2009 AFL Draft rookie positional drill-down

We won’t have the official Champion Data player classifications until the AFL Prospectus comes out in January, but it’s possible to take some educated guesses at what the top draft prospects will be based on Champion’s own guidelines… so let’s cross-reference a projected list with my recent post on rookies’ first one and three games to look for some value.

As you should know if you read the above post, Champion classifies each player according to their position (Defender, Midfielder, Forward, Ruck, Utility), size (Small, Medium, Tall) and role (In or Out for midfielders, General or Key for forwards and backs). Size is easy to work out: Small means under 180cm, Medium is 180-189, and Tall is 190+. Position is mostly straightforward, though Champion does tend to give out the Utility tag rarely, preferring to shoehorn players into a traditional position where possible. The In/Out divide for midfielders is based on statistics, with Inside midfielders tackling more with contested possessions, and Outside mids marking more with uncontested possessions. The General/Key difference is also based on numbers, with Key Forwards getting contested marks, Key Defenders specialising in spoils, General Defenders dominating in Rebound 50s and General Forwards collecting ground-based stats.

So, with those guidelines in mind, here’s my guesstimates of how each draft prospect will be classified:

Def-Med-Gen
Clancee Pearce, Kade Klemke, Matt Kilpin, Rory Sloane
About average for rookie potential, not much in the way of value here unless Pearce or Klemke are named for Round 1.

Def-Small-Gen
Nick Suban
This is a top 5 position for rookies in Dream Team, which has seen Suban’s name prominent on Fanplanner back benches. No reason to think that is the wrong thing to do.

Def-Tall-Gen
Jarrad Blight
Below average for fantasy. Avoid.

Def-Tall-Key
Michael Hurley, Jackson Trengove, Phil Davis, Jayden Post, Jordan Jones, Lukas Markovic, Michael Gugliotta, Riley Milne, Tom Gillies, Will Young
Looking at historical data, this is pretty much the bottom of the barrel for fantasy purposes. Those who enjoyed the debut seasons of Nathan J. Brown and Harry Taylor this year might be tempted to go for Hurley and Trengove in 2009, as evidenced in Fanplanner where Hurley in particular is attracting a lot of interest, but be warned that both NJB and Harry were actually classified as Utility-Tall this year. If any of these players are officially nominated as Utility-Talls by Champion, especially Trengove and Hurley, time to reassess their worth.

Fwd-Med-Gen
Chris Yarran, Nick Heyne, Brad Mangan, Sam Wright, Tom Rockliff, Trent Dennis-Lane
A lot of coaches are on the Yarran bandwagon in the pre-season, and there’s a fair bit of love for Heyne as well. However, the data doesn’t really support that kind of optimism for this position. Admittedly Yarran is only 1cm over the cutoff height for being classed as Small, which is a much more lucrative position.

Fwd-Med-Key
Ben Bucovaz
At 188cm on last records, he’ll probably grow enough by draft time to qualify as Tall anyway. Having said that, this position is #1 for DT in rookie starts, so keep an eye on where he gets drafted (if at all).

Fwd-Small-Gen
Michael Walters, Neville Jetta, Hayden Ballantyne, Chris Hall, Ian Richardson, John Bennell
While most of the attention is on Yarran, Walters and Jetta may end up being better value. Likely to be picked in the second round and thus escape the tariff levied on top 10 picks, these two boys could well be the Cyril Rioli and Cameron Stokes of 2009.

Fwd-Tall-Gen
Ryan Schoenmakers
No.

Fwd-Tall-Key
Jack Watts, Lewis Johnston, Tom Hill, Aaron Cornelius, Lance Daly, Michael Still, Mitch Brown, Nathan O’Keefe, Paul Cahill
Watts is overpriced, even if you overlook the dreaded Year 12 that he’ll be studying through. Johnston might be a sneaky Super Coach pick if he drops to someone like Geelong who could slot him straight in, but that’s about it.

Mid-Med-In
Daniel Rich, David Zaharakis, Dayne Beams, Matt DeBoer, Adam Cockie, Dan Hannebery, James Strauss, Jay Shannon, Luke Shuey, Matthew Suckling, Tom Allwright
Rich is almost a lock now – 90% of recent Fanplanner teams include him – but searching for diamonds in the rest of this list is more difficult. If Zaharakis gets picked up by someone like the Dockers who are looking to play kids in the guts, he turns into a viable option. The same probably goes for DeBoer. Beams probably won’t play round 1 at wherever he ends up, but is worth scouting later in the season when he does get picked. Cockie could be anything, from a Davey to an Oakley-Nicholls, so pre-season and magoo form would dictate his popularity.

Mid-Med-Out
Hamish Hartlett, Steele Sidebottom, Stephen Hill, Sam Blease, Alistair Smith, Ash Smith, Jamason Daniels, Johnny Rayner, Liam Anthony, Liam Shiels, Luke Rounds, Matthew Broadbent, Mitch Robinson, Todd Banfield
Just middling in averages for early games by this type of player, but the good ones are very good. You’re going to have to pay that top 10 tariff to get the players who start in round 1, I suspect, like Hartlett and Sidebottom. Will it be worth it? I’m waiting to see which club they’re drafted by, as I think that’s going to have a significant effect on their debut year. Hartlett might drop all the way to Richmond at #8, which wouldn’t be a bad result at all. Brisbane are making noises about Sidebottom at #7, and that would be awesome for his prospects. Here’s hoping!

Mid-Small-In
Jaryd Blair, Mitch Banner, Tom German
As a top 3 position for the first three games of rookies in DT, there should be some interest here, though probably not in round 1 as none of this trio are likely to be picked before round 3 of the draft.

Mid-Small-Out
Ranga Ediriwickrama, Ben Speight, Cruize Garlett, Dylan McNeil, Jamie Sheahan
Another position where you will have to wait until mid-season to find value, I suspect.

Mid-Tall-In
Tom Swift
This is an interesting one. Swift is being touted as a first-rounder, with Geelong stating in public their desire to draft him at #15, only to hear that other clubs are also looking at him with earlier picks. However, tall inside midfielders traditionally do very poorly to start with in fantasy, especially in Super Coach. Perhaps the size that used to have these kids tower over their rivals in junior ranks doesn’t seem so big when they start matching up at the bottom of AFL packs with full-grown men? Whatever the reason, this is one player to watch carefully in the pre-season if you’re thinking about stashing him on your bench. (A note: I’m not fully confident on whether he’s inside or outside.)

Mid-Tall-Out
Luke Stanton
Will be picked up very late if at all in the National Draft, but if he gets rookied then perversely he may become more attractive.

Ruckman-Tall
Nick Naitanui, Tyrone Vickery, Ayce Cordy, Andrew Browne, Bart McColluch, Broc McCauley, Jarred Redden, Joel Smouha, Jordan Roughead, Rhys Stanley, Zachary Clarke
My feeling is that the top two are overpriced and there’s a lot more value this year in second-and third-year rucks who are still at bargain prices. Pre-season form will tell a lot about NicNat and Vickery, especially the role that their teams are going to expect of them.

Utility-Med
Jack Ziebell, Rhys O’Keefe
A strong top five position in all fantasy comps for rookies, so it’s no surprise that both of these players are figuring heavily on plan team benches. I reckon the popularity of both of these players will only grow in the pre-season with a good showing or two in the NAB.

Utility-Tall
Jordan Lisle, Steve Gaertner, Tom Lynch, Shaun McKernan
This position is a special one for Super Coach, as the aforementioned Brown and Taylor were both outstanding in that competition this year despite having less than impressive Dream Team debut years. McKernan is a ruck/forward but the other three are all likely to get back/forward eligibility, which will lead to them being very heavily scrutinised with a view to stashing them on back benches.

So, did I get any of my guesses horribly wrong? Does this change your mind about any draftee you were wavering over? Let me know in the comments.