In the second chapter of Zero Hanger's positional rankings for the final week leading up to the 2023 AFL Draft, we'll be counting down the five best defenders on offer.

No Victorian breaks into the top five, with South Australia, New South Wales, Western Australia and Tasmania all represented in our list of the leading backmen.

Between the key talls, versatile medium-sized stoppers and dashing defenders, the class of 2023 isn't short on leading defensive options for AFL clubs to consider.

Our top five includes one father-son prospect and a pair of members from this year's National Championships-winning side the Allies.


Accompanied by comments from AFL Talent Ambassador Kevin Sheehan, here are the FIVE best defenders for the 2023 AFL Draft...


5. Will McCabe

Key Defender
Weight: 86kg
State: South Australia
Club: Tanunda

The Hawks' father-son prodigy pips Sandringham Dragons pair Archie Roberts and Ollie Murphy for the fifth spot in our rankings following a breakout draft campaign in the SANFL and with South Australia at the National Championships.

McCabe's name was up in lights the same week the AFL Academy took on Carlton's VFL unit, with the 197cm defender showing why he could've earned a spot in the representative side with a domain display against a combined NSW Academy team for South Australia.

The son of former Hawks backman Luke McCabe, the Tanunda junior impressed against the best key forwards at this year's carnival and would flex his size and intercept ability to emerge as one of the leading tall backmen among the class of 2023.

Torrens University SA U18 National Championships players Will McCabe, Jack Delean and Tyler Welsh. (Picture – AFL Photos)

The Hawks are likely to be ready to match a bid for McCabe on the opening night of the draft, with the leading prospect out of SA one that many rivals would love to have in their future plans.

Kevin Sheehan Says: A tall defender who has also gone forward at times this year and has continued to develop nicely. He was also one of South Australia's better players at the National Championships. A competitive type who has a good natural leap and is very strong overhead.