2024 AFL Draft | Race to #1: Sid Draper

SID Draper‘s list of accolades is the envy among this year’s crop of budding AFL hopefuls. The South Australian is already a state MVP, Under 18 All Australian, and senior player in the SANFL. That’s not to mention his best afield performance in South Adelaide’s Under 18 premiership last year.

All of the above are feats even the most elite top-agers often go without claiming, let alone bottom-agers. Draper has done it all, producing a remarkable season across all levels to be considered one of the top draft prospects heading into 2024.

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This year, he’s part of the National Academy and can look forward to linking up with big brother Arlo in the Panther’s League side. His journey to the top will be backed by a 10-thousand dollar grant via the AFL Life Member’s scholarship – an honour also achieved by 2023’s top pick, Harley Reid.

In a new series on Rookie Me Central, we cast a lens over the race to be crowned number one, running through a range of talented footballers from around the nation. Draper is up first and will be followed by a handful of others in the running to take top spot in our opening Power Rankings edition.

>> Ones to watch: 24 AFL Draft prospect in 2024

Sid Draper

Height: 180cm

Weight: -

DOB: 05-07-2006

BY THE NUMBERS:

2023 SANFL League (3 games)
14.0 disposals | 3.0 marks | 0.7 tackles | 2.3 clearances | 3.0 inside 50s

2023 SANFL U18s (14 games)
21.6 disposals | 3.9 marks | 3.2 tackles | 4.2 clearances | 3.1 inside 50s

2023 AFL U18 National Championships (4 games)
24.8 disposals | 3.5 marks | 3.8 tackles | 3.8 clearances | 6.5 inside 50s

STRENGTHS

+ Speed
+ Clean hands
+ Poise
+ Inside-outside balance
+ Leadership

The trait which immediately catches the eye with Draper is his speed. He wins the ball cleanly on the inside and steps into space in a flash, utilising his high-end agility which tested as the best nationwide last preseason.

Draper is near-untouchable when possessing the ball in tight spaces, but doesn’t give opponents the same freedom with his tackling pressure. He opens the game up going forward and to top it all off, is a noted leader at high levels.

OUR SCOUTS SAID…

“Team Naitanui’s direct style suited Draper perfectly, as he made plenty of running forays and aggressive chains of handballs through the middle of the MCG. He waxed with teammates nicely and used his speed to break to the outside of stoppages, looking most lively when sparking attacking phases.” – Michael Alvaro, 2023 U17 Futures

“The bottom-ager started up forward and soon proved why he’s even more valuable on-ball, providing clean stoppage work and a turn of speed which made him impossible to lay a hand on. He was dangerous on the overlap and matched his flair with substance… a genuine jet.” – Michael Alvaro, 2023 SANFL U18 Grand Final

“The occasional sprinkle of rain made it a tough day for clean hands, especially in the stoppages, yet Draper showed plenty of poise and elegance when handling the footy. Though his side struggled to hit the scoreboard, Draper created plenty of opportunities and looked potent in possession.” – Hayden Narducci, 2023 AFL U18 National Championships

Image Credit: Sarah Reed/AFL Photos

“At times he was the only SA midfielder prepared to run both ways, as the talented Allies engine room dominated proceedings. Draper was smooth in traffic, displaying some handy evasiveness and generally using the ball well.” – Tom Wyman, 2023 AFL U18 National Championships

“Draper showcased a few flashy traits similar to elder brother, Arlo… His turn of speed was incredibly powerful, leaving opponents in his wake with aggressive run and carry, and very nearly slotting a couple of running goals from 50 out.” – Michael Alvaro, 2022 SANFL U17 Futures

“Able to carve his way out of traffic with great poise and skill. Skipper of his side, the midfielder had little trouble getting his hands on the ball at the contest, but was also productive around the ground with overhead marks and a terrific chase on the wing in term two.” – Michael Alvaro, 2022 AFL U16 National Championships

WHERE HE SITS

Draper is arguably South Australia’s top draft prospect this year, ahead of father-son candidates Tyler Welsh (Adelaide) and Ben Camporeale (Carlton). He’s among the raft of unique midfielders vying to be taken first overall, with his points of difference being his agility and clean hands.

Draper does it all though; working both ways, hurting the opposition, and complimenting flair with toughness. Improvement may come in the way of polishing up his end product – particularly on the run – as well as further scoreboard impact. He’s a genuine top-fiver nonetheless.

ACCOLADES

– 2024 AFL Academy member
– AFL Life Member’s scholarship
– 2023 State U18 MVP
– 2023 U18 All Australian
– 2023 Team Naitanui captain (Futures)
– 2023 SANFL League debut
– 2023 SANFL U18 premiership
– 2023 SANFL U18 Grand Final BOG
– 2022 State U16 captain
– 2022 State U16 title-winner
– 2021 SANFL U16 premiership

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