Izak Rankine has been rated the top prospect by Champion Data. Picture: Tom Huntley
Izak Rankine has been rated the top prospect by Champion Data. Picture: Tom Huntley

Shock name tops Champion Data’s phantom AFL draft

CHAMPION Data has crunched the numbers and says Izak Rankine is the No.1 AFL draft pick

Carlton is expected to crown Sam Walsh the No.1 draft pick but THE AFL's statistics guru has rated Rankine the standout player at both the 2017 and 2018 under-18 level.

Last year Champion Data, which keeps stats on hundreds of junior games every year starting at under-16 level, ranked Rising Star winner Jaidyn Stephenson at No.3 and Jack Higgins at No. 1

Stephenson slipped to Collingwood at No.6 while Richmond grabbed Higgins - who kicked the goal of the year - at pick No.17.

Which juniors have impressed the Champion scouts this year?

1. Izak Rankine (West Adelaide)

H: 180cm, W: 76kg

No. 1 player at 2017 and 2018 under-18 championships. Averaged 16 disposals and led every player for goals, assists and score involvements this year.

SAM SAYS: Champion Data would've taken the boy with a rose tattoo at No.1 last year - ahead of Cam Rayner and Jaidyn Stephenson. The draft's magician appears likely to join Gold Coast at pick No.2 or 3. Would a club also rookie Matt Rankine to help the brothers settle?

Plays like: Luke Breust (Haw)

2. Sam Walsh (Geelong Falcons)

H: 184cm, W: 74kg

One of most reliable junior ball winners ever seen. Across 41 matches he averaged 29 disposals and won at least 23 disposals in all 25 TAC Cup games as both an under-age and top-age player.

SAM SAYS: Should be taken by Carlton at No.1  and join Patrick Cripps, Paddy Dow, Will Setterfield and Matt Kennedy in an evolving engine room. Patrick Dangerfield says this blue-chip selection is the next Joel Selwood and he appears the best junior midfielder since Josh Kelly.

Plays like: Taylor Adams (Coll)

Sam Walsh doesn’t have any issues finding the footy. Picture: Getty Images
Sam Walsh doesn’t have any issues finding the footy. Picture: Getty Images

3. Bailey Smith (Sandringham Dragons)

H: 185cm, W: 82kg

Vic Metro's MVP and won the second-most disposals of any player, behind Walsh. Smith also ranked in the top five for contested possessions, clearances and pressure points.

SAM SAYS: Close to Winx odds to stay in Victoria - and that means St Kilda or Western Bulldogs are most likely to land the second-best midfielder. Snug fit for the Dogs at No.7. Sore Achilles should be right by January.

Plays like: Brad Crouch (Ade)

4. Jack Lukosius (Woodville West Torrens)

H: 194cm, W: 85kg

Ability to find uncontested marks is his greatest strength. Took an average of 7.8 marks per match at the under-18 championships, the most against division 1 teams since Jon Patton, the No.1 pick in 2011.

SAM SAYS: A generational key forward with running patterns out of Nick Riewoldt's playbook. Great hands, a beautiful kick and a logical choice for Gold Coast after losing Tom Lynch.

Plays like: Mitch McGovern (Carl)

5. Max King (Sandringham Dragons)

H: 202cm, W: 87kg

Round 1 TAC Cup performance was possibly the best of the season. King had 19 disposals, nine marks (six contested) and eight goals from 15 shots at goal. ACL then ruined his season.

SAM SAYS: No.1  contender until ACL injury in April. The St Kilda fan could join the Saints at No.4 and would also be considered by Port Adelaide (No.5) and Dogs (No.7). Fellow ACL victim Nic Naitanui provided support this year.

6. Nick Blakey (Sydney Swans Academy)

H: 194cm, W: 77kg

The No.1 ranked player in AFL academy series, averaging 18 disposals and 4.5 goals. 

SAM SAYS: Isaac Heeney, Callum Mills and now Nick Blakey - Sydney's talent academy delivers a third gem. Gold Coast should keep the Swans honest by bidding an early pick for the left-footer, who cut father-son ties to North Melbourne and Brisbane.

Plays like: Jake Stringer (Ess)

Nick Blakey is a member of the Sydney Swans Academy. Picture: Getty Images
Nick Blakey is a member of the Sydney Swans Academy. Picture: Getty Images

7. Connor Rozee (North Adelaide)

H: 185cm, W: 71kg

Averaged 157 SuperCoach points at the 2016 under-16 championships and 104 SuperCoach points at the 2017 under-18 championships. Moved forward this year and he averaged only 74 SuperCoach points.

SAM SAYS: Stormed into top-10 mix with late form as an intercepting defender in the SANFL. Thinking music on for Port Adelaide (No.5), Gold Coast (No.6), Dogs (No.7) and Crows (No.8). Could give Suns a trio of South Australian friends.

Plays like: Andrew Brayshaw (Frem)

8. Chayce Jones (Launceston)

H: 180cm, W: 74kg

Averaged 21 disposals and ranked in the top five players for metres gained, pressure acts and score involvements for the Allies in this year's under-18 championships.

SAM SAYS: Slight frame a worry but a strong character who bounced back from a broken ankle last year. Tigers would love him to reach pick No. 17.

Plays like: Dayne Zorko (BL)

9. Ben King (Sandringham Dragons)

H: 202cm, W: 83kg

Averaged an impressive seven intercept possessions and three intercept marks as a defender last year. Moved forward this year, he was the No. 2 ranked key forward in the TAC Cup.

SAM SAYS: Led the TAC Cup for contested marks per match in 2018 and Port Adelaide (No.5) probably the earliest he could go. A proven force at both ends of the ground.

Plays like: Ben Brown (NM)

10. Luke Valente (Norwood)

H: 186cm, W: 80kg

Averaged 22 disposals per match and was the only South Australian midfielder to rate elite for both intercept possessions and score involvements.

SAM SAYS: South Australian captain oozes leadership and possesses neat skills on both sides. One of this year's big risers.

Plays like: Joel Selwood (Gee)

11. Jordan Clark (Claremont)

H: 182cm, W: 78kg

Final five games in the WAFL he averaged 15 disposals, seven intercept possessions and kicked at 70 per cent efficiency.

SAM SAYS: Glandular fever diagnosis will delay start to pre-season for the former Australian junior cricketer, taking a hat-trick against Pakistan. GWS likely to consider with the Dylan Shiel pick and Port Adelaide also in mix.

Plays like: Michael Hibberd (Melb)

12. Tarryn Thomas (North Launceston/North Melbourne)

H: 189cm, W: 76kg

The No. 1 ranked player at AFL Academy series, averaging 168 SuperCoach points, 22 disposals and 2.4 goals. Won 57 per cent of possessions from a contest across 30 matches covered by Champion Data.

SAM SAYS: Grew up playing rugby league in Paramatta but after starring in three senior grand finals for North Launceston he is ready for AFL. Tough upbringing won't stop Kangaroos matching a bid for their academy gem.

Plays like: Jack Ziebell (NM)

Tarryn Thomas in action for North Launceston. Picture: Nikki Davis-Jones
Tarryn Thomas in action for North Launceston. Picture: Nikki Davis-Jones

13. Jackson Hately (Central District)

H: 190cm, W: 81kg

Had most impact of any junior playing in the SANFL in 2017, averaging 18 disposals and 91 SuperCoach points. Thrived at stoppages at the Under-18 championships, rating elite for clearances and tackles.

SAM SAYS: Could land inside the top 15 with the Crows and Power holding selections in his range. Impressive leader and even better tackler.

Plays like: Liam Shiels (Haw)

14. Xavier Duursma (Gippsland Power)

H: 185cm, W: 71kg

Contributed all over the field for Gippsland. Fourth-highest rated player in TAC Cup, winning 23 disposals and was the only midfielder to rate elite for intercept possessions, score involvements and goals.

SAM SAYS: Seems likely to fit in the 15-30 range after a year punctuated by consistency. Shades of Callan Ward.

Plays like: Elliot Yeo (WC)

15. Jye Caldwell (Bendigo Pioneers)

H: 189cm, W: 78kg

Showed glimpses in two full TAC Cup games, averaging 22 disposals, four clearances and five tackles. At the 2016 under-16 championships he averaged 27 disposals and six clearances.

SAM SAYS: Won Vic Country's Under-16 MVP - ahead of Sam Walsh. Injuries ruined 2018 but a powerful kick and great character with very little go-home factor could appeal to the Suns at No.6.

16. Sam Sturt (Dandenong Stingrays)

H: 188cm, W: 78kg

Booted 11 goals and averaged 100 SuperCoach points in the final six TAC Cup matches. Among general TAC Cup forwards he ranked No.1 for marks inside 50, groundball gets inside 50m, score involvements and score assists.

SAM SAYS: Missed out on Round 1 for Mt Eliza's Under-19s and then kicked 25 goals in five games for them. Suddenly Sturt's a top-20 shot with his stunning rise capped at draft camp. Plays with natural flair.

Plays like: Jack Gunston (Haw)

Sam Sturt was a standout in the TAC Cup. Picture: Hamish Blair
Sam Sturt was a standout in the TAC Cup. Picture: Hamish Blair

17. Xavier O'Halloran (Western Jets)

H: 187cm, W: 83kg

Rated elite for goals and goal assists at the under-18 championships, where he gained an a average of 24m per disposal. Seven of his kicks inside 50 were marked, and no other player registered more than four.

SAM SAYS: The Vic Metro and Western Jets captain is regarded as one best leaders his TAC Cup club has recently come across. Only needs a handful of disposals to do damage but could slip outside the first round.

Plays like: Marcus Bontempelli (WB)

18. Zak Butters (Western Jets)

H: 181cm, W: 70kg

Had one of the highest impacts per disposal of any TAC Cup midfielder this year. Averaged only 20 disposals but was one of just two midfielders to rate elite for both score involvements and intercept possessions.

SAM SAYS: Sense Butters might not slip past Fremantle's No.14 pick. The polished forward brings others to life on the field. Shoulder surgery in July but went OK in Wednesday's 2km time trial.

Plays like: Kane Lambert (Rich)

19. Isaac Quaynor (Oakleigh Chargers/Collingwood)

H: 182cm, W: 82kg

Averaged 419m gained per match at the Under-18 championships, ranking No. 2 in the competition. Can also win his own ball, rating elite in the TAC Cup and championships for contested possessions.

SAM SAYS: Magpies hoping a bid doesn't come much earlier than this for the defender who nailed a perfect score in the goalkicking test at draft camp.

20. Rhylee West (Calder Cannons/Western Bulldogs)

H: 180cm, W: 80kg

Father Scott West averaged more than 25 disposals across his AFL career but Rhylee won more than 25 disposals in just four out of 21 games covered by Champion Data. As a midfielder he rated elite for inside 50s and goals in the TAC Cup while laying an averagte of 5.8 tackles per match.

SAM SAYS: Out: Luke Dahlhaus, In: Rhylee West. That's long been the Whitten Oval game plan and the Dogs are set to use their Dahlhaus compensation pick to match a bid for this in-and-under beast.

Plays like: Ben Cunnington (NM)

Rhylee West impressed throughout his top age season. Picture: Getty Images
Rhylee West impressed throughout his top age season. Picture: Getty Images

21. Ely Smith (Murray Bushrangers)

H: 188cm, W: 86kg

Played only one under-18 championships match but in that game he became the only player to win more disposals than Sam Walsh. He collected 30 disposals, 18 contested possessions, nine clearances and laid five tackles.

SAM SAYS: Stoppage star was rushed in for Vic Country's last game and then raced to the finish line with a strong draft combine. Bullocking midfielder is on the fringe of the first round.

Plays like: Josh Kennedy (Syd)

22. Bailey Scott (Broadbeach/North Melbourne)

H: 186cm, W: 74kg

Inside-outside midfielder - he ranked in the top 10 for uncontested possessions, clearances and goals at the under-18 championships. Showed similar balance at the AFL Academy Series, ranking in the top five for uncontested possessions and clearances.

SAM SAYS: Gold Coast academy prospect rejected the Suns and Geelong, where he was father-son eligible, to nominate North Melbourne. Father Robert played in the 1996 flag and Baily captained the Allies as he won All-Australian honours.

Plays like: Dion Prestia (Rich)

23. Ian Hill (Perth)

H: 175cm, W: 76kg

Averaged 20 disposals and 1.7 goals in WAFL Colts but struggled with the step up to WAFL reserves, dropping to just 11 disposals and no goals from three matches.

SAM SAYS: Second cousin of Fremantle stars Stephen and Brad Hill and plays like it. Good chance to stay home and join the Dockers or Eagles. Port Adelaide also watching this speedster.

Plays like: Oli Florent (Syd)

24. Ned McHenry (Geelong Falcons)

H: 178cm, W: 71kg

No.1 tackler at the under-18 championships, applying five more than any other player. Averaged seventh-most SuperCoach points of anyone to play five TAC Cup matches, with the highest kicking efficiency of anyone to average 21 disposals.

SAM SAYS: Outgoing kid who enjoys his share of the limelight. Great runner who played in last year's TAC Cup premiership.

Plays like: Devon Smith (Ess)

25. Bailey Williams (Dandenong Stingrays)

H: 198cm, W: 95kg

Remarkable consistency for a tall, winning more than 80 SuperCoach points in 13 out of 14 games and kicking a goal in 11 games despite spending time in the ruck.

SAM SAYS: History says big blokes can slide a little bit but Williams is hard to stop aerially.

Plays like: Callum Sinclair (Syd)

Bailey Williams takes a strong mark for the Dandenong Stingrays.
Bailey Williams takes a strong mark for the Dandenong Stingrays.

26. Liam Stocker (Sandringham Dragons)

H: 183cm, W: 83kg

Averaged only 18 disposals, 10 contested possessions and four clearances in first six matches before injury and then shot to 25 disposals, 14 contested possessions and six clearances from final nine games. Ranked in top five players for contested possessions and clearances across whole season.

SAM SAYS: Grew up in Hong Kong and has shot up draft boards since recovering from a broken jaw. TAC Cup Morrish Medallist will appeal to Richmond and GWS late in first round.

Plays like: Stephen Coniglio (GWS)

27. Jez McLennan (Central District)

H: 183cm, W: 81kg

Best intercepting halfback in the draft. At the under-18 championships he took the most intercept marks of any general defender and ranked second in the SANFL reserves among anyone to play more than five games.

SAM SAYS: Some harbour queries over his speed and kicking but earned All-Australian honours and is yet another South Australian in the top-40 frame.

Plays like: Tom Doedee (Ade)

28. Curtis Taylor (Calder Cannons)

H: 186cm, W: 79kg

Split time between midfield and forward line in TAC Cup but his numbers barely rose from 2017. His disposals jumped by 1.3, contested possessions by 1.6, his goals by 0.2 and his tackles per game fell.

SAM SAYS: The Lions might consider Taylor - Cam Rayner's close PEGS school mate - with their Dayne Beams selection, while West Coast (No. 20 and 22) is also lurking.

Plays like: Jamie Elliott (Coll)

Curtis Taylor in action for Vic Metro. Picture: Getty Images
Curtis Taylor in action for Vic Metro. Picture: Getty Images

29. Luke Foley (Subiaco/Western Australia)

H: 187cm, W: 75kg

Most consistent performer in WAFL Colts. Averaged 25 disposals and one goal per match while rating elite for score involvements and tackles. Western Australia's top-rated player at under-18 championships.

SAM SAYS: Tall midfielder Luke Foley - not the former NSW politician - should get his chance after drawing little interest at last year's draft.

Plays like: Rory Sloane (Ade)

30. Riley Collier-Dawkins (Oakleigh Chargers)

H: 193cm, W: 88kg

Not a big ball winner, averaging just 18 disposals in TAC Cup and 12 disposals at under-18 championships. Won 49 per cent of possessions as a junior from a contest but never excelled at stoppages, winning more than five clearances in just one out of 30 matches.

SAM SAYS: Clubs love his huge frame and strong finals series. Should go earlier than this and is around the mark for GWS at No.19.

*Plays like - comparisons drawn from statistical comparisons with AFL players.