AFL Mid-season Draft: Best prospects and names to watch

The AFL Mid-season Draft for 2023 is almost upon us, with club looking to pick up players who have impressed in state leagues and beyond.

Ryan Maric headlines the crop for this year's event, set for the night of Wednesday May 31st. With players including Jai Newcombe, Marlion Pickett, and Essendon's most recent Dreamtime hero Sam Durham drafted in recent years, these are the seven names at the top of recruiter's boards this season.

Ryan Maric
Gippsland Power, Coates Talent League
FWD, 193cm, 83kg

Maric wasn't even a consideration for clubs last year, but a huge start to 2023 has him on the precipice of the AFL. The 18-year-old lost over 20 kilos in the pre-season and he's transformed into a goal-kicker with beautiful timing on the lead. He reacts quickly to the ball in flight and hits the scoreboard with regularity, including two goals for Box Hill in his debut on the weekend. Maric -- who nominated an 18-month contract -- is under the nose of Hawthorn but would need to get through West Coast and North Melbourne at the top of the draft to find himself at the Hawks.

Robert Hansen Jr
Subiaco, WAFL
MID/FWD, 180cm, 70kg

Hansen is a wonderfully balanced footballer, light on his feet with a polished left foot and loads of goal nous. His most eye-catching moments have come as a small forward where he often makes something out of nothing for the Lions, but he's also shown ability up the ground on a wing and can impact games through different avenues. Fremantle has shown keen interest in the Indigenous talent who's nominated for the draft under an 18-month contract.

Jack Buller
Claremont, WAFL
FWD, 199cm, 99kg

Buller is a bruising key forward that's dominated WAFL defenders all year. The recently-turned 22-year-old uses his frame to advantage aerially and has a penetrating kick from anywhere within 55 metres. Buller is one-touch in the air and has real physical presence, able to give his side relieving ruck minutes and a contest down the line with regularity. The mature-aged West Australian is on the Eagles' radar, who are in need of talent across the board.

Clay Tucker
Eastern Ranges, Coates Talent League
RUCK, 204cm, 99kg

Clubs have used the mid-season draft in the past to take young ruckmen who have shown a good rate of development, and Tucker is the pick of the bunch this year. He's added to his frame over the off-season but importantly hasn't lost his athleticism, routinely leaping over his opponent at centre bounces and moving to contests around the ground well. Tucker's question mark remains with his ball skills - he'll be a project for a team if they take a chance on him, but he's shown an abundance of ability.

Sam Naismith
Port Melbourne, VFL
RUCK, 206cm, 108kg

Naismith's story of perseverance through adversity could offer up one more chapter in the big time, with multiple clubs including Geelong showing interest in the veteran ruckman ahead of the mid-season draft. He's been the dominant big man in the VFL with Port Melbourne, averaging over 40 hit-outs per outing. Naismith is still showing athleticism that defies his three ACL surgeries, and the 30-year-old has a real chance of landing on an AFL list six months after leaving the Swans.

Oscar McDonald
Williamstown, VFL
DEF, 196cm, 98kg

The former Blue and Demon has impressed in the VFL as an intercepting defender, and is the leading key defensive prospect coming into Wednesday. The 27-year-old has been reading the play with real confidence through the first half of his Williamstown campaign, averaging over eight marks per contest. Sydney has kept tabs on his year while they navigate the absences of the McCartin brothers and Dane Rampe.

Luke Teal
Richmond, VFL
DEF/MID, 189cm, 80kg

Teal was unlucky in his 2022 draft year, dealing with appendicitis and a collarbone injury that curtailed his year. The speedy half-back has hit the ground running in the VFL this year and is on recruiter radars with his burst and agility catching the eye. He racked up 32 touches against Vic Country for the Young Guns two weeks ago and has shown some positional versatility as an inside midfielder. There's AFL-quality traits to work with in the recently-turned 19-year-old, who has nominated with an 18-month contract.

Also in consideration:

12 prospects including Maric, Hansen, Buller and Tucker have been invited to undergo medicals for AFL clubs, with the Oakleigh Chargers' Will Elliott and Box Hill's Ethan Stanley receiving interest from multiple clubs. Noah Casalini is a possible SANFL addition to the AFL, and keep an eye on Essendon VFL intercept defender Jack Cleaver who has garnered late interest.