DRAFT ANALYSIS: "Lochie O'Brien has a weapon of a left boot and has the ability to do some serious damage, but his effectiveness is restricted when under pressure."
Lochie O’Brien was one of the highest regarded players coming into the 2017 season with O’Brien’s left foot one of the best in the draft crop. His ability to hit-up forwards or players leading towards him as he strolls down the wing is impressive, and he has predominantly played as a half-back flanker with some games on the wing and through the midfield. He still has a number of areas to work on as with left footers, his non-preferred right foot can be an area of concern and his kicking under pressure is still a work in progress. On the outside, his footskills and spread are really good and he has the football smarts to make the right decisions.
- Penetrating left foot
- Footy smarts
- Foot skills
Lochie O’Brien is one of the more damaging players in the draft crop if he is allowed time and space. His ability to launch bombs from outside 50, or pierce through zones with dagger passes is unrivalled by many of his peers with 42 per cent of his kicks, long – one of the highest in the TAC Cup. He is a traditional left footer in the sense of having a weapon for a boot and he knows how to find space and gather the ball cleanly. When at half-back or on the wing, O’Brien rarely makes a error by foot and has a really sound outside game.
O’Brien spreads well and finds plenty of the football on the outside and while he is not an in-and-under player, he is that type that will haunt the stoppages and wait for the handball to fly out and he takes off, gets a few metres on his opponent and kicks cleanly. His best position at this stage for me is half-back where he can settle his team down and make smart decisions by foot. He is not afraid to switch the ball or cut into the corridor, and he has the foot skills to take that risky pass which if it did not pay off, could open up for the opposition. As a whole, O’Brien has an impressive outside game with high enough skills and top smarts for recruiters to overlook some of the improvements which are needed to make his game more consistent and rounded as a whole.
- Non-dominant right foot
- Disposal under pressure
Like many left footed outside midfielders, there are no surprises to what improvements O’Brien could make to his game to go to the next level. He has a dominant left boot, but when corralled onto his right, he can often make errors by foot, or just opt for a short pass, thus limiting his effectiveness. His disposal under pressure needs work as it was seen a few times later in the season that O’Brien’s disposal when corralled or in close, would be questionable.
He got tagged out of games at school footy as he does not have that bigger body yet that can shake off opponents. He played a fair bit at half-back for the Bendigo Pioneers and looked suited to the role, as well as that playing along the wing for Vic Country. He is the player that teammates look to for the final pass inside 50, but opposition players learnt to restrict his influence by sitting on him and not giving him time and space. Earlier in the year he was very dominant outside, but really worked hard on his inside game which was promising.
DRAFT PROJECTION: 15-30
Lochie O’Brien is a talented outside midfielder with a tantalising left boot. He can break zones and hit-up targets that seem unrealistic to most players, but he has the decision making and smarts to use his foot skills to effect. He still has to improve how to break tags, as well as disposal under pressure, but it was clear his inside game improved considerably throughout the season. As a whole, O’Brien will land at an AFL club and is an ideal fit for a team that is looking for a penetrating half-back who could progress onto the wing in future years.