2021 AFL Draft Positional Analysis: Key Position Players

WITH AFL Draft day, or days, fast approaching on November 24/25, Rookie Me Central takes a look at some of the prime prospects set to feature highly in this year’s intake. We break down the crop by position, starting with a strong group of key position players. Among the 2021 talls are a couple of club-tied talents at the top-end, and some solid depth throughout the first and second rounds.


Jye Amiss

The deadeye forward among this year’s crop, Amiss played himself into top 10 contention with a remarkable goalkicking record. He booted 51.15 in 15 outings for East Perth this Colts season, seeing him rise from relative obscurity to spearhead Western Australia’s stacked key position stocks. There are few more prolific players inside attacking 50, and Amiss could well tempt local clubs right up the order while also garnering interest interstate for his rapid development and eye for goal. His sheer body of work made for a sore end to the season, though Amiss had done plenty beforehand to press his case.

Draft Range: 8-15

Mac Andrew

Arguably the biggest surprise packet of this year’s draft, Andrew shot up the rankings with his early season form to become one of the most highly rated talls available. While still relatively raw, the 201cm Melbourne NGA product is slowly filling out and offers enormous upside with his rare athleticism and versatility. He caught plenty of eyes with his aerial feats for the AFL Academy and Vic Country, rising to big occasions and showcasing just why he has as high a ceiling as anyone this year. The Dees will miss out on him with a bid almost certain to come within the top 20, and possibly within the top 10.

Draft Range: 6-15

Rhett Bazzo

A swingman of sorts, Bazzo helped Swan Districts take out this year’s WAFL Colts premiership as a pillar of his side’s defence. It was not always that way though, with the Under 16 All Australian defender trialled up forward with relative success, before reverting back to his usual duties via the state Under 19 squad and then with the Swans. His reading of the play and intercept marking ability are his main weapons, but Bazzo is also composed on the ball with sound distribution skills and a cool head in many crises on the last line.

Draft Range: 18-35

Toby Conway

The leading pure ruck option in 2021, Conway is a man mountain who is steadily developing his overall craft. While apt in the ruck battle and clever with his distribution there, the 205cm Geelong Falcons product has had to lean on his endurance base to bolster his impact around the ground. His efforts have brought success, with Conway displaying strong contested marking ability this season and flashes of what may be to come with short stints up forward. His greatest strengths lie in the ruck department though, and could yield some top 30 attention.

Draft Range: 25-40

Sam Darcy

The best key position prospect this draft has to offer, Darcy’s ability is nothing short of exceptional. The son of Luke is set to become a third generation Bulldog with a bid within the top five, having showcased massive development throughout 2021. On the end of a growth spurt, the 204cm tall has maintained his balance and nimble nature with awesome displays of aerial class and composure on all three lines; initially rising as a key defender for Oakleigh, before cementing his top-end status by kicking bags of goals up forward, while also pinch hitting in the ruck. The Bulldogs have another elite tall on their hands.

Draft Range: 2-5

Josh Gibcus

One of the biggest improvers in his region, Gibcus quickly shot into top 10 calculations as he was recognised as the best key defender in this year’s intake. It does not take long to recognise the 18-year-old’s key weapons, which are based off a massive vertical leap and sound reading of the play. As a clear aerial asset, Gibcus suits the modern game with his intercept marking ability and composure with ball in hand. With such traits, he not only wins possession back for his side but helps keep it and can spark transitions in quick time.

Draft Range: 4-10

Jacob van Rooyen

One of, if not the most physically ready and aggressive key position players in the pathway, van Rooyen overcame a glandular fever diagnosis in 2021 to reach the heights expected of him. A two-time WAFL Colts grand finalist, the West Australian swingman dominated among his peers with fierce attack on the ball and strong contested marking displays, not to mention his goalkicking record. He also showed a different and unexpected side to his game in the state Under 19 side, swinging to defence and translating his aerial game well. Many clubs, including local ones, should take a serious look within the first round.

Draft Range: 12-25

Jack Williams

It is no surprise that anyone on this list thrives aerially, but Williams fits that mould and beats opponents with his combination of smarts and reach on the lead. While not overly athletic, the East Fremantle ruck-forward knows when to set off and only needs a bit of separation to get the job done when presenting inside 50. Williams’ versatility is another tick, having proven a reliable goalkicker while also spending plenty of time in the ruck at 195cm. With few premium talls knocking about in the second round, Williams may find a home.

Draft Range: 25-40

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