OVER the last 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 third edition, Chief Editor Peter Williams again sat down with AFL Draft Editor Michael Alvaro to compare two of the best key position defenders available in this year’s crop.
The prospects in question – Denver Grainger-Barras and Heath Chapman – are both West Australians touted as first round locks, with the former pegged as a top five talent from a while out, while the latter has improved his standing in 2020 to jump into top 15 contention. Our editors discussed just what makes either player so good and the traits which set them apart from one another, ultimately concluding that they could well end up as the best two players of their position at AFL level.
Here are their respective player profiles:
(Click the link on either player’s name for their full draft profiles)
Club: Swan Districts
DOB: April 17, 2002
Strengths: Reading the play, intercept marking, vertical leap, agility, defensive versatility, composure
Improvements: Strength, offensive output
Club: West Perth
DOB: January 31, 2002
Strengths: Intercept marking, reading the play, kick penetration and efficiency, repeat running, composure
Improvements: Size as KPD
This matchup is a great example of just how different two players of the same position can be, despite also boasting some similarities. Both players are terrific interceptors, with their outstanding reading of the play and high-level athleticism allowing them to dominate in the air. As discussed on our premiere pocket podcast episode, Chapman sets himself apart with his kicking ability, bringing a damaging attacking edge to his work across half-back.
In the recent Western Australia Under 18 All-Stars game, he was made to match up on Grainger-Barras as the latter shifted forward. Grainger-Barras booted two goals to show his versatility, while forcing Chapman to showcase his defensive attributes. That is an edge the Swan Districts product has on Chapman, but he can always improve on that attacking side to better utilise his athleticism and sound decision making.
It is an intriguing comparison nonetheless, and while they are in slightly different draft projection ranges, will have clubs thinking about exactly the kind of key defender they are after. The pair loomed as a formidable defensive combination for their state coming into 2020, but alas the lack of an Under 18 National Championships meant that failed to materialise.
To listen to the podcast in full, click here.