The Ultimate Ranking of Every AFL Number One Draft Pick: Future Stars or False Hope?

An AFL player chosen with the number one pick in the national draft carries a heavy burden. Some, like Jack Watts and Tom Boyd, struggle with the pressure. Others, like Sam Walsh, quickly prove themselves. With Harley Reid expected to be the next top pick, it’s time to review the history of number one draft picks.Here’s how we ranked all 39 number one picks to date, from worst to best. Last year’s top pick, Aaron Cadman, isn’t ranked yet. Richard Lounder and Stephen Hooper struggled with their respective clubs, while Anthony Banik’s career was affected by illness.Alex McDonald, John Hutton, and Martin Leslie had mixed success, while Clive Waterhouse became a cult hero for Fremantle. Paddy McCartin’s promising career was thwarted by repeated concussions, but his return to the AFL with Sydney in 2022 was an inspiring story.Jonathon Patton’s career ended amid controversy over his actions, tarnishing his promising start.