Jason Cooke (Calder Cannons)
Height: 183 cm
Weight: 79 kg
Position: Midfielder / Forward
Player Comparison: Tom Rockliff
Strengths: Dangerous around goals, versatile, strength for size
Weaknesses: Ball getting
At the beginning of the season, Jason Cooke was one of the guys that was on a lot of people’s radars. His 2012 season wasn’t anything special, but he was damaging enough to draw focus to him. Calder might not have that high quality talent through AIS members or multiple Vic Countries boys that a team like the Geelong Falcons has, instead it relies of a spread of players with different natural talents across the board. Jason Cooke is one of those players who while he’s not going to stand out all the time, he does give an honest effort and can hurt teams that don’t respect him.
In round three, he started off like a house on fire. He kicked four goals and a behind from 12 touches against the Western Jets and it looked like he was set for a great year. Since then though, he’s only managed to kick multiple goals in one other game. Although having said that he has kicked a goal in all ten games he’s played in the TAC Cup this year. This further details why he might not be that destructive game breaker that someone like a Clayton McCartney could be, but he has that consistency in his game.
His mediocre TAC Cup form was followed up by two disappointing games for Coburg in the VFL. Over the two games he amassed just nine possessions and one behind. In the TAC Cup, he’s averaging 13.9 disposals running at 64 percent disposal efficiency. His disposal efficiency is let down by his kicking, but he is by no means a butcher. He’s had a few games where his kicking has been around 50 percent efficiency which has brought down his otherwise solid efficiency. He’s a clean user by hand, using it effectively 73 percent of the time. However he doesn’t run hard enough on the outside to get handball receives and join the chain.
One advantage Cooke has over a lot of other players is his strength for his size. He has that ready made medium body that could impact at AFL level. He has shown particularly this year that he can out body other players around his height. He might not be a superstar in the making, but he has some honest qualities that see him working hard for the team.
Cooke is very much like Tom Rockliff. He’s solid enough to get the inside ball, his disposal is good enough on the outside and he can drift forward effectively. The big glaring problem is that he just doesn’t gather enough of the ball. 13.9 possessions is on the low side for a midfielder. As a permanent forward, it’s not so bad. But he needs to improve his tackling numbers or increase his output to be considered as a permanent forward.
In the Bound For Glory News Rising Stars Phantom Draft, Jason Cooke was selected by Essendon with pick 88. This is obviously into the very late/rookie stage which is about where Cooke is at. He’ll want to work on a number of aspects of his game if he is to be drafted, but there is quite a few handy qualities for clubs to work on.
Cooke’s basic skill set is solid enough for him to be picked up late in the draft or even as a rookie. But he needs to desperately build up a tank so he can gather more of the outside ball and find a more permanent position. Once he can do that, he could become that attacking half forward that a lot of clubs could do with.