Ed Vickers-Willis. By the end of the year, he might only be the fourth or fifth-highest rated midfielder at the Sandringham 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.
Forget the other guys. 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”. Against Vic Country on the weekend, Vickers-Willis had 25 disposals, which was probably his best game of the year.
Vickers-Willis said breaking into the Metro side was one of his goals at the start of the year, and getting in the bests was more of a bonus. However, he admitted that his greatest goal was to ensure that he didn’t get too complacent. He just wants to improve every week in many areas. That’s the words of a man who knows that he’ll only get one shot at his draft year.
He’s surrounded by higher profile players, but that doesn’t faze him. Harry Dear, son of Hawks legend Paul, was someone who Vickers-Willis rated highly. The tall midfielder said that Dear had probably met with the Hawks a few times over the year, but Dear hasn’t said anything about being picked up by Hawthorn. ‘The Hawks would be crazy not to draft Dear’ was Vickers-Willis’ main message. Clayton was a different story, although he hadn’t said anything conclusive to Vickers-Willis either, he has been part of the Brisbane academy for four years and his form deserves a spot on the Lions’ list.
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% disposal efficiency and what’s more impressive is his work by hand. 78% 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.
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 football 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.
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.