THE FREE Agency and Continental Tyres AFL Trade Period are upon clubs but plenty of decisions over the next two weeks will be shaped by what lies ahead at the NAB AFL Draft. 

This is the September edition of's Phantom Form Guide, where we rank the best 30 players in the 2021 draft pool from around the country.

It does not take into account where bids will be placed on father-son or Academy players and is not a mock draft – that will come closer to the November intake. 

Key defender/forward
Swan Districts/Western Australia

Nudged his way into the top-30 after his standout key defensive game earlier this month for Western Australia. Bazzo collected 18 disposals against South Australia and showed he can set up the play with the ball in his hands and his penetrating kicking. Bazzo was an All-Australian at under-16s level and has proven he can also swing into attack and make an impact too.

Rhett Bazzo in action during 2021 NAB AFL U19 Championships between Western Australia and South Australia at Lathlain Park. Picture: Supplied

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro

It was Howes' block of form mid-year that reminded clubs of his talents. At his size and shape Howes has been used in a number of different spots but he appeared to get motoring mainly as a wingman in the middle stages of the Dragons' season. An athletic runner who also showed some really exciting signs in Sandringham's first game of the season against Oakleigh as a third tall forward, Howes had 20 disposals and two goals against the Rebels in round 15.

The NAB AFL Academy's Blake Howes is tackled by Geelong VFL's Nick Stevens during a match on April 24, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Calder Cannons/Vic Metro

Taylor produced a really good draft year that will see him be in top-25 discussions. The classy smaller midfielder just finds the footy and knows what to do with it. He averaged 26 disposals in Calder's NAB League season and he also produced some big games, including a 37-disposal and 11-clearance outing. His kicking stands out: Taylor rarely misses a target and simply makes good decisions. 

Vic Metro's Zac Taylor during the U19 trial match against Vic Country on June 27, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Key forward
East Fremantle/Western Australia

Williams kicked 2.3 in East Fremantle's semi-final colts win two weeks ago in what was a very good showing in his side's win. The key forward is adept at finding the ball on the lead and getting away from his direct opponent to create a marking chance. He has been a goalkicker all year at colts level and shown recruiters his nous inside-50.

Jack Williams celebrates a goal during the clash between the NAB AFL Academy and Geelong's VFL side at GMHBA Stadium on April 24, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Geelong Falcons/Vic Country

The best young ruck in the draft who can start things for his midfielders at centre bounces and is also handy around the ground as a drop-back player or move-forward target. Conway, a cousin of Sydney's Tom McCartin and his brother and former Saints forward Paddy, performed well for the Geelong Falcons and Vic Country this season before the season was cut short.

Toby Conway (front) battles it out with Sam Grant during the U19 trial match between Vic Metro and Vic Country on June 27, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro

A member of St Kilda's Next Generation Academy, Windhager's progress this season has caught more eyes than just those of the Saints. Powerful and flexible, Windhager can be used in midfield roles or at either end of the ground. He overcame a knee reconstruction last year to piece together a strong campaign in 2021 and will be on the verge of the top-20 – where the Saints would not be able to match a bid for him.

Marcus Windhager in action for Vic Metro during the U19 Trial match against Vic Country on June 27, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

South Fremantle/Western Australia

A smart small forward who can create something from nothing, Motlop has had good exposure this season playing with South Fremantle's league and reserves sides. The son of former Kangaroo and Power forward Daniel can hit the scoreboard, as seen with his two-goal debut in the WAFL earlier in the year. Motlop is a part of the Fremantle Next Generation Academy but the Dockers are only free to match a bid for him after pick 40 as he is a metropolitan Indigenous player.

Jesse Motlop runs out for Western Australia during the NAB AFL U19 Championships clash with South Australia at Lathlain Park on August 28, 2021. Picture: Supplied

Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country

Brown is a half-back suited to the modern game. He is competitive and can shut down but is best regarded for his attacking movement, speed and game smarts. An ankle injury in the first half of the year made for a disrupted campaign but he did return mid-season to show some of his traits at NAB League and Vic Country level. The son of former Cat Paul but Brown isn't eligible to join Geelong as a father-son. 

Tom Brown of the Murray Bushrangers in action during NAB League testing day on March 6, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Northern Knights/Vic Metro

A courageous half-back who throws himself into contests then gets up and does it again. Wilmot is aggressive in his physicality but also his ball movement – he enjoys bolting out of defence and thinking ahead. He captained Vic Metro in a trial game earlier this year and has plenty of upside in him as the youngest player in this year's draft, not turning 18 until December 31.

Darcy Wilmot dishes out a handball for Northern Knights against Sandringham Dragons on April 10, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Claremont/Western Australia

van Rooyen kicked the winning goal for Western Australia against South Australia in the under-19s clash last weekend having drifted forward late after spending most of the game in defence. It is that versatility which has improved the Claremont product's stocks across the year. van Rooyen played at senior level earlier this season whilst battling glandular fever but his past two months have impressed with his work ethic and capacity to play in key positions.

Jacob van Rooyen marks during 2021 NAB AFL U19 Championships between Western Australia and South Australia at Lathlain Park. Picture: Supplied

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Country

It has been a year of frustrations for all Victorian prospects given the COVID-19 shutdowns of football across the state, but Chesser has reason to feel a little extra aggrieved given the knee problems he had gotten past just as the NAB League was cancelled for this year. The attacking midfielder/half-back can get the ball moving his side's way in a flash and is a high quality character for clubs to take on.

Campbell Chesser celebrates a goal during the NAB League Boys match between the Northern Knights and the Sandringham Dragons at Preston City Oval on April 10, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Greater Western Victoria Rebels/Vic Country

It would have been interesting to see how high Butler's stocks could have risen with a full year of football this season after an exciting first half of the year. The younger brother of St Kilda's Dan is a midfielder primarily who can zip forward too, he makes good decisions in tight, competes well for the ball at ground level and has a bit of spark to his game. A sternum injury mid-year ruled him out of games before his last appearance was a 27-disposal effort for the Rebels. 

Sam Butler during a NAB League match between Eastern Ranges and the GWV Rebels at Highgate Reserve on May 23, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Calder Cannons/Vic Metro

Recruiters look for athletic upside in players and Goater has plenty of that. The 190cm midfielder is agile, quick, can jump and uses his height to advantage around the ball and ground. His season finished with a 28-disposal, 11-mark and eight-rebound-50 game in early August while he also had 23 disposals and eight clearances for Vic Metro against Vic Country. It wouldn't shock to see Goater go a little higher on draft night.

Josh Goater in action for Vic Metro during the U19 trial match on June 27, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

South Adelaide/South Australia

Roberts kicked two goals from 10 disposals in South Adelaide's preliminary final loss last week in another solid senior performance. It has been a good run of form for Roberts since he returned from his syndesmosis ankle injury earlier this year. Roberts has played in the midfield, on the wing and in attack at different stages this season and has been a consistent contributor for his side.

Matt Roberts in action during the NAB AFL Academy training session at Gosch’s Paddock on April 22, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro

Because of the disruptions of this year's football again in Victoria, and Sonsie's knee injury that kept him out of action mid-year, the Eastern Ranges prospect will be an interesting watch at the draft. Clubs know his talent as a ball-getter and goalkicker through the midfield with some standout games with the Ranges as well as an excellent VFL game for the Box Hill Hawks.

Eastern Ranges' Tyler Sonsie in action during a NAB League match against Tasmania on April 17, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro

Sinn's speed and line-breaking run was on show earlier this season for the Sandringham Dragons before a hamstring injury kept him out of action for two months. He returned to play in Vic Metro's carnival game against Vic Country but then hurt his ankle and didn't get to play again. The left-footer's pace is definitely a weapon and he can bound out of defence and quickly get the ball inside 50 for his side.

Sandringham's Josh Sinn runs with the ball during the NAB League Boys match against the Northern Knights on April 10, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Glenelg/South Australia

Wanganeen-Milera's dazzling foot skills have seen him rocket into top-10 contention late in the campaign. The nephew of Port Adelaide and Essendon champion Gavin was a standout in SA's first game against Western Australia with a poised showing and again had some strong moments in last week's curtain-raiser with 15 disposals and four inside-50s against WA. Clubs view him as the best kick in the draft and the wingman can certainly deliver it on a platter to his forwards.

Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera in action for South Australia during the NAB AFL U19 Champs at Lathlain Park on August 28, 2021. Picture: Supplied

Subiaco/Western Australia

Was named Western Australia's best in its win over South Australia in the under-19s curtain-raiser on Grand Final day. The tall midfielder had 20 disposals, five clearances and nine tackles and once again proved that he can do things other midfielders can't with his size, backing up his impressive first carnival game for WA a month earlier. A rising talent with many pieces to his game.

Western Australia's Matthew Johnson with his BOG medal after the 2021 U19 Challenge match against South Australia on September 25, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

South Adelaide/South Australia

Draper's season ended in an unfortunate way over the weekend, with the exciting and versatile South Australian suffering an AC joint shoulder injury in the curtain-raiser state game against Western Australia. It will make for an interrupted preparation for Draper's first AFL pre-season but clubs were well aware of his talents. In last week's game Draper was stationed across half-back as an attacking and creative option, a spot largely unfamiliar to him this season having played as a midfielder and half-forward. But he makes good decisions with the ball, delivers it well and brings some X-factor.

South Australia's Arlo Draper with his arm in a sling during the NAB AFL U19 Challenge match against Western Australia on September 25, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Key forward
East Perth/Western Australia

A knee injury in Western Australia's under-19 curtain-raiser against South Australia on Grand Final day meant Amiss' season ended the wrong way after a couple of quiet weeks in the colts. But the 18-year-old's impact across the season cannot be denied and has absolutely registered with clubs, with Amiss booting 53 goals in East Perth's colts season. He is smart inside-50, a crafty and efficient finisher and just knows how to hit the scoreboard. One who is definitely in the top-10 mix.

Jye Amiss celebrates a goal during the NAB AFL U19 Championships between Western Australia and South Australia at Lathlain Park on August 28, 2021. Picture: Supplied

Subiaco/Western Australia

Erasmus was sidelined with a leg injury for the past month of his draft season after a corkie bled further than hoped. It meant the West Australian talent sat out both of his state's under-19 clashes with South Australia, a disappointment given club recruiters had been keen to see his dominance at that level. Nevertheless Erasmus' qualities have been on show enough: he's a tall, hard-working, bust-a-gut midfielder who can push forward and kick goals as well as rip the ball out of the centre.

Neil Erasmus in action during the NAB AFL Academy training session at Gosch’s Paddock on April 22, 2021. Picture: Michael Willson

Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country

Rachele is the best pure small forward in this year's draft, but has also proved he can go into the midfield and make things happen around him. The Murray Bushrangers prospect is an exciting attacking option who reads the ball well in the air, goes for his marks and also can stay on the ground and take the crumbs. He likes kicking goals and there's perhaps a bit of Western Bulldogs youngster Cody Weightman in the way he can do things usually not expected of the smaller types. He kicked six goals in a game for the Bushrangers this year in his best NAB League outing.

Joshua Rachele celebrates a goal during the NAB League Boys match between the Geelong Falcons and the Murray Bushrangers at Queen Elizabeth Oval on April 11, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country

There is a reason for the hype around Andrew. Actually, there's a few reasons. He can jump, he competes, he's athletic, he kicks goals, he takes marks and he's versatile. Throw in the fact he does all of that at 200cm and it's an exciting package. Andrew is a member of Melbourne's Next Generation Academy but won't end up there as the Dees won't be able to match top-20 picks under the new Academy rules. The Egyptian-born South Sudanese prospect looks bound for the top 10.

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Key defender
Greater Western Victoria Rebels/Vic Country

A leading key defender in this year's pool, Gibcus is an aerial threat who enjoys jumping in and chopping off marks. He doesn't get many goals kicked on him and is also capable of starting an offensive chain with his marking. Some clubs see him as a top-10 talent given the difficulty of finding tall defenders within this group.

GWV Rebels' Joshua Gibcus marks the ball in a NAB Boys League match against Gippsland Power on June 12, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Northern Knights/Vic Metro

Ward's relentless running, strong character and consistent performances have seen him rise as the year has gone on. The Northern Knights prospect starred for Vic Metro against Vic Country in the mid-year carnival game with 29 disposals, two goals and eight clearances and he showed his attacking streak as the season developed. Clubs view him as a potential future leader as well.

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Greater Western Victoria Rebels/Vic Country

A hard-headed inside midfield option who just kept on putting strong performances on the board. Hobbs overcame an ankle injury early in the year to then go on a ball-winning blitz that catapulted him into top-10 calculations. Hobbs is strongly built and plays with an intensity not matched by many midfielders in the top rungs of the draft. He was Vic Country's best player against Vic Metro when he had 25 disposals, seven clearances and 11 tackles and he averaged 30 disposals in his five completed NAB League games.

GWV Rebels' Ben Hobbs poses for a photo during the NAB League Testing Day on March 6, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro

Callaghan worked his way up the draft board from the very start of the season, with his line-breaking run and carry and sizzling left-foot kicking on show in a Sandringham practice game and catching the attention of scouts. Thereafter he continued to be a key player, mainly as a tall wingman but also in stints as an inside midfielder where he showed he could use his body and frame to make an impact. Callaghan shapes as a top-five pick and belongs in that company given his skillset.

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Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro

If there's a silver lining for the Western Bulldogs after their Grand Final defeat it is that they will have first access to father-son prospect and potential top-three pick Sam Darcy at November's draft. The 204cm key forward in the mould of Max and Ben King is athletic, he marks well as a tall option and kicks goals, including six for Vic Metro in a clash with Vic Country. Darcy is quick on his feet for a player his size, hits contests well and also can play in the ruck, where his father, former Bulldogs big man Luke, played through his career.

Vic Metro's Sam Darcy kicks for goal during the Vic Metro v Vic Country U19 trial game on June 27, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

South Adelaide/South Australia

It was an epic finish to Horne-Francis' SANFL career last week when the star prospect had 24 disposals and booted 3.3 in a best-afield performance for South Adelaide in their preliminary final loss. It was a dynamic performance from the 18-year-old to end what has been an exciting campaign for him after his eye-catching senior displays last year. Horne-Francis is tough, aggressive, brilliant when the ball is up for grabs and is ready to play, with North Melbourne set to swoop on him.

Jason Horne-Francis celebrates a goal during a 2021 SANFL match for South Adelaide. Picture: Nick Hook photography

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro

Daicos is off to Collingwood on a four-year deal that was announced in August. The midfielder is clearly one of the best prospects to come through the draft in recent years: a prolific ball-winner (he averaged 36 disposals and two goals at NAB League level), perhaps his greatest strength is his capacity to make good decisions, execute his plans and impact games. Not only can he accumulate, he can hurt and he's fun to watch when he squeezes past opponents and pulls out tricks nobody can match. Is equally driven and determined as he is talented.

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