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...

4. Riley Hardeman

Weight: 75kg
State: Western Australia
Club: Caversham

Hardeman captained Western Australia at the National Championships this year and would also piece together strong bookends in the WAFL with Swan Districts.

The rebounding and intercept defender averaged over 22 disposals for the Swans' Colts side this year and would also make his WAFL Seniors debut in Round 1 against East Perth, where he amassed 10 disposals and six marks.

A member of the U18 All-Australian side and AFL Academy, Hardeman was a consistent defensive weapon at any level he represented to earn a place in the first-round conversation ahead of next week's National Draft.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 13: Riley Hardeman of the AFL Academy in action during the match between the AFL Academy Boys and Carlton VFL at Marvel Stadium on May 13, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Kevin Sheehan Says: Left-footed medium defender who is strong overhead, has line-breaking speed and is a penetrating kick. Made his senior debut with Swan Districts this year and impressed when representing Australia as part of the AFL Academy. His natural leap was on display at the Draft Combine where he featured in the top 10 performers in both the standing vertical jump (75cm) and running vertical jump (91cm).