The midfield is arguably the most important positional group in footy, as they're tasked with being present at most contests and all stoppages while serving as the link between their defence and offence.

Without a strong ensemble of onballers, teams are destined to fall apart as middling play in this area results in catastrophic consequences to the outcome of a contest on a given day.

Not all midfields are alike, as some prioritise a physical ball-winning style, while others emphasise a run-and-gun outside game, while there are sides that prefer a healthy balance of the two.

Each club has its own formula for constructing the ideal midfield but every side's engine room can perform at the highest level.

With this in mind, let's have a look at the league's best midfield groups heading into 2022, starting from 18-13.


1. (18) Hawthorn

Hawthorn possesses the most underwhelming midfield in the AFL.

They're led by Brownlow medallist Tom Mitchell, who is better at stuffing the stat-sheet than he is at hurting the opposition (perhaps Nathan Buckley's statements toward the former weren't so blasphemous after all).

The Hawks then field the formidable duo of Jaegar O'Meara and Josh Worpel, who are both good players but are still leaving the Hawks to want more. Wingers Jarman Impey and Tom Phillips can be dangerous when they're firing but can easily be unimpactful throughout games.

What solidifies Hawthorn's woes in the centre is that they were ranked second for uncontested possessions per game but 16th for inside 50's, which highlights a tentative style of play not conducive to winning football.

Skipper Ben McEvoy continues to produce at a high level but the acquisition of former Pies big man Max Lynch should diversify their ruck stocks and help improve their clearance game, where Hawthorn ranked 13th in 2021.

In terms of young talent, the Hawks took the skilful Josh Ward at Pick 6 in the 2021 draft, who should be able to breathe some creativity into their midfield if given the chance.

Ultimately the Waverly-based side has the weakest midfield in the AFL due to their limited potential for improvement with their current list.