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Tomorrow's Heroes: Clubs get free swing at tall

Tomorrow's Heroes: Jarrod Brander The versatile key position prospect is widely considered the best tall in the draft

IT HAS been an interesting 12 months for Jarrod Brander. The key position prospect has been long been seen as a likely early draft pick for this year, and until about this time last season, he looked headed to Greater Western Sydney.

Brander had been in the club's academy since he was 12, but as the AFL begun to consider realigning the Giants' vast zone, the teenager's place within it became a big point of conjecture.

In the end, the AFL restructured the Giants' academy region, and Brander was excluded from it. Suddenly, one of the leading key position players in the pool was available to the whole pool.

Brander had an up and down season, playing at both ends of the field, sometimes even within the same quarter. Despite not being eligible to join the Giants as an academy selection, he did feature in their academy series side earlier in the year before playing for the Allies in the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships.

Brander is a good overhead mark who has the ability to have a commanding influence on a game. We saw that most prominently when he played for the Allies against Vic Metro, steering his side to a surprise win with three goals. That day at Simonds Stadium he played with presence, leapt at the ball confidently, and was agile around the ground.  

He's also able to play as an intercept marking defender, and has shown the ability to read the play well and get into the right spots to cut off forward forays and get the ball going his team's way.

Consistency has evaded Brander at times, making him difficult to assess throughout his draft season. That can happen for young talls coming through the draft.

Where clubs think Brander plays his best football might also impact where they view him in the draft. He hasn't been able to completely lock himself into one spot, and although that could also be seen as an advantage, some recruiters may have preferred he had settled into one spot and dominated there.   

There's a bit of Lachie Henderson to Brander in the way he can play comfortably at both ends of the ground and hold down the fort, like Henderson does for the Cats.  

He seems likely to be one of the first talls drafted. That could see him taken anywhere between pick No.5 and the latter parts of the first round.

Brander has plenty of the tools you want in a key position prospect, and if a club is looking for a tall he has to be in their thinking early in the piece.