The 18-man list consists of players who Cornes believe will take their game to a new level this year, with his criteria suited for players aged 23 and under who are yet to make their mark on the game.
Highlighting Cornes’ list is Carlton utility and club heir Jack Silvagni, with the Port Adelaide legend insisting he is yet to have a breakout season despite a convincing 2019 campaign.
“You might say he’s already broken out but I don’t think he has” Cornes told SEN.
“He’s been stuck in that graveyard for far too long, trying to play as a medium-small forward in a poor side is tough.
“But I reckon the Blues can get the best out of him. They shifted him into the midfield at times last year and he was exceptional as an accountable midfielder.”
Silvagni saw am increase in nearly every major stat during last season, where he featured within both of the Blues’ forward line and midfield.
“He’s 194cm, he’s the modern midfielder and he’s going to have a very good year playing a similar role to Matt de Boer from the Giants.
“He is going to be an accountable midfielder who can win his own ball but also because he’s got the forward craft, push forward and hurt his opposition on the scoreboard.”
Richmond speedster and premiership player Shai Bolton also featured on Cornes’ list, with the 21-year-old playing 19 games in 2019 for 17 wins within the Tigers’ already deadly forward line.
“Bolton is already a premiership player so you could argue that he has broken out somewhat but will take his game to new levels in 2020 which is frightening for Richmond’s rivals.
“Went at just under a goal per game so there is room for improvement at the goal front to head towards the numbers of the likes of Eddie Betts, Stephen Milne, Michael Walters at around two goals a game.
“But his tackling and pressure for a small forward is already elite.”
Key position players failed to dominate the list, but Kangaroos big man Nick Larkey was one of the minority to feature.
Larkey slotted 26 goals from 17 games in 2019 alongside star forward Ben Brown, while being able to pinch-hit in the ruck behind Todd Goldstein.
“Larkey has the potential to be one of the game’s best key forwards.
“His statistics from his 17 games in 2019 were highly impressive as he averaged nearly 1.5 goals per game and pulled in 26 contested marks.
“Is also more than capable as a back-up ruckman which adds versatility to his game. A super impressive youngster that will reach new heights in 2020.
“Partnering up with Ben Brown could be frightening.”
Continuing with the key position theme, Cornes selected injury-riddled Fremantle defender Griffin Logue, who has managed to feature just 23 times for his club since being drafted at 8th overall in the 2016 draft.
Cornes believes that if Logue is able to avoid another string of injuries, then he may be the missing piece for the Dockers.
“Another top-10 draft pick that due to injury has taken a little bit longer to arrive than Freo may have expected.
“Has struggled to get the best out of himself due to those injuries but this guy is going to be a genuine star, you watch.
“I love his size and his mobility. He’s versatile, he can play as a key defender or as an interceptor across half-back, he uses the ball well.
“If he stays fit he is going to be a major weapon for the Dockers and new coach Justin Longmuir.”
Youngest on the list and mid-season rookie draft selection Kyle Dunkley is Cornes’ Melbourne representative as a hopeful rising sensation.
Kyle, younger brother of Bulldogs star Josh, played just the five games for the Dees since joining in May – and while his stats haven’t matched those of an AFL standard – Cornes believes he will be an addition to the Demons engine room.
“Dunkley was one positive of a very bleak 2019 for Melbourne playing five games after being selected in the mid-season draft.
“Plays as an inside mid but has shown in his brief AFL career that he can go forward and hit the scoreboard. His brother Josh has become one of the games best midfielders and the younger Dunkley spent the off-season honing his craft training alongside him.
“Expect him to become a regular playing in the star-studded Melbourne midfield this year.”
Kane Cornes’ full ‘breakout player’ list
Adelaide: Myle Poholke
Brisbane: Callum Ah Chee
Carlton: Jack Silvagni
Collingwood: Isaac Quaynor
Essendon: Dylan Clarke
Fremantle: Griffin Logue
Geelong: Nakia Cockatoo
Gold Coast: Ben Ainsworth
Greater Western Sydney: Sam Taylor
Hawthorn: Will Hanrahan
Melbourne: Kyle Dunkley
North Melbourne: Nick Larkey
Port Adelaide: Todd Marshall
Richmond: Shai Bolton
St Kilda: Dougal Howard
Sydney: Will Hayward
West Coast: Jake Waterman
Western Bulldogs: Patrick Lipinksi