AFL Mid-season Draft review for 2022 - Biggest hits and hard luck stories

The AFL mid-season draft is done and dusted for another year. How did your club fare? ESPN's draft expert breaks it all down.

How good is West Coast's No. 1 pick Jai Culley?

If there was no mid-season draft and Culley was in the end-of-year national draft pool alongside this year's best young talent, he likely would have featured in the latter half of the first round or somewhere in the second round.

Culley has only played three games this season, with two commanding performances during the opening two rounds of the NAB League season for the Dandenong Stingrays and a dominant performance in the Vic Metro vs. Young Guns game. In that latter clash, Culley took over the game in the first half for the Young Guns, kicking all four of his goals before half time.

An overage, dual position impact player, who is just as good up forward as he is through the midfield, the 193cm midfielder 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 and wins a lot of the football, and plays a high impact per possession game.

Culley may receive AFL opportunities this year if West Coast need to dig deep down their depth stocks, or possibly towards the end of the year and once acclimatised, receive a stretch of senior games, but ultimately there should be no expectation of immediate performance.

Ultimately what must be understood is Culley is no older than last year's draft picks and will be joining a new club, will need to learn new structures and will need to develop chemistry with teammates before he can become an effective and consistent contributor. Most likely it will be in season 2023 that Culley will be working towards establishing himself as a regular best-22 piece at AFL level.

Biggest hits

Other than the obvious pick in Jai Culley who most analysts agree was the best player available in the mid-season draft, Josh Carmichael and Wade Derksen are the two other selections with significant upside.

An unexpected slider, Carmichael was a strong selection by Collingwood and can add to their young midfield core. A 22-year-old ball-winner, Carmichael has impressed in his first year in the SANFL and is coming off his first full preseason of football.

A strong bodied midfielder who plays a high impact per possession game and can push forward and hit the scoreboard, Carmichael has this year averaged 24.6 disposals, five clearances and 1.1 goals per game for West Adelaide. He is a powerful accumulator who displays clean hands inside, is a strong overhead mark and a penetrating and damaging field kick.

A late bloomer, new GWS key forward Derksen has grown a ridiculous 12cm over the past two years and now stands at 197cm. The 20-year-old spent the past two seasons in the VFL and played just one game with Essendon and another with the Giants last year. Derksen has found a new level to his play this season which has been the catalyst behind his selection. A strong marking key forward, Derksen is a high leaper and fluid mover who hits the scoreboard and can provide relieving ruck minutes if needed.

Best plug-and-play options

Former Western Bulldog and the 78th and final draft pick from the 2018 national draft, Will Hayes has been the standout for Carlton's VFL side and one of the VFL's best over the first half of 2022.

Averaging 33 disposals and one goal per game, Hayes has elevated his game to a new level. Given his understanding of Carlton's structures, familiarity with their coaches and playing group, his transition should be the simplest of all those drafted. Hayes with his versatility to play inside or outside midfield gives the Blues options and flexibility with how he can be best utilised.

With 38 disposals and four goals for Glenelg in their win against Adelaide in the SANFL, there is no doubt that Brett Turner caught the attention of Adelaide's recruiters and has been rewarded with an AFL list spot accordingly.

With Turner, the Crows have secured a strong bodied, one-touch ball winning midfielder who tackles aggressively, is a strong mark and can push forward and hit the scoreboard. Turner is not normally a high-volume accumulator, averaging just 24.3 disposals per game, nonetheless, with his weapons and importantly in an Adelaide context, size, he presents a much-needed point of difference and can contend for senior games this season.

Turner has not played since Round 4 due to a foot injury but is currently training well and should return to match play over the next few weeks.

Hard-luck stories

The two hard luck stories for the 2022 mid-season draft were Jake Florenca and Casey Voss. It seemed logical leading into the draft that Florenca would join West Coast with their second-round pick following his success on debut for the Eagles at AFL level as a COVID call up.

Arguably even more surprising was North Melbourne's decision to pass on Voss in the second round. Voss won the Fos Williams Medal for best afield in the SANFL vs. WAFL state game and stood out as not just the best general defender outside the AFL but as someone good enough to earn and maintain a long term best-22 position for the Roos.

Clubs drafting for potential over performance

When state league stars in the calibre of Voss, Florenca, 2021 Sandover medallist Bailey Rogers, former Gold Coast midfielder Jacob Dawson and former GWS Giants ruckman Tom Downie are overlooked, it is obvious that clubs are not using their mid-season draft picks with a purpose of securing the best talent outside the AFL.

Although the likes of Hayes, Turner and Sam Durdin were drafted purposely as ready-to-go pieces who can fill an immediate list need, the rest of the draft pool was selected based on a greater degree on who clubs hope they can one day become. Given this dynamic, a high proportion of those selected are likely to be misses, as improvement is never assured.

The hope would be that given the rapid improvement and points of difference many of the draftees possess, they will continue to improve and develop into long term best-22 pieces.

Mid-season draft order:

1. West Coast - Jai Culley (Dandenong Stingrays - NAB League)

2. North Melbourne - Kallan Dawson (Williamstown - VFL)

3. Essendon - Massimo D'Ambrosio (Western Jets - NAB League)

4. Adelaide - Brett Turner (Glenelg - SANFL)

5. GWS - Wade Derksen (Peel Thunder - WAFL)

6. Hawthorn - Max Ramsden (Sandringham Dragons - NAB League)

7. Gold Coast - Oskar Faulkhead (Bendigo Pioneers - NAB League)

8. Port Adelaide - Brynn Teakle (East Fremantle - WAFL)

9. Collingwood - Josh Carmichael (West Adelaide - SANFL)

10. Richmond - Jacob Bauer (North Adelaide - SANFL)

11. Sydney - Hugo Hall-Kahan (Sandringham Dragons - NAB League)

12. Geelong - Zane Williams (Woodville-West Torrens - SANFL)

13. Carlton - Sam Durdin (Glenelg - SANFL)

14. St Kilda - pass

15. Fremantle - Sebit Kuek (East Perth - WAFL)

16. West Coast - pass

17. North Melbourne - pass

18. Essendon - Jye Menzie (South Adelaide - SANFL)

19. Adelaide - pass

20. Hawthorn - James Blanck (Box Hill Hawks - VFL)

21. Collingwood - pass

22. Carlton - Will Hayes (Carlton - VFL)

23. Fremantle - pass