A couple of other posters have started threads on some of this years draft prospects, and since it is still early on in the season I figured one more thread on the topic wouldn't hurt. I wont pretend I've seen any of the interstate prospects, at least not enough to form any sort of real opinion on them - so I'll be sticking to South Australians. Most of the SA kids have just been playing in the SANFL U18s, so there is next to no footage available of these players yet. So hopefully I can be of some help to interstate draft watchers who wouldn't have seen any of them. And I must say, this is a pretty good looking group this year - with a number who I think should be first round prospects. Instead of trying to rank them in any sort of order, I'll just go alphabetical instead... Nick Amato - 176cm, 72kg Amato was everywhere last year - played in two games for South Australia in the U18 Championships, played a few games in the SANFL U18s, another couple in the Reserves and the rest was spent playing school football. So this year should give a better picture of where he stands, particularly as he should feature heavily in the Championships again. In his first game in the Championships last year, Amato finished with 20 touches but he also played on Will Hoskin-Elliot and managed to keep him to just 9 disposals. This probably says about everything you can - he is a ball winner, and has excellent endurance. He might only be small, but he'll continue on as a tough inside midfielder this year and if he can continue shutting out players while winning his own ball, then he should be a good shot at getting drafted. Josh Archer - 190cm, 70kg I don't have as much to say about Archer as some others, but I've included him as I think he may be one to watch this year. Still needs to fill out a bit more, but he has been involved in most of the South Australian underage teams so far, so I imagine that will continue with the U18s this year too. Archer is a reasonable kick, playing across the back lines - and I see no reason why he wont develop into a nice defender this year. Jake Atkinson - 198cm, 89kg As you can see from this list, South Australia does have a few ruckmen who could get picked up. The problem is that many don't have the height needed at AFL level. And I'm not entirely convinced that Atkinson is 198cm either, he might be closer to 196cm. But anyway, he has been leading the ruck for Sturt this year and has been doing a very good job of it. Was also picked in the SA squad, but couldn't crack a game. What interests me is his prospects up forward. When he is given the chance, he has shown the ability to dominate a game up there. He is a very strong contested mark, so there is enough to work with for sure. Steven Baldasso - 183cm, 73kg I think Baldasso is probably one of the better players that nobody knows about in this draft pool. He was part of the South Australian squad for the U18 Championships, but wasn't able to crack the team for a game. And apart from a two week stint in the Reserves, Baldasso has spent the rest of the year in the U18s for Norwood - so few would have seen him play. But, he is good modern day midfielder. He has a nice size to him, and can play a number of roles in the midfield - whether it be as an inside clearance winner, or an outside runner. He has really clean hands, doesn't seem to fumble very often. And he seems to make very few mistakes with his disposal. I think he could surprise a few, and go late in the national draft. Fred Beytell - 181cm, 81kg Haven't seen his name mentioned anywhere, he has been an interesting one to watch this year - was one of the more 'unknowns' picked in the SA squad for the Championships. He has split his time for Norwood in the U18s and Reserves this year, and has been named in the bests in the majority of his games. He isn't very well known compared to others, but if I were looking for a small defender later on in the draft, then he could well be the one. I really like him when he has the ball in his hands - he has good skills and excellent pace, sometimes he tries to do too much and gets in trouble, but I'll never criticise a player for doing that. Chase Bower - 190cm, 78kg If I had to pick one player to be a bolter from SA this year, it would be Chase Bower - and not just because he has a great name. He hasn't represented South Australia at every age level like some have, but I would expect him to be chosen in the U18 squad this year, and after splitting his playing time this season between the Norwood U18s and Reserves he will hopefully push for higher honours in the SANFL too. Versatility is Bower's main weapon, and he can play pretty much anywhere on the ground - has filled key roles at both ends of the ground, as well as being an attacking option in the midfield. He is very quick, attacks the play well and is also fairly strong above his head. I imagine he will continue to develop as a defender this year, and a Josh Bootsma type rise isn't out of the question. Kaiden Brand - 195cm, 80kg A ruckman from West Adelaide, I'm hoping Brand still has a bit of growing left to do just so there are no questions about what position he could play. Not that he couldn't develop into a KPP at either end of the ground, but he does some nice work playing through the middle. Might not be the most dominant ruckman going around, but it's his work after the bounce that arguably makes him stand out. Spent the season playing in the SANFL U18s, and he averaged close to 18 touches a game and was one of his teams better contested ball winners. In one game, he had 36 disposals, 12 marks and 18 hitouts - not too shabby for a ruckman. His kicking could stand to improve and hopefully he either grows or works on his leap to ensure he can keep competing in the middle. Tim Broomhead - 182cm, 73kg Initially I held off on Broomhead, because I wanted to see a little more. Just had this feeling that he could be one of those good U18s but not really translate it into the State circuit or AFL. But he showed some nice signs in the Championships, in particular in the final game. Moves really well and links up nicely coming off of half back and the wing. He is actually taller than I thought too, I had it in my mind that he was mid 170s but he is 182cm. So that's a big plus. Ball winner, real threat on the scoreboard and a very good kick too. Also reasonably good overhead. He does have quite a good game. Sam Colquhoun - 179cm, 72kg Keep an eye out for Colquhoun as the season goes on. He has had a good start to the season playing for Central Districts, playing both through the midfield and across half back. He is a really smart player, knows where to position himself and is also a very good kick. He isn't getting much attention at the moment, and I would like to see more of him myself, but I think he could surprise a few people as the season goes on. Tullio DeMatteis - 184cm, 72kg Hasn't played a lot of games for Norwood over the last two seasons, probably less than 10 spread out between U18s and Reserves. But he is a quick outside runner, who can also go forward. Has also done some competitive sprinting over here in Adelaide. Has good foot skills to go with the pace. Maybe not the best comparison, but he reminds me a bit of Michael Mascoulis - the West Coast rookie. I thought he should have been taken late in the National Draft last year, so hopefully DeMatteis has more luck. Tasman Fitzgerald - 194cm, 88kg The big key forward from Woodville, Tasman has been a bit of a surprise this year. Mainly played school football last year, and wasn't part of the initial SANFL underage academy. But playing as a key forward/part time ruckman, he has shown some nice signs this year. He wins a lot of the ball from his CHF position, and is a big strong mark. A team could do much worse than Fitzgerald if they were looking for a tall to develop late in the draft. Ethan Gill - 194cm, 94kg Typically, when you see someone of his size, you'd expect them to be a mature aged player. But Gill is the youngest player in the draft, he was born on December 31 - the cutoff date for draft eligibility. So one would think, he'd have some real development still to come. But despite being so young, he has spent the season in the Reserves and has even made his league debut. Typically, he plays as a CHF/back up ruckman - a role he did for SA in the Championships. As a player, he is similar to Kepler Bradley - big lumbering guy who doesn't really look like a footballer, but has surprising agility and just does his job each week. Brodie Grundy - 200cm, 92kg So probably the biggest name to come out of SA this year, and most would probably be aware of him. He has been the dominant ruckman in his age group for the past few years, and not only that but showed he can match it with bigger bodies too - got the better of Jarrod Witts in a match against NSW last year, and was named as an All Australian in the 2011 U18 Championships as an underage player. He also made his SANFL league debut, and while he was quiet it should hold him in good stead for the 2012 season. Like most ruckmen these days, he has a basketball background which no doubt helps with his mobility around the ground. Also isn't afraid to throw his body around and can be quite physical. In South Australian terms, he is almost a mix of Scott Lycett and Daniel Gorringe - the best of both worlds. Emmanuel Irra - 179cm, 73kg Really interesting player is the Ugandan refugee. Think he has been playing football for the four years now, and after playing in the U18 Championships last year as an underage player he was named in the AFL/AIS Academy for this year and has also made his SANFL league debut - the first African to do so (probably, he was at least the first Ugandan). It's amazing just how talented he is for someone who didn't grow up on AFL, his kicking is just as good as anyones - distance is not an issue and E-Man has all the tricks too. He has that real loping running style, but is deceptively quick and can has good skills below his knees. He'll be a good one to watch this year, might be more of a mid-round draft pick but whoever gets him will have someone with real potential. Ben Kennedy - 174cm, 73kg I still don't know where I stand on Kennedy. There is no denying his talent, and I'm sure the kid will be a star. But people will always question his height, and whether he can play a role in the midfield or not. But all that aside, he is seriously talented. Was another named to the All Australian side from the Championships last year as an underaged player, and has also made his SANFL league debut - becoming a bit of a fixture in the Glenelg side. There were also some pretty strong reports of Kennedy being just behind Crouch in terms of being Adelaide's pick in the mini draft last year. I liken him to Hayden Ballantyne - just even more talented. Super quick, strong, a very good kick and a defensive star. He also has all the X factor you could possibly want around goals. I imagine we'll see more of him in the midfield this year, which should see him getting drafted around that 10-15 range. Jarrad Lienert - 191cm, 80kg Another tall from SA, and quite a versatile one at that as he can play as a key position player or as a smaller rebounding type. Lienert started the season playing up forward for Sturt, where kicked 12 goals in 3 games. But then moved to the back lines. He missed the first game of the Championships through injury, but returned against the NT and performed well. Generally looks to take the game on coming out of the back lines, Lienert should be one to watch in the lead up to the draft. Aaron Luccon - 197cm, 91kg Luccon has been a bit of a late bloomer, really coming into his own in the last couple of years. Was named in the South Australian U18 squad last year, I tend to think that was more because of a lack of height than anything, and he didn't end up playing in the Championships. Instead he played out the season in the Norwood U18s, playing predominantly in the ruck. Although he performed well in the ruck, this year I'd like to see him develop other areas of his game - namely getting on the scoreboard more often. He is a big strong mark, and gets around the ground quite nicely too. Also is a surprisingly good kick of the football, not just for a ruckman but in general. So playing up forward and pushing for senior selection should be the goal this year. Paul Marschall - 189cm, 90kg Every year, there is one mature aged player from the SANFL who stands up and gets taken in the National Draft. And this year, it is looking like it will be Marschall. At 187cm and 80kg, the 20 year old is a ready made prospect and would arguably have already made his debut if he were on an AFL list this year. Marschall would be the best kick in the SANFL, very rarely does he miss a target. I think he would look at home on Hawthorn's half back line, and that is saying something considering the talent they have back there. Sam Mayes - 187cm, 74kg Could easily end up being the first player from SA drafted this year. Another 5cm would be great, but regardless you can't really argue with what he has accomplished so far. Yet again, he played every game for SA in the Championships, was named as an All Australian and made his SANFL league debut. Sensing a trend here? Mayes has typically played his football up around CHF, working up the ground to create a contest and delivering the ball inside 50. It's a good spot for him, and there is no reason he couldn't continue that role at AFL level. He is a very strong mark, and just needs to put on a bit more weight to better compete in one on ones. Similar to someone like a Fyfe, his football smarts seem to give him time and space as opposed to elite speed. If he can develop his midfield game, then he will be one of the first players picked. But regardless, he'd get drafted pretty high as a half forward anyway. Matthew McDonough - 180cm, 85kg Another player to feature in the South Australian U18 squad from last year, McDonough is a big kid and even last you wouldn't have known he was underage. His problem though is his height, or relative lack of. In the Championships he played a similar role to that of Sam Mayes, in that he worked up around the 50m line and provided contests - more than that, he is a bit of a goal kicker including a haul of 5. At the moment he is more of a forward, and with his height he is really going to have to work on his midfield/contested game. While he could be developed into a handy medium forward what with his strength and kicking, he does lack a real turn of speed. Which is where another chunky forward in Marley Williams last year had him covered. Todd McKay - 177cm, 74kg McKay is yet another one who played in the U18 Championships last year as an underage player, and he did reasonably well - despite being a 17 year old, he was used in contested situations. And like pretty much everyone else so far, he has also made his SANFL league debut and played in a couple of finals for South Adelaide too. So everything has been going pretty well for him so far. Like I said, he is a strong inside midfielder, goes in and gets the ball out. Also runs hard, and has a fairly decent kick on him, so he shouldn't get pigeon holed as a hard nut and nothing else. I'll be watching him closely this year, because I'm not yet sure where I stand on him - although he is more of a ball winner, there could be shades of Waldhuter and Rusca who I liked last year. Somewhere in the middle of the draft seems about right for now, but if he can really dominate the possession count then he could see his stocks rise. Troy Menzel - 183cm, 78kg Not as big of a name as the others, people will probably know him more for his brother than anything else. But if his performances from last year are anything to go by, then I would expect him to quickly make a name for himself. Had a knee reconstruction in 2010 (those Menzels must have bad knees) but he returned with a bang last year - becoming the youngest player to make a league debut for Central Districts. Is a pretty similar player to his brother, very similar in fact - which probably says more than I could. Quick, with good skills, he has the ability to play any number of roles. With a good season, I imagine his bandwagon will take off and should cement his spot in the second round. Mason Middleton - 191cm, 95kg So I've said a few others could be bolters come draft time, and Middleton is no different. He only played two games in the SANFL U18's last year - 7 weeks apart. What I assume was the reason for not playing more, is that he lives about 3 hours north of Adelaide and plays in the Riverland competition. I think I saw his first game for West Adelaide, but for the purpose of this I'll just assume otherwise because I don't remember much. I am looking forward to seeing more of him this year, because with his size he could well be an early pick. He is a big young key forward, who like so many others played through the ruck in the SANFL U18s. In his two games he averaged 17 disposals, 27 hitouts and 8 marks. Plus he kicked 5 goals straight. Pretty damn impressive, and not surprisingly was named in their best 2 in both games. More important than the stats alone, is the fact that he took strong marks at key moments and was just generally composed around the field. I know some people who are quite excited about what he offers as a key forward. Harley Montgomery - 178cm, 70kg Despite playing 5 games in the SANFL Reserves last year, Montgomery still managed to take out Sturt's U18 B&F playing as a midfielder and across half back. But he is another that I didn't see all that much of last year. This year, he has had a very good year playing as a small defender for both South Austraila and the senior Sturt side. He has good closing speed and just sticks to his opponent all day. I don't think his kicking is as clean as some seem to think, but he should get picked up late. Karl Muller - 197cm, 90kg I've quite liked what Muller has shown in recent weeks, if he can grow just that little bit more before the end of the season, then he might be a legitimate option as a young ruckman. He has a good leap on him, and his ruckwork is more than handy. If the SA squad for the Championships was being picked now, he might well have been picked to back up Grundy. Brodie Murdoch - 191cm, 79kg Not a player many would know much of, again people would probably only know the name because of his brother Jordan. He wasn't part of the South Australian U18 squad last year, and only played 6 games for Glenelg in the SANFL U18s - so he only has limited exposure, although kicking 31 goals in those 6 games has certainly helped in getting his name out. I really like what I've seen of him though, and I know there has been some interest in him already. Whereas Jordan was a half forward, Brodie is more of your classic full forward. Tends to play deep, and leads at the ball. He leads really well, and is a strong mark too. Like Jordan though, he is also a very good kick. He is not unlike Shane Kersten, just not as physically developed yet. It's still very early days for him, but I'm going to say he could be a fringe first round pick this year - provided he measures in well. Tim O'Brien - 194cm, 76kg I've seen O'Brien the least of anyone on this list, he only played 3 games in the SANFL U18s after I believe coming down the country. But I'm including him as a bit of speculative pick, and I'm hoping he either grows more this year or measures in as taller than what I have him listed as. And that's because while he can play up forward, most of his football has been played in the ruck. Eddy O'Connor - 185cm, 72kg I'm sure people know by now that I like my Norwood players, and O'Connor is a bit of an interesting one. Played the whole season in the Norwood U18s, averaged around 16 disposals a game with an excellent disposal efficiency of over 80%. He has typically played his football on the wing, with some time as a leading half forward too. And he should continue with those roles again this year. A good mark, but his skills are the highlight of his game. He might not be quite as fast, but is that Issac Smith/Daniel Markworth type mould. Apparently might have a bit more growing to do too, so he should be another one to look out for. Nathan Stark - 177cm, 70kg Stark had a pretty good U18 Championships, and he seems to have caught a few eyes on here as a result of it. He's only a small guy, but he seems to do everything at full speed so you do notice him out on the field - particularly with the blonde hair. He has shown the ability to really win a lot of the ball, both for SA and back home for Glenelg. He isn't as strong as someone like a Lachie Neale, but does have a knack at getting his own ball regardless. My money is on him being a rookie selection, and finding a home on a half forward flank at the next level. Tim Sumner - 187cm, 83kg Indigenous kid who plays both half forward and in the midfield, he has a real nice size to him. Back home in the SANFL he has been improving every week, winning his own ball and setting up a lot of goals through the midfield. In the last few weeks, he has started to really dominate and kicked 8 goals in one game. Also managed to crack the SA side for a game at the end of the Championships, and looked like he fit in with the bigger names. He doesn't need to have a lot of touches to influence a game. I'm sure he'll get more attention as the season goes on. Jimmy Toumpas - 183cm, 74kg I really, really like Toumpas. As much as I liked Wingard last year (and people here will know I rated him highly) I think Toumpas could be an even more special player - he just steps up at every level he has played. The kid played U18s as a 16 year old, played in all matches for South Australia at the Championships last year, and even made his SANFL league debut last year. He was arguably BOG in the preliminary final for Woodville, and put in a strong performance in the SANFL Grand Final too. Really clean and composed, has that ability to run at full pace and still deliver the ball. Can play inside, outside or up forward. I really look forward to watching him develop this year, because so far he has done everything asked of him. Matt Wallis - 195cm, 82kg Not one I've seen much of at all, but he does have some decent wraps on him. Played just three games for Norwood in the U18s and one in the Reserves, the rest of his time this season was spent playing school football. But people at Norwood are expecting big things from the ruckman/KPP this year, and with his size it's easy to see why. Is a really good athlete, with good skills and a strong mark. So he should be a good one to watch out for this year. Daniel Williamson - 180cm, 78kg The last player from Norwood to feature in my list, Williamson mainly played in the SANFL U18s with a few Reserves games thrown in for good measure. He proved to be a bit of a ball winner, averaging over 22 touches and around 3 tackles a game. Reasonably quick for an inside midfielder, as well as having a decent boot on him. There is always lots of competition in terms of strong inside midfielders, but as long as he just keeps going about his football as he has been, he should be pushing to get drafted. Mitch Wilkins - 182cm, 74kg Lots of people in SA like this kid, and he was really starting to show why this year with the Norwood reserves. Maybe it was his school football, but he just kept going under the radar - not part of either the SANFL Academy or SA U18 squad. Yet, people were still talking about him anyway. He has good speed and very nice foot skills. And he can play across half back or through the midfield - typically, in more of an outside role. His best game this year though was as a defender, just doing whatever he wanted like Colquhoun in the Championships. Unfortunately, he missed a fair bit of the second half of the season with a shoulder injury but he still scored an invite to the SA State Screening. But he might well be the one from outside the Combine to surprise, and go reasonably early on draft day. Patrick Wilson -185cm, 74kg Wilson hasn't been getting much attention on BigFooty - probably because he has spent the season in the SANFL away from most eyes, but he is just yet another player from SA who I think could surprise those interstate draft watchers. He has played a fair bit of school football over the last 18 months, but he had a 6 week run for Sturt in the U18s which were nothing short of excellent. He is a genuine ball winner, would be averaging close to 30 touches a game and has been involved in nearly every rebounding play - his teammates seem to like getting him involved, so that's always a good sign. Not only that, but he is almost the prototypical size for a modern AFL player and is also one of the youngest in the draft. There is a lot to like, and a lot to work with.