The Australian Football League (AFL) will be looking to the future when the mid-season draft takes place in June. These are the top prospects teams will have their eyes on.
The AFL mid-season draft puts the best players in the state leagues up for grabs to teams at the elite level, potentially offering them a shot at playing at the highest level of the game. It is a draft that holds more significance for both the players and the teams as it was not held in 2020.
It is also a more significant draft because the decision to reduce squad list sizes in 2021 has meant that many AFL-ready players have had to spend a season in the NAB League and state leagues. This smaller squad size is also significant because of the mounting injury list in the AFL, meaning this draft could not have come at a better time for teams around the league.
The AFL is one of the biggest sports Down Under and is very popular on betting sites in Australia, such as Unibet and PalmerBet. So interest in the draft is higher than ever and these are the players everyone is talking about.
Matt Hammelmann – Aspley Hornets
25 years old – 198cm – 93kg
There is little doubt Matt Mammelmann could step into an AFL side tomorrow and not look out of place. He has previously spent two years with the Brisbane Lions but was cut from the roster due to the reduced size for 2021 and headed to the VFL. He has always been an elite goal kicker and has proved that once again with 16 goals in his first three games at that level. The most interesting aspect is that he is much more confident and powerful in the aerial challenge, something that had always been a struggle for him in the past. His elite goal kicking and added prowess in the air make him a top prospect for any side needing to fill an immediate hole among the key position players.
Jacob Edwards – Sandringham Dragons
18 years old – 203cm – 83kg
Arguably the top prospect in the entire draft, Jacob Edwards would’ve been disappointed not to have been selected in the 2020 National Draft. The young left-footer shouldered that disappointment and headed back to the NAB League where he has been dominant all year so far for the Sandringham Dragons. He has spent most of his time playing upfront, is averaging 12 disposals, 14 hit-outs and has kicked five goals. At just 18 years old, there is no doubt he is one for the future rather than an immediately AFL ready player, but the 10kg he put on in the off-season suggest he isn’t as far away as it might first appear.
Blake Schlensog – South Fremantle Bulldogs
20 years old – 199cm – 99kg
Geelong held on to Blake Schlensog for two full seasons as a Category B rookie waiting for him to deliver on his obvious potential. However, after not progressing significantly enough, he was delisted at the start of 2021 and now all his progress seems to have come at once. He has been a terrier in defence for South Fremantle this season averaging 19 disposals and eight marks a game. His performances have even earned him a call up to the West Australia State team. At 20, he is by no means the finished product yet but there is no doubt he is playing like someone who deserves a spot with an AFL team right now.
Tyson Stengle – Woodville-West Torrens
21 years old – 172cm – 73kg
Tyson Stengle is a name that most AFL clubs will be familiar with and will have been keeping an eye on after he was delisted by Adelaide. The 21-year-old’s quality has never been in question, he is a star general forward and is AFL ready for any club that is willing to take a punt on him. He has proven that emphatically playing for the Woodville-West Torrens where he has been kicking goals for fun and is averaging 16 disposals per game. The problem with Stengle has always been off the field and only time will tell if any AFL club is willing to give him another chance.
37 years old – 183cm – 75kg
This is unconventional for sure, but since Kade Simpson has openly stated he is willing to return to the AFL, he is eligible to be drafted by several teams, including Carlton who delisted him to technically end his career. The veteran of 342 AFL games in his career would bring an element and calm to the dressing room with any squad chasing a spot in the finals, or even a team looking for a mature head to help develop a team of younger players. There is plenty of upside to drafting Simpson if he is serious about his intention to return and would have a lot to offer just about any team in the league.