Image Credit: David Crosling/Geelong Advertiser
POSITION: General Defender
DRAFT ANALYSIS: “Fleeton is a competitive and versatile defender who reads the play beautifully to intercept, while also being able to lock down the opposition’s best forward.” – Michael Alvaro
2020 Geelong Falcons co-captain, Cameron Fleeton made terrific strides in his footballing development in the back-end of last year’s NAB League season, showing his wares as a combative and versatile defender. His nine outings among a besieged back six were enough to not only earn the most consistent award and a leadership role at the Falcons, but to also enter the AFL Academy intake as a top-ager. While Fleeton was often forced to play lockdown roles on the opposition’s most dangerous forward, his intercept marking and composure down back pointed towards taking on a more attack-minded role at half-back this year. Like many of his fellow Victorians, Fleeton has not really been able to showcase his improvement on-field in 2020, but was named among the best for St Joseph’s in a hit-out against Geelong College earlier in the year.
- Intercept marking
- Reading the play
- Defensive versatility
- In-between size
- Taking on less risk via foot
Fleeton is a defender with many strings to his bow, making him a prospect who can adjust from a certain role one week, to a much different one the next. Having him in the side is like accounting for two or three players in the back six; he can thwart the opposition’s best forward, much like the role Lachie Plowman plays for Carlton, or even intercept and rebound like Tom Doedee. His reading of the play unfolding in front of him is a key strength, which aids that intercept quality and allows him to play above his height. With great courage and combativeness at ground level, Fleeton is so versatile in the range of opponents he can match up on, too.
At 191cm, it is difficult to see him developing into a true key position type at AFL level. Though, he has shown he has the strength and pure determination to match it with some of the more hulking junior key forwards, such as 101kg Tasmanian Jackson Callow. Fleeton kept the monster forward to just one goal in their 2019 NAB League meeting, suggesting his in-between sort of size may matter little in future. He could become a defensive utility like Dane Rampe, another who exceeds his size in taking on bigger opponents. While listed as an improvement, it could also be seen as a strength given how it lends to Fleeton’s versatility.
Fleeton is also a reliable figure with ball in hand, able to keep his composure on the last line and distribute well by foot. While he may lose his feet at times in open play, the Falcons defender is usually quite sound in his disposal from the kick-ins and back over the mark. He does tend to put a little air on his kicks when going for a bit of distance and is not afraid to kick across goal, but those two factors combined could sell him into trouble under the pace and pressure of AFL football. Still, Fleeton is so good at adjusting and keeping a cool head, so these aspects should iron out quickly.
It would have been great to see Fleeton in action this year with a solid preseason under his belt. His preseason testing results included good numbers in the vertical jumps, 20m sprint (3.07 seconds) and agility (8.22 seconds), pointing towards some nice attacking attributes. The vertical numbers obviously lend to his intercept marking ability, but the speed and agility could have come to the fore in a greater way should Fleeton have proven his worth in a more attacking manner. Much like fellow prospect Heath Chapman, being let off the chain would have been terrific for his development and to view all aspects of his game.
DRAFT PROJECTION: 40-60
Given the steep rate of improvement he showed as a bottom-ager, Fleeton could well have been a prospect to push much higher up draft boards with a full top-age season. The strength of Geelong’s squad, which he is co-captain of, would only have helped his cause but alas, he missed out on that year of on-field development. He has a decent amount of runs on the board, though some clubs may wish to see a bit more of him being released down back. Nonetheless, Fleeton would provide great value past the second round of the draft as a prospect who can be moulded in a number of ways, for a number of roles.