Nick Blakey, the Sydney Swans Academy member and son of 359-game AFL player John Blakey, had the option of North Melbourne, Brisbane or Sydney come this year’s national draft, with the highly-rated forward choosing the Swans as his preferred location. The decision came as no surprise to the majority of the football world, with the youngster living up in Sydney since he was 12 years-old. He can play in any position on the ground but plays predominately in the forward 50, where he’s most dangerous. He is a smart footballer, who possesses plenty of striking attributes, such as versatility, contested marking, goal sense and competitiveness. He has a few improvements to make just to build on his consistency, and build more size to his frame to compete against the stronger defenders, but overall he has plenty of upside for Swans fans to get excited over when he joins them in the National Draft. An extremely highly-rated junior, who has the potential to develop into one of the leagues best forwards.
- Scoreboard impact
- Marking (contested and at the highest point)
- Reads play well
- Clean at ground level for size
Blakey is one of the best key position prospects of this years’ draft class. At 195cm, his aerial prowess and his ability to mark the ball at its highest point makes it extremely difficult for his opponents to defend. Blakey sets himself apart from other key forwards with his versatility and athleticism, with the youngster able to find plenty of the ball through the middle of the ground. This versatility is what sets himself aside from the other key position forwards because he has that ability to go into the stoppages and win clearances, as he did against Western Australia at Etihad Stadium.
Blakey is strong overhead and is able to mark the ball at the highest point. He is not powerful and while one-on-one against a monster defender he could get pushed off it early in his career, Blakey is able to beat his opponent with his athleticism and vertical leap. He is the type of player that can turn the momentum of a match in minutes, and it was evident when playing for the Allies in the AFL U18 Championships when he booted two consecutive goals in a matter of minutes against South Australia, single-handling keeping his team in the game. The modern-day forward requires strong goal sense, footy smarts, cleanliness at ground level and athleticism. Blakey ticks all those boxes.
Even though Blakey stands at 195cm, his strength and weight need improvement, weighing in at only 80kg. He will need to add more muscle to his frame before he is able to compete with the AFL’s strongest and best defenders. Even though Blakey’s versatility is one of his strongest attributes, it’s still unclear where his best position lies, with many uncertain on where he will end up in the future. He’s shown that he’s effective up forward, through the midfield and has even shown potential as a key defender. To round off a small list of improvements for the young gun, Blakey still needs to work on his consistency during games and just like most forwards, his set-shot goal kicking, which can occasionally be unpredictable.
DRAFT PROJECTION: Top 10
Nick Blakey is undoubtedly one of the best forwards of this year’s draft class. His competitive nature, versatility and scoreboard impact alone make Blakey an attractive prospect. Blakey will no doubt be a top 10 pick come draft night, and he may even get a bid on as early as number four or five. The Sydney Swans will be eager to pair him with Buddy Franklin next year to further his development after producing yet another, brilliant prospect through their academy. Expect Blakey to play early in his career, but the Swans will be mindful to not throw him in the deep end too early given his size, but it is exciting to think Blakey could play forward or through the midfield wherever they needed him.
Under 18s Championships