Junior footy has hit the ground running with the Coates Talent League and SANFL competitions showcasing the talent that has had recruiters eyeing off the 2023 AFL Draft class for years.
We have a few weeks to wait until the WAFL competitions begin, but it hasn't prevented the west's best talent from taking its place in ESPN's first AFL Draft Power Rankings of the season as well.
Separating a handful of the top prospects in the pool early on is their performances as bottom-agers in the National Championships last year.
Performing at the top level of junior football against more developed bodies is no mean feat. Whether it was Ashton Moir's bag of four against WA, Nate Caddy's three-goal haul in the wet, or Harley Reid's heroics in the final quarter against Vic Metro, the moments where prodigious talent stands up on the big stage always resonates with clubs.
This is the first, April edition of ESPN's top 20 Power Rankings for the 2023 AFL Draft.
1. Harley Reid
Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country
MID, 185cm, 82kg
Talent League: 2 games, 21 disposals, 1.5 goals
The hype around Harley is justified. Reid's bottom-age campaign in 2022 was dominant, showing his ability across all three areas of the ground. He plays with an edge, embracing the physicality of the contest and using his power to win the ball at ground level and in the air. Reid trained at Essendon and fitted in seamlessly over the pre-season, and has started his Pioneers campaign as a pure centre-bounce midfielder.
2. Ashton Moir
FWD, 186cm, 78kg
SANFL U18s: 1 game, 18 disposals, 4 goals
A mercurial forward with a bag of tricks and supreme footballing nous, Moir hit the ground running in Round 1. He's ambidextrous off both feet and boasts elite evasiveness, routinely making defenders look silly. Moir is a forward-half savant that will be playing SANFL League football soon.
3. Zane Duursma
Gippsland Power/Vic Country
FWD/MID, 189cm, 79kg
Talent League: 1 game, 24 disposals, 1 goal
By the end of the season Duursma could have the full package to challenge for the No. 1 pick. He already boasts eye-catching speed and dexterity to go with sublime skill with ball in hand and brilliant hands above his head. He does his best work as a forward where he regularly hits the scoreboard, but if he can impact games in the same fashion as a midfielder this year he'll be undeniable as a top-three selection.
4. Daniel Curtin
Claremont, Western Australia
DEF, 195cm, 93kg
Curtin is the premier defender of the draft as an intercepting defender that reads the play superbly and uses the ball well on the rebound. He does his work early in one-on-ones to manoeuvre his opponent away from the drop zone, and he has the confidence to fly for his marks. Curtin dealt with injury through the year but returned late and was named best afield in the AFL Futures curtain raiser before the 2022 Grand Final.
5. Jed Walter
FWD, 195cm, 94kg
Talent League: 2 games, 17 disposals, 2 goals
The Suns have eagerly anticipated the arrival of NGA prospect Jed Walter, who is the leading key forward in the draft pool. He's physically advanced and knows how to use his body in marking situations, crashing packs and making his presence felt. He also possesses elite straight line speed for his size and a booming kick around goals. Walter was a bottom-age All-Australian as a key forward in a side that struggled throughout the State Champs.
6. Archer Reid
Gippsland Power/Vic Country
FWD, 203cm, 93kg
Talent League: 17 disposals, 3 goals
The younger brother of Essendon's Zach, Archer plays at the other end of the ground where his work rate and size makes him a match-up nightmare. Reid gets up onto the wings to provide an outlet out of defensive 50 and works hard the other way to get into the forward 50 where defenders are powerless to stop his reach.
7. Nate Caddy
Northern Knights/Vic Metro
FWD/MID, 191cm, 83kg
Talent League: 1 game, 13 disposals, 2 goals \
Caddy has a big frame and uses it to his advantage aerially and at ground level, where he follows up and wins the ball at a high rate. He plays in a similar style to 2022 No. 1 pick Aaron Cadman, roaming up the ground and hitting the scoreboard on the way back. Caddy fractured his fibula a month ago but returned ahead of schedule on the weekend with an impressive performance off a limited pre-season.
8. Nick Watson
Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro
FWD, 170cm, 66kg
Talent League: 2 games, 22 disposals, 1.5 goals
'The Wizard' Watson plays larger than his stature in more ways than one. He has a huge personality which shines through on-field and he can leap onto shoulders and produce brilliant aerial highlights. Watson's goal sense offers up similarities to Izak Rankine in his draft year, often making something out of nothing and delivering show-stopping moments in the forward 50. He's also progressing well as a genuine midfielder this season with his smarts exiting congestion.
9. Colby McKercher
MID, 181cm, 76kg
Talent League: 1 game, 31 disposals, 5 tackles
The leading Tasmanian prospect is an inside-outside midfielder with an abundance of poise under pressure. McKercher is quick and can find space, helping him rack up the ball and move the chains with regularity. He's a North Melbourne NGA prospect but the Roos can't match a bid inside the first 40 picks on draft night.
10. Koltyn Tholstrup
FWD/MID, 188cm, 80kg
Another x-factor forward-half type in the top 10, Tholstrup kicked 25 goals in 13 games for Subiaco last year and is eyeing more midfield time. He's creative with the ball and creates mismatches with his power in the air. With the name, the game and the mullet, Tholstrup has all the makings of a cult figure at the next level.
11. Mitchell Edwards
Peel Thunder/Western Australia
RUCK, 207cm, 90kg
Ruckmen can take a lot of time to develop, but Edwards usurped Jackson Broadbent as the first choice at Peel last season and his rate of improvement was impressive. He has real presence in the ruck and shows impressive craft, plus has the athletic profile to offer an outlet out of defence. A Freo NGA prospect, but the Dockers can't match a bid before pick 41.
12. Will Lorenz
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro
MID, 186cm, 70kg
Talent League: 1 game, 19 disposals, 4 tackles
Lorenz will be one of Metro's key engine room maestros this season. The Chargers have thrown bottom-agers into the midfield in the first two rounds and Lorenz started at half-forward a lot in Round 1, but his class and creativity off his left boot is still prevalent and he's able to slow time down when he gets the ball.
13. Will Patton
West Adelaide/South Australia
DEF, 191cm, 74kg
SANFL U18s: 1 game, 27 disposals, 6 marks
An intercept defender that has immense leadership potential, Patton is raved about at both club and state level for his ability to command the play from half-back. He reads the ball well in flight and often leads his opponent to the ball, plus rebounds out of defensive 50 with neat foot skills.
14. Nathan Philactides
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro
DEF, 181cm, 78kg
Talent League: 2 games, 14.5 disposals, 2.5 marks
Philactides is scintillating off half-back with his pace and dare. He positions himself on the edge of stoppages ready to make use of his burst, and when he gets released on the outside he takes ground with his legs. The Charger sometimes blazes away under pressure but there's a serious athletic profile to work with for clubs.
15. Ryley Sanders
MID, 186cm, 85kg
Talent League: 2 games, 31 disposals, 1 goal
A Tasmanian who is plying his trade for the Dragons, Sanders has had a prolific start to 2023. He does his best work inside stoppages, extracting the ball and feeding outside runners, and he has the strength to get his hands away through tackles. Sanders hasn't proved positional flexibility and doesn't have a huge athletic profile, but he's an elite extractor of the footy.
16. Jack Delean
South Adelaide/South Australia
FWD, 181cm, 73kg
SANFL U18s: 2 games, 12.5 disposals, 2 goals
A quintessential small forward that hits the scoreboard, applies great pressure and can add spark through the middle, Delean has been a name to watch in the 2023 pool for years now. He's crafty and damaging with his possessions but club and state would love to get the ball in his hands more often.
17. Ethan Read
RUCK, 200cm, 91kg
Talent League: 2 games, 17.5 disposals, 16.5 hitouts
Another Gold Coast Academy prospect, Read is a rare ruckman you can trust with ball in hand - he's clean below his knees and makes good decisions under pressure. He looks most comfortable rucking around the ground but is aiming to add forward flexibility across the year.
18. Luamon Lual
GWV Rebels/Vic Country
DEF, 181cm, 70kg
Talent League: 2 games, 19 disposals, 3 tackles
Lual is a joy to watch in full flight streaming out of defence. He has a springy leap which lends itself to effortless intercepting in the air, and his attacking instincts have seen him get up the ground and drive the ball deep inside 50 through the first two rounds for the Rebels.
19. Kane McAuliffe
North Adelaide/South Australia
MID, 187cm, 90kg SANFL U18s: 2 games, 31 disposals, 7 clearances
An inside midfielder with an appetite for the contest, McAuliffe has strong hips to break tackles and great timing with his hands to release runners. He makes quick decisions and has also shown ability forward of centre to add another string to his bow.
20. Logan Morris
Western Jets/Vic Metro
FWD, 192cm, 84kg
Talent League: 2 games, 13 disposals, 3 goals
A key forward coming with a bullet to start the season, Morris is a hard-working traditional centre-half forward. He gets his opportunities on searching leads and he makes the most of them with a lovely, repeatable kicking action in front of goals.