Josh Poulter’s Big Board – 1-10

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Updated: March 15, 2017

The final installment of the Big Board is here, with positions 1-10. To catch up, or remind yourself of the rest of the Big Board, you can view positions 11-17 and 18-25 here.

 

Position: Key Forward

Club: Bendigo Pioneers/Geelong Grammar/GWS Academy**

A Key Forward who is athletic for his size and has strong hands. Brander is a player caught in the middle of the raging debate regarding the GWS academy and it’s generous New South Wales Riverina zoning concessions. Due to his move to Geelong Grammar, where he began boarding under a cricket scholarship in 2014, Branders eligibility to join Giants as an academy prospect is fast becoming a notorious topic of season 2017. His lateral movement is close to elite for his size while his skills themselves are unquestionable. He can be deployed as a defender when required however it’s in the forward 50 where his future lies. Brander can turn the game on its head and is already showing he possesses the traits that will enable him for a long and consistent career at AFL level. As he puts on mass to his growing frame the true potential of Jarrod Brander as a power forward of the competition will start becoming a prevalent reality.

Position: Defender/Midfielder

Club: Bendigo Pioneers/Geelong Grammar/Victoria Country

A running half-back/wingman who is close to the best ball-user in the 2017 crop. Possessing elite pace to go with his tireless ability to run and carry, O’Brien, consistently finds himself as that go to “link-man” as he sets his team up going forward. As season 2016 progressed O’Brien found himself playing more and more consistent minutes in the midfield. His eye catching bottom-age campaign for the Bendigo Pioneers was capped off with a starring performance in the U17s All-Stars Game. The silky left footer will have a busy year ahead of him as he looks to help Bendigo push for a long awaited finals berth while establishing himself as an ever-present force for the Vic Country state team.

Position: Midfielder/Forward

Club: Glenelg/South Australia

The key forward turned midfielder who has drawn comparisons to the likes of Western Bulldogs star Jake Stringer and Sydney Swans ball magnet Josh Kennedy has reasons to have South Australian’s excited. A powerful player who is strong on the lead and uses his big framed body to his advantage when sent into the trenches as a rugged inside midfielder. In the air, Fogarty’s dominant marking ability is are an eye catching feature of his game which enables him to become a key focal point for his side. Fogarty moves extremely well for a man of his size, possessing a unique blend of agility and trickery to compliment his smart decision making with ball in hand. He could very well be the most destructive player in the 2017 class. His added flexibility of being able to play just about any position on the ground makes him a clear contender for the overall number one draft selection.

Position: Midfielder/Forward

Club: Murray Bushrangers/Melbourne Grammar/GWS Academy**

Spargo is the son of North Melbourne 81-gamer Paul Spargo. A pint-sized midfielder who can sneak forward and kick goals. He possesses an uncanny knack for finding the ball which he showcased as he dominated the 2015 U16 Division two national carnival for NSW/ACT Rams, winning the McLean Medal which is awarded to the best player at the carnival. Spargo has a show of finesse in the way he plays the game, particularly his use of the ball with precision and efficiently (76% in the TAC Cup). This is made even more impressive by the amount possessions garners at just about any level he plays. Another member of the controversial GWS Academy, Spargo will play a vital role for both the Giants and also the Murray Bushrangers as they look to go one better in 2017. Charlie Spargo is a player of the ‘what you see is what you get’ mould who will provide incredible consistency for whichever side that ends up drafting him.

Position: General Forward

Club: Eastern Ranges/Victoria Metro

Stephenson rose to prominence early on as a 16-year-old with an impressive finals series for the Eastern Ranges in 2015. A medium forward possessing that “x-factor” quality who is able to turn a game with his athleticism, strong hands and an ability to find the goals. While his frame is still an area of concern the Ranges & AFL Academy have fast tracked this particular deficiency and it looks as if Stephenson has been filling out consistently in the lead up to season 2017. He will look to push up the ground as much as possible, adding another element to his game as a wingman, however with the traits and characteristics he possesses it seems as if he’ll find a home in attack as that damaging lead-up medium forward.

Position: Key Forward

Club: Uni of QLD/Queensland/Brisbane Academy

Labelled already as a steal for the Brisbane Lions academy, Ballenden has gone from strength to strength in the past few years. His size and frame allows him to out-body his opponents and take front position in the marking contest, while his agility and speed off the mark also allows him to operate effectively as a lead-up forward. By generalization, most young key position players have issues with consistency, in Ballenden’s case this hasn’t been seen as a problem as of yet. With experiences playing for the Allies and Brisbane’s NEAFL side in 2016 holding him in good stead as he approaches 2017 and beyond. If early indications are anything to go by, Ballenden is firmly in the discussion for that coveted number 1 draft selection.

Position: Key Defender

Club: Dandenong Stingrays/Victoria Country

A modern day key defender who has the scope to play a variety of roles in the defensive 50. Clavarino for the moment is by far the best defender in this seasons draft pool. He was very impressive for the Dandenong Stingrays in 2016 as he quickly became one of their most important players. He regularly went head to head with the opposition’s best forwards and was able to consistently shut them down. Clavarino has the game awareness and confidence to peel off his opponents, he is a fantastic intercept mark and an equally effective rebounder. These qualities will hold him in strong stead as he prepares for his draft year of 2017.

#8 – Callum Coleman-Jones

Position: Ruckman

Club: Sturt/South Australia

Arguably the best ruckman in the 2017 draft class, Coleman-Jones displays excellent tap work and presents as a threatening key forward when resting in the forward 50. He dominated the SANFL Under 18s for Sturt, averaging close to 40 hitouts a game. Coleman-Jones is also very effective as a link up player with his strong marking ability. He can act as a consistent marking target for the “bail out kick”, which in turn creates a linking chain for his midfielders to transition from defense to attack. His kicking has been a talking point with a somewhat shaky action, however as 2016 wore on that facet of his game had improved. Coleman-Jones generally uses the ball well, this further masks his sometimes negative kicking deficiency as he knows how to work within the limitations of his kicking.

Position: Midfielder

Club: Geelong Falcons/Victoria Country

The solidly built midfielder is tough at the contest and regularly goes in and under to win his own ball with a tough contested situations. He was the go-to clearance player for the Geelong Falcons in 2016 which he further backed up with an average of 5 clearances per game for Victoria Country in their 2016 national carnival campaign. Worpel tackles well and uses his strength at the contest to make orchestrate the play to his liking. While Worpel is a smooth mover, and an effective ball winner, his skills still need polishing (55% Disposal Efficiency in the National Championships), however he has also showcased that he can use the ball in a very effective manner. For Worpel, the saying “consistency is the key” will play testament to how high he can push himself up the draft order come November!

 

Position: Ruckman/Forward

Club: Eastern Ranges/Victoria Metro

The ruckman turned forward earned All-Australian honors as a bottom ager named during the 2016 national carnival. Hayes became Vic Metro’s number one ruckman through their title winning campaign as he continued to display the scintillating form he showcased throughout the TAC cup for the Eastern Ranges. Showcasing his ability as a classy tap ruckman, Hayes is also able to provide as a big mobile target all around the ground. He also signified his prowess when resting up forward as an Inside-50 presence. Like many big men, Hayes’s kicking can become questionable at times but given the opportunities to flourish in an elite environment, so will his kicking. Hayes will act as a key cog in the Vic Metro machine as they look to claim back to back national championship titles.


** There is a bit to play out in regards to the GWS Academy, with SEN reporting that GWS look set to lost Albury in their Academy. We will update this as new information is made available.

 

Written by: Josh Poulter (@JoshPoulter04)

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*The opinions expressed in this article are that of the writer and not Over The Line Sports or AFL Draft Hub

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