Unfortunately there are academies funnelling potential AFL players, where they got told so many promises they will make an AFL player in their early teens, 20 years ago you didn't think about being drafted properly until you played teal cup. The shift has been large since the early 2000s.
You would hope that the AFL only allows clubs to pick 1, 18 year old in the draft, so kids experience working or going to uni, before they get a chance and the AFL has an academy in Canberra so potential draftees learn how to live away from home.
It's incredibly sad reading the HS article regarding Harley's troubles
I see absolutely no downside with lifting the draft age.
Everything welfare aside, it’d make drafting so much easier and more effective. You’re not gambling so much on kids who may or may not develop into top players.