DRAFT ANALYSIS: "Bailey Williams is the standout ruck/forward in this year's pool, with brilliant athleticism and strong hands overhead."
In a team packed with talent and success, Bailey Williams caught more than a few eyes. The dynamic tall impressed in the Stingrays first premiership season, both in the ruck and up forward, and while his position in the National Draft is often debated, you cannot help but be amazed by what he offers. In the Grand Final, Williams did not quite offer his usual impact with Will Kelly working hard to minimise the tall early. However, Williams still found enough room to kick two important goals for the game. The week before that he kicked three, hunted the ball in the forward line and flew high in the ruck. By what we can see, his potential outweighs what he has given in some of his games, but he still has a greater impact than most.
At the beginning of the year, Williams was pegged to go a lot higher in the draft, but after a drop in some of his usual strengths midway in the season, he has slid slightly. He played good footy in the NationalUnder 18 Championships for Vic Country but struggled to convert in front of goal. Though this followed him for the rest of the season, Williams still kicked 25 goals across his 14 games in the TAC Cup. Dandenong play with intense pressure and relentless attack, and this shines in Williams. For a tall, Williams boasted talent high and low with the football, with impressive speed and attack in the forward line. He was a big contributor in the Stingrays standout season and might just be their team’s best player.
- Contested marking
- Vertical leap
Williams has long been praised for his athletic ability. In the National Draft Combine, and despite his size, he finished sixth in the 20-metre sprint (2.946 seconds) just behind Geelong Falcons defender, Connor Idun (2.945 seconds) and ahead of highly-touted tall, Ben King (2.965 seconds). In the vertical jump, he finished with a 94cm leap off his left foot, which ended up being the highest recorded for the combine. Though impressive on paper, Williams’ athleticism is best seen on the pitch. His ability to soar above his opponent in the ruck was seen countless times in both his 2017 and 2018 seasons. When down forward, he is taking strong contested grabs, leaping too high for a spoil and absorbing contact well in the air. He averages the most contested marks of any player to play more than two games. His speed and daunting presence also allow him to apply concentrated pressure as a forward, both trapping the football and chasing runners. Williams is not afraid to get low or take on the ball carrier as his athleticism and work-rate continues to offer him these opportunities.
Williams also boasts strong leading patterns. His time in the forward line has served him well in his ability to read the incoming ball. If it is there to be taken, he will take it, nor will he give up on the play. With momentum at his back, it seems anything’s possible, kicking goals on the run, finding the better option and passing cleverly toward goal. He knows how to bring his teammates into the game, and that echoes true with the Stingrays’ recent success. On the ball or in the ruck contest, Williams finds his man well, or takes his own ball and kicks the goal for himself. He in the chaos, he seems to thrive, but his work when play has settled has more people talking though.
- Set shot goalkicking
At the season’s open, kicking goals was bread and butter for Dandenong’s tall, but as the season’s progressed he has struggled in that area. This has greatly impacted his draft stocks in the back end of the season and could possibly edge him out of a first round selection. To onlookers, it makes him a less rounded performer and continues to be highlighted due to his role on the field. Whether this is an issue of confidence or ability is greatly debated. It seems a couple bad trots have lowered his confidence and have affected his mental game in front of the sticks but under the right coaching or guidance, the tall should find his groove again.
Like in the finals, Williams has also had issues with consistency across four quarters. It isn’t a common issue, but it has happened enough to be noted. He finds a way to have an impact, but over the year it seems his confidence has wavered. That confidence at times could be the overarching cause of some of his weaker games, because we all know he can do better.
DRAFT PROJECTION: 12-40
Earlier in the year, Williams was touted as a top 10 selection, but since his slight drop in impact, could be picked out of the first-round all together. Though, he is still likely to go late in the first if he fits the bill for the right side. Anyone who watches his games can a see a level of talent and competitive spirit a cut above most. His athleticism and work-rate make him a dangerous forward utility and his vertical leap could be utilised in ruck or down in defence. With some dedication, Williams can rid his set-shot problems and return to his elite level. The right team just needs to see that and give him the chance to take on the AFL.
Under 18s Championships