DRAFT ANALYSIS: "Best key defender in the 2017 draft pool who has been a strong WAFL performer."
Under 18s Championships
Peel Thunder tall defender represented Western Australia at last year’s National AFL Under 18 Championships, playing as a key defender. While his numbers weren’t overly outstanding, some of his characteristics were on show. An improving National AFL Under 18 Championships in 2017 saw him average 14.8 disposals, 5.3 marks and win WAs MVP after a stellar carnival. Naughton reads the play well in defence and knows when to intercept the ball, where he is a confident mark overhead or on his chest. Returning to Peel Thunder after the carnival, Naughton stood out in the WAFL not looking out of place after 16 disposals and seven marks on his League debut. From there, clubs flocked to WA to watch the key tall defender in this year’s draft pool.
- Intercept marking
- Reading the play
- Mature body
Naughton’s strength is his intercept marking, where he has often shown at all levels he will intercept the ball well. He is confident with his approach, grabbing the ball with two hands and holding onto majority of his marks.
Naughton knows when to drop off his man and when you stay tight in a one-on-one contest. He will read the play well and reads the flight of the ball well, knowing when to go and intercept the ball – to mark or spoil.
Naughton has shown this year that he doesn’t look out of place against mature bodies. Often training with and against AFL listed forward, he was able to use his body to win the one-on-one battles and work hard for his team. In the WAFL this year, Naughton averaged just under seven marks per game for Peel Thunder.
His work at ground level is good, where he can be a mobile defender. His time of 8.22 seconds in the agility test at the National AFL Draft Combine was in the top 13 per cent, indicating that he can perform well when the ball is on the ground.
- Kicking technique
Similar to 2016 draftee Ryan Garthwaite, much has been made of Naughton’s kicking style. His technique sees him drop the ball one handed onto his left foot – in a non-conventional style. However – similar to Garthwaite the ball gets to where it needs to go more often than not, so it won’t be as big as a concern as it looks, but it may be an area for improvement that AFL clubs look to fix with their biomechanical staff. Throughout the National Under 18 Championships, Naughton kicked at 70.6 efficiency – indicating clubs shouldn’t be too worried about him missing targets.
DRAFT PROJECTION: 5-15
Naughton has shown this year that he can match it with bigger bodies in the WAFL league and his strong performances in the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships make him the clear candidate as the best key defender in this year’s draft pool. Naughton will appeal to clubs inside the first round as a ready made player that shouldn’t need to wait his turn in the State Leagues for too long.