ESPN.com.au's AFL Draft expert Chris Doerre has revealed his AFL Draft Power Rankings for the month of May, with Jason Horne and Nick Daicos rising to the top.
1. Jason Horne
Holding top position on this draft board, due to great impact per possession, a relatively more contested style of game and a greater commitment to applying pressure and providing support defensively than fellow junior Nick Daicos. Horne is a goalkicking midfielder who influences games both as a midfielder and forward. Playing with the class of a Gary Ablett Jnr, Horne takes on the game with his run, evades opponents with ease and hurts the opposition with his ball use. Through the midfield he is a strong contested ball winner and tackler, while as a forward, not only is Horne damaging with ball in hand, but he's also a strong marking threat both aerially and in contested situations.
2. Nick Daicos
Playing in a distinctively lively, clean, smart and stylish yet arrogant manor, Daicos is a prime mover. In traffic, he displays agility and evasion, moves around with his arms outstretched, so if he gets tackled, he's poised to deliver the releasing handball to a target, in a style mirroring Scott Pendlebury. Daicos is a master of dropping his knees to draw free kicks, making him even more dangerous in traffic. If no free kick is drawn, because his arms are outstretched with ball in hand, he'll deliver the handball on time and on target. Averaging 33 disposals and three goals in his first three NAB League games, Daicos is eligible to join Collingwood as a father-son selection. With the ease and consistency, he impacts games both through the midfield and forward of centre, Daicos has not only entered the pick one conversation, but is now seen by many as the favourite to be chosen first in this year's draft.
3. Tyler Sonsie
The MVP for Vic Metro during the Under-16 Championships, Sonsie is a classy midfielder and forward. One of the premier contested ball winners in this year's draft, Sonsie plays with an attacking flair and can change games in a matter of minutes. He is one of the best kicks inside-50m in this year's draft pool, with his ball use, composure and decision making under pressure among his greatest strengths. Sonsie also displays a burst of speed and has some line-breaking capabilities. With his strong play during the opening rounds of the NAB League season, Sonsie has improved his position on this draft board.
4. Matthew Roberts
A goalkicking midfielder, Roberts kicked eight majors over his last four SANFL Under-18 matches in 2021. Roberts is damaging both through the midfield and as a forward. In the midfield, Roberts plays a well-rounded game; he possesses an ideal inside/outside balance, is a strong contested ball winner, an elite endurance runner who covers a lot of ground, spreads well from stoppages and swings around quickly onto his penetrating left foot to get the ball moving forward. As a forward, Roberts shows good smarts and is a threat both overhead and at ground level. He hurts opponents not only by hitting the scoreboard himself but also with his clean forward 50 entries. His 34 disposals and three goals in a best-on-ground display against Norwood and 37-disposal, one goal game against Woodville-West Torrens a couple of weeks earlier consolidate his position inside the top-five on this draft board. More reliable and consistent kick placement is why Roberts drops behind the more highly fancied Victorian pair in Daicos and Sonsie.
5. Josh Rachele
A goalkicking midfielder, Rachele is a capable ball winner who possesses an explosive burst of speed out of stoppages. Rachele was awarded the Kevin Sheehan Medal for the best Division One player during the Under-16 Championships in 2019. At this stage, Rachele plays his best football across half-forward, though this year, he will be aiming to spend more time in the midfield. Rachele averaged 18 disposals while kicking eight goals during his four NAB League matches in 2019 and has continued to hurt opponents with his play forward of centre during the early stages of this season with his contested ball winning, scoreboard impact and forward pressure. Rachele drops one spot as Daicos and Sonsie push past him on the back of strong starts to the NAB League season.
6. Josh Sinn
Captain of Vic Metro's Under-16 premiership winning group, Sinn looks at his most damaging across half-back. Sinn generates meaningful drive from defence with the way he takes on the game with his run and dare and is a suitable kickout candidate. Sinn will accelerate, stop on a dime, then accelerate in another direction, wrong-footing opponents and bursting past them at speed before delivering cleanly on his left boot to a target. While arguably best at this stage generating drive from defence, he can push up through the midfield and win his own ball while providing silver service delivery to targets inside-50m. Sinn's numbers have been solid, but with how he impacts games both in defence and through the midfield, he moves up one spot as Matthew Johnson drops.
7. Matthew Johnson
A tall, ball winning midfielder at 192cm, Johnson combines ball winning capabilities with composure, class and evasion in traffic. Johnson plays a style of football that follows the Pendlebury mould, sharing many of the same rare gifts for a tall midfielder. By hand and foot, Johnson is an effective user of the football, displaying vision on his kicks, lowering his eyes to find leading targets inside-50m and making sound decisions in traffic with ball in hand. Johnson enjoys the hard components of the game, winning a high proportion of his ball in contested situations and connecting on his tackles. With Johnson's first two WAFL Colts games quieter than expected, he has dropped below some of the others who are in the early draft conversation, though the strength of his WAFL League debut on the weekend ensures he holds his spot inside the top seven.
8. Connor MacDonald
A goalkicking midfielder, McDonald has several weapons. McDonald is a high-volume ball winner and combines this with acceleration, a high work rate and good skills. When used forward of centre, MacDonald presents an aerial marking threat and hits the scoreboard, averaging one goal per game so far in the NAB League despite playing predominantly through the midfield.
9. Hugh Jackson
A classy midfielder, Jackson is averaging 33 disposals through his first five SANFL Under-18 matches this season. Jackson possesses good skills, moves well and has developed a strong contested side to his game this year after playing a more outside style of game previously. His skills by hand and foot stand out in traffic and he makes sound decisions under pressure while on the outside he's just as damaging. His kicking inside-50m is among the best in the pool with how he places his kicks out in front of the leading targets.
10. Neil Erasmus
Coming onto the radar of recruiters following a four goal Grand Final performance for Subiaco in their win last year against Claremont, Erasmus has found a new level this season after only a small taste of WAFL Colts play in 2020. Erasmus has yet to drop below the 28-disposal mark through his first three WAFL Colts games and has also impressed during the AFL Academy match against Geelong's VFL side. Erasmus is strong marking threat overhead and one of the premier ball readers in this draft, taking intercept marks across half-forward and the wing at a rare frequency. Erasmus is a dual positional threat as a marking threat forward of centre and an effective ball winner and accumulator through the midfield.
11. Ned Long
A goalkicking midfielder with seven goals to his name through three games, Ned Long has been one of the early standouts in the NAB League. While Long is damaging forward of centre, and hits the scoreboard at will, he's equally capable through the midfield as a strong contested ball winner and tackler. At 192cm, Long is one of this year's best tall midfielders.
12. Josh Fahey
Taking out the MCC President's Medal as the AFL Academy's best player in their clash against Geelong's VFL team, Fahey has demanded a position on this draft board. A precise, yet booming kick with penetration of 65m, Fahey is a weapon out of the back half with the drive he generates. A GWS Academy product, expect the Giants to match bids on Fahey with a view towards him being their kickout specialist and another rebounding defender.
13. Mac Andrew
Earning his way inside the top-15 on this list on the back of his final quarter performance for the AFL Academy against Geelong's VFL side, Melbourne Next-Generation Academy product is a light bodied, athletic ruckman with upside. Showing promise with his leap, ruck craft and soft hands through the ruck, as well as tackling and clean hands below his knees, he has the tools to suggest he'll develop into an exceptional tap ruckman. The bonus with Andrew is he combines these traits with good mobility, skills, reading of the ball in flight and contested marking. Expect Andrew to begin his journey developing as a key position player before transitioning into a ruckman once he becomes stronger.
14. Jack Williams
Perhaps a speculative call to have as this year's top key forward, but Williams has started the season strongly with 15 goals through his first four WAFL Colts matches and averages of 16 disposals and six marks per game. A contested marking beast, Williams is a specialist in using his body to win one-on-one contests. The way Williams plays, it's like he has watched extensive tape of Tom Hawkins, from seeing his one-on-one work, to how he leads up at the football to how he plucks the ball out of ruck contests inside 50m and converts them into goals.
15. Josh Gibcus
A high-flying intercept marking key defender, Gibcus has an elite vertical and running vertical jump. He combines these weapons with his near best in class ball reading capabilities and overhead mark to be this year's premier intercept marking key defender. While Gibcus is in some respects one dimensional and will be looking to add additional strengths to his game, he's best in class at what he does.