IN the midst of football’s long-awaited return, Draft Central takes a look at some of this year’s brightest names who have already represented their state in some capacity leading into 2020, or are bolting into draft contention. While plenty has changed between now and then, we will provide a bit of an insight into players, how they performed at pre-season testing, and some of our scouting notes on them from last year.
Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft watch is South Adelaide’s Brayden Cook, one of the steepest risers among this year’s South Australian crop. The medium forward/wingman has lit up the SANFL Under 18s competition in 2020, proving a match winner for South Adelaide across all-bar two games. Cook’s sizeable vertical leap, clean hands, and ability to find the goals make him a raw prospect with plenty of desirable traits, all of which stood out in quick time to AFL recruiters. He looms as a first round bolter, and is certainly in the mix as one of his state’s top 10 draft chances in 2020. Cook earned an invite to this year’s national combine, credit to his outstanding form.
South Adelaide/South Australia
DOB: July 18, 2002
Position: Wing/Medium Forward
Strengths: Aerial marking, vertical leap, clean hands, scoreboard impact, game-winner
Improvements: Finishing consistency
2020 SANFL U18s averages: 10 games | 19.6 disposals | 7.3 marks (2.3 contested) | 2.1 tackles | 3.9 inside 50s | 0.7 rebound 50s | 1.9 goals (19)
PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:
Standing Vertical Leap: 61cm
Running Vertical Leap (R/L): 76cm/74cm
Speed (20m): 3.21 seconds
Agility: 8.62 seconds
Endurance (Yo-yo): 20.8
2020 SCOUTING NOTES:
By: Peter Williams
Cook almost proved a match-winner for the Panthers when he went forward to boot two final term goals early in the period, contributing to his side kicking five consecutive goals and hitting the front. He also missed a couple of chances, but his work one-on-one work was great and his leading quite proficient as well. Had he truly converted the couple of behinds in that final term – finishing with 2.3 for the entire game – he could have had an even bigger day out. Nonetheless, he still finished with the 20 touches and nine marks, looking unstoppable on the lead. His vision is superb, taking the chance to hit up a teammate on the 45-degree kick 30-metres out rather than blazing away from a long-range goal in the opening term. He has high level footy smarts, and while there are still areas to work on, he has some serious quality traits.
By: Michael Alvaro
This year’s first round bolter is building some serious momentum, and while he did not quite have the desired scoreboard impact in this game, Cook showed some promising signs. Starting on the wing, many of Cook’s highlights came through his aerial ability, rising above his opponents to stick some terrific overhead marks. Even when he could not hold onto his marks, the top-ager followed up with handy work at ground level where he proved smooth and evasive on the ball. After being held relatively well in the first term, Cook spent a touch more time forward immediately after the main break and turned provider with a couple of goal assists to Hugo Hoeck. He would only manage three behinds of his own though, as the radar proved a little off. Still, Cook is the kind of player his teammates often looked for when transitioning into attack, and his positioning a kick behind the ball allowed the Panthers to better dictate possession.
By: Tom Cheesman
Cook is a fast-rising draft prospect and showed once again that he is a class above Under 18s level, finishing with 23 disposals, 10 marks and a goal. Intercept marking was one of his standout attributes early in the season, and it was great to see this on show at times on Saturday. He worked hard around the ground to collect plenty of possessions and link up with Panthers teammates to transition the ball forward efficiently. He showed that he has great strength too when he took a strong contested one-on-one mark inside 50 in the second term. In the last quarter, he got on the end of a lovely weighted kick from teammate Dylan Brown to kick a major, making up for the more difficult set shot he missed earlier in the game. Cook has proven that he can play a range of positions and it will be very interesting to see where he is placed when playing higher levels of competition.
By: Tom Wyman
Cook has rocketed up draft boards in recent weeks and the hype will only continue to increase after he won South Adelaide the game off his own boot. Cook started the match on the wing and showed a glimpse of his terrific leap to almost take a great pack mark early on. He sent a laser-like ball inside 50 to the leading Verrall and showed elite acceleration to speed away from his opponent and run into goal, but his kick missed to the near side. Along with his speed, Cook’s penetrating delivery inside-50 was exceptional. He set-up several goals by hand and foot and missed a couple of attempts himself, but late in the third term, Cook booted the first of his five majors. He simply judged the flight of the ball better than everyone else, remained composed and converted the checkside.
Crucially, Cook knows when to have a crack at goal and when to pass it off, but in the fourth quarter it was all about him. He took a terrific one-on-one mark deep inside-50 and goaled to give the Panthers the perfect start to the final term. His third, a freakish soccer goal from the boundary line, was one for the highlight reel and added to South’s late momentum. Just moments after, it appeared he was going to do the same from an identical spot, but as the ball bounced away he tapped it back in and ran back to gather and keep the play alive. Cook’s expert use of the body in marking contests, combined with his vice-like hands and damaging leap proved too much for the Eagles defenders to handle. A potential first round contender, Cook gathered 22 disposals, eight marks (four contested), three tackles and five inside 50s in a breathtaking display up forward.
By: Tom Wyman
Medium forward, Cook has shown some glimpses of his talent already this season, but his four goal effort against the Redlegs will have really turned some heads. He slotted his first goal from a regulation set-shot after floating across the pack to take a nice mark. Later, Cook swooped at the back of a marking contest and gathered the loose ball cleanly before accelerating away and kicking long for a teammate to run onto and goal from the square. Later in the final term he showed excellent hustle to force a turnover, gather the loose ball and complete a clean pass to Clifton, who then returned the favour by finding him all alone inside-50, where he booted his fourth. Cook’s cleanness by foot, aerial prowess and speed at ground level was exciting to watch and he finished the day with 16 disposals (15 kicks), eight marks (three contested) and four inside 50s.
By: Michael Alvaro
One of three Panthers to notch 26 touches, Cook made the wing his own across another consistent outing. He took a bit of time to get going, but kickstarted his day with a strong pack mark and goal late in the first term. That kind of forward running and hardness at the contest made him a constant threat, with some nice accumulative work between the arcs boosting his stats throughout. Cook capped off his day with a second goal, put through from the goalsquare in term four.
By: Tom Cheesman
Cook has been a shining light for the Panthers’ Under 18 side so far this season and had another impressive showing on Saturday. He collected 19 disposals, nine marks, eight inside 50s, and two goals playing on the wing. His aerial ability is fantastic, as he frequently uses his strong vertical leap to meet the ball at its highest point and give his opponent little-to-no chance at spoiling. He did well to push forward and impact the scoreboard in this contest as well, which should be an important feature of his game in the years to come.
By: Tom Cheesman
Cook spent a lot of time on the wing, and his ability to work back into defence stood out. He took multiple intercept marks to halt the Tigers’ attacks and showed great agility around the ground for a prospect his size. His kicking was a bit inconsistent, but that should improve with more experience at Under 18 level. Cook was arguably best on ground at half time, but was much less prominent in the second half. He finished with 17 disposals, 10 marks (five contested) and three inside 50s.
Featured Image: Brayden Cook in action for South Adelaide | Source: Nick Hook/SANFL
>> CATCH UP ON OUR DRAFT WATCH SERIES