Ed Vickers-Willis (Sandringham Dragons)
Height: 190 cm
Weight: 84 kg
Position: Midfielder / Utility
Strengths: Versatility, consistency, clean disposal
Areas for Improvement: Offensive game, goal kicking
Player Comparison: Shaun Burgoyne
Ed Vickers-Willis is the prototypical tall midfielder. He has a strong body, can play both inside and out as well as being a clean user of the footy. He is similar to Shaun Burgoyne in his later years, as he thrives off half back and through the midfield. He locks down his player, runs both ways, gets enough of the ball to have an impact and is a reliable kick.
By the end of the year, he might only be the fourth or fifth highest rated midfielder at the Dragons, but that speaks volumes about their depth. Angus Brayshaw is the “second best player, besides Josh Kelly” whom Vickers-Willis has ever played with. Josh Clayton might be off to Brisbane at the end of the year under the Father-Son rule. Tom Wilkinson runs a 16.8 beep test and Brayden Maynard is just an out and out gun.
Vickers-Willis is a professional in every sense of the word. His work rate is outstanding, he is well spoken and he validates the old cliché “the best trainers are the best players on game day”.
Vickers-Willis has averaged 18.5 disposals over his four TAC Cup games this year, but it’s his consistency and efficiency that really propels him into first or second round draft discussion. He’s had three games in the bests and three games with 20 touches. He’s running at just over 70 per cent disposal efficiency and what’s more impressive is his work by hand. 78 per cent of his handballs have hit the target, and although he prefers to use it by hand, he is just an all round clean ball user.
Vickers-Willis is also a great defender. His size allows him to match up on the awkward players and makes them accountable. He tackles well, usually racking up five per game and his kicking will never be a liability. Having said that, he is better suited to a wing role, as his running capacity allows him to create opportunities for the forwards and his height makes him a great link up target.
Versatility is what Vickers-Willis admitted was his biggest strength. At 190 centimetres, the utility is a difficult match up. He’ll often play on the wing, providing a marking target as a link player. However, he believes his best footy this season has come out of the backline. We all know classy, tall players who can impact the game in every position are in vogue. Brendon Goddard is the best example, but recently, Marcus Bontempelli exemplified what recruiters want. The young Bulldog was taken at pick four last year, although most in the know had pegged him between the 8-15 mark in terms of talent. Vickers–Willis will have plenty of recruiters interested.
Photo courtesy of AFL Photos: Ed Vickers-Willis avoids a tackle against the Western Jets
One of the biggest issues is trying to find what the utility really excels in. He’s very clean with ball in hand, he keeps his opponent in check and he can play anywhere. He doesn’t have electrifying pace, an exceptional overhead mark and doesn’t hit the scoreboard very often. For that lack of x-factor, he will probably slip out of the first round. But any club who needs extra depth in the midfield or a two way player off half back may find Vickers-Willis an excellent option in the second round.