Josh Kelly (Sandringham Dragons)
Height: 182 cm
Weight: 73 kg
Player comparison: Brett Deledio/Trent Cotchin
Strengths: Disposal, Vision, Clearances
Josh Kelly is an interesting player who’s had an up-and-down season thus far. An AIS player who wasn’t far off being drafted in the mini-draft last season, Kelly has probably had a minor form slump compared to his lofty heights of 2012. He then bounced back from playing mostly school football to star at the Under 18s Championships and stamp himself as a household top five pick. While there have been some murmerings that Kelly could slip, it’s hard to see him falling much further than the top ten such is his disposal efficiency.
Kelly is a midfielder who can also spend time running off the half back flank. He has fantastic ball use and brings other players into the game. One bonus with Kelly compared to other outside ball winners is the fact he isn’t afraid to win his own ball in a contest. A feature of his game is a pinpoint 30 to 35-metre pass that spears through a couple of opposition players to hit his teammate on the chest. A key concern for Kelly from the recruiters’ perspectives would be his body size as he is still quite light and wouldn’t really make an immediate impact at AFL level.
Despite his pinpoint passing being a feature, Kelly can penetrate the 50-metre arc which gives the impression he could break the zones quite well. While note slow, Kelly doesn’t possess the speed of a Hartung, but with his skill set he doesn’t need to. Kelly has elite endurance and runs out games with ease which is something incredibly important in the modern game. In many ways, Kelly is the next most complete midfielder behind Aish given his balance of disposal and athleticism.
In terms of comparision, Kelly has the traits of a number of players. He wins his own ball despite being primarily an outside midfielder and hits targets nine times out of ten. He has that Brett Deledio look about him but probably an even better kick minus the strength which means he can also be considered a Trent Cotchin with more versatility. Kelly could very well become a top midfielder at AFL level with natural progression and good work ethic. He lacks the height of a Scharenberg or the speed of a Hartung, but makes up for it with fantastic defensive efforts as well as deadly kicking precision. All he needs is a few years in the gym and Kelly will be one to really blossom in a good developing club.
There are a number of clubs such as Melbourne, Port Adelaide or the Gold Coast that would be really keen on acquiring his services. If Kelly ends up in the ’Sunshine State’, Gold Coast will no doubt be able to use him sparingly with so many talented midfielders at their disposal. He may even play a Danny Stanley type role to adjust to the pace of the AFL and then build up his strength to compete at stoppages. However at Port I can see him getting a number of games in his first year and fit in with the younger midfield, without overdoing it of course. Aerobically he has nothing to worry about with his endurance at elite levels and speed just above average. If I was to take a guess, I’d say the 2016 AFL season would be about when we start seeing Josh Kelly really stamp his authority in the league.
Josh Kelly is not too dissimilar to James Aish in many ways but in particular his disposal and vision which is well and truly in the top bracket of the draft crop and Suns’ fans will be excited to see him in action should the Gold Coast draft him to join their ever growing tally of talented midfielders to surround Gary Ablett. They will be a very scary prospect for opposition clubs in the near future.