Under 18s Power Rankings: Key defenders

The season is at the midway point and we are starting to get an idea about who is likely to be drafted this year. We have seen a lot of good performances this year, although it can be hard to tell a good display of talent from the rest.

It is very subjective and difficult to compare a big five-goal game from Tom Boyd, to a 30-possession game from Lewis Taylor, to a 15-possession game from Dom Sheed in the WAFL seniors. The idea of these rankings is to put all individual games on a scale to make it easier to compare the potential draftees.

In a similar way to Dream Team and SuperCoach scores, a player’s statistics from each match are analysed and the players gain a point score due to a formula devised by myself. Points are gained for qualities that recruiters look for in a player; for example contested marking, effective kicking and tackles gain higher points than ineffective possessions, so players that burn the ball are negatively affected. Senior matches and reserve grade matches are weighted to compensate for the higher standard of football, so players like Dom Sheed and Trent Dumont are not punished for having a weaker statistical output in a more difficult competition.

Over the course of the season the scores have been compiled and an average score for each player is noted, sorted in order of average. Please note that some players will have inflated averages due to playing less games (school football and Under 18 Championships games are not included at the moment as the AFL have not released the full set of statistics for them).

Mid-season rankings:
1. Riley Knight (Woodville-West Torrens) – Avg 141.3
2. James Aish (Norwood) – Avg 131.7
3. Matt Crouch (North Ballarat Rebels) – Avg 127.4
4. Tom Boyd (Eastern Ranges) – Avg 123.6
5. James Tsitas (Geelong Falcons) – Avg 123
6. James Battersby (Sturt) – Avg 123
7. Lewis Taylor (Geelong Falcons) – Avg 120.5
8. Josh Kelly (Sandringham Dragons) – Avg 118.7
9. Billy Hartung (Dandenong Stingrays) – Avg 116.4
10. Tom Langdon (Sandringham Dragons) – Avg 115.3
11. Marcus Bontempelli (Northern Knights) – Avg 112
12. Ben Lennon (Northern Knights) – Avg 110
13. Campbell Combe (North Adelaide) – Avg 109.2
14. Jack Billings (Oakleigh Chargers) – Avg 108
15. Dayle Garlett (Swan Districts) – Avg 106.4
16. Christian Salem (Sandringham Dragons) – Avg 106.3
17. Ben Cavarra (Eastern Ranges) – Avg 106.1
18. James Sicily (Western Jets) – Avg 106
19. Nick Favretto (West Adelaide) – Avg 105
20. Eli Templeton (Burnie) – Avg 105
21. Peter Bampton (Norwood) – Avg 105*
22. Blake Acres (West Perth) – Avg 104.7
23. Josh Scott (Gippsland Power) – Avg 103.7
24. Alexander Carr (Gippsland Power) – Avg 103.3
25. Trent Dumont (Norwood) – Avg 102.5
26. David Iaccarino (Western Jets) – Avg 102.2
27. Kade Kolodjashnij (Launceston) – Avg 102
28. Dominic Sheed (Subiaco) – Avg 101.8
29. Will Maginness (Oakleigh Chargers) – Avg 101.5
30. Christian Petracca (Eastern Ranges) – Avg 101.4*
31. Ben Sokol (South Fremantle) – Avg 101.3
32. Sam Heavyside (Bendigo Pioneers) – Avg 100.6
33. Darcy Lang (Geelong Falcons) – Avg 100.5
34. Jacob Chisari (Bendigo Pioneers) – Avg 100.2
35. Mitch Harvey (North Adelaide) – Avg 99.8
36. Michael Gibbons (Murray Bushrangers) – Avg 98.7
37. Zach Merrett (Sandringham Dragons) – Avg 98.6
38. Lachlan Cassidy (North Ballarat Rebels) – Avg 98.1
39. Mitch Honeychurch (Eastern Ranges) – Avg 97.6
40. Bryden Squire (Murray Bushrangers) – Avg 96.1
41. Jay Kennedy-Harris (Oakleigh Chargers) – Avg 94.3
42. Luke McDonald (Werribee) – Avg 94.2
43. Louis Herbert (North Ballarat Rebels) – Avg 94.1
44. Aiden Franetic (Oakleigh Chargers) – Avg 94
45. Matt Scharenberg (Glenelg) – Avg 94
46. Matthew Haynes (Northern Knights) – Avg 93.4
47. Luke Dunstan (Woodville- West Torrens) – Avg 91.5
48. Patrick Cripps (East Fremantle) – Avg 91.3
49. Toby Nankervis (North Launceston) – Avg 91
50. Zac Webster (Glenorchy) – Avg 91

This week we look at key defenders. While they are notoriously known for not scoring high in terms of possessions or fantasy points, there are still a number of players who will make the AFL grade and forge solid careers.
1. Cameron Giles – 195 cm, 93 kg, Woodville-West Torrens

Giles has been a quiet achiever this year and has slowly but surely snuck into people’s draft rankings. He played full back for the title winning South Australia team at the Champs, playing in more of a lockdown role and he did it exceptionally, with some arguing that he could have been an All-Australian selection. But Giles can also play as a rebounding defender a little further up the ground at centre half back, regularly picking up 20 possessions and taking marks.
2. Dan McStay – 193 cm, 86 kg, Eastern Ranges

McStay is an intriguing prospect because he has the ability to play as a key defender, forward or on the wing due to his athleticism. McStay has a good leap and regularly clunks big marks- averaging 2.2 contested marks per match. For a defender he gets a lot of the ball due to his willingness to get off his man and help offensively. But he is also a more than capable man on man defender, reading the ball well through the air.
3. Fraser Fort – 196 cm, 84 kg, Geelong Falcons

Fort is a lanky lockdown defender who can also go down forward and provide a contest. This year Fort has started to improve his workrate and get more of the ball, increasing his average possession numbers to 12. Fort is a good mark of the footy and takes it at its highest point, using his long arms to advantage. Fort is a good size for a key defender with many of the up and coming talls being 196 cm and above.
4. Jed Redden – 198 cm, 87 kg, Glenelg

Redden is a promising tall who can play key back and also pinch hit in the ruck, much like Jackson Trengove from Port. He was very unlucky not to play in the Champs for SA. He is adding some more consistency to his game and is getting 15+ possessions regularly as well as taking big marks. Redden has a size advantage over a lot of key forwards and can match up on the big gorilla forwards like Tom Hawkins without giving up much size.
5. Darcy Gardiner – 192 cm, 84 kg, Geelong

Gardiner is the most highly rated key defender in the draft, but sits lower in these rankings due to a couple of minor flaws in his game. He is not a great kick, so he loses points for efficiency and he doesn’t provide a lot of tackling pressure which concerns me a little. But Gardiner has shown an ability to play at both ends of the ground with ease and lock down on opposition forwards. Gardiner lacks the size of other prospects but he is arguably the best man on man defender in the draft. He is a great spoiler and uses his body extremely well in one on one contests.
6. Jake Kolodjashnij – 192 cm, 88 kg, Launceston

Jake is a tall and athletic key defender who has been performing well this year for both Tasmania and his club Launceston, with 2 best on ground performances in the senior team. He has shown an ability to play man on man or as a third tall in more of a rebounding role and he does both equally well. He is probably more suited to the third tall role at AFL level due to his above average footskills, but I can also seeing him being a more than handy centre half back due to his size and athleticism.

7. Jordan Mangan – 192 cm, 82 kg, Bendigo Pioneers

Mangan is the definition of project tall. He is clean below his knees, especially for a big guy and is a neat kick. He can take a good mark and repeatedly takes contested marks. He is a wiling tackler for a big guy, an attribute clubs will love to see. He can also pinch hit in the ruck but is too small to ruck at AFL level.
8. Tom Barrass – 192 cm, 81 kg, Claremont

Barrass was the best key defender for WA in the champs, holding down the key post of full back and playing on the opposition’s best forwards. He reads the play well and seems to always be in the right position to cut the ball off. He backs himself to win the ball and he also gets off his man to help rebound the ball out of the backline, averaging 11.5 touches per game. His kicking and decision making can be a little bit off at times but it can be worked on.
9. Guy Dickson – 188 cm, 81 kg, Oakleigh

Dickson is a versatile tall who is one of the more athletic guys you will find in the draft this year. One on one he will often get beaten due to a lack of size but he can outjump almost anyone so he can usually get a fist in and spoil. Dickson has an ability to play up forward as well, using his leap and speed to get out on the lead. Dickson is definitely an intriguing player and clubs are sure to see something to like about him.
10. Tom Cutler – 190 cm, 86 kg, Oakleigh

Cutler is an athletic third tall type who loves to rebound but also stops his man. He reads the flight of the ball well and intercepts a lot of incoming kicks, getting off his man to help out the full back. His foot skills are quite good for a defender and he doesn’t miss a lot of targets. He is quite pacy for his size which is an advantage over the slower forwards.

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