The AFL National Draft is only a month or so away, so it’s time to get to know the new crop who will be gracing our Dream Teams in 2012. I’ve spent the last few days researching a few of the players that are on my radar early in the off-season so far. The Combine is underway as we speak, so we will have much more data after the week’s physical and psychometric testing.
Firstly, let me get out of the way a few hype players that aren’t currently in my plans for 2012. I’ve listed their current physical characteristics what I predict their positional eligibility will look like.
Jonathon Patton 197cm 95kg 18yo FWD
The Eastern Ranges’ Patton is considered a possible first pick in the AFL Draft – not that it matters, seeing as the top 3 will all be going to GWS, which he is certain to be part of. He is a hulking half-forward with a good turning circle and skills at ground-level. His main criticism has been his goal-kicking accuracy, but we have all seen how those types – ie Buddy Franklin – can still be valuable.
While he is a young Key Forward, which has never been a reliable DT option, you would think his strength and credentials will hold up in a young GWS forward line. The only drawback is whether it is worth picking up a rookie KPP who will be premium price for a rookie as per the draft pay scale.
STATS: Per game from 11 games: 11.5 kicks, 5.5 handballs, 7.5 marks, 2.8 goals
Hayden Crozier 184cm 68kg 17yo FWD/MID
We all know Crozier as ‘that skinny kid who took that hanger for Vic Metro at the State Champs’. But there’s a little more to the Number 2 from the Eastern Ranges than one good mark, he’s an excitement machine. His physical characteristics paint him as a raw Nat Fyfe type – agile, great mark, long kick – who will benefit greatly from a year or two in the system to bulk up a little as Fyfe did.
He was touted as a top 15 pick after gaining some exposure from that mark, but his form has been shaky since, with his inconsistency his greatest vice. He’ll still go in the first two rounds, but as a DT pick, he’s probably a couple of years away from putting up any decent numbers.
STATS: Per game from 12 games: 13.3 kicks, 5.6 handballs, 5.2 marks, 1.0 goal
Chad Wingard 181cm 73kg 18yo MID/FWD
Despite it being difficult to find any reliable vision or statistics on South Australian draft prospects, it’s obvious that Wingard will go top of the order. Pre-Combine, he is projected to be off the table by pick 7. The indigenous midfielder is not particulary strong in any particular physical category, so don’t expect to see much hype around him from the Combine testing.
What Wingard does have is a hunger and never-ending desire for the footy. His ferocious pressure and repeated efforts combined with his footy smarts make him perfect for clubs, but possibly not so much for Dream Team. He’ll be premium price, and from what I’ve seen he doesn’t generate enough of the footy to be worth the cash. Although, he will get plenty of opportunities to prove himself in his first year, and if someone could prove me wrong, it’s Wingard.
STATS: None available
Top 9 DT Prospects
With those big names out of the way, let’s look at some players who could be really fantasy relevant next season. These are my Top 9 DT prospects for the Draft prior to the Combine.
Dom Tyson 186cm 82kg 18yo MID
After a fantastic year, Tyson finds himself firmly entrenched in the top 10 prospects going into the Combine, with being picked 4th-6th a distinct possibility. This means he’ll likely find himself at either GWS, GC, Port or the Lions – all with young and developing midfields, perfect for Tyson to be injected into right away.
He is being talked about as a tall midfielder in the Pendlebury mould – a smart accumulator with a nice left foot and a great release handball. At this stage he looks to be a great DT bet given his playing style and likely destination. Once again, the only worry here is whether he is worth the extra salary you pay for a first round rookie. Watch closely over the nab cup.
STATS: Per game from 10 games: 12.6 kicks 13.2 handballs, 4.7 tackles, 1.0 goal
Billy Longer 202cm 95kg 18yo RUCK
Longer is being talked about as a top 10 pick, but as a ruckman his placing will all come down to what the individual teams think they need the most. Regardless, he’s guaranteed to be the first ruckman taken, probably cementing his selection as the 3rd ruck in most preliminary Dream Teams. He dominated the tap-outs at for the Northern Knights, while also being effective when resting in a pocket.
Unfortunately he has tweaked a hamstring so we won’t see what he can do in terms of the physical testing at the combine. Obviously, he’ll be right for the nab cup, and I’m sure whoever picks him up will test him there, especially as he is being backed to hold a 2nd ruck spot in his first year.
STATS: Per game from 12 games: 8.0 kicks, 3.7 handballs, 28.9 hitouts, 1.25 goals.
Will Hoskin-Elliot 190cm 76kg 18yo MID
Hoskin-Elliot is another Victorian that is firming as a top 10 choice. He plays as a true wingman, a great user of the footy, which means he is a great chance at playing out most of his first year. He reminds me of Cale Morton in his hey-day (State Champs) – quick, great mark, and a precise kick. Unlike Morton though, Hoskin-Elliot is willing to do the hard things like smother and tackle.
In terms of Dream Team, he’s doing all the right things. Being a link-up player, he generates a large amount of +6’s and has a huge kick-to-handball ratio. His opportunity to make the senior side regularly depends on where he is drafted to and his nab cup form – so watch him over the off-season closely. My main concern is that he is a good candidate for the Green Vest, but again, we’ll only know by monitoring him at his new home.
STATS: Per game from 12 games: 14.8 kicks, 2.8 handballs, 5.0 marks, 1.0 goal
Toby Greene 180cm 78kg 18yo MID
Toby Greene is the hungriest player I’ve seen so far from this crop of draft talent. The Oakleigh Chargers stoppage man was All-Australian at the Champs and was named Vic Metro’s MVP. He is probably best described as a Joel Selwood type – his attack on the ball is second to none, and he has an incredible knack of firing out highly effective handballs to teammates, no matter the situation.
For some reason he is not as highly rated as his high-profile Metro teammates, but this is a good thing for DTers. Hopefully he’ll fall a bit and we can pick up this accumulator for a little less cash than he probably deserves. The main concern with Greene is that, depending on which team he is drafted to, he may have to wait a while for a senior opportunity in a strong midfield.
STATS: Per game from 13 games: 13.4 kicks, 15.8 handballs, 3.4 tackles, 0.7 goals
Matthew Buntine 188cm 83kg 17yo DEF
Buntine will be one of the highest drafted defenders come Draft Day. The Dandenong product is a member of the AIS-AFL academy, winning their prestigious Ben Mitchell Medal this year. Previous winners include Josh Toy (Gold Coast), David Myers (Essendon), Jack Grimes (Melbourne) and Jack Ziebell (North Melbourne). At the moment Buntine is projected to go first round, but he shapes as a real wildcard. Depending on how things map out and what particular clubs think they need in terms of position, he could go as high as top 10 or slide down the order.
Buntine’s key characteristics are his impressive core strength and clean hands under pressure. He rarely gets beaten in a one-on-one, but it’s his pace that recruiters will be looking at closely over the combine. In terms of DT, I see him fulfilling a role similar to Duigan in his first year at AFL level.
STATS: Per game from 10 games: 13.7 kicks, 7.8 handballs, 4.2 marks
Stephen Coniglio 182cm 76kg 17yo MID/FWD
There is a reason why Coniglio is being touted as a number 1 pick, and that’s because he’s the best all round player to nominate for the draft. He has the polished skills, obvious smarts, blistering pace and impressive strength that make him a certainty to play out most of 2012. A knee injury has slowed him post-season, ruling him out of the physical testing at the Combine.
He should earn Mid-Forward eligibility given his highly publicised performance in the 2010 WAFL Grand Final, where he kicked 4 goals as a 16 year old. The obvious concern with Coniglio is the inflated price tag he will carry being a high draft pick, but if there’s anyone who can play all 22 games next year, it’s Stephen.
STATS: Per game from 6 games: 10.2 kicks, 8.5 handballs, 4.8 tackles, 0.33 goals
Brody Mihocek 191cm 83kg 18yo DEF/FWD
I’ve included Mihocek here because I think he’ll earn Defender-Forward eligibility and he could come into calculations for a lot of teams in terms of structure. He’s expected to be the first drafted Tasmanian, but isn’t projected to make the first round. This means he should be at the standard rookie price.
He’s a great mark, but overall is a raw player who will benefit greatly from time and exposure to an AFL system. He may struggle to break into stronger sides, but if he ends up at one of the weaker clubs he could be a viable DT option.
STATS: None available
Tom Mitchell 181cm 79kg 18yo MID
Tom is the son of Sydney great Barry Mitchell, and is entitled to be picked by the Swans via the Father-Son rule. He reminds me of Scott Selwood – a tough, head-first midfielder who tackles and gives repeated efforts. He plays more attacking than Selwood however, and has put up large numbers on regular occasions for both WA and Claremont this year.
Sydney has a young and tough midfield already, with Jack and Hannebery both in the same mould. Coupled with Sydney’s reluctance to blood many youngsters in the recent past, he could struggle to get a game first-up.
STATS: Per game from 6 games: 12 kicks, 14.2 handballs, 7.2 tackles, 1.0 goal
Sam Docherty 183cm 83kg 17yo DEF
Docherty is probably the biggest bolter in draft calculations over the last year so far. The Gippsland product was only called up to Vic Country for the last two games of the State Champs, but performed well to boost his draft chances. He is a very speedy and accurate-kicking defender, think Nic Suban.
Because he is a bit of an unknown to a lot of recruiters, his Combine results will go a long way in determining where he sits in the Draft order. Early projections have him late first round, which means we won’t have to pay such an inflated price for this one.
STATS: Per game from 16 games: 13.3 kicks, 8.7 handballs, 4.9 marks.
Others to Watch:
Clay Smith – Gippsland Power 180cm 78kg FWD/MID
Brad McKenzie – Sturt 180cm 78kg DEF
Myles Bolger – South Fremantle 199cm 80kg RUCK
Liam Sumner – Sandringham Dragons 182cm 70kg MID
Devon Smith – Geelong Falcons 175cm 73kg MID/FWD
Obviously, there is plenty more potential in the draft, especially those who will be picked in the latter stages but find a home that works for them. Like I said earlier, there will be a lot more standardised data out of the Combine, and I’ll put up a post in the coming weeks with the ones who make a blip on the radar. It’s also important to note that this doesn’t include players that are already contracted to GWS like Dylan Shiel or mature-age prospects – this is purely the new young players eligible for this year’s National Draft.
Take a look through the videos above and let me know if I’ve included or missed anyone I haven’t!
Tbetta – Catch me on twitter @tbetta9