Each week, ESPN.com.au AFL draft expert Chris Doerre casts his eye over the country's best junior footballers to give readers an early insight into the next generation of AFL stars.
As well as attending live games, Doerre pores through match vision, analyses the stats and talks to industry sources to ensure he can offer the most insightful draft analysis.
Aside from the weekly wraps, Doerre will also unveil his power rankings at the end of each month and as we get closer to November's national draft, Doerre will also predict who goes where with his annual phantom draft.
With a season-high 41 disposals, nine marks and eight clearances for North Adelaide's Under 18s in an entertaining draw against Woodville-West Torrens, Hugh Jackson is the early favourite to follow in the footsteps of Tom Powell to win the SANFL's Under-18 MVP. On the season to date, Jackson is averaging 34.5 disposals, comparable to Powell's output last year.
An elite accumulator, Jackson's point of difference is his left foot. Jackson this year has transitioned from a classy outside player into a centre bounce midfielder and has started to develop as a ball winner. While Jackson reads ruck taps to win first possession and wins ground balls cleanly off the bounce, it's his work outside the contest that stands out most.
On the outside Jackson links up well and is someone teammates will look for at every available opportunity as one of the competition's most damaging kicks. What impressed on Saturday was how well Jackson crumbed as a front and centre option, getting to the fall of the ball consistently, instinctively knowing where the ball would land. He also showed natural instincts with when to push behind the ball to intercept, taking two intercept marks while showing endeavour on a third attempt.
One area of concern with Jackson is how often he handballed to teammates who were under pressure. Jackson will need to work on his distribution by hand and his decision making under pressure. He also needs to become stronger so that his tackles stick and don't get broken so easily, as if opponents in the Under-18 ranks are breaking his tackles, senior opponents will break his tackles with ease and regularity.
Considered in the second-round mix at this point, Jackson shares similarities to Andrew Gaff as a fellow left footer who covers a lot of ground, gets to a lot of contests and looks at his most comfortable on the outside.
Firming as top 5 draft chances
Tyler Sonsie enhanced his top 5 draft credentials with a 24 disposal, five tackle and two goal performance for Box Hill's VFL side in their 37-point loss to Werribee. With an uncharacteristically quiet performance for the AFL Academy side in their loss to Geelong's VFL team, Sonsie's performance for Box Hill should prove more than redeeming in the eyes of recruiters.
After his 34 disposal, three goal match in the Under-18s, Matthew Roberts was promoted to South Adelaide's League side for a senior SANFL debut. He played predominantly across half-forward and held his own with 14 disposals and a goal in South Adelaide's 8-point win against Woodville-West Torrens. Roberts put on a clinic below the knees with how he routinely took the ball cleanly off the half-volley. His crumbing was also excellent, getting to the right positions consistently. Roberts delivered one of the better kicks on the day, launching a long kick from the midfield that was perfectly placed for an inside 50 target to mark without his opponent having any chance. Roberts is firming as a top 5 choice and may with continued strong play become a genuine competitor to fellow Panther Jason Horne as this year's first South Australian drafted.
Mid-season draft watch
Under-23 Young Guns Game:
Dominating through the midfield, Darby Hipwell routinely won first possession at stoppages before distributing by hand. The prolific ball winner amassed 32 disposals, 21 contested possessions, 12 clearances (seven centre clearances) and one goal for Vic Metro in their 60-point win.
Reading the ball well in flight and flying for intercept marks, Dominic Akuei had numerous brilliant moments in defence aerially for Vic Metro. The 192cm defender gathered just 11 disposals, 3 marks (one contested) but was influential patrolling the airways and showed the developable glimpses recruiters look for from these games.
A surprise packet for Vic Country, Mutaz El Nour impressed with his work aerially and taking intercept marks in defence. The 19-year-old, 192cm defender is a raw prospect but performed strongly, securing 17 disposals and five marks.
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Sharing the ruck load, Ned Moyle showed his capabilities through the ruck with 17 disposals and 12 hitouts for Collingwood in their four-point win against Coburg. This was the second VFL opportunity for the overager and a performance that only enhances his mid-season draft credentials.
In his strongest performance so far this season, Jackson Callow was dominant for Norwood. The powerful marking target provided a focal point up forward for Norwood in their 32-point win against Central Districts with 17 disposals, eight marks (seven contested), and three goals.
Securing 29 disposals and two goals for Peel in their 15-point win against Perth, Tyrone Thorne won best-on-ground honours.
Collingwood Next-Generation Academy product Youseph Dib impressed again for Collingwood's VFL side with 12 disposals, four tackles and two goals. On the back of Dib's VFL performances, he appears to be a second player Collingwood will be wanting to match bids on to secure in this year's National Draft.
Attending regular centre bounces for South Adelaide, No.1 pick contender Jason Horne was much more involved this week as a ball winner. He continued to apply himself defensively and applied heavy pressure on opponents as he has consistently so far this season, but also regularly won ground balls, put his body on the line and had more of an impact on the match overall. Horne managed 17 disposals, five clearances, five inside-50s and one goal in a strong performance.
Holding his own for Port Adelaide in his SANFL League debut, Jase Burgoyne, the son of Peter and a likely father-son selection collected 14 disposals in a 14-point win against Adelaide.
Winning best-on-ground honours, Max Chipper amassed 34 disposals, seven marks and three goals for Swan Districts in their 14-point win against West Perth. Chipper is one of Western Australia's leading midfielders and is in the mix to feature in the first half of this year's draft.