This year's national Under-18 Championships finished up on Wednesday, with West Australia winning the title in thrilling fashion against Vic Metro.
As always, some players elevate their stocks in elite company and ESPN's AFL draft expert Chris Doerre nominates five who would have had club recruiters pushing their names up their draft boards.
Entering the Under-18 Championships as a relative unknown and not widely viewed as a draftable prospect, Schoenberg has emerged as South Australia's best midfielder, winning SA's best and fairest. He led his team's midfield through each of their four games with a style comparable to St Kilda's Jack Steven. A 180cm, 78kg midfielder, Schoenberg has only in recent weeks entered the first-round discussion.
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He is a high-volume contested ball-winner who displays an enviable combination of first possession-winning on the move, acceleration to burst away from stoppages at speed, strength to shrug tackles and lay aggressive tackles of his own. Schoenberg combines his power with class and composure. He lowers his eyes, hits meaningful targets by hand and foot and is evasive. He demonstrates a high work rate, looks like he is always on the move and provides a moving target as a receiver when he isn't putting his head down and winning the ball himself.
If Schoenberg develops some forward craft and continues to not only find and win a lot of the ball but also hurt the opposition with it, he deserves to feature inside the first round in this year's draft.
Western Australian Robertson, winner of the Larke Medal for the competition's Best and Fairest, was the most consistent and productive performer throughout the carnival. Viewed as a potential first-round selection before the start of the championships, Robertson has enhanced his stocks to become a likely first-round selection and has made a strong case he should be in the top-10 conversation.
The 182cm, 80kg midfielder plays similarly to Adam Treloar as a prolific ball-winner through the midfield with pace, who moves the ball on quickly and aggressively. Robertson wins the ball off the bounce as well as any in the pool, distributes effectively by hand and tackles with aggression. He displays courage, putting his body on the line regularly and leads by example with his actions on and off the field exemplifying a team-first attitude.
If Robertson starts to hit the scoreboard more and use the ball better under pressure while continuing to rack up possessions and hurt the opposition as he has during the Under-18 Championships, there is little to suggest he can't be one of this draft's very best.
Making clear he is this year's premier key defender with his performances during the championships, McAsey has elevated his draft stocks from a possible late first round choice to a potential top-10 selection. Outside of Vic Metro's pick No. 1 contenders Matthew Rowell and Noah Anderson, McAsey has been as consistent and influential as any on the Vic Metro squad and has played his best football during the championships.
The 195cm, 86kg key defender resembles Collingwood's Darcy Moore as an athletic key defender who can be an intercept marking force in defence. He reads the ball early off opponents' boots, gets to the drop of the ball consistently and displays strong hands overhead. His defensive work is also sound with good closing speed and the leap to compete in the air with strong spoils when not in position to mark. Also, his kicking from defence has been reliable and his work at ground level has been clean.
If McAsey develops greater one-on-one strength, there is no reason he won't be the first key defender selected.
Kicking four goals in Vic Country's second and third matches, Weightman has made the shift up draft boards from one of the small forwards who might get drafted to one of this year's most exciting small forwards. The 177cm goal sneak has a similar set of strengths to Richmond's Shai Bolton as one of the most exciting performers during the championships.
Weightman possesses a complete bag of tricks as a clean and energetic ground ball-winner who is capable overhead and will fly for marks. He displays run, dare, evasion, finishing around goal and there is a perpetual sense with Weightman whenever the ball is in his area inside 50m, he will make something out of nothing. Weightman applies heavy forward pressure and is a capable tackler.
The queries are his consistency and whether he can be effective up the ground. If Weightman continues to hit the scoreboard consistently over the second half of the season and applies heavy forward pressure, he would be worth draft consideration inside the second round in this year's draft.
Brisbane Academy prospect Cumberland has been one of the surprise packets for the Allies with numerous moments of brilliance and playing a high-impact-per-possession brand of football. At 183cm, Cumberland is an ultra-explosive utility who loves receiving by hand and taking on opponents with his line-breaking speed. Every time Cumberland has ball in hand there is a feeling he will make something happen - he often breaks games open, racing 30 metres at a time with ball in hand.
His leap and contested marking are great strengths that have allowed him to provide a threat at either end of the field and there is significant aggression to Cumberland's tackling. When he has his hands on the ball inside-50m, Cumberland can make something out of nothing and hit the scoreboard.
Possessing attributes and a style of play comparable to Collingwood' Sam Murray, it is unclear at this stage whether Brisbane will nominate Cumberland, but his chances with each performance throughout the carnival have strengthened along with his reputation. The queries with Cumberland are his relatively low numbers and a lack of a clear best position. If those two boxes can be ticked while retaining his heavy impact per possession, he will be difficult for Brisbane to pass on.