South AustraliaSouth AustraliaTall Defender


Will Patton

height: 192cm

weight: 79kg

D.O.B: 04-01-2005

Leagues: AFL U18 Championships

  • Snapshot
  • Analysis
  • Summary

SNAPSHOT: “A reliable defender who can intercept, rebound, or play on smalls and talls, Will Patton is lauded for his leadership on the last line.”

Labelled ‘The General’ in defence throughout an accomplished junior career, Will Patton is as reliable as they come. The West Adelaide prospect may be somewhat of a forgotten man in draft circles after captaining his state en route to All-Australian honours this year, going in for season-ending shoulder surgery and sitting out the National Draft Combine since. Nonetheless, he has been a mainstay in the South Australian talent pathway, playing as a bottom-ager in both the Under 17 and Under 18 setups to put his name on the radar. He turned out twice in last year’s National Championships and did enough to earn selection in the esteemed AFL Academy for 2023.

Patton, an Adelaide Crows supporter, draws comparisons to fellow Westies product Will Day as a tall left-footed backman with sound distributive skills, and was also a gun state level cricketer growing up. He made the decision that football would be his pathway of choice this year, spending time training with West Adelaide’s senior side and even having a week-long experience at Port Adelaide in preseason, alongside state teammate Jack Delean. The 18-year-old missed out on the chance for a League berth, but is back running as he continues to rehabilitate his shoulder and expects to be back into full training by Christmas.


+ Decision making
+ Defensive versatility
+ Intercepting
+ Leadership
+ Reading the play
+ Rebounding


- Defensive application
- Ground level game

Patton has become accustomed to having his hands full in defence, often tasked with two-way responsibilities. He is an effective interceptor and took on some tough roles at the National Championships, but is also just as comfortable setting up play on the rebound as a more free-roaming asset. A lot of his defensive strengths are observed in the aerial department, with Patton's height (192cm) seeing him take on taller opponents or chime in as a third-up marker. He averaged 4.8 marks and 4.0 intercepts at this year's National Championships, with the latter figure boosted to 6.8 across five SANFL Under 18 outings.

Complimenting his intercept game is composed work on the rebound. Patton is often entrusted with kick-in duties and rated for his decision making when distributing the ball by foot. In state colours, over three-quarters of his disposals were kicks, and he went at a high efficiency rating of 89 per cent to justify his hold on such responsibilities. The 18-year-old is also capable of chaining possessions out of the backline, often playing a chip and chase style where he follows up initial short passes to get the ball back and generate overlap run in transition. In that sense, he not only reads the play well, but also helps set it up.

Some of Patton's strengths are also intangibles. He's a terrific leader and captained his state this year, but is also relatively unselfish with regards to his defensive versatility. State coach Tony Bamford has lauded his reliability, which shows in the way Patton took on roles on both tall and small opponents throughout the national carnival - all while maintaining a consistent output. He has good range in what he can do across the last line and while he arguably looks best when freed up as a third tall who can rack up easy ball, he is also capable of locking down on dangerous forwards.

In terms of improvement areas, Patton can enhance his ground level game and add elements to his defensive craft. He's sound in the air, but tackling and maintaining a focus on defence are a couple of things he can look to enhance. While effective when moving the ball in transition, Patton is sometimes caught in possession as he looks to take the game on and loses some of his efficiency under pressure. Being somewhat of an in-between size - leaning towards the taller end of the scale - makes that element a touch less pertinent, but being well-rounded down back is a must in the modern game.



Having ended his season in July with only around a half-dozen games under his belt as a top-ager, Patton looms as a potential value pick late in the piece. His reliability and versatility as a defender make him a commodity which suits the modern game, able to play a range of roles across the back line. He’s rated highly internally and leadership quality will also hold some weight in his evaluation among clubs, who may be after a third tall defender with a bit of flexibility. Expect him to feature in at the end of the second round or beyond after putting plenty of runs on the board throughout his junior career.

Decision making
Defensive versatility
Reading the play
Defensive application
Ground level game

AFL U18 Championships

2022South Australia2673366174001160213.03.516.
2023South Australia5216681914366012220413.
Will Patton Articles
View All