- May 18, 2017
DRAFT ANALYSIS "Elite running defender who is a classy ball user on his left foot"
The Richards name is famous within Collingwood, with Ed being a relative of the great Lou Richards – as the grandson of the great Ron Richards who played 143 games in the black and white. Richards has had a strong season, despite suffering a knee injury early in the season that saw him miss out on Vic Metro selection entirely – Richards dominated in the APS school boy competition for Carey Grammar. Richards stands out not only for his orange hair, but his speed and dash rebounding the ball out of defensive 50 make him a damaging player. At Carey’s big ground, Richards often took the kickouts – dashing through the opposition forwards before propelling it towards the wing with a precise left foot kick. The second half of the year saw him return to the Oakleigh Chargers, continuing his form and showing signs in the midfield where he was able to use his clean hands to effectiveness. In the APS v AGSV school boy rep game, Richards was the leading disposal winner on the ground with 33 disposals (76 per cent efficiency), six rebound 50s and five tackles.
- Clearance work
- Clean hands
Not only does Richards test well in the 20m sprint – on match days you can see him use his speed to burst from packs or from defensive 50 to rebound the ball. Earlier in the season at TAC Cup preseason testing, Richards ran a 2.89-second 20m sprint (sixth fastest overall). A time of 3.01 seconds on a “slow” track at Etihad Stadium had him just outside the top 10 at the National AFL Draft Combine. Rebounding the ball out of defence at speed made him a tough opponent and it saw schools and TAC Cup clubs attempt to shut him down on the outside due to the damaging speed he possesses.
Richards has a pinpoint left foot kick on the run and when he is stationary going short. His kicking efficiency of 75 per cent was the best out of any of the TAC Cup players invited to the National Combine. He was often given the responsibility of taking the kick outs at all levels, not looking fazed by any added pressure attached to such task.
Richards also possesses a very good leap, which means when he is defending in a one-on-one situation, he can leap high and spoil the ball or out mark some of his opponents. At the National Combine, Richards recorded a running vertical jump of 80cm – which was well above the average, indicating the spring in his step.
When he played through the midfield, Richards’ clearance work was impressive. While he recorded just 15 clearances for the season in 10 games for the Chargers, the number doesn’t accurately reflect the games where he played as an inside midfielder. In the Chargers late season clash with the Sandringham Dragons, Richards had more midfield time recording four clearances. At the moment he is a burst player in the midfield, suited to the outside role – but he has shown that a key trait of having quick and clean hands will allow him to possibly play as an inside midfielder in the future.
- Contested ball winning
One aspect for improvement for Richards will be his endurance. At the NAB AFL Draft Combine, Richards scored 20.6 in the Yo-Yo test (average 21.0) and six minutes and 59 seconds in the 2km time trial (average six minutes 49 seconds). While it doesn’t cause Richards too many issues when he plays on game day – especially having played on the big Dunshea Oval surface at Carey, it will be an area to address. These figures aren’t too far from the averages and there’s no doubt in a professional AFL environment that Richards’ running can improve.
If Richards is to translate into an inside midfielder at some point in the future, he may need to improve his contested ball winning. Richards averaged 36 per cent of his possessions in the TAC Cup in the contest, a figure that is below the 50:50 split of most contested ball winning midfielders. Again the figures are skewed due to him playing mainly as a rebounding defender, but it will be an area to improve at the next level if he progresses to a midfielder.
DRAFT PROJECTION: 10-30
Richards is one of the few players who possess elite speed coming out of defensive 50 which will no doubt make him appealing to clubs inside the late first and early second round of 2017’s National AFL Draft. He has a deadly left foot kick which hits the target on more occasions than not. The rebounding defender has plenty of X-Factor and may be able to transition to a midfielder rather than as a half back flanker in the future.
NAB League Boys