POSITION: Key Forward/Tall Utility
DRAFT ANALYSIS: “An athletic key forward tied to Essendon’s Next Generation Academy; Eyre catches the eye with his size, athleticism, and booming left foot.” – Ed Pascoe
Joshua Eyre came seemingly out of nowhere last year, working into the Calder Cannons’ NAB League side in Round 9 and becoming a mainstay for the team; playing back and forward, before settling in attack. Eyre really caught the eye in Calder’s come-from-behind elimination final win against Dandenong, where he notched season-high efforts for disposals (11) and goals (two). His performance was arguably the catalyst in clubs recommending him into the AFL Academy for 2020. Eyre was also added to Essendon’s Next Generation Academy (NGA) early in 2020, with his mother of Indigenous decent helping him qualify. The young Bombers supporter also got to train with Essendon alongside Calder teammate and fellow Essendon NGA member, Cody Brand. Eyre’s recent combine performance and with the exit of Joe Daniher makes the prospect of him joining the Bombers even more likely as long-term key position cover.
Eyre struggled with hamstring issues at the start of the year so unfortunately missed any chance of running out in the pre-season games and getting to play centre half-forward full-time. The other issue was that it effected his pre-season testing, which didn’t truly effect his outstanding athleticism. The more recent Draft Combine really put his name in the spotlight; with an impressive 2.89-second time in the 20m sprint which is outstanding for a player of 198cm, and a 2km time of 6:31 which also showcased his impressive endurance. The latter factor will be key to Eyre playing that centre half-forward role at the next level. His leap also impressed at the combine, so with his height and leap it will make him a hard player to contend with in the air.
Eyre showed impressive prowess overhead in 2019, taking some very nice aerial marks. The ball will often stick to his hands like glue when he does attack the ball in the air and with his combination of speed, height and vertical leap, he could really prove a handful overhead. Eyre’s long kicking is also a feature as he gets a lot of length on his left leg, able to kick goals from long distance and potentially hit up long targets across the ground. He isn’t just a long kick, but also an accurate one with a nice kicking style both in a set shot and on the run.
Eyre undeniably has plenty of upside – coming into the elite draft system relatively late, he has plenty of talent to hone. Standing at 194cm last year, he has now grown to 198cm and with a late birthday having only turned 18 around the time of the combine (late-October) he could still have plenty of room to grow even more. With a light frame and developing body, there is plenty of scope for improvement in Eyre’s game and it could make him an even more versatile prospect with added growth. Speaking of versatility, Eyre played forward and back for Calder last year with some stints in the ruck as well. With his height and leap, he will likely be suited to pinch hit in the ruck at the next level, but also had eyes on playing up on a wing this year.
There is a lot of promise and potential with Eyre but he also doesn’t have the formline that other key position players in this draft do. The cancellation of football in Victoria hasn’t helped and he is still coming from behind in terms of his exposed form, coming into the system late in 2019. His production in games was rather low but as a bottom-age prospect it also made sense for more senior players to get greater game time and opportunity in those key roles. He played behind the likes of Harrison Jones and Jeremy O’Sullivan in Calder’s forwardline late last year but 2020 would have been his turn to be the focal point.
At 198cm and 85kg, Eyre is still rather light and under-developed so will take some time to be ready to play at the next level. He is certainly a long-term project so don’t expect him to immediately make massive waves at the next level. With that low production and long-term thinking, Eyre could be a risk to clubs bidding on him early and with no form to go off in 2020, it makes it even harder. Although, the recent combine results certainly help Eyre’s draft chances.
DRAFT PROJECTION: Third Round-Late
There is a lot to like in terms of talent and potential for the young key forward and his recent combine efforts could improve his draft stocks without any games being played this year. It’s still very likely he gets a later bid which Essendon would be sure to match, especially given their lack of depth in key position posts at Eyre’s height. A club looking for a project player who could play a variety of roles could take the punt earlier.