Tom Cutler (Oakleigh Chargers)
Height: 190 cm
Weight: 86 kg
Player comparison: Ben Reid (smaller)
Strengths: Positioning, reading of the play, foot skills
Tom Cutler is an AIS Academy member who has missed much of the TAC Cup season due to AIS, Vic Country and APS football commitments. He has played on key position players during the season at times, but Cutler is primarily your third tall who will zone off and cover the hole or be a third man up in a marking contest to spoil the ball away.
In many ways Cutler reminds me a lot of Ben Reid. He has fantastic positioning, knows all the right areas, can read the play well and have well above average foot skills. Obviously the one point of difference is the height in which he isn’t the 195 cm beast that Reid is, instead being the Josh Gibson-type height at 190 cm. He plays that Josh Gibson role incredibly well, but has better foot skills than Gibson which gives his fellow defenders great belief they can use him in a scoring chain.
Unlike some undersized defenders, Cutler isn’t afraid of high balls while he sits in the hole blocking off an opposition key forward. In the first round of the TAC Cup season he was helping Hugh Beasley double-team Tom Boyd. You won’t find anyone bigger than Tom Boyd at TAC Cup level, with Cutler passing the test. He may not be overly strong, but the way he plays he doesn’t need to be. Cutler will hurt teams on the rebound with his disposal and ensure teammates up the ground are able to benefit from his possession in the scoring chain.
Cutler puts his body on the line and can play that role that many others prefer not to. He accepts he’ll take the knocks for the betterment of the team. He’s good overhead and in terms of athleticism isn’t too slow. He’ll be able to zone off and still be accountable for his man, usually a medium lead-up forward. In terms of impact, Cutler is regularly used by the Chargers at TAC Cup level when he plays because of his damaging disposal and quick thinking. He may not become an elite star of the AFL, but Cutler should be able to find himself at home against the smarter players.
In the Bound For Glory News Rising Stars Phantom Draft, Tom Cutler was taken at pick 45 by West Coast to fill that need of a third tall defender/rebounding half back given Mark Nicoski spends more time in the hospital than on the field; Andrew Embley is on the verge of retirement; and Shannon Hurn has had his fair share of injuries too. Cutler more than likely won’t play immediately because the club will want him to build up his size so he can play a third tall role on a potentially bigger body, but ideally he’ll be that loose man or half back flank who clears the ball from the danger area.
Tom Cutler is likely to go somewhere in the middle of the draft. His foot skills are better than most players in his position but being the awkward height of not quite key position and not incredibly quick, he will probably slip somewhere between the second and fourth rounds. Cutler should become someone fans can rely upon to play well more often than not at AFL level.