In the next segment of our series looking over the best draft prospects by position, we identify the leading defensive options ahead of next week's count.

Among the leading options among defenders this year we could see a handful of backmen taken in the first round, while a litter of either rearguard selections will scatter across the final few rounds on the second night of the draft.


Here we rank the five best defenders ahead of next Monday's National Draft.

4. Lewis Hayes

Position: Tall Defender
State: Victoria Metro
State League Club: Eastern Ranges
Community Club: South Belgrave
Date of Birth: 17/12/04
Height: 199cm
Weight: 82kg

One of the leading key-position players in the draft, Hayes' rangy build and accurate ball movement are what separate him from the rest of the pack.

Standing close to two metres tall, the Eastern Ranges backman boasts strong ball-winning numbers and an equally impressive ability to move the ball with precision.

But it's his intercepting ability that Hayes prides himself on, often impacting an aerial attack and giving his side some relief before looking to counter.

GEELONG, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 26: Lewis Hayes of Vic Metro moves the ball out of a pack during the U17 Championships match between Vic Country and Vic Metro at GMHBA Stadium on June 26, 2021 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Morgan Hancock/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

Hayes averaged 16.5 disposals as a key defender for Vic Metro this year while moving the ball at an elite rate of 90.9 per cent efficiency.