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Tomorrow's Heroes: A midfield beast with genuine pace

Injury cruelled Jye Caldwell's TAC Cup season, but he is still a highly rated prospect - AFL,Draft,Jye Caldwell
Injury cruelled Jye Caldwell's TAC Cup season, but he is still a highly rated prospect

IT WASN'T the year Jye Caldwell hoped for. Injury meant the potential top-10 pick managed just three games for TAC Cup club Bendigo Pioneers, one for Vic Country and a handful for school side Geelong Grammar.

A serious hamstring tear in Country's first game of the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships saw him miss the rest of the carnival and then some, before he returned to play for the Pioneers late in the year.

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In the Pioneers' final game of the season, which Caldwell had started promisingly in the midfield, he lunged for a tackle but suffered a minor strain to his other hamstring and his day ended.

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The injury meant he was unable to test at the NAB AFL Draft Combine.

In limited appearances this year Caldwell was still able to stamp himself on games. The midfielder is at his best when powering through packs of players and coming out the other side with the ball in his grasp.

He's a strong-bodied player who is balanced, tough and physical, and happy to bust into others to make the ball his. Recruiters saw that side of Caldwell in a practice match at the start of this season at Punt Road Oval, when he charged into Murray Bushrangers forward Zane Barzen as he attacked the ball.

Caldwell's hands are good, he has genuine speed and can find the ball. He has a strong footy IQ when the ball is up for grabs and enjoys the challenge of getting it.

The repeat hamstring issues are something that clubs would have had their medical teams check over at the NAB AFL Draft Combine. It's unusual for a draft prospect to be getting so many soft-tissue concerns in the space of a year.

In terms of his game, Caldwell could perhaps be a little more polished by foot but he's generally under the pump when he's got the ball which impacts disposal efficiency numbers.

With his speed and breakaway movement, Caldwell can look a little like Greater Western Sydney gun Stephen Coniglio when he jumps out of a stoppage with the ball tucked under his arm.

There are plenty of clubs who rate Caldwell in the best six players in the pool. St Kilda is considering him at No.4, and Port Adelaide, Gold Coast and Adelaide are also right in the mix.

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If Caldwell had played a full season there'd be plenty more buzz about him as a prospect. He's in the best handful of pure midfielders in the group. If the ball's there to get, he'll find it.