Rising Stocks: AFL Draft prospects on the up
THE CREAM rises to the top during National Championship season, and that has once again proven the case with this year’s AFL Draft hopefuls. Whether it be prospects announcing themselves as genuine top talents, or coming from the clouds to enter draft calculations, we have picked out two players from each side who have boosted their stocks during the ongoing 2022 carnival.
Jaspa Fletcher (Lions Academy/Queensland) BL F/S
24/02/2004 | 184cm | Balanced Midfielder
Let’s start at the top for the Allies. A leader among the group, Fletcher may have missed one game in his side’s 1-3 carnival but was just about at the peak of his power in the win against Western Australia. Having spent plenty of time out on a wing in game one, he thrived with more responsibility on the inside where he could use his speed on the end of handball chains and pump his patented long kicks into attack. There a few smoother movers than Fletcher, who looks a top 20-25 candidate.
Harry Rowston (Giants Academy/NSW-ACT)
12/08/2004 | 180cm | Midfielder
With two best afield performances in four outings, it came as absolutely no surprise that Rowston ended up as the Allies’ Most Valuable Player (MVP). The tough midfielder had no trouble winning his own ball at the coalface, but impressed with his work rate, which lead to plenty of scoring opportunities. Capping off his hard running with important goals, the Giants Academy member provided all-round impact at a consistently high level for the Allies, and may well have pushed himself into second round contention.
Harry Barnett (West Adelaide)
22/01/2004 | 202cm | Ruck
A mobile tall who is fast firming as the number one ruck in this year’s draft, Barnett’s unique set of traits set him apart from many key position prospects. What has also put him forward is strong form, which others around him have struggled for. The West Adelaide bigman recently made his SANFL League debut and looks to be on top of his game at the moment, proving an aerial threat and expansive unit across the ground. He’s already in our top 25, and will rise in the next Power Rankings instalment.
Isaac Keeler (North Adelaide) ADE NGA
23/04/2004 | 198cm | Ruck/Key Forward
A player who rocketed into the Rookie Me Central top 15 last month, Keeler seems to have finally put the puzzle pieces together. Long lauded as a prospect with enormous potential, his athleticism is something to behold in full flight. He arguably has top 10 talent and having performed on the biggest stage thus far, will push to accelerate his name into that kind of range. Not many 198cm players are so good both in the air and below their knees, or as versatile as Keeler. He could be anything with plenty more hard work.
Jacob Konstanty (Gippsland Power)
9/11/2004 | 176cm | Small Forward
Another who missed out on one of his side’s championship games, Konstanty made an instant impact upon entering the Country fold and looks to be one of the premier small forwards available. The Gippsland Power product was all-action against the Allies, buzzing around forward 50 with efforts in the air, at ground level, and to pressure opponents. He could well be one to sneak into the top 25 in our next Power Rankings update, though could look to be more consistent.
Noah Long (Bendigo Pioneers)
23/08/2004 | 178cm | Forward/Midfielder
Having shown plenty of promise as a bottom-ager, Long has endured his fair share of injury setbacks as a top-ager. Nonetheless, he has returned strongly in representative colours and improved with each passing game, taking on a pressure forward role. There is no denying Long’s hunger for the contest and he has proven his value outside of the midfield role he cut his teeth in last year. With more scoreboard impact like he managed against WA, he may be one who creeps back up into the second round mix.
Olli Hotton (Sandringham Dragons)
6/09/2004 | 181cm | Forward/Midfielder
A player earmarked by Sandringham staff as having draftable talent at the start of the year, Hotton has justified that call during a terrific few games for Metro. Lauded for his clean stoppage craft, the Dragons bolter has spent stints on-ball in the Big V, but looks just as lively as a small forward whose smarts and turn of speed make him a scoring threat. Hotton’s polish in wet conditions against SA was impressive, and has him on the precipice of our top 25.
Josh Weddle (Oakleigh Chargers)
25/05/2004 | 191cm | Defender
With few tall defenders featuring among the top line of prospects this year, Weddle is one who has pushed his name up the order. Though not quite key position height, he can play above his size with wonderfully clean intercept marking, but also covers the ground with power and confidence. He looks like being a classic third tall type down back, and offers an in-vogue style which may bring his draft range forward. Just how far forward is the question, with some suggesting he may be a top 20 talent.
Reuben Ginbey (East Perth)
14/05/2004 | 189cm | Inside Midfielder/Defender
A player with senior experience over in the West, Ginbey has consistently kept the Black Ducks competitive through midfield. Linking with the likes of Elijah Hewett and Jones (below), his value comes as a primary ball winner whose strong hands and frame hold up well at the Under 18 level. Also able to slot into defence, Ginbey has the explosive athleticism which catches the eye and may well put him in top 30 calculations with more of the same form. Could well be leading WA’s MVP count.
Darcy Jones (Swan Districts)
3/04/2004 | 175cm | Midfielder
One of the big improvers this year, Jones has one clear knock but hasn’t let it hold him back. The diminutive midfielder is tenacious as anyone at the contest, constantly competing against bigger bodies and holding his own in a two-way capacity. While he missed WA’s latest loss to Vic Country, Jones stood tall against Metro and the Allies when his side needed it. He may continue to draw queries for his size, but surely has the character and talent to make clubs think hard about giving him a shot.