Patrick Cripps (East Fremantle)
Height: 188 cm
Weight: 88 kg
Position: Inside midfielder
Player comparison: Ollie Wines
Strengths: Clearance machine, size, vision
Weaknesses: Lack of speed, athleticism
In a draft littered with tall forwards and speedy outside players, quality inside midfielders are few and far between. However Patrick Cripps one of the premier inside players in the draft, second only to North Ballarat’s chief extractor Matt Crouch in most people’s eyes. At 188 cm he is one of the taller midfielders in the draft and after growing almost 20 cm in two years he is still growing into his body so you can expect a large amount of improvement from Cripps as he gets used to his extra size and builds upon his already imposing 88 kg frame.
Cripps was an All-Australian this year after his performances in the Under 18s Championships and its easy to see why. During the champs he averaged 19 disposals with a majority of them being contested possessions, six clearances and three tackles a game. That is in addition to the 25 disposals, 4.5 marks and three tackles for his club East Fremantle. Cripps used his huge body to crash through packs and win clearance after clearance for his team, also benefiting from the sublime tap work of his ruckman Darcy Cameron.
Cripps is an above average ball user for an inside player. He is not the typical inside mid who wins a hard ball and throws it straight onto the boot, not caring where it goes and often bringing rain down from the sky. Cripps takes a couple of steadying steps and delivers to his teammates more often than not or realises his limitations and handpasses to a teammate with better skills. He also has excellent vision which gives him that extra split second to concentrate on hitting his target rather than spending valuable time trying to find someone to give it off to. Cripps isn’t the type of player to hurt you with his disposal, but there are very few inside midfielders who do. Think of him more as an Ollie Wines who you often don’t notice but find out that he has accumulated 20 possessions in a game and has set up many attacking raids with a sneaky handball out of a pack.
The most glaring weakness in Pat Cripps’ game is his lack of athleticism. Cripps is not slow but he isn’t very fast either. What he has to compensate for this is a very quick first three steps, and when you take into account his size, he is about as easy to tackle as a small truck when he gets going. Fortunately for opponents Cripps isn’t one to go out and run, preferring to make others look good by doing the hard work for them and giving it to them in space.
Cripps is not only an inside player. He has shown an ability to accumulate on the outside as well. He is a smart footballer and knows where the ball is going to go next so he can get some cheap kicks out in the open.
Cripps is quite a consistent player and rarely has a poor game. His worst performance this year is a 16-possession and five-tackle game, and he has only had fewer than 20 disposals twice all year. Cripps is also a willing tackler and chips in with at least one tackle each week. One thing that can be counted on is that Cripps makes his tackles stick and his opponent will be spitting out dirt and teeth for the next week or so.
For teams needing an inside extractor, but don’t have a pick high enough to take Matt Crouch, then Cripps is their man. He will do all of the little things to help his team and is the kind of glue guy that all teams need.