HAVING missed a significant amount of football through injury in the previous two seasons, Ed Vickers-Willis was determined to thrive in 2014.
And thrive he did - things developed nicely for the Sandringham Dragons defender, who averaged nearly 20 disposals in nine games for the TAC Cup club this season.
Playing as a versatile defender, Vickers-Willis also made an impact for Vic Metro during the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships to press his claims as a first-round draft selection.
On top of his footy, Vickers-Willis is widely seen among clubs as one of the most impressive players to interview in this draft pool.
Intelligent, balanced and mature, his leadership skills were evident in his footy and away from the field too, as school captain at Melbourne Grammar.
Vickers-Willis is a disciplined defender, one who sticks to the task he's been given and generally gets the job done. He can nestle into the backline and generate some run, but also helps his side set things up.
At 190cm and 82kg he has the build to play on a number of types of forwards. At different stages through the season with the Sandringham Dragons he was used to try and stop Christian Petracca and Darcy Moore – two very distinct players.
He spoils and defends well and, although in a relatively understated way, gives solid run off half-back. A consistent championships, where he averaged 16 disposals at 81 per cent efficiency, saw Vickers-Willis win All Australian honours.
He also has the ability to transition more into the midfield in the future with good endurance, pace and game sense.
Vickers-Willis could tidy up his kicking a fraction at times, but it's a pretty small knock and he tested well at the national combine by foot (scoring 26 out of 30 in the kicking test). He won't play key position at the top level but there is certainly a role for him in the back half.
There is a bit of Dale Morris to Vickers-Willis in his single-minded approach to stop his opponent and do what's asked of him. They are the same height, even though Vickers-Willis might end up taking his skills into the midfield more than the Bulldogs' veteran.
He's likely to be picked somewhere in the 15-30 range after a strong and consistent season.
Vickers-Willis might not be a highlights machine, but he does his job and does it well. Has proved his ability in defence and looks set for a move up the ground in time. No fuss, and happy enough to do what his coaches' ask him, Vickers-Willis has strong team-oriented traits.