AFL draft: The 10 most underrated prospects

Throughout 2019, ESPN.com.au AFL draft expert Chris Doerre has cast his eye over the country's best junior footballers to give readers an early insight into the next generation of AFL stars.

As well as attending live games, Doerre pores through match vision, analyses the stats and talks to industry sources to ensure he can offer the most insightful draft analysis.

Here, he looks at the draft's 10 most underrated prospects under 20 years of age.

Will Gould (SA)
General defence
Expected range: 20-40
Why he can make it: One of this year's best performed, Gould is likely to be selected in the second round, slipping further than predicted due to his weight and underwhelming draft combine results which have moved him down draft boards.

Gould is the most physically intimidating presence in the draft. He uses all 106kg of his weight and throws it around in bruising fashion and makes opposition forwards earn everything they get. He isn't just a physical defender but provides meaningful rebound with his penetrating kick among the best and most damaging in the draft. While Gould tested poorly at the combine, he appears quick in games and possesses a burst of speed with ball in hand, so his testing nor the weight he carries should not be overstated. Gould is a unique defender in that he mostly plays as a general defender, but he is tall enough at 192cm and more than strong enough to not only contain but beat opposition key forwards.

Gould averaged 19 disposals, five marks and six rebound 50s in the SANFL at League level and contributed for Glenelg in their Grand Final victory. His play during the Under-18 Championships was similarly strong, with Gould one of three back-to-back Under-18 All-Australians. During this year's championships he averaged 22 disposals, five marks and seven rebound 50s.

Harry Schoenberg (SA)
Inside midfield
Expected range: 20-50
Why he can make it: Making a name for himself during the Under-18 Championships for South Australia and earning his state's MVP and a position on the Under-18 All-Australian team, Schoenberg is a second player whose performance far exceeds his expected draft position.

Seen as a likely second or early third round choice, Schoenberg is a single position player at this stage, having only proven himself as a midfielder and offers little scoreboard impact. Schoenberg would benefit from developing forward craft or finding a second position, but for clubs needing a ball-winning midfielder, Schoenberg represents value far exceeding where he is likely to get drafted.

Schoenberg is a high-volume contested ball-winner who displays an enviable combination of first possession-winning on the move, acceleration to burst away from stoppages at speed, strength to shrug tackles and lay aggressive tackles of his own. Schoenberg combines this power with class and composure. He lowers his eyes, hits meaningful targets by hand and foot and is evasive. He demonstrates a high work rate, looks like he is always on the move and provides a moving target as a receiver when he isn't putting his head down and winning the ball himself.

Schoenberg averaged 27 disposals, 12 contested possessions, five tackles and five marks during the Under-18 Championships and 21 disposals, 10 contested possessions and five tackles in the SANFL Reserves.

Ryan Byrnes (VIC)
Inside midfield
Expected range: 30-rookie
Why he can make it: Starting the season off strongly for Sandringham through the midfield, Byrnes dropped down draft calculations due to relative lack of exposure during the Under-18 Championships. He played only Vic Metro's last game against the Allies in what was a quiet match by his standards, managing only 14 disposals and 10 contested possessions.

But in the NAB League, Byrnes has been one of the competition's premier performers, averaging 25 disposals, 12 contested possessions and five clearances. Not only is Byrnes a prolific ball winner but he hurts opposition sides with his burst of acceleration out of stoppages and hurt factor by foot.

Like Schoenberg, Byrnes would benefit from hitting the scoreboard more and developing the scope to play a second position, but his play through the midfield has been so dominant that on performance he looms as one of this year's draft bargains.

Bigoa Nyuon (VIC - St Kilda next-generation academy)
Key defence
Expected range: late-undrafted
Why he can make it: Throughout the season, Nyuon has been asked to play all over the field and has been unable to gain the continuity needed to establish himself in one set position.

'Biggy' has looked most at home in defence, with his reading of the drop of the ball and intercept marking standout features. He's a freakish athlete, running the 20m sprint in 2.855 at the state combine (a time that would have taken out first place at the national combine, had he been invited), is a fluid mover with excellent agility and is a high leaper. With these athletic gifts, Biggy has the closing speed to make life difficult for leading forwards and the aerial prowess to compete in the air.

When asked to play through the ruck this year, Biggy -- despite standing at just 195cm - has consistently outleaped his opponents and tapped the ball to advantage. While as a key forward Nyuon leads up at the ball effectively and has the capacity to hit the scoreboard.

A high-impact-per-possession player, Nyuon averaged just 11 disposals, four marks in NAB League and four marks during the Under-18 Championships. His endurance will be the other area needing addressing.

There is an untapped feel to Biggy, who if given the opportunity to settle as a key defender, has the scope to develop into something like Sydney's Aliir Aliir.

Few clubs have expressed strong draft interest, but aside from projected first-round choice Fischer McAsey, Biggy may be that next most promising key defender.

Joshua Shute (SA)
Outside midfield
Expected range: 40-rookie
Why he can make it: Gaining less attention than his play during the Under-18 Championships or SANFL Reserves would suggest he should, Shute is one of this year's classy outside ball users.

Seen as a skinny outside player who needs to win more of his own ball, Shute is a classy, high production outside midfielder who you want the ball in the hands of. He's a precise kick who shows composure and evasion with ball in hand, makes sound decisions and displays vision.

Shute averaged 20 disposals and nine marks during the Under-18 Championships and 21 disposals and seven marks in the SANFL Reserves. He finished the season off strongly, showing improvement over the course of the season. Shute placed in the bests in the SANFL Reserves in four of his last five matches.

Jackson Davies (VIC)
General defence
Expected range: 40-undrafted
Why he can make it: Not selected during the Under-18 Championships after a slow start to the season, Davies dominated during the season half of the year. He averaged an impressive 20 disposals and six marks for Northern off half-back in the NAB League.

Davies, Northern's captain, has sticky hands overhead and is one of this year's premier intercept marks. He reads the ball as well as any in the pool and backs himself, often flying for and believing he will take the intercept mark. Davies is a tough defender who holds his ground and athletically is a high leaper who possesses good agility and evasion. Davies displays composure under pressure and is a long kick, regularly taking the kickouts for Northern.

Given the dominance of Davies during the second half to the season, it was surprising he was not rewarded with a national draft combine invite as he has the scope to be one of this draft's best defenders taken outside the first round.

Brodie Newman (VIC)
Key defence
Expected range: 40-undrafted
Why he can make it: One of the best and most accomplished key defenders in the pool, Newman has received little draft attention despite a strong season. He is one of the premier intercept marks and readers of the ball in the pool. Beyond this, he possesses a strong body and is difficult to beat one-on-one.

Calder's captain, Newman earned two Under-18 Championships games, averaging 16 disposals and eight marks. In the NAB League he averaged 19 disposals and six marks. The game that caught national attention was his 36 disposals and 17 marks against Western.

A smart footballer, Newman is only of average height for a key defender at 193cm. He is seen as a below average athlete with an inconsistent kick. But he is comfortable running with ball in hand and moves fluidly. He has shown good vision and can hit meaningful targets by foot over long distance and through the corridor.

With clubs typically seeking out more athletic key defenders, Newman could be a diamond in the rough as one of a group with claims to be among this year's better key defenders.

Josh Gore (QLD - Gold Coast Academy)
General forward
Expected range: late-undrafted
Why he can make it: Not pre-listed by Gold Coast as part of their assistance package due to adding Connor Budarick and Malcolm Rosas Jr as other forwards, Gore is one of this year's long list of exciting forwards.

A prolific goalkicker, Gore averaged two goals per game in the NAB League and during the Under-18 Championships and kicked 13 goals from 11 NEAFL games. Gore has had some big games this year, including four goals in one NEAFL game and 20 disposals, eight marks, three goals and five behinds against Oakleigh, the NAB League premiers.

Gore is a strong marking forward who is excellent on the lead and at ground level. He keeps his feet, uses his body well, reads the drop of the ball effectively, maintains a low centre of gravity and showcases goal sense.

Interest in Gore has been milder than expected given his quality of his play and how effectively he has applied forward pressure and tackled. It feels like with Gore possessing only average pace and playing an unconventional style of game, he is lower than expected on most draft boards.

Nicholas Murray (NSW/ACT - GWS Academy)
Key defence
Expected range: rookie-undrafted
Why he can make it: The younger brother of delisted Collingwood defender Sam Murray, overager Nicholas Murray stepped up his game this year after contending for a draft position in 2018. He's a powerful contested marking key defender who has the strength to take one-on-one marks, attack balls aerially and is one of the premier readers of the ball in flight in the draft. While Murray is a gifted interceptor, he rarely loses one-on-one contests and makes life difficult for opposition forwards.

Murray, who will turn 19 in December, averaged 15 disposals and six marks (two contested) in the NAB League and 12 disposals and five marks in the NEAFL.

The relative weakness in Murray's game is his speed and agility. Despite not receiving an invite to either the state or national combines, Murray is one of the best performed key defenders, and given his one-on-one and intercepting capabilities, has strong scope to continue improving.

Bailey Schmidt (VIC)
Expected range: rookie-undrafted
Why he can make it: Providing a commanding influence through the ruck, Schmidt, a strong-bodied ruckman, regularly won first possession out of the ruck. He is too strong in ruck contests when he can create body contact between himself and his opponent which allows him to easily tap the ball to the advantage of teammates. Schmidt's ground ball-winning, strength to keep his feet when tackled and the marks he takes both inside 50m and intercepting behind the play are further positives.

Excluding his last NAB League game when he got hurt early in the first quarter, Schmidt has averaged 13 disposals, eight contested possessions and 26 hitouts in the NAB League while in his one Under-18 Championships game he managed 18 hitouts and eight tackles.

Winning best afield honours in his two NAB League games before injury, Schmidt will need to improve his endurance and mobility before he is ready to play senior games. With ruckmen typically coming good in their mid-20s, there is plenty of time for Schmidt to develop. With his physical presence and impact he can have both at stoppages and around the ground as a marking presence, Schmidt has enough tools to develop.