One year removed from last year's off-season period, there has been a bevy of exciting and talented recruits for every AFL side, whether it's been via trade, free agency, draft, or even the pre-season Supplemental Selection Period.

We've combed through each club's list of 2021 off-season recruits and hand-picked the very best to compile this list.

Adelaide Crows

Jordan Dawson

Josh Rachele, Adelaide's first draft choice last year, was another one of the Crows' recruiting coups, however, Dawson pips him as the Crows' best of last year after the 25-year-old managed career-high averages in disposals (24.6), marks (6.6), inside 50s (3.7) and rebound-50s (6.8) across 22 games.

Brisbane Lions

Darcy Fort

Compared to this year's raft of acquisitions, including the likes of Josh Dunkley and Will Ashcroft, Brisbane didn't have an incredibly busy off-season period in 2021.

However, the Lions' poaching of ex-Cat Darcy Fort has looked like a steal to this point, after the ruck-forward played a career-high 18 games last season, including three as a medical substitute, and provided ample support for first-choice ruck Oscar McInerney.


George Hewett

While Carlton's big-ticket recruit last year was wantaway Fremantle midfielder Adam Cerra, it was ex-Swan George Hewett who arguably impressed most of all for the Blues in 2021.

Hewett, most known for his tagging roles during his time in Sydney, has blossomed into a ball-winning midfielder while maintaining his physicality and defensive traits, averaging a whopping 28.5 possessions, 4.9 tackles, and 4.2 inside-50s (all career-highs) in 2021.


Nick Daicos

Daicos, the subject of relentless pre-draft hype, was everything we were told he'd be and more, from his elusiveness to his decision-making to his finishing in front of goal.

The 19-year-old, who sometimes looked as if he had the ball on a string, averaged 25.8 disposals, 4.1 marks, 2.8 inside-50s, and 4.1 rebound-50s in his rookie season, cementing his place in Craig McRae's best side from the get-go, playing in all 25 of Collingwood's games in 2022.


Nic Martin

Martin, a pre-season supplemental signing, seemingly came out of nowhere to make a name for himself at The Hangar.

The 21-year-old oozed class in his rookie season, averaging 19.9 possessions per game across 21 contests, all while demonstrating an ability to play as an outside midfielder as well as a half-forward.


Will Brodie

Not only was Will Brodie the Dockers' best acquisition of the last off-season, but he may also well have been the best overall recruit of the 2021 trade and free agency period, illustrating just how improved he is as a player from his days with the Gold Coast Suns.

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Brodie, whose standing in Fremantle's best 22 was initially dependent on the length of Nat Fyfe's injury absence, quickly transcended into a mainstay in the Dockers' engine room, managing an average of 26.8 disposals per game to go along with 5.3 tackles and 3.8 inside-50s per contest.

Geelong Cats

Tyson Stengle

Stengle, whose career many thought could be over after he was let go by Richmond and Adelaide, earned a maiden All-Australian berth, as well as a premiership, after an incredible 2022 season with Geelong.

The 24-year-old Woodville-West Torrens product played in all 25 of the Cats' games last season, averaging 2.1 goals per game to along with averages of 14.4 possessions and 3.3 marks.

Gold Coast Suns

Mabior Chol

Ben King's season-ending injury caused many to come to the conclusion that Gold Coast's forward line wouldn't amount to much in 2022. However, 2021 recruits Mabior Chol and Levi Casboult would go on to form an unlikely key-forward tandem on the Sunshine Coast.

Particularly, Chol was instrumental for the Suns in multiple games last season, averaging two goals per game across 22 games (both career-bests).

GWS Giants

Finn Callaghan

Although Finn Callaghan didn't feature heavily in his rookie season, his acquisition is suddenly all the more crucial to GWS' future due to the losses of Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper to Richmond, and Tanner Bruhn to Geelong, during this year's trade period.

Despite managing just five games, the 19-year-old produced solid returns, averaging 15 disposals and 3.6 marks, and will continue on his path of development under new senior coach Adam Kingsley and alongside star midfielder Josh Kelly in 2023.


Josh Ward

Hawthorn wasn't overly busy last offseason, with Josh Ward, ex-Pie Max Lynch and draftee Connor Macdonald acting as the notable brown-and-gold additions in 2021.

Under the tutelage of club legend and senior coach Sam Mitchell, it's hard to foresee anything other than good things for Ward's future, especially after the youngster averaged 19.1 disposals and 2.3 inside-50s across 14 games this season.


Jacob van Rooyen

While he remains without any AFL games to his name, Jacob van Rooyen beats out fellow 2021 recruit Luke Dunstan based on his potential as a key forward prospect that will help fell the void left by Luke Jackson.

Playing 18 games for the VFL premier Casey Demons this year, van Rooyen kicked 36 goals (averaging two majors per game) and averaged four marks per contest, showcasing his contested marking and accuracy (kicking just 13 behinds).

North Melbourne

Hugh Greenwood

North Melbourne's recruitment effort last offseason did not quite go to plan, considering No. 1 pick Jason Horne-Francis has since departed for Port Adelaide, and ex-Tiger Callum Coleman-Jones split his time between the seniors and reserves sides last season.

Greenwood, snatched up from right under Gold Coast's noses in 2021, was one of the few bright spots for the Roos last season, managing 16.9 possessions per game and remaining his physical, tenacious self.

Port Adelaide

Jeremy Finlayson

Port Adelaide's orchestration of a trade for Finlayson, who crossed over from the Giants, was initially criticised by some, however, the 26-year-old had a number of positive moments for the Power last season, kicking 21 goals over 20 league games, the second-most of his six-year career.


Robbie Tarrant

Tarrant, secured via trade from North Melbourne, was a reliable presence in Richmond's backline last season, and while he wasn't faultless, the 33-year-old was a leader to the younger Tigers, particularly first-round draftee Josh Gibcus, another one of Richmond's better pickups last year.

St Kilda

Marcus Windhager

While the Saints' 2022 season finished in disappointment, the recruiting department would have to be happy with the output they received from their three key draftees, Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera, Mitchito Owens, and Marcus Windhager.

Windhager, who shouldered multiple tagging roles throughout the season, as well as accumulating plenty of his own ball, was arguably the most prominent of the bunch.

Sydney Swans

Paddy McCartin

McCartin resurrected his AFL career with the Swans last season, linking up with his brother, Tom, in Sydney as a pre-season supplemental signing.

McCartin was instrumental for the Bloods last year, demonstrating his expansive ability as an intercept-marker, while also posing as a one-on-one difficulty due to his physicality.

West Coast Eagles

Brady Hough

Considering the Eagles' acquisitions of Sam Petrevski-Seton and high-end draftee Campbell Chesser, Hough eventuating as West Coast's best recruit of last season seemed like an unlikely outcome, however, the youngster was eye-catching through 15 games last year.

Western Bulldogs

Sam Darcy 

Darcy wasn't selected in Luke Beveridge's side until Round 21, but when he did eventually get on the park, it was obvious why he was a top-choice selection, displaying his one-on-one and intercept-marking prowess across four games, including the Dogs' elimination final loss to Fremantle.