Category: 2013 Draft Profiles

2013 Draft Profile: Alex Spencer

Alex Spencer (Sandringham Dragons)

Height: 193cm
Weight: 83kg
Position: Key Defender
Player Comparison: Tayte Pears
Strengths: Rebounding, solid one on one, marking
Weaknesses: Strength, project player

Alex Spencer is one of the three key defender types from Sandringham whom are likely to get drafted. Alongside Kurt Heatherly and Lachlan Richie, the trio work hard off their opponents to rebound and create space.  Spencer is excellent at finding the right balance between being an accountable one on one defender, whilst simultaneously knowing exactly when to break away from his opponent to create run from the backline. In short, he is a very smart rebounder.

At times during the season it was hard to get a great understanding of how the defenders matched up one-on-one. This is because the Sandringham back line was often structured so there can be a third man up to cover against the big Michael Apeness  / Tom Boyd types. As Spencer has a light frame, it’s going to be an issue taking on the bigger key forwards at AFL level, especially as he’ll have to be less reliant on the help of others. In most teams, he’d be the second or third tall, however coming up against a team like Sydney or GWS, Spencer would certainly have to play on gorilla type.

This isn’t to say that Spencer isn’t able to hold his own against most forwards in one on ones, it’s just a strength issue; his defending techniques are solid. He has a decent leap and will usually spoil the ball, or if he has position he’ll back himself to mark it. Aerially, he is better than most. As a rebounding type, Spencer is excellent by foot. He’s the type to get 15 – 20 possessions off the half back line and run at between 75 – 80 per cent disposal efficiency. He’s not slow either, and he can back himself when creating run off the half back.

Spencer has plenty of upside. He looks crafty, can defend and certainly looks a promising rebounder. He’s tried his talents up forward, and with his hands he could be okay up there. Twice this year he kicked three goals in a game. Finishing his year with an average of a goal per game in the TAC Cup, he showed his ability to drift forward when required. Spencer has a few tricks up his sleeve and will probably be one of the better key defenders this year.

Given the lack of key defenders in this draft class, it almost assures a spot for Spencer, however that’s not to say he hasn’t earned it. A fantastic season with Sandringham and then selection for Vic Metro has rewarded him for his hard work. If he can bulk up in the gym over the next year, expect him to become a very handy defender for the club that selects him.

2013 Draft Profile: Sam Bennett

Sam Bennett (North Ballarat Rebels)

Height: 189 cm
Weight: 79 kg
Position: Rotating half back flank/wing
Player comparison: Marley Williams
Strengths: Agility, game sense, willingness to learn and improve
Weaknesses: Lacks experience, inconsistent

He may be touted as one of the surprise inclusions of the national draft combine, however in a competition as cut-throat as the AFL, surprises are a common occurrence. Having played just two games as a bottom-ager in his first year, Bennett’s season with the North Ballarat Rebels this year has meant he may lack some of the experience of other potential draftees. This however, has not halted Bennett’s dedication to the game and impact upon the team.

He actively seeks to improve areas of his performance, recognizing that constantly evolving will better his chances on the big stage. His versatility is of crucial assistance to the Rebels and indeed his future club, with the move as a rotating half back flank/wing injecting adaptability across both positions.

Bennett’s ability to shut down opponents shuts down any qualms regarding his slim-built frame, citing tackling as a personal strength that is indeed reflective in his performance despite the bigger bodies of his competition. Moreover, the imperative skill of reading the play and making intelligent decisions in the game is not lost upon Bennett, who executes clever disposals using both hand and foot under high-pressure situations.

Speedy passages from defence coupled with quick turnovers into the attacking realm are a regular occurrence and major selling point that could firmly secure the surprise package’s position in the AFL. Once again, his versatility could also be utilised on the wing, giving an added bonus to any AFL side that may lack players in either a defensive or assisting role.

However, a potential downfall could be drawn from his inconsistencies: performances lacking much impact and a tendency to slip into the shadows. A brilliant role in shutting down opponents in one quarter could be followed by a far-too quiet following quarter, dangerous in a game that requires unwavering influence to the team.

This facet could be readily overlooked if he maintains his work rate and willingness to improve as well as capitalising on abilities such as endurance and intelligence. Judging by his development in such a short space of time, this should not be difficult for the boy packed with potential, perhaps allowing himself to show why the unexpected can garner the greatest success.

While he might not be talked about in the same way that other draftees have been, Bennett is one who has attracted interest from at least five clubs, hence his invitation to the draft combine. In a lowly side, Bennett has stood out along with Matt Crouch, Dallas Willsmore and Louis Herbert to give himself the best chance of being selected. Any teams needing a defender who can lock down opponents but hurt them on the rebound, should consider Bennett.

2013 Draft Profile: Jack Leslie

Jack Leslie (Gippsland Power)

Height: 198cm
Weight: 87kg
Position: Ruck
Player Comparison: Dean Cox
Strengths: Pace, marking, disposal
Weaknesses: Coordination (below knees), Goal kicking

Jack Leslie’s invite to the draft combine topped off a terrific 2013 for the 198 centimetre Gippsland Power ruckman. Impressive performances in the TAC Cup saw him picked in Vic Country’s team for the Under 18s National Championships, where he competed admirably. Displaying so many of the traits that are essential to a modern day ruckman will make Leslie a topic of discussion for many clubs over the coming month.

At his height, having strong marking ability is crucial if he is to be able to play key position at any stage throughout his career. Despite playing mostly as a ruckman throughout the TAC Cup season, the move to a key position is not beyond Leslie. His speed was highlighted at the draft combine where he finished sixth in the 20-metre sprint with a time of 2.90. Leslie realises his worth as a big man, putting his speed to good use in presenting as a lead up target regularly around the ground.

The ability to win your own ball is becoming increasingly crucial for draftees, however it’s something not so common with ruckman. Leslie definitely possesses this. His efforts to contest for the ball on the ground is also a strength and something unique to separate him from other big men. However, his ability to gather the ball below his knees an area to be improved on.

Leslie plays in somewhat of a similar mould to Dean Cox, with great ruckwork and his ability to move freely around the ground a real strength. He’s a strong mark who should be able to float forward and provide a tall option, however he found the goals hard to come by in 2013 with only two from 13 matches with the Power. That being said, his disposal is impressive for a big man and his inability to hit the scoreboard may have been more about his team’s strong forward line and the dominance of Josh Scott.

At just 87 kilograms, Leslie is your stereotypical light framed ruckman. Competing with the big boys like Ben McEvoy, will require a couple of pre seasons under the belt, but Leslie has real upside to a club in the St Kilda mould who will be looking to rebuild through the draft. Leslie could provide the perfect understudy to Tom Hickey and by the time Nick Riewoldt and co depart the AFL ranks, be primed to step into a key position role.

The lack of quality rucks in the 2013 National Draft means that Leslie is almost certain to get drafted. His impressive draft combine results further enhanced his chances and has shown he has the rare quickness that could see him move like a much smaller player. There’s no doubt many clubs will seriously look at Leslie, with the few areas that he is lacking in easily fixable. If picked up, clubs will be probably be looking at departing with a third round pick, however given the lack of ruck talent in the draft, someone could pounce earlier.

2013 Draft Profile: Aaron Christensen

Aaron Christensen (Calder Cannons)

Height: 190 cm
Weight: 74 kg
Position: Wing / Forward
Player Comparison: Matthew Richardson (later years)
Strengths: Marking, work rate, agility
Weaknesses: Can be negated easily, light frame

Calder started off the season with no real standout talents, but a good group of core leaders and hard workers who continued to impress across the year. Their top tier all possess clear deficiencies and Aaron Christensen is no different. While he is a fantastic kick, he struggles when he is being paid heavy attention and therefore can go missing in patches during games.

As a tall wing man, Christensen works hard into space to be a link up target all over the ground. His tank is better than most players, so he covers a lot of space and more often than not, he’s used in counter attacks when the ball is turned over. He’s rarely beaten on the lead, as his combination of burst speed and long arms make him too fast for key defenders, but too lanky for smaller defenders and midfielders.

In a contest, he has a great mark and a decent leap on him. However, if it’s one on one, he gets out bodied too easily due to his small frame. Obviously that will come in time, but for the moment, he needs to find a “Plan B” for when his opponent engages in a wrestling contest. Having said that, he averaged nearly four and a half marks per game with just over one of those being contested in each game. Against the Stingrays earlier in the year, four of his six marks were contested.

Christensen is a great kick of the football. His disposal is that of a midfielders rather than a key forward, and he’s agile when the ball hits the deck. He’ll never become a rover because he’s exclusively an outside player, but he doesn’t need to adapt an inside game to make it to the AFL. Against the Jets in the Semi-Finals, Christensen kicked two great running goals from about 45 metres out. His composure when running towards goal is a stand out feature that would be deadly if he becomes a successful AFL player.

When up forward, Christensen is reliable for two goals a game. He’s kicked multiple goals on five occasions this season. However, when he’s the number one target, opposition coaches will double team him so he becomes ineffectual. As soon as defensive pressure is applied, he struggles to break it. As such, he can either be a really damaging offensive target, or alternatively, rarely sighted. When he is shut down, he moves back to the wing and wins more of the ball to increase his confidence.

Ultimately, Christensen would be suited to the wing or a high half forward role, as his work rate would be wasted as a stay-at-home forward. If he was in a side with more class, there’s no doubt he’d be having a phenomenal year. However, his lack of consistency makes him a really speculative pick come draft day. He has the tools to become a solid AFL player, it will just come down to how he adapts at the club that selects him should he be drafted which one would expect he would.

2013 Draft Profile: Jason Robinson

Jason Robinson (Western Jets)

Height: 187 cm
Weight: 82 kg
Position: Defender
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.

2013 Draft Profiles: Complete List

TAC Cup:

Bendigo Pioneers:

Jacob Chisari
Sam Heavyside
Isaiah Miller

Calder Cannons:

Matt Merlo
Jason Cooke

Dandenong Stingrays:

Billy Hartung
Zac Jones
Clayton McCartney

Eastern Ranges:

Michael Apeness
Tom Boyd
Ben Cavarra
Mitch Honeychurch
Daniel McStay

Geelong Falcons:

Matthew Boag
Nic Bourke
Meyrick Buchanan
Fraser Fort
Darcy Gardiner
Darcy Lang
Lewis Taylor
James Tsitas

Gippsland Power:

Alex Carr
Aaron Heppell
Tom Muir
Nathaniel Paredes
Josh Scott

Murray Bushrangers:

Nathan Drummond
Michael Gibbons
Nick Holman
Jarman Impey
Bryden Squire

North Ballarat Rebels:

Matt Crouch
Louis Herbert
Dallas Willsmore

Northern Knights:

Marcus Bontempelli
Cameron Conlon
Hugh Curnow
Jake Kalanj
Ben Lennon
Jesse Tardio

Oakleigh Chargers:

Hugh Beasley
Jack Billings
Darcy Byrne-Jones
Tom Cutler
Guy Dickson
Lewis Fitzgerald
Aidan Franetic
Billy Hogan
Jay Kennedy-Harris
Will Maginness
James Toohey

Sandringham Dragons:

Karl Amon
Nathan Freeman
Max Hayes
Josh Kelly
Zac Merrett
Tom Langdon
Christian Salem

Western Jets:

James Sicily

Other states:

NSW:

Lloyd Perris

Queensland:

Isaac Conway
Cain Tickner

South Australia:

James Aish
James Battersby
Trent Dumont
Luke Dunstan
Nick Favretto
Cameron Giles
Mitch Harvey
Darcy Hourigan
Riley Knight
Luke Reynolds
Matt Scharenberg
Alex Spina
Dwayne Wilson

Tasmania:

Jake Kolodjashnij
Kade Kolodjashnij
Eli Templeton
Zac Webster

Western Australia:

Blake Acres
Darcy Cameron
Patrick Cripps
Dayle Garlett
Cameron McCarthy
Nicholas Robertson
Dominic Sheed

VFL:

Luke McDonald

Still to come:

30 TAC Cup player profiles
Mature-aged player profiles
More SA, WA, QLD, Tasmania, NSW and NT player profiles!

2013 Draft Profile: Jonathon Marsh

Jonathon Marsh (East Fremantle)

Height: 191 cm
Weight: 89 kg
Position: Key Forward
Player comparison: Taylor Walker (smaller)
Strengths: Speed, Endurance, X-factor
Weaknesses: Size

Jonathon Marsh is by far the most interesting “key” forward in this draft. In the 2013 draft crop there are the power forwards such as Tom Boyd and Michael Apeness, the undersized marking forwards such as Darcy Hourigan and Dallas Willsmore and then the smaller forwards who can play taller such as Josh Scott. Marsh is a combination of the latter two except with blistering pace and impressive endurance. For someone who is 191 cm, he moves around the ground with ease and could no doubt play a multitude of roles at AFL level.

Marsh is the kind of forward who will make numerous leads and once he’s in front of his opponent, it’s all over. He’s far too quick for your average defender, and can see off many midfielders as well. He’s solid overhead without being incredibly strong, but he has that ‘Buddy’ feel about him where he could tear a game apart.

He doesn’t come with the same fanfare that Buddy Franklin did in 2004, but he does have that energy and excitement that Franklin does bring to the game. Obviously being 191 cm, he is undersized for a key forward, but given his athleticism, he could play up the ground as well. If anything, Marsh is quicker than Buddy and more accurate with his goal kicking but doesn’t quite have the endurance base of Franklin. As mentioned, it’s solid but could improve further to help his case of versatility.

He has been compared to Taylor Walker because of his ability to turn and baulk opponents at will. While his size may be a concern for some recruiters, it won’t see him slip too far down the order with some rating him a first round choice. While he didn’t dominate at the Under 18s Championships, he was quite impressive and did no harm to his draft chances.

In the Bound For Glory News Rising Stars Phantom Draft, Marsh was taken with pick 90 which quite frankly is crazy. He will go in the first three rounds in all likelihood but given preference with more sized key forwards, Marsh may slip lower than some anticipate. There is no way he’ll be around at pick 90 which is more so an oversight by our recruiters. He’s one of those players that slipped through the cracks before being stolen by Hawthorn with the last pick.

Some have anticipated that Marsh may well be the first key position forward taken after Tom Boyd. This may well be the case, but the of course the biggest concern for teams wanting to use a high pick on Marsh is whether or not he can make the grade as a key forward or whether he develops into that high half forward or wing man.

Jonathon Marsh is an incredibly athletic undersized key forward who will burn opponents off with his pace similar to a Taylor Walker, Jeremy Cameron or Lance Franklin. He is still strong overhead but not compared to other key forwards in this draft crop. Without a doubt, Marsh will be taken in the National Draft and go to a club which is in desperate need or some X-factor, pace and goal sense which he provides in spades.

2013 Draft Profile: Jared Jansen

Jared Jansen (East Fremantle)

Height: 188 cm
Weight: 91 kg
Position: Midfield
Player comparison: Jobe Watson
Strengths: Tackling, clearances, dual midfielder
Weaknesses: Speed, disposal

Jared Jansen is unlike many other midfielders in the draft crop this year. He is a big bodied clearance midfielder who has shown an ability to dominate against people his own age. He has one of the biggest bodies out of all of the draft chances this year and he certainly knows how to use his height and bulk to his advantage.

Jansen dominates in the congestion of the centre square and is one of the better clearance winners in the draft. He uses his bullocking frame to barge through and pick up the loose ball and is certainly not afraid of body contact. He can also block to make it easier for his teammates to win the ball, as he showed in the Champs where he often played second fiddle to Patrick Cripps and took care of his man to allow him to pounce on the ball. His tackling is fantastic but it is what you would expect from a physical big man. He makes them stick and opponents end up looking on the ground for their teeth when they get up. When Jansen tackles or blocks you, you don’t get up and impact the contest.

A huge advantage with Jansen is that he is not purely an inside player as he has shown an ability to go forward and kick goals and he has a reasonable ability to spread and get easy kicks on the wings and flanks. As a forward he uses his frame to take marks and outbody his midfield opponent so he creates a mismatch or forces a defender to switch onto him. His goalkicking is shaky and he has kicked an inaccurate 11.11 this year so it is something he needs to work on because he is quite dangerous when he sneaks forward.

Jansen has a reasonable endurance base which allows him to run to space and play his part in counterattacks. He is often the linkup man in the middle and his skills are decent enough when under no pressure so he can play that role. However when under duress his disposal is sloppy, particularly by hand where he often loses control of the ball or turns it over in close and congested situations. This weakness can be focused on by having a big bodied midfielder follow him around which negates his clearance ability, something which teams have trialled in the WAFL Colts this year.

Another weakness Jansen has is his lack of pace. You wouldn’t expect somebody with such a large frame to be a line breaker but Jansen is particularly slow and would struggle to outrun most players. This puts pressure on him to dispose of the ball quickly which can cause turnovers, as outlined above.
Despite having a good season at Colts level, Jansen struggled during the Champs and averaged just 14 possessions at 62 percent efficiency along with 3.6 tackles. Whilst half of these were contested which excuses the inaccuracy of the disposal it was a rather poor return from somebody who averages 23 touches in the Colts. The poor Champs is likely to see him slide down the draft order, as he was talked up as a second to third round chance earlier in the season.

Jansen was selected by Geelong in the Bound For Glory News Rising Stars Phantom Draft because he can come in straight away and play a role in the midfield. Geelong is going to lose some experienced and big bodies in the midfield in the next few years and Jansen can help to maintain the clearance rate and provide physicality in that midfield.

2013 Draft Profile: Jason Cooke

Jason Cooke (Calder Cannons)

Height: 183 cm
Weight: 79 kg
Position: Midfielder / Forward
Player Comparison: Tom Rockliff
Strengths: Dangerous around goals, versatile, strength for size
Weaknesses: Ball getting

At the beginning of the season, Jason Cooke was one of the guys that was on a lot of people’s radars. His 2012 season wasn’t anything special, but he was damaging enough to draw focus to him. Calder might not have that high quality talent through AIS members or multiple Vic Countries boys that a team like the Geelong Falcons has, instead it relies of a spread of players with different natural talents across the board. Jason Cooke is one of those players who while he’s not going to stand out all the time, he does give an honest effort and can hurt teams that don’t respect him.

In round three, he started off like a house on fire. He kicked four goals and a behind from 12 touches against the Western Jets and it looked like he was set for a great year. Since then though, he’s only managed to kick multiple goals in one other game. Although having said that he has kicked a goal in all ten games he’s played in the TAC Cup this year. This further details why he might not be that destructive game breaker that someone like a Clayton McCartney could be, but he has that consistency in his game.

His mediocre TAC Cup form was followed up by two disappointing games for Coburg in the VFL. Over the two games he amassed just nine possessions and one behind. In the TAC Cup, he’s averaging 13.9 disposals running at 64 percent disposal efficiency. His disposal efficiency is let down by his kicking, but he is by no means a butcher. He’s had a few games where his kicking has been around 50 percent efficiency which has brought down his otherwise solid efficiency. He’s a clean user by hand, using it effectively 73 percent of the time. However he doesn’t run hard enough on the outside to get handball receives and join the chain.

One advantage Cooke has over a lot of other players is his strength for his size. He has that ready made medium body that could impact at AFL level. He has shown particularly this year that he can out body other players around his height. He might not be a superstar in the making, but he has some honest qualities that see him working hard for the team.

Cooke is very much like Tom Rockliff. He’s solid enough to get the inside ball, his disposal is good enough on the outside and he can drift forward effectively. The big glaring problem is that he just doesn’t gather enough of the ball. 13.9 possessions is on the low side for a midfielder. As a permanent forward, it’s not so bad. But he needs to improve his tackling numbers or increase his output to be considered as a permanent forward.

In the Bound For Glory News Rising Stars Phantom Draft, Jason Cooke was selected by Essendon with pick 88. This is obviously into the very late/rookie stage which is about where Cooke is at. He’ll want to work on a number of aspects of his game if he is to be drafted, but there is quite a few handy qualities for clubs to work on.

Cooke’s basic skill set is solid enough for him to be picked up late in the draft or even as a rookie. But he needs to desperately build up a tank so he can gather more of the outside ball and find a more permanent position. Once he can do that, he could become that attacking half forward that a lot of clubs could do with.