Leagues: AFL U18 Championships, Coates Talent League Boys
SNAPSHOT: “Archie Roberts is an aggressive rebounder out of the back half with penetrative kicking and a strong speed-endurance mix.”
A prospect with plenty of experience at representative level, Archie Roberts first burst onto the scene in 2021 as a 16-year-old, turning out for the Vic Metro Under 17 side as a bottom-ager in the category.
Since, Roberts has gone from strength to strength. He played a key role in Sandringham’s back-to-back flags, helped Haileybury College take out the APS title, and provided a cool head in transition for Vic Metro.
Rewarded for his season with All-Australian honours, the AFL Academy member didn’t do much wrong this season, worked on his deficiencies, and should hear his name called out in the first half of the draft as a result.
+ Intercept game
+ Reading the play
+ Speed-endurance mix
- Defensive craft
Roberts has been one of the better players at Talent League level over the last two seasons, first turning out for Sandringham in Round 1 of 2022 and making his impact felt immediately. He maintained a high level of performance since, playing pivotal roles in the Dragon’s 2022 and 2023 premiership runs. The AFL Academy member just delivers each week as a intercepting and rebounding threat out of the defensive half, whilst also showing some promise on a wing when given the opportunity through the season.
Arguably the best of Metro’s smaller defenders in 2023, Roberts was named in the Under 18 All-Australian side for his Championship efforts, maintaining a similar level of impact and stat line to his Talent League season across four appearances. He saved his best game to last, gathering 24 disposals and eight rebound 50s against Vic Country. Roberts displayed his ability in the offensive phase of the game at the Champs, averaging 3.5 score involvements despite being stationed in the defensive 50.
Roberts fits the mould of a modern defender with his ability to kick-start offensive plays from the back half and get involved in attacking chains. It’s Roberts confidence with ball in hand that allows him to have such an impact, often looking to take as much space as he can with run and carry, and breach both 50-metre arcs in the same chain of play.
With positioning and general game sense a strength, Roberts' ability to intercept makes him a danger even out of possession. He sets up well behind the ball to sweep up on hurried kicks forward by the opposition, or drifts across to create an outnumber at contests in the defensive half, generally filling space as close to the forward 50 as possible when his side attacks. Measuring up at 184cm, Roberts is also a pretty strong mark overhead, only adding to his impact as an intercepting threat.
With such a well rounded skillset heading into AFL, there is still some areas Roberts will be focusing on to give him the best chance of success at the level. His contested game is one area that requires some attention, seeing steady improvement throughout the year but still occasionally holding him back, particularly around stoppages in the defensive 50. Going hand in hand with this is an improvement on his strength, which will allow him to keep his feet more often and hold more tackles, which will also lend to improved defensive application.
DRAFT RANGE: 15-25
Clubs wanted to see Roberts test himself this year with time up the ground and by showing better defensive application. He ticked those boxes while also thriving in his most familiar post, earning significant team success along the way as a leadership group member. Those factors, combined with his athletic profile and obvious ability should see him snapped up late in the first round or early in the second.
AFL U18 Championships