Leagues: NAB League Boys
POSITION: Medium Forward/Wing
SNAPSHOT: “A highly athletic forward with the capacity to play through further afield, Howes catches the eye with his highlight reel moments in the forward half.”
As an AFL Academy member, Vic Metro representative and Sandringham Dragons product, Blake Howes was able to impact across every level of football he played in 2021, showing off his impressive athleticism when given the opportunity. The 190cm talent was mostly played as a half-forward for the year, but was gradually afforded more opportunities up on the wing as the season went on, suggesting there is a fair amount of development left for him in that area of the ground. Having enjoyed his venture up the field, Howes is a prospect who can count himself particularly unlucky as the Victorian season was cut short just as he found his best form.
+ Vertical Leap
+ Overhead Marking
+ Clean Hands
- Contested Game
Coming into 2021 as one to watch after an All Australian Under 16s carnival and inclusion in the AFL Academy squad, Howes was impressive with his leap and marking in the forward half the ground. As the year went on, he was given more opportunities further up the ground, looking like a natural on the wing as a link-up player who could effectively hit the scoreboard from the midfield as well.
When playing on the wing, Howes positions well around the ground to be a viable marking option for his teammates, making him dangerous in transition as he could clunk the ball and quickly move it forward. Whilst Howes can take a contested mark without much trouble, he can continue to work on being more effective at ground level. He is competitive and usually shows a clean set of hands, but is moreso an aerial force at the moment.
Should he look to spend more time around the ball in future, developing that ground level game and getting more involved at the contest - rather than being the release option - will hold him in good stead to impact more consistently. As a prospect with x-factor, Howes can also fade in and out of games at times, especially when playing forward, but can even out the troughs to his peaks with time in a professional system.
Despite often feeding off the contested work of others, Howes works well when in traffic - able to keep his hands free in congestion and handball well, making the best decision more often than not. The biggest strength of Howes' game is his vertical leap, as he is regularly able to get higher in the air than taller opponents which allows him to take his marks easier. At times, this sees him play as a forward target due to his aerial ability.
At the next level, he looms as a handy third tall option or developable outside type. Much of his versatile quality comes through his athleticism, with the springy leap helping his forward craft and a speed-endurance mix boding well for midfield minutes. He showcased his running capacity with a 6:08 2km time in October, and has all the athletic upside which recruiters look for.
DRAFT PROJECTION: Second Round
Howes will likely be a pick made on upside, with his array of developable traits and continued rate of development all very promising. His athleticism is high-level across the board, but he was also able to show his footballing nous with increasing success throughout the season. Versatility is another big tick for Howes, who can be moulded into a few different roles and has a high ceiling in terms of what he could become in an elite environment. He looks set to be taken somewhere within the second round and could push into top 25 contention.
NAB League Boys