DRAFT ANALYSIS: "Key Position Defender who is good in one-on-one contests"
Under 18s Championships
Sam Taylor is the lesser talked about West Australian key position defender but has some outstanding qualities which clubs will not ignore come draft night. While his partner in crime Aaron Naughton has been all the rage this season, the AFL Academy member Taylor has gone about his business in an equally eyebrow-raising way. He impressed during the National Under 18 Championships and played some eye-catching football for Swan Districts in the WAFL. He is a reliable defender who marks the ball well, positions himself cleverly, rebounds it out of defensive 50 and has some seriously good athletic traits. His kicking could do with some work and his endurance is low, but all things considered, Taylor is a top prospect who will likely be drafted in the second round, but could sneak into the top 20 should a club decide to pounce early.
Taylor is arguably the second best pure key position defender in the draft behind his highly doubted fellow West Australian Aaron Naughton. He is a strong mark, good rebounder and positions himself accordingly in the marking contests, At 196cm and 87kg he still has some room to bulk up and build his strength one-on-one. As it stands he played 15 games of senior WAFL football with seven in the league and eight in the reserves. In the top flight he averaged 13.1 disposals, 4.5 marks and 2.7 tackles, not looking out of place there. He is not far off senior football and could be expected to play AFL early on if required.
Taylor also has some good athletic traits with a 3.05 second 20m sprint and an 82cm running vertical jump at the National Combine. These results reveal he is capable of moving well and can play on the athletic forwards as well as the monster ones. Once he can add a bit of size to his frame he will be a real asset to have in the defensive 50.
Taylor’s two key improvements are his kicking and endurance. His kicking is not the worst, but he has an awkward high ball drop connecting from hand to foot and while it is not a liability coming out of defence, he can certainly iron out his kicking to improve at the next level. If he can turn that into some sort of a weapon then he could be a really damaging key position defender.
His second improvement is his endurance, which at the National Combine he recorded a 20.8 in the yo-yo test and six minutes and 56 seconds in the 2km time trial. They are not the worst results, but certainly in the bottom half so Taylor has scope for improvement in this area and building his tank will be a focus when he arrives at an AFL club.
DRAFT PROJECTION: 15-35
Sam Taylor is a player whose draft stocks have risen as the year has progressed. He showed some nice traits at the National Under 18 Championships averaging 11 disposals and 3.5 marks, before stepping up against senior bodies in the WAFL and continuing that production. As an AFL Academy member, Taylor has been on the radar of AFL clubs for some time and his athletic and defensive qualities will no doubt attract a club to pounce somewhere in the second round, if not top 20. Taylor does have a few things to work on such as his endurance and kicking, but these are areas which are easily ironed out in an elite environment and areas which I do not believe will hamper him at AFL level.