Jack Billings (Oakleigh Chargers)
Height: 183 cm
Weight: 78 kg
Player comparison: Isaac Smith/Jamie Elliot
Strengths: Marking, Positioning, Strength
Weaknesses: Question marks whether he can play as a full-time midfielder
Jack Billings has had top ten draft pick written all over him since he was 16. After an ultra-impressive season in 2012 as a bottom-ager, Billings has continued his form at the Under 18s Championships by impressing across the three division one matches throughout the midfield but primarily up forward.
Billings teamed up well with Ben Lennon in the Vic Metro forward line to reek havoc for opposition defenders and while he has only played one match for the Oakleigh Chargers due to Vic Metro, APS football commitments and AIS duties, Billings has very little to worry about from a draft-able point of view. In a worst case scenario, Billings might slip just outside the top ten but no further.
Billings is an interesting prospect as he is incredibly strong overhead for his height in the same mould as a Jamie Elliot but still has the outside polish and athleticism to move into the midfield. The main question mark over Billings is whether he can develop into a more permanent midfielder like others in the draft top ten this year.
Aside from his overhead marking, Billings is also strong at ground level and in contested situations which makes him a very valuable asset to AFL clubs, particularly those looking to add another dimension to their forward line such as Brisbane who have aging keys and players such as Dayne Zorko who would be freed up to spend more time in the midfield should Billings make his way to the Gabba.
While Billings doesn’t have the elite kick that fellow Vic Metro midfielder Josh Kelly has or the burst speed that Billy Hartung has, Billings does read the play incredibly well and converts his possessions onto the scoreboard by contributing a couple of goals a game with good consistency. Many clubs will want to see how he goes at AFL level should he spend more time on a wing but unfortunately they won’t be able to without taking a chance on him.
One interesting aspect of the first round will be to see whether teams favour Billings over Lennon or prefer to go with the more versatile player who can also play in defense. At this stage Billings has the more class and has been a footballing prodigy for a number of years so it’s no surprise he was taken by Brisbane in the Bound For Glory News Rising Stars Phantom Draft.
In terms of impact at AFL level, Billings should be able to produce results reasonably early in his career. He’s not Jaeger O’Meara ready, but he’ll make a similar impact to that of Ollie Wines or Jake Stringer where he will play a few impressive games but not string a heap of them together. Over time Billings will begin to improve his production and with some work on his endurance he might be able to impact AFL games for periods in the midfield as well as up forward. Without a doubt, his career will start up forward and will become a very interesting prospect for the club which drafts him.
Like most of the draft crop, Billings will develop in the right atmosphere but should become a top line forward who can kick clutch goals and turn the occasional game. While it’s a bit much to expect that straight off the bat, Billings will provide highlights and excitement for fans given his reasonably accurate set shot and overhead marking. Without a doubt, Billings has a high potential rating which could easily see him become a top liner in years to come.