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The 2017 AFL season has brought with it some incredible matches as well as a new wave of talented first year players. There has been plenty of talent sourced from around Victoria from the 2016 NAB AFL Draft, including five of which who have come from the South Metro Junior Football League (SMJFL).

We analysed how their first seasons have played out in the big time. 

(All stats, games and goals up to Round 20)

ANDREW MCGRATH  – Essendon 

Junior club – East Brighton Vampires

The poised defender/midfielder has been a revelation this season for the Bombers. After a tough 2016 for Essendon, in which they were handed the wooden spoon, it lead to their first No.1 draft pick in the club’s history and with that, Andy McGrath. Along with the comeback players, McGrath has slotted nicely in defence in his first season. He has averaged 18 disposals in his 17 games, living up to his No.1 pick status with his incredible class, efficiency and durability throughout his first season. Already much-loved among the Essendon faithful, McGrath will be looking to spend more time in the midfield in the years to come. 

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OLIVER FLORENT – Sydney 

Junior club(s) – Beaumaris & Cheltenham

After a highly-rated draft combine in 2016, Oliver Florent came into the Swan’s line-up as a part of a promising young brigade and earned his debut early in Round 1 against Port Adelaide at the SCG. Florent has made a name for himself as a dashing half-forward/midfielder in his nine games this season. His best game came against Essendon in Round 14, where he collected 13 disposals, four marks and a goal. He is a future talent that will be better for the run having experienced the intensity of AFL football in 2017. 

JACK SCRIMSHAW – Gold Coast

Junior Club – Beaumaris

The classy defender has in recent weeks worked his way into the Suns line-up and made his AFL debut in Round 18 against the Western Bulldogs. Scrimshaw made a name for himself during a fantastic TAC Cup campaign and NAB U18 carnival in 2016, with an impressive left-foot and rebounding smarts. At 193cm, he’s shown the flexibility to play on both tall and small forwards, without the task affecting his rebounding traits. Scrimshaw is known for his clean hands and decision-making in play and the Suns will be hoping he can become a key staple of the club in the future. 

TIM TARANTO – GWS

Junior Club – Mordialloc-Braeside

The mature bodied, hard-running midfielder has impressed for GWS this season with his ability to accumulate and stand up in the rough and tumble of big games. Taranto earned his debut in the opening round of the season at the Adelaide Oval against the Crows. and has featured in 11 more games thereafter. He has averaged 15 disposals per game in 2017, including two standout matches against the Western Bulldogs and Collingwood where he picked up over 20 touches. Unfortunately for the youngster, he injured his ankle in Round 14 and was ruled out for the remainder of the home & away season, but could be looking for a comeback late in the finals. Taranto will be looking to develop his midfield craft as he looks to an injury free 2018 season.

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CAMERON POLSON – Carlton 

Junior Club – St Peters

The Haileybury College alumni has enjoyed a promising first year in the AFL system under Brendan Bolton at Carlton. Polson made his debut in Round 5 in the club’s 90 point loss against Port Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval, a tough proposition in what has been his only game to date. He has had to battle through shoulder concerns but Carlton have been impressed with his clean skills and ability to play the tricky small forward role. 

2016 NAB AFL Draft – SMJFL representation 

Pick 1 – Essendon: Andrew McGrath (East Brighton Vampires)

Pick 2 – GWS Giants: Tim Taranto (Mordialloc-Braeside)

Pick 7 – Gold Coast Suns: Jack Scrimshaw (Beaumaris)

Pick 11 – Sydney Swans: Oliver Florent (Beaumaris & Cheltenham)

Pick 59 – Carlton: Cameron Polson (St Peters)