Sarah Black's 2021 Phantom Draft: Who goes where, your club's whispers

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WHILE the first pick of the NAB AFLW Draft is a very badly kept secret at this point, the 2021 edition is shaping up to be one of the most even yet.

While many list managers agree this is the hardest year yet to predict, womens.afl has gritted its teeth and put together a phantom first round.

TOP PROSPECTS Bios, highlights, more

The Victorian pool especially is an issue, with a handful of standouts and then a group of around 20 players who could fall anywhere, dependent on club needs and their opinions on the various strengths on offer.

The draft will be held on Tuesday night, and will be broadcast on womens.afl and the AFLW Official App, with coverage starting from 6.45pm AEST.

EXPLAINER Everything you need to know about the AFLW Draft

Top 10 draft prospects: Star siblings on show, 'Kiara Bowers-types' in mix

07:30 Jul 27. 2021. 2:30 PM

Nat Edwards and womens.afl reporter Sarah Black discuss the best available talent ahead of the 2021 NAB AFLW Draft

CHARLIE ROWBOTTOM

Pos Midfielder/forward
Ht 179cm, DOB 22/01/03
From Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro

It was the state nomination that sent shockwaves around the competition, and created a knock-on effect for Victorian clubs. Touted as a top prospect in her own state, Rowbottom now looks set to be taken with the first pick after Gold Coast convinced her to nominate for Queensland. A very tall midfielder who's strong around the contest, she can also have an impact up forward with a good attack on the footy.

AFLW Draft Prospect: Charlie Rowbottom

00:32 Jun 7. 2021. 2:03 PM

Check out the best highlights of Charlie Rowbottom

If not her? It's highly unlikely to be anyone else, but before the nomination, Teagan Levi was touted to be the Suns' first selection.

GEORGIE PRESPAKIS

Pos Midfielder
Ht 168cm, DOB 13/3/03
From Calder Cannons/Vic Metro

Yes, that's the younger sister of Maddy. Slightly taller than her older sister, Prespakis is an excellent clearance player with neat skills by hand and foot. She reads the play really well and enjoys working hard up and down the field to be a conduit into attack. Always wears the long sleeves, even in summer, and doesn't mind a tackle or seven each match. Won the then-TAC Cup best and fairest at just 16.

AFLW Draft Prospect: Georgie Prespakis

00:37 Jun 7. 2021. 2:00 PM

Check out the best highlights of Georgie Prespakis

If not her? Local product Tess Craven (also an inside midfielder) could be an attractive proposition, especially given the part-time nature of the competition and the issues the Cats have had trying to get players down the highway.

COURTNEY ROWLEY

Pos Midfielder
Ht 167cm, DOB 24/9/03
From Peel Thunder/WA

An energetic, well-rounded midfielder who loves to get the ball in a bit of space but can also cause considerable damage on the inside. Rowley is clean under pressure, particularly by hand, and isn't afraid to put her body on the line to help her teammates. A strong four-quarter performer, Rowley has long been destined for the big stage, having taken out her local under-18 competition's best and fairest at just 12 years old.

AFLW Draft Prospect: Courtney Rowley

00:32 Jun 7. 2021. 2:08 PM

Check out the best highlights of Courtney Rowley

If not her? There are two other clear standouts in the WA pool this year – classy forward/mid Charlotte Thomas (who has battled a wrist injury all year) and key position player Amy Franklin. Thomas is the more likely of the two at pick No.3.

TESS CRAVEN

Pos Midfielder
Ht 163cm, DOB 23/12/03
From Geelong Falcons/Vic Country

Craven has won rave reviews from a variety of AFLW club officials for her work as an inside midfielder. She has sharp, clean hands under pressure and is excellent at extracting the ball for her teammates. Craven, who won Geelong Falcons' best and fairest after making the Grand Final, has a high footy IQ and is a natural footballer. A foot issue has been the one sticking point for some clubs.

AFLW Draft Prospect: Tess Craven

00:30 Jun 7. 2021. 2:16 PM

Check out the best highlights of Tess Craven

If not her? The Saints would snap up Georgie Prespakis in an instant if she was still available, causing commentators considerable headaches alongside good mate Georgia Patrikios. Amanda Ling, also an inside midfielder, is also an option.

AMANDA LING

Pos Midfielder
Ht 163cm, DOB 9/7/02
From Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro

Ling has shot up the ranks after being overlooked in last year's draft. Now with some consistent footy under her belt after missing 2019 with a hamstring injury, Ling is a dogged ball-winner who loves tackling and putting on defensive pressure. Won the best on ground in this year's NAB League Grand Final and is incredibly driven.

AFLW Draft Prospect: Amanda Ling

00:34 Jun 7. 2021. 2:03 PM

Check out the best highlights of Amanda Ling

If not her? Ling and Tess Craven could be interchangeable here, with a bit of confusion as to which order the two will go. There's no chance Georgie Prespakis slips this far.

TEAGAN LEVI

Pos Midfielder
Ht 169cm, DOB 14/8/03
From Bond University/Queensland

An excellent footballer across both Australian Rules and rugby sevens, Levi is an athletic midfielder who's a strong clearance player. The younger sister of Gold Coast's Maddi, Teagan is shorter than her sister but is just as dangerous, posting excellent results in the speed, agility and jumping tests at the NAB AFLW Combine. She's got sure hands around stoppages and is dangerous breaking away from the middle.

AFLW Draft Prospect: Teagan Levi

00:29 Jun 12. 2021. 4:54 PM

Check out the best highlights of Teagan Levi

If not her? There's a (very) outside chance Levi will go at one and Rowbottom at six.

ELLA FRIEND

Pos Midfielder/forward
Ht 175cm, DOB 30/12/03
From GWV Rebels/Vic Country

A versatile prospect who's a taller midfielder and can also play as a third key up forward. Friend has a nice left boot, is a powerful contested mark and makes good choices with ball in hand. A member of the NAB AFLW Academy, she is one of the youngest in the draft crop, making eligibility by just two days. 

AFLW Draft Prospect: Ella Friend

00:30 Jun 9. 2021. 5:50 PM

Check out the best highlights of Ella Friend

If not her? On the off-chance local product Tess Craven slips, the Cats would be looking to lock her down.

GISELLE DAVIES

Pos Key defender
Ht 180cm, DOB 17/3/03
From Bond University/Queensland

A steady key back, Davies' height of 180cm puts her in the tallest ranks of defenders. She co-captained Gold Coast's Academy this year and is a strong overhead mark. Davies is a good user of the ball by foot and has excellent reach. Can also push forward and have an impact in attack.

AFLW Draft Prospect: Giselle Davies

00:19 Jun 26. 2021. 3:53 PM

Check out the best highlights of Giselle Davies

If not her? Northern Territory product Dominique Carbone, a lively, hardworking midfielder, has nominated Gold Coast's pool, while fellow Territorian Ashanti Bush looks set to be taken later by the Suns.

STELLA REID

Pos Midfielder/forward
Ht 173cm, DOB 10/9/03
From Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro

A lovely user of the footy, Reid is equally adept in the midfield or on the wing as she is roaming across half-forward. Reid is a member of the NAB AFLW Academy, has an uncanny knack of hitting the scoreboard at crucial moments and has good speed and game awareness. Her uncle Simon Arnott played 30 games for Sydney and 26 games for the Cats.

AFLW Draft Prospect: Stella Reid

00:34 Jun 7. 2021. 2:03 PM

Check out the best highlights of Stella Reid

If not her? Another Geelong local, defender Annie Lee, could be in the mix here.

TARA SLENDER

Pos Forward
Ht 175cm, DOB 11/3/03
From Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country

Slender is a lead-up forward who's not afraid to push up the ground to find the footy or crash a pack to bring the ball to ground. A member of the NAB AFLW Academy, Slender is clean below her knees with good pace to burn off her direct opponent. Reads the play really well, but consistency can occasionally be an issue for the young forward.

AFLW Draft Prospect: Tara Slender

00:29 Jun 7. 2021. 2:14 PM

Check out the best highlights of Tara Slender

If not her? With back-to-back picks, it's anyone's guess as to the order Carlton takes its players. Defender Annie Lee is a chance, but it's unlikely the top-line inside midfielders slip this far.

ANNIE LEE

Pos Defender
Ht 169cm, DOB 28/8/03
From Geelong Falcons/Vic Country

A really classy defender who is steady with ball in hand and rarely looks under pressure. Reads the play well and is a strong intercept mark. Often entrusted with the kick-outs for the Falcons. Lee is a member of the NAB AFLW Academy and makes good decisions when exiting defensive 50.

Ex-Cats skipper's advice for tough intercept defender

01:55 Jun 22. 2021. 9:25 AM

NAB AFLW Draft prospect Annie Lee has her eyes on July and has plenty of support around her

If not her? Lee could feasibly go as early pick No.7, but we're entering the tricky portion of the draft where no one quite knows which order players will fall.

ASHLEIGH RICHARDS

Pos Forward/midfielder
Ht 170cm, DOB 22/10/03
From Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country

Hailing from the Mornington Peninsula, Richards is a versatile prospect who's more than comfortable pushing up the ground. She's a tough customer with good defensive traits who can also hit the scoreboard. A neat mark with quick hands at the contest, Richards was co-captain at Dandenong this year.

AFLW Draft Prospect: Ashleigh Richards

00:33 Jun 26. 2021. 3:52 PM

Check out the best highlights of Ashleigh Richards

If not her? The Saints have been fairly strongly linked to Richards, especially given the number of Stingrays already on their list. If they're looking for some pace out of defence, Brooke Vickers could be an option.

EMELIA YASSIR

Pos Midfielder
Ht 160cm, DOB 25/9/03
From Calder Cannons/Vic Metro

Yassir only knows one thing, and that's to attack the footy. A strong ball-winner who has proven herself against the bigger bodies at VFLW level playing for Essendon, she can also drift forward and hit the scoreboard. One list manager compared her to Bulldog Elisabeth Georgostathis, with the ability to have an impact on both the inside and outside.

AFLW Draft Prospect: Emelia Yassir

00:34 Jun 9. 2021. 5:52 PM

Check out the best highlights of Emelia Yassir

If not her? North Melbourne is notoriously hard to read. Rival clubs are keen to see Tasmanian Perri King taken with this selection, while if a forward is preferred here, Eliza James could fit the bill, or Stella Reid if still available.

CHARLOTTE THOMAS

Pos Forward/midfielder
Ht 175cm, DOB 5/9/03
From Subiaco/WA

Thomas has had a wretched run with injury this year, battling a wrist issue that sidelined her for all but the first round of the WAFLW and missing the NAB AFLW Under-19 Championships. A member of the NAB AFLW Academy, she's a lovely kick of the footy and is a smart player, reading the play well and making excellent choices by hand and foot. The injury hasn't affected her running ability, finishing second in WA's 2km time trial.

AFLW Draft Prospect: Charlotte Thomas

00:29 Jun 12. 2021. 4:48 PM

Check out the best highlights of Charlotte Thomas

If not her? A lot depends on what West Coast does at pick No.3. If Thomas is already taken, Courtney Rowley would fit in beautifully to Fremantle's midfield, while key position player Amy Franklin is also in the top echelon of WA talent this year.

POPPY SCHAAP

Pos Forward/midfielder
Ht 153cm, DOB 28/7/03
From Geelong Falcons/Vic Country

Schaap is a fun player. Don't let her height of 153cm fool you, she's highly dangerous around goal and is a natural footballer. Schaap is strong over the footy and keeps her feet well. A clean snap for goal, she can also be a tough presence in the middle if needed, where her contested work comes to the fore.

AFLW Draft Prospect: Poppy Schaap

00:29 Jun 7. 2021. 2:17 PM

Check out the best highlights of Poppy Schaap

If not her? Another (taller) local forward in Gabby Featherston has been raised here. She can play in a number of roles and has a decent leap, even playing ruck stints for the Falcons.

AURORA SMITH

Pos Winger
Ht 165cm, DOB 13/12/03
From Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country

A bit more of a speculative selection from womens.afl's end, looking at needs. Smith would add some quality pace on the wing. She's got great endurance and excellent game sense, knowing just where to position herself at the right moment. From Shepparton, Smith won the Bushrangers' best and fairest this year.

AFLW Draft Prospect: Aurora Smith

00:35 Jun 12. 2021. 2:04 PM

Check out the best highlights of Aurora Smith

If not her? Yassir is an option if still available, while Reid would be an absolute steal if she slips this far. Brooke Vickers is a nice option off half-back, while Jaide Anthony has exposed form in defence, stepping up to Port Melbourne.

ZOE PROWSE

Pos Ruck/tall utility
Ht 177cm, DOB 30/7/03
From Sturt/South Australia

Has long been earmarked for the AFLW, making her SANFLW debut at just 15 in the ruck. A member of the NAB AFLW Academy, Prowse doesn't have the biggest leap around, but makes up for it with strong body work and following up at ground level. The Crows have all but confirmed this selection, publicly commenting on her versatility and ability to play multiple roles on the field.

'My vertical jump isn't that great': How SA ruck still soars over her opponent

00:54 Jul 12. 2021. 6:00 AM

Zoe Prowse is hoping that a standout draft year will see her name called on July 27

If not her? It'll be a shock if it's not Prowse, but Brooke Tonon looks in the frame for a later selection by the Crows.

MAGGIE HARMER

Pos Defender
Ht 170cm, DOB 12/4/03
From Maroochydore/Queensland

A rebound defender in the mould of Nat Grider, Harmer's versatility means she can also push further up the field, providing run on the wing or drive out of the middle. She reads the play really well and is a sound user of the footy. A member of both the NAB AFLW and Brisbane's Academies, Harmer is a strong intercept mark and a smart player.

AFLW Draft Prospect: Maggie Harmer

00:22 Jun 12. 2021. 4:55 PM

Check out the best highlights of Maggie Harmer

If not her? Fellow Lions academy member Mikayla Pauga could also be in the mix with this selection, with the pair having both nominated exclusively for Brisbane.

Other names to watch in the early rounds