Ben Lennon (Northern Knights)
Height: 187 cm
Weight: 79 kg
Player comparison: Jamie Elliott
Strengths: Overhead marking, strength, positioning
Weaknesses: Athletic ability
Ben Lennon is a unique prospect who has often been forgotten when discussing the top picks in the 2013 National Draft. While he isn’t as flashy as a Billy Hartung or Jack Billings, as contested as a Matt Crouch or as slick as a Josh Kelly, what Lennon does offer is a completely different skill set that could appeal to many clubs. Lennon is so unique, there’s only one player in the AFL that our team could compare him to and that’s Jamie Elliott. He’s not tall, not overly quick or flashy but he’s incredibly strong overhead for his size and has a strong core which makes him a dangerous player for opposition clubs.
Lennon has been trialled in a number of positions including off a wing, half back and most recently up forward. It is the latter where he has started to become a lethal weapon and a serious target in the forward fifty. Alongside Billings in the Vic Metro forward line, Lennon pushed his credentials from a late first round pick into top ten contention, marking everything sent his way and creating havoc off a half forward flank. While he’s missed the bulk of TAC Cup matches due to the Under 18s Championships and AIS commitments, Lennon has relished his role in the forward line and has put his hand up as someone that could do damage at AFL level from early on in his career.
In saying his athletic ability is a weakness, it isn’t to say he’s overly slow or has no endurance, it’s more a case compared to other midfielders, which is why he has found a position inside the forward fifty. Over time when he develops his endurance a bit more, he’ll no doubt push into the midfield and rotate with other midfielders and then push forward to hit the scoreboard. By far his more marketable characteristic is his overhead marking which despite his 187cm and 79kg frame, he can mark like a power forward. Along with Billings, Lennon’s overhead marking is the best for a smaller player in the draft and in reality is better than some of the taller power forwards.
Lennon’s goal kicking is also sound with him being a solid kick for goal. His ability to penetrate from beyond the 50-metre mark means he can be lethal when lurking around the forward half. It also helps that Lennon can position himself incredibly well and find the open space to lead into and mark an incoming pass from the midfield. Lennon has plenty of football IQ and is not a selfish player, spotting up teammates in better positions inside 50. Northern will be keen to have him back for the last half of the season to ensure the Knights secure a finals spot.
Lennon is the ideal player for a club that is seeking a third tall or someone who is capable of taking a contested mark inside 50. Clubs such as the Western Bulldogs, Carlton, Port Adelaide or Brisbane would be actively keen on finding out what it would take to get Lennon to their clubs. Unfortunately he’ll only be there in the first round so if a club tries to wait for their second pick, it may well be too late. While he doesn’t have the disposal accumulating characteristic, pace or endurance other players in the first round have, he is a genuine utility who is a danger up forward with a penetrating kick and an incredible contested mark.