DRAFT ANALYSIS: "The best swingman in the 2017 draft pool, with healthy debate ongoing about where the mobile tall plays his best football."
Jarrod Brander first came on the scene as an Under 16 footballer, earning a scholarship for schooling at Geelong Grammar. Brander represented NSW-ACT throughout the National AFL Under 16 Championships in 2015, booting 20 plus goals for Geelong Grammar as a Year 10 in the APS school boy First XVIII competition – the strongest schoolboy competition in Australia. Brander injured his knee in 2016, which restricted him at times – but it was his performance in the APS v AGSV Rep game at the end of the 2016 season where he had 26 disposals and marked the ball well playing in defence. Coming into 2017 there has been a lot of debate where he best plays, switching between the two throughout the season. The GWS Academy member was also ruled ineligible to be selection by GWS early in the season and therefore is now open to be selected by any club in the 2017 National AFL Draft.
- Set shot goal kicking
For a player standing at 195cm – Brander moves very well inside 50 and when he is in defence. His agility time of 8.40 seconds at the National AFL Draft Combine suggest he has the capabilities when the ball is at ground level, where he can change direction and have a shot on goal, or pass the ball by hand or foot to a teammate. As a mobile forward or defender, Brander can play further up the ground rather than being isolated deep.
Brander possesses a thumping set shot goal kick. In the Allies’ narrow victory over Vic Metro in their final game of the National Under 18 Championships, Brander booted three goals and showed off his trademark kick from close or far to goal. His field kicking is also good, where he was trusted with kicking out for the Allies when playing in defence – but up forward he has a very good set shot that travels 50 metres regardless of how far from goal he is out.
Brander’s versatility makes him the best swingman of the 2017 AFL Draft pool. While starting most of his career as a forward, his performance in the APS v AGSV game in 2016 suggested that he has the capabilities of playing as a key defender. His intercept work and reading the flight of the ball are impressive in defence, where AFL National Talent Manager Mick Ablett has suggested where he best likes to see Brander play. For the Allies at times it was hard, with Brander’s magnet thrown around to either end – but he has spent most of his time for Geelong Grammar up forward, floating whichever way the wind was going in the second half of the season on the windy Saturday afternoons. He was a clear standout at Simonds Stadium for the Allies against Vic Metro, collecting 16 disposals, nine marks and booting three goals up forward.
An area of improvement for Brander (and like many key position players) are consistency. At times this year, we saw the best from Brander in a quarter – before going missing for some periods. At times he wasn’t helped by the lack of delivery from the Bendigo Pioneers’ midfielders, who were often outclassed by their opponents. But in the game where Paddy Dow linked up with Brander against Gippsland Power late in the season, he showed with good delivery he could perform well and impact the game.
DRAFT PROJECTION: 5-20
The former GWS Academy member came into the year as a possible no.1 pick contender and while his name won’t be the first to be called out on draft night – Brander should be able to develop into an effective tall utility. There is healthy debate to what end he best plays his football, but regardless he is a skillful player that will find a home inside the first round.
Under 18s Championships