Leagues: SANFL Reserves, SANFL Under 18s
Image Credit: Glenelg FC
POSITION: Medium Defender/Wing
SNAPSHOT: "Defensively focused, Beecken stands out with his intercept marking and pressure around the contest, both across half-back and on the wing."
Cooper Beecken burst onto the scene at the end of 2020 after an impressive performance in the SANFL Under 17 Futures game, where he was near best on ground playing in defence. The 190cm product was a key fixture for Glenelg's Under 18 team, whose impressive season finished in Grand Final defeat. Beecken was one of his side's better performers in the disappointing loss, finishing with 21 disposals and five marks. After previously playing in defence, Beecken spent significant time on the wing this season, where his ability to intercept and apply himself defensively shone through. His consistent form throughout the year earned him a late season debut at SANFL Reserves level where he featured in two games, before returning to the Under 18's side in preparation for their finals campaign. A member of South Australia's State Under 19's squad, Beecken played in games against Western Australia and the Allies and earned himself an AFL Draft Combine invite, where he finished second in the agility test with a time of 8.07 seconds.
+ Intercept marking
+ Clean hands
+ Follow-up work
+ Defensive pressure
+ Disposal efficiency
- Contested game
When stationed on the wing, Beecken's intercept marking continued to shine through as a strength of his game. Standing at 190cm, he had a height advantage over many of his wing opponents and used it to great effect. His ability to read the play and impact the contest was important for his side as he consistently thwarted opposition attempts to rebound from defensive 50 and stifled offensive ventures from half back.
When caught out of position, Beecken's length and athleticism allow him to remain in the contest and his follow-up work once the ball hits the ground is impressive. When first to the football, he shows clean hands to find teammates on the outside, and his tackling and defensive pressure when beaten to the first possession limits the impact of his opponent.
With ball in hand, Beecken makes very few mistakes. A good decision maker and safe user, he rarely bites off more than he can chew with his disposal, which typically allows his team to maintain possession of the football. Increased development in Beecken's offensive output will be key to his growth moving forward. There's room in his game to further develop his kicking, with the purpose of improving his ability to transition the football more aggressively. This would add significant value to Beecken's game and would make him a real attacking weapon from the back half.
Beecken's proactivity to win the ball around the contest could be another area of growth with his effort more defensively focused at this stage of his career. Improving the contested side to his game could further unlock him up the field and see him add another string to his bow. Adding a bit of muscle to his 73kg frame will also aide that development in his game, though he suits the tall/rangy wingman archetype well.
DRAFT PROJECTION: Late/Rookie
You can't talk about Beecken without mentioning the things he does well defensively. He's a quality interceptor and his work to apply pressure around the contest once the ball hits the deck is impressive. Where he can really unlock his game is with the development of his offensive output - turning efficiency into damage. If Beecken can become more aggressive by foot, it adds another dimension to his game that could really catch the eye of those watching at the next level.
SANFL Under 18s