with a great engine he has been playing a variety of roles.  
Jacob Ballard: Strong-bodied ball magnet who has been racking up possessions for Peel Thunder all year. He has averaged 23.8 disposals in 15 matches in the WAFL. Ross Lyon has been impressed by his work.
Tom Vandeleur: He's a developing key defender who has played 13 senior WAFL matches and four WAFL reserves matches. He's a longer-term prospect for the Dockers. 
Michael Wood: Finding his niche at Peel Thunder after playing for Subiaco last year in the WAFL. Spent some time in the reserves but has been moved forward, where he is most comfortable, and kicked five goals on the weekend and 10 over the last three matches. – Alex Malcolm


Jarrad Jansen: Has played 13 games for the Cats in the VFL, most of them in the midfield. His clearance work at that level has been outstanding. Looked set to break into the AFL team in the middle of the season, but was overlooked for Brad Hartman.
Jake Kolodjashnij: The insiders at the club say he has exceeded expectations. Has played 13 games in the VFL, most of them in the backline, and has impressed leaders like Harry Taylor with his great ability to read the play. Remains in contention to make his AFL debut this season.
Darcy Lang: The Cats' first pick in last year's NAB AFL Draft has done just about everything right in his first season with the club. Made his AFL debut against St Kilda in round 13 and was an emergency last weekend. Has been a dominant midfielder in his 13 VFL games.
Zac Bates: Has been troubled by repeated hamstring injuries and has played only one VFL game. Was recently ruled out for the season after re-injuring his hamstring, but the club still has high hopes for him.
Nick Bourke: Has played 12 VFL games but has been named among the Cats' best players just once.
James Toohey: Big forward who remains a work in progress. Has played 12 games up forward in the VFL, kicking 10 goals. Has been working closely with the VFL coaches to improve his bodywork in contests.
Michael Luxford: Has adapted quickly to the requirements of Aussie Rules after transitioning from an elite basketball background. Has played 11 games in the VFL and has kicked 11 goals.

Gold Coast

Kade Kolodjashnij: His underage form has transferred to the AFL, with the No.5 pick looking composed and assured across half-back. Already a crucial cog in the Suns' wheel.
Sean Lemmens: Blistering pre-season helped him jump the queue and despite tailing off a touch, Lemmens has been terrific. Has raw speed but still needs a bit more size.
Jack Leslie: Long-term project player who the club views as a key defender. After playing catch-up with his fitness base, has made good progress at NEAFL level, but still a lot to work on.
Jarred Ellis: The small defender/midfielder has been solid in the NEAFL, but is still working on his game awareness and two-way running.
Louis Herbert: Big improver this season who has been rewarded with a senior elevation following Gary Ablett's injury. Plays high half-forward – an area of the ground Gold Coast is still trying to nail down. - Michael Whiting

The Suns have got it right again with Kade Kolodjashnij. Picture: AFL Media

Greater Western Sydney

Jake Barrett: The midfielder has made solid progress in the reserves this season and is considered a good future prospect. He extended his contract until the end of 2016 back in April.
Tom Boyd: It has been a season of gradual progression for the teenaged No.1 overall pick, playing five games and already giving a glimpse of just how good he is going to be.
Josh Kelly: He got off to an eye-catching start, earning a NAB AFL Rising Star nomination in his first full game. Kelly has tapered off slightly since, but it has still been an excellent debut campaign.
Rory Lobb: A project ruckman, he has made two senior appearances in his debut year, showing some good marking ability and skills in the ruck and around goal.
Cam McCarthy: Hampered by injury, the key position prospect has still shown some good signs at both ends of the ground in the reserves. He has also committed to the club, signing an extension until the end of 2017.
Sam Schulz: Delisted and then given another chance via the rookie draft, Schulz has endured a terribly frustrating run with injuries that have stopped him getting any sort of continuity out on the park.
Jed Lamb: Following 11 games last season with the Swans, there were high expectations for Lamb in his first year with GWS. So far it has been solid if unspectacular, playing seven senior games and kicking six goals. – James Dampney

Josh Kelly has shown no signs of being out of his depth in senior football.   Picture: AFL Media


Dayle Garlett: Time at Hawthorn came to a disappointing end after the Hawks' bold selection at pick No.38. The gifted West Australian decided in March that life as an AFL player wasn't for him and quit without playing a game.
Billy Hartung: Hit the ground running after being taken at No.24 overall. Only 177cm and 75kg, the speedster has done enough in five games to suggest he has a bright future.
James Sicily: Has shown glimpses playing across half-forward at Box Hill and was rewarded for form by being named an AFL emergency in round 14. Has raw talent and will be given time to develop and bulk up.
Kurt Heatherley: The rangy and athletic New Zealander performed well in defence for Box Hill early in the season. But after eight VFL games, Heatherley has spent the past three in the development league.
Ben Ross: The highly-skilled ex-North Melbourne midfielder forced his way into the team with a string of starring efforts for Box Hill. Has played four games but could battle to add more with Hawks nearing full strength.
Shem-Kalvin Tatupu: Season has been ended by a foot injury, but the New Zealander showed signs of progress playing up forward in the VFL development league this year.
Zac Webster: Featured among the best three times in 10 VFL games this season. A medium-sized forward with potential but he will take time.
Dallas Willsmore: Promising key forward/half forward started the year in the VFL development league but has stepped up to the VFL and impressed with nine goals in eight games. Needs time to bulk up. – Travis King


Jayden Hunt: The 19-year-old has purposefully been managed closely this year, although a back injury has prevented him from playing late this season. Has pace, but is still raw and will benefit from playing more games at VFL level early next season. 
Jay Kennedy-Harris: The plucky small forward has impressed with his pressure skills and ability to deliver under pressure, thriving in a position Melbourne was lacking in. The 19-year-old has played 13 games in his debut year, winning the trust of Paul Roos and his coaching staff.
Christian Salem: Shook off a thyroid problem at the start of pre-season to break into the team for his debut in round six. Has already demonstrated his ability in his 10 games at AFL level, but is currently honing his craft in the VFL. A player Melbourne can base its future around.
Alex Georgiou: Made the most of his opportunities to play the first seven games of the season, as a replacement for the injured Colin Garland. Furthering his development down at Casey, the Demons can count on his dependable style in defence.
James Harmes: Has shown great effort at VFL level this season, despite a hiccup when he suffered a punctured lung at the mid-point of the year. Attacks the contest with vigour, but the Dees are working with him on his defensive work around stoppages.
Neville Jetta: Delisted by Melbourne after five seasons on the senior list, Jetta earned a reprieve as a rookie. Has made significant strides after being elevated to the senior list early in the season, thriving in defensive roles on some of the competition's best small forwards. 
Max King: Showed promise in the NAB Challenge, but his year has been slowed by a serious leg injury. Still needs to add plenty of bulk before being exposed to footy at AFL level.  
Maia Westrupp: The international rookie has progressed to playing at senior VFL level. The Demons continue to school him on the basics of footy, while also developing the defensive side of his game. Very much a work in progress. – Ben Guthrie

Paul Roos is happy with Christian Salem and that's a big step to a great career. Picture: AFL Media

North Melbourne

Ben Brown: Injury delayed the mature-age recruit's start to 2014, but he earned his debut in round 14 and played four straight games before a finger injury sidelined him. The 200cm forward/ruckman is raw but extremely athletic and has shown enough to suggest he has an AFL future. 
Trent Dumont: The midfielder has been a strong performer with North Ballarat in the VFL and must be close to making his AFL debut. Was outstanding for the Roosters last Sunday with 35 possessions after completing a hard three-week training block to improve his fitness.
Luke McDonald: Not as spectacular as some other first-year players, but his seamless transition into senior football should have him in the running for this year's NAB AFL Rising Star award. He has played 17 games in 2014 and has impressed with his cool head in defence and classy ball use.
Joel Tippett: The key defender looked at home in the four consecutive AFL games he played from round six before a pectoral injury sidelined him. Strong in one-on-one contests, he is set to return to the field soon and could play a part in North's run to the finals.
Kayne Turner: The 18-year-old has shown a lot of promise with Werribee in the VFL this year, playing predominantly as a medium forward. Blessed with a good mix of speed and endurance, his greatest strength has been his defensive pressure. Played on the wing last Sunday and impressed with 22 possessions. - Nick Bowen

Cult figure or future star? Only time will tell with Ben Brown. Picture: AFL Media

Port Adelaide

Karl Amon: The classy left footer's recent form saw him travel as the Power's emergency last weekend. Loves a goal and can get himself into scoring positions with a clean pair of heels.
Darcy Byrne-Jones: His running game out of defence has worked well in the SANFL, as his insatiable appetite for contest. There's still not much of him, but his tackling ability highlights his competitive nature.
Mitch Harvey: A big key defender that the club hopes will one-day compliment Mason Shaw, Harvey's worked hard to improve his endurance, which has been tested when thrown into the ruck. Up forward he's presented well, booting 22 goals from his 15 SANFL games.
Jarman Impey: Thrown straight into the deep end, Impey has played all but one game for the Power this year, showcasing his courage and ball-carrying ability in defence. He takes the game on
Daniel Flynn Returned home to Ireland for a period citing family reasons, but the Irishman has made steady improvement since. Lighting fast and his skills are developing nicely.
Sam Gray A natural footballer who managed to earn an AFL debut and consistently proves too good for the SANFL. Skillful and smart around goals, Gray jus knows how to find the ball and what to do with it.
Sam Russell Missed the first half of the year with a hamstring injury and has struggled to find consistency since. He's had his moments but will look to string some solid games together before the end of the year. - Harry Thring


Nathan Gordon: Has been the substitute for the past two games, which brings his Richmond games tally to seven after being recruited from the SANFL. More opportunities will give him the chance to become the regular contributor the coaches believe he can be.   
Ben Lennon: Is close to a recall after five senior games following a delayed start to the season post knee surgery. Has spent time in defence and attack and was emergency for the Greater Western Sydney game.
Sam Lloyd: The past three senior appearances have brought him to eight games for the season, where he's kicked three bags of three goals and has set himself the aim to improve his forward pressure.
Todd Banfield: Hasn't made enough of an impact to be considered for promotion across his 15 games in the VFL, where he's been used at both ends of the ground.
Anthony Miles: Demanded elevation with strong VFL form and hasn't looked back since his round 12 Richmond debut with an average of nearly 24 touches and over six clearances a game.
Matt Thomas: His hardness made him a pre-season elevation but injuries and suspension have kept him to 12 games after a promising start at his second club.

St Kilda 

Blake Acres: Foot and ankle injuries have kept the midfielder sidelined for the majority of the year but he showed promising signs in a three-game stretch at AFL level between rounds seven and nine. 
Jack Billings: A star in the making. Bound for the midfield, the teenager has started his career as a forward and played 15 of 18 games, impressing with his clean hands, skills by foot and goal sense. 
Luke Dunstan: Hit the ground running with a superb debut and looks set for a long career, playing all but two games this season. Mentored by Lenny Hayes, he has slotted in to the midfield and played a key role all year. 
Jason Holmes: The athletic, US-born ruckman has spent the season developing in the VFL with Sandringham. Capable of amassing huge hit-out numbers, he hasn't won a lot of the ball around the ground. Steadily improved. 
Eli Templeton: A revelation early in the year, the livewire half-forward earned promotion and played the first six games. He suffered a broken arm in round six, however, which ended his season. – Nathan Schmook 

St Kilda's draftees like Luke Dunstan (l) and Jack Billings (c) have shown plenty. Picture: AFL Media

Sydney Swans

Aliir Aliir: Sudanese-born Aliir made good progress in his first season on an AFL list before a recent shoulder injury ended his year early.
George Hewett: Limited at the start of the season by a knee injury, the midfielder has since performed well in the reserves, including being a traveling emergency for last month's trip to face West Coast.
Zak Jones: Able to play a variety of roles all over the ground, Jones earned his AFL debut in round 14, playing three matches before injury and illness struck.
Toby Nankervis: A very promising prospect in the ruck and up forward, Nankervis has had the odd injury worry, but has otherwise enjoyed a solid first season at the club.
Patrick Mitchell: An international rookie from the United States, Mitchell is always noticeable when playing in the reserves due to his unconventional kicking style. He has a long road ahead, but certainly possesses the physical gifts required and can look to Mike Pyke for inspiration.
Lloyd Perris: A highly rated young midfielder, Perris had some big possession games in the reserves before knee surgery ended his season. – James Dampney

West Coast

Tom Barrass: Injury-plagued year that started with a torn hip joint in the pre-season and finished in July with a season-ending groin injury. He is being groomed as second/third tall in defence. Will be hoping for a healthy year in 2015. 
Malcolm Karpany: Has played most of the year in the WAFL reserves at East Perth but had fought into the seniors over the last month and kicked two goals in round 16. The pacy small forward injured his shoulder in round 18 and has been sent for surgery. 
Dylan Main: Has played every game bar one in the WAFL reserves. He's a 190cm utility who can swing both ends but has played mainly forward this year at East Perth. The Eagles are taking a long-term view with Main. 
Dom Sheed: Has played seven AFL matches in his first season, four as the substitute. The powerfully built midfielder has shown some glimpses and has a lot of upside.
Will Maginess: Only slightly built at 182cm and 75kg but knows how to find the football. Has dominated WAFL reserves in six matches at that level and averaged 17.6 disposals in eight WAFL senior matches at East Perth.
Rowen Powell: He's a 193cm key defender but his season has been plagued by injury. He only played seven WAFL reserves matches before a shoulder injury ended his year in July. – Alex Malcolm

Western Bulldogs

Marcus Bontempelli: For one of the youngest players taken in last year's NAB AFL draft, Marcus Bontempelli has certainly made an impact in his debut season. The 18-year-old midfielder is favourite to win the Rising Star and his brilliant goal against Melbourne in round 15 is the clubhouse leader to win goal of the year.
Matthew Fuller: The mature-age recruit has struggled for form in the VFL and has never really looked like making his AFL debut. An exceptional kick on both sides, the South Australian has played mainly across half back. A shoulder injury ended his season prematurely.
Mitch Honeychurch: The hard-at-it midfielder looms as one of the bargains of the 2013 NAB AFL after impressing in his short time at Whitten Oval. His great form at VFL level earned him a senior debut in round 15 and he's gone on to play a further two matches. – Ryan Davidson

Bulldogs supporters would be very excited by what they've seen of Marcus Bontempelli. Picture: AFL Media