Jake Lever (Calder Cannons)
Player Comparison: Dustin Fletcher
Strengths: Reading the play, Intecept marking, rebounding, 1 on 1
Areas of Improvement: Needs to put on weight
Jake Lever won’t play a game this season, but his bottom-age form from last year has given enough of an indication he’ll be an early draft selection. Lever underwent a knee reconstruction in December after an accident at training. He’s aiming to be fully fit by the time the combine rolls around.
The AIS backman was on par with Christian Petracca as the most impressive under age player in the TAC Cup last year. He was the perfect defensive general, as his reading of the play was superb. Lever, the cousin of former Saint Jay, is by far the best aerialist defender in the 2014 crop. He goes back with the flight and thanks to his lanky arms, he manages to spoil every dangerous kick or take plenty of intercept marks.
In fact, Lever averaged nearly two contested marks per game in his 11 TAC Cup games, whilst averaging six marks all up, per TAC Cup contest. In that sense, and in his body type, the best comparison would be Dustin Fletcher, although his skill in the air is similar to Harry Taylor as well.
Lever is one of the best rebounding key defenders too. He manages to find a lot of the ball and his kicking is well above average for a key defender. He ran at close to 70 per cent in the TAC Cup and 73 per cent in the National Championships in terms of disposal efficiency. He can hurt opposition teams offensively, as he frees himself and players look to pass to him. In the National Carnival last year, Lever averaged 7.5 handball receives per game.
The only four players that averaged more for Metro were Josh Kelly, Ben Cavarra, Luke McDonald and Mitch Honeychurch. Alongside that, he managed to have nearly 11 uncontested possessions, one and a half inside 50’s and close to three rebound 50’s per game in the championships. To cap it all off, he was selected as Captain for one of the Metro games too.
Lever is one of the most versatile key defenders to come through the ranks in a long time. Whilst Lachie Plowman provided that rebounding type role, Lever seems to be the most complete key back in terms of offensive and defensive capability. Whilst his lanky frame may seem like an issue, he’s added two kilograms to his frame over summer.
Lever will be able to compete with the gorilla forwards as he is quick, agile and reads the play better than most forwards. Lever will also beat the multi – dimensional forwards like Jeremy Cameron at their own game, as his skill set matches the modern day key forwards.