ALL-AUSTRALIAN full-forwards, centre half-backs, wingmen and midfielders.

They've all been taken with pick No.4 in the NAB AFL Draft.


You're supposed to acquire elite players with picks that high in the draft, and a number of clubs have secured generational talent that has helped sustained success with this selection.

In 2019, AFL national talent ambassador Kevin Sheehan nominated the greatest players selected at each pick and gave the nod to Matthew Pavlich.

Do you agree? Let's look at the candidates since the draft was introduced in 1986 and judge for yourself

1989 – Peter Matera

Almost unquestionably the greatest wingman since the competition went national, Matera was a five-time All-Australian and had a major hand in West Coast's golden era in the early to mid 1990s. He had blistering pace, ran all day up-and-down the Subiaco wings and had a booming right foot. Who'll ever forget his five-goal Norm Smith Medal-winning performance in the 1992 Grand Final against Geelong? Two premierships and a best and fairest in 1997 rounded out a wonderful 253-game career. 

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1992 – Justin Leppitsch

Was drafted as a forward by Brisbane, but ultimately became one of the best key defenders in the competition, helping to revolutionise the position with his attacking flair and willingness to take the game on. Leppitsch was a cornerstone of the Lions' three straight premierships, forming a great tandem with Mal Michael, and was named All-Australian three times. He also won a best and fairest in 1999.

Mal Michael, Justin Leppitsch and Daniel Bradshaw celebrate the 2003 premiership. Picture: AFL Photos

1999 – Matthew Pavlich

Calling 'Pav' Mr Versatile is massively underselling his ability, but what he did – in the number of positions he did it – was nothing short of remarkable. Perhaps only Adam Goodes can match him for impact in so many different positions in the modern era. In just his second full season (2002), Pavlich played as a key defender and won All-Australian selection as a 20-year-old. The following year he was moved into the midfield, averaging 19 disposals, kicking 37 goals and adding another All-Australian jacket. He eventually settled as a key forward – becoming one of the best in the AFL - kicking 700 goals from 353 games, winning six best and fairests and six All-Australian selections. He's right at the top of this conversation.

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2005 – Josh Kennedy

If ever a high-profile trade turned out a win-win, it was Chris Judd's move to Carlton in exchange for a young, unproven Josh Kennedy. While Judd won a second Brownlow Medal and extended a wonderful career with the Blues, what Kennedy has provided the Eagles has been one of the competition's most consistent, reliable power forward over more than a decade. Kennedy won Coleman Medals in 2015 and 2016, added three All-Australian selections and was integral to the 2018 premiership. Carlton made the selection, but the Eagles developed and reaped the dividends.

Josh Kennedy with his Coleman Medal in 2016. Picture: AFL Photos

2013 – Marcus Bontempelli

If Bontempelli can produce anything like what he has in his first eight years during his next eight he will likely end his career as the greatest No.4 selection of all time. It's hard to believe the Western Bulldogs' skipper has yet to turn 26, but the dynamic, game-changing midfielder has barely entered his prime years as a player. Standing 193cm and full of power, Bontempelli can do almost everything on a football field, and through 171 career games just about has, helping the Dogs to the 2016 premiership, winning four best and fairests and four All-Australian jackets to date.  

Marcus Bontempelli celebrates a goal against Melbourne in the 2021 Toyota AFL Grand Final. Picture: AFL Photos

2015 – Clayton Oliver

Oliver's inclusion in this list is based on projection as much as what he's produced to date. The Melbourne midfield bull has been a wonderful ball-winner since he came into the League, but his 2021 season which resulted in his second All-Australian selection saw his game reach new heights. He was instrumental in the Demons' drought-breaking premiership this year and if he consistently adds goalkicking to his bag of tricks, Oliver could race up this list over the next decade.

Clayton Oliver celebrates a goal against the Western Bulldogs in the 2021 Toyota AFL Grand Final. Picture: AFL Photos

Honourable mentions

It seems wrong to not mention a couple of other No.4 picks in this discussion considering the depth of talent. Special mention goes to Essendon's Scott Lucas, who was drafted in 1994 and forged a brilliant career as a sidekick to Matthew Lloyd. Lanky Lucas kicked 471 goals from 270 games and won two best and fairest at the Bombers. Andrew Gaff also deserves recognition after being snapped up by the Eagles in 2010. Gaff is not as flashy as others, but has been super prolific (26 disposals a game) on a wing for more than a decade now. He rarely misses games and is in the top handful of runners in the competition.