MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 27: Clayton Oliver of the Demons celebrates a goal during the 2019 AFL round 19 match between the St Kilda Saints and the Melbourne Demons at Marvel Stadium on July 27, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

The 2023 AFL season is just around the corner and with that, comes many predictions about how the year will unfold.

2022 saw Carlton star Patrick Cripps claim the Brownlow Medal in a tight count, with some pundits backing the Blue to go back to back, while plenty of other stars are in contention.

Ahead of the 2023 AFL season starting next week, lets take a look at some of the early frontrunners to take home the Brownlow Medal this year.

Clayton Oliver

Melbourne's Clayton Oliver had a stellar 2022, finishing equal-fourth in last year's count on 25 votes.

Oliver had 40 plus disposals on 6 occasions last year, averaging 32.7 disposals a game and taking out the 2022 Melbourne Best and Fairest award.

Ahead of the 2023 season, Oliver looks in impressive form, producing a massive pre-season game against Richmond with 31 disposals and nine clearances.

The 2023 Captain's Survey backs Oliver in as the favourite for the Medal this year.

Marcus Bontempelli

After a quieter season last year, Bontempelli only polled ten Brownlow votes compared to his 33 votes in 2021, falling short of winning the Brownlow by only three votes.

"I've picked him in every pre-season prediction to win the Brownlow for the last three or four years, and he should get there in 2023, Marcus Bontempelli," 2008 Brownlow Medallist, Adam Cooney, told SEN's The Run Home.

The Bulldogs captain is primed for a big year, with Fox Footy's Jonathon Brown saying "Bont for Brownlow, he's looked sensational today," during the practice match against North at Ikon Park.

In 2021, Bontempelli averaged 26 disposals a game, claiming the AFLPA MVP trophy, the award for best captain and named vice-captain of the All Australian side, after being named All-Australian for a fourth time.

Bontempelli has also been in the AFLPA 22 Under 22 side every year from 2014-2018, being named captain on three of those five occasions. He has also been named captain of the 22Under22 Team of the Decade.

Andrew Brayshaw

Having only turned 23 in November, Brayshaw had a career-best season last year, resulting in being voted the AFLPA MVP by his peers, a first time All-Australian selection, his first Fremantle best-and-fairest win and polling 25 Brownlow votes to finish equal fourth.

Brayshaw will be looking for another strong season this year after being named Fremantle vice-captain, averaging 29.3 disposals a game last year.

Fremantle coach, Justin Longmuir, told the club website of Brayshaw's impressive off-season.

"His fitness has gone to another level. He's been working on his hands and his creativity in tight, he's been able to buy himself a lot of time with the ball," Longmuir said.

"I definitely see elements of his game going to another level as well."

Andrew Brayshaw during the 2022 AFL Round 19 match between Richmond and Fremantle (Photo by Cameron Grimes / Zero Digital Media)

Christian Petracca

Petracca dominated in Melbourne's practice match against the Tigers, with 32 disposals and three goal assists, whilst he kicked three goals in their game against St Kilda.

In Melbourne's drought-breaking premiership win in 2021, Petracca was awarded the Norm Smith medal after he amassed 39 disposals, 24 of them being contested, two goals, nine tackles and four clearances.

Petracca's disposal tally equalled the record in a grand final, previously set by Simon Black in 2003.

The three-time All Australian came third in the 2021 Brownlow Medal, has been named in the 22Under22 Team of the Decade and took out Melbourne's leading goal kicker award in 2019.

Patrick Cripps

Winning the 2022 Brownlow Medal in the closest count in recent years with 29 votes, Cripps could go back-to-back in 2023.

Ranking third in the AFL for clearances and contested possessions last year and averaging 28 disposals per game, Cripps was named All-Australian for a third time and claimed a fourth John Nicholls Medal in the Carlton best-and-fairest.

In his first year as sole captain, Cripps nearly took Carlton to the finals for the first time since 2013 and is ready to go one-better this year.

Cripps told, "I feel really good, I've had a full pre-season, so I want to keep trying to take my game to career-best abilities as they get older."

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 18: Patrick Cripps of the Blues poses for photos after winning the 2022 Brownlow Medal during the 2022 Brownlow Medal at Crown Entertainment Complex on September 18, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Morgan Hancock/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

Lachie Neale

The 2020 Brownlow Medal winner, Neale has claimed three out of four Brisbane best-and-fairest's since moving from Fremantle at the end of 2018.

Neale dominated the Brownlow count, polling 31 votes in a reduced 17-game season, well ahead of second-placed Travis Boak who polled 31 votes.

In 2020, Neale also won the Leigh Matthews Trophy for the AFLPA Most Valuable Player, AFLCA Player of the Year, was named an All-Australian for the second year in a row.

Neale averaged thirty disposals a game in 2022- his best a 41 disposal, 6 mark and 2 goal effort against Essendon in Round Two- earning him All-Australian selection and the Brisbane Merrett-Murray Medal once again.

Speaking to SEN Sportsday, Neale said "I feel like I'm moving well, and my body is good."

"I feel at that level which I was last year."