1. Christian Petracca (VIC – Mid/Fwd)Height:186cm, Weight: 92kg, DOB: 04/01/1996
Recruited from: Eastern Ranges
Draft range: 1-3
Best position/role: Rotational midfielder/forward.
Front half talent –Petracca can play both deep in the front half as a marking target and off a forward flank to a high standard when playing forward. Deep in the front half Petracca provides strong scoreboard impact and is an imposing marking presence with his 1v1 strength, overhead marking ability, marking on the lead and superior ability to read the drop of the ball. He can deep in the front half also win the ground ball. Petracca can also play off a forward flank and have a big impact, he can on a forward flank accumulate the footy in bunches, do damage with his footskills, present as a strong marking target, provide strong scoreboard impact and push up the field.Midfield talent – Petracca is an improved midfielder this year having improved his endurance and decreased his skinfolds. He has a nice mix between inside and outside game. He is a very good contested ball winner and stoppage player and these areas of his game can continue to improve given his size and strength. He is a strong ground ball winner. He is a strong tackler. He also has a rare power to him not only with his strength to bully guys inside the contest but some real explosive power where he can burst through a contest, come up with the ball and break away from the contest at speed. He also has excellent evasiveness and can sidestep guys and burst away with some real explosiveness. Some of his work inside by hand finding targets also is impressive. Outside the contest Petracca shows that he can find the footy but also use it really well utilising his damaging footskills and vision allowing him to find damaging targets up the field. Scoreboard impact – Forward or through the midfield Petracca provides strong scoreboard impact and is capable of kicking multiple goals and breaking games open with his scoreboard impact in any given game whether that be from set shots or in general play.
Strength and power – There are not many 92kg midfielders going around and even fewer with the explosiveness and power of Petracca. He wins his own ball and can either burst through the contest or run around you with ease. He stands up through tackles and has the strength through his core and hips, he can shrug tackles and give a strong don’t argue. In the 1v1 contests he can take advantage of anyone who is not key position sized making him a matchup nightmare. Versatility – Petracca because he can play not only through the midfield but also on a forward flank or deep in the front half as a marking target gives you options and this versatility should also help him receive immediate senior games on any team.
Footskills – Has an excellent mix between footskills hitting his targets around the ground with consistency, vision allowing him to find some really damaging targets in great position but also he has the finishing ability and set shot goalkicking to allow him to make the most of his opportunities in front of goal. I have also enjoyed some of his kicks to target while tackled showing that even when tackled he can still execute and find his targets.
Marking ability – Few if any medium size types have the marking ability of Petracca. He has the 1v1 marking ability, contested marking ability and ability on the lead to take his marks and he has the strength overhead to take them consistently. He also reads the drop of the ball exceptionally well and uses his body well in the contest allowing him to effectively protect the drop zone making him incredibly hard to defend particularly if he can isolate a smaller player defender deep in defence.Weaknesses:Endurance – His endurance is building and has improved significantly this year to an extent where he can play the majority of game time through the midfield but if he hopes to eventually become a full time midfielder further work is still required.
Skinfolds – Like with his endurance his skinfolds have reduced but his skinfolds still appear relatively high and also need to decrease.
Decision making ability – Petracca’s decision making ability while good most of the time can at times can leave something to be desired. Both by hand and foot Petracca with his touches generally looks to do as much meaningful damage as he can but at times as a result of this he can fail to recognise his limitations which can lead to a poor kick or handball and an overall lower disposal efficiency than he might otherwise have.
What I expect will improve:I expect Petracca to continue to improve his contested ball winning and stoppage work and take that area of his game from good to eventually excellent. I also expect his endurance and skinfolds to improve. I also imagine his disposal efficiency to increase as he improves his decision making ability and better learns when he can do damage and when he needs to go the safe option. Who he can become?I anticipate Petracca to develop into a player largely similar to Dustin Martin but without the personal issues. I see Petracca mostly playing as a damaging forward flanker who will at times push deeper into the front half splitting his minutes between playing through the front half and midfield with those midfield minutes increasing as his endurance improves. When will he be ready to play?Petracca is season one, round one ready to play. He I imagine will start off season one mostly playing in the front half and by season two or three likely play more a split between forward and midfield minutes.How to best utilise him?Petracca today is best utilised in the front half because he is just so damaging forward of centre. The hope will be that he becomes more a midfielder but I would look for him to split his minutes between the midfield and front half long term as he is a rare weapon forward of centre. Interpretation of his numbers:Petracca well and truly has the performances on the board and is one of if not the best performed player in this draft class based on his form these past couple of seasons through the TAC Cup and U18 championships. He is finding the footy but also providing heavy scoreboard impact at both levels which such suggests he will provide both a strong immediate impact at AFL level but also that he will become one of the best to come out of this draft with those high production power midfielders who can provide heavy scoreboard impact of strong value to teams.
2. Angus Brayshaw (VIC – Mid)
Height: 187cm, Weight: 87kg, DOB: 09/01/1996
Recruited from: Sandringham Dragons
Draft range: 2-10
Best position/role: Midfield – on the ball.Strengths:
Inside game – Brayshaw has shown dominant contested ball winning ability through both the TAC Cup and U18 Championships. His stoppage work is excellent and he is a strong clearance winner. He has clean hands and is clean below the knees and by hand. He stands up through and shrugs tackles well and has real strength over the ball. Brayshaw is a strong tackler and can really bury guys with aggression when he tackles. His inside game is at a level where he can play right away. He accumulates strong numbers through the midfield and excellent tackle numbers. He is also an excellent height and size for an inside player at 187cm, 87kg.
Footskills – Brayshaw is a very damaging user of the footy on both his right and left sides and is one of the rare few on-ballers who can use it cleanly and consistently on both sides. He is an excellent decision maker with ball in hand and has the vision to find targets in dangerous positions making him a real playmaker through the midfield. He is capable of executing his kicks while getting tackled and still hit his targets. From the midfield both in space and in traffic he also has a rare ability to find and hit the leading forward 50 targets and get it to where they want it. He is also an excellent finisher around goal and can convert from his set shot opportunities. Marking ability – He is a strong mark overhead. He has got the size and strength to beat his opponent in the 1v1 contest but he also reads the flight of the ball exceptionally well and has shown that he can either push back behind the play to take an intercept mark or push forward and be a marking threat on the lead or 1v1.
Work ethic – Brayshaw is a hard worker and has put the time and effort into his game. He has developed the ability to use both sides of his body by hand and foot. He has developed his strength and inside game and this past offseason has put the work in athletically to improve his endurance and pace and I anticipate he will continue from year to year to put the work into his game to achieve that continued improvement and development of his game.
Leadership potential – Brayshaw in 2014 captained Sandringham Dragons demonstrating strong on field leadership and instruction. Given this it is within his capabilities to down the track become either a component of a team’s leadership group or possibly even captain a club. Weaknesses:Endurance – While Brayshaw’s endurance is improving it has been a slow build and still requires work before he has the endurance of a full time midfielder at AFL level. Even in the TAC Cup too often he will be out on his feet and unable to cover the ground an AFL level midfielder needs to cover and it will likely take a few preseasons to completely get his endurance up to where it needs to get to.
Athleticism – Overall Brayshaw is an only average athlete by position. To his credit he has an improved burst of speed which he uses reasonably well in game over 10-50m with ball in hand at times and he can also occasionally provide some run and carry but other than that occasional burst with ball in hand Brayshaw is only average athlete by position. He is not likely to do too many eye-popping things athletically and he is not going to run around or sidestep all that many players with not a great deal of agility, evasiveness or spring in his step but none the less I do not anticipate any significant problems with his athleticism still good enough by position.
What I expect will improve:I expect continued improvement in Brayshaw’s endurance to allow him to cover more of the ground so that at AFL level he can be a full time midfielder. I also expect Brayshaw to continue to improve and expand his inside game and become a more dominant contested ball winner and clearance winner than he already is. Brayshaw I also see continuing to improve as a leader. Who he can become?Brayshaw with his dual sided kicking has a feel not completely unlike a taller, bigger bodied Sam Mitchell but I see Brayshaw becoming a slightly less dominant Oliver Wines. He is that similar tall, strong bodied midfielder who can do damage by foot and have an impact immediately and be a key pillar through the midfield long term but his production I feel in looking at his numbers will be slightly but not significantly lower than the production of Wines.
When will he be ready to play?Brayshaw is round one, season one ready to play. He has the size and production to suggest he can have an impact right away. He can also be a starting midfielder right away but I can see him also receiving some minutes on either a forward or back flank during games as his endurance is not yet quite be up to a level that would allow him to sustain full games at AFL level through the midfield from the outset.
How to best utilise him?Brayshaw is best utilised on the ball through the midfield.Interpretation of his numbers:Brayshaw is arguably the best performed midfielder in this draft class. He is finding the footy both inside and outside the contest. Providing good scoreboard impact. Good tackle numbers and is taking plenty of marks. Has performed strongly through both the TAC Cup and U18 championships. So the indicators are strong and suggest he will play right away and have a long, strong career in our game.
9. Jake Lever (VIC –KPD)Height:192cm, Weight: 84kg, DOB: 05/03/1996
Recruited from: Calder Cannons
Draft range: 2-15
Best position/role: Centre half back.
Strengths: Terrific 2013 season – In 2013 Lever performed very strongly and was by position one of the standout performers in the TAC Cup. While he has not got the performances on the board this year his strong performances from 2013 are more than enough to suggest he should get drafted and drafted early draft. Ability to read the flight of the ball – Lever does a terrific job of consistently reading the flight of the ball off the boot and knowing where it will go before it gets there. With this ability it helps Lever determine when he can or cannot leave his direct opponent and it helps Lever significantly as an intercept marking threat down back. With the ability to read the flight of the ball it also helps him in the 1v1 contests to protect the drop zone and take some 1v1 marks in the back half. Lever is also terrific in the air and can get the spoil in but is also a significant marking threat in the air and is willing to fly for it and aggressively go at the marking contested and attack it like a forward when the opportunity is there showing strong hands overhead and great timing of his jumps for the mark, more often than not coming down it with. Rebounding ability – Lever is a significant intercept marking threat down back but he also gets very involved in the play out of the back half. Lever for a tall is a very good run and carry player and is willing to take on games with his run. He looks comfortable with ball in hand and he will get involved in linkup chains out of the back half and is willing to run both ways and be involved in transition. He is not afraid to take on the game and push up the field and be a part of linkup chains as essentially another running defender. Lever moves well with ball in hand and looks very much at ease when he has the ball, rarely getting caught and good evasive movement and agility. By hand Lever looks for the most damaging running. By foot Lever demonstrates good vision finding some good targets and in the most part hitting his targets. Competitiveness – Lever is a strong bodied key defender who seems to enjoy and win the majority of his 1v1 contests. He has the core strength to hold his position in the contest and has a good feel for when he can take the mark and when he needs to get the spoil in. While Lever is a very good rebounder by position he is also a capable stopper and can as well as beat them 1v1 also stick with his opponents on the lead and in the air.
Leadership and work ethic – Captained VIC Metro in 2013 as an underager which is a significant endorsement of his leadership ability and suggests he is if not captain material in the future then certainly leadership group material. He is also considered a hardworking, high character guy so it is highly likely he will get the best out of himself and in the future. He is capable of giving on field direction in the back half. Lever this season while working diligently on getting his body right this season on the sidelines has also shown a commitment to the game by getting involved in the coaching side of the game which demonstrates his maturity and interest in furthering his knowledge about the game. Midfield potential – I cannot help but think there could be some scope to possibly pinch-hit through the midfield down the track if a club wants him to. He seems to have the cleanness below the knees, aggression and attack on the ball and also some reasonable evasiveness. He can run and carry the footy and use it cleanly and offensively by hand, looking comfortable with ball in hand. So he ticks the boxes from a trait standpoint and at his height if he can put all those things together then he could have an impact. Weaknesses:No 2014 form to reflect on/evaluate – As Lever has missed the 2014 season with injury it is difficult to evaluate where he is at and what if any improvement he has made.
Height – At 192cm Lever is relatively on the short side for a key defender and may struggle with some of the super tall key forwards but he is still a more than acceptable height by position to experience success at AFL level.
Lack of an x-factor – While Lever is an exceptionally well rounded footballer by position he lacks that one thing that separates him from every other backman.
What I expect will improve:Lever will continue to put size onto his frame and develop both down back as a rebounder and stopper. I also anticipate his leadership ability to continue to grow.
Who he can become?Lever looks like another Tom Harley down back as a quality key defender who can really lead and possibly captain a team down the track. When will he be ready to play?Lever likely will take a couple of years to develop but he has the talent to be ready to play regular senior AFL footy in season three. How to best utilise him?Lever is best utilised at centre half back.
Interpretation of his numbers: Lever’s 2013 numbers were exceptional and demonstrate that by position he is an excellent rebounder and willing to get involved in the play down back. His strong contested and uncontested marking numbers suggesting that he is not only involved as a rebounder from the back half but one of the central reasons for the ball getting rebounded.
18. Billy Stretch (Melb – F/S – SA – Mid)Height: 182cm, Weight: 71kg, DOB: 8/09/1996
Recruited from: Glenelg
Draft range: 2nd/3rd roundBest position/role: Midfield – outsideStrengths: Footskills – Stretch is an excellent user of the ball by foot and can find his targets over a variety of distances. What has also impressed me is his execution by foot while under pressure, showing that he can at times while getting tackles or when under pressure he can at times lace out hit his targets. With ball in hand Stretch makes good decisions quickly and has the vision to find good targets long up the field.
Pace and endurance – Stretch has excellent straightline speed and an excellent line breaker, breaking the lines frequently each game. He also has excellent endurance as someone who gives many of those high speed efforts in game but then also covers substantial ground over the court of a game.
Evasiveness – Stretch is not so much someone who will sidestep guys but he uses his pace to run around opposition players and avoid tackles routinely.
Outside game – Stretch has the right mix of footskills, pace and endurance on the outside to experience success. On the outside he runs to the right positions and works hard to get into good positions to link up as well as be involved in running chains forward.
Versatility – Stretch while best suited on a wing does have the ability to play on a forward flank and given his pace and footskills could also likely as required play of a back flank.
Ready to play – Stretch while light bodied was one of SA’s best through the U18 Championships. At SANFL League level he played some excellent football. At both levels he has shown an excellent ability to accumulate the footy, use it well and at SANFL League level he has shown that he can still do what he does against stronger bodies and have a strong impact on games. Given his performance and already proven ability against more mature bodies Stretch light bodied as he is, is capable of playing at AFL level from season one. Weaknesses:
Marking – I have found Stretch at times with his marks to be very two and three grab. He generally takes his marks but he just needs to become cleaner and more one grab. What I do like with his work overhead is his ability to read the flight and read the drop of the ball to consistently get to the right places to take the mark.
Inside game – Stretch while not a soft outside player and at times capable winning of winning his own ball is likely not going to become an inside player. He is a smallish, light body and his contested ball numbers are mild at best. He is not a particularly strong or aggressive tackler, not tackling all that often and is not someone who can forcefully win his own ball. What he can do is use his smarts to opportunistically be in the right place to get the ball but that is about the extent of his inside game.
Light body – At this stage Stretch only weighs 71kg and has a thin frame that suggests he will likely always remain relatively on the light side and remain an outside player. What I expect will improve:With Stretch I anticipate mostly natural and continued improvement of his outside game. I expect he puts on some weight but I still expect he remains a light bodied but very good outside player.
Who he can become?I see Billy Stretch developing into a slightly lower level Bradley Hill as that outside type with elite endurance, pace, a high level skillset but then also the excellent numbers.
When will he be ready to play?Stretch is given his proven ability to play well at SANFL League level has the ability to play from season one.
How to best utilise him?Stretch is best utilised on a wing.
Interpretation of his numbers:Stretch’s numbers and more specifically his uncontested ball numbers have been excellent both through the U18 Championships as one of SA’s leading disposal getters, and using it well but then also at SANFL League level also showing that he can find the uncontested footy to a high level and use it well and take plenty of uncontested marks around the ground. Given this Stretch has the ability to play from season one and develop into a quality, high production outside midfielder.
20. Oscar McDonald (VIC – KPD)Height: 196cm, Weight: 88kg, DOB: 18/03/1996
Recruited from: North Ballarat
Draft range: 20-rookieBest position/role: Centre half back.
Strengths: 1v1 ability – McDonald has the strength to hold his position in the contest and consistently win the 1v1 contests, often outbodying opponents in the contest and generally reading the flight of the ball better. He often takes 1v1 marks and makes the right choices as to whether he can take the mark or needs to get the spoil in.
Ability to read the flight of the ball – McDonald is excellent at reading the flight of the ball anticipating where the ball will go and getting there for the easy intercept mark. He makes good decisions as to when he can leave his direct opponent for the intercept mark or when he needs to stay with them. He also in the 1v1 contest reads it superbly, reading the drop of the ball and protecting the drop of the ball for the easy mark.
Movement and athleticism – McDonald for a tall moves very well. He is very mobile for his height and has very good agility. He has very good closing speed and can stay with opposition forwards. His endurance is good, staying with his opponents and covering the ground well over the course of games. He also has a good leap on him and is competitive and able to get stops in the air whether that be a spoil or mark.
Ability to limit the influence of direct opponent – He is a good height, has the strength to beat his opponents 1v1 in the contest, is good in the air and can shut down his opponents on the lead. The one knock defensively from a shutdown perspective is his second and third efforts can at times be slow and mean he can at times get exposed against if the ball goes to ground and his opponent is quicker following up the ball at ground level. Versatility – While McDonald is best suited as a key defender he has also shown that he can go forward and as required kick a goal. He is relatively clean with his pickups at ground level, tackles strongly and reads it well coming into the front half so while it is not something I would necessarily want him to have to do regularly at AFL level it is something as required he can do.
Rebounding from the back half – McDonald is generally a relatively efficient user of the ball from the back half. He can hit his targets up the ground and at times will kick low, long passes up the ground and be the one starting the offense himself with his drive out of the back half. He is also at times willing when the opportunity is there to provide some run and carry out of the back half.
TAC Cup form – McDonald has had a terrific season at TAC Cup level and was rightly awarded the TAC Cup coaches award. He had a consistent season and has the performances on the board as one of the best performed if not the best performed key defender this year between his ability to negate the influence of his direct opponents and to take intercept marks and provide rebound himself. Weaknesses:Slow when it hits the deck and slow second + third efforts – The main time McDonald gets exposed is when the ball hits the deck, he can at times be slow reacting and if his opponent is a quicker ground level player he can get exposed. Also his second and third efforts are not up to the expected standard at this stage; as good as he moves he lacks that quickness reacting at times to get to that next ball and then move onto that next play quickly enough.
No U18 Championships games – McDonald as terrific as he has been through the TAC Cup has not received the opportunity to play through the U18 Championships and missed that opportunity to play against the better competition in the country and as a result his form may be less exposed compared to some other draft prospects. What I expect will improve:I expect McDonald largely to continue to improve his two way game as a stopper and rebounder and to continue his natural development.
Who he can become?I see McDonald developing into something roughly similar to Alex Rance as someone who can beat his direct opponent but also be involved as a rebounder from the back half. When will he be ready to play?McDonald could receive senior opportunities as early as season two but I anticipate in season three if the opportunity is there that he establishes himself as a regular best 22 player for a team.
How to best utilise him?McDonald is best utilised at centre half back.
Interpretation of his numbers:McDonald’s numbers have been excellent at TAC Cup level by position. He finds plenty of the ball. Takes his mark per game and contested mark per game numbers are excellent by position. His ball use has generally been relatively efficient. He has also done a terrific job limiting the influence of his direct opponents and stopping them from achieving their usual numbers and influence on games.
25. Alex Neal-Bullen (SA – Mid)Height: 182cm, Weight: 77kg, DOB: 09/01/1996
Recruited from: Glenelg
Draft range: 15-40Best position/role: Midfield – on the ball.
Strengths: Work by hand –What most stands out with Neal-Bullen is his awareness in traffic to find the best player by hand, he will at times gamble looking for the opening but he typically finds the most damaging target.
Inside game – In addition to what Neal-Bullen does by hand he at stoppages is consistently in close, in the best positions to either win his own contested ball or to receive the inside ball to win the clearances. He had the highest clearance winning total through the U18 Championships and has shown at SANFL League level that he can also win the clearances. He has excellent contested ball winning numbers and is a terrific contested ball winner showing hardness at the footy, and a real cleanness at ground level.
Endurance – Neal-Bullen has among the best endurance of the midfielders in this draft and it is obvious watching how much ground he covers in game and how many contests he gets to. He is someone who just never seems to stand still in game really showing in game a terrific work rate.
Season one ready – Neal-Bullen has played and played very well at SANFL League level showing that he can compete against men and find and win his own footy against men which suggests that he can from season one play senior games if the opportunity presents. Versatility – Although he by far and away is best suited on the ball through the midfield he has also spend time in the back half this season so while he probably will be more a pure midfielder he can as required be played in the back half.
Pace - Neal-Bullen is not a plodder and can at times use his pace in game. He can provide some run and carry with ball in hand or break away from the contest and occasionally can get himself out of trouble in traffic to then get a handball off to a target or a quick kick away.
Footskills under pressure and decision making – Neal-Bullen in traffic by foot will often just get the ball onto his boot hoping it hits a target, really at this stage just lacking composure. Because he gets so much ball in close making it a reoccurring theme and a constant frustration with his game. Give him time and space and his footskills while still slightly inconsistent are on the most part generally good mostly hitting his targets over a variety of distances, making better decisions and occasionally doing damage and even at times lowering his eyes but on the inside he just needs that bit more composure and needs to take more time on his kicks than he does at the present time.
Outside game – At this stage Neal-Bullen finds a high proportion of his ball inside the contest and surprisingly despite his endurance and work rate he finds limited outside ball as someone who is very much an inside midfielder first at the moment. What I expect will improve:I mostly with Neal-Bullen anticipate the natural and continued improvement in the areas that he performs strongly in and specifically his inside game. Who he can become?Through the midfield Neal-Bullen is of similar quality and production to Anthony Miles. When will he be ready to play?Neal-Bullen has the ability to play as soon as season one and fit in at AFL level given his strong SANFL League performance.
How to best utilise him?Neal-Bullen is best utilised on the ball through the midfield.
Interpretation of his numbers:Neal-Bullen’s numbers have been exceptional both through the U18 Championships and at SANFL League level this season and is among the best performed players in this draft class. Through the U18 Championships he led all participants in clearances and was also one of the dominant contested ball winners throughout. What was troubling was troubling through the U18 Championships his low disposal efficiency of 54%. Through the SANFL at league level Neal-Bullen has shown that he can not only play at the level but also find strong numbers suggesting that he will be able to make the adjustment to playing at AFL level and if opportunity presents from season one.