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2022 AFL draft: ESPN's first round analysis

Throughout 2022, ESPN's AFL draft expert Chris Doerre has cast his eye over the country's best junior footballers to give readers an early insight into the next generation of AFL stars.

Doerre has pored through endless hours of match vision from this season, analysed the stats and talked to industry sources to ensure he can offer the most insightful draft analysis.

This is his analysis from Monday night's first round of the draft, including every pick and every trade that was made.


Pick 1, Greater Western Sydney: Aaron Cadman

Recruited from: Greater Western Victoria Rebels (VIC)

Doerre Power Rankings: 3

Likely role: Key forward - number one option inside 50m (once fully developed). In his early years Cadman will be a third avenue to goal aside from Toby Greene and Jesse Hogan.

Readiness and likelihood to play: Cadman can appear in 2023 and will be working to become a regular best-22 piece by end of season. It should be noted with key forwards, very rarely are they effective in year one, with even the great ones usually taking three or four years until they're physically and as footballers able to consistently play a high calibre brand of football.

What you should know: The premier key forward in this year's draft, Cadman has demonstrated rapid improvement and has separated himself from the pack with the variety of ways he impacts games and takes advantage of rival key defenders. Cadman is a strong contested mark, creates separation on the lead, is powerful over ground balls, dangerous close to goal, and adept when pushing further afield.

Pick 2, Brisbane: Will Ashcroft (father-son - matching North Melbourne's bid)

Recruited from: Sandringham Dragons (VIC)

Doerre Power Rankings: 1

Likely role: Inside midfielder - first possession winner at stoppages who balances explosive bursts from the contest and distribution by hand. With Brisbane's star-studded midfield containing Lachie Neale, Josh Dunkley and Jarryd Lyons on the condition that he comes close to recapturing his 2021 play, while Ashcroft plays his best football at stoppages, he will next season need to also spend some time across half-forward and pushing up onto a wing for rotational purposes.

Readiness and likelihood to play: Ashcroft is round one ready and other than injuries or a one-off rest game to keep him fresh, Ashcroft should be expected in year one to play 22+ games.

What you should know: Will, the son of Brisbane great Marcus, is a Round 1-ready midfielder who requires no time to develop. Will has dominated against all competition, headlined by his average of 29.3 disposals, 7.3 tackles and five clearances for Brisbane in the VFL and the Larke Medal for the best player during the Under-18 Championships. Will stands out with the volume of his contested ball winning and the frequency with which he bursts 5-15 metres out of stoppages.

Pick 3, North Melbourne: Harry Sheezel

Recruited from: Sandringham Dragons (VIC)

Doerre Power Rankings: 4

Likely role: 70/30 forward/midfielder - goalkicking and playmaking medium forward who rotates through the midfield to win the ball and add class around stoppages. While a split of midfield minutes should be expected over time from Sheezel he may spend all of his first season up forward with that being where North Melbourne will need him most.

Readiness and likelihood to play: Sheezel will put up his hand for round one selection and should receive regular senior opportunities.

What you should know: One of this year's premier forwards, Sheezel demonstrates goal sense, sets up teammates forward of centre, takes contested marks, and is also a ground level threat inside 50. Also effective through the midfield, Sheezel wins first possession at stoppages, displays classy ball use and his deceptive agility and change of pace often catches opponents off guard.

Pick 4, North Melbourne: George Wardlaw

Recruited from: Oakleigh Chargers (VIC)

Doerre Power Rankings: 5

Likely role: Inside midfielder - defensively oriented with a high proportion of ball won at the coalface with a balance of moments where he distributes by hand and takes on games with his power.

Readiness and likelihood to play: Wardlaw hamstrings permitting should receive early opportunities next season for North Melbourne and should establish himself as a regular by seasons end. He certainly had no difficulty when he was the AFL Academy's best earlier in the year against Collingwood's VFL side.

What you should know: Wardlaw is a contested beast who does his best work at stoppages. A powerful first possession winner, Wardlaw absorbs and fends off opposition tacklers with ease. He is a reliable distributor by hand from stoppages and defensively displays an unmatched level of commitment and effort, which sets him apart.

Pick 5, Essendon: Elijah Tsatas

Doerre Power Rankings: 10

Recruited from: Oakleigh Chargers (VIC)

Likely role: Outside midfielder - high volume wing accumulator who will also spend time on the ball and up forward.

Readiness and likelihood to play: Season one opportunities will be the expectation for Tsatas and the hope will be a regular best-22 position by the end of the season.

What you should know: The premier loose ball-winning midfielder in this draft, Tsatas is routinely first to the ball and wins it on the move at speed. A balanced midfielder who can play inside or outside, Tsatas has an established reputation as an extremely high-volume accumulator and is at his best when he uses his pace to breaks the lines, with his acceleration and evasion of opponents on the move a highlight.

Pick 6, Gold Coast: Bailey Humphrey

Doerre Power Rankings: 6

Recruited from: Gippsland Power (VIC)

Likely role: 70/30 forward/midfielder - medium marking and goalkicking forward who will rotate through the midfield as a powerful ball winner and inside distributor. It should be expected in Humphrey's early years that he is used exclusively as a forward.

Readiness and likelihood to play: Season one opportunities will be the expectation from Humphrey and the hope will be that he can establish himself as a regular best-22 piece by season's end.

What you should know: After missing Victoria Country's first three Under-18 Championships matches due to knee surgery, Humprey starred since returning and established himself as one of this year's most damaging dual position impact players. Up forward, Humphrey is a contested marking force and strong over ground balls while through the midfield he is a powerful contested ball winner with the strength to break tackles as well.

Pick 7, Hawthorn: Cameron Mackenzie

Doerre Power Rankings: 9

Recruited from: Sandringham Dragons (VIC)

Likely role: Inside midfield - balanced ball winner and receiver who will attack the ball, win it and distribute when he can and when a teammate is better positioned will be speeding into space to be open to receive and break games open with his speed and kicking. Occasional outside stints and minutes on a flank are likely for rotational purposes.

Readiness and likelihood to play: Round 1 midfield and regular best-22 opportunities should be on Mackenzie's radar given Hawthorn's inexperienced and still developing midfield and standing as one of this year's most advanced and mature midfielders.

What you should know: A balanced and well-rounded midfielder, Mackenzie is a strong contested ball winner and is equally adept receiving the ball on the move at stoppages, where he displays quickness and evasion. He also hurts the opposition by foot by placing his kicks out in front of his targets to lead onto. St Kilda missed out on Mackenzie who was part of their next-generation academy due to the updated rules that only allow prospects bid on after pick 40 to be matched.

Pick 8, Geelong: Jhye Clark

Doerre Power Rankings: 8

Recruited from: Geelong Falcons (VIC)

Likely role: Inside midfield - balanced inside extractor who also works hard defensively and rotates forward as a small marking target.

Readiness and likelihood to play: A round one ready midfielder but will likely need to work his way through the VFL first to earn regular games in last year's premiership team. A stretch of senior games for Clark would be a great outcome though breaking into Geelong's best-22 cannot be ruled out based on how advanced his two-way game is.

What you should know: Playing taller than his height, Clark is not only adept winning the contested ball through the midfield but is also a strong overhead mark who can push forward and provide a target. Winning the Victoria Country MVP during the Under-18 Championships, Clark is a complete midfielder who displays a promising inside/outside midfield balance by winning the football and tackling on the inside, while his composure, tidy skills, and high work rate on the outside are notable. Clark at 8 is the earliest selection Geelong have had since Joel Selwood at pick 7 in 2006.

Pick 9, West Coast: Reuben Ginbey

Doerre Power Rankings: 11

Recruited from: East Perth (WA)

Likely role: Inside midfield - inside extractor who will burst out of contests with power but also display a defensive balance and lay some strong tackles.

Readiness and likelihood to play: Has an AFL size body but will likely need one year to develop before he finds enough of the football at AFL level to be effective. With West Coast motivated to introduce youth to the top level, Ginbey is likely to receive several stretches of games in season one.

What you should know: A tall, big-bodied, ball-winning midfielder with power and acceleration away from stoppages, Ginbey won the Western Australian MVP during the Under-18 Championships. Growing 12cm and gaining 15kg over the past two years, Ginbey is a consistent performer with a powerful build. Distributing effectively by hand, he also possesses the strength to stand up through and break tackles.

Pick 10, St Kilda: Mattaes Phillipou

Doerre Power Rankings: 2

Recruited from: Woodville-West-Torrens (SA)

Likely role: 80/20 inside mid/fwd - a first possession winner at stoppages who wins the ball on the burst and pushes forward to provide a long-range goalkicking option or push forward as a marking option. Early on Phillipou because of his marking capabilities, speed and ground level craft is likely to spend a lot of his time forward and over time should earn greater midfield responsibility.

Readiness and likelihood to play: Phillipou will be eager for early season opportunities and should push for a series of games at some point with a view towards earning regular senior selection by seasons end.

What you should know: The son of former Footscray player Sam, Mattaes is a 192cm, dual position impact player who is arguably this year's most damaging prospect through the midfield and up forward. Through the midfield, Phillipou is a first possession winner who bursts out of stoppages at speed and demonstrates class with ball in hand. As a forward he provides a marking presence, hits the scoreboard at will, and sets up teammates inside 50 with precise entry kicks.

Pick 11, Carlton: Oliver Hollands

Doerre Power Rankings: 13

Recruited from: Murray Bushrangers (VIC)

Likely role: Outside midfielder - wing accumulator who runs hard both ways over four quarters.

Readiness and likelihood to play: Hollands can push for early opportunity and is another who fits into the category where he is good enough to earn a stretch of games and establish himself by seasons end.

What you should know: 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, is a composed and classy user of the football by hand and foot, creates time and space for himself in traffic, and covers substantial ground over the course of a game.

Pick 12, Brisbane: Jaspa Fletcher (father-son - matching Western Bulldogs bid)

Doerre Power Rankings: outside-20

Recruited from: Brisbane Lions (QLD)

Likely role: Outside midfield - outside penetrator who takes on the game with his kick and run.

Readiness and likelihood to play: Fletcher may receive some opportunities at AFL level if he plays good football in the VFL but is unlikely to earn regular senior selection given the strength and depth of Brisbane's best-22 next season.

What you should know: The son of 231-gamer Adrian, Jaspa is not only a father-son eligible prospect for Brisbane but has also been part of their Academy. Jaspa plays his best football on the outside, taking the game on with his speed and breaking games open with his run and carry and long and precise kicks. The bid placed on Fletcher was earlier than anticipated.

Pick 13, Western Bulldogs: Jedd Busslinger

Doerre Power Rankings: 7

Recruited from: East Perth (WA)

Likely role: Key defender - suited at centre half back and given the freedom and flexibility to back himself to go for intercept marks and be an actively involved rebounder.

Readiness and likelihood to play: Coming off a shoulder injury and surgery that ended his season mid-way through the Under-18 Championships, Busslinger will be eased into his first season with the focus sure to be on making his shoulder becomes durable. Busslinger's long term development and future will be the focus and while it's possible he receives a taste for AFL football in 2023 at some point, it will not be a priority and doesn't need to be with the established key defenders the Dogs already have.

What you should know: The most advanced key defender in this draft, Busslinger is an elite intercept mark who reads the ball early in flight and attacks the football well in 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.

Pick 14, West Coast: Elijah Hewett

Doerre Power Rankings: 14

Recruited from: Swan Districts (WA)

Likely role: Inside midfield - ball winner at stoppages who will be encouraged to use his power to burst out of stoppages and break games open with his natural athletic and offensive gifts. Minutes rotating forward where he can provide both an aerial marking and ground level threat should be part of his role.

Readiness and likelihood to play: One of this year's readiest to play after years of strong play and a strong finish to 2022 averaging 16 disposals and one goal per game across his last four WAFL League games, Hewett is a round one contender who will be looking for regular senior selection in 2023.

What you should know: A big game performer, Hewett is a strong contested ball winning midfielder who displays power when exiting stoppages. Hewett possesses speed, agility, evasion, and is an aerial marking threat. Damaging when he secures the ball forward of centre, Hewett places kicks out in front of targets and is a dangerous finisher around goal.

Pick 15, Melbourne: Matthew Jefferson

Doerre Power Rankings: outside-20

Recruited from: Oakleigh Chargers (VIC)

Likely role: Key forward - focal point close to goal.

Readiness and likelihood to play: Jefferson is a project player and will need several years to develop. If seen in 2023, it is likely only for a one-off taste for the standard of AFL play.

What you should know: An athletic, high-flying key forward, Jefferson is one of the best readers of the ball in flight in this draft and is a marking force forward of centre. Providing heavy scoreboard impact during the Under-18 Championships headlined by seven goals for Vic Metro against Western Australia, Jefferson does not need to find much of the football to put points on the board.

Pick 16, GWS: Harry Rowston (academy - matching Sydney's bid)

Doerre Power Rankings: outside-20

Recruited from: Greater Western Sydney Academy (NSW)

Likely role: Inside midfield - two-way, hardworking balanced midfielder who rotates forward as a marking and goalkicking option.

Readiness and likelihood to play: Able to contend for games in 2023, Rowston will be hoping to earn a stretch of senior opportunities at some point and from that regular senior selection by seasons end.

What you should know: A Greater Western Sydney Academy prospect, Rowston was the Allies' MVP during the Under-18 Championships. A strong ball winning midfielder who displays a high work rate and the versatility to push forward, Rowston provides a genuine marking target forward of centre and can hit the scoreboard. The bid placed on Rowston was earlier than anticipated with the Giants hoping to use their fifth pick to match bids on Rowston as opposed to their second.

Pick 17, Adelaide: Max Michalanney (father-son - matching Sydney's bid)

Doerre Power Rankings: outside-20

Recruited from: Norwood (SA)

Likely role: General defender - negating style with a focus on limiting the impact on the opposition's best small or medium forward.

Readiness and likelihood to play: Michalanney should be in the round one mix and be looking to establish himself as a regular in season one.

What you should know: The son of Jim, Max Michanney is eligible to join Adelaide as a father-son selection due to his father playing more than 200 games for SANFL club Norwood. An athletic defender, Michalanney plays a negating style and is effective shutting down forwards of various heights and types.

Pick 18, Hawthorn: Josh Weddle

Doerre Power Rankings: outside-20

Recruited from: Oakleigh Chargers (VIC)

Likely role: General defender - balanced third tall defender who reduces impact of direct opponent, intercepts and generates run from defence.

Readiness and likelihood to play: Ready to contend for games or provide an injury replacement in 2023, Weddle would have a tough time earning a regular position in Hawthorn's capable defence, though a stretch of games would be a great but possible outcome with strong VFL play.

What you should know: A 'third tall defender' who possesses the height, strength, and leap to play tall and the speed to stick with dangerous small forwards, Weddle is a capable intercept mark, and the run and dare he displays from defence is striking and uncommon for someone his height and type.

Pick 19, Collingwood: Edward Allan

Doerre Power Rankings: outside-20

Recruited from: Claremont (WA)

Likely role: To be determined - a tall utility with a unique athletic profile, Allan is still arguably finding his best position. Collingwood can mould Allan into anything of their choosing from a tall midfielder to a key position player or a tall flanker. No long-term best position is obvious at this point and is likely to become clearer once Allan stops growing and realises with a few years in the AFL system the full scope of his physical and athletic capabilities.

Readiness and likelihood to play: Allan is a project player and development in the VFL should be the focus. If he receives opportunities in 2023 that should be seen as a bonus rather than the expectation.

What you should know: The son of former Hawk and Docker Ben, Edward Allan is a tall utility of key position height who looks most likely to develop into either a tall midfielder or wingman. Allan is a skilful and mobile tall who won the 20m sprint at this year's AFL Draft combine, covers a lot of ground and finds the ball in bunches. Growing 20cm and gaining 20kg in the past two years, Allan is seen as one of the upside picks in this draft.

Pick 20, Sydney: Jacob Konstanty

Doerre Power Rankings: 16

Recruited from: Gippsland Power (VIC)

Likely role: Small forward - balanced marking and ground level option inside 50m.

Readiness and likelihood to play: Ready for senior opportunities in season one and may earn a stretch or games or regular senior opportunity if one of Sydney's forwards gets hurt.

What you should know: As dangerous as any small forward in this year's draft around goal, Konstanty wreaks havoc both at ground level and as a marking target. While Konstanty is a weapon offensively around goal, his speed, forward pressure and tackling inside 50 are also notable.

Pick 21, GWS: Darcy Jones

Doerre Power Rankings: 18

Recruited from: Swan Districts (WA)

Likely role: Outside midfield - speedy gamebreaker who teammates will actively look to get the ball into the hands of.

Readiness and likelihood to play: Ready for senior opportunities and is likely to earn a stretch of games in 2023. Regular senior opportunity is attainable for Jones by seasons end if his improvement continues.

What you should know: A small but speedy outside midfielder, Jones breaks the lines and takes on the game with an unmatched level of dash and dare, displaying rare speed and agility. Breaking the record in the agility test during this year's AFL Draft combine, while Jones plays a high impact-per-possession game, he also finds and wins a good amount of his own ball.

Trades completed during the 2022 AFL Draft:

Brisbane get: picks 41, 50, 52 and 63

Hawthorn get: pick 36 and 2023 third round selection

Brisbane get: pick 40

North Melbourne get: pick 63 and 2023 third round selection

Hawthorn get: pick 18

Sydney get: pick 27 and 2023 second and third round selections

Trade notes:

Brisbane: Brisbane understanding they had insufficient picks to match bids on both Ashcroft and Fletcher without entering a points deficit executed two trades to increase the number of points they had available to match bids.

Hawthorn: With Hawthorn focused on moving up in this year's draft they improved the position of their third pick in their exchange with Brisbane and moved their second pick forward in their trade with Sydney. Hawthorn will be hoping for a strong 2023 season given the substantial future pick currency paid to move their second pick into the first round to draft Josh Weddle.

North Melbourne: North Melbourne's move back from pick 40 is with the plan to use what becomes pick 63 to match any late bids on Cooper Harvey (son of Brent as a father-son selection).

Sydney: Sydney were not enchanted with the options available at pick 18 and bid on two players in Harry Rowston (GWS) and Max Michalanney (Adelaide) to give themselves enough time to find and negotiate the best possible trade. They opted to trade with Hawthorn believing that package would allow for them to secure someone of similar quality at 27 while improving their 2023 draft position with the future second and third round selections.