Tac/u18 Thread


#1

Yeah. if the old board is gone forever at some stage I'll get around to reposting all my match reports back here - I always post them on the BF draft board as well, and while many people have said unkind things about BF over the years (myself included!) one cannot deny their utility as a backup medium...

 

In the meantime, in the interests of having SOMETHING in here, below is my selections (and reasons for them) for Essendon's picks in the BF trial phantom draft.  Just for clarity - no concession picks, lost picks due to penaties etc for Adelaide, priority picks, or f/s picks were taken into account.  Strict 1-18 in reverse ladder order (using the ladder as of a couple of weeks ago), with no unnecessary complications.  Not going to post the entire draft order here, but just for discussion, these are the blokes I ended up with...

 

15 - Ben Lennon
Northern Knights - 187cm - 79kg

There's a few blokes I could have gone for with this pick, and no guarantees if the same guys are on the board come draft day I'd jump the same way.

Lennon is an interesting prospect who I don't think is really getting to show off his full potential at TAC Cup level, and will likely do better in an AFL environment and game style. His big weapon of course is his kick - he can put it low, flat and accurate to 60-65m routinely, and spots his targets intelligently and with good vision. Very good at hitting a leading forward (which has been a problem for Essendon in the past, but which shouldn't be given their forward line stocks) and the sort of dangerous running goalkicker who can snag 3 from a wing in 5 minutes flat and turn a game if he shakes his matchup or if his side gets a bit of run happening. Set shots maybe not so much his forte, but that's something that can be worked on.

He's a long-limbed kid with a fair bit of pace (not explosive break-away-from-packs type pace, but he's very hard to catch once he gets moving), and tall enough and strong enough overhead that he's quite a difficult aerial matchup for most running players. He's spent a lot of time playing as a leadup forward target this year, with pretty reasonable (though not jawdroppingly spectacular) levels of success, but I'd be wanting him to develop his running game for an eventual role on a wing. His engine seems good and he's very capable of accumulating a lot of the ball, though most of the time he'll be looking for handball recieves or running to link rather than winning his own. His swerve while running is pretty good, but I've never really seen him pull dramatic changes of direction on the spot or dance through traffic - this is one of the reasons I prefer him running in straight lines threough the centre, as a leadup forward he always has to wheel around after a mark or gather, and his turning circle is a little wider than I'd like for someone doing that job. He doesn't mind getting stuck in, he runs well defensively and lays a lot of tackles, but his inside game is something that will need development. Rather than rush him into the ones straight away (though he could play a bit of AFL in his first year) I'd be giving him a year or two in the VFL, acclimatising himself to the midfield and trying to develop him into something kile a more forward-oriented Goddard.

 

33 - James Tsitas
Geelong Falcons - 180cm 77kg

It's easier to define Tsitas by what he isn't. He isn't lightning fast, he's not particularly big, doesn't kick it a mile, doesn't dance on a dime in traffic. I guess those are the main knocks on him.

Watching him last year I had him pegged as a solid outside linking prospect. He's been working a lot more on his inside game this year, to the extent I think his ability to find the ball in space is being undersold a bit. He hasn't got burst speed to get away explosively, but he'll run forever and wear you down over the course of a game. His inside work is hard, honest and disciplined rather than brilliant. He tackles well and puts in repeat attempts at the ball and man - he might not ever be your #1 clearance guy, but he'll sure as hell make your #1 guy's job a lot easier while posing a legitimate threat of his own. His disposal is generally good, and he works within his limitations. I like that he runs both ways - not all of the AIS/TAC/scouted-at-age-12 silver spoon types do, because they're so used to being the go-to guy. I'd probably compare him to someone like Luke Parker, if a bit less kamikaze. Not as flashy and spectacular as some, but will just inconspicuously rack up huge numbers of touches (he's a massive accumulator at his best) and you won't realise until the end of the game that he's quietly torn you a new one.

51 - Michael Apeness
Eastern Ranges - 199cm 101kg

Perhaps a little bit of a stretch here, but I've seen quite a lot of him this year and I've been impressed by his improvement. Started out as a spare-parts kpp for Eastern, played a bit back and a bit forward when Boyd was out, but was kept firmly out of the ruck by Dion Depace (who has potential and could be a late/rookie prospect) and Abraham Nyok (who is the rawest skinniest thing in the history of raw skinny things). By mid-season he was clearly VMs #1 ruck, and a regular contributor in front of goals as well.

Apeness is a big, powerful kid (and if he isn't nicknamed 'Ape' within 5 mins of coming a club then the standard footballers' sense of humour has changed a lot since I was running around...) and isn't afraid to use it. This is a bit of a double-edged sword, since he does monster smaller kids with pure brute force at times and as an AFL ruck he's a little on the small side and this won't work for him. But he is a genuinely good contested mark (he's not Boyd, but he's better than almost anyone else this year, and a 199cm kpf is big in any league), he'll cheerfully run through anyone who gets in his way, and he finishes well in front of goal. His ruck work is a work in progress. I'd be interested to know if he had a growth spurt over the past few years since he plays like a natural kpp and only an amateur ruckman, but surely a 199cm kid would be playing ruck pretty much anywhere? Regardless, his tap work is still rudimentary and will need development. His contested work with the ball on the ground at a stoppage, however, is really good. He's a reliable clearance-winner and a prolific tackler for his size. Again, some of this might be due to his size (not many blokes in the u18s can tackle him hard enough to stop him getting the handball away) but you still have to get your hands on it in the first place.

His development will be interesting. I wouldn't expect him to play much for a couple of years til he gets used to playing against men and perhaps gets some squats under his belt in the hope of improving his vertical leap and speed over the first 5m. When he does, I suspect whether he's developed primarily as a fwd or a ruck will depend on whether he can grow a couple more centimetres and on the needs of the side that picks him.

69 - Michael Gibbons
Murray Bushrangers - 175cm 69kg

Lewis Taylor is the one talked about as being the reincarnation of Brent Harvey, but I reckon this bloke has a bit of a claim on it as well. Nippy little mostly-outside-but-a-bit-inside runner, perhaps not really at the top of the lightning-fast spectrum, but certainly quick. Very creative with his running - rarely runs himself into trouble like some very quick guys do, always thinks a bit ahead. Very hard to tackle, I was going to use Dempsey as a comparison but Lewis Taylor is a better one. High hurt factor - he'll break the lines, swerve through your zone, and then make a good decision with the ball. Runs and runs, tackles like a maniac and never gives up, though he can be tagged out of it if a bigger body can match him for speed and sticks to their task (he's got the tools to be a handy small fwd but I think he'd struggle for a while - small backs are much more willing to sacrifice their own game to shut you down). Downside is of course his size - 175cm is marginal enough, but in the stats I have he's below 70kg as well, and that makes it hard. He'll need to put on a fair bit of muscle to compete at the top level, but if someone like Travis Colyer or Devon Smith can do it, I see no reason why this bloke can't too. I've heard some questionmarks on his disposal by foot - his kicking % in the TAC is pretty average, but I suspect (I haven't seen him play with Murray this year) that this is because he's forced to be the #1 clearance guy there, while at champs he had blokes like Perris and Barrett doing the shovel work so he could play to his strengths, swoop on the ball bobbling out of the pack, and accelerate away - efficiency was at a much better 71% in the state games. He certainly did something right - he was NSWs leading clearance winner at the champs by a street, and topped the tackling, possession count, and inside 50s too. Makes his size a chance I'm more than willing to take with such a late pick.

 

 

87 - Liam Byrne
Bendigo Pioneers - 184cm 84kg

One I've only seen a little of this year, and as such I probably shouldn't be picking him, but I think his name needs to be out there. I saw quite a lot of Byrne last year before he was seriously injured, and I was impressed with his anticipation, drive and damaging disposal running off half-back. He came back as an overager and had a slow start to the year, missing out on VC selection, but just judging purely on stats, he seems to have finally regained some form and has been a regular in the Pios bests over the last couple of months. From what little I've seen of his this season, he's cut his hair, stacked on muscle, and is playing as a crash-and-bash centre square brawler. I only saw him in the lowest part of his early-season form slump, and while he sporadically showed power, aggression and good ball use, he did look out of sorts, but if he can play his new position with the sort of pace and assurance that he showed last year, and if his injury (I think it was a badly broken elbow or something?) doesn't have any lasting effects, then I think he's a legitimate draft prospect. I certainly rated him as such last year. Unfortunately the Pios don't have any more Melbourne games this year (unless the TAC ar Cup is doing that ridiculous 'final 12' thing again, anyone know?) so it's unlikely I'll be able to form more of an opinion of him before the draft. But he's one worth bearing in mind.

105 - Karl Amon
Sandringham Dragons - 180cm 73kg

Perhaps a bit of a roughy for the last pick - a hff/mid, Amon has perhaps been somewhat in the shadow of the enormously well-credentialled Dragons midfield group (Kelly, Salem, Freeman AND Merrett, really?) and might have had a bit more of a go in the heat of the action in a weaker side. He is frustratingly inconsistent but just sometimes has that little bit of class that makes you sit up and take notice. Bit skinny, a bit of a seagull at times, but for a slim willowy kid he's got a very impressive work rate, a nifty change of direction, and an eye for a goal - very capable of slipping forward and kicking two or three in very short time. Smart opportunistic forward, not a crumber as such but just gets himself into scoring positions a lot. Reminds me a little of Blake Caracella.


Overall Essendon:

Ben Lennon
James Tsitas
Michael Apeness
Michael Gibbons
Liam Byrne
Karl Amon

Reasonably happy with the way things turned out. I approached it without considering likely trades - if we trade off any of our tall stocks then another kpp prospect might be advisable from a list depth point of view. But I managed to address our ruck depth issues by grabbing one of the better ruck prospects with a third rounder, and draft basically an entire midfield of varied and dangerous types with the other picks to address the slight bulge in the midfield age profile in 3-4 years time when Watson/Stanton/Goddard start heading into the 30s. Would probably have preferred a specialist inside clearance type with my first pick but the ones that were still on the table I didn't quite rate highly enough - that type are in high demand at the best of times! I'd still be looking to grab a mature ruckman in the rookie draft to add extra depth (at least while Apeness develops - and he will need some time), and I didn't really address the need for a crumbing forward with genuine pace, but again, there's normally a few of those types available as rookies.  TIPPA!

Still, centre-square prospects in Tsitas and Byrne (both of who should be able to play relatively soon), a smallish but quick takeaway/run and carry player in Gibbons, and outside pace plus long, pinpoint delivery into the fwd line from Lennon. They're not all going to make it, but it's a good selection and covers most bases while not resorting to pick-for-needs all the way through. Amon as a roughy, I just think he's one who's got more to offer than he's been able to show so far.


#2

Karl Brown, Brett Blair, Todd Marshall and Josh Battle are all good forwards who impact the scoreboard. Most should be there at our second to third round pick.


#3

Ben Lennon sounds good, who would be others you expect to be someone we’d be looking at/available around that pick? I remember in past forums you were intent on us looking for a clearance player, and this has been abundantly clear over the last couple weeks as we were majority exposed against the dogs a few weeks back. Do you think we’d be going for one early? Or try snag one later on or even in the rookie draft?

Also, for old times sake. Garlett? He’s definitely what we need.

Edit: Appreciate the work HM.


#4

Ben Lennon sounds good, who would you expect to be someone we'd be looking at/available around that pick? I remember in past forums you were intent on us looking for a clearance player, and this has been abundantly clear over the last couple weeks as we were majority exposed against the dogs a few weeks back. Do you think we'd be going for one early? Or try snag one later on or even in the rookie draft?
Also, for old times sake. Garlett? He's definitely what we need.
Edit: Appreciate the work HM.

 

Lennon would probably be around at our pick.  As for others - I suspect a couple of Dunstan, Dumont, Salem, Freeman, Crouch, Taylor, Bontempelli - even Tsitas might go higher than he did in the phantom.  Really depends on what other clubs prioritise and our final draft position - we're right on the pick ~15 borderline where all the no-brainer top talents are done and it starts getting interesting.  Would have preferred an inside guy, but none were available at our first pick that I rated highly enough. I suspect this will not be the case come the real thing - real recruiters have tended to value footskills and decisionmaking over u18 clearance numbers in the past, despite the way us armchair types see things.  I'm reasonably happy with picking up Tsitas, Byrne, and even Gibbons to bolster us in the inside department though.

 

Garlett was taken (by HFF I think) early in the second round.  I MAY have looked at him with a 3rd or 4th rounder, if he'd been available and if I'd covered the inside needs by then.  Not earlier.  He's still not remotely certain of getting drafted at all.


#5

Interesting what you say about Garlett being no certainty HM. You been talking to recruiters?

 

Thanks so much for this. Fascinating read. Is it too hard to just give us a quick % chance of your choices being available at our picks? Or in the reverse case, if any are perhaps a bit overs?

 

Lennon sounds super exciting. Any knocks? Do you think Keane/Dodoro would be a chance to go for him?

 

Thanks again, you're a jet.

 

PS If you could add pick #130 Cory Dell elevation that'd be great...


#6

Really appreciate that HM. Didn't realise the phantom draft had happened yet, thought it occurred after draft camp. Will go check it out. 


#7

TAC finals start this weekend.  I might go along or I might not.  Haven't been to the u18s for a while, the prospect of losing picks has really taken the enjoyment out of it.  Double-headers at visy park on both days of the weekend.  Ranges vs Stingrays and Cannons vs Falcons on Saturday, Bushrangers vs Jets and Knights vs Power on Sunday.

 

Stupidly enough, Sandrigham missed the finals, despite being probably one of the strongest 3 or 4 lists.  They absolutely crushed the 5th-place Jets on the weekend, tripling their score.  But the Dragons lost too many games through the middle of the season when so many of their top tier were on state duty or playing school footy, and they just couldn't catch up in the end.  So Salem, Josh Kelly, Zac Merrett, Nathan Freeman, Max Hayes, Karl Amon, etc are done for the year, though they could take it up to any team in the comp.  Moronic system.

 

Interesting what you say about Garlett being no certainty HM. You been talking to recruiters?

 

Thanks so much for this. Fascinating read. Is it too hard to just give us a quick % chance of your choices being available at our picks? Or in the reverse case, if any are perhaps a bit overs?

 

Lennon sounds super exciting. Any knocks? Do you think Keane/Dodoro would be a chance to go for him?

 

Thanks again, you're a jet.

 

PS If you could add pick #130 Cory Dell elevation that'd be great...

I'm no hyper-connected recruiting uber-guru, but from what crumbs I have gathered he's a long way from certain.  But as it always goes, it only takes one recruiter who wants to take a chance on a bloke.  Plenty of clubs are keeping an eye on him - but plenty of clubs were keeping an eye on him last year too.

 

No percentages, far too early.  Wait til after draft camp, TAC finals, etc.

 

Lennon is good (probably top 3 of his type of player) but his work inside - both at clearances and in traffic - needs to improve.  Won't earn his place as a med fwd, needs to become a fulltime mid on wingman.  Fair chance he'd be available at pick 13 or whatever.  Depends on the priorities Keane/Dodoro/etc put on positional needs - about 2/3 of the way through the first round all the no-brainers are gone and you can start to pick for needs, if we decide we need running outside footskills, then he'd be a chance.

 

Really appreciate that HM. Didn't realise the phantom draft had happened yet, thought it occurred after draft camp. Will go check it out. 

Only the trial run has happened so far.  Real thing doesn't get going til after trade week, once the draft order is finalised and delistings are all done.


#8

What do you think of Jack Billings? I know him and his family. Big bomber fans and I think Jack can really play


#9

Aaaaaaaand we're farked.


#10

What do you think of Jack Billings? I know him and his family. Big bomber fans and I think Jack can really play


Tell him to do a Luke Ball please!

#11

Aaaaaaaand we're farked.

First year in the entire time I've been watching u18s that it's been an uncompromised draft and we didn't have our first pick tied up by a f/s, and so I've been watching ■■■■■■ pick 10-15 range midfielders all year, and now I can chuck all them out the window cos I have to scratch and scrape around in the depths of my brain looking for smokies. 

 

****.


#12

 

Aaaaaaaand we're farked.

First year in the entire time I've been watching u18s that it's been an uncompromised draft and we didn't have our first pick tied up by a f/s, and so I've been watching ■■■■■■ pick 10-15 range midfielders all year, and now I can chuck all them out the window cos I have to scratch and scrape around in the depths of my brain looking for smokies. 

 

****.

 

Go up to the kids and get them to take instagram pics with smokes and beers in it.


#13

At Calder vs Geelong. Geelong are cleaner, quicker and are finding more space. Thompson not playing. Clothier seemingly only doing ok, but when he’s in the middle the game is played in calder’s half, and when he goes forward Geelong dominate. Trying to work out why, but at least I’m one step ahead of the Calder coaches who don’t seem to have noticed yet and keep shoving him in the fwd line.

Reid Adams might be one to keep an eye on for a late pick, he’s doing really well. Maishman will be very good next year. George Cameron, jake owen and Reilly o’brien have done some good things and could be late options. Christiansen quiet but looks like he could go bang at any moment, I rate him.

Geelong are badly undermanned. They’d be deadly at full strength. And what happened to billy Morrison? Kicked some massive bags for calder last year, then faded completely off the radar.


#14

Geelong 4 goals up but it feels like a hundred point game ATM, Calder nowhere near it.


#15

Geelong won it by about 40 in the end.  Calder got the first couple through sheer endeavour and playing shovel-it-forward-at-all-costs wet weather type football on a spectacular sunny day, but it somehow worked.  After that, Geelong got their running game going and were never seriously threatened, they just had too much height and aerial power down back, too much space in the forward line, and too many numbers and pace through the middle.  I don't think I've ever seen a TAC side as strong as Geelong this year - today they were missing three of the top mids in Taylor, Boag, Lang, and still won it in a canter- when I saw the outs I thought Calder had a chance, but they got bulldozed.  Top quality on every line except arguably in the ruck, and a bunch of them are underagers so they could quite concievably be even better next year.

 

Other than the blokes I mentioned above, the Geelong talls of Fort, Goddard, Mccartin were absolutely dominant.  Goddard and Mccartin both mobile and strong overhead in the forward line (both underage) and Fort impassable down back.  Hickey was dynamic and broke the lines in the middle.  Tsitas worked his way into it later.  He's one that could potentially do a Parker-style slide, he gets a load of the ball and is a consummate footballer, but lacks flashiness and never gives you the feeling that he outclasses everyone else on the park like the very top picks sometimes do (or he might go at pick 20-odd like nature intended).  Reid Adams (possible relative of Taylor?) a clean, quick inside-outside player, might have gone under the radar a bit this year cos the Falcons just have so much midfield quality.  Worth watching. 

 

For Calder, Jake Owen is an interesting prospect, 191cm slim utility-type kid who played as a mid today, very clean, agile, and has a bit of time in traffic - though he's not really a clarance specialist.  Has kicked a few big bags through the season as a marking fwd too.  Errol Mcconnell played a good game - very quick, angry, tackled hard, took the game on and wasn't afraid to back himself.  Horrible dreads.  Reminded me of a quicker Kommer.

 

I'm still finding it hard to get a handle on Clothier.  He played an ok game without really at any time making you think 'he's dominating' - probably got 20ish touches, at a guess?  Kicked one goal and one oof.  It's a bit weird because he's a big, powerful kid that looks like a stoppage monster but he always seagulls outside packs because he's such a great dangerous long kick into the forward line and his side sets up so he can be the designated kicker once someone else clears it (though today Geelong just had complete control of the air in their defensive 50 so it was tough work - and a couple of times he hit his fwds perfectly on the lead it went straight through their hands...).  His hands aren't always clean off the ground, but he can be very strong in the marking contest - took a monster contested mark 35 in front late in todays game, and sprayed it horribly.  Has got quite good vision in close and picks good options, but tends to loop if too much by hand when when trying to get it round a tackler, and puts his teammates under the pump.  Will test poorly in agility & sprints etc I suspect, he can look very slow sometimes and I think his tank isn't really there yet so he blows up early, which can make him look even slower as the game goes on.  I also think he's still pretty new to serious game structure and positioning work - he sometimes got himself lost in no-mans land when defending, and needed to be instructed a bit at stoppages.  You'd have him as a marginal prospect at the moment, though if my suspicions about his cardio fitness and/or lack of game knowlege are true, you might think you've got some useful tools to work with. 


#16

As a free pick, surely you would give Clothier a crack? 


#17

What about Heppell's brother? Is he worth looking at?


#18

What about Heppell's brother? Is he worth looking at?

Has never really stood out in the games I've seen him play, but is a regular in the Gippsland Power bests, especially in the second half of the season (and he's the bottom-of-pack type who doesn't really stand out when you're watching a game).  Suspect he's a late round option.

 

As a free pick, surely you would give Clothier a crack? 

I would, but I would also have given Tweeddale and Cole a crack two years back.  EFC does not always agree with my assessment, it seems.  (the fools! ;) )  Though I suspect we might give it some more thought this time round, because of the draft situation.


#19

 

What about Heppell's brother? Is he worth looking at?

Has never really stood out in the games I've seen him play, but is a regular in the Gippsland Power bests, especially in the second half of the season (and he's the bottom-of-pack type who doesn't really stand out when you're watching a game).  Suspect he's a late round option.

 

As a free pick, surely you would give Clothier a crack? 

I would, but I would also have given Tweeddale and Cole a crack two years back.  EFC does not always agree with my assessment, it seems.  (the fools! ;) )  Though I suspect we might give it some more thought this time round, because of the draft situation.

 

So you're saying he can get clearances and he's called Heppell? Screw it, draft him.


#20


 

As a free pick, surely you would give Clothier a crack? 

I would, but I would also have given Tweeddale and Cole a crack two years back.  EFC does not always agree with my assessment, it seems.  (the fools! ;) )  Though I suspect we might give it some more thought this time round, because of the draft situation.

 

You keep suggesting he plays forward. Could he play that medium forward role we have lacked for some time? At 191cm (thats right yeah?) he could be a unique type of guy to develop.