Rookie Me Central’s 2022 Mock AFL Draft
WITH only a matter of days before the 2022 AFL Draft unfolds, it is time for fans and pundits alike to put their recruiters’ hats on. Rookie Me Central has done exactly that, with our panel of analysts from around the nation collaborating for a mock draft. We take you through each pick made across the first two rounds, ahead of the release of our phantom draft on Sunday.
Eight separate scouts took the helm at respective groups of clubs, making for a diverse selection of 37 total picks. In the spirit of fun, rather than outright realism, there was a mix of bolters and sliders among the group. Below is a list of how each team was assigned.
Michael Alvaro – Brisbane, Carlton, North Melbourne, Richmond*
Micah Hann – Melbourne, St Kilda
Charlie McCormack – West Coast
Hayden Narducci – Fremantle, Geelong, Hawthorn
Ed Pascoe – Essendon, Sydney
Declan Reeve – Greater Western Sydney
Peter Williams – Collingwood, Gold Coast
Tom Wyman – Adelaide, Port Adelaide, Western Bulldogs
* – denotes no selection made
Pick 1 (GWS GIANTS) – Aaron Cadman
Key Forward | 194cm | 88kg | 03/03/2004
It was no surprise to see Cadman go first off the board, with GWS now fancied to overlook a bid on Will Ashcroft in favour of taking their man outright. The GWV Rebels spearhead promises to be a stayer for the Sydney-based club, and yields comparisons to former Giant Jeremy Cameron, who mentored the young key forward at times this year. With clean hands, athleticism and a booming left boot, he looks like being a goalkicking force at the top level.
Pick 2 (Brisbane) – Will Ashcroft (bid matched)
Midfielder | 182cm | 76kg | 06/05/2004
North Melbourne is the club tipped to pull the trigger on a bid for Ashcroft, having not done so last year with Nick Daicos or Sam Darcy. Brisbane will be quick to match for the father-son gun, with a two-year contract extension agreed upon on top of his initial deal. As a player, Ashcroft’s list of accolades is extensive and he will likely slot straight into a hungry Lions side with potential to be an immediate hit on-ball.
Pick 3 (North Melbourne) – George Wardlaw
Midfielder | 182cm | 81kg | 18/07/2004
On the clock again, North Melbourne took little time to snap up Wardlaw in our version of the draft. The Oakleigh Chargers midfielder has been heavily linked to the Roos, and may well be among the top two players nationwide despite his relative lack of top-age exposure. He’s as hard and combative as they come, with the added bonus of explosive athleticism which sets him apart. A handy replacement for Jason Horne-Francis.
Pick 4 (North Melbourne) – Harry Sheezel
Medium Forward | 184cm | 77kg | 13/10/2004
Sheezel is the other player who looks just about certain to end up in blue and white, and that’s how it panned out here. The medium forward would add serious scoring power to the Roos’ attacking arc, and his consistency in front of goal this season has been outstanding. While not as quick as other prospects in the same mould, he is fleet of thinking and a super hard worker who will inevitably get the best out of himself.
Pick 5 (Essendon) – Elijah Tsatas
Midfielder | 186cm | 79kg | 18/10/2004
Essendon’s pick looms as a key pivot point at the top end of the draft, and this is where our hypothetical picks get interesting. Tsatas will have plenty of competition for this selection, but is a worthy choice given how long he has been touted as a top five prospect. With dynamic speed and the balance to play on either side of midfield, he would offer a much needed point of difference to Essendon’s engine room.
Pick 6 (Gold Coast) – Bailey Humphrey
Midfielder/Forward | 185cm | 86kg | 11/09/2004
One of the most highly sought after top 10 prospects, Humphrey lands at the Gold Coast at pick six. He has been heavily linked to the Suns and would only aid their pursuit of finals football with his noted character traits and leadership quality. He can certainly play too, boasting an explosive streak with his turn of speed and ability to hold his own in one-on-one contests. His ability to roll forward and wreak havoc inside 50 also boosts his value.
Pick 7 (Hawthorn) – Mattaes Phillipou
Midfielder/Forward | 190cm | 89kg | 27/12/2004
Essendon has shown interest in Phillipou, but after the Bombers opted for Tsatas, the South Australian was ripe for the taking at pick seven. He lands at Hawthorn, who recently flew him over for yet another interview, and would add a handy point of difference to the Hawks’ midfield group. Steering in the direction of greater athleticism and versatility with this pick, Sam Mitchell’s side would benefit from his x-factor and ability to hit the scoreboard.
Pick 8 (Geelong) – Jedd Busslinger
Key Defender | 196cm | 82kg | 11/03/2004
Though local talent Jhye Clark has been touted as a lock for Geelong’s pick, that is not exactly a certainty. It wasn’t the case here, with the Cats instead opting for long-term key defensive cover. The potential coup of Busslinger may free Sam De Koning up to move into the ruck, though the Cats have the scope to allow the injured West Australian to develop his game in the long-term before giving him a crack at senior level.
Pick 9 (West Coast) – Jhye Clark
Midfielder | 181cm | 77kg | 23/07/2004
With a West Australian ripped from their grasp and Clark overlooked by his local side, the Eagles snapped up the hard-nosed midfielder at pick nine. Long-term midfield depth is perhaps on the agenda for West Coast, and Clark is a reliable type who not only has a dip, but boasts an enviable array of traits. At this point, he’d be somewhat of a steal given clubs like Gold Coast, Hawthorn, and Geelong are into him.
Pick 10 (St Kilda) – Cameron Mackenzie
Midfielder | 187cm | 80kg | 21/01/2004
Though not through the bidding route, St Kilda ends up with its Next Generation Academy (NGA) product, Mackenzie in this hypothetical draft. It makes sense too, with the consistent accumulator already linked to and familiar with the Moorabbin-based side. With good size, speed and skills, he would be a handy addition for the Saints as one of the many midfielders likely to feature in this range.
Pick 11 (Carlton) – Reuben Ginbey
Midfielder/Defender | 189cm | 85kg | 10/09/2004
Ginbey has been courted by clubs well within the top 10, but is ironically among the sliders of our mock draft having bolted into that kind of range in the first place. After St Kilda, Carlton is a club which may be faced with either taking such a prospect who proves too hard to overlook, or drafting for needs with someone like Oliver Hollands. Either way, Ginbey suits the Blues’ style in midfield, will create healthy readymade competition for spots, and could even plug a hole behind the ball.
Pick 12 (Western Bulldogs) – Oliver Hollands
Midfielder | 183cm | 71kg | 16/01/2004
Hollands is right in the Bulldogs’ hitting zone and is one of the players which clubs in the 10-15 range will have high on their wish lists. The hard-running and balanced midfielder applies himself on the inside but shines with his work rate on the outer, and can even play on flanks at either end of the ground. The brother of Gold Coast’s Elijah, he comes from decent pedigree and would be yet another weapon for the Bulldogs’ deep midfield.
Pick 13 (West Coast) – Elijah Hewett
Midfielder | 185cm | 84kg | 27/05/2004
Having missed out on and opted against local talent at pick nine, West Coast snaps up Swan Districts midfielder, Hewett shortly after. He was touted as one of his state’s premier prospects coming into 2022, and has largely lived up to the billing with a solid year of senior footy – albeit interrupted by Covid. At his best, he has talent which puts him around the top 10 and naturally he falls just outside that range in our hypothetical.
Pick 14 (Melbourne) – Matthew Jefferson
Key Forward | 194cm | 76kg | 08/03/2004
Melbourne has often been linked with Jefferson and he could be the long-term key forward the Dees are after. Though some recruiters aren’t as high on the remaining talls in the draft crop, Jefferson is one with undeniable talent and first round potential. He looms as more of a project player who Melbourne have the capacity to be patient with, and has terrific aerial assets to exploit once he adds a bit of mongrel and size.
Pick 15 (Sydney) – Edward Allan
Utility | 194cm | 82kg | 26/05/2004
A bolter in the pack, and one who has his suitors in the top 10, Allan was snapped up shortly after by a keen Sydney recruiter in this scenario. The West Australian is somewhat of a utility in the sense he can play both sides of midfield at 194cm, but also has potential to drop behind the ball and use his size to advantage aerially. Wherever he ends up, his small sample size, but elite athletic profile point towards a heavy amount of crystal-balling.
Pick 16 (GWS) – Jacob Konstanty
Small Forward | 176cm | 70kg | 09/11/2004
On the quest for players with strong endeavour and the willingness to stay in Sydney, Konstanty has bee touted as a potentially perfect fit for GWS. The Giants just lost Bobby Hill to Collingwood, so the a small forward spot is there for the taking. With tackling pressure which sets him apart and shrewd smarts inside 50, the Gippsland Power prospect offers plenty in his specialist role.
Pick 17 (Essendon) – Alwyn Davey Jr (bid matched)
Small Forward/Midfielder | 181cm | 77kg | 26/02/2004
He made the Bombers sweat, but Davey will end up donning the sash having been officially nominated as a father-son candidate. Perhaps more a clone of his uncle, Aaron than his father of the same name, Davey is a deadly decision maker capable of navigating tight spots both in midfield and up forward. Essendon fans will almost immediately warm to him.
Pick 18 (Brisbane) – Jaspa Fletcher (bid matched)
Midfielder | 184cm | 73kg | 24/02/2004
A second-straight father-son bid sees Fletcher land at Brisbane, where he is also tied via the Lions Academy. The Queenslander is super classy on both sides of midfield and possesses a weaponous boot which often yields long-range goals. Though his first senior preseason will be interrupted through injury, Fletcher’s value remains around this mark and he has the work ethic to hit the ground running in a stacked Brisbane side.
Pick 19 (Collingwood) – Lachlan Cowan
Medium Defender | 188cm | 81kg | 01/12/2004
Though Sydney has been pegged as a likely destination for Cowan, he ended up slipping to Collingwood’s first pick after a couple of bids. The Tasmanian standout is an eye-catching rebounder off half-back, capable of breaking lines and breaching opposition presses with his booming left boot. His addition could free up a couple of Magpie defenders to shift into midfield.
Pick 20 (Sydney) – Brayden George
Medium Forward | 185cm | 87kg | 13/01/2004
Sydney has a strong brigade of young players and can add another to the bunch with long-term potential. Having unfortunately torn his ACL late in season 2022, George will likely miss his entire maiden campaign but offers talent close to the top 10. As a powerful lead-up forward with clean hands, he kicks goals from all angles and distances and should have little trouble finding a home in this range.
Pick 21 (GWS) – Charlie Clarke
Forward/Midfielder | 182cm | 75kg | 04/01/2004
A player with genuine cult hero potential, Clarke comes with a band of supporters and serious excitement. He is happy to stand on his own two feet with a move interstate, and the Giants obviously value that given their recent departures. In terms of his on-field value, Clarke has potential to grow as a midfielder but also possesses natural smarts around goal and instincts which fans will quickly warm to.
Pick 22 (GWS) – Josh Weddle
Tall Defender | 192cm | 89kg | 25/05/2004
Justification: Strong athletic profile, could be anything.
Pick 23 (West Coast) – Henry Hustwaite
Midfielder/Defender | 194cm | 84kg | 20/07/2004
Justification: Terrific fundamentals and versatility, despite the knocks.
Pick 24 (Western Bulldogs) – Lewis Hayes
Key Defender | 197cm | 81kg | 17/12/2004
Justification: A likely first-rounder, too hard to pass up despite key defensive depth.
Pick 25 (North Melbourne) – Max Gruzewski
Tall Defender/Forward | 193cm | 84kg | 21/07/2004
Justification: A highly developable key position swingman with long-term scope, adds to midfield haul.
Pick 26 (Hawthorn) – Isaac Keeler
Key Forward/Ruck | 198cm | 88kg | 23/04/2004
Justification: Perhaps the most naturally gifted South Australian available, offers long-term key forward depth.
Pick 27 (Collingwood) – Olli Hotton
Midfielder/Forward | 181cm | 77kg | 06/09/2004
Justification: The son of former Collingwood player Trent, too hard to pass up as mid-forward depth.
Pick 28 (West Coast) – Darcy Jones
Midfielder | 174cm | 67kg | 03/04/2004
Justification: A local boy with terrific tenacity and the willingness to compete despite his size, a point of difference in midfield or elsewhere.
Pick 29 (Collingwood) – Harry Barnett
Ruck | 202cm | 93kg | 22/01/2004
Justification: Strong, long-term genuine ruck replacement having lost Brodie Grundy, frees up others to go forward.
Pick 30 (St Kilda) – Coby Burgiel
Midfielder | 183cm | 80kg | 09/09/2004
Justification: A player who could be snapped up earlier, he adds a touch of speed to the Saints’ mid-forward rotation.
Pick 31 (Carlton) – Harvey Gallagher
Small Utility | 179cm | 77kg | 26/09/2003
Justification: Familiar to the club via its VFL program, has the running power Carlton needs and fills a gap for smalls at either end of the ground.
Pick 32 (Fremantle) – Harry Lemmey
Key Forward | 199cm | 94kg | 30/01/2004
Justification: Has not had the best of years but has previously shown a high level of talent, he fits Fremantle’s need for a key forward.
Pick 33 (GWS) – Noah Long
Midfielder/Forward | 178cm | 74kg | 23/08/2004
Justification: A favourite of the designated scout, he offers a bit of flexibility in the mid-forward realm and has the character to last.
Pick 34 (Adelaide) – Max Michalanney (bid matched)
Defender | 190cm | 78kg | 26/02/2004
Justification: Should attract a bid earlier in the piece, is touted by some clubs around the top 20 and will deliver versatile defensive cover for the Crows.
Pick 35 (St Kilda) – James Van Es
Key Defender | 196cm | 97cm | 07/08/2004
Justification: Should offer strong key defensive stability in the long-term, and could be anything given his deceptive athleticism and one-on-one prowess.
Pick 36 (Port Adelaide) – Jakob Ryan
Medium Defender | 189cm | 77kg | 20/09/2004
Justification: Another bargain, the local talent would be very hard to pass up here with suitors in the first round for his terrific upside.
Pick 37 (Melbourne) – Sam Gilbey
Medium Defender | 187cm | 73kg | 14/05/2004
Justification: Potentially a case of best available, Gilbey has the weapons to become much better than this ranking suggests.
LEFT ON THE BOARD:
There are plenty of prospects who can count themselves unlucky not to have been snapped up within our first two rounds. Mitch Szybkowski is the highest-ranked player not to have featured, but would be a safe and reliable midfield pick for any club in the second round.
The likes of Harry Rowston (GWS) and Anthony Munkara (Essendon) may attract bids within the top 40, though that is much more likely for Rowston, albeit more pertinent for Munkara’s situation. A prospect like Jaiden Magor also has talent which was difficult to refuse for our scouts.
There could be diverse running players from Blake Drury, to Nick Sadler, Jaxon Binns and Jason Gillbee who feature, while Luke Teal is a prototypical modern day footballer in the fold, and Kaleb Smith could be a bolter to watch. Don’t forget Jed Hagan, who has a stack of junior accolades.