Gary Buckenara names his top 50 draft prospects.
Gary Buckenara names his top 50 draft prospects.

Draft special: Buckenara’s top 50 prospects

THIS year's draft has been touted as the next "super draft" and while it would be unfair to place such big expectations on the draft class, the talent available in the first round in particular is especially strong.

I've watched these players since they were 16 and tracked them throughout this year during the various state-based competitions, the under-18 national championships and their testing at the draft combine.

The 2018 draft should produce a number of quality midfielders for the future as it's especially strong for mid-sized onballers - both inside and outside players - while there are a number of talented halfbacks available.

The number of nice midfielders and defenders should extend into the later rounds of the draft, where I expect some gems to be unearthed.

At the top end of the draft there are a few very nice key position players but the depth of talent available in that area does taper off.

For clubs looking for ruckmen, however, the news isn't as good. There aren't many options available so clubs will likely need to look to state leagues or recycled players to bolster ruck stocks for 2019.

Gary Buckenara rates Jack Lukosius as the best player in this year’s draft. Picture: Tony Gough
Gary Buckenara rates Jack Lukosius as the best player in this year’s draft. Picture: Tony Gough

I revealed my top 30 draft prospects in August but my order has since changed after watching the remainder of the 2018 season and the way players performed during testing at the combine.

Every AFL club will be in the process now of finalising their talent flow lists - where they rank every player in the draft in order - following the combine and extensive interview processes with the players, which will assist them on draft night.

This is my personal list. It doesn't factor in which clubs have which picks, it's based purely on talent and who I rank as the best player in the pool to the 50th best. This is not a phantom draft.

Here are my top 50 draft prospects, in order, for 2018.

GARY BUCKENARA'S TOP 50 DRAFT PROSPECTS

Every player ranked in order of talent according to recruiting guru Gary Buckenara.

1. JACK LUKOSIUS

Key forward, 194cm, 85kg, Woodville-West Torrens

Buckenara says: Lukosius has so much talent. He has a beautiful and relaxed kicking action for a key forward and he reads the play very well, which is crucial for a player in his position. He also moves across the ground really well as he's very athletic for his size. He showed why he's one of the favourites to be the No.1 pick by dominating the first game of the under-18 championships against Western Australia, with his performance highlighting his range of skills and versatility. I've rated Lukosius as my No.1 pick because I believe he's one of the most exciting tall utility types to come onto the scene for a while. I believe he's going to be a very good AFL player for a long time.

Plays like: Tom Lynch (Richmond)

2. SAM WALSH

Midfielder, 183cm, 74kg, Geelong Falcons

Buckenara says: A lightly framed midfielder at this stage, Walsh competes well in the contest and once he's added more strength by training in a full-time AFL system, he'll get even better. He's got nice skills, is a good decision-maker, is hugely competitive and has proven himself to be a very damaging midfielder as he reads the play so well. He's a playmaker who sets up scoring opportunities for his team but is also capable of kicking goals himself. Walsh has shown he likes the big stage after performing brilliantly in the bigger games of his young career so far. He looks a future star who has been compared to a young Joel Selwood, which is very high praise.

Plays like: Joel Selwood (Geelong)

Sam Walsh is the second-best player in the draft pool this year according to Gary Buckenara. Picture: Tony Gough
Sam Walsh is the second-best player in the draft pool this year according to Gary Buckenara. Picture: Tony Gough

3. NICK BLAKEY

Forward/midfielder, 195cm, 85kg, NSW-ACT/Sydney Swans

Buckenara says: The son of former Sydney and North Melbourne player John Blakey, Nick is versatile in that he can play all over the ground, whether it's midfield, forward or back. He's a tremendous athlete and a very smart footballer. Unfortunately Nick has had a bad run with injuries over the last two years but I've seen enough to know he's got some serious upside and I rate him very highly. Nick has chosen the Swans as his preferred destination as a father-son selection, which is a huge bonus for Sydney given he's a potential star. The Swans have already fast-tracked his learning through their academy, so once his body is ready he'll quickly make an impact at AFL level.

Plays like: Jarryd Roughead (Hawthorn)

4. IZAK RANKINE

Midfielder, 180cm, 76kg, West Adelaide

Buckenara says: Rankine is one of the most exciting players in this draft. He really stands out because he's got pace and skill and uses that to great effect to find teammates with his precise kicking and hit the scoreboard. He's a gamebreaker. He played senior SANFL footy last year and starred in the championships in 2017 - as an underage player - and was outstanding in this year's carnival as well. His standout game was against Vic Metro when he was best on ground after kicking five goals, three of which came in the first quarter. Rankine does have star factor but he also has a habit of trying to take on too much at times, which should be quickly eradicated by the club that drafts him. He's a lock to be taken very early in this draft.

Plays like: Andrew McLeod (Adelaide)

5. MAX KING

Key forward, 201cm, 84kg, Sandringham Dragons

Buckenara says: Despite undergoing a knee reconstruction earlier this year after tearing his ACL, Max, like his twin brother Ben, is one of the top prospects in this draft. He's got too much talent to be overlooked early because of his injury and I've got no doubt a club will swoop in the top 10. He'll develop into a key forward/ruckman at AFL level, with his athleticism one of the key aspects of his game. He's a nice kick, is agile for his size, has an impressive leap and is a good mark. He'll need to find a stronger work ethic to improve his work rate but key position players are hard to find, so clubs will lock away a talent like Max early in the draft.

Plays Like: Tom Boyd in 2016 form (Western Bulldogs) and Matthew Kreuzer (Carlton)

Identical twins Max (left) and Ben King (right) are expected to be taken in the top 10. Picture: Michael Klein
Identical twins Max (left) and Ben King (right) are expected to be taken in the top 10. Picture: Michael Klein

6. BAILEY SMITH

Midfielder, 184cm, 79kg, Sandringham Dragons

Buckenara says: Smith is an elite decision-maker who reads the play really well and has a good outside game. His running ability is strong, which allows him to get on his bike, create space and be a dangerous option in transition. He's a very smart footballer and although he has had some issues with his Achilles, he has definitely shown more than enough to be a top 10 pick in this year's draft. His athletic ability and combination of speed and endurance is definitely what clubs will find attractive. He didn't test at the draft combine but that won't count against him as recruiters will be well aware of his football and athletic prowess already.

Plays like: Trent Cotchin (Richmond)

7. BEN KING

Key forward/defender, 202cm, 85kg, Sandringham Dragons

Buckenara says: The King twins are both outstanding prospects but I'd have Max just ahead of his brother Ben. Ben played mostly down back earlier this year before impressing in a forward role when he was shifted after Max tore his ACL. That move certainly hasn't done any damage to his reputation as one of the best players in this draft and really, has only added to his appeal given he has now excelled at both ends of the ground. Ben can also help out in the ruck. He's a good kick, has great hands in the air and is very athletic for his size.

Plays like: Harris Andrews in defence (Brisbane Lions) and Tom Boyd in 2016 form (Western Bulldogs)

8. CONNOR ROZEE

Midfielder, 184cm, 72kg, North Adelaide

Buckenara says: South Australian Rozee has footy smarts and is a good decision-maker with ball in hand. He shows great poise, is a really skilful player and has good acceleration away from the contest. He played regular SANFL football with North Adelaide this year and his form was very good - then to top it off he played in the senior premiership and didn't look out of place. I view him as a really good prospect as a forward/midfielder who impressed with his speed and agility at the combine. Rozee is only lightly framed at the moment, so it may take him a while to put on some size but I really like his potential for the years to come.

Plays like: Shaun Higgins (North Melbourne)

Connor Rozee is one of the highly-rated South Australians in this draft. Picture: Calum Robertson
Connor Rozee is one of the highly-rated South Australians in this draft. Picture: Calum Robertson

9. JACKSON HATELY

Tall utility, 190cm, 81kg, Central District

Buckenara says: After a good under-18 carnival, Hately continued his impressive form at SANFL level. The big-bodied high half forward should have a lot of admirers because he's a bit of an all-rounder in that he can find the ball, uses it pretty well and can also hit the scoreboard. He is the modern tall utility type that can play in any part of the ground - a quality every club is, or at least should be looking for as they provide great flexibility. His body should develop strongly in an AFL environment, although he's already proven he can mix it with the bigger bodies at SANFL level. I'm sure he'll be a first-round selection.

Plays like: Elliot Yeo (West Coast)

10. ZAK BUTTERS

Midfielder, 181cm, 70kg, Western Jets

Buckenara says: A lightly framed midfielder, Butters unfortunately injured his shoulder this year but has shown enough to be taken in the first round of this draft. He's got that combination of speed and endurance clubs are looking for and is a lovely kick. He's also shown very good football nous, which will hold him in good stead. He was forced to sit out the combine testing but that won't deter clubs as recruiters will judge him on what they've seen and how he'll develop after 2-3 years in an AFL system. I think clubs will see and take the long-term view with him given he's light at the moment at just 70kg. I'm sure he'll be taken in the first round.

Plays like: Jaeger O'Meara (Hawthorn)

11. ISAAC QUAYNOR

Defender, 182cm, 82kg, Oakleigh Chargers

Buckenara says: A versatile defender who can play both tall and small, Quaynor is quick and is able to use that to provide drive off halfback. He's a pretty good mark for his size, which gives him the ability to also potentially play on taller opponents. He has great agility and reflexes and should develop into a very good versatile defender. I expect he'll be a top 15 pick and Collingwood, who he's available to via their next generation academy, will match any bid that comes for him. He's too good to let slip.

Plays like: A smaller version of Ben Stratton (Hawthorn)

Collingwood is expected to match a bid on next generation academy gun Isaac Quaynor. Picture: Getty
Collingwood is expected to match a bid on next generation academy gun Isaac Quaynor. Picture: Getty

12. JYE CALDWELL

Midfielder, 184cm, 78kg, Bendigo Pioneers

Buckenara says: Caldwell is a very nice inside and outside player who has clean hands and good disposal awareness by making the right decisions most times. One of the impressive parts of his game is his competitiveness and willingness to throw himself in to win contests but is also dangerous on the outside because he's a good decision-maker. He was unfortunately injured during the under-18 carnival and then injured his other hamstring in the final game of the year so missed the combine testing but if he can get his body right, he's got plenty of upside and clubs will no doubt see that. I'd be very surprised if he wasn't taken in the first round.

Plays like: Luke Shuey (West Coast)

13. JORDAN CLARK

Defender, 185cm, 81kg, Claremont

Buckenara says: A very talented duel sportsman, Clark is certainly getting a lot of interest. He wasn't in my top 30 in August but has really impressed me since the under-18 carnival. He finished the year off very well and played senior footy for Claremont in the WAFL, while he also made the under-18 All-Australian team. Clark is a very good kick of the football as a rebounding defender and he generally makes good decisions, so he's the ideal modern-day rebounding/damaging defender that can turn defence into attack once in possession. He's become one of the real bolters in this draft and I expect he'll be a top 20 pick.

Plays like: Kade Simpson (Carlton)

14. TARRYN THOMAS

Midfielder, 189cm, 73kg, North Launceston

Buckenara says: An exciting playmaker, Thomas looks a very good prospect. When you watch him closely through the midfield you can see he's a very smart decision-maker and a very clever player. He finished off his year impressively in North Launceston's premiership win after some injury concerns during the season. He wasn't a standout in the testing at the combine but his x-factor is there and his football ability, where he can take a big mark and kick a freakish goal is there. He makes things happen when he gets the footy. Thomas is available to North Melbourne as a next generation academy player and I've got no doubt the Kangaroos will ensure he's in their colours in 2019.

Plays like: Shaun Burgoyne (Hawthorn)

North Melbourne will match a bid for academy gun Tarryn Thomas. Picture: Eddie Safarik
North Melbourne will match a bid for academy gun Tarryn Thomas. Picture: Eddie Safarik

15. RILEY COLLIER-DAWKINS

Midfielder, 193cm, 88kg, Oakleigh Chargers

Buckenara says: There's a lot to like about Collier-Dawkins because even though he's 193cm, he's a midfielder who can go forward and take a mark and kick a goal. That's the prototype for the current-day midfielder and I think that will see a lot of clubs ready to pounce on him in the draft. His performances for Oakleigh in their three finals would have really impressed recruiters and that form has seen him jump up my rankings a bit. I now think he's a worthy first-round selection. Even though he wasn't a standout at the combine in the endurance area, this is something that can be improved in a full-time AFL environment.

Plays like: Josh Kennedy (Sydney)

16. SAM STURT

Forward, 189cm, 74kg, Dandenong Stingrays

Buckenara says: Sturt is another player who bolted into first-round calculations as the season went on. He juggled playing footy with cricket and was a late starter this year after virtually no pre-season training because of this. But he showed a lot talent as the season went on and earned a call up to the combine where he demonstrated his all-round athleticism, excelling in many of the categories. He's a nice size and has good pace, agility and has a good leap. These attributes will only get better when he dedicates himself to football completely once in the AFL system. I have Sturt as a late first-round pick because of his upside.

Plays like: Jordan De Goey (Collingwood)

17. IAN HILL

Forward/midfielder, 175cm, 76kg, Perth

Buckenara says: The cousin of Fremantle's Stephen and Bradley Hill, Ian has a lot of tricks. He's a quick and dangerous small forward who can also push up into the midfield. He's really clever around the goals but does need to work on his endurance. He's got class and it would be a surprise if he's overlooked in the first round of this draft because he should continue to improve, especially in a full-time AFL system. Although he was another player to be hampered by injury in 2018, Hill's upside is huge and his x-factor, speed and super quick reflexes should see clubs prepared to back themselves to develop his exciting talent.

Plays like: Cyril Rioli (Hawthorn) and Daniel Rioli (Richmond)

Ian Hill is the cousin of Fremantle stars Stephen and Bradley Hill. Picture: Getty
Ian Hill is the cousin of Fremantle stars Stephen and Bradley Hill. Picture: Getty

18. CURTIS TAYLOR

Forward/midfielder, 186cm, 79kg, Calder Cannons

Buckenara says: Taylor has a touch of class about him. He shows genuine footy nous and good goal sense, while he can also push up into the midfield. He's got good speed, is a long kick and can influence a game without winning a heap of possessions. Unfortunately he's another player who didn't test at the combine as he injured his groin in the lead-up but clubs will look at his overall package. What impresses me the most about him is that he's a player that doesn't rack up huge numbers but when he does get the football he's a dangerous playmaker, a characteristic I've always rated very highly when watching players live. I've rated Taylor as a late first rounder as I believe he'll become a regular AFL player and have a good career with luck.

Plays like: Will Hoskin-Elliott (Collingwood)

19. LIAM STOCKER

Midfielder, 184cm, 83kg, Sandringham Dragons

Buckenara says: Stocker had an early injury setback this year, which meant we didn't get to see him play in the under-18 carnival but he really stood out for the Dragons as the year progressed. He's got good skills and looks to have a really competitive approach to his football. He has a good strong body that will only develop further and I really like what he does around the stoppages because he's not afraid to win the hard ball. He won the Morrish Medal as the best under-18 player in the TAC Cup, which was well deserved. Stocker didn't test at the combine because of a shoulder injury he sustained during the year but continued to play through, which is a great sign of his mental toughness at a young age. I think he'll be a very good AFL player in the future and he should be a late first-round or early second-round selection.

Plays like: Mitch Duncan (Geelong)

20. RHYLEE WEST

Midfielder, 180cm, 80kg, Calder Cannons

Buckenara says: It's a good draft for father-son selections and West is one of the best available. The son of Bulldogs champion Scott West, Rhylee is a chip off the old block and should develop into a nice midfielder. He has no trouble finding the footy, is a competitor, has good hands, very good agility and he's not afraid to take the odd speccy because he's got a good leap. I'm sure Rhylee will attract a bid late in the first or early in the second-round of this draft, a bid that should be matched by the Bulldogs. It will be fantastic to see Rhylee join Mitch Wallis and Tom Liberatore in the Bulldogs midfield in the future.

Plays like: Scott West with a leap, sorry Scott (Western Bulldogs)

Rhylee West should follow in his father’s footsteps and play for Western Bulldogs. Picture: Getty
Rhylee West should follow in his father’s footsteps and play for Western Bulldogs. Picture: Getty

21. LUKE VALENTE

Midfielder, 186cm, 80kg, Norwood

Buckenara says: The South Australian under-18 skipper led his side well during the carnival and his performances were very consistent, which saw him win the South Australia MVP award. He has a good mixture of inside and outside game and should be looked at closely. Unfortunately Luke was another one of the top players not to test at the combine due to a knee injury but he showed enough to recruiters during the year to suggest he'll be a nice inside midfielder who has good kicking skills on both sides. He's a very hard-working player that generally makes good decisions with the ball. There is a query on his pace, agility and endurance, so I'm sure most clubs were disappointed he was unable to complete the testing.

Plays like: Jordan Lewis (Melbourne)

22. CHAYCE JONES

Midfielder, 180cm, 74kg, Launceston

Buckenara says: Another Tassie hopeful after a consistent under-18 carnival, Jones is classified as a midfielder but I'd describe him more as a small utility because he can play all over the ground. He's a real competitor who should improve dramatically in a full-time AFL environment. His combine testing was extremely good in all areas, which should see several clubs interested in picking him. He has a nice frame that will get bigger and stronger and it's this crystal ball factor that will have clubs excited about his prospects for the future. Jones should develop into a very good ball carrier and a running machine in time at AFL level.

Plays like: Bradley Hill (Fremantle)

23. JEZ McLENNAN

Defender, 185cm, 81kg, Central District

Buckenara says: McLennan has jumped up my rankings after not being part of my top 30 in August. He looks like a nice intercept/rebounding defender who has great endurance. He reads the ball well in flight and has a good pair of hands, which allows him to hold marks even when under real pressure. He tested very well at the combine and although he's not tall, he does have a strong body already and his marking ability allows him to play a little taller than his height suggests. McLennan competes well and I think he'll end up a nice AFL player in time. He's a hard one to place but I expect he'll be a second-round selection.

Plays like: Blake Hardwick (Hawthorn)

Will Collingwood draft Will Kelly, the son of premiership Magpie Craig Kelly? Picture: Hamish Blair
Will Collingwood draft Will Kelly, the son of premiership Magpie Craig Kelly? Picture: Hamish Blair

24. WILL KELLY

Defender, 193cm, 83kg, Oakleigh Chargers

Buckenara says: The son of Collingwood premiership player Craig Kelly, Will should be snapped up by the Magpies because he's exactly what they need - a key defender. In fact, he's one of the best key defenders in this draft, so getting first rights to him is invaluable for Collingwood. He had a good under-18 carnival and showed he can play on a variety of forwards because of his athleticism. He finished off the year well in Oakleigh's Grand Final defeat despite actually playing under some duress with a lower leg stress fracture in the back end of the year. That type of injury isn't ideal for a young player but the courage to play through pain shows his mental strength and overall toughness. I've got no doubt he'll join Darcy Moore, the Brown brothers and Josh Daicos as father-son recruits in black and white.

Plays like: A more athletic and skilful Craig Kelly (Collingwood), sorry Craig but its true

25. EDWARD McHENRY

Midfielder/forward, 176cm, 71kg, Geelong Falcons

Buckenara says: McHenry is an exciting small midfielder/forward who is hard at the contest and is willing to tackle and pressure his opposition to win the ball back. His form at the end of the year was fantastic - he's not afraid to take the game on with his speed and endurance and tested well in both areas at the combine, particularly with his endurance. He will need time to develop his frame but his x-factor attributes with his forward pressure and repeat efforts combined with his ability to play midfield will make him a sought-after player. He's also apparently a real character and an ideal type to come into an AFL club environment and win people over with his sense of humour and work ethic.

Plays like: Daniel Rioli (Richmond)

26. XAVIER DUURSMA

Midfielder/defender, 185cm, 71kg, Gippsland Power

Buckenara says: I really liked what Duursma produced in the under-18 carnival and I think a lot of AFL recruiters would be thinking the same. He's a talented and versatile midfielder/rebound defender who attacks the ball hard and uses his skills to create. He was captain of Gippsland Power this year, which has laid the foundations for him to develop his leadership at his new club in the future. His versatility is sure to be attractive to AFL clubs and although he will take some time to develop and put some size onto his body, I'm confident he'll be a very nice AFL player down the track.

Plays like: Sam Docherty (Carlton)

Connor McFadyen is available to Brisbane as part of their academy. Picture: Josh Woning.
Connor McFadyen is available to Brisbane as part of their academy. Picture: Josh Woning.

27. CONNOR McFADYEN

Midfielder/forward, 190cm, 81kg, Queensland/Brisbane Lions academy

Buckenara says: A Brisbane Lions academy product, McFadyen will generate interest from a number of clubs, which will force the Lions to use a reasonably early pick to get him. He's a big-bodied midfielder who is a pretty good mark overhead. Although he missed the combine testing with a foot problem, the Lions would be all over his issues to ensure the injury won't affect him in the future. He played for the Lions in the NEAFL this year, so I've got absolutely no doubt he will be a Brisbane player in 2019. He's got a cricket background but at 190cm he's the modern-day midfield prototype and the Lions won't pass up the opportunity to secure him.

Plays like: Jack Gunston (Hawthorn)

28. XAVIER O'HALLORAN

Midfielder, 186cm, 82kg, Western Jets

Buckenara says: O'Halloran is a genuine ball winner. He's a good kick, has clean hands and makes good decisions on most occasions. He was captain of the Western Jets and Vic Metro this year, so shows great leadership potential. He tested very well in most areas at the combine and looks like a real professional, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him taken earlier than 28 because he should develop into a good player who will be a leader of his club.

Plays like: Rory Sloane (Adelaide)

29. JACK BYTEL

Midfielder, 188cm, 82kg, Calder Cannons

Buckenara says: The Calder Cannons co-captain is a goalkicking midfielder and a very smart footballer who generally makes good decisions with ball in hand. He has a good balance of inside and outside ball-winning ability and was part of the AFL academy, so already has a strong and powerful frame that will only get bigger and stronger. He's got a penetrating kick on him and strong hands but was unfortunately was restricted this year with a back injury. Clubs will, however, know exactly what he can do and how much ability he has and I believe he could end up being a bargain pick-up if he can get his body right.

Plays like: Mark Ricciuto (Adelaide)

Jack Bytel is a very strong goalkicking midfielder. Picture: Pat Scala
Jack Bytel is a very strong goalkicking midfielder. Picture: Pat Scala

30. BAILEY WILLIAMS

Key forward/ruckman, 198cm, 95kg, Dandenong Stingrays

Buckenara says: Williams is a big boy at 198cm and 95kg but also has great athleticism. At this stage he's still a bit of a project player but my crystal ball tells me he will be a nice forward/ruckman for the future once he matures. He was rated a bit higher earlier in the year but Williams' at times inconsistent season has seen him drop a little to just outside the top 25. He's a player who could be snapped up with a first-round pick, but I believe his value is more likely top 30 than top 20. He has the highest vertical leap of any player in this draft and can clunk contested marks strongly. Williams missed some very easy goals in 2018, so will need to work on his kicking but he can play and when he believes in himself more he'll find that consistency he needs to become an AFL player.

Plays like: A young Toby Nankervis (Richmond)

31. ELY SMITH

Midfielder, 188cm, 86kg, Murray Bushrangers

Buckenara says: Smith is a bolter and could go much earlier than where I've got him. He wasn't initially selected to play for Vic Country but he's come on in leaps and bounds ever since. His TAC Cup form was as good as anyone's during the latter part of the season and he was rewarded with a call-up for Vic Country against Western Australia, where he was best on ground. He earned a national draft combine invitation and starred, with his athleticism on show for all to see, especially his vertical jump. A big-bodied inside midfielder, Smith is a fierce competitor and loves to compete. He's sure to now have plenty of admirers come the draft.

Plays like: Ben Cunnington (North Melbourne)

32. BAILEY SCOTT

Midfielder, 186cm, 74kg, Gold Coast academy/Allies

Buckenara says: Scott is a project player but he's a unique talent and looks like a nice prospect for the future. He has a very light frame at this stage but has elite endurance and some nice skills. He's the son of Robert Scott and despite being part of Gold Coast's academy and being available to Geelong as a father-son, he has chosen North Melbourne as his preferred AFL home. The Kangaroos won't miss their chance to snap him up as a father-son and will match any bid that comes for him.

Plays like: David McKay (Adelaide)

Bailey Scott has nominated North Melbourne has his preferred home as a father-son recruit. Picture: David Geraghty
Bailey Scott has nominated North Melbourne has his preferred home as a father-son recruit. Picture: David Geraghty

33. TOBY BEDFORD

Forward, 178cm 69kg Dandenong Stingrays

Buckenara says: Bedford is lightly framed at just 69kg but the electrifying forward is one of the best players in this draft for making things happen. He's a natural match-winner with great acceleration and agility and has an uncanny goal sense. A member of Melbourne's next generation academy, a bid should come after the Demons' first pick (No.23), so expect them to match the bid when it does come. Bedford is still very raw and needs to find more of the football but he's going to be a nice project player for Melbourne for the future. He's got genuine x-factor.

Plays like: Eddie Betts (Adelaide)

34. KIEREN BRIGGS

Ruckman/key forward, 200cm, 103kg, NSW-ACT/GWS Giants academy

Buckenara says: Briggs is already a very big lad and is one of the few ruckman/forward types available in this draft, so clubs will definitely have a look at him despite the fact he's available to GWS via their academy. Briggs had a great year, winning the most valuable player awards for both the Giants and the Allies, while he was also named the under-18 All-Australian ruckman. He adds a point of difference to any side given his high endurance base and ability to just compete. I'm sure GWS will lock him away given their need for ruck depth but he is a long-term development player who needs to strip body fat and replace it with muscle.

Plays like: Shane Mumford (GWS Giants)

35. LUKE FOLEY

Midfielder, 188cm, 75kg, Subiaco

Buckenara says: Foley is a bit of a smoky but I think he could be a real gem as a midfield pick-up. I have a feeling there will be some interest in him because he does possess AFL traits clubs are looking for - he's a smart footballer. The over-age midfielder hit his straps this season after missing out on being drafted last year. He has become more influential with and without the ball, making good decisions and using it well through the midfield and around the ground. He had a consistent year and could provide some immediate relief to a team craving an inside midfielder. He made the WAFL Colts team of the year and had a solid national championships without dominating.

Plays like: Daniel Howe (Hawthorn)

Sydney Stack in action for Western Australia during the under-18 national championships. Picture: Getty
Sydney Stack in action for Western Australia during the under-18 national championships. Picture: Getty

36. SYDNEY STACK

Midfielder, 179cm, 78kg, Perth

Buckenara says: Stack is a very balanced midfielder who's hard on the inside and electrifying on the outside. He's undersized for an inside midfielder, so I would expect him to spend more time on the outside at AFL level to apply his defensive pressure on the ball carrier. Stack can play other roles too, and can hit the scoreboard but his balance between offence and defence is the most impressive aspect he'll bring to the club that drafts him. He's a project player at his size but again, there is an x-factor about him that will surely excite clubs in need of this type of player.

Plays Like: Liam Ryan (West Coast) without the leap

37. JACOB KENNERLEY

Midfielder, 186cm, 77kg, Norwood

Buckenara says: Kennerley looks to be a good prospect as an outside midfielder who uses the ball well and adds some versatility. He provides good run and carry, wins plenty of the ball and generally makes good decisions. He has good athleticism and while he could improve his tackling pressure, he needs to add more size to his frame. He was one of South Australia's most notable improvers during the championships. I would expect him to a late second or early third-round selection.

Plays like: Liam Duggan (West Coast)

38. JARROD CAMERON

Forward, 182cm, 70kg, Swan Districts

Buckenara says: The brother of Brisbane's Charlie Cameron, Jarrod is an identical player. He's a small forward who matches Charlie with his very good football nous and uncanny goal sense. He's improved at a rapid rate this season, with his five-goal performance against Vic Country in the under-18 championships making everyone take notice of his ability. He carried that good form back to the WAFL where he finished the season strongly for Swan Districts. He isn't a high possession winner but he knows how to hit the scoreboard and hurt the opposition when he gets it. He's another player with a very exciting x-factor who, I hope, will follow in Charlie's footsteps. Jarrod is available to West Coast via their next generation academy.

Plays like: Charlie Cameron (Brisbane Lions)

Buku Khamis is an exciting prospect for the Bulldogs as part of their next generation academy. Picture: Michael Klein
Buku Khamis is an exciting prospect for the Bulldogs as part of their next generation academy. Picture: Michael Klein

39. BUKU KHAMIS

Forward/Defender, 189cm 82kg, Western Jets

Buckenara says: The Sudanese-born Western Bulldogs next generation academy member is a player who just needs to bulk up before slotting into a halfback or forward role. Khamis is a great reader of the ball in flight, positions himself well and is a very good kick. He has to continue to work on his game sense and find some better defensive attributes but I like that he's very good in one-on-one contests and is really strong in the air. He will take time to develop but I'm certain the Bulldogs won't let Khamis slip through as he's got some serious upside if he continues to improve and dedicates himself to the opportunity in front of him.

Plays like: A smaller Esava Ratugolea (Geelong)

40. WILL HAMILL

Defender/midfielder, 185cm, 72kg, Dandenong Stingrays

Buckenara says: While some other Stingrays have caught the eye, Hamill has flown under the radar to a degree. He's not a huge accumulator and is very slight in his frame at this stage but he has that good combination of speed and skill clubs are looking for. He's a smooth mover who has played predominantly off halfback but can also go through the midfield. He has a knack of finding his way through heavy traffic, so has good evasive skills. Hamill will be a long-term project player but he's someone who could be regarded as a draft gem if he develops and thrives in the right environment.

Plays like: Kade Simpson (Carlton)

41. JYE BOLTON

Midfielder, 187cm, 84kg, Claremont

Buckenara says: A dual Sandover Medallist, former Collingwood rookie Bolton averaged 31 disposals for Claremont in 2018. The 26-year-old has been a model of consistency during his time in the WAFL and I believe the form he's shown should earn him another crack at AFL level. He finds the ball very well and generally makes good decisions when he gets it but does probably need to work on his kicking efficiency when under pressure. He's the ideal type of player to add depth in the inside/outside midfield positions and could play in Round 1 if required. He has the hunger to make the most of his chance if it does present.

Play like: Kane Lambert (Richmond)

Jye Bolton deserves another AFL opportunity, Gary Buckenara says. Picture: Sarah Reed
Jye Bolton deserves another AFL opportunity, Gary Buckenara says. Picture: Sarah Reed

42. MATTHEW PARKER

Forward, 187cm, 80kg, South Fremantle

Buckenara says: Parker is a very exciting medium-sized forward with x-factor and has AFL qualities with his speed and ability to kick goals. He's turned his career around after finding inspiration in fellow draft hopeful Marlion Pickett and Geelong star Tim Kelly to not give up on his AFL dream and that has translated into good form for South Fremantle, where he booted 27 goals from 20 games this year. He's a talent but he will require a club to invest in his life and put in place support mechanisms to assist him in his transition into AFL life. On pure talent alone, he has the ability to become a very exciting AFL player but he will need to grab the opportunity and take ownership of what's in front of him if he is picked up. I believe there will be some clubs willing to back in their culture and environment to get the best out of him.

Plays like: A taller Liam Ryan (West Coast)

43. CALLUM WILKIE

Defender, 191cm, 87kg, North Adelaide

Buckenara says: Wilkie is one of the SANFL's top defenders and I really like the way he reads the football in flight to intercept mark. He matured over the pre-season this year and improved his fitness and leadership - he captained North Adelaide - which led to him having one of his best seasons where he won the club's best and fairest in a premiership year. I believe a club with an immediate need for a tall intercept marking defender should look at Wilkie as he can provide excellent back-up as a mature-age recruit who's ready to play in Round 1 if needed.

Plays like: Tom Barrass (West Coast)

44. IRVING MOSQUITO

Small forward/midfielder, 176cm, 72kg, Gippsland Power

Buckenara says: The Gippsland Power small forward and developing midfielder is one of the most exciting players in this draft. 'Mozzie' possesses all the attributes AFL clubs are looking for in a small and dynamic forward - he's got pace, good goal sense, is a good kick and has an impressive leap. After moving to Gippsland from the remote Western Australian town of Halls Creek, Mosquito has been on the AFL radar for a few years but an early injury around nationals time ruined his plans to get selected for Vic Country. He was, however, able to return shortly after the championships to again give recruiters plenty to think about. He's a project player available to Hawthorn via their next generation academy and I've got no doubt he'll be a Hawk in 2019. Players with the electricity Mosquito provides are hard to find and although he needs to improve his endurance base, the Hawks will be patient with him and match a bid if one eventuates.

Plays like: Cyril Rioli (Hawthorn)

Riley Bowman (left) in action for Vic Country this year. Picture: Michael Klein
Riley Bowman (left) in action for Vic Country this year. Picture: Michael Klein

45. RILEY BOWMAN

Ruckman, 199cm, 86kg, Dandenong Stingrays

Buckenara says: It might be a bit strange to see Bowman fall this far down my talent flow list after being rated pretty highly initially but as one of only a handful of genuine ruckmen in the draft pool, I expect Bowman to be taken in the second half of the draft. He had a very good game for the Stingrays in their TAC Cup premiership win and would have impressed many recruiters. He's not the size of the true modern ruckman but I think he can provide that valuable forward/ruck option in time. He'll be seen as a long-term project player and it will be interesting to see where he does go in this draft. I'm sure he'll get an opportunity, even if it's in the rookie draft.

Plays like: David Hale (Hawthorn)

46. ZAC FOOT

Midfielder/Forward, 181cm, 73kg Dandenong Stingrays

Buckenara says: Foot's determination saw him make the Stingrays list this year as a 17-year-old and had a very good season, which culminated in his brilliant performance in the Grand Final. He's one of the youngest players in the draft and looks quick when he's playing but his testing at the combine didn't quite reflect that. I caution recruiters not to put a line through him because his overall game and football nous can make up for it, and the fact that he looks quick means he probably reads the play better than others. He has good all-round ability and is a very determined and competitive young man who, if given a chance as a listed player or rookie, will leave no stone unturned to be the best player he can be. Foot is a project player obviously - he needs to put on some weight so he can compete against bigger bodies at AFL/VFL level.

Plays Like: Richard Douglas (Adelaide)

47. MITCH GRIGG

Midfielder, 182cm, 85kg, Norwood

Buckenara says: Grigg's sensational game came in this year's SANFL Grand Final when he was adjudged best afield in a losing side after gathering 31 disposals and booting six goals. After winning back-to-back Magarey Medals in 2017 and 2018, the 25-year-old should get another chance at the AFL level after spending five years on Adelaide's list. He's a very good kick of the football, is competitive, has a very strong body and is an ideal fit for a club looking to add some back-up to their inside midfield stocks, who can obviously play Round 1 if required. Clubs are now investing in these types of state league players to help with depth if they have a bad run with injuries and Grigg has done everything possible to try and earn another opportunity at AFL level.

Plays Like: Jordan Lewis (Melbourne)

Will Mitch Grigg get a second AFL opportunity? Picture: Sarah Reed
Will Mitch Grigg get a second AFL opportunity? Picture: Sarah Reed

48. MARTY HORE

Defender, 189cm, 81kg, Collingwood VFL

Buckenara says: Hore won Collingwood's VFL best and fairest this year and has been one the best defenders in the VFL over the past two seasons. He's been a very consistent performer with his ability to take intercept marks a real feature of his game. The 22-year-old generally makes good decisions when in possession of the ball and he'd be ready to play Round 1 next year if needed. Clubs searching for more depth in their back six could and should look closely at him as his VFL performances deserve to be rewarded in my opinion.

Plays like: Tyson Goldsack (Collingwood)

49. TOM ATKINS

Midfielder, 180cm, 85kg, Geelong VFL

Buckenara says: Geelong has a history of drafting or rookie-listing players out of their VFL side and this year it could be Atkins. The Geelong captain finished the year among the VFL's top 10 players for handballs, contested possessions, score assists, hard ball gets and clearances and impressively, he also led the VFL for tackles. He won his second Cats best and fairest award in three years (he was runner-up in 2017) this year and is a really competitive player who has the ability to hit the scoreboard when breaking out of congestion in the forward half. His VFL form will stand up at the AFL level and at 23 years of age, he offers plenty to a club in need of this type of player. Don't be surprised to see Geelong to snap him up.

Plays like: Rory Sloane (Adelaide)

50. NICK HIND

Midfielder, 180cm, 75kg, Essendon VFL

Buckenara say: Hind has very good speed and the run and carry game he displayed for Essendon's VFL team this season would have had recruiters marking him down as a player to watch. He ran 20m in 2.94 seconds at the state combine and it's his pace and ball carrying ability that will attract clubs to him. Although he has a very slight frame, he didn't look out of place at VFL level against the bigger and stronger bodies. I'm sure Essendon will have a good look at him - he'd be an ideal fit as speed on the outside is a need at the Bombers, plus he's already spent time in their system. I believe he'll get drafted or rookie-listed this year.

Plays like: Bradley Hill (Fremantle)

OTHER PLAYERS BUCKY BELIEVES COULD BE DRAFTED

Players listed in no particular order

Fraser Turner

Midfielder, 186cm, 75kg, Tasmania

Luke English

Midfielder, 180cm, 76kg, Perth

Angus Hanrahan

Midfielder, 182cm, 68kg, Sandringham Dragons

Riley Grundy

Defender, 195cm, 79kg, Sturt

Riley Grundy is Collingwood star Brodie Grundy’s brother. Could he join him in black and white? Picture: Naomi Jellicoe
Riley Grundy is Collingwood star Brodie Grundy’s brother. Could he join him in black and white? Picture: Naomi Jellicoe

Oliver Eastland

Forward, 196cm, 86kg, Claremont

Sam Fletcher

Midfielder, 187cm, 79kg, Dandenong Stingrays

James Rowbottom

Midfielder, 185cm, 78kg, Oakleigh Chargers

Daly Andrews

Midfielder, 183cm, 76kg, Western Jets

Joseph Ayton-Delaney

Defender, 180cm, 68kg, Oakleigh Chargers

Zane Barzen

Forward, 195cm, 78kg, Murray Bushrangers

Jacob Koschitzke

Defender, 196cm, 94kg, Murray Bushrangers

Luke Moore

Forward, 180cm, 85kg, South Fremantle

Tom Lewis

Midfielder, 179cm, 80kg, Sturt

South Australian draft prospect Tom Sparrow at Prince Alfred College. Picture: Matt Turner
South Australian draft prospect Tom Sparrow at Prince Alfred College. Picture: Matt Turner

Tom Sparrow

Forward, 182cm, 81kg, South Adelaide

Michael Mummery

Forward, 185cm, 87kg, NT Thunder

Tom Medhat

Forward, 190cm, 79kg, West Perth

Corey Rich

Forward, 183cm, 83kg, Frankston VFL

Will Fordham

Midfielder, 190cm, 87kg, Frankston VFL

Ben Cavarra

Forward, 175cm, 72kg, Williamstown VFL

Brett Bewley

Midfielder, 185cm, 87kg, Williamstown VFL

Michael Gibbons

Midfielder, 175cm, 73kg, Williamstown VFL

Lachlan Delahunty

Utility, 194cm, 91kg, Subiaco