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Draft phantom form guide: August

Callum Twomey, AFL Media  August 17, 2017 10:04 AM

AFL 2017 Portraits - Under 18 Championships

Vic Metro's Adam Cerra

The home and away season is coming to an end, which means there's only limited time left for draft prospects to show their wares.

Many have already done enough. Here we rank the top 25 players in this year's NAB AFL Draft in the second edition of the Phantom Form Guide for 2017.

Remember, this is purely a ranking of the best players in the crop, and not a mock draft. It also does not take into account where bids may come for father-son or academy players.

AFL Media will update the Form Guide rankings every month in the lead-up to November's draft.

POS: Half-forward/midfielder, Ht 187cm, Wt 88kg, DOB 21/10/1999
From Western Jets/Vic Metro

July ranking: 1

Rayner's most recent game, for the Western Jets two weeks ago, was a ripper. He had 23 touches, kicked 2.4, laid 11 tackles and had eight clearances in a really strong and dominant display. Even more impressive is the fact he's doing it with a fracture in his hand, which Rayner will play with for the rest of the season with the help of a splint. Quick, tough, explosive and capable of making things happen, there isn't a player like Rayner in this year's draft – or many drafts, for that matter. He's a match-winner and he's saved his best performances this year for the biggest games of the season, such as his brilliant run of efforts for Vic Metro. Will need to continue to build his engine, but is very good overhead and as comfortable stationed close to goal as at a midfield stoppage. 

POS: Midfielder, Ht 187cm, Wt 85kg, DOB 8/6/1999
From Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country

July ranking: 2

Davies-Uniacke might be the best pure midfielder up for grabs. He's tall, has a turn of speed from a stoppage, and is learning to use his size more to bust through and grab the ball at pace. Davies-Uniacke started the national carnival well for Vic Country before finishing it a little quieter, but has gone back to school level since then for some standout performances. In one game for the Dandenong Stingrays since the carnival he also showed his overhead marking to be a strength when he pushed close to goal. He doesn't get ruffled by much and will put himself in harm's way to have the ball in his hands.

POS: Midfielder, Ht 186cm, Wt 85kg, DOB 7/10/1999 
From Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro 

July ranking: 3

Shoulder surgery last week has prematurely ended Cerra's season, but he's expected to be right to go for his first AFL pre-season, wherever that is. Cerra's the type of player who can be depended upon with the ball in hand: if you were a forward leading towards him, he'd probably direct you where to lead with his pass. The query on him has been his pace, and it's true he doesn't have the  same breakaway jets that others do. However, he has a nice sidestep to get out of trouble and always looks balanced. Kicked 3.5 from 24 disposals for the Ranges against Gippsland in July to show some forward craft. 

POS: Midfielder, Ht 184cm, Wt 78kg, DOB 16/10/1999
From Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country

July ranking: 11

With his no-nonsense approach, good mix of pace, outside run and burst and inside grunt, Dow ticks a few important boxes as a likely early selection. The Bendigo Pioneers midfielder is a player you can see doing his thing for many years and working hard at getting better and better. He's agile and tests well in the 20-metre sprint, and was one of the NAB AFL Academy's better players against VFL opposition earlier this season. Recently won the Geelong Grammar best and fairest for the third straight season, highlighting his consistency. With Dow, what you see is what you get, plus a bit more. 

POS: Key defender/key forward, Ht 194cm, Wt 89kg, DOB 11/2/1999
From Bendigo Pioneers/Allies

July ranking: 6

Most of Brander's best footy has been played this season as a key defender, but one of his standout games of the year came as a forward for the Allies in the final round of the national carnival. Brander kicked three goals that day to lead his team to victory. Brander is the best tall in the draft, particularly with Will Sutherland choosing to pursue cricket over footy. His marking is good, and he's clever at jumping in to intercept when in the backline. Brander was originally a member of GWS' academy before the AFL realigned its area and made him a part of the open pool.

Jarrod Brander could be the perfect key defender for the right club. Picture: AFL Photos

POS: Half-forward, Ht 189cm, Wt 76kg, DOB 15/1/1999
From Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro

July ranking: 7

Stephenson had one of his best games of the season – definitely his most prolific – two weeks ago for the Eastern Ranges, when he gathered 39 disposals against Sandringham. He had five tackles and five clearances as well, and delivered a dominant midfield game that he had been building towards. Stephenson can be an electrifying player: he's quick off the mark, jumps high, is agile at ground level, he kicks goals, takes the game on and tries things that others wouldn't even consider. He's a bit unique in his shape and skillset, but he can be extremely exciting around goal. This year he's spent a lot of the season up the ground developing his game there. 

POS: Half-forward/midfielder, Ht 192cm, Wt 92kg, DOB 25/9/1999
From Glenelg/South Australia

July ranking: 4

Fogarty's year was ended when he had surgery at the end of July on a minor meniscus tear in his knee. It was an issue the South Australian prospect had carried for a little while, although not a big enough concern to restrict him to the low disposal numbers he has picked up in recent months. Fogarty's best form of the season came in April for the NAB AFL Academy when he showed his talents as a big, strong and bustling forward who can have bursts in the midfield. But there have only been little flashes since then, making Fogarty's draft position one of the more interesting queries for this year's pool. 

POS: Small forward/midfielder, Ht 178cm, Wt 76kg, DOB 19/3/1999
From Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro

July ranking: 8

There isn't a player as consistent as Higgins in this year's draft pool. The Oakleigh Chargers prospect has starred at each level he's played at across the season, and has become a really complete player. The small forward/midfielder can play in both areas of the ground as comfortably as the other. He's always dangerous around goal, and he can win the footy in the midfield. He had a big day against the Greater Western Victoria Rebels in the TAC Cup last month with 30 disposals, 11 clearances, two goals and seven tackles. Will be ready to play AFL next year. Think Toby Greene. 

Jack Higgins has been a star at every level he has played at. Picture: AFL Photos

POS: Ruckman/key forward, Ht 203cm, Wt 93kg, DOB 9/6/1999
From Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro

July ranking: 10

The best ruckman in the draft, which makes it difficult in some ways to know where he might be selected given how reluctant clubs are to use early picks on ruckmen. But Hayes has been able to add a string to his bow this year by playing some decent footy as a deep forward, including a six-goal haul earlier in the season at TAC Cup level. Hayes is the only back-to-back All Australian in the draft so is well credentialed. 

POS: Midfielder, Ht 183cm, Wt 73kg, DOB 15/1/1999
From Northern Knights/Vic Metro

July ranking: 14

The likely Richmond father-son pick has had a terrific season that saw him selected in the NAB AFL Under-18 All Australian side after the national championships. The son of former Tiger Chris is a light-bodied midfielder who has shown a penchant for pushing forward and kicking goals. He's a long and driving kick, and has a genuine goal-sense to his game that makes him a dangerous player. Will need to add some size, but his development this year has been promising and he loves to take things on.

POS: Midfielder/half-back, Ht 190cm, Wt 83kg, DOB 23/10/1999
From Northern Knights/Vic Metro

July ranking: 16

Coffield is a player whose stocks have steadily risen across the year to the point he will be in the mix as a top-10 pick by the end of the season. He's got a bit going for him: he's tall, he's versatile and can play in the midfield or across half-back, he's quick for his size, and he generally uses the ball neatly. Coffield is also captain of the Northern Knights, so ticks the leadership box. He had a good head-to-head battle with Jaidyn Stephenson at TAC Cup level several weeks ago, and can combine a defensive mindset with some attacking play when in that role. 

POS: Key defender, Ht 194cm, Wt 84kg, DOB 30/11/1999
From Peel Thunder/Western Australia

July ranking: 20

There is some buzz about Naughton, who is climbing the ranks as one of the best key defenders in the group. The West Australian shot to prominence with an impressive carnival for his state, but he has progressed particularly well since then with a string of excellent games at senior level in the WAFL with Peel Thunder, Fremantle's affiliate. He gathered seven marks and 16 disposals in his debut there, and in four games he has averaged nearly 18 disposals and nine marks an outing. Reads the play well and chops off forward entries with his clean hands. 

POS: Midfielder, Ht 183cm, Wt 80kg, DOB 8/11/1999
From Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro

July ranking: 22

The younger brother of Melbourne midfielder Angus was terrific on Saturday in a representative game in Victoria, when he gathered 31 disposals and kicked a goal in the midfield. Brayshaw has a good mix of traits – he's tough, light on his feet, uses the ball well, and is balanced with his run. Came back from injury to perform well for Vic Metro in the latter stages of the championships, and continues to elevate himself on draft boards.

Andrew Brayshaw, brother of Angus, has shown similar toughness to his Demon sibling. Picture: AFL Photos

POS: Half-back/midfielder, Ht 186cm, Wt 79kg, DOB 26/3/1999
From Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country

July ranking: 12

Unfortunately Clark didn't get much of a chance to play as an inside midfielder for Vic Country at the under-18 championships, because that's where he looks best as a draft prospect. Formerly playing as a running half-back, Clark has moved into the midfield for the Dandenong Stingrays this year and has been in good touch at TAC Cup level since the mid-year carnival, including a 34-disposal game (that included 10 inside-50s and seven clearances) against the Gippsland Power. Is tough, courageous and he will put his body on the line time after time.

POS: Midfielder, Ht 184cm, Wt 75kg, DOB 18/9/1999
From Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country

July ranking: 9

The knee injury that hampered O'Brien at times through the under-18 championships lingered a little into July, but he returned to play at school level for Geelong Grammar, where his run and skill across half-back stood out. O'Brien likes to run with the ball and swing onto his left foot to get things going, and he's able to run all day, mixing a turn of foot with one of the best endurance bases in the draft crop. He hasn't had the type of dominant season he would have been hoping for, but his skillset is well known. 

POS: Midfielder, Ht 190cm, Wt 83kg, DOB 23/10/1999
From Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro

July ranking: 18

Emerged as a possible early pick earlier in the year and had a very good national carnival for Vic Metro which saw him earn All Australian honours. Constable is a tall midfielder who can just find the ball at will. He is a good decision maker who can feed it out to running players, or he is more than capable of using it by foot and finding a teammate. The knock on Constable is a lack of leg speed, and he doesn't have that zip away from a stoppage. But he gets the ball that much as an inside player that he is one of the best of his type. 

POS: Key forward, Ht 191cm, Wt 83kg, DOB 19/3/1999
From West Perth/Western Australia

July ranking: 19

The hard working key forward claimed this year's Larke Medal as the best player in division one of the championships after a consistent carnival for Western Australia. He probably isn't tall enough to be a big, marking target at AFL level, but with his excellent running capacity he can move up the ground to get away from opponents, and he's also skillful so converts most of his shots. Allen is a competitor who thinks plenty about his footy, and he recently moved up to make his senior WAFL debut for West Perth. Has been one of a handful of key position players to rise up the ranks this year.

POS: Key forward, Ht 199cm, Wt 95kg, DOB 29/3/1999
From Brisbane Lions academy/Allies

July ranking: 13

It's been a better month for Ballenden, who kicked four goals in a game for the Brisbane Lions' NEAFL side several weeks ago. This season has been a tricky one to judge him, as Ballenden started the year as one of the contenders for the No.1 pick but wouldn't be in that conversation now. He has switched between a few roles this season, including as a key defender, in the ruck and as a marking forward to varying success. A member of the Lions' academy so the club has first call on him when a bid falls. 

POS: Key defender, Ht 194cm, Wt 92kg, DOB 23/10/1999
From Calder Cannons/Vic Metro

July ranking: 24

Balta enjoyed one of his best games of the season in his return to TAC Cup footy after the under-18 championships, when he gathered 31 disposals, 10 inside-50s and four tackles in a roaming role that also saw him play in the ruck at times. Balta's athleticism sets him apart. For a player of his size he is quick off the mark and agile at ground level, and of all the roles he has played around the ground this season, it seems a spot as a key defender who can boot the ball a long way is his best go. 

Draft Balta? Noah Balta has the athleticism to make a big splash in the AFL. Picture: AFL Photos

POS: Half-back/midfielder, Ht 183cm, Wt 81kg, DOB 21/5/1999
From Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro

July ranking: 15

Garner enjoyed his best patch of form of the year in Vic Metro's under-18 campaign, which he captained to a title win. The left-footed half-back performed well at national level but hasn't had the most consistent season as he's swapped between teams. When he's playing well, Garner can impact games in the air by dropping back and grabbing marks, and can also set up the play from the backline with some strong kicking and decisions out of that area. 

POS: Half-back/half-forward, Ht 184cm, Wt 73kg, DOB 12/4/1999
From Northern Knights/Vic Metro

July ranking: 17

Petruccelle excites like few in this draft pool can, but it's on an ad-hoc basis, which makes him a harder prospect to put in place. His brilliant run and speed (he has run the 20-metre sprint in 2.82 seconds) gives him genuine X-factor and a trick few others possess. But he has had his quiet moments this year, and he needs to clean up his kicking a little. Because of his strong basketball background, Petruccelle has good spring in his legs and likes to fly for marks in the air and then hit the ground running. His highlights package will be one of the best in the draft. 

POS: Midfielder, Ht 179cm, Wt 75kg, DOB 1/4/1999
From Western Jets/Vic Metro

July ranking: 21

The reliable midfielder is small but gets the job done most weeks. Injury interrupted his national carnival for Vic Metro, with a groin concern restricting him in the early rounds. But he came back and played well, and continues to be a ball winner at every level he plays. Fogarty has quick hands, doesn't fumble often, and is neat by foot. He's also more than comfortable around goal, which gives him another strength away from being in the thick of the midfield action.

POS: Forward, Ht 188cm, Wt 83kg, DOB 15/12/99
From Brighton Grammar/Sandringham Dragons

July ranking: None

Murphy is set to overlook a promising cricket career to nominate for the NAB AFL Draft this year where he could feature as a top-20 pick. The talented half-forward has shot up the rankings with a string of exciting performances at school level for Brighton Grammar and also for the Sandringham Dragons, where in three games he has averaged 22 disposals. Murphy is a medium forward who has a good goal sense and is a classy user of the ball.

POS: Midfielder, Ht 175cm, Wt 66kg, DOB 4/8/99
From Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro

July ranking: None

Moore could have done no more to press his draft claims this season. The small midfielder had an outstanding carnival for Vic Metro which saw him win All Australian honours after averaging 23 disposals. Across the season Moore has proven he can also push forward, and recently booted six goals for school side Caulfield Grammar. He is good overhead for his size and doesn't fumble his chances, but one of Moore's best traits is his running capacity – he's an endurance freak who can keep going and going and going. He would have enjoyed running the beep test at the NAB AFL Draft Combine had it not been taken out of this year's testing. A competitor. 

Dylan Moore (right) had an outstanding carnival for Vic Metro. Picture: AFL Photos

POS: Midfielder, Ht 173cm, Wt 73kg, DOB 25/11/99
From Murray Bushrangers/Allies

July ranking: None

Spargo's frustrating season was ended prematurely when he underwent shoulder surgery in June. The small midfielder had suffered the problem in the opening round of the championships while playing for the Allies and was then ruled out for the rest of the season after going under the knife. Spargo is dogged and determined and makes up for his shorter stature with a fierce approach at the stoppages. He uses his body well in marking contests and can also be rested forward and be dangerous inside-50.