With the AFL Mid-season Draft set for June 1, ESPN's AFL draft expert Chris Doerre has run his eye over the top candidates vying for a spot on an AFL list.
With the immediate success Jai Newcombe and Sam Durham have enjoyed, the emergence of Ned Moyle for Gold Coast who is a ready-to-go ruckman with a big future ahead of him, and others earning AFL opportunities and in contention to establish themselves towards regular selection, the mid-season draft last year was an opportunity for clubs with good talent identification to secure long-term pieces and fill pressing list needs.
Each year mature age recruits are among the best drafted and the mid-season draft provides clubs the opportunity to secure the best few rather than letting them slip through to the National Draft at the end of the year.
1. Jai Culley
An overage forward and midfielder, the 193cm Culley has a case for being this draft's best kick, with his penetration, precision kick placement, vision, and the composure he shows with ball in hand. Culley is a weapon who takes strong contested marks, hits the scoreboard heavily, moves well, finds a lot of the football, and plays a high impact per possession game. Culley performed strongly in his first two rounds for Dandenong and was the standout in the Young Guns vs. Vic Metro game, kicking four first half goals, while managing game-highs of four score assists and two contested marks. If there were no mid-season draft, Culley would be worth a first-round selection at season's end.
2. Casey Voss
The son of Michael, Casey Voss was unlucky not to be drafted in 2021 after a breakout season where he earned a position in the SANFL Team of the Year and won Sturt's best and fairest. Continuing to improve over the first half of this season, Voss has arguably developed into the premier general defender outside the AFL and has impressed with averages of 23 disposals and 10.6 marks per game in the SANFL. Voss routinely negates the influence of his opponents while developing into one of the competition's premier interceptors and ball users from defence. A 22-year-old, Voss is a ready-to-go defender good enough to establish himself as a long-term piece at AFL level this season. Voss won the Fos Williams Medal for best-on-ground in the SANFL vs. WAFL match, after securing 29 disposals and 15 marks.
3. Wade Derksen
A late bloomer, Derksen has grown a ridiculous 12cm over the past two years and now stands at 197cm. The 20-year-old Derksen is emerging as one of the WAFL's premier key forwards and, alongside Fremantle 2021 first round choice Jye Amiss, has been impressive. Spending the past two seasons in the VFL and playing just one game with Essendon and another with Greater Western Sydney last year, Derksen has found a new level to his play this season and emerged as a draft prospect over the early rounds. A strong marking key forward, Derksen is a good leaper and fluid mover who hits the scoreboard and can provide relieving ruck minutes as needed.
4. Josh Carmichael
A 22-year-old midfielder, Carmichael has impressed in his first year in the SANFL and is coming off his first full pre-season of football. A strong-bodied midfielder who plays a high impact per possession game and can push forward and hit the scoreboard, Carmichael this year has averaged 24.6 disposals, five clearances and 1.1 goals per game. He is a strong ball winner who displays good hands inside, is a strong overhead mark and a penetrating, damaging field kick.
5. Bailey Rogers
It was a surprise to see Bailey Rogers overlooked after a season where he established himself as the premier midfielder outside the AFL, even winning the Sandover Medal. A classy ball-winning midfielder who is a difficult to stop goalkicking threat when utilised forward, Rogers is an instant plug and play piece and good enough to add value to any AFL midfield and forward rotation. Rogers is averaging 1.5 goals per game this season and kicked a game high three goals in the SANFL vs. WAFL clash.
6. Jake Florenca
A COVID fill-in for West Coast in their Round 8 AFL clash against Brisbane, Florenca stepped up and secured a team-high 13 contested possessions and an equal team-high seven tackles in a strong midfield display. The 25-year-old mid has enjoyed a breakout start to 2022, averaging 32.8 disposals, 6.6 tackles and 1.3 goals per game in the WAFL. Playing to a competition best standard over the past month, Florenca is a plug and play midfielder who can add much needed competitiveness and ball winning.
7. Hugo Hall-Kahan
Having a meaningful influence in each game he has appeared this season, Hall-Kahan has impacted the scoreboard heavily, headlined by hauls of five goals against Calder and four against Tasmania. Hall-Kahan has been a consistent, strong overhead marking threat. When he has pushed further afield, he has been a weapon with how he has taken on the game with ball in hand and broken the lines at great speed. Hall-Kahan routinely lowers his eyes on entry kicks inside 50m, with his kicking and vision further highlights. While Hall-Kahan plays forward, with the way he takes on the game, hits meaningful targets by foot and how strong he is overhead, he could become an even more damaging footballer if switched to defence.
8. Massimo D'Ambrossio
A rebounding defender, D'Ambrossio is one of the premier kicks from defence outside the AFL. He possesses a desirable mix of penetration on his kick, vision and precise kick placement. As well as having the kick, he takes on the game with his speed, often breaking the lines and displaying the evasion to weave through traffic with ease. Importantly for a small defender of just 178cm, he plays taller than his height, with the strength to compete one-on-one and the leap, strong hands overhead and ball reading capabilities to be an intercept marking threat.
9. Jacob Bauer
Former Sydney Academy prospect Jacob Bauer has been one of the breakout players in 2022 and has developed rapidly over the past 12 months. Kicking 15 goals and taking 10 contested marks in his five SANFL league games, Bauer has been influential as a medium marking forward and hasn't needed a lot of the ball to influence games heavily. A strong aerial marking threat and natural reader of the ball in flight, Bauer has the scope to be a marking force at either end of the field.
10. Mitch O'Neill
Rookie listed by West Coast in 2019 and delisted in 2020, Mitch O'Neill is looking like he may have been a premature delisting. With a strong 2021 SANFL season, O'Neill has reached another level this year with averages of 29.8 disposals, 6.3 inside 50s and 5.7 clearances through his first six matches. A skilful midfielder with versatility and an impressive inside/outside balance, O'Neill has developed the contested side to his game and has become a more complete footballer.