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AFL Draft - October's Power Rankings: A new No. 1 emerges as we close in on draft

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Is Melbourne's Oliver-Petracca combo the best 1-2 punch in the AFL? (1:20)

ESPN's Jake Michaels believes the Demons' heavy-hitting midfield duo of Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca is the best combo in the league by some distance. (1:20)

ESPN.com.au's expert Chris Doerre has revealed his AFL Draft Power Rankings for the month of October and we have a new player at the top.


1. Jason Horne-Francis
Best position:
Inside midfield/general forward
Height, weight: 184cm, 78kg
Recruited from: South Adelaide
Projected draft range: 1-2
Plays like: Toby Greene
September ranking: 2
Rationale: Finishing the SANFL season off with a bang, Horne-Francis' preliminary final was the performance of the season, and one that will stick with draft watchers for a long time. Over the last month of the season, Horne-Francis has arguably developed into the SANFL's premier and most influential player. What separates Horne-Francis from Daicos is his application and influence defensively, with his aggression, pressure, tackling, second and third efforts and run back in support elite even by AFL standards.
Strengths:
Consistency of application defensively
Pressure applied to the ball carrier
Strong tackler
Aggression
One-touch ground ball winner on the move at speed
Aerial marking
Contested marking
Impact per possession
Contested ball winning
Proven against senior state league opposition
Versatility to impact games both through the midfield and up forward
Scoreboard impact
AFL ready-to-go game
Weaknesses:
Inconsistent production
Inconsistency of impact offensively

2. Nick Daicos (Collingwood - Father-Son)
Best position: General midfield
Height, weight: 183cm, 72kg
Recruited from: Oakleigh Chargers
Projected draft range: 1-2
Plays like: Zach Merrett
September ranking: 1
Rationale: Had the NAB League season continued, Daicos may still be No. 1. The debate around the real #1 has been hotly debated all year and it should come as no surprise with no meaningful separation between the two young stars. Daicos is the more productive of the pair and finds the football at will around the ground, but defensively while much improved over his last month of his season, he isn't nearly on the same level, with his impact per possession also the lower of the pair.
Strengths:
Composure in traffic
Decision making under pressure
Anticipation of opposition decisions in traffic
Draws free kicks from high tackles
Agility
Evasion
Go-to-guy around the ground
Scoreboard impact
Inside-outside midfield balance
Versatility to impact games both through the midfield and forward
Stoppage work
Contested ball winning
Consistency
One-touch at ground level
Production
AFL ready
Weaknesses:
Inconsistent application defensively
Strength

3. Sam Darcy (Western Bulldogs - Father-Son)
Best position:
Key forward
Height, weight: 205cm, 77kg
Recruited from: Oakleigh Chargers
Projected draft range: 3-5
Plays like: Max King
September ranking: 3
Rationale: In a draft lacking in the way of premier talls, Darcy is the standard of excellence. Given his rapid rate of improvement and mix of rare attributes at his height, he is one of this draft's highest upside choices for the long term.
Strengths:
Rate of improvement
One grab contested marking
Long arms and reach
Takes marks fully extended
Attack on the ball aerially
Early reading of the ball in flight
Protects the drop zone
Versatility to impact games as a key forward, key defender and through the ruck
Agility
One-touch at ground level
Instinctive finisher around goal
Speed to create separation on the lead
Weaknesses:
Endurance
Work rate
Repeat speed/repeat efforts
Strength
Will require time to develop before he can impact AFL games regularly

4. Finn Callaghan
Best position:
Balanced midfielder
Height, weight: 189cm, 82kg
Recruited from: Sandringham Dragons
Projected draft range: 3-7
Plays like: Jared Polec
September ranking: 4
Rationale: Callaghan is an upside pick given he has grown later than many others. His special sauce is his rare movement for someone his height, with his agility, evasion and speed respectively special in traffic. If Callaghan becomes more aggressive with his attack on the ball and in his tackle attempts, he has the scope to be as good as any in this draft. Callaghan's ceiling which is elevated by his late growth spurt makes him one of this year's most appealing.
Strengths:
Rare time, space and composure in traffic
Evasion
Agility
Sidestep
Acceleration
Takes on the game at speed with ball in hand
Hits contests at speed and times his moves well to receive on the burst
Work rate
Endurance
Overlap run
Class and composure under pressure to hit his targets by hand or foot
Skill execution by hand and foot
Versatility to play inside or outside midfield
Weaknesses:
Lack of aggression
Contested ball winning
Tackling

5. Josh Ward
Best position:
Balanced midfielder
Height, weight: 181cm, 79kg
Recruited from: Northern Knights
Projected draft range: 3-10
Plays like: Marc Murphy
September ranking: 5
Rationale: A low risk, ready-to-go midfielder who is one of the very best and most complete midfielders in this draft. His production and impact during the latter part of the NAB League campaign was up there with the play of Daicos.
Strengths:
Skills
Lowers his eyes and places kicks out in front of targets inside 50m to leadup onto
Vision
Decision making under pressure
Composure
Finishing around goal
Go-to-guy around the ground
Agility
Acceleration
Run and carry with ball in hand
Inside/outside midfield balance
Works hard both ways
Rises to the big occasion
AFL ready-to-go game
Production
Consistency
Weaknesses:
Unclear versatility
Limited scoreboard impact

6. Neil Erasmus
Best position:
Inside midfield
Height, weight: 188cm, 80kg
Recruited from: Subiaco
Projected draft range: 3-10
Plays like: Elliot Yeo
September ranking: 12
Rationale: While the sample size of play this season has been small, review of Erasmus' early season play shows he's not far off the best midfielders in this pool. His overhead marking and ball winning capabilities are his greatest strengths and with a December birthday and a strong rate of improvement, Erasmus is deserving of early draft selection as one of the prime 'upside' choices.
Strengths:
Early reader of the ball in flight who consistently gets to the drop
Intercept marking
Aerial marking
Leap
Attack on the ball
Contested ball winning
Big game performer
Versatility to play inside/outside midfield or as a forward
Scoreboard impact
Consistency
Rate of improvement
Endurance
Weaknesses:
Inconsistent kick
Limited exposure against strong opposition

7. Matthew Roberts
Best position:
Inside midfield
Height, weight: 183cm, 81kg
Recruited from: South Adelaide
Projected draft range: 10-30
Plays like: Dayne Beams
September ranking: 6
Rationale: One of this year's most advanced ball winners, Roberts is one of this year's ready-to-go midfielders. The continued tendency from Roberts to rush the ball on without lowering his eyes and taking his time to assess his best options has led to his drop.
Strengths:
One-touch ball winner below the knees
Contested ball winning
Endurance
Work rate
Spread from the contest
Clean hands in traffic
Distribution by hand
Damaging and penetrating left foot kick
Overhead marking
Inside/outside midfield balance
Versatility to play midfield, forward or back as required
Scoreboard impact
Production
AFL ready-to-go game
Weaknesses:
Prone to rushing under pressure and bombing long by foot for territory
Needs to take more time after a mark or free kick to assess his options before moving the ball on
Would benefit from lowering his eyes and looking to hit up shorter targets more often
Limited speed
Limited time and space in traffic

8. Matthew Johnson
Best position:
Inside midfield
Height, weight: 192cm, 80kg
Recruited from: Subiaco
Projected draft range: 5-20
Plays like: Scott Pendlebury
September ranking: 18
Rationale: Finishing the WAFL Reserves season off strongly and named Western Australia's best in both of their clashes against South Australia, Johnson is rapidly progressing up draft boards around the country. A classy tall midfielder, there are few as composed and sound by both hand and foot as Johnson in this pool.
Strengths:
Composure
Classy and sound decision making with ball in hand
Creates time and space for himself in traffic
Evasion in traffic
Agility
Quick first step
Already knows what he is going to do before he gets ball in hand
Vision in traffic
Long handballs to targets
Reliable ball user who displays vision on his kicks
Places kicks out in front of leading targets inside-50m to lead onto
Makes something happen when he has ball in hand
Weaknesses:
Early season lack of consistency
Contested ball winning

9. Leek Alleer
Best position:
Key defence
Height, weight: 196cm, 84kg
Recruited from: Central Districts
Projected draft range: 15-45
Plays like: Aliir Aliir
September ranking: 8
Rationale: Rapidly developing, Alleer has become an intercept marking force in the SANFL at League level. Although he is two years older than his peers, his scope to develop is enormous based on his rapid rate of development. His round 16 match against South Adelaide was the eye-opener with five contested marks, seeming to intercept every high ball that went near him. Alleer drops due to the rise of others but remains the top key defender on this draft board.
Strengths:
Intercept marking
Contested marking
Wins one-on-one contests routinely and often turns one-on-one contests into intercept marks
Aerial marking
Attack on the ball aerially
Reading of the ball in flight
Leap
Courage to back into packs and put his body on the line
Rapid rate of improvement
Speed
Weaknesses:
Finds little of the ball in general play
Limited as a rebounder
One-dimensional

10. Mac Andrew (Melbourne Next-Generation Academy)
Best position:
Ruck
Height, weight: 200cm, 70kg
Recruited from: Dandenong Stingrays
Projected draft range: 2-10
Plays like: Paddy Ryder
September ranking: 9
Rationale: Andrew is a light bodied ruckman and long-term project player who is likely to spend his early years developing as a key position player while he adds muscle to his light frame. What is breathtaking with Andrew is how high he leaps at centre bounces, often getting his waist above the head of rival rucks when he gets a clear jump at the ball. Andrew's drop can be attributed to the rise of others.
Strengths:
Leap
Soft hands through ruck
Hitouts to advantage
Long arms and reach
Clean below the knees
Tackling
Mobile
Clean by hand and foot
Reading of the ball in flight
Contested marking
Weaknesses:
Strength
Too light at this stage to play through the ruck and will need to start his career as a key position player
Struggles through the ruck when a body engages him and prevents him from using his leap to advantage
Struggles one-on-one
A long term project who is likely to require a number of years before his play converts to AFL performance

11. Mitch Owens (St Kilda Next-Generation Academy)
Best position:
Utility
Height, weight: 190cm, 85kg
Recruited from: Sandringham Dragons
Projected draft range: 10-30
Plays like: David Mundy
September ranking: Outside-20
Rationale: Growing around 15cm between the start of 2019 and the beginning of 2021, Owens is a late developer who only in the last month of the NAB League season entered first round contention. His performance as a late callup for Vic Metro in a trial match against Vic Country was the game that elevated his draft standing, securing 29 disposals, one goal and two score assists. He immediately backed this up with strong NAB League play for Sandringham. With his movement, overhead marking, ball winning capabilities and rapid rate of improvement, Owens is an upside choice who with continued rapid improvement could be one of this draft's very best. Had the season not been cut short, while there is an element of speculation in rating Owens this high, with the way he was developing, he may well have been rated even more highly.
Strengths:
Late growth
Rate of development
Agility
Speed
Courage
Intercept marking
Aerial marking
Versatility
Inside/outside balance
Contested ball winning
Weaknesses:
Unclear best position
Not as advanced as other top end prospects

12. Arlo Draper
Best position:
Utility
Height, weight: 185cm, 71kg
Recruited from: South Adelaide
Projected draft range: 5-25
Plays like: Robbie Gray
September ranking: 10
Rationale: With his mix of contested ball winning, classy ball use, agility and strong marking, Draper is one of this draft's more appealing and versatile prospects. While Draper's season unfortunately has ended due to a shoulder injury during South Australia's second clash against Western Australia, his drop can be attributed to the rise of others.
Strengths:
Contested ball winning
Tackling
Stoppage craft
Composure in traffic
Decision making with ball in hand
Clean hands
Vision
Locating and hitting targets by foot in the corridor
Lowers his eyes for kicks inside 50m
Overhead marking
Contested marking
Agility
Evasion
Acceleration
Takes on the game with his run
Versatility to play midfield, forward or in defence
Scoreboard impact
Weaknesses:
Strength
Lack of outside accumulation
Injury prone

13. Bodhi Uwland (Gold Coast - Academy)
Best position:
Inside midfield
Height, weight: 185cm, 84kg
Recruited from: Gold Coast
Projected draft range: 40+
Plays like: Luke Hodge
September ranking: 11
Rationale: One of the lesser-known prospects, Uwland is as aggressive and competitive as any in this draft. Uwland is not just a strong ball winner, but a powerful athlete who shrugs tackles at will and has a penetrating and damaging kick. His drop can be attributed to the rise of others.
Strengths:
Contested ball winning
Powerful shrugging of tackles
Aggression
Physical edge
Penetrating and damaging but reliable kick
Kicks placed out to the advantage side for teammates to lead onto
Decision making with ball in hand
Vision
Evasion
Agility
Acceleration
Leap
Versatility to impact games either through the midfield, defence or across half-forward
Proven performer against VFL competition
Weaknesses:
Endurance
Work rate
Reading of the drop of the ball

14. Zac Taylor
Best position:
Balanced midfielder
Height, weight: 180cm, 74kg
Recruited from: Calder Cannons
Projected draft range: 15-45
Plays like: Jy Simpkin
September ranking: 13
Rationale: With one of the strongest closes to the NAB League season, the only question is what Taylor could have produced had the season extended longer. One of the most productive and complete midfielders in this draft, Taylor ended his NAB League campaign with 37 disposals, 22 contested possessions and 11 clearances in a 10-point win against Murray. Taylor's drop can be attributed to the rise of others.
Strengths:
Production
Precise and damaging kick
Vision to hit meaningful targets around the ground and inside 50m
Decision making under pressure
Distribution by hand
Composure with ball in hand
Speed
Agility
Evasion
Inside/outside midfield balance
Contested ball winning
Weaknesses:
Limited scoreboard impact
Unclear forward capabilities
Lack of height and size

15. Josh Rachele
Best position:
Utility
Height, weight: 180cm, 78kg
Recruited from: Murray Bushrangers
Projected draft range: 5-20
Plays like: Alan Didak
September ranking: 16
Rationale: Possessing the versatility to play through the midfield, win first possession and hurt teams forward of centre by foot, there is a case to be made that Rachele while he hasn't had the opportunity could also set up play by foot from defence. Consideration around Rachele's potential scope to play in defence elevates Rachele's position on this draft board slightly.
Strengths:
Best in class level precision kick
Kicks placed out in front of targets to lead onto
Scoreboard impact
First possession winning at stoppages
Explosive speed
Agility
Forward pressure
Tackling
Aerial marking threat
Ground level craft
Versatility to impact games both as a forward and through the midfield
Possible versatility to play in defence
AFL ready-to-go game
Weaknesses:
Finds little easy outside ball
Endurance
Lack of consistency
Relatively limited progression since 2019

16. Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera
Best position:
Outside midfield/general defence
Height, weight: 188cm, 70kg
Recruited from: Glenelg
Projected draft range: 5-25
Plays like: Shane Edwards
September ranking: 15
Rationale: Spending most of the season in the SANFL Reserves and playing good football, Wanganeen-Milera has played a consistently exciting brand of football. His performances for South Australia against Western Australia have only elevated his draft stocks, although with others improving, Wanganeen-Milera even with his strong play moves down one spot.
Strengths:
Agility
Evasion
Creates time and space with ball in hand
Composure with ball in hand
Precision kicking
Decision making
Vision
Versatility to play outside or in defence
Impact per possession
Performances on the board
Weaknesses:
Lack of size or strength
Contested ball winning

17. Mitch Knevitt
Best position:
Inside midfield
Height, weight: 194cm, 83kg
Recruited from: Geelong Falcons
Projected draft range: 10-35
Plays like: Patrick Cripps
September ranking: Outside-20
Rationale: A tall, strong bodied midfielder, Knevitt was one of Vic Country's stars in their challenge match against Vic Metro. His second half to the NAB League season was also excellent and elevated his position on draft boards. In re-assessing his rate of improvement there is a good deal of scope for his game to translate to AFL level if his midfield craft and ball winning capabilities continues to improve.
Strengths:
Strength to stand up through tackles
Distribution by hand
Tackling
Pressure applied to the ball carrier
High work rate
Overhead marking
Contested marking
Contested ball winning
Versatility
Weaknesses:
Lack of consistency or hurt factor by foot
Relatively low impact per possession

18. Ben Hobbs
Best position:
Inside midfield
Height, weight: 183cm, 80kg
Recruited from: Greater Western Victoria
Projected draft range: 3-15
Plays like: Matt Crouch
September ranking: 19
Rationale: A dominant contested ball winner and tackler, Hobbs is one of the readiest to play midfielders in this draft. Lacking in the way of speed, athleticism and x-factor, Hobbs doesn't play the most exciting brand of football but is nonetheless effective and dependable. His improved position on this draft board comes off the back of reviewing his performance against Vic Metro. There is a high floor to Hobbs' game when compared to the other remaining midfielders as a safer and less speculative pick.
Strengths:
First possession winner at stoppages
Contested ball winning
Tackling
Distribution by hand
Scoreboard impact
Outside accumulation and involvement around the ground
Versatility to push forward as part of a large midfield rotation as required
Reading of the ball in flight
Overhead marking
Production
AFL ready-to-go game
Weaknesses:
A stationary ball winner who rarely wins the ball at speed or on the move
Limited time and space in traffic
Lack of speed
Lack of athleticism
Lack of agility
Low impact per possession

19. Jye Amiss
Best position:
Key forward
Height, weight: 195cm, 83kg
Recruited from: East Perth
Projected draft range: 5-25
Plays like: Jack Gunston
August ranking: Outside-20
Rationale: A late bloomer, Amiss has this year become the dominant goalkicker in the junior ranks, kicking a WAFL Colts competition high 51 goals from his 15 games and the highest across any of the junior competitions. The intrigue with Amiss is he's a late bloomer who has only this year played WAFL Colts. He has been living and training in Busselton, over 200km away from East Perth, and given this, the sense with Amiss is there is substantial untapped upside which in an AFL program will surface. While his finish to the season with no goals in his two WAFL Colts finals and two forgettable performances against South Australia isn't the way Amiss would have wanted to end his season, his goalkicking during the year and scope to develop will sell clubs on his prospects and earn him a spot inside the top-20.
Strengths:
Speed to create separation on the lead
Marking on the lead
Aerial marking
Contested marking
Set shot conversion
Clean at ground level
Late developer
Limited training opportunities to date suggest upside in an AFL setting
Weaknesses:
Unclear versatility
Contested ball winning
Struggles to get involved when the delivery isn't top notch
Lacks composure with ball in hand in general play

20. Josh Gibcus
Best position:
Key defence
Height, weight: 195cm, 84kg
Recruited from: Greater Western Victoria
Projected draft range: 10-20
Plays like: Liam Jones
September ranking: Outside-20
Rationale: On review of Gibcus' early season play where he was aggressive in flying for intercept marks, it's clear he has the capability to intercept to a good level and be an aerial marking threat in defence. With the intercepting and negating components to his game, there is a good deal of scope for Gibcus to develop.
Strengths:
Vertical and running vertical jump
Contested marking
Intercept marking
Reading of the ball in flight
One-on-one defence
Shutdown capabilities
Tackling
Weaknesses:
Low frequency of impact Intercepts infrequently when focused on locking down his direct opponent
Limited as a rebounder
Looks lost when asked to play forward