2014 Draft Profile: Tyler Keitel

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Tyler Keitel (East Perth)

Position: Key forward/defender
Height: 194 cm
Weight: 86 kg
Club: East Perth
Strengths: Contested marking, consistency, endurance, agility, mobility, versatility
Areas for improvement: Defensive development, hasn’t played senior football
Player comparison: Mitch Brown (Geelong)

Another likely type who has thrown his name up off the back of a successful national carnival, Tyler Keitel has been immersed in first round discussions for a few months now. Realistically however, may fall through early in the second round depending on movement higher up the board.

A well-documented growth spurt over the past 24 months has helped Keitel’s development as a key position player rather than a midfielder-cum-flanker. That has seen him taste action in a variety of roles including defence and even in the ruck.

Keitel was impressive last year as a bottom-age prospect for WA at the National Championships. Then a ruckman who spent time up forward, he showed glimpses of what he had to offer, with a great turn of foot, deceptive speed and a natural instinct to find the ball and launch himself in the air and over packs to take contested marks.

During 2013, Keitel spent his time predominantly forward while offering rotations through the ruck for East Perth, bagging 39 goals that season from his 18 Colts games, including an average of 15.8 disposals and 5.2 marks per game.

Fast-forward to 2014, and Keitel is still playing Colts football and tracking at an average of two goals and five marks per game, off 10 games to date this season.

Although he’s averaging slightly less disposals this year, with just 12.2 per game, his development into a swingman off the back of the National Championships has see him gravitate to defence, in which his ability to spoil and play a close checking role has been frequently commended.

Since WA teammate Dylan Winton went down with an ankle injury in the first game of the Nationals, it paved the way for Keitel to try his hand in a defence, a position he had previously only once played. He took to it like a duck to water, and the plaudits came thick and fast for the way he adapted to the role without fuss.

In terms of his abilities as a key tall, his recovery is fantastic. If he goes to ground he bounces straight back up, and has a willingness to play high half forward, which is a natural instinct that has stemmed from when he was a midfielder. His leading patterns are sound, he has the endurance to push hard for a lead high up the ground, and run back hard to force himself into a dangerous position, which often tires out his direct opponent.

He is mobile and athletic, and has a terrific leap at the ball. With those traits alone, he is highly regarded as a player who could gravitate into a damaging swingman at the next level. In defence, he is aggressive and physical, he spoils well and doesn’t mind body-on-body scraps in a contest, which he demonstrated when he played on both Patrick McCartin and Darcy Moore.

Keitel has a lot of swagger and possesses a certain cockiness and arrogance in small doses that you want out of your key forward or defender. He has confidence and is quite comfortable holding down his own but in particular he strikes me as your second best key forward or defender, not the number one which is why he falls down the order fractionally.

The other pleasing aspect is Keitel remains in the game across four quarters. Because of that endurance and agility and of course his versatility to play up the ground, he finds the ball with ease whether down back or deep forward.

In terms of areas for further development, a club will most certainly develop him as a defender first given he has shown a natural ability to play a close checking role, whilst he can kick multiple scores up forward. Particularly as a defender he could back himself more which is something that will come with further development in that position. At this stage, his focus is on killing the ball and keeping his opponent quiet, but he showed on a few occasions he could back himself to take a mark and move the ball on quickly.

When it comes to his draft range, a lot depends on where clubs believe his best football will be played and whether or not he is somebody that could feature early, or be a bit more of a development project. A fair assessment is that he’s somewhere in the second round, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go early after a solid championships and consistent form at Colts level over the past 24 months.

What you get with Keitel is an athletic yet bullocking key position player who still thinks he’s a midfielder. His endurance base is better than average for players of his size, and in particular his versatility and marking game are elite. For a team that is looking to bring in key position reinforcements without specifically looking for a number one defender or forward, Keitel is your man.

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