2024 AFL Draft | Race to #1: Jagga Smith

OAKLEIGH Chargers midfielder Jagga Smith is a prospect who has brought the lingering draft age debate to the fore. Some have suggested the 18-year-old would have been ready to slot into an AFL system via last year’s draft, given his enormous talent and status as a high school graduate.

The Scotch College alumnus will spend the majority of his top-age season with the Chargers, while also turning out for Vic Metro’s Under 18s as he did twice in 2023, and the AFL Academy. Smith may also attract VFL opportunities, much like Will Ashcroft and Harley Reid before him.

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Smith plays very much in his own style but possesses many of the traits required of any elite modern day midfielder. His sheer consistency and ability to accumulate possessions saw him average 28 disposals at Talent League level, putting him right in the pick one conversation many months out.

In the second instalment of Rookie Me Central’s new Race to #1 series, we highlight the strengths of Smith and identify why he is in the running to be considered this year’s top prospect. Sid Draper was the first cab off the rank, among a bunch of players set to feature in our first Power Rankings edition.

>> Race to #1: Sid Draper

Jagga Smith

Height: 181cm

Weight: -

DOB: 28-01-2006


2023 Coates Talent League (10 games)
28.2 disposals | 4.0 marks | 3.5 tackles | 4.4 inside 50s | 0.8 goals

2023 AFL U18 National Championships (2 games)
24.0 disposals | 2.5 marks | 5.0 clearances | 4.0 inside 50s | 0.5 goals

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


+ Clean hands
+ Agility
+ Vision
+ Decision making
+ Accumulation

Last year’s scouting notes likened some of Smith’s best traits to those of Nick Daicos – another elite Oakleigh Chargers product. Smith has a similar inside-outside balance and racks up possessions thanks to a combination of high footy IQ and work rate.

While relatively lightly built, he is deceptively tough and clean at the coalface; able to either extract his own ball and fire it off quickly, or accelerate away having sharked the ruck’s tap. He is nearly impossible to catch in any situation, possessing rare agility and poise.

On the end of Smith’s movements are excellent decisions by hand and foot. His vision is exceptional in tight spots, and he’s the type of player who is capable of hitting up leading targets inside 50. He’s a constant threat in that regard, gliding from contest to contest at a relentless rate.

The obvious improvement in Smith’s game comes in the way of strength. His body type is conducive to a strong running game and plenty of outside ball, though he is willing to get his hands dirty. Being able to impact the scoreboard while rotating forward is another string to his bow, proven at all levels.


“Smith’s vision and foot skills came to the fore. He was just about untouchable and proved unselfish with ball in hand, spotting up teammates in better positions to score and finding the target with some sharp passes as he got involved up the ground.” – Michael Alvaro, 2023 U17 Futures

“Smith’s balance through the midfield was an asset that allowed him to link up well with any combination of teammates, though he was just as comfortable cracking in for a contested possession as he was holding his space and receiving a handball into space.” – Declan Reeve, 2023 Talent League Round 15

“The whippet-like midfielder showcased his array of skills with plenty of centre bounce opportunities, proving clean at the fall of the ball and near-impossible to lay a hand on. Smith’s smarts and agility saw him shift from inside to outside in a flash, thriving as a primary receiver.” – Michael Alvaro, 2023 U18 National Championships

Image Credit: Rookie Me Central

“There’s a little bit of Nick Daicos in how Smith goes about it. He’s such a consistent accumulator and can run all day, looking slick with every possession and waxing well with teammates. He seemed to be everywhere at times and was able to manipulate the pace of the game with his smarts.” – Michael Alvaro, 2023 Talent League Round 4

“Smith was composed in possession, floating behind the ball early when rolling through the midfield, then pushing forward hard to hit the scoreboard… he continued to win the ball throughout the match and was the key to the Chargers winning clearances.” – Peter Williams, 2023 Talent League Round 2

“Smith’s work rate came to the fore in trying conditions, as he swept back to help drive Metro forward with his classy skills and sound decision making. While still quite lightly-built, Smith only needed a touch of time and space to make his touches count, often weaving webs around opposition defenders.” – Michael Alvaro, 2022 U16 National Championships


Smith has long featured in the top tier of talent for this year’s draft and he has the traits to end up top of the tree. He’s the type of player who loves having the ball in his hands to ensure the gameplan revolves around his industrious nature both at and away from the contest.

His points of difference among a stacked group of very unique midfielders are his movement, decision making, and production level. He has a good balance of inside and outside traits and is capable of hurting the opposition with ball in hand. Again, a genuine top-fiver.

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