to take on the game at every available opportunity
The annual AFL Draft Combine is an opportunity for AFL clubs to interview, observe and test the best up-and-coming talent on the track with athletic testing and on the field with skill testing.All AFL clubs have data on each player from earlier in the season and in previous years. The testing and measurements taken at the combine include but are not limited to height, weight, arm length and hand sizes. This gives clubs a feel for a players potential for improvement and also provides context behind why a particular player may be terrific in one area of their game but struggle in another.Athletic and skill testing, while insightful, should not have much if any effect on the draft stocks of the players in attendance, but rather it should be viewed with an understanding of those results in the context of what the player shows on game day.Draft combine record holder in the 20m sprint and repeat sprint Joel Wilkinson (former Gold Coast defender and briefly an NFL prospect with the Arizona Cardinals) was unable to practically apply the speed he demonstrated on the track, in game, providing little offensive run.By contrast, there will be other players who will test poorly, either due to injuries they may be carrying or they may seem faster in game due to their quick footy brains. Cyril Rioli is a perfect example of testing results deceiving and not telling the full story. In his draft year, his speed testing was surprisingly average. His 2.96 second 20m sprint would not have placed him inside this years top 10 while his 8.89 second agility time is rated below average. But then as soon as he steps onto a footy field, his speed is undeniable.There are countless exceptions with the other forms of athletic testing and also the skill testing. For skill testing, ex-Blue Clem Smith is a recent example where the result from the testing is completely contrasting to what he showed in the under-18s. He finished inside the top 10, a result entirely opposing anything recruiters had seen of him during the year in what for Smith was clearly one of the weaker elements to his game from his junior career.While it is interesting to see how players compare in the testing, it should ultimately be looked at with an understanding of those results in the context of the games the players have put forward during the season, to provide more meaningful insight into why players are strong in particular areas of the game and not as strong in others.Who didnt test?Hugh McCluggage, Will Brodie, Tim Taranto, Will Setterfield, Todd Marshall, Daniel Venables, Jy Simpkin, Alex Witherden, Jack Graham, Brad Scheer, Luke Ryan, Josh Daicos, Hamish Brayshaw, and Elliott Himmelberg all sat out due either to soreness or injury.Testing resultsClean hands test (score out of a possible 30)Ben Jarman (28) Oliver Florent (28) Ryan Garthwaite (28) Callum Brown (27) Jarrod Berry (27) Will Hayward (27) Patrick Lipinski (27) Sam Powell-Pepper (27) Jack Bowes (27) Isaac Cumming (26) Joe Atley (26) Myles Poholke (26) Jonty Scharenberg (26) Harry Perryman (26) Jack Maibaum (26)Kicking test (score out of a possible 30)Jordan Ridley (27) Isaac Cumming (26) Jarrod Berry (25) Ben Long (25) Sam Walker (25) Josh Williams (25) Ben Jarman (24) Tom Williamson (24) Dylan Clarke (24) Kym LeBois (23) Willem Drew (23) Josh Battle (23) Jake Waterman (23)Goalkicking test (score out of a possible 30) Sam Powell-Pepper (30) Harry Morrison (25) Joe Atley (25) Josh Williams (25) Jonty Scharenberg (25) Ryan Garthwaite (25) Zachary Sproule (25) Tim English (25) Liam Baker (25) Ben Jarman (24) Tyson Stengle (24)Beep test Jarrod Berry (level 15.1) Oliver Florent (15.1) Griffin Logue (15.1) Harry Morrison (14.12) Dylan Clarke (14.12) Sam Powell-Pepper (14.7) Liam Baker (14.5) Tom Williamson (14.5) Patrick Lipinski (14.5) Jordan Gallucci (14.5)20 metre sprintJacob Allison (2.87 seconds) Ben Ainsworth (2.90) Josh Rotham (2.92) Josh Williams (2.93) Bailey Morrish (2.93) Taylin Duman (2.93) Esava Ratugolea (2.93) Will Hayward (2.94) Tony Olango (2.94) Shai Bolton (2.95)Agility Tom Williamson (8.15 seconds) Jack Maibaum (8.19) Sam Powell-Pepper (8.24) Harry Morrison (8.26) Oliver Florent (8.26) Matt Guelfi (8.29) Isaac Cumming (8.29) Ben Ainsworth (8.36) Jack Scrimshaw (8.39) Andrew McGrath (8.38)Standing vertical jumpJordan Gallucci (89cm) Esava Ratugolea (76) Will Hayward (73) Griffin Logue (71) Bailey Morrish (71) Shai Bolton (68) Callum Brown (68) Josh Rotham (67) Max Lynch (67) Jacob Allison (67) Jack Bowes (67) Tom Williamson (67)Running vertical jump (left foot)Andrew McGrath (96cm) Shai Bolton (94) Cameron Zurhaar (92) Brennan Cox (92) Tony Olango (91) Jordan Gallucci (91) Oliver Florent (90) Bailey Morrish (90) Will Hayward (90) Esava Ratugolea (89) Tom Williamson (88) Harry Morrison (88)Running vertical jump (right foot)Griffin Logue (91cm) Bailey Morrish (91) Esava Ratugolea (89) Jordan Gallucci (86) Andrew McGrath (85) Ben Ainsworth (84) Tom Williamson (83) Jack Scrimshaw (83) Declan Watson (83) Mitchell Hinge (83) Jack Bowes (82)Repeat sprint total (six x 30 metre sprints)Jordan Gallucci (24.36 sec) Andrew McGrath (24.44) Bailey Morrish (24.83) Jarrod Berry (24.99) Ben Ainsworth (25.01) Kym LeBois (25.08) Griffin Logue (25.09) Shai Bolton (25.10) Myles Poholke (25.20) Jacob Allison (25.30)3km time trialJarrod Berry (9min 46sec) Tom Williamson (9:50) Dylan Clarke (9:52) * Mark OConnor (9:56) Griffin Logue (9:58)What do the numbers mean?Griffin Logue was one of the standouts during the athletic testing. The 193cm, 92kg key defender from Western Australia excelled. He finished equal first in the beep test and running vertical jump, top five in the standing vertical jump and 3km time trial and top 10 in the repeat sprints.Logue may push as high as the top 10 in this years AFL draft and has intriguing potential. Some see scope in Logue to develop into a big-bodied midfielder in the future. His endurance results, in addition to his evident burst of speed when going for 50/50 balls in games, suggests if he can win the ball and make good decisions with it in traffic, that this is a potentially realistic and intriguing vision of development.In the skill testing, every year there is a selection of players who surprise in finishing in the top 10 of that particular category. Ben Jarman though, not surprisingly was a standout with an equal-top score in the clean hands test while also featuring inside the top 10 in the kicking and goalkicking tests. Jarman was always clean with his disposal during matches while also showing composure under pressure. Jarman at 175cm is a capable forward and midfielder who is expected to be selected in the national draft, as a father-son selection by either Adelaide or Hawthorn. He looks likely to feature somewhere from the second round onwards.One of the most interesting players in this years draft is Esava Ratugolea, a 194cm, 95kg key forward and relieving ruckman, who tested well. He finished second in the standing vertical jump, third in the running vertical jump (left foot) and also inside the top 10 in the running vertical jump (right foot) and 20m sprint. Ratugolea is thought to be of interest to clubs in the latter half of the draft with his raw athleticism and the application he shows on the field, throwing himself at every contest something that some may view as mouldable.Breaking the previous draft combine record in the standing vertical jump was athletic 183cm midfielder Jordan Gallucci. Gallucci also finished first in the repeat sprint and inside the top 10 in the beep test and running vertical jumps off his right and left feet. Athletically during games, he is at his best accelerating away from centre bounces and has some hot games where he puts his athletic attributes on full display.Likely top-two pick, Andrew McGrath, a 179cm running half-back flanker and midfielder, had the highest running vertical jump off his (left foot) at the combine. He also finished second in the repeat sprint, top five in the running vertical jump off his (right foot) while squeezing into the top 10 in the agility test. McGrath has demonstrated outstanding run and carry off half-back and can be found several times each game providing meaningful run and carry with ball in hand. Occasionally when he pushes down back he has also shown some aerial marking prowess, though its his running with ball in hand that really wows recruiters.If anyone was to break a jumping record, many would have predicted Ben Ainsworth rather than Gallucci based on how high he has elevated during the season for several of his marks up forward. Nonetheless Ainsworth, a 179cm forward and midfielder, performed strongly at the combine. He placed second in the 20 metre sprint, top five in the repeat sprints and top 10 in the running vertical jump off his (right foot) and in the agility test. Ainsworth has built a strong reputation this year for his athletic leaping and strong marking up forward, but he has also at times when pushed up the field shown eye-catching acceleration with ball in hand.Dylan Clarke, the brother of North Melbournes Ryan, was another notable performer in the athletic testing, finishing inside the top five for both the beep test and 3km time trial. Clarke, a 187cm, 85kg, big-bodied stoppage specialist, is a dominant contested-ball winner and having such outstanding endurance in game means he is able to get from contest to contest. He also, much to the surprise of those who have watched him this season, finished in the top 10 in the kicking test. During the season Clarke has shown inconsistency by foot, not always hitting his intended targets.While in games he comes across as more of a burst athlete, 186cm, 83kg, strong bodied utility, Sam Powell-Pepper performed excellently in the agility and beep tests. He finished third and sixth in each of the tests respectively. He also finished inside the top 10 in the clean hands test and surprisingly was the only player to achieve a perfect 30/30 in the goalkicking test. On game day, Powell-Pepper has demonstrated excellent ground-ball winning ability, having the cleanness to hit the ball and win it at high speed. He also has an explosive sidestep and ability to change direction which also shone through with his agility test results.Having an impressive draft combine was Brisbane Academy prospect Jacob Allison, who finished first in 20m sprint and top 10 in the standing vertical jump and repeat sprints. At 194cm, 79kg, he is a tall outside runner who boasts a penetrating kick and excellent athletic ability. During games he sometimes uses his pace to break the lines and sometimes he takes leaping marks. These however are elements to his game that he should look to develop into greater weapons in the future. After making the 2015 Under-18 All-Australian Team, this year Allison has fallen out of the first round mix, dropping below his high standard of performance in 2015. Nonetheless he is still likely to feature in the national draft and may feature somewhere towards the middle of the draft.With the best time in the 3km time trial, equal best in the beep test and top five in the repeat sprints, Jarrod Berry impressed most in the endurance categories. He also placed inside the top five in the clean hands and kicking test. The 191cm utility often displays bursts of speed in game with ball in hand, breaking the lines on the outside. His kicking while sometimes damaging during games when he has time and space has often proven inconsistent when pressured. Berry has clean hands overhead and at ground level, but is not uncommonly gifted in either area of the game. He is an above average mark overhead and a capable but not freakish or super powerful ground ball winner. Berry is in the first-round mix and failing a placing late in the first round is expected to be selected somewhere in the second round.Coming second in the running vertical (left foot) and top 10 in the standing vertical, repeat sprints and 20m sprint was Shai Bolton at 178cm, 68kg - one of this years most exciting forwards. Athletically, Bolton stands out when he has ball in hand. It is surprising not to see him inside the top 10 in the clean hands and agility tests which dont do his play justice. Bolton is a one-touch player who can pick up the ball on the move at speed and break the lines, take on the game and dodge and weave around would-be tacklers like it is routine. Given his evident leaping ability from the testing, his game could be furthered by developing into more of an aerial marking threat which he isnt currently as more a ground level player who displays substantial hurt factor with ball in hand. Bolton has developed strongly this year and is likely to feature in either the first or second round.Pushing up draft boards in the last month of the season, Will Hayward a 186cm, 76kg forward had a strong draft combine. He placed top five in the clean hands and standing vertical jump and top 10 in the 20 metre sprint and running vertical jump (left foot). Hayward as a forward does his damage close to goal and his results correlate with what he has shown during games. He a strong mark overhead who can take the ball at the highest point but then is also clean at ground level. He has good acceleration on the lead, often creating separation between himself and his opponent. Hayward also has shown he can leap and take a mark overhead. Hayward is said to be pushing potentially towards the back-end of the first round but is more likely to feature somewhere in the second round.While unable to finish inside the top 10 in any category, Sam Petreveski-Seton narrowly missed out in several categories and requires a mention given the athletic attributes he has demonstrated over the past two seasons. His endurance testing was solid which is a big tick and his speed testing was not far behind the top 10 either. With Petreveski-Seton unable to make the top 10 in any category, it is a clean indication that the athletic and skill testing does not tell the whole story. Petreveski-Seton is one of truly freakishly clean players at ground level and has explosive acceleration, evasiveness in traffic, a sidestep that can get him around just about anyone and a natural instinct with ball in hand to take on the game at every available opportunity. He is also one of if not arguably the best dual-sided kick in this draft. 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