It has been another challenging season to rank the NAB AFL Draft pool, with a second year hit by COVID-19 disruptions and cancelled fixtures.

In a lot of cases the best players haven't played against the best, meaning assessing players against each other has been made difficult for recruiters as they edge towards next week's draft. 


In the final Phantom Form Guide of 2021,'s draft guru Cal Twomey has ranked the best 35 players in the draft pool.

Remember, this is not a mock draft and does not take into account where bids may come on father-son and academy players. 

Hawthorn currently holds picks 5, 21, 24, 59, 65 and 81 in the 2021 NAB AFL Draft.

Cal Twomey's November rankings of the 2021 draft pool.

35. Angus Sheldrick

Midfielder // 179cm/86kg // Claremont/Western Australia // 7/11/03

Sheldrick became a late-season bolter up the draft boards after amassing plenty of the ball in the WAFL colts competition. He averaged 26 disposals for the season with Claremont, with Sheldrick's attack on the ball and contest a key feature of his game. An inside midfielder ball-magnet who just keeps finding the ball through a dogged work ethic and ferocity when it's up for grabs.

34. Jake Soligo

Midfielder // 179cm/80kg // Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro // 25/1/03

Soligo has been on the radar for a number of years as he progressed through the under-16s program to be a busy midfielder for the Ranges this season. He averaged 23 disposals this year, including lifting that to 27 touches across his last three games of the campaign in the NAB League. Although smaller, Soligo works hard and is adept at accumulating the ball and feeding it out. He played in Richmond's VFL side as well this year.

33. Judson Clarke

Forward // 180cm/70kg // Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country // 17/10/01

A crafty half-forward who can push into the midfield, Clarke went bang mid-season with a five-goal haul playing for Vic Country against Vic Metro that showed his class around goal and finishing skills. He also had a strong game for the Stingrays against the Ranges in the NAB League which highlighted his qualities up the ground when he had 27 disposals and 1.2. A left-footer with sharp skills.

32. Rhett Bazzo

Key defender/forward // 195cm/81kg // Swan Districts/Western Australia // 17/10/03

Bazzo's marking capacity makes him a key position prospect who will be considered by clubs. He started his season mainly in the forward line, including a period where he booted eight goals over three colts games, before he really hit his straps as a key defender, including a standout game for Western Australia against South Australia in the under-19 championships. He finished his campaign with a premiership for Swan Districts' colts side in the WAFL.

31. Mitch Knevitt

Midfielder // 193cm/81kg // Geelong Falcons/Vic Country // 8/1/03

Knevitt's height and explosiveness makes him a talent that has very obvious translatable qualities for the top level. For a midfielder Knevitt used his bigger frame well this season in the NAB League, including his final game of the season for the Falcons where he picked up 36 disposals, 10 marks, eight inside-50s and a goal in a best-afield display. He averaged 24 disposals for the season and will appeal to clubs searching for an inside prospect.

30. Connor MacDonald

Midfielder // 184cm/77kg // Dandeong Stingrays/Vic Country // 13/1/03

A reliable midfield option for clubs to look at, MacDonald made the most of a disrupted season. He averaged 30 disposals in the NAB League for the Stingrays in four games, including a 37-disposal effort against the Eastern Ranges in round 11 and 24 possessions and 2.3 against Gippsland. He has some power when the ball is up for grabs and fights his way to get his hands on it.

29. Mitchito Owens

Midfielder // 190cm/85kg // Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro // 24/9/03

Owens' traits as a hard-running, tall midfielder were on show early in the season with the Dragons, including a standout game against Dandenong, but it was his performance for Vic Metro mid-year against Vic Country that really boosted his stocks. The left-footer was a late call-up but had 29 disposals and seven marks and pushed himself into top-25 considerations. The St Kilda Next Generation Academy player averaged 23 disposals in his final three games for the Dragons and is a proven ball-getter at under-18 level due to his running prowess.

28. Marcus Windhager

Midfielder // 183cm/82kg // 16/5/03

Sandringham Dragons/Vic MetroWindhager's power is his leading attribute and he uses it well. He can bust out of a stoppage or through a tackle and is also capable of playing in attacking or defensive roles across the field. A recent back injury while training in the off-season means he could go back a few spots on the draft board, but the St Kilda Next Generation Academy player has some good AFL qualities.

27. Josh Fahey

Defender // 186cm/76kg // GWS Academy // 11/11/03

A half-back with take-me-on tendencies and a booming left-foot kick. Fahey was named the NAB AFL Academy's best player in its VFL clash against Geelong earlier this year when he gathered 23 disposals. He breaks the lines with his kicking and has a strong attack on the ball. He also showed those traits playing for the Giants' VFL side, with the Giants having first call on him as an Academy player. His running power was on show with his 2km time trial (which was submitted via running app Strava due to the Combine being cancelled) seeing him with the second-best time (5:59 minutes).

26. Zac Taylor

Midfielder // 180cm/74kg // 31/1/03 // Calder Cannons/Vic Metro

When Taylor has the ball in his hands he makes something good of it. The Calder Cannons prospect has proven himself to be one of the better users of the ball in the draft, with his precision kicking a standout. He averaged 26 disposals in the NAB League this year, including a standout 37-disposal and 11-clearance game.

25. Toby Conway

Ruckman // 205cm/97kg // 24/4/03 // Geelong Falcons/Vic Country

The leading pure ruckman in the draft had a strong season playing for the Geelong Falcons, Vic Country and his school side Geelong College. Conway is a hard-working big man who moves around the ground, creates an option in attack and also pushes into defence to get in front of opposition forwards. He plays with good nous and can also collect the footy. Conway is a cousin of Sydney's Tom McCartin and former Saint Paddy.

24. Blake Howes

Forward/midfielder // 190cm/79kg // 7/4/03 // Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro

Howes carries an athleticism that makes him an impressive talent and will give him appeal to clubs. He's versatile – he can play half-back, half-forward or on the wing – and his running is top-end, having completed the 2km time trial in 6:08 minutes. He started the season playing as a third tall forward, where he hit the scoreboard on occasions, and his flexibility and growth will be of interest to scouts.

23. Tom Brown

Defender // 186cm/74kg // 30/7/03 // Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country

Brown had his challenges this year, including a syndesmosis ankle injury that ruled him out for nearly three months, but he was able to show his stuff as a smart, poised and talented half-back. There's still so much growth left in him, too, with Brown athletic, tough and composed out of defence with a healthy dose of dash. The son of former Cat Paul Brown finished second in the Vic Country 20-metre sprint test with a time of 2.983 seconds and best in the standing vertical jump (72cm). 

22. Jesse Motlop

Forward // 177cm/77kg // 23/11/03 // South Fremantle/Western Australia

The small forward had good experience at senior level this year with South Fremantle, including playing in its WAFL Grand Final loss. He booted nine goals from eight league games and showed his spark as a creative finisher. Motlop is a bubbly, bright personality who is a member of Fremantle's Next Generation Academy, but the Dockers will only get priority access on him after pick 40 under the metropolitan NGA rules. Motlop is the son of former Kangaroo and Power forward Daniel.

21. Campbell Chesser

Midfielder/defender // 186cm/83kg // 27/4/03 // Sandringham Dragons/Vic Country

An attacking prospect who had a frustrating season hit by a nagging knee injury. Chesser, who comes from an athletics background, plays in a positive mindset trying to take the game on from half-back or through the middle and has some penetration with his kicking.

20. Jacob Van Rooyen

Forward/defender // 193cm/91kg // 16/4/03 // Claremont/Western Australia

Van Rooyen is perhaps the leading swingman of the draft – he has shown genuinely good traits at both ends of the ground in different periods of the season. The Claremont youngster got going in the second half of the season with some time as a key defender, before again switching forward at colts level and booting 24 goals in the final six games of the season, and then booted the match-winning goal for Western Australia against South Australia at Optus Stadium.

19. Sam Butler

Midfielder/forward // 184cm/76kg // 10/2/03 // Greater Western Victoria Rebels/Vic Country

Butler impacts games. The half-forward/midfielder had some very strong ones for the Rebels earlier in the year, showing his poise around the ball and smarts when he had it in his hands. He works hard, has a turn of speed (he ran 2.97 seconds in the 20-metre sprint at the Draft Combine) and is an impressive character as well. His vision is good when in possession and he creates with the ball. Butler's older brother is St Kilda forward Dan.

18. Josh Goater

Midfielder // 190cm/79kg // 2/6/03 // Calder Cannons/Vic Metro

An athletically very gifted talent, Goater is seen by different clubs as different things. Some like him as a tall midfield option or wingman, others view him as a rebounding half-back, where his jump, speed and run can be an asset. He was consistent for the Cannons throughout the NAB League season and had a good game for Vic Metro mid-year winning 23 disposals and eight clearances for Vic Metro against Vic Country.

17. Darcy Wilmot

Defender // 183cm/75kg // 31/12/03 // Northern Knights/Vic Metro

An attacking, hard-running half-back with a physical edge. Wilmot enjoys tucking the ball under his arm and going for it, and he's capable of chopping into oncoming traffic and grabbing an intercept ball. He can play on a range of options and has a competitive streak that gives him some flair. The son of former Collingwood player Grant.

16. Tyler Sonsie

Midfielder // 181cm/77kg // 27/1/03 // Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro

Sonsie is capable of some rare things; a spin out of a pack, a mark in attack, a shimmy out of a stoppage. The midfielder/forward had his season halted by bone bruising in his knee mid-year that saw him sit out Vic Metro's trial and championships game. Sonsie, whose under-16s form put him on the map ahead of this season, is an intriguing player in this year's pool as clubs weigh his talent.

15. Arlo Draper

Midfielder/forward // 186cm/75kg // 20/1/03 // South Adelaide/South Australia

After injuring his AC joint at the end of his season and requiring surgery, Draper is back to moving around without a sling and on track for a relatively unhindered start to his first AFL pre-season. The South Adelaide talent is a versatile player – he was used in the midfield and across half-forward mainly this year as well as a stint in defence for South Australia – and he makes good decisions with the ball in his hands. Capable of some spark.

14. Matthew Johnson

Midfielder // 192cm/81kg // 16/3/03 // Subiaco/Western Australia

Johnson capped a particularly impressive second half of the season by being named best afield in the Grand Final day curtain-raiser at Optus Stadium for Western Australia. The tall and mobile midfielder backed it up with a strong Draft Combine, finishing third overall in the agility run (8.061 seconds) and top-10 for the vertical and running jump tests. It's an athletic frame that he puts to use in games, with Johnson having plenty of upside as a prospect. 

13. Josh Sinn

Half-back/midfielder // 186cm/73kg // 7/1/03 // Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro

Sinn slingshots out of the backline to break the lines with his speed and long left-foot kicking. This year was a frustrating one for him with hamstring and ankle injuries limiting him to only a handful of games, meaning he has barely played since under-16s level. But there's no denying his capacity to break off half-back and be a damaging player, with Sinn touted as a potential top-three pick at the start of the season.

12. Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera

Midfielder // 187cm/71kg // 22/2/03 // Glenelg/South Australia

Wanganeen-Milera's wow factor came to the fore late in the year as he really started to zoom up draft boards. The silky-skilled wingman is perhaps the best kick in the draft pool and he featured in Glenelg's reserves premiership at the end of the season. Wanganeen-Milera can be used off half-back and half-forward and is a good size for the modern game. A quiet but resolute character, he is the nephew of former Essendon and Port Adelaide great Gavin.

11. Jye Amiss

Key forward // 196cm/83kg // 31/7/03 // East Perth/Western Australia

Amiss was prolific in the WAFL colts competition for East Perth, booting 51.15 this season, including 38.12 from set shots. His accuracy is a hallmark of his game – he converts his chances and makes plenty of them inside the forward-50 – having studied the set shot routine of West Coast champion Josh Kennedy. Amiss ended his season with a knee injury on Grand Final day in the under-19s curtain-raiser at Optus Stadium but he pieced together an impressive campaign.

10. Neil Erasmus

Midfielder/forward // 190cm/82kg // 2/12/03 // Subiaco/Western Australia

A hard-working effort-driven midfielder who powers his way across the ground, is adept at the stoppages and also strong overhead in marking battles. Although not an inside bull yet, Erasmus' size and strength as a midfielder makes him an appealing talent and he was able to dominate WAFL colts games for Subiaco earlier this year before a leg injury saw him miss the back-end of the season. Erasmus played as a half-forward last year, starring in the Grand Final with four goals, and is a prospect who means business.

9. Mac Andrew

Ruckman // 200cm/70kg // 12/4/03 // Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country

It's been a heck of a rise for the impressive Andrew, who hadn't been a part of any of Vic Country's programs before this season and now shapes as an early pick at the draft. The Egyptian-born South Sudanese talent is ultra athletic for his size, leaping and bounding over players in the ruck and taking marks in the air but then also being a threat when the ball is on the ground, and he appears likely to start his career in a key position at either end. His skills are good and competitiveness high, and he will work on building his strength as he settles into an AFL club. Melbourne's NGA loss is set to be another club's gain.

8. Josh Gibcus

Key defender // 196cm/87kg // 4/4/03 // Greater Western Victoria Rebels/Vic Country

The best key defender in the draft group, Gibcus is the Jake Lever of this year's pool. Like the Melbourne premiership backman, Gibcus leaps for the ball, marks strongly overhead and is an intercept weapon in the back half. At the Vic Country testing day Gibcus won the running vertical jump test with a leap of 89cm, although it was set to be more but the equipment couldn't lift any higher. Gibcus is understated but a competitor on the field who grew up spending parts of his life in Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria so is comfortable with a potential move.

7. Josh Rachele

Forward/midfielder // 180cm/78kg // 11/4/03 // Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country

Rachele is the most entertaining player in the draft crop: a high-energy small forward who kicks goals from any situation, is good above his head for his size, has a penetrating right-foot kick and is in the thick of the action. Rachele will annoy opponents and do some brilliant things, but he has also shown he is good when the push comes to shove and he performed well in the midfield for Vic Country mid-year. His highlights tape is must-watch.

6. Josh Ward

Midfielder // 181cm/79kg // 15/8/03 // Northern Knights/Vic Metro

The hard-working midfielder put his stamp on proceedings at the mid-year under-19 championships game for Vic Metro when he had a dominant performance. Ward's running capacity – he completed the 2km time trial via Strava in 5:57 minutes – puts him in the upper echelon of midfielders and he just continues to find the ball, averaging 30 disposals in the NAB League this season. Is busy on the inside and damaging on the outside, and is known as a high-achieving, studious teenager.

5. Ben Hobbs

Midfielder // 183cm/80kg // 16/9/03 // Greater Western Victoria Rebels/Vic Country

As tough and steady as any midfielder in the top group, Hobbs carries reliability as a prospect: clubs will know what they're looking at in the inside ball-winner and he should be able to do it for a long time. Hobbs averaged nearly 30 disposals in his five completed NAB League games after an ankle injury to start his season and is ready to play at the top level. Scouts recognise his leadership qualities and have seen him captain at junior level.

4. Finn Callaghan

Midfielder // 189cm/82kg // 26/4/03 // Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro

As silky as they come in this year's draft, Callaghan burst onto the scene with a strong start to the season to really push his case as an early draft pick. The left-footed wingman showed he could dominate games and penetrate with his kicking and movement before moving into a more midfield role before the season was cut short. He could also start his AFL career off half-back or half-forward, such is his versatility and running power. The son of former Commonwealth Games runner Brett is also a relative of Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge.

3. Sam Darcy

Forward/defender // 204cm/75kg // 19/7/03 // Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro

Darcy is the best tall prospect in the draft by virtue of his overhead marking, agility at ground level for a player his size and his versatility. The son of former Western Bulldogs ruckman Luke rocketed up draft boards early in the season with a string of exciting performances in attack, and then roared into top-three contention with a standout six-goal haul for Vic Metro against Vic Country mid-year. Can also play in the ruck and as a defender and will be given time to develop at the Dogs, where he will be a third-generation father-son selection following Luke and his grandfather David. Darcy has nursed a hot spot stress reaction in his foot over the past two months so will likely start his AFL career in modified training.

2. Jason Horne-Francis

Midfielder // 185cm/81kg // 21/6/03 // South Adelaide/South Australia

There's a fierce edge to Horne-Francis, which has been on show throughout the past two seasons in his form at senior level in the SANFL. His outstanding preliminary final, where he kicked 3.3 from 24 disposals in a losing side, iced his season and made him a clear choice for North Melbourne as the best player in the open draft. Horne-Francis' aggressive, robust approach as a half-forward and midfield, combined with his class in the air, make him a well-rounded prospect whose quiet exterior belies an inner determination.

1. Nick Daicos

Midfielder // 183cm/72kg // 3/1/03 // Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro

It has felt like a long time coming but Daicos is headed to Collingwood and the father-son prospect goes with plenty of hype. It has been an unnatural level of attention this year but it has come via performance: the midfielder was just about best afield in every game he played be it for Oakleigh Chargers, Vic Metro, the NAB AFL Academy or even Collingwood's VFL side. Daicos is a bright, confident personality but just as driven with big ambitions to be as successful as he can.