#38 Sam Draper


I might have missed your analysis of Draper, where’s he at? What does he have to focus on to become AFL ready?
I haven’t followed him closely knowing he’s still a couple of years away at best.


He needs to improve his positioning most of all. He still doesn’t get to the right spots often enough. His marking is not always a reliable feature of his game yet either. His field kicking ditto. Having said that, his tapwork is coming along beautifully, his strength is building nicely, as is his endurance. His speed, for a big bloke, is absolutely elite. All in all he is probably ahead of what was expected. You’d think by the end of next year, if he keeps progressing at his current rate, he could well be a reasonably dominant VFL level ruck, and not too far off being able to play a few cameos at AFL level. He’s going to be a very good player, but right now he’s got a few basic things to work on, and a lot of consistency to find. Sky is the limit for this kid though. He is a superb athlete, he soaks up what he’s taught, and he works hard.


So he could learn a lot from Gawn’s positioning?
I love how Gawn gets back and sits in the hole for the long kick. Only a 60 metre sprint from returning to a stoppage is good ruck positioning.


I like that his best game so far was a final.


He clearly wasn’t in symphony with the midfield


I think Draper should orchestra Beethoven conductor violin.



Yes. Because he’ll have had another 20 games of development, and based off what I’ve seen of other VFL rucks the alternatives aren’t any better. And in this scenario we maybe have an extra list spot to save a Bags, Dea, Hartley, Green who could also become critical depth for this theoretical final.


I think this is more in the context of Leuy either retiring or we don’t trust his body. Leuy is AFL quality, so if we can keep him and trust his body it’s a no brainer to do so. But I suspect there is every chance Leuy doesn’t want to stick around to play FF at VFL level and help develop Draper.


Or his body has had enough.


I assumed that was covered by retiring.


I wonder how Draper would compare to other clubs’ second-ranked ruckmen…on that measure, he might slowly be climbing up from the bottom of the ranks?


Went toe to toe with Soldo and Choi. Thought he handled it well without dominating. Seemed to be more damaging in the hits to advantage, actually looked like he had a clue compared to oppositions rucks.
Agree with Reboot, doesn’t understand where he should be in general play. Looked like he was running the centre square back and forth. Needs to sit in front of their CHF.


Gawn is awesome.

He has also been on the Dees list for 8 years and is 26, and made all-aus in 16 and now 18 (now in his best year at the club).

Draper has a way to go having only really started playing a couple of years ago and is only 20 (this is not in reference to your comments Maxx, just using your post). He won’t be the same sort of ruckman that Gawn is but he has the skill set to be a very dominating ruckman when he hits his prime.


These VFL matches are essential for player development.

Having Leuenberger in the side takes away the opportunity for Draper to learn how to ruck a whole match, and continue to work hard.

Invaluable imo.


Agree. I only used Gawn as a reference as it’s pretty basic positioning and the Russian connection. Something that I don’t expect is Draper being AFL ready in the short term.


If that’s the case then we look to other State leagues or someone who is currently AFL listed and marginally better than spud (or we do what Melbourne did when Gawn was out last year(?) and not play a true ruckman, otherwise we play Draper and hope he’s ready).

Adelaide - Jenkins (arguably) though if they want to retain their structure than Reilly O’Brien gets a call up.
Never seen him play but averages 14 touches and 24 hit outs from his 2 AFL games in 2016, and his AFL player rating reviews are pretty good.

Brisbane - Archie Smith and Oscar McInerney. 23 and 24 y/old respectively. Neither have done much at AFL level playing back up to Martin, but McInerney played 16 games this year.

Carlton - Phillips and Lobbe; both past 25 and been in the system a while. Neither are great but are known quantities at AFL level (which is good for Carlton given Kreuzer’s body always lets him down)

Collingwood - Cox and McLartly who is a bit undersized at 197cm

Fremantle - Sean Darcy; up to 15 AFL games now and averaging a tick over 10 disposals, 4 tackles and 33 hitouts which is on par with his numbers in the WAFL

Geelong - not sure they’ve got a #1 but they have Smith, Stanley, Abbott, Ratugolea and even Blicavs who can ruck

Gold Coast - Nicholls, who was #1 until passed by Witts

GWS - Simpson who is somewhat competitive

Hawthorn - Ceglar who’d arguably be #1 at a few clubs and plays AFL most weeks with Pittonett as back up

Melbourne - Pedersen I guess? Terrible tap ruckman but decent around the ground. They’ve got King as well but iirc he’s only in his first couple of years and coming off a knee reco

Norf - Preuss; arguably the most sort after ruckman not playing regular AFL

Port Adelaide - Frampton with Dickson and Westhoff if needed. They struggled big time with no Ryder

Richmond - 18 months ago they had (potentially) Griffiths, Hampson and Soldo. Now they’ve just got Soldo and arguably the side that’d be affected the greatest by their ruckman going down.

St Kilda - Hickey who seems to be going backwards. Iirc they just delisted a couple of ruckman sized guys as well (Goddard and Pearce maybe?)

Sydney - Naismith who will be coming off a knee reco and Cameron who’s played the one game. If not for injury they also had Tippett who imo always looked better playing more ruck minutes. Have I also missed someone? Sydney have played 2 rucks the last few years and not sure who else they’ve got aside from Sinclair

West Coast - we’ll call Lycett #1 due to Natanui’s injury (which imo he’ll struggle get to back to anywhere near his best from) which means they’ve got Vardy as back up with a few pinch hitters (McGovern, Barrass I think even rucked a bit at times).

Western Bulldogs - not sure even their coach knows who his preference of ruckman is but they’ve got Boyd, Roughead, Campbell, English, Trengove and even Schache rucked a little bit this year. I’m not sure where Campbell is at with his injuries but he’s one guy who is serviceable at AFL who we could potentially get for a packet of potato chips and a mars bar to provide a chop out over 2019/2020 if Looey doesn’t play on and Draper isn’t quite ready.


Have you actually watched the VFL?

Loony has played basically as a forward so Sammy can do 90% of the ruck work.
He has just been there to chop Draper out if he needs it, and to give him an on field coach.
He has added to Draper’s game, not held it back.


I reckon that’s changed over the course of the year then. No way Draper was doing 90% of the ruck work early in the year.


Drapers growth has been pretty solid, whilst we are all saying he needs another VFL year, but the end of preseason we could be very surprised.

Personally I think we should not chase a B grade ruck. I’d rather stick with Belly, Daniher as the backup with Draper as the emergency. McKernan is the break glass emergency.


Kid will be ace in 2 years at this development rate