As it stands, only Hawthorn, Fremantle, Essendon, Western Bulldogs and Geelong have free spots on their lists, although other clubs could open up opportunities should they move long-term injured players to their inactive list.
Of the players named in the Young Guns squad, Gippsland Power’s Ryan Maric (193cm) excites recruiters the most with his goal nous and efficient kick.
This time last year, the hybrid forward was playing country football for Drouin in the Gippsland League. At the end of this month, he could be among the first two players taken in the mid-season AFL draft.
There’s also some hype around 204cm Eastern Ranges ruck Clay Tucker and 203cm Oakleigh Chargers big man William Elliott – the son of former Australian Test cricketer Matthew Elliott – considering the array of injuries to rucks at AFL clubs this season.
Beau Tedcastle (177cm, Richmond VFL), Rye Penny (186cm, Calder Cannons), Nicholas Newton (187cm Murray Bushrangers), Ethan Stanley (188cm, Box Hill Hawks) and Luke Teal (190cm, Richmond VFL) are other Young Guns players in the mid-season draft mix. Teal, a mid-sized defender, was considered one of the unluckiest not to get picked up in last year‘s drafts.
Of the state league players in the mid-season draft mix, luckless ex-Swan Sam Naismith is a good chance to get picked up.
After three knee reconstructions during his stint at Sydney, Naismith linked up with Port Melbourne, where he’s become one of the VFL’s most dominant rucks. He produced his best game yet against the Giants last weekend, finishing with 24 disposals, eight clearances, six tackles and 38 hit-outs. Recruiters linked Naismith to Geelong, Collingwood and even Sydney ahead of the mid-season draft.
Other VFL players clubs are reportedly keeping tabs on are Williamstown duo Oscar McDonald (ex-Melbourne and Carlton) and Marty Hore (ex-Melbourne), Frankston’s Ryley Stoddart (ex-Sydney) and Box Hill’s Callum Brown (ex-Collingwood), while Essendon could consider upgrading key defender Jack Cleaver from its VFL list.
North Adelaide 191cm forward Noah Casalini, who won the best on ground medal for six-goal, 10-mark display in an Anzac Day victory over Norwood, is one of the SANFL’s best chances, while 199cm Claremont key forward Jack Buller reportedly has interest from the two WA clubs.