Western Australia captain Riley Hardeman has emerged as one of the premier draft prospects from his home state and is one of the best medium-sized defenders.

The Caversham junior led the Black Swans at the National Championships this year after featuring in a trio of matches for Western Australia in his bottom-age campaign.

While it was a difficult carnival for WA, Hardeman was among the few standouts with his constant run and clean ball use from defence across his four matches this year, with arguably his best outing coming in a heavy loss to the Allies.

The 185cm backman flexed his leaping ability through top 10 finishes for both the running and standing vertical leap tests at the AFL Draft Combine in October, with Hardeman using his vertical advantages to also be an intercept threat for the opposition.

Hardeman would get his first look at senior state league experience in Swan Districts' season opener against East Perth, where he recorded 10 disposals, six marks and two tackles in a one-point loss to the Royals.

The WA back flanker would manage five games for the Swans' reserves side last year, while 2023 saw him feature in seven Colts games for a return of 22.1 disposals and just under five tackles per game.

Hardeman is also capable of pushing up the field and working as an outside midfielder, and could fetch a bid in the opening half of the first round at November's draft with Sydney (Pick 12), St Kilda (Pick 13), Adelaide (Pick 14) and North Melbourne (Picks 15,17 and 18) among the sides that could eye the dashing defender.

A member of the U18 All-Australian side and the AFL Academy team, Hardeman might draw comparisons to Crows veteran Brodie Smith or Giants backman Isaac Cumming for his attacking ability from the defensive half and ability to have an impact aerially.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 13: Riley Hardeman of the AFL Academy in action during the match between the AFL Academy Boys and Carlton VFL at Marvel Stadium on May 13, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Position: Defender
Weight: 75kg
State: Western Australia
Club: Caversham


Ball Use

Draft Range

Pick 15-25

Potential Landing Spots

Sydney (Pick 12)
St Kilda (Pick 13)
Adelaide (Pick 14)
North Melbourne (Picks 15,17+18)

AFL Comparison

Brodie Smith
Isaac Cumming

Expert comments

"Left-footed medium defender who is strong overhead, has line-breaking speed and is a penetrating kick. These attributes were on show during the National Championships, where he captained Western Australia and earned All Australian selection after averaging 18.5 disposals and 5.8 marks and displayed composure under pressure." - Kevin Sheehan