Who missed out? Potential rookie prospects

WHILE 64 players found homes during the 2023 National AFL Draft, many more will hope to do so during today’s rookie intake. Before the online event gets underway at 3pm (AEDT), we run you through over 20 prospects who could make for handy rookie picks – including club-tied talent.

>> RECAPS: Night One | Night Two | All the Picks


Listed in alphabetical order

Will Brown (Sandringham Dragons)
Midfielder/Forward | 195cm | 16/06/2005

In the talent pathway, going deep into finals not only provides the chance at premiership glory, but also more opportunities to impress recruiters. After a solid, albeit not outstanding top-age campaign, Brown took advantage of that fact with a best afield performance in this year’s Coates Talent League decider. Capable of being a primary clearance winner at 195cm, he arguably played his best football as a forward.

Jack Callinan (Tasmania Devils)
Small Forward | 179cm | 07/10/2005

The son of 32-game Crow Ian, Jack Callinan is a chip off the old block. He’s a crafty small forward with terrific footy IQ and goal sense, able to crumb at the fall of the ball or hold his own overhead. Having grown up in Adelaide and supported the Crows, Callinan eventually came through the Devils’ pathway, booting 23 goals in 11 games this season. He also represented the Allies and National Academy.

Matt Carroll (Sandringham Dragons)
Defender/Wing | 188cm | 28/11/2005

Perhaps a player who has flown under the radar, but possesses AFL traits, Carroll may be worth a rookie chance. He returned at the ideal time to play in Sandringham’s Coates Talent League premiership having also represented Vic Metro during the Under 18 National Championships. As a strong outside runner who takes the game on with speed, he can develop into a weapon in transitional play.

Sam Clohesy (Werribee)
Defender/Wing | 189cm | 12/12/2002

There is plenty of stock put into the Fothergill–Round–Mitchell Medal each year, and Clohesy was the recipient in 2023. Having seen Werribee teammate Shaun Mannagh taken in the National Draft, 20-year-old Clohesy has developed nicely in the VFL this year to put his hand up for the draft once again. He missed out while in the Calder Cannons program, but has strong potential as a running half-back.

Kade De La Rue (Dandenong Stingrays)
Forward/Midfielder | 183cm | 19/11/2005

Injury struck down De La Rue late in the Coates Talent League season, but the crafty utility showed plenty throughout his top-age campaign. He didn’t miss a game in 2022 after rupturing his ACL, and backed it up by representing Vic Country and proving a versatile cog in the Stingrays’ side. He’s clean, agile, and clever with ball in hand, having likely found his niche as a high half-forward.

Finnbar Maley (Northern Bullants)
Ruck/Key Forward | 198cm

There’s plenty of high wraps on Maley, who dominated this year’s NFNL Grand Final with six goals to help Eltham secure the flag. He also turned out at VFL level with the Northern Bullants as a mobile ruck/forward, and has plenty of development left. He comes from a strong family of basketballers and may be the ideal rookie as a classic late developer.

Tarkyn O’Leary (Sandringham Dragons)
Wing | 178cm | 01/07/2005

Another product of the premiership-winning Sandringham Dragons side, O’Leary is a running machine on the wing. While others rack up more of the ball, he makes his touches count with little spurts of speed and incisive left foot kicking. He does his best work on the attack and can perhaps improve his defensive work rate, but has plenty for AFL clubs to work with as a small.

Will Patton (West Adelaide)
Defender | 192cm | 04/01/2005

Highly regarded by state Under 18 coach Tony Bamford for his reliability, Patton is somewhat of a forgotten man in draft circles. The All Australian defender is capable of playing on talls and smalls, and loves having the ball in his hands. He’s just shy of being a genuine tall at 192cm, but competes well aerially and looks to set play up with his left-foot kicking on the rebound.

Geordie Payne (Tasmania Devils)
Defender | 184cm | 06/11/2005

Payne is a prospect who bolted into draft contention late in the year, with clubs clamouring to chat to the competitive defender. At 184cm, he’s gutsy on the intercept and takes off immediately once possession changes hands, utilising his speed and booming kick to break the lines. Composure and polish may be a couple of queries, but he could be yet another Tasmanian in draft contention.

Nathan Philactides (Oakleigh Chargers)
Defender | 179cm | 10/01/2005

Along with Patton, Philactides is an AFL Academy member who gradually slid down the order this year. The run-and-gun defender has serious wheels and often plays in a high gear, looking to turn defence into attack with his speed. The Oakleigh Chargers prospect represented Vic Metro as a bottom-ager and turned out for Richmond’s VFL side this year, so is relatively well accomplished.

Michael Rudd (Geelong Falcons)
Tall Forward | 193cm | 14/05/2005

While the Geelong Falcons’ talent pool was relatively shallow in 2023, co-captain Rudd was among the players who did very little wrong in warranting a draft chance. The tall forward was an important link-up target for both the Falcons and Vic Country, capable of working over his opponent up the ground and popping up to finish crucial goals once planted deeper inside 50.

Koen Sanchez (East Fremantle)
Midfielder/Forward | 177cm | 19/01/2005

Perhaps the player most unlucky to miss out on being selected in the National Draft, there remains a chance that clubs are looking at Sanchez. The diminutive midfielder-forward overcame bottom-age injury woes to get a good run at it in 2023, proving a shining light for Western Australia with his work rate and speed in both positions. He also earned a Reserves berth with the Sharks.

Sam Sofronidis (Collegians/VAFA)
Tall Defender | 194cm | 19/08/1999

A graduate of the Sandringham Dragons talent region, Sofronidis is a mature-ager who has garnered interest out of local football. The 194cm tall defender is an apt interceptor with great range and mobility, considered by many to be the best player in the top flight of VAFA footy. If not a rookie pick this year, he looms as a strong mid-season chance in 2024.

Vigo Visentini (Sandringham Dragons)
Ruck | 204cm | 05/09/2005

There was speculation that Visentini may join his elder brother Dante in the big leagues, having pieced together a strong end to the Coates Talent League season. Recruiters and selectors saw his upside and gave him a shot in the Vic Metro side, and he came on strongly in the Dragons’ run to premiership glory. At 204cm, he competes well in the ruck and is developing his ability to impact around the ground.

Riley Wills (Subiaco)
Midfielder/Forward | 178cm | 08/07/2004

A real speedster who was linked to a few clubs in the National Draft, Wills produced a terrific over-age campaign. The Subiaco product breaks the lines as a midfielder, able to play on the outside or burst away from stoppages on the inside. He also spent plenty of time up forward this year and earned a state call-up, before being among the group of well-performed state combine invitees from Western Australia.


While a slew of club-tied players found homes across both nights of the National Draft, there remains plenty left over and for the taking. Melbourne went without father-son nominee Kynan Brown, for example, but has the opportunity to rookie list him today.

Things went as expected for Greater Western Sydney, who took academy product Harvey Thomas on night two. A decision now looms on whether raw key forward Charlie McCormack is worth a shot, or requires another year developing through the talent pathway.

Along similar lines, Sydney seems committed to father-son and academy eligible over-ager Indhi Kirk, but may overlook towering ruckman Caleb May in order to have a better look at him next year. West Coast is in the same boat with defender Oscar Hine-Baston and ruck-forward Coen Livingstone.

There also remains the ‘fifth’ Suns Academy prospect in Nick Williams, who was shopped around to clubs before the draft. The over-ager is tied to Gold Coast along with William Rowlands, the latter of which is eligible via the Suns’ access to the Darwin zone.

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