2023 AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Tall Defenders

AS the 2023 AFL Women’s Draft edges closer, we take a look at some of the key players who could shape the draft by each position. Starting off the series with tall defenders, we will take a look at those players who are 174cm or taller, and could provide clubs with some critical relief in the back 50.


Cleo Buttifant (Giants Academy / NSW-ACT)
03/05/2005 | 174cm | National

One of the draft bolters this season, Buttifant looms as the pick of the tall defenders. Perhaps a couple of centimetres below genuine key position height, the Giants Academy member has opted to nominate nationally which is great news for clubs around the country. Given the lack of defenders who can play on genuine talls in this year’s draft, Buttifant offers that, and most importantly some crucial run. Still learning to curb that explosiveness at times, she backs herself to break down the opposition defensive zones.


Kiara Bischa (Suns Academy / Queensland)
15/04/2005 | 174cm | Queensland

Deservedly earning the Gold Coast Suns’ Academy Players Player Award, Bischa was popular among her teammates. Getting the job done each and every week, she play some critcial roles on the likes of Lauren Yougn and Ash Centra at the national carnival. She is set to be Gold Coast bound though, nominating Queensland. With her mix of athleticism and get understanding of the game, Bischa has a well-rounded profile that can suit a multitude of roles.


Alissa Brook (South Adelaide / South Australia)
23/05/2005 | 176cm | National

Brook has not had as much exposure as some others, having to cut her teeth through the Development League to start off in the SANFL Women’s, but quickly found her place in the Panthers’ League side. She went on to have a solid national carnival, and though she is still a raw talent, has enormous potential. In particular her vertical leap and speed stands out, and while some of her fundamentals are still building, few could deny that with hard work and development she could be a great long-term option.

Lucy Cronin (Oakleigh Chargers / Vic Metro)
05/10/2005 | 177cm | Victoria

The other key position player with some impressive upside is Oakleigh Chargers’ Cronin. Missing a fair chunk of footy due to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, Cronin returned to piece together a really strong Talent League Girls season. She has a booming kick and a slick sidestep, and though she is not the finished product, had Cronin been able to start the year in the form she finished it, a Vic Metro jumper would have beckoned.


Jemma Ramsdale (Dandenong Stingrays / Vic Country)
07/05/2005 | 174cm | National

Though athleticism seems to be prevalent in football these days, Ramsdale is proof at junior level that elite footy IQ and incredible competitiveness will get the job done. One of those players who teammates love to lineup alongside, the Stingrays skipper was not blessed with explosive speed or an enormous leap, but she competes hard, follows up with multiple efforts, and hates losing. Her reading of the play and timing her interceptions to perfection is what really stands out, and from an understanding of the game, few do it better.


Gabby Eaton (Swans Academy / NSW-ACT)
21/10/2005 | 178cm | National

The cross-coder out of netball could be great value as a Cat-B, having only crossed into football this year. From minimal exposure to the game, Eaton showed some promising signs with a balance of athleticism and strength. Her traits could lend her to play in various positions, but she settled in defence for the Swans Academy. A low-risk, high-reward pick that could prove shrewd for clubs.

Annabelle Embelton (Sandringham Dragons / Vic Metro)
06/12/2005 | 177cm | Victoria

Embelton enjoyed a consistent year for the Dragons, providing rebound out of the back 50 time and time again. Boasting a penetrating kick, Embelton is similar to Ramsdale in the sense that she does not have eye-catching athleticism, but she competes and puts her body on the line. She reads the play well and usually looks to clear to safety, with a team-first mentality.

Liliana Grassenis (West Perth / Western Australia)
18/12/2005 | 177cm | Western Australia

The West Perth defender is one with a bit of everything. She has that competitive spirit and ability to win one-on-ones, but also has that athleticism that helps add an extra string to her bow. Not quite as developed in the execution fundamentals, Grassenis is very strong aerially, and once the ball hits the deck, she will compete with some fantastic repeat efforts.

Bianca Lyne (Dandenong Stingrays / Vic Country)
06/04/2005 | 174cm | Victoria

After being thrown around as a ruck and midfielder, Lyne found her home in defence fairly early in the year. She might be a tough undersized but has an enormous leap and good closing speed which makes her perfect to play a defensive role. She can spoil well, but also take strong marks, and while her ground level game and fundamentals could improve, she has some long-term traits as a tall defender.

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