Leagues: NAB League Boys
SNAPSHOT: “A tough and powerful midfielder-forward who thrives on the contest and deals immense damage to the opposition.”
One of the big bolters in this year’s draft class, Bailey Humphrey has made every post a winner in 2022. The Gippsland Power captain got a handful of NAB League games under his belt last year, but missed out on the initial Vic Country hub and took it in his stride to prove himself more than capable as a top-ager.
A strongly built ball winner who doubles as a damaging forward, Humphrey’s season was interrupted by an untimely knee injury which saw him miss much of the Under 18 National Championships, but he rocketed into top 10 contention upon his emphatic return.
Humphrey’s 31 disposals and 4.5 against the Northern Knights in Round 14 made recruiters take note of the game-breaking ability he offers, and after leading the Power to both a minor premiership and preliminary final, the 18-year-old eventually got to don the ‘Big V’ in Vic Country’s final championship match.
+ Contested marking
+ Inside game
+ Kick penetration
+ Scoreboard impact
- Outside game
Much of the reason behind Humphrey's considerable rise this year is down to the sheer array of desirable traits he offers. At his core, he's a hardened ball winner who translates his contested acumen to forward 50 threats, but there are so many factors which contribute to him owning that classic goalkicking midfielder tag.
One of the most alluring and impactful attributes for Humphrey is his power. He's an absolute bull at the contest with explosive speed to break clear, making for fan friendly passages of play. His sound inside game is down to a combination of toughness and touch, with Humphrey happy to put his head over the ball, but clean enough to win it.
With a deadly turn of speed and strength which proves hard to contain, Humphrey either shifts laterally or drives his legs before unleashing long kicks inside 50. His kick penetration is something the man himself sees as a strength, and Gippsland forwards would certainly attest to that with the quick and deep delivery he offers.
Humphrey has worked hard at enhancing his forward craft, and his versatility in that sense has become a clear strength. He has both the springy leap and stable core to clunk contested marks, holding his own one-out against taller defenders and reading the flight of the ball beautifully for a player his size.
As a reliable option inside 50, goals are a natural and consistent outcome for Humphrey. His scoreboard impact was profound this year, booting 21 majors in 11 NAB League games including three bags of four. He managed over five scoring shots on as many occasions, and was kept goalless just thrice. His dual threat makes for hurt factor galore.
But for all the eye-catching upside are a few key improvements, too. While certainly a powerful kick, Humphrey could do with more finesse in his end product - particularly in front of goal. 18 behinds accompanied his 21 six-pointers this season, and his 1.3 for Vic Country was telling. With better finishing and composure in those rush of blood moments, Humphrey looms as near-unstoppable.
Though he built a strong endurance base during preseason, Humphrey is every bit a dual-position player and was not required in Vic Country's on-ball brigade. Strengthening his running capacity will likely lead to more midfield minutes, as he is such an asset at centre bounces. Understandably, he spent several weeks on the sidelines so that would have impacted his ability to run out games in the back-end of the season.
It would also help his outside game and accumulation too, with half of Humphrey's games yielding under 20 touches. He looks towards Sam Walsh for inspiration in that regard, and possesses both the speed and long kicking to be a valuable driver of the ball from the outside.
DRAFT RANGE: Top 10
There is simply so much to like about Humphrey, who looms as a genuine top 10 candidate. On top of his attractive set of skills, he is a top notch character whose leadership among the Gippsland group really lifted this year. Clubs will value his ability to impact both as a midfielder and forward, and he is the type of player who will be in high demand given his game-winning attributes. With grand strides made in such a short time, he still has plenty of improvement left too.