Leagues: NAB League Boys
POSITION: Midfielder/Small Forward
SNAPSHOT: "A crafty small prospect with outstanding vision, skills and decision making, Taylor has no trouble finding the ball and makes things happen in possession."
One of the players who hit peak form just as Victoria's season was shut down, Zac Taylor produced incredible numbers towards the back-end of 2021. Having made a steady start to the year rotating forward from midfield, he began to take full toll around the ball and eventually featured among a stacked Vic Metro centre bounce mix. The 180cm talent took out Calder Cannons' best and fairest award and was named in the NAB League team of the year, capping a super campaign which has seen him rise into second round contention. With clean skills and one of the best kicks going around, Taylor is a creative player who can hurt the opposition with ball in hand.
+ Work rate
- Inside game
While he will likely be made to spend plenty of time in the front half, Taylor arguably does his best work in midfield. He showcased that with a super run of form in the NAB League, where he averaged 34.3 disposals, 7.0 marks, 6.0 tackles, and 5.6 inside 50s across a three-game stretch. In that run, Taylor not only let his strengths shine, but also proved his areas of growth were coming along nicely.
Looking at Taylor's best traits, he has all the smarts and skills expected of high-level small prospects. He's the type of player who looks to get creative with every touch, carving space around him and delivering effective disposals by hand and foot. His kicking is particularly notable, with Taylor exactly the man you want sending the ball inside attacking 50.
A handy aide to Taylor's production is his vision and evasive technique. As a clever and slippery small, he is seldom caught in possession and often looks to navigate through congestion first, before assessing his options and hitting a target. With that ability to manufacture a bit of time, Taylor is able to consistently make good decisions and execute his skills cleanly.
On the flip-side, Taylor has been working on his inside game. It is listed as an improvement but arguably is not a weakness and moreso an area Taylor can continue to enhance. At 74kg, he will likely need to put on a bit of size before experiencing the rigours of AFL-level midfield work, which may see him gain an initiation up forward or on the outside. Though, during the latter parts of 2021, he showed a nice balance in his ball winning and does not play a strength-based style given his ability to escape trouble with agility.
Having spent a good amount of time in the forward half during his Under 16 and 19 representative duties, and in Calder colours, Taylor could also look to impact the scoreboard a touch more. He is certainly capable of finding the goals, but is more often the one assisting inside attacking 50 or working high up the ground. That was shown as he only registered one major score in seven NAB League games this year.
DRAFT PROJECTION: 25-40
A player who suits the modern game with his quick thinking and efficient ball use, Taylor is one of the more intriguing small prospects to consider. With the toughness, ball winning ability, and work rate to play midfield, he may have to find his way in there through other roles but has the versatility to do so. The draft crop is very even around the range he sits, and Taylor looms as a handy second round option who could provide great value given his professionalism and growing ability.