Jason Robinson (Western Jets)
Height: 187 cm
Weight: 82 kg
Player comparison: Luke Hodge/Nick Duigan
Strengths: Overhead marking, Agility, Endurance
Weaknesses: Body strength
Jason Robinson is one of the more underrated players in the TAC Cup competition. Much like his team the Western Jets in general, he has flown under the radar all season despite a reasonably consistent year in defence where he collected 20 disposals or more in 12 of his 18 matches and only dipped below 15 disposals on two occasions. His disposal efficiency is also quite solid for someone constantly under pressure, coming in at around 67 per cent.
While he may be underrated by people outside the club, the Western Jets showed faith in the young man, with Robinson only missing one game for the entire season, averaging 5.7 marks per game, often in critical passes of play. He’s strong overhead and is able to find the football as evidenced by his disposal count which is something some medium defenders can struggle with at times. During the finals series, Robinson was called upon to be the man to kick it out from defence, something he had relished all season. Despite the game being in the balance at times against the Murray Bushrangers, Robinson was able to penetrate outside the defensive 50 and hit a target outside scoring range for the opposition.
While he might not have the flashy brilliance that someone like a Billy Hartung has or tenacious tackling like a Zac Jones, Robinson uses his solid kick to clear pressured situations. One benefit about Robinson is he hardly seems rushed. This isn’t to say that he has Pendlebury “time and space” but he isn’t one to just rush his kicks, more so size up his options and more often that not hit a teammate outside 50. Of course if he doesn’t, his kick has cleared that much space he and the other defenders have enough time to zone off and lock down the defensive 50.
Another benefit about Robinson is he can be that run-and-carry type player but also be that lockdown defender who finds his teammates in better positions. He’s not a huge fan fare player but at 187 cm and 82 kg, he is a great size to use as that half back player who can play offensively or defensively and use the ball reasonably well while going back with the flight to take a goal saving mark. While he does struggle against the bigger defenders, he more than holds his own against the smaller ones. A huge bonus is his large tank which sees him run a 14.4 beep test, just outside the top ten of Under 18s players. Along with this he runs the 20 metre sprint in 3.02 seconds but his biggest asset is his agility in which he recorded 7.94 seconds, higher than the highest draft combine competitor, Tasmania’s Zac Webster who topped the charts with 7.97 seconds.
Robinson is similar to Luke Hodge in many ways because he reads the play so well and has the ability to play offensive or defensive depending on his role. He’s also very similar to Nick Duigan in the sense that he is somewhat underrated externally but what he offers to the team is invaluable. This is why Robinson has plenty of upside should he be drafted by a club in this year’s draft. If he doesn’t, no doubt a season or two in the VFL should see him become a mature aged rookie at some stage of his career.
Despite missing out on an invite to the state combine, Robinson should still be considered by AFL clubs even as a late-to-rookie pick simply because of the upside that a player with a booming kick and strong overhead can make on a team. While it may not look like he’s one on many club’s radars, he is that reliable defender that can nullify an opponent while collecting around 20 touches a game. He’s one of those guys that could surprise a few recruiters later on in his career by being a diamond in the rough late in the draft.