DRAFT ANALYSIS: “An elusive and exciting small forward who plays with flair and dare.”
Toby Bedford is an exciting talent from the Halls Creek footy factory, which has been the breeding ground for many talented juniors to come through the AFL system and Bedford is no exception. Bedford plays the game with flare and you cannot help but notice him whenever he is around the ball – whether it’s his pressure on the ball carrier or his movement in traffic where he is near impossible to catch when he is up and moving. Bedford is tied to Melbourne’s Next Generation Academy (NGA) and he should provide good value in an area they have bolstered lately especially with the addition of Charlie Spargo last year, and Bedford could challenge for a spot in that side in his first year. Bedford had a strong year playing both for TAC Cup premiers Dandenong Stingrays and Vic Country where he also impressed and improved his draft chances. Bedford was one of Vic Country’s most consistent players and he really started to impress even as a midfielder late in the championships.
- Movement in traffic
Bedford is perhaps one of the most exciting players to watch in this years draft, he can do things not many other players in this draft can. He has an above average leap and isn’t afraid to fly for marks but he is the type to keep his feet if missing a mark and then quickly gathering the ball and darting in and out of traffic. Bedford is rarely caught because his sideways movement is not only quick, but also unpredictable where he will move in ways most players wouldn’t even think to try.
Bedford doesn’t just use his speed to attack but also to defend, he chases hard and with intensity similar to an Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, he will come from a long way and make up ground very quickly and he has a good tackling technique. Bedford showed to be a willingly tackler averaging more than five per game for both Dandenong and Vic Country – he is intense with his tackling but also his aggression at the contest, despite his exciting style of play and frame, he isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty and win his own ball or lay a strong bump.
- Scoreboard impact
Bedford has struggled to win a lot of the ball, although he mostly plays as a small forward he has still played a fair amount running through the midfield. He averaged 14 disposals for Dandenong and 12 for Vic Country which are solid numbers but for a small forward going through the midfield he would be wanting to lift that average to almost 20 disposals a game at AFL level. Despite the low numbers he usually has an impact on games regardless and he has proven to be exactly the type of player to influence games despite not winning a lot of the ball much like Cyril Rioli did.
Bedford can hit the scoreboard but not as much as a player of his talent should, Bedford failed to hit the scoreboard for Vic Country and he only managed seven goals from his nine games playing for Dandenong so this will certainly be an area he will need to improve on. Of course the modern game isn’t about how many goals a player kicks but the best small forwards in the AFL still hit the scoreboard regularly as well as put pressure on.
DRAFT PROJECTION: 3rd Round
Toby Bedford is an exciting talent and you cant help but love the way he goes about his footy. He plays with flair and dare and there are things only he can do with the way he gets out of trouble so effortlessly. The disposal numbers and goals don’t show it but he has been a dangerous player all year with his tackling pressure and ability to make something out of nothing. If Bedford can improve his scoreboard impact and ball winning ability he has the potential to become an elite small forward at AFL level and with his intensity and attacking nature he may well have an impact once he gets to play in the AFL.
Under 18s Championships