With the AFL Draft looming, pundits and analysts of every pay grade have their focus set on this year's top-end talent.

Should you spend enough time examining phantom drafts, highlights packages and anything uttered by the guru Kevin Sheehan, it becomes glaringly evident who will be taken with a first-round selection.

But what then of those names that slip? What about those that will miss out altogether?

Since 1997, the league has implemented a secondary Rookie Draft for the project players, sliders and risky names that failed to have their names called.

Although the rookie list now appears to be a haven for ageing champions instead of a home for up and comers, here's hoping that when the competition finally settles post COVID-19, that it can return to its initial purpose.

Across the 23 seasons of the Rookie Draft there have been multiple names that never made the senior grade, but for the multitude of untried delistees, there have been a handful of diamonds excavated from the rubble.

Here are the 10 biggest names that found their way onto AFL lists via the Rookie Draft.


1. Dean Cox

With 290 games – a club record and the most of any player selected via the Rookie Draft – and as arguably the most dynamic big man this century, Dean Cox was always going to finish atop this lists' podium.

Hailing from way out in the Pilbara, Cox became an Eagle in 1999 after being selected with the 28th pick in the Rookie Draft.

Like Milne, Cox spent the Y2K season on the sidelines before making 17 appearances in 2001.

After a quartet of statistically sound seasons at senior level, Cox exploded as a ruckman in 2005 with a season average of 23.8 hit outs, 16.3 disposals and just under a goal a game.

Although West Coast fell agonisingly close to their third flag that year, Cox was named an All-Australian for the first time – a feat he would repeat on five further occasions

Statistically speaking, Cox's career zenith came in 2011, when he recorded an average of 28.6 hit outs, 17.8 disposals and 3.7 clearances per game.

Despite proving nigh on impossible to beat at stoppages, Cox's worth was double fold in front of goal. Across his 290 games, the 204 centimetre behemoth managed 169.118 when aiming for the big sticks – the 13th highest total in West Coast's history.

Still actively involved in the game, 15 of the 16 recruiters from 1999 still no doubt get red faced when the Hall of Famer's name is mentioned.