IF ANYONE needed a reminder of Lochie O'Brien's running power, it came on the final day of the NAB AFL Draft Combine. 

In the first time the 2km time trial had been undertaken at the combine, the Bendigo Pioneers midfielder/half-back completed the run in 6min 12sec. He finished second overall, but his time would have been ranked elite at AFL clubs, with any finish around the six-minute mark considered top-end. 

O'Brien, who has a strong athletics background, had a frustrating season, which included some form dips and a knee injury that bugged him in the middle part of the year and kept popping up. 

The 18-year-old, who played for the Bendigo Pioneers at TAC Cup level but moved from Mildura to board at Geelong Grammar, has been on the radar of clubs for several years.   

O'Brien's kicking will make others look good. He's the player that forwards want to be leading to, because he can direct where they move with his piercing left-foot ball use, and he's also adept on his non-preferred right side. That gives him some flexibility and allows him to be used across half-back as a set-up player or on the wing. 

A role further up the ground suits his running ability and aerobic base, which was on show in the NAB AFL All Stars game on Grand Final morning, when he pushed onto the wing and finished with 24 disposals and a goal. His creativity by foot, combined with his capacity to work up and down the ground, made him a dangerous option. He brings real class to the pool.

It was a challenging season for O'Brien when he struggled to piece together his best form consistently. That lack of continuity meant he struggled to really make a position his own. His role at under-18 level has been mainly as an outside player, and he'll need to get a better balance of contested and uncontested disposals (he had seven contested touches in the championships to 39 uncontested).

Comparisons have been drawn to West Coast's Andrew Gaff, mainly in O'Brien's hard-running style and neat left foot.

O'Brien started the season viewed by recruiters as a likely top-10 pick, but his draft range appears set to be a bit later than that. He could be picked from No.15 or so onwards, somewhere into the second round. It's hard to see him getting through the 20s.

There are few players in the pool with the same class and endurance combination as O'Brien, which gives him a couple of genuine weapons. You could easily picture O'Brien running down the wing in an AFL game, burning off an opponent and delivering a lace-out pass.