DRAFT ANALYSIS: "The Brisbane Lions Academy member is a big-bodied, versatile player who is a clean grab of the footy and very agile."
Connor McFadyen is an exciting 190cm midfield/forward prospect aligned with the Brisbane Lions Academy. He is an extremely versatile player that can play in multiple positions and is extremely damaging inside 50 with his sticky hands and goal sense. During the National Under 18 Championships, McFayden played predominately in the forward half of the ground for the Allies, but also spent plenty of minutes throughout the midfield, showcasing his strength and power. As he develops, it is likely McFadyen will end up as a big-bodied inside midfielder. He has the strength and smarts when forward to beat even bigger opponents because of his strong core. When in the midfield, he applies fend-offs and burrows under packs to get the ball free to teammates. Sometimes he can lack composure with his disposal, particularly his kicking, but he has very nice upside.
- Contested work
- Clean at ground level
- Dual sided
McFadyen’s ability to mark strongly above is his head is probably one of his most proficient attributes. During the National Under Championships, recruiters witnessed first-hand how good he is in the air, with the midfielder taking several contested marks inside 50 – some of which included flying over packs. Against South Australia, McFadyen gathered 21 disposals, six clearances (team-high), five inside 50s, seven tackles (also a team-high) and one goal, proving that his ceiling is just as high as any other inside midfielder in the draft pool.
The fact he did play both forward and through the midfield makes him very versatile and suitable to fulfil a number of roles at AFL level. He can play as a lead-up forward, or a crumbing one, as well as an inside midfielder. He wins a lot of his possessions at the coalface, with 53.7 per cent of his touches won in contested situations. A lot of his handballs are under pressure by winning the ball at ground level and through sheer strength, drags his opponent with him as he shoves it to a teammate nearby. His agility to get out of situations is impressive, running a 7.75 agility test – better than Stephen Hill’s AFL record – at the Brisbane Lions Academy pre-season testing, exemplifying just how agile he can be.
McFadyen is very powerful around stoppages due to his size, strength and competitiveness, making him a difficult matchup for most midfielders. He’s clean at ground level, his hands in tight are first class and he tackles aggressively. One aspect that helps with his disposal is the fact he can use either foot and he kicked goals off both, with his right being his natural boot, but his left still able to conjure some magic, including an impressive goal from a throw-in where he contested against the bigger Hugo Munn, out-bodied him with his hips and snapped around his body on his non-preferred from the pocket. His positioning is a fantastic strength to have, and he is as clean at ground level as he is in the air, often needing one grab to snatch the ball.
- Acceleration on-field
McFadyen is a player who athletically tests well, but could use those traits more effectively on the field. In the pre-season testing with the Lions Academy, McFadyen recorded 3.02 seconds in the 20m sprint, but on-field he is not always able to show his acceleration. One of the knocks on McFadyen is he can often be caught over the first few metres, so he is quicker in that final 15m rather than the first five. He has the strength to stand up in the tackle and get the ball away, but could improve over those first few metres. Another area which he could improve on is his composure with the ball. Sometimes under pressure he can tend to rush his disposal, and this goes back to not quite being able to use his speed as effective as he could. Once he realises he is under pressure, he can kick the ball a step or two early, or can throw it on the boot at times. After he lands at an AFL club and further develops techniques to enhance his speed, he could find more composure with ball-in-hand. Finally, his consistency, like many under 18s, is an area to improve. He has had some fantastic games, but also quieter games. Despite having the bigger body, he averaged just the 11 touches at North Eastern Australian Football League (NEAFL) level, but did hit the scoreboard with six goals in his five games.
DRAFT PROJECTION: 25-40
Powerful, big-bodied midfielders are hard to find these days and we have seen that they are extremely valuable in modern football, with the likes of Patrick Cripps and Nat Fyfe dominating at the top level. When McFadyen increases his aerobic capacity required further to play senior football, he will become a damaging player that can successfully play in multiple positions around the ground. With his size, versatility, marking ability and goal sense, the Lions will be very keen to secure his services. He still has plenty to work on, but his scope and natural ability is already fairly impressive.
Under 18s Championships