Leagues: NAB League Boys
POSITION: Inside Midfielder
SNAPSHOT: “A hard-nosed, hard-working inside midfielder who loves to compete both defensively and in a ball winning sense."
Ben Hobbs is a prototype inside midfielder who thrives on the contested ball and never takes a backwards step. A readymade midfielder who could step straight into a lineup from Round 1, Hobbs has been likened to Collingwood's Taylor Adams for his fierce attack on the ball, and high levels of defensive pressure, ball-winning abilities and consistency across the board. Like Adams, the knock on Hobbs is his outside game and primarily further improving his kicking to be more potent, but as a whole, Hobbs' ability to dominate around the stoppages is rarely matched in this draft crop.
- Contested work
- Clean hands
- Outside game
Hobbs is a player who will never be too far from the contest, racking up plenty of clearances and often being either the first or second disposal from a stoppage. He can throw it on the boot to clear or try and power his way through with strength, and his hands are very clean in dishing off to teammates and picking the right option. Whilst his work outside the contest might need refining, Hobbs has proven he can go forward and hit the scoreboard, with his smarts around stoppages enabling him to read the taps well and then throw it on the boot to apply scoreboard pressure from a forward stoppage.
There is little doubt that Hobbs knows how to find the ball, averaging 25 disposals over six games, including back-to-back huge 34-disposal games against Murray Bushrangers and Sandringham Dragons, and finishing off the season with 32 touches against Gippsland Power prior to the most recent Victorian lockdown. Even more remarkably, this includes the game against the Bushrangers back in Round 4, where he was injured and only picked up only four disposals. Not including that match, his average is bolstered to 29.2 disposals per game. His natural accumulation lends itself to his role, with his work on the inside critical to allowing his teammates to shine around him.
In terms of toughness and sheer courage, Hobbs throws himself at every ground ball to win it out, and has little regard for his own safety, desperate to win the pill for his side. He is as consistent as any other player in the competition in that regard, and from an offensive standpoint, his work in close is rivalled by very few in the draft crop. From a defensive standpoint, his tackling - at five per game - is just as fierce, and he shows a desire to win the ball back for his side. Put simply, you know exactly what effort Hobbs will put out for four quarters each and every week.
The knock on him will be his outside game and ability to impact a contest from other positions, but unlike some pigeonholed inside midfielders, Hobbs is still able to impact the game by hitting the scoreboard. Multiple goals in the Rebels' win over the Bushrangers, and then goals in his final two games of the NAB League season showed he has enough smarts and strength to able to capitalise away from the coalface. He certainly could improve the outside aspects of his game, including his kicking, which is a main focus for the GWV Rebels on-baller.
DRAFT RANGE: Top 10
Ben Hobbs is the best pure inside midfielder in the draft. Whilst Jason Horne-Francis could be considered a midfielder-forward, Hobbs is as pure as they come on the inside, and he is someone who can slot straight into a midfield, not afraid to take some hits. He has areas to improve on, mainly outside the contest, but from an inside perspective, he will be a consistent ball winner and his effort will never waver. Expect him to land somewhere inside the Top 10 in the AFL Draft and be able to push for selection early in his debut season.