ESPN.com.au's expert Chris Doerre has revealed his AFL Draft Power Rankings for the month of September. Every month, Doerre will assess player formlines and growth both physically and in footy traits to determine a ranking of the upcoming draft's strongest candidates.
1. Will Ashcroft (Victoria Metro - Sandringham Dragons)
A Brisbane father-son eligible prospect and the son of Marcus, Will Ashcroft is the most advanced, productive and competitive midfielder in this draft class.
What makes Will such an impressive midfielder is his combination of first possession winning at stoppages, distribution by hand, inside/outside balance, how he is always on the move at high-speed and driving the football forward with speed. While Will is the most extreme high production prospect to come through the junior ranks, it is the frequency of 5-15 metre bursts at speed after winning or receiving the football before disposing that catches the eye and routinely sees him break games open. After disposing of the football, Ashcroft continues to run in support, not giving up on the play and providing his side the outnumber on numerous forward forays.
The key with Ashcroft that gives him separation from the other midfielders in this draft is not just his top of draft level production, but also the frequency of moments he impacts games. Throughout the Under-18 Championships, he has been the star with averages of 33 disposals, 15 contested possessions and 10 clearances across his three games. In the NAB League, he amassed ridiculous season highs of 51 disposals, 27 contested possessions and 14 clearances for Sandringham against Western in Round 10. While in the VFL for Brisbane, he averaged 29.3 disposals, seven tackles and five clearances.
He holds top spot as his likely immediate impact far exceeds the rest of the draft pool and his floor being the highest in this draft.
August Ranking: 1
2. Mattaes Phillipou (South Australia - Woodville-West-Torrens)
The son of Sam, Mattaes is a 192cm, dual position impact player who is arguably this year's most damaging prospect through the midfield and up forward.
As a forward, Phillipou hits the scoreboard at will, sets up teammates inside 50m with precise entry kicks, is a strong overhead mark, powerful ground ball winner and uses his pace to create meaningful separation on the lead and kick goals on the burst. Through the midfield, Phillipou is a strong contested ball winner who regularly wins first possession at stoppages and displays a burst of speed and class with ball in hand. Phillipou's most influential performance this year came for South Australia during the Under-18 Championships against the Allies where he amassed 24 disposals, 17 contested possessions, six marks (one contested), five clearances, two goals and two score assists. The same dominant football was played by Phillipou against Victoria Metro where Phillipou was the most influential player early and amassed nine disposals in the first 15 minutes of play before leaving the field under serious duress and requiring treatment on his lower back.
Phillipou is more than an Under-18 Championships star with averages of 33 disposals, 8.25 inside 50s and 3.25 shots on goal over his past four SANFL Under-18 matches and in his most recent SANFL Reserves match kicked a game high three goals. With a December 27th birthday, Phillipou qualifies for this year's draft. With his performances on the board, mix of attributes, influence on games across multiple positions, rapid rate of improvement and very late year birthday, Phillipou arguably possesses the highest ceiling in this year's draft.
Unlikely to be picked inside the top five on draft day, Phillipou at No. 2 is a decision unique to this draft board.
August Ranking: 2
3. George Wardlaw (Victoria Metro - Oakleigh Chargers)
A contested beast who does his best work at stoppages, Wardlaw is a powerful first possession winner who displays the strength to absorb opposition tackles, fend off opponents and burst out of stoppages.
Wardlaw is an impressive distributor at stoppages who routinely finds targets on the outside by hand. Defensively, Wardlaw is this draft's most impressive with the pressure he applies, strength of his tackles and effort and desperation he plays with setting him apart. In the AFL Academy vs. Collingwood game, Wardlaw secured a team high 15 contested possessions to go with eight tackles, in a game where he was the AFL Academy's standout performer in the second half.
Unfortunately, after some strong early season play, Wardlaw has missed most of the year, including the Under-18 Championships, with a hamstring injury.
August Ranking: 3
4. Elijah Tsatas (Victoria Metro - Oakleigh Chargers)
Emerging as the premier loose ball winner in this draft, Tsatas is routinely first to the ball and takes the ball on the move at speed.
Averaging 33.8 disposals, 12.2 contested possessions, 8.2 inside 50s and 2.7 score assists in the NAB League, Tsatas is one of the most prolific accumulators, but also one of the competition's most damaging. Tsatas has an established reputation for the ease and speed with which he breaks the lines with his run and evasion of opponents on the move. When given space on the outside, Tsatas is a damaging ball user and places his kicks out in front of inside 50m targets to run onto while inside 50m has proven dangerous when the ball hits the ground and finishing around goal.
Due to a foot injury, Tsatas has missed a large portion of the season, including Victoria Metro's first three Under-18 Championships matches. However, he has not missed a beat since returning from injury and will enjoy appearing for Victoria Metro in their clash with Victoria Country later in the month.
August Ranking: 4
5. Harry Sheezel (Victoria Metro - Sandringham Dragons)
Victoria's most damaging and clever forward in this year's draft, Sheezel is both a contested marking and ground level threat inside 50m. Finding and winning a good amount of football for a forward, Sheezel is a one-touch forward who seemingly always keeps his feet and creates more time and space for himself.
Demonstrating rare goal sense, Sheezel only needs half a look before he can quickly get boot to ball and finish. He is as good as any in this draft at setting up teammates inside 50m with his vision and sweet kicking allowing him to regularly spot up and hit targets. Sheezel's set shot goalkicking routine is textbook, with a straight run up and follow through, allowing Sheezel to make difficult set shots from impossible angles look simple. As a marking target inside 50m, Sheezel reads the drop of the ball exceptionally well and with great bodywork often takes one-on-one marks forward of centre.
While Sheezel is an established front half difference maker, he is also influential when used through the midfield. When utilised as a midfielder, Sheezel can be relied upon to win first possession at stoppages while displaying classy ball use and deceptive agility with his sudden changes of speed often catching out opponents. A genuine dual-position difference maker, Sheezel on his day can get as hot as anyone in the junior ranks. In the NAB League, Sheezel has enjoyed at his best dominating performances including six goals and six score assists against Tasmania, 37 disposals and 19 contested possessions against Northern and 33 disposals and three goals against Western.
August Ranking: 5
6. Aaron Cadman (Victoria Country - Greater Western Victoria Rebels)
Establishing himself as the premier key forward in the junior ranks during the Under-18 Championships, Cadman separates himself from the pack with the variety of ways he impacts games and takes advantage of rival key defenders.
Cadman is a powerful contested mark, creates separation at will on the lead, is dangerous at ground level and wins the ball when it is there to be won. He works hard up the field to provide an option, hits the scoreboard to a high level and sets up teammates inside 50m with precise passes.
A strong-bodied key forward, Cadman kicked seven goals, seven behinds and took five contested marks across his three Under-18 Championships games so far. Cadman's confidence has only continued to grow over the second half of the season with NAB League averages of 20 disposals, 11.2 contested possessions, 6.2 marks (two contested) and 3.2 goals over his last five games for Greater Western Victoria.
August Ranking: 6
7. Jhye Clark (Victoria Country - Geelong Falcons)
A strong ball-winning midfielder, Clark is one of the most complete midfielders in this draft. At 180cm Clark plays taller than his height and is not only adept winning the contested ball but is also a good overhead mark. Clark plays with a competitive edge and shows courage, routinely puts his body on the line and never takes a backwards step when the ball is there to be won.
Clark displays a promising inside/outside midfield balance with the ball winning and tackling on the inside, but then the composure, tidy skills, high work rate and outside run. While mostly used as a midfielder this year, he looks equally adept as a forward. Overhead, Clark is a weapon, because he can not only take marks fully extended, but he is a high leaper who provides an aerial marking threat, when engaged one-on-one uses his body well and uses his superior reading of the ball in flight to position himself at the drop of the ball.
At ground level, Clark is an effective crumber as a one touch ground ball winner who reads the play well and knows when to position himself front and centre. Clark played his best football during the Under-18 Championships with averages of 24.7 disposals, nine marks and two score assists across his three matches so far.
August Ranking: 11
8. Jedd Busslinger (Western Australia - East Perth)
The leading key defender in this year's draft class, Busslinger is an elite intercept mark with his early read of the ball in flight who attack on the ball aerially plucks the ball out of the air. With ball in hand Busslinger is a composed and reliable ball user while defensively he is competitive and able to curb the influence of his direct opponent.
The 197cm key defender averaged 23.8 disposals and eight marks in the WAFL Colts this year and 22 disposals and seven marks in his two Under-18 Championships games before deciding to undergo season ending shoulder surgery.
August Ranking: 7
9. Cameron Mackenzie (Victoria Metro - Sandringham Dragons)
Even thought he's a St Kilda Next-Generation Academy midfielder, the Saints will not have first access to Mackenzie if a bid comes inside the top-40.
One of the most complete, balanced and damaging midfielders in this draft, Mackenzie has been the beneficiary of the absence of projected top-5 draft choices George Wardlaw and Elijah Tsatas from Victoria Metro in their first three Under-18 Championships matches. Mackenzie's first two games were his best, amassing 28 disposals, 13 contested possessions, six inside 50s and two score assists against the Allies, and 28 disposals, five clearances and one goal the next week against Western Australia.
A balanced, well-rounded, and consistent midfielder, while Mackenzie is a strong contested ball winner and wins his share of first possession at stoppages, he has spent much of his year on the receiving end of Ashcroft's distribution by hand. Mackenzie displays speed, agility and evasion, often receiving on the move at speed and weaving through traffic. With time and space, Mackenzie is one of the most damaging by foot of this year's top end midfielders, with his kick placement out in front of targets one of his greatest weapons.
August Ranking: 12
10. Bailey Humphrey (Victoria Country - Gippsland Power)
A dual position impact player, Humphrey impacts games both as a forward and through the midfield.
As a forward, Humphrey is a contested marking force who uses his body exceptionally well one-on-one and displays a superior ability to read the drop of the ball. At ground level, Humphrey is a one-touch ball winner who is strong over the ball and provides heavy scoreboard impact.
Through the midfield, Humphrey is a powerful contested ball winner who distributes effectively by hand, breaks tackles at will and displays the strength to stand up through tackles and effectively dispose of the football.
Humphrey's most outstanding performance this year was his 31 disposal, 14 contested possession, 12 mark (four contested), four goal, five behind and two score assist performance for Gippsland on return from knee surgery against Northern. While Humphrey missed Victoria Country's first three Under-18 Championships games, he will enjoy the opportunity to appear against Victoria Metro later in the month.
August Ranking: 8
11. Henry Hustwaite (Victoria Country - Dandenong Stingrays)
The younger brother of Collingwood VFL co-captain Campbell, Henry Hustwaite is a 194cm ball-winning midfielder and one of the premier contested ball winning forces at stoppages in the junior ranks.
Hustwaite also looms as a reliable inside distributor who demonstrates composure in traffic. While he plays his best football through the midfield, he possesses the versatility to play as a key position player and can take some strong contested marks.
In a breakout performance for Victoria Country in their win against the Allies, Hustwaite amassed 29 disposals and team highs of 13 contested possessions and six clearances. Henry has since continued his progress in the NAB League for Dandenong with 29 disposals, 17 contested possessions and nine clearances against Eastern, and 27 disposals, 17 contested possessions and 11 clearances against Gippsland.
Hustwaite's upside is substantial as a rapid improver who is benefitting from a late growth spurt.
August Ranking: 9
12. Elijah Hewett (Western Australia - Swan Districts)
Hewett is a strong contested ball-winning mid whose power when exiting stoppages is notable.
With good speed, agility and evasion, Hewett is at his most damaging at speed either winning loose balls one-touch on the move at speed, or receiving on the move. Hewett displays damaging skills by foot whether he is locating and hitting inside 50 targets or finishing around goal himself, particularly when given time and space with ball in hand. He has also shown that he can be an aerial threat, taking some high-flying marks this season.
A big game player who routinely stars on the big stage, Hewett was arguably the Swan Districts most influential in their WAFL Colts premiership triumph against Claremont in 2021, and best afield the following week for Western Australia against South Australia. His best performance this year came during the Under-18 Championships for Western Australia against Championships favourite Victoria Metro, with game highs of 29 disposals, 11 inside 50s, five score assists, a team high five clearances and an equal team high of two goals. Spending all but one game this season in the WAFL against League opposition, Hewett has grown in confidence over the course of the season and has kicked one goal in each of his past four matches.
August Ranking: 10
13. Oliver Hollands (Victoria Country - Murray Bushrangers)
The younger brother of Gold Coast's Elijah, Oliver Hollands is one of the elite endurance athletes and two-way runners in this year's draft.
A midfielder with a balanced inside/outside game, Hollands can push through the midfield and win his own ball and is regularly first to the ball when there is a loose ball to be won. He pressures the ball carrier relentlessly and tackles aggressively and is damaging receiving on the move at speed, gaining valuable metres with his run.
Hollands is a composed and classy user of the football by hand and foot who creates time and space for himself in traffic and covers substantial ground over the course of a game, regularly presenting up at the football and providing overlap run.
Putting forward a best afield display for Victoria Country in their Under-18 Championships match against Western Australia, Hollands enjoyed his best game this year, amassing a game high 34 disposals, to go with 11 contested possessions and seven marks.
August Ranking: 17
14. Lewis Hayes (Victoria Metro - Eastern Ranges)
The younger brother of Port Adelaide's Sam, Lewis Hayes is a key defender who involves himself regularly as a rebounding defender and demonstrates neat and tidy skills for someone his height.
Standing at 197cm, Hayes is an excellent intercept mark and very mobile for someone his height. While still lightly built, Hayes has over the course of the season improved his one-on-one craft, which as he continues to get stronger should continue to develop.
Given his uncommon capabilities for someone his height and age, demonstrating a rapid rate of improvement and having a December birthday, Hayes possesses considerable upside. His progress so far this season has been promising with his involvement as an intercepter, rebounder and in general play improving by the week.
Hayes averaged 15.7 disposals, 5 marks (one contested) and 5.3 rebound 50s for Victoria Metro over their three Under-18 Championships matches so far. In the NAB League, Hayes' most impressive performances came for Eastern against Sandringham where he amassed 26 marks, 11 marks (one contested) and nine rebound 50s, while against Dandenong Lewis secured a whopping 30 disposals. At this stage, Hayes is not viewed as a consensus first-round pick with his placement at 14 currently unique to this draft board.
August Ranking: 13
15. Casey Voss (South Australia - Sturt)
Last year, the son of Michael, Casey Voss earned a position in the SANFL Team of the Year, won Sturt's Best and Fairest, and this year won the Fos Williams Medal for best-on-ground in the annual SANFL vs. WAFL match.
Still just a 21-year-old, Voss has developed into the premier general defender outside the AFL and has impressed with averages of 23.8 disposals, 8.8 marks and one contested mark in the SANFL. Voss also secured 29 disposals and 15 marks in this year's SANFL vs. WAFL match.
A consistent year on year improver, Voss possesses a ready-to-go and well-rounded game with how he intercepts behind the ball, generates drive by foot and restricts the influence of his direct opponent. Voss displays a combination of competitiveness and smarts in defence seen in only the very best by position.
Voss' top-20 position on this draft board is based on the view that he is an any AFL club best-22 calibre piece with the decision of AFL clubs to pass on Voss last year and against during the Mid-Season Draft no deterrent to this ranking.
August Ranking: 14
16. Alwyn Davey Junior (Victoria Metro - Oakleigh Chargers)
The son of the former Essendon forward Alwyn Davey, Junior is a father-son eligible prospect for the Bombers.
Davey Junior possesses many of the gifts his father did. He displays blistering speed and agility with ball in hand, evasion, freakish ground level craft, the capacity to make special things happen with the ball and apply manic forward pressure and second and third efforts.
Taller than his father at 181cm, Davey Junior is equally adept playing forward and through the midfield. Davey Junior is often found at stoppages in prime position to win first possession and is an expert reader of ruck taps. He is also dangerous when there is a loose ball to be won, uses the football with class and precision and covers a good amount of ground.
A two-way impact player who has played some of his best football on the big stage, Davey played his best game this year for Victoria Metro against Western Australia during the Under-18 Championships, securing 19 disposals, five inside 50s, two goals and three score assists.
August Ranking: Outside-20
17. Olli Hotton (Victoria Metro - Sandringham Dragons)
The son of former Collingwood and Carlton key forward Trent Hotton, is a talented forward despite a 181cm frame.
A speedy and high leaping forward, Hotton is talented both aerially and as a ground level threat inside 50m. Up forward he can play taller than his height due to not just his leap but strong overhead marking, smart bodywork, one-on-one strength, and early reading of the drop of the ball. Hottom is also a lively ground ball winner inside 50m and displays excellent instincts around goal, needing little more than a small glimpse before he can swiftly get the ball onto his boot and finish.
While best known for his work as a forward, Hotton displays the versatility to play through the midfield and in defence. As a midfielder, he wins first possession at stoppages and is often found winning or receiving the ball on the move. His ball use by foot is exceptional with the vision he displays and the smart, well-placed kicks for forward 50m targets to lead onto. While in defence, Hotton is just as capable, displaying a great balance between intercepting, sound one-on-one defence and generating drive from defence with his run and work by foot.
Much like most of the Victorian contingent, Hotton has improved over the course of the season and bolted up draft boards on the back of a strong Under-18 Championships, highlighted by 24 disposals, 10 contested possessions, six inside 50m and three goals for Victoria Metro against South Australia.
August Ranking: Outside-20
18. Mitch Szybkowski (Victoria Country - Dandenong Stingrays)
A strong ball winning midfielder, Szybkowski is one of this draft's premier inside distributors with his work by hand, vision in traffic and the ease with which he frees his arms when tackled to set up teammates by hand.
Possessing good speed, Szybkowski spreads well from stoppages, covers a lot of ground, displays good speed and agility and, when given the time and space, places his kicks accurately out in front of targets to lead onto inside 50m. A balanced midfielder, Szybkowski while most influential at stoppages finds a good amount of ball on the outside and applies himself defensively.
Szybkowski has been one of Victoria Country's better midfielders over their three games with averages of 26.7 disposals, six marks and two score assists.
August Ranking: 16
19. Reuben Ginbey (Western Australia - East Perth)
After spending the beginning of the season in the WAFL season against League opposition as a defender, Ginbey has found his best position as a ball winning midfielder for Western Australia during the Under-18 Championships.
Western Australia's most consistent and influential performer, Ginbey was awarded Western Australia's MVP during the Under-18 Championships. Around stoppages, Ginbey is a strong contested ball winner with a powerful build who distributes effectively by hand. He displays power and acceleration away from stoppages and the strength to stand up through and break tackles. Ginbey works hard around the ground and is at his best when there is a ground ball to be won.
Averaging 20.75 disposals during the Under-18 Championships there was negligible separation between his best and worst game, with a low of 18 disposals across his four matches.
August Ranking: 20
20. Isaac Keeler (South Australia - North Adelaide)
Despite being a part of Adelaide's Next-Generation Academy, the Crows will not have first access to Keeler if a bid is placed on him inside the top-40.
Keeler is one of 2022's most exciting and freakish key forwards and can also as required play through the ruck. Playing a high impact per possession game, Keeler is a high leaping, smooth moving, and agile athlete at 198cm who pushes high up the field, displays impressive one-touch cleanness at ground level and plays an unusually instinctive game for a tall.
After a slower than expected start to the season, Keeler was one of South Australia's strongest performers during the Under-18 Championships, headlined by averages of 13 disposals, 7.5 contested possessions and two goals across his first two games. His SANFL Under-18s form has also been strong with five games of 20+ disposal performances and four games with two or more goals kicked from his last eight matches.
August Ranking: Outside-20