The 2017 Draft Class is now well integrated into the AFL system, currently in its sixth season at the level.
As with every draft year, there are some standout names and this one is not short of them. However, also just like any other year, there are those who have over achieved and those who have under performed.
We've selected a range of players from the 2017 Draft and ranked them under the categories of exceeding expectations, meeting expectations, below expectations and no longer playing.
1. Exceeding expectations
Andrew Brayshaw- Pick No.2
Despite being the No.2 pick, Brayshaw has still gone above expectations at Fremantle. In 2022, Brayshaw was selected as the AFLPA's Most Valuable Player, earnt All-Australian selection, a Doig Medal and finished fourth in the Brownlow... at only 23 years of age. Brayshaw was also elevated to vice-captain this season.
Noah Balta- Pick No.25
Balta has just inked a contract extension this year, which will see him call Punt Road home until at least the end of 2025, a fair reward for hard work. After a move to defence in 2019, Balta solidified his position in the senior side the following season, playing in every game including the grand final, becoming a premiership player in just his third season as a Tiger.
Liam Ryan- Pick No.26
In his 89 games, Ryan has kicked 123 goals including 37 in his first season. A premiership player in debut year back in 2018, Ryan has earnt many accolades including All Australian, AFL Mark of the Year winner and a spot in the AFLPA 22 Under 22 Team. Nicknamed 'Flyin Ryan,' his X-Factor and work rate up forward make this Eagle must-watch.
Bayley Fritsch- Pick No.31
Fritsch is a mainstay in Melbourne's forward line, having kicked 193 goals across his six seasons in the AFL. A premiership Demon in 2021, Fritsch finished second in the Norm Smith Medal count, having kicked six goals in the grand final. Has proven an extremely valuable pickup for the Redlegs, averaging 2.2 goals a game this season.
Nathan Murphy- Pick No.39
After an injury to Jack Madgen in Round 9 last year, Nathan Murphy came into Collingwood's side as his replacement and now finds himself playing a pivotal defensive role in their 22, having only missed one game since, due to concussion protocols. Whilst he doesn't rank high statistically, it is his ability to win one-on-one contests and put his body on the line that has earnt him recognition and respect from his teammates and the rest of the AFL world.
2. Meeting expectations
Luke Davies-Uniacke- Pick No.4
Last season was a breakout year for Davies-Uniacke after injury hindered the early years of his career. His 2022 season was recognised with the Glenn Archer Shinboner of the Year Award and placing runner-up in the Roos' best and fairest. At Pick No.4, he is meeting the high expectations which were placed upon him. Davies-Uniacke is a crucial player for North Melbourne, delivering strong performances week in, week out.
Adam Cerra- Pick No.5
Cerra played 76 games for Fremantle before crossing to Carlton at the end of the 2022 season. Cerra is now a vital cog in Carlton's midfield, having been named in the 22Under22 side in 2020, 2021 and 2022. This season, Cerra is averaging 26.7 disposals, 4.6 tackles and four clearances a game.
Darcy Fogarty- Pick No.12
Fogarty established himself as part of the 'First Kick, Firt Goal' club in his debut against Essendon in Round 1, 2018. The following year, Fogarty was moved into defence, playing most of that year in the SANFL and managing only four games in the senior side. Fogarty has started to play consistently at his preferred end of the ground over the last three years, however, is yet to complete a full season at AFL level.
James Worpel- Pick No.45
In his second season at Hawthorn, Worpel was awarded the Peter Crimmins Medal, recognised as the Hawks' best and fairest player for the 2019 season. Worpel has failed to consistently refind that same form, having not played an entire season at AFL level since. He looks on track to do so this year, playing in every game so far, with his hard-bodied efforts around the ball much needed in the Hawks' youthful midfield.
Gryan Miers- Pick No.57
Miers' career hasn't been short of injury, fracturing his fibula twice in 2021 and obtaining a syndesmosis injury during the 2022 pre-season. However, he has played every game since Round 4 last year, playing in the 2022 premiership for Geelong. Taken at Pick No.57, Miers would not have expected to be one of the well-known names from his draft year, yet finds himself as a crucial part of the Cats' Best 22.
3. Below expectations
Paddy Dow- Pick No.3
Dow has only managed four games since the start of the 2022 season, with Carlton looking to facilitate a trade at the end of last season. Whilst an exchange never eventuated, St Kilda is reportedly showing interest in the out-of-contract Blue. Fingers crossed he gets another shot at AFL level.
Jaidyn Stephenson- Pick No.6
Stephenson's career got off to a flyer, bagging a five-goal haul against Adelaide in 2018 and playing every game that season, including Collingwood's heartbreaking grand final loss. Stephenson's strong form in his debut season, which included 38 goals, earnt him the 2018 NAB AFL Rising Star Award.
However, Stephenson's career has never fully recovered after he was banned for 10 games and handed a $20,000 fine after breaching the AFL's wagering rules - including betting on himself. Stephenson was traded to North Melbourne at the end of the 2020 AFL season.
Lochie O'Brien- Pick No.10
After managing 18 games in an impressive debut season, O'Brien managed another 17 the following season. However, he only managed six games across the 2020-2021 seasons, before being demoted to the rookie list for 2022. O'Brien managed a career-best 19 games last season, however, in 2023, he was named the starting sub for all four of his games, failing to cement a solid spot in the senior side.
Aiden Bonar- Pick No.11
Bonar managed only six games for GWS across two seasons, before being traded to North Melbourne at the end of the 2019 season. Since making the move to Arden Street, Bonar has only featured on 28 occasions across four seasons for the Roos, including two games this season, yet was dropped after each one. Bonar has been unlucky with injury over his career, yet has not lived upped to the expectations which would've been placed on him as Pick 11.
Charlie Constable- Pick No.36
Constable played 12 games across four years with Geelong before being delisted. Gold Coast picked him up at Pick No.63 in the 2021 AFL Draft, however, he has only managed to play four games across his two years there.
4. No longer playing
Jarrod Brander- Pick No.13
Brander played 22 games for West Coast between 2018-2021, before being delisted. GWS went on to sign him as a delisted free agent, however, he only managed five games for them. GWS delisted Brander at the conclusion of the 2022 season.
Matthew Ling- Pick No.14
Ling only managed four games for the Sydney Swans across four years before he was finally delisted at the end of 2021. Ling returned home to Geelong to play for the Cats' VFL side during the 2022 season.
Will Walker- Pick No.23
Walker played only six games for North Melbourne, although he did miss the entire 2019 season after he hyperextended his knee at the end of the 2018 season. Walker was delisted at the end of 2021.
Brayden Ainsworth- Pick No.32
Ainsworth played 15 games for West Coast across five seasons before he was delisted at the end of 2021.
Patrick Naish- Pick No.34
Managed nine games between 2018-2021, playing most of his career in the VFL, including Richmond's 2019 VFL premiership. Was delisted at the end of 2021, before being picked up by West Coast in the SSP for 2022, and then delisted again at the conclusion of that season. Naish is now playing for the Box Hill Hawks in the VFL.