DRAFT ANALYSIS: "Speedy small inside midfielder who wins the contested ball"
Zac Bailey has burst on the scene after moving from the Northern Territory to board at Prince Alfred College in South Australia. Bailey played a few games for Norwood in the SANFL, but his most impressive group of games came in the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships where he averaged 17 disposals and 4.5 tackles. The inside midfielder possesses elite speed, with his acceleration coming out of a stoppage noticeable in every game he plays – collecting the ball in the contested and bursting away from a pack of players before kicking is long inside 50. As a good ball user on his right foot, Bailey gets the ball inside 50 on multiple occasions where he can hit the tall forward targets with ease. The PAC midfielder was also able to win best on ground honours in the Shield Grand Final, where he booted multiple goals and racked up a ton of the ball.
- Contested ball winning
Despite standing at 181cm, Bailey has the ability to play as an inside midfielder and win the contested ball. While his contested possession rate at the National Under 18 Championships was 39.7 per cent – he has shown in multiple games that this count can be greater than 50 per cent.
Bailey possesses elite speed, in particular his acceleration which is far greater than majority of the other midfielders likely to be selected in the opening two rounds of the 2017 NAB AFL Draft. His time of 2.98 seconds in the 20m sprint at the NAB AFL Draft Combine, was in the top 10 for all players who tested at the National Combine. It isn’t just off the field where he shows his speed, but during games it is notable. In one such passage against Vic Metro in the National Under 18 Championships, Bailey burst from the centre bounce at speed (with only a few minutes remaining on the clock) with ball in hand – kicking it long inside 50.
Bailey uses the ball well by foot, finding options with ease short or long. During the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships for the Allies, Bailey averaged nine kicks, kicking at 66.7 per cent efficiency. However – this stats are effected by the clash against South Australia where Bailey went at 30.8 per cent. He didn’t miss a target against Western Australia, while against champions Vic Metro – 11 of Bailey’s 12 kicks were effective. Compared with other inside midfielders in the draft pool – the 66.7 per cent is well above average.
Bailey’s defensive work and tackling numbers are always high – with the inside midfielder hunting the ball back with venom. In the National Under 18 Championships, he averaged 4.5 tackles per game – putting him in the top group of midfielders.
- Hitting the scoreboard
Around the ground, Bailey doesn’t get too many marks. He averaged two in the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships this year, often suggesting that once he’s won the ball on the inside he hasn’t been able to spread and get forward to create a target around the ground. Bailey’s kicking skill set suggest he is one of the rare inside midfielders who use the ball effectively, without banging it forward off his boot.
Bailey’s endurance can be increased. With the AFL game style suggesting that players endurance is one of the most important factors, Bailey can increase. While his 2km time trial was right on the average, with a time of 6 min 43 seconds – his Yo-Yo score of 20.6 was below the average. If he can continue to work over the preseason on his endurance, his rare mix of speed and endurance would make him a rare midfielder that would appeal to many clubs’ skill set.
Bailey has only really hit the scoreboard when playing at school level for PAC in Adelaide, only booting one goal in the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships. At 180cm, there will be times when he will need to be utilised up forward – and with his tackling and speed, it will make him a dangerous prospect – but he needs to show he can hit the scoreboard and kick goals.
DRAFT PROJECTION: 20-40
Zac Bailey has had a great season, surging right into second round consideration at November 24th’s Natioanl AFL Draft. Bailey possesses elite speed and wins the contested ball in the midfield. With good clearance and tackling numbers, Bailey will be a damaging midfielder at the next level and if he can improve his forward craft and endurance – he could well end up one of the better midfielders from this draft pool.
SANFL Under 18s
Under 18s Championships