As followers of all things football, we constantly hear about the league's favourite sons.

The players we know get the job done for our sides.

However, it's the players who aren't spotlighted as much, whether that be internally or externally despite their equally-crucial importance to our clubs, who we plan to shine a light on here.

We've compiled a list consisting of each AFL team's most underrated asset, regardless of position, heading into the 2023 season.

Adelaide Crows

Brodie Smith

Brodie Smith, seemingly for the longest time imaginable, has been one of Adelaide's most reliable and consistent contributors among its back six, always displaying classy disposal use and running prowess off a half-back flank.

Smith's 530.6 average metres gained per game in 2022 ranked as elite, illustrating the veteran's importance to the Crows when exiting defensive 50 and kick-starting offensive movements.

Brodie Smith during the AFL match between Essendon and Adelaide, Round 4, 2022 (Photo by Cameron Grimes / Zero Digital Media

While Smith, preparing to enter his age-31 season playing for a rebuilding Crows outfit, may only have a handful of years left at the professional level, Adelaide fans will still feel at ease with the leather in Smith's capable hands.

Brisbane Lions

Keidean Coleman

Certainly one of the more unheralded Lions among a growing pack of quality players, Keidean Coleman broke out last season for Brisbane across half-back, showcasing his pace and trademark smooth left boot.

The Lions, already boasting the penetrating left foot of Daniel Rich and the pace of promising youngster Darcy Wilmot exiting the defensive 50, were able to also flaunt the poised but damaging Coleman.

The 22-year-old averaged 18 disposals per game last season, with his best performance coming in a Round 20 nail-biter against Richmond when he notched an astonishing 30 possessions and 742 metres gained.

Keidean Coleman during the round 22 AFL match between St Kilda and Brisbane on August 12, 2022 (Photo by Cameron Grimes / Zero Digital Media)

With a long and rewarding career likely ahead, Coleman, while still underrated in terms of the attention he receives, has been receiving a lot of praise from AFL tipsters and undoubtedly enters 2023 as one of Brisbane's most prized assets.


Lewis Young

Lost among their well-documented trades for Adam Cerra and George Hewett last off-season was the Blues' acquisition of ex-Bulldog Lewis Young, who has quietly proven to be a splendid addition to Carlton's tall stocks, teaming up nicely with household key back Jacob Weitering and pinch-hitting in the ruck if required.

Over the course of his six-year AFL journey, Young's 2022 per-game averages of 13.4 disposals and 5.4 marks stood as career-bests, with the 24-year-old's 10.1 spoils per game viewed as elite by AFL Stats.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 25: Lewis Young of the Blues in action during the 2022 AFL Round 15 match between the Carlton Blues and the Fremantle Dockers at Marvel Stadium on June 25, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Until proven otherwise, Young enters 2023 as a mainstay in Michael Voss' best side.


Nathan Murphy

Nathan Murphy seemingly came from nowhere to suddenly become a near-lock in Craig McRae's best 22 last season, quickly displaying his one-on-one prowess and poise in defence alongside now-skipper Darcy Moore.

While the 23-year-old's statistics don't necessarily jump off the page (he is league-average in spoils and intercept marks), there is clearly a reason why Murphy played the most games in a season in his career (16) during a year his club played on preliminary final weekend.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 13: Nathan Murphy of the Magpies marks the ball during the round 13 AFL match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Melbourne Demons at Melbourne Cricket Ground on June 13, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Not only an unheralded asset for the Magpies, but one that could enjoy a breakout season in 2023.


Mason Redman

Mason Redman has irrefutably made a name for himself as a hard-nosed defender and walk-up starter in Essendon's best side.

The 25-year-old had a stellar ball-winning season for a defender, managing a personal-best 21.2 disposals per game in 2022, including a career-best 34 possessions against the Gold Coast Suns in Round 18.

Mason Redman during the AFL match between Essendon and Adelaide, Round 4, 2022 (Photo by Cameron Grimes / Zero Digital Media

A vocal leader in addition to his obvious footballing talents, Redman has quickly become a trusted option among Essendon's back six.


Brennan Cox

Luke Ryan was the most recent unheralded Dockers defender to finally receive deserved recognition, and now it might be time to heap some praise on Brennan Cox's name.

Cox, not exactly blessed with natural athleticism or speed for a fellow of his towering height, is a rock-solid piece of Justin Longmuir's defensive puzzle and often outsmarts his opponents in marking duels.

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

The 24-year-old had a career year in Cockburn in 2022, averaging highs in disposals (16.5) and marks (6.3) per game, managing to play 23 games for the Purple Haze last season, as well as being recognised as above average in spoils and intercept marks..

Geelong Cats

Jed Bews

Although it has become a near-impossible task to remain 'underrated' among this prominent Cats premiership-winning side, Jed Bews' name is not often found among the best players post-game, however, there are plenty of reasons why his name is among the first on Brad Scott's team sheet each week.

A loyal Geelong stalwart, Bews' effort and commitment to the contest is unquestioned, despite being a low-possession player, while the defensive pressure he puts on opponents is always evident.

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 13: Taylor Walker of the Crows tackles Jed Bews of the Cats during the round eight AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the Geelong Cats at Adelaide Oval on May 13, 2016 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

Now a premiership Cat, Bews' name will not be forgotten in Geelong folklore.

Gold Coast Suns

Ben Ainsworth

Despite an overall lack of success since their inception, a lot of the Gold Coast Suns' success forward of the ball is courtesy of the work of medium forward Ben Ainsworth, and yet he receives little credit.

Ainsworth's averages of 16 disposals and 5.8 per game in 2022 were categorised as elite, with the 24-year-old's best game coming in a season-defining win against Richmond during which he dominated by way of 26 possessions and 14 marks.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - MAY 11: Ben Ainsworth of the Suns kicks a goal during the round eight AFL match between the Gold Coast Suns and the Melbourne Demons at Metricon Stadium on May 11, 2019 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Jono Searle/AFL Photos/Getty Images)

While the Suns' forward line will be irrefutably bolstered by the return of key forward Ben King, the continued improvement of the unheralded Ainsworth will be just as damaging to opposition defences.

GWS Giants

Harry Perryman

Harry Perryman, since his Giants debut, has slotted in and become a stable utility option for the Orange Army, with the ability to play predominantly in either defence or midfield due to his physical frame and ferocity at the contest.

Perryman's average marks (4.1) and tackles (4.8) per game last season were graded as above average, with the 24-year-old's season highlight coming in Round 10 against the Eagles when he notched 30 disposals and seven clearances.

AFL Rd 6 - Port v GWS
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - JULY 12: Harry Perryman of the Giants handballs during the round 6 AFL match between the Port Adelaide Power and the Greater Western Sydney Giants at Metricon Stadium on July 12, 2020 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

With Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper now firmly in the rear-view mirror, additional midfield minutes should have Perryman's name all over them.


Conor Nash

Conor Nash has swiftly developed into a hugely versatile option for Sam Mitchell's Hawks over the course of the past season, at times playing forward of the ball and through the middle of the ground both as a pure midfielder and also, incredibly, as a ruckman.

Nash's 15.5 disposals, 4.1 tackles and 3 clearances per contest in 2022 all represented career highs for the Dublin native as he gradually established himself as a weekly mainstay in Hawthorn's best side, playing 21 games.

Conor Nash during the AFL match between Hawthorn and St Kilda in Round 4, 2022 (Photo by Cameron Grimes / Zero Digital Media)

Positional flexibility is invaluable in today's AFL, therefore Nash is likely to feature prominently for the brown and gold in season 2023.


Harrison Petty

Since becoming a best-22 regular during the Demons' 2021 premiership season, Harrison Petty has fit in Simon Goodwin's defence seamlessly, displaying his one-on-one capabilities as well as his impressive disposal effectiveness for a man of his height.

Petty's finest hour in 2022 came during Melbourne's crunch semi-final against Brisbane when he registered 18 disposals and five intercept marks.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 10: Harrison Petty of the Demons in action during the 2021 AFL First Preliminary Final match between the Melbourne Demons and the Geelong Cats at Optus Stadium on September 10, 2021 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Alongside stars Steven May and Jake Lever, as well as highly-regarded up-and-comer Jacob van Rooyen, Petty is in the right company to go again in 2023.

North Melbourne

Tristan Xerri

Despite North Melbourne's acquisition of ruck-forward Callum Coleman-Jones from Richmond during the 2021 trade period, Tristan Xerri was able to gradually establish himself as the clear number two rucking option behind stalwart Todd Goldstein.

Xerri's 10 possessions, 2.2 marks, 3.5 tackles, and 21.8 hit-outs per game last season were all career-highs, as were his 12 league appearances.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 20: Tristan Xerri of the Kangaroos and Max Lynch of the Hawks compete for the ball during the 2022 AFL Round 01 match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the North Melbourne Kangaroos at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 20, 2022 In Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

The 23-year-old shapes as an important piece of the Roos' rebuild, particularly following the imminent retirement of Goldstein and the uncertain prospects of Coleman-Jones going into the season.

Port Adelaide

Dan Houston

Dan Houston has been a steady hand in Port Adelaide's defence for a number of years now and also possesses the ability to move into the midfield and win his own ball.

Houston's 2022 season averages of 23.1 disposals, 6.2 marks, and 391.4 metres gained were viewed as above average, while his 2.6 tackles were seen as elite, with his 36 possessions, 12 marks and 775 metres gained in Round 1 against the Lions serving as the highlight of his year.

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 10: Dan Houston of the Power and Karl Amon after the loss during the 2021 AFL Round 13 match between the Port Adelaide Power and the Geelong Cats at Adelaide Oval on June 10, 2021 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Sarah Reed/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

With Karl Amon headed back to Victoria, Houston's role across half-back for the Power becomes all the more pivotal in 2023.


Kamdyn McIntosh

Kamdyn McIntosh has been the literal epitome of underrated throughout his storied tenure at Tigerland.

Despite falling out of favour with Richmond's match committee during the Tigers' 2019 premiership year, McIntosh fought his way back into Damien Hardwick's best side in 2020 to eventually win his second flag with the yellow and black that year, continually demonstrating his durability, two-way running and relentless defensive pressure.

McIntosh's 16.1 disposals per game last season ranked as the second-best of his eight-year career, while he also managed a career-high 14.1 pressure acts per contest in 2022.

Kamdyn McIntosh during Richmond's open training on December 20, 2022 (Photo by Cameron Grimes/Zero Digital Sports)

Health permitting, McIntosh is highly likely to feature weekly for Hardwick's men in 2023.

St Kilda

Daniel McKenzie

Daniel McKenzie's career theme has been continual improvement.

Initially a fringe best-22 player at Moorabbin, the 26-year-old has made the leap to senior regular and now owns a wing spot with St Kilda.

McKenzie's 2022 averages of 16.5 possessions and 4.8 marks represented career-best numbers, with a 23-disposal, eight-mark outing against the Gold Coast Suns in Round 5 undoubtedly a highlight performance.

Daniel McKenzie during the AFL match between Hawthorn and St Kilda in Round 4, 2022 (Photo by Cameron Grimes / Zero Digital Media)

Sydney Swans

James Rowbottom

Among a midfield group that includes  Callum Mills, Luke Parker and Chad Warner, James Rowbottom doesn't often receive recognition for his valuable contributions, most notably his tagging roles.

His career-best 6.8 tackles per game last season were seen as elite, and his disposal efficiency is another strong trait for the young midfielder.

The 22-year-old also averaged 18.5 disposals and 4.9 clearances per game, the best numbers of his AFL tenure.

West Coast Eagles

Tom Barrass

Tom Barrass, lining up alongside superstar Jeremy McGovern, hadn't received the plaudits he deserved up until the end of last year when he was crowned Eagles club champion after a career year.

While the 27-year-old was particularly stellar in 2022, Barrass' career spoils (7.5) and intercept marks (2.9) per-game averages ranked as elite.

MELBOURNE, VICTORIA - SEPTEMBER 29: Tom Barrass of the Eagles celebrates with the Premiership Cup after the 2018 AFL Grand Final match between the Collingwood Magpies and the West Coast Eagles at Melbourne Cricket Ground on September 29, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/AFL Media/Getty Images)

With McGovern's best years gradually winding to a close, Barrass' role among West Coast's back six is as important as it has ever been.

Western Bulldogs

Ryan Gardner

Ryan Gardner, a lesser-known name among a Bulldogs defensive unit that includes names such as Bailey Dale, Alex Keath, Tim O'Brien, and now Liam Jones, has been immensely impressive in a low-key role at the Kennel.

Taken at the 2019 Mid-Season Draft by the Dogs, Gardner averaged career-bests in disposals (11) and marks (5.3) per game last season, while his 8.5 spoils per game were categorised as elite.

Ryan Gardner during the 2022 AFL Round 1 match between Melbourne and Western Bulldogs (Photo by Cameron Grimes / Zero Digital Media)

Gardner will look to continue on his upward trajectory in 2023.