With the off-season now officially here for TAC Cup clubs, AFL Draft Central will go back and review what 2017 was like for each of the 12 clubs. We kick off the series with Bendigo Pioneers and will end with the Western Jets.
Points: 30 (eliminated in elimination final)
Players Drafted: (3)
- Nick Coffield (St Kilda)
- Patrick Naish (Richmond)
- Jack Petruccelle (West Coast)
Northern Knights managed to secure a finals berth after a few years out of post-season action. Led by their reliable skipper Nick Coffield, the Knights showed they were capable of great things, but just did not have the depth to compete with the top four sides come finals time. The Knights had three draftees in Coffield who went to St Kilda, Patrick Naish landed at Richmond as a father-son and speedster Jack Petruccelle headed west to play with the Eagles.
Ethan Penrith was arguably the most unlucky not to be drafted, while Northern had a number of other impressive prospects who unfortunately missed out. Among them were Alex Federico and Max Dreher, as well as talls Joel Naylor, Matthew Harman and Joel Grace.
Next year the Knights have a strong core of midfielders which they often do, and there are a number of players who helped assist the strong midfield group from 2017. Expect them to be thereabouts on the fringe again and it will be interesting to see which players emerge as the 2018 season goes on.
Northern Knights have a few top prospects who stood out in their bottom-age year, predominantly through the midfield. Four of the top five prospects identified after performances this year form a strong core through the middle and expect the Knights to be very capable in the area. Braedyn Gillard and Kye Yodgee lead the inside brigade, while Tom McKenzie and Joseph Ciranna will provide the outside skill. Harrison Grace is a skinny, developing tall who is one to watch as well.
Braedyn Gillard (Northern Knights) 182cm | 75kg | Inside Midfielder
2017 TAC Cup: (19) 18.4 disposals | 3.9 marks | 4.4 tackles | 2.6 clearances, 2.9 inside 50s | 49% KE | 58% DE | 44% CP
Braedyn Gillard is a ball hunting midfielder who has both offensive and defensive capabilities. He won his fair share of clearances and inside 50s in 2017 and laid plenty of tackles working hard on the inside. He did kick at just 49 per cent, which is an area that could improve, but he has no issues finding the ball and working in close.
Tom McKenzie (Northern Knights) 182cm | 73kg | Outside Midfielder
2017 TAC Cup: (11) 15 disposals | 4.6 marks | 1.9 tackles | 2.3 inside 50s | 67% KE | 70% DE | 30% CP
Tom McKenzie is a player who was able to play across multiple positions on the field. He is one of the better kicks in the draft crop, but is still skinny and very outside orientated. He spreads well and one can expect he will gain more midfield minutes in 2018 so could be a big improver.
Others to keep an eye on:
Joseph Ciranna (Northern Knights) 180cm | 74kg | Outside Midfielder
2017 TAC Cup: (10) 14.5 disposals | 1.6 marks | 3.6 tackles | 2.1 inside 50s | 65% KE | 71% DE | 34% CP
Harrison Grace (Northern Knights) 190cm | 73kg | Tall Forward
2017 TAC Cup: (12) 9.8 disposals | 2.4 marks | 2.1 tackles | 1.3 inside 50s | 0.4 goals | 62% KE | 62% DE | 40% CP
Kye Yodgee (Northern Knights) 180cm | 80kg | Inside Midfielder
2017 TAC Cup: (7) 14 disposals | 2.3 marks | 3 tackles | 2.3 clearances | 54% KE | 66% DE | 49% CP
Northern Knights will look to build on their 2017 finals appearance and be back in September action in 2018. While the elimination final was disappointing, ultimately they just lacked that extra depth which the likes of Oakleigh had on the day. In 2018 the midfield looks good and the talls are developing, so it is likely Northern will be one to watch as the season goes on depending on how the key position players fill-out and work in tandem with the smaller ones.