THIS week, Draft Central launched its brand new series of pocket podcasts, a collection of short-form discussions which narrow in on a range of topics heading into the 2020 AFL Draft. In the series premiere, Chief Editor Peter Williams sat down with AFL Draft Editor Michael Alvaro to compare their rankings of the top four key position defenders in this year’s crop, but with a twist.
The players in question; Heath Chapman, Nikolas Cox, Denver Grainger-Barras, and Zach Reid are all touted as first round prospects, and it just so happens that they are also all key position defenders who use the ball brilliantly by foot. Their linear traits got our editors thinking – ‘if our club was looking for a key defender in the first round, which one would we take?’ and ‘all four players boast excellent kicks, but which one is best?’.
Here are Peter and Michael’s respective orders:
Peter – Reid, Chapman, Cox, Grainger-Barras
Michael – Chapman, Reid, Cox, Grainger-Barras
Taken into account in the ranking process were parameters such as; efficiency, damage, penetration, technique, style, decision making, and dual-sidedness, making for some tough decisions. In the end, the orders were relatively similar. Remember, these charts are purely indicative of our opinions on their kicking, and not of their overall potential. For the latter, check out our latest Power Rankings.
Here is a breakdown of each player’s kicking prowess:
Heath Chapman – An attacking defender of sorts, Chapman’s combination of penetration and accuracy made him hard to deny as Michael’s first choice. The West Australian opens up play with his distribution, not just in the back half, but also as he dashes further afield. The 193cm talent makes great decisions and is a damaging force across half-back.
Nikolas Cox – The Northern Knights utility can play just about anywhere, but his kicking truly comes to the fore when stationed across half-back or even on the wing. Cox is comfortable kicking on either foot and hit targets with aplomb. His efficiency is up there with each other contender, but his arching style makes his 199cm height a touch more evident when on the move.
Denver Grainger-Barras – The most highly touted player of the lot, Grainger-Barras’ place on either list is hardly a knock on his proficiency by foot. While he may not prove as offensively creative or penetrative, the West Australian is a composed user of the ball in defence and simply gets the job done.
Zach Reid – At 202cm, Reid’s efficiency and fluency by foot is something to behold. His technique and style on the ball replicates that of a player 20cm shorter than him, meaning he was an easy choice for Peter in top spot. Reid is as reliable as anyone on the ball, with his relieving use by foot important when forming transitional play.
While we may well essentially be splitting hairs, it is interesting to see just what makes a player good at their craft. The two Victorians – Cox and Reid – are both around the 200cm mark, so are somewhat boosted by being so outstanding in their disposal for a player of their size. Even at 195cm and 193cm respectively, Grainger-Barras and Chapman are fantastic ball users considering their roles and physical make-ups.
It means that whichever order these players fall in come draft time, each club is poised to gain an elite key position defender with great versatility, and the all-important bonus of being able to kick the ball at an elite level. After all, the game is called football for a reason, and this quartet has that fundamental down pat.
To hear the podcast in full, click here.