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The Roar


The ten best players in line for a Round 1 debut

Lochie O'Brien, Jaiden Stephenson, Aaron Naughton, Nicholas Coffield, Hunter Clark, Adam Cerra, Paddy Dow, Cameron Rayner Andrew Brayshaw and Luke Davies-Uniacke pose during the 2017 AFL Draft at Sydney Showgrounds on November 24, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
Roar Pro
14th March, 2018

Plenty of players are in line for a Round 1 debut next week. Some have been on AFL lists for months, others for years. This list goes through the ten best players most likely to debut in Round 1 which is just a week away.

1. Cam Rayner (Brisbane Lions)
Cam Rayner was the number one pick in the 2017 AFL Draft after an outstanding season in the TAC Cup and National Championships. His speed, strength, marking and contested ball was some of the best in the draft pool. He has all but been guaranteed a Round 1 debut and will most likely be on the half-forward line.

“I thought he was a real threat,” said Lions assistant coach Dale Tapping after his JLT game against the Suns, gathering 13 touches and amassing a team-high ten tackles.

2. Andrew Brayshaw (Fremantle Dockers)
The younger brother of Melbourne midfielder Angus, young Andrew Brayshaw is already one up on his sibling without even playing an AFL game. Andrew has surprised many, with other clubs and experts selecting him with pick two in the 2017 AFL Draft while Angus trailed just behind his young brother, being picked third in the 2014 AFL Draft.

A well-rounded midfielder, Andrew can win his own ball on the inside, as well as play on the outside. Brayshaw did his Round 1 chances no harm with 14 disposals and six tackles in his first game and 19 disposals and nine tackles in his second.

3. Paddy Dow (Carlton Blues)
Pick three in the 2017 AFL Draft, Paddy Dow was considered the most complete player in the draft class by many. An inside midfielder with great endurance, his ability to burst from packs and goal sense made him a star in under 18s.

It was Dow’s first JLT game against the Saints which all but cemented his Round 1 spot. He collected 13 disposals, kicked two goals and showed his courage by putting his head over the ball, losing two front teeth in the process.

“He looked really strong around the contest and his burst out and explosiveness was very exciting,” said Carlton assistant coach David Teague.


4. Luke Davies-Uniackie (North Melbourne)
Luke Davies-Uniackie is a big-bodied inside midfielder who loves getting in and winning the contested ball. He showed an ability to break a game open, which is just what North Melbourne needs. Davies-Uniackie could have easily been the number one pick, but luckily for North, he slipped to them at pick four in the draft.

In his two JLT preseason games, Davies-Uniackie showed he wasn’t afraid to get in and have a crack, attacking the contest and winning the ball. He looked right at home at AFL level winning 12 and 16 disposals respectively in his two games.

Luke Davies-Uniacke (AAP Image/Craig Golding)

5. Nick Coffield (St Kilda Saints)
With pick eight in the 2017 AFL Draft, the Saints selected Northern Knights captain Nick Coffield. Coffield has been touted as a future leader and is a highly rated half-back with elite speed and skills.

His form in the National Championships for Vic Metro, when he averaged 22 disposals at 74 percent efficiency, led to an All Australian spot on the half-back line. He has already shown he can translate this incredible form to the AFL level thanks to his eye-catching performances off half back in two JLT matches with 20 and 17 disposals respectively.

6. Aaron Naughton (Western Bulldogs)
Western Australian key defender Aaron Naughton was pick nine in the 2017 AFL Draft for the Westen Bulldogs. At 194cm, Naughton is athletic, agile and is a great intercept marker. Naughton played seven senior games for Peel Thunder in the WAFL in 2017, making him more AFL-ready than most other draftees.

In the preseason, Naughton has already shown he has what it takes to play on the likes of Jarryd Roughead and Ben Reid and looks to be ready to play at the top level. He even took a team-high eight marks against Collingwood while gathering 13 disposals.


7. Liam Ryan (West Coast Eagles)
With pick 26 in the 2017 AFL Draft, the Eagles selected mature age recruit Liam Ryan from Subiaco in the WAFL. Ryan is a small forward and has been dubbed ‘human highlights package’ according to his teammate Bredon Ah Chee. Ryan can win the ball at ground level and is quick and evasive with a great goal sense.

In only his second WAFL season, Ryan took a step forward, playing 23 games and kicking 73 goals to be the competition’s leading goal kicker. Ryan was lively in attack during his preseason games, flying for marks and attacking the footy, hitting the scoreboard in both games.

8. Charlie Constable (Geelong Cats)
Pick 36 in the 2017 AFL Draft, Geelong selected the tall midfielder Charlie Constable. Constable is a versatile player who can swing forward and back but is most at home in the middle. In the National Championships for Vic Metro, he averaged 26 disposals and gained All Australian honours.

In the JLT preseason, he has shown some great signs by winning the ball in tight using his strong body. He then continued to show his ball-winning ability with 22 and 18 disposals in his two games.

9. Tom Doedee (Adelaide Crows)
Tom Doedee was pick 17 back in the 2015 AFL Draft and it appears this will be the season he finally makes his AFL debut, following the departure of Jake Lever. Doedee is a courageous medium defender who has shown the ability to be a great one-on-one player against bigger and stronger opponents.

“Tom Doedee is a really special player. He’s really good at being the third-man in and intercept marking, so he can definitely be one to replace Jake (Lever),” said teammate Jake Kelly. Doedee impressed in both his JLT preseason games, especially against the Dockers with 16 disposals, five marks and four tackles.

Sam Murray (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)


10. Sam Murray (Collingwood Magpies)
After being traded to the Magpies after two seasons on the Sydney Swans rookie list, Sam Murray finally looks set to make his debut this season. Starting as a small forward, Murray was eventually moved into defence where he found his feet using his speed taking the game on.

He ended the 2017 season with the Swans averaging 22 disposals in their NEAFL side and earning selection in the NEAFL Team of the Year. In his one preseason game, Murray did everything he could to push for a Round 1 debut, finishing with 24 disposals and`seven rebound 50s. Collingwood could really benefit from Murray’s disposal and speed out of defence this season.

Honourable Mentions: Hunter Clark (St.Kilda Saints), Tim Kelly (Geelong Cats), Jaidyn Stephenson (Collingwood Magpies), Darcy Fogarty (Adelaide Crows), Bayley Fritsch (Melbourne Demons), Zac Langdon (GWS Giants) and Jake Waterman (West Coast Eagles).