While less celebrated in the AFL, defenders have continued to do the heavy lifting on the last line for little credit in return.

The last several seasons have seen wave after wave of fresh faces stamp their authority as the leading backmen in the competition, with 2022 being no different.

This year's All-Australian back six saw four players earn their maiden blazers, meaning the last four years have included 20 different defenders in the backline.

Geelong, Melbourne and Fremantle ranked as the leading defensive clubs in 2022, with the former's rearguard proving decisive on their way to premiership glory.

Here we rank the top 10 defenders from the 2022 season.


10. Brennan Cox

A breakout campaign for the Fremantle defender saw Cox named in the All-Australian squad of 40, a just reward after holding a key role in the Dockers' return to the top eight.

After stepping up in the absence of others last year, the South Australian added another fierce edge to Fremantle's rearguard under Justin Longmuir in 2022, adding to an impressive back six which was also comprised of Hayden Young, Alex Pearce and Griffin Logue.

Cox ranked above average among defenders for his disposal count, spoils and intercept-marking averages from his 23 games in purple this season.

Was an asset that flew under the radar in 2022 and could reach new heights next season as the Dockers become more reliant on their tall backs in the absence of Logue.