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29 days to the draft: Meet contested beast Charlie Curnow

Draft Trumps: Charlie Curnow The Geelong Falcon is versatile tall in the mould of Jake Stringer and looms as a top 10 pick

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IT IS one of the disappointments of this year's draft that just as Charlie Curnow looked set to try his hand at a midfield role his season was interrupted by injury.

The Geelong Falcon started the season seen as a combative and dangerous forward prospect, but the plan was always to throw him into the midfield to see what he could produce.

Then injury struck, and a dislocated kneecap ruled him out of action for three months, including the mid-year NAB AFL Under-18 Championships with Vic Country. Although at stages it appeared he would not return as opinions swung on the damage sustained in the injury, Curnow came back for the Falcons' final five games of the season and impressed.

Curnow is the younger brother of Carlton midfielder Ed, and there are strong athletic bloodlines in the family: his other brother George also played with the Falcons, his sister Eliza is a national 800-metre runner and other sister Charlotte has competed in pentathlons.

It all adds up to make the laidback Curnow an exciting package for clubs given he can play in a range of different positions. In recruiter speak, he is a prospect with plenty of upside.

Curnow is big, strong, and reasonably untapped in terms of the player he could become at the next level. As a forward his marking is his biggest trick, for he is able to outmuscle opponents and drag in contested grabs often. When up and going, he carries a presence around the forward line that draws the ball.

The 18-year-old also has a natural running power that will hold him in good stead at the next level. He's not especially quick off the mark (his 20m sprint time at the combine was 3.15) but he can keep going: he ran 14.5 in the beep test and the 3km time trial in 10:24 minutes, which put him in the top 20 per cent of participants.

Curnow has the potential to be one of the best players from this year's draft and for that reason he's exciting. He is physical and willing to throw around his sturdy frame and ultimately may be a tall ball-winning midfielder who is impossible to get past at the stoppages. 

The 'What's he going to be?' question will have recruiters divided. Some see him as a tall forward with his marking and goal sense, but at 191cm Curnow is probably not going to be the main target in an AFL team. Others like to think he could be the powerful midfielder who also pushes forward, a role he was about to take on before the injury.  

That's the main query on Curnow. His sample size of form is good, but it isn't as extensive as other players likely to be drafted in the same area. Curnow's kicking is at times a little off – he booted 4.5 in one of Geelong's finals – but getting into a full-time system should refine that. 

There might be a little bit of Jack Darling in the way Curnow might play as a forward at the top level. He should be able to replicate the West Coast big man's running capacity, and work up and down the ground like a midfielder. Curnow is the same height as Darling and could end up a similar attacking option.

Despite his relatively smaller sample of games, Curnow sits right at the pointy end of the draft. Gold Coast, Essendon and Melbourne would all consider Curnow with their top-10 selections given his unique capacity to have a say on games. He might have been a clear-cut top-three pick with a full season.

Curnow is the 'Could be anything' player in this year's draft. He's a bit raw at times and will need to refine a couple of things in his game, but Curnow has only really just scratched the surface of his talent. Look out when it all comes together because he has the tools to make a real impact.  

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs