How are the players from the AFL's 2022 draft class faring halfway through their debut seasons? Jasper Chellappah takes a look in ESPN's monthly Rookie Rankings.
2022's draft class continues to impress, with contested bulls Bailey Humphrey and George Wardlaw rocketing up the rookie ladder at the midway point of the season.
Will Ashcroft and Harry Sheezel have continued their strong early-season form, but it's the Suns top pick Humphrey that has emerged as a game-winner in his first handful of games.
The explosive midfielder from Moe taken with Pick 6 catches the eye with his grunt work and power through stoppages. At just 18, he's shown aptitude for the clinches, bursting away from congestion and standing up in the big moments for a surging Suns outfit.
Humphrey is a territory player -- he uses his footspeed to take meterage and penetrates with long, direct kicks to his forward targets. Since Round 9 he leads Gold Coast for metres gained and inside 50s, is 11th in the AFL for inside 50s per game at 5.8 and sits in the top 20 for ground-ball gets.
Humphrey has gained Stuart Dew's trust over the past month with more midfield opportunities in a traditionally streamlined four-man engine room. The bullocking midfielder attended 48% of the Suns' centre bounces in their two games before the bye -- wins against the Dogs and Crows in Darwin.
Humphrey gets his first opportunity on the hallowed turf of the MCG on Sunday against the Blues, and with newfound opportunity in the Suns midfield, the Gippsland kid is ready to tear into the second half of his debut year.
Equally impressive since making his debut has been North Melbourne's George Wardlaw. The 'Warlord' has become the Kangas' premier midfielder immediately, leading his side in clearances since debuting in Round 10.
Wardlaw has already shown flashes of innate instinct in congestion, producing sidesteps and fend-offs and rising when the game reaches its crescendo. He produced the best game of his young career on the weekend against the Giants with 22 disposals, nine tackles and a goal to earn his rising star nomination.
Wardlaw's running mate Harry Sheezel has been thrown around the ground a bit more with Aaron Hall back in the side, splitting his time across the forward line and midfield before being settled down back once more in the past two rounds.
Will Ashcroft is set for a big second half of the year, playing three of his next four at the Gabba where he averages 29 disposals in his last two games.
Josh Weddle continues to impress for the Hawks, showing off incredible aerial exploits and stout defensive ability to shoot up the rookie ladder after round 13.
ESPN's Rookie Ladder after Round 13:
Will Ashcroft (BRIS)
Harry Sheezel (NM)
Bailey Humphrey (GC)
Max Michalanney (ADEL)
Reuben Ginbey (WCE)
George Wardlaw (NM)
Josh Weddle (HAW)
Mattaes Phillipou (ST K)
Ollie Hollands (CARL)
Cam Mackenzie (HAW)
Elijah Tsatas has lit up the VFL for Essendon in his two games back from meniscus surgery, even attracting a second-half tag against Carlton on the weekend. The speedy midfielder has shown off a clean pair of heels exiting congestion and looks likely to make an AFL appearance in the second half of the year to round out debuts for the top 10 of the 2022 cohort.