IN the build up to football eventually returning, Draft Central takes a look at some of this year’s brightest names who have already represented their state at Under 17 or Under 18s level in 2019. While plenty can change between now and then, we will provide a bit of an insight into players, how they performed at preseason testing, and some of our scouting notes on them from last year.
Next under the Draft Watch microscope is Sydney Swans Academy member Braeden Campbell, who looms as arguably both the Swans’ and Allies’ top 2020 AFL Draft prospect. The speedy midfielder boats a terrific balance of inside and outside traits, able to penetrate and hit the scoreboard with his booming left foot kick, while also capable of finding his own ball and tackling hard at the stoppages.
Campbell earned Under 16 All Australian honours alongside Swans Academy teammate Errol Gulden in 2018, going on to represent NSW/ACT at Under 17 level last year, as well as breaking into the Allies’ Under 18 side for three outings. The 180cm gun capped off a terrific 2019 by gaining NEAFL experience, and more significantly earning best afield honours in the Under 17 Futures All Star showcase.
Laying claim to an elite combination of skills and athletic traits, Campbell is both a damaging and efficient player who will undoubtedly cost the Swans a pretty penny (or, draft points equivalent) come draft time. Catch up on how he is tracking over an elongated preseason, and how he fared in 2019.
DOB: February 4, 2002
Position: Balanced midfielder/forward
2019 NAB LEAGUE STATS: 4 games | 15.8 disposals | 51% contested possessions | 3.0 marks | 7.0 tackles | 1.5 clearances | 5.0 inside 50s | 1.5 rebound 50s | 2.0 goals (8)
2019 UNDER 18 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP STATS: 3 games | 12 disposals | 45% contested possessions | 1.7 marks | 1.7 tackles | 1.3 clearances | 1.6 inside 50s | 1.3 rebound 50s
Strengths: Speed, penetration, inside/outside balance, impact
PRESEASON TESTING HIGHLIGHTS:
Standing Vertical Jump: 61cm
Running Vertical Jump (R/L): 74cm/77cm
Speed (20m): 2.95 seconds
Agility: 8.56 seconds
Endurance (yo-yo): 20.6
By: Peter Williams
Deservingly Best on Ground and it was easy to see why. He rarely wasted it and his left foot was a treat. On a day where the skill level was hit and miss, Campbell seemed to turn everything he touched to gold with his three majors from 14 disposals.
The Sydney Swans Academy member had a couple of early touches, then got his team on the board running out of a stoppage and launching from 40m on the left to sail it home. He kicked a second early in the third with a lovely left foot snap on the boundary, then made it two in a short space of time with a ripping goal from 55m on the run.
At times he did a bit too much, such as being pinged for holding the ball by Henry Walsh in the second term, but his dare and run was something to admire. By taking on the game, he set up scoring opportunities to Reef McInnes and Joel Jeffrey late in the game, and even had a chance himself with a snap which bounced towards goal but was kept in, only for teammates to finish off the job with a major.
By: Michael Alvaro
Another of the diminutive Swans Academy fleet, Campbell has a great mix of inside and outside skills. His passing going forward was excellent, hitting targets on the move from midfield in each quarter with some good range.
Campbell’s ability to weave or break away from congestion proved handy in a hard-fought midfield battle – especially at centre bounces – with his hard tackling (seven) another feature. The Westbrook product capped off an excellent game with two final quarter goals; the first coming after a clean pick up at pace and clinical finish, while the second was a more straightforward set shot conversion.
By: Peter Williams
Just a really clever player and one who looks dangerous in the forward half. He can hurt opposition players in the air or at ground level, and does not need much time and space to create something.
He reads the taps and attempts to spin out of trouble, quickly putting boot to ball. Had a chance to do so in the second term for a major but it was touched on the way through, then had another chance in the third term through a snap but hit the post. Finished with a couple of behinds, but looked dangerous.
By: Joe Lee
The tough and evasive midfielder-forward was Sydney’s best player all day. He consistently lifted when the Swans needed to and was part of the reason the Swans came close in the third quarter.
Playing predominantly through midfield and on the wing, Campbell recorded eight tackles and nine inside 50s, showing he has both offensive and defensive traits in his well-rounded game. Has a damaging and raking left boot and could’ve had a day out if not for wayward goalkicking. Had 24 touches, 1.2 and three rebound 50’s, working around the ground tirelessly in an outstanding all-round game.
By: Alex Gibson
Didn’t have a massive day on the stat sheet but was very noticeable when he had the ball. Playing as the ‘link up man’, Campbell was very exciting to watch and the Dragons could hardly lay a hand on the half-forward. The bottom-ager finished with three goals and his craftiness was a serious problem for the Sandringham defence.
By: Scott Dougan
Campbell won plenty of the ball on the inside and he tackled strongly. One of his best passages of play came early on in the second term when he kicked an important, thumping goal from 50 metres out to keep his team in the game. Campbell finished with a game-high three goals.
By: Michael Alvaro
Campbell caught the eye with a willing second half performance that nearly dragged the Rams back to level pegging. The industrious midfielder was aggressive and did all of the one-percenters early on while showing good composure with ball in hand. Campbell went on to put in a shift at the stoppages with some fighting clearances and drive out of the contest, accumulating well. His courageous contested mark going back with the flight in the third term epitomised his effort.