With the sign and trade period over, attention now turns to next month's National Draft.

Across junior competitions, state-level leagues, the National Championships and the NAB League, a plethora of prospects have begun making a name for themselves as we narrow toward the night that will change their career paths forever.

With the opening night of the 2022 National Draft over a month away, we've had a look at the top prospects, the draft order, and the likely outcome of the first round of the count.


Pick 1 - Brisbane: Will Ashcroft (matched F/S bid)

Position: Midfielder
Weight: 78kg
Clubs: Old Brighton Grammarians, Sandringham Dragons

A name everyone has become familiar with this year, with the Larke Medal winner showing no issue with the waves of attention that have swarmed him.

Ashcroft entered 2022 as a potential Pick 1 and has only lifted his ceiling higher, with a bid on the talented teenager from the Giants a near guarantee.

The Lions will be licking their lips as they begin to welcome Ashcroft, who will add another layer to an already talent-rich engine room ensemble at Springfield.

Ashcroft was prolific in his pair of appearances for the Lions' VFL side this year, proving an ability to match Collingwood's Rising Star Nick Daicos in potentially having an immediate impact in his rookie season.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 22: Will Ashcroft (vc) of Victoria Metro poses for a photo after the Best on Field medal during the 2022 U18 Championships match between Vic Metro and Vic Country at Marvel Stadium on September 22, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos)

A bonafide ball magnet and clean user of the ball, Ashcroft averaged 34.5 disposals, 4.9 tackles and 7.0 inside 50s to lead the Dragons to the NAB League premiership.

Those numbers were also matched in the level above as Ashcroft again showed his dominance for Vic Country to take out the National Championships trophy too.

Pick 2 - GWS: Aaron Cadman 

Position: Key Forward
Weight: 88kg
Clubs: Darley, GWV Rebels

The man that will really be in the Giants' sights is the mouth-watering prospect that is Aaron Cadman.

Ranked as his class' No.1 key-position talent, Cadman enjoyed a dominant 2022 campaign with the Rebels and in the National Championships to bolt his way up the draft order after initially being seen as a fringe first-round talent.

The regional Victorian booted 34 goals from 12 games in the NAB League, and backed up his aerial and attacking dominance with Vic Country for a return of 9 goals from 4 matches.

Having seen tremendous turnover with their key-forward stocks since their inception into the league, Cadman could finally be the Giants' answer - and certainly a fitting one to fill the void left by Jeremy Cameron.

Aaron Cadman celebrates a goal for Victoria Country during the 2022 NAB AFL National Championships U18 Boys. Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos.

Cadman has been closely compared to the premiership Cat, boasting an athletic presence and sharp eye for goal while also being up to get involved further up the field.

Pick 3 - North Melbourne: George Wardlaw

Position: Midfielder
Weight: 82kg
Clubs: St Peter's, Oakleigh Chargers

Having lost some of the contested grunt and pedigree they had hoped to forge from the acquisition of Jason Horne-Francis, North Melbourne could get some of those stocks back should they move on Wardlaw with one of their top three picks.

With Cadman destined to join the Giants, the Roos will be left with selecting two of Wardlaw, Harry Sheezel and Elijah Tsatas, with no wrong answer really on offer.

Despite the Roos calling on six midfielders with their last six first-round selections, Wardlaw is certainly a name Brady Rawlings can't afford to pass up.

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Drawing some comparisons to the likes of Clayton Oliver or Lachie Neale given his contested ball-winning ability and nous, Wardlaw would complement a midfield already home to the likes of Luke Davies-Uniacke and Jy Simpkin, while also being able to work under brute Roo Ben Cunnington in what would be some suitable mentoring.

Hamstring injuries have prevented Wardlaw from strengthening his bid for Pick 1, but any ailment hasn't hindered his chances of remaining within calculations for clubs atop the draft order.

Pick 4 - North Melbourne: Harry Sheezel

Position: Midfielder/Forward
Weight: 77kg
Clubs: Ajax, Sandringham Dragons

Perhaps not rated as a No.1 prospect, but Sheezel is arguably the most exciting talent in the draft.

A mercurial midfield-forward option that may be a result of clubs looking to advance their standing in the queue come draft night.

Sheezels' shared ability to win his own ball, find the goal from any angle, and also compete in the air has him in an echelon alongside the likes of Geelong great Steve Johnson and Giants superstar Toby Greene.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 16: Harry Sheezel of the Dragons in action during the NAB League Grand Final match between the Sandringham Dragons and the Dandenong Stingrays at Ikon Park on September 16, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

The Ajax sensation booted goals in all but one game for the Dragons in 2022, including five bags of four goals or more.

Sheezel also collected 20 or more toches on five occasions, including efforts of 37 and 33 touches in successive weeks as he proved his ability to mix it in midfield while working alongside the likes of Will Ashcroft, Cam Mackenzie and Ollie Hotton.

Adding Sheezel into their attacking mix is just the spark the Roos are after.

Pick 5 - Essendon: Elijah Tsatas

Position: Midfielder
Weight: 80kg
Clubs: Surrey Park, Oakleigh Chargers

A prospect that just doesn't stop running. An authentic ball hunter, whether that be at the coalface or on the outside.

Think Zach Merrett with a piercing boot, able to break lines and leave opponents eating dust.

Tsatas collected 33.8 possessions per game for Oakleigh in the NAB League, while injuries hampered his chances for the National Championships.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 31: (L-R) Mitch Szybowski of the Stingrays, Will Ashcroft of the Dragons and Elijah Tsatas of the Chargers pose for a photograph during a NAB League Boys Media Opportunity at RSEA Park on March 31, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos/Getty Images)

The selection for Essendon perhaps isn't the exact mould the Bombers are after, but they sit in a funny position in picking at fifth overall.

This year's class has a clear breakaway top five, meaning whoever is left for the Dons will likely fall their way.

But that's nothing to be upset about if you're a Bombers fan wanting a Sheezel or Cadman, because Tsatas is one that has tremendous upside, and may very well be the pick of the top five.

Pick 6 - Gold Coast: Jedd Busslinger

Position: Key Defender
Weight: 82kg
Clubs: Coolbinia, East Perth

A match-making selection this one, with the Suns to call on the outright No.1 key-defender for 2022.

Busslinger has had an injury-riddled 2022, having required shoulder surgery that curtailed his year before it could get running.

But the East Perth backman has plenty of runs on the board from his rise through recent seasons, and is sure to offer any keen AFL club a silver service in defence from the word go.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 02: Jedd Busslinger in action during the 2022 NAB AFL National Championships U18 Boys match between Vic Metro and Western Australia at Ikon Park on July 02, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

The Suns may be just that club, needing to bolster their key-defensive stocks as they continue to sew up re-opening holes in their side.

Their midfield outfit is locked in, while Stuart Dew's key-forward options are brimming.

But down back is where the Suns are lacking, with Sam Collins continuing to lack the cool head that can pattern him on the last line.

Busslinger, like his fellow statesman Denver Grainger-Barras who joined the Hawks, could firm as a safe option for the Suns.

Pick 7 - Hawthorn: Matt Jefferson

Position: Key Forward
Weight: 78kg
Clubs: Ashburton, Oakleigh Chargers

If Cadman is the leading key-forward, Jefferson is certainly No.2.

The athletic spearhead enjoyed a prolific season leading Oakleigh's attack in 2022, booting 13 goals at 2.2 per game.

Jefferson trumped his NAB League total throughout the National Champions, booting 14 goals for Vic Metro, including a strong finish to help his side claim the premiership.

The Ashburton product has an immense aerial presence, able to get his hands first to a flighted ball before sitting back and slotting a set shot from nearly any angle.

GEELONG, AUSTRALIA - JULY 17: Matthew Jefferson of Vic Metro kicks a goal during the 2022 NAB AFL National Championships U18 Boys match between Vic Metro and South Australia at GMHBA Stadium on July 17, 2022 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos)

Jefferson frames as a fitting option for the Hawks to consider at Pick 6, having already built out a rock-solid rearguard and their midfield for the future.

The next addition on Sam Mitchell's list is landing a key-forward to pair with Mitch Lewis in attack, and Jefferson can be that option.

Pick 8 - Geelong: Jhye Clark

Position: Midfielder
Weight: 77kg
Clubs: Queenscliff, Geelong Falcons

A pairing more fitting than most.

Should he still be on the board when the Cats are on the clock, you can almost guarantee Clark's name called.

Touted as a Joel Selwood clone, the Geelong Falcons captain would literally be right at home in the hoops and would even be the fitting successor to the heralded No.14 jumper at Kardinia Park.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 22: Jhye Clark is tackled by Alwyn Davey of Victoria Metro during the 2022 U18 Championships match between Vic Metro and Vic Country at Marvel Stadium on September 22, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

A smaller-sized midfielder, but Clark packs a punch when roaming the midfield, finding his way out of a contest while being equally as strong on the defensive end.

Clark thrives doing the dirty work and will put his team on his back to get them over the line. Remind you of anyone?

Pick 9 - West Coast: Reuben Ginbey

Position: Midfielder
Weight: 81kg
Clubs: Dunsborough, East Perth

One of the draft bolters of 2022, Ginbey has flourished for Western Australia to rank as arguably his state's best talent.

His medium-sized frame initially saw Ginbey begin his trade as a versatile defensive option, being accountable for his direct opponent before moving the ball out of defence with efficiency and dash.

Those traits have helped the Royals gun transition into a prolific midfielder, now ranking as a likely top-10 option.

Western Australia AFL Draft prospect Reuben Ginbey (via AFL Photos)

Ginbey also impressed at the National Draft Combine, showing an ability to be agile, powerful and balanced to only further strengthen his case.

While the Eagles have stated they aren't solely focused on drafting top local talent in the first-round, it will be hard to see them pass Ginbey if he's available at Pick 9.

Pick 10 - St Kilda: Cam Mackenzie

Position: Midfielder
Weight: 80kg
Clubs: Beaumaris, Sandringham Dragons

Saints fans will be breathing a sigh of relief should they acquire Mackenzie in the National Draft.

The Sandringham Dragons ace has developed through St Kilda's Next Generation Academy and would've joined them almost automatically two years ago had he been part of the 2020 draft class or earlier.

But new draft regulations have set a limit to Academy bidding until after Pick 40, meaning the Saints will be needing to use their top pick to secure the midfielder.

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While often playing second-fiddle to Will Ashcroft at either the NAB League or National Championships level, Mackenzie proved on more than one occasion that he can lead his own brigade and be the star of the show.

A great clearance and contested ball winner, Mackenzie is the perfect student to work under Jack Steele at Moorabbin.

Pick 11 - Carlton: Bailey Humphrey 

Position: Midfielder/Forward
Weight: 86kg
Clubs: Moe, Gippsland Power

Perhaps a slider given Humphrey's potential position to land closer to the top 5.

The versatile threat brings a level of energy not found in many footballers. His power and athleticism is something that has buoyed his prospects with each appearance in 2022.

The Gippsland Power star is another 2022 bolter, having broken into Vic Country's squad following a run with injuries to impress on the big stage.

With a height of 186cms, Humphrey's vertical presence will surprise most, but it's a trait many fans will become familair with in no time.

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A move to Princes Park would have Humprhey working under some senior heads who will know how to get the best out of his explosive prowess in Michael Voss and Patrick Cripps, while also working under Luke Power at VFL level.

More likely to add to Carlton's forward pack for the first few years in the system, Humphrey could be the spark that helps ignite the Blues back on a premiership path.

Pick 12 - Bulldogs: Oliver Hollands

Position: Midfielder
Weight: 71kg
Clubs: Wodonga, Murray Bushrangers

The younger brother of Gold Coast onballer Elijah, Ollie ranks as one of the most competitive outside midfield options in the draft.

Hollands is sure to be strongly considered by Carlton at Pick 11, but in the chance he slides, the Dogs will be waiting.

The Bulldogs have their key-position depths sewn up for some time, so their attention os sure to turn back toward their midfield.

The recent losses of Josh Dunkley and Lachie Hunter have opened gaps in Luke Beveridge's midfield group, with Hollands able to take the reins in a wing spot to allow Bailey Smith more freedom in the centre.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 24: (Names L-R) Alwyn Davey of Vic Metro, Harry Sheezel of Vic Metro, Oliver Hollands of Vic Country and Jhye Clark of Vic Country pose for a photo during the 2022 National Development Championships U18 Boys media opportunity at The Hangar on June 24, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos)

Hollands has been a standout for the Bushrangers in his time at NAB League level, while was named among Vic Country's best in three of their five matches this year.

An elite endurance athlete and promising mover of the Sherrin, the Dogs are sure to look keen on adding some more efficiency to their engine room.

Pick 13 - West Coast: Elijah Hewett 

Position: Midfielder
Weight: 84kg
Clubs: Caversham, Swan Districts

Another WA prospect to remain in their home state, with West Coast to call on the exciting Elijah Hewett with their second selection.

In a group alongside the aforementioned Tsatas and Hollands, Hewett offers a great balance and flexibility to be placed on the inside or outside of midfield to flex his running capacity.

His explosive capabilities are what have seen Hewett fluctuate to being considered as a potential top-five selection earlier in the year.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 02: Elijah Hewett in action during the 2022 NAB AFL National Championships U18 Boys match between Vic Metro and Western Australia at Ikon Park on July 02, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos)

Faced some mixed form throughout the National Championships with the Black Swans, but regained some plaudits with Swan Districts at senior level.

The pairing of Hewett and Ginbey is sure to have Eagles fans excited, looking to match Fremantle's local links of Neil Erasmus, Jye Amiss and MatthewJohnson from last year's National Draft.

Pick 14 - Melbourne: Mattaes Phillipou

Position: Midfielder/Forward
Weight: 83kg
Clubs: PHOS/Henly HS, Woodville-West Torrens

A tantalising prospect to say the least, with Phillipou looking to rival the likes of Sheezel as one of the most mercurial players in his class.

The leading South Australian for 2022, Phillipou frames as a bullish midfield-forward option that can win his own ball and impact the scoreboard.

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 19: Mattaes Phillipou of SA celebrates his goal during the 2022 NAB AFL National Championships U18 Boys match between South Australia and the Allies at Thebarton Oval on June 19, 2022 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Sarah Reed/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

The Demons are likely to be tempted by the Isaac Heeney-like talent, especially considering their own attacking livewire in Kysaiah Pickett is seen as no certainty to remain in red and blue past 2023.

Standing at 192cm tall, it's Phillipou's stunning ground-ball ability that will catch opponents by surprise, while the teenager is also a fierce competitor in the air.

Pick 15 - Sydney: Henry Hustwaite 

Position: Midfielder/Defender
Weight: 84kg
Clubs: Rosebud, Dandenong Stingrays

Sydney's draft planning is usually selecting the best player available, and they won't be making a mistake with Hustwaite.

Placing a high ceiling on the highly-rated utility, and not just because of his 194cm height as a midfielder.

The Dandenong Stingrays star has emerged into first-round calculations after impressing with his ball-winning ability, disposal use, and flexibility as a defensive stopper.

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Boasting the size of a key-position player for his age, Hustwaite is able to wrestle for the ball in the middle of the field, can float forward and also spring out of defence on the transition.

Whether the Swans see Hustwaite as a backman, flank option or midfielder, they're likely to get plenty out of the wide-ranging Rosebud product.

Pick 16 - GWS: Jacob Konstanty

Position: Small Forward
Weight: 70kg
Clubs: Drouin, Gippsland Power

The first REAL small forward on this list, Konstanty is a livewire and full-time forward threat.

The Gippsland Power ace booted 17 goals in the NAB League in 2022 to aid the club's stellar season, only adding headaches for his direct opponent.

Zipping around the forward third of the field, Konstanty could add to the Giants' exciting small forward stocks and could be part of a fitting succession plan for GWS co-captain Toby Greene.

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The Giants have just added Toby Bedford to their list, with Adam Kingsley potentially looking to call on Konstanty for some healthy competition between the fledgeling pair.

Pick 17 - Collingwood: Lewis Hayes

Position: Key Defender
Weight: 81kg
Clubs: Lysterfield, Eastern Ranges

The brother of Port Adelaide ruckman Sam, Lewis Hayes is one of the leading key-position players in the draft, firming as the next-best defensive option behind Jedd Busslinger.

Nearing two metres in height, Hayes often relies on his aerial dominance to place himself as a threat when intercepting.

Still needing to add some muscle, the Lystrerfield talent would be seen as a project player for the Magpies as they continue to press their case for a premiership before refining their rearguard in the years to come.

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Like Magpies stalwart Darcy Moore, Hayes is a fine user of the Sherrin, able to rebound the ball out of defence to quickly counter the opposition and give his side an instant advantage.

Hayes proved to be an impressive ball-winner for the Eastern Ranges this year, averaging 20.7 disposals and 5.3 marks per game.

Pick 18 -  Essendon: Alwyn Davey Jnr. (matched F/S bid)

Position: Midfielder/Forward
Weight: 74kg
Clubs: Ashburton, Oakleigh Chargers

The second father-son bid to come in the first-round of the draft, with the Swans forcing Essendon's hand at Pick 18.

Sydney's interest is sure to come from Davey's desirable ability to weave through packs, dance past opponents and impact the scoreboard, all from midfield.

The son of former Bomber Alwyn Davey, the small-framed midfielder isn't too similar to his dad, but more like his uncle and Melbourne fan favourite, Aaron.

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His explosive tendencies, agile capability and break-neck speed are sure to have Bombers fans salivating.

A bid for Davey is likely to come in the top 20 selections, while Brisbane's other father-son prospect in Jaspa Fletcher is a chance to fall in the same range.

Pick 19 - Sydney: Isaac Keeler

Position: Ruck/Forward
Weight: 88kg
Clubs: South August, North Adelaide

Moving on from their bid for Bombers father-son Alwyn Davey, the Swans are sure to have more success with their move on Adelaide's Next Generation Academy prospect Isaac Keeler.

Given the restrictions on matched bids for Academy players, Keeler will walk to the Harbour City as a much-welcomed recruit for John Longmire.

Needing to add to their key forward and ruck stocks for the future, the Swans would be getting a two-for-one deal with the acquisition of Keeler.

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More of a forward option than ruckman, Keeler could combine with Logan McDonald as a twin tower attack, before offering his services as a second ruck option behind the likes of Peter Ladhams or Joel Amartey in the future.

Keeler booted 19 goals for North Adelaide's U18s side this season, whilst averaging 17.9 disposals, 4.2 marks, 3.3 clearances and 3.1 inside 50s per game.

Pick 20 - GWS: Olli Hotton 

Position: Midfielder
Weight: 77kg
Clubs: Hampton Rovers, Sandringham Dragons

Collingwood and Carlton fans may be a little disappointed Olli's dad Trent Hotton didn't reach 100 games for their club, as it would've placed the potential first-round talent in their sights as a father-son selection.

Hotton is another versatile midfield-forward option with plenty of power, prowess and poise. Speed is the name of his game, quickly pouncing on a loose ball and impacting the scoreboard in an instant.

For the Giants, they'll add to their forward two-thirds of the field after losing the likes of Jacob Hopper, Tim Taranto and Bobby Hill this off-season.

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The Giants can rely on Hotton out wide and on a flank at either end of the field, with the Hampton Rovers prospect having shared a number of roles throughout his NAB League campaign.