JAKE Lever, the midfielder?

Melbourne's resident intercepting defender, coach Simon Goodwin and national recruiting manager Jason Taylor joke about it now, but Taylor was dead serious in Lever's draft year in 2014.

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Taylor ended up choosing Christian Petracca and Angus Brayshaw with picks two and three, knowing Lever wouldn't be available with the Demons' next selection at No.40.

However, the recruiting guru was so enamoured with Lever he made a point of informing him he wasn't going to take him but rated him extremely highly.

"Jason wanted me to play midfield and I still tell him I can but 'Goody' doesn't listen," Lever told AFL.com.au with a laugh.

"Sometimes I look at the midfield conditioning sessions at the end of training and think, 'Gee, I'm glad I'm a tall back, I'll just stick over here'.

"'Goody' couldn't believe Jason Taylor thought I'd be a midfielder, but me and Jase have stuck true to our words and we're going to try it one day – even if it's just for a pre-season session."

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It's unlikely Goodwin will budge on this one.

Melbourne's invested plenty in Lever, including sending two first-round draft picks as part of a package to Adelaide in the 2017 Trade Period to secure the now 24-year-old.

Being compared to Rance, sometimes you look too far ahead, but for me I was just really humbled to be spoken about in the same sentence as him

- Jake Lever

That move was made with the man who's been compared to champion defender Alex Rance being a key member of the backline, alongside fellow recruit Steven May.

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Throw in Neville Jetta, All-Australian Michael Hibberd, Christian Salem, Oscar McDonald and Jay Lockhart and there is the makings of a strong defensive set-up.

It hasn't gone according to plan so far, with a second career ACL rupture sidelining Lever from the Demons' finals campaign two years ago and bone bruising on the same knee keeping him to eight games in 2019.

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May, too, appeared only eight times last season.

Now Lever is waiting again because of the coronavirus shutdown but is ready to prove his worth once the season resumes.

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"I played the last seven games last year and that gave me some real confidence going into the off-season," he said.

"I had a little bit of an ankle cleanout at the end of the year but I was back walking basically a day later, so there was nothing really to that 

"I had a really strong pre-season – I think I did every session, which was very pleasing – and that gives you a lot of confidence going into the year."

The Rance comparisons have lessened in the past two seasons, largely because Lever's rarely been sighted.

His intercept marks are only slightly down from his outrageous 3.7 per game in 2017 and still have him comfortably in elite company.

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"Being compared to Rance, sometimes you look too far ahead, but for me I was just really humbled to be spoken about in the same sentence as him," Lever said.

"He was an absolutely amazing player and I still watch highlights of him now, sitting on the computer at the club, and you just love watching him play, because he loved getting the ball back for his team.

"That's one thing I pride myself on, is getting the ball back for Melbourne. I'm still working on nullifying opponents, and for me that's going to still be something to work on when I get back and next pre-season and next season.

"We have a pretty good defensive group down there and we haven't been able to prove it a lot together but I'm super excited to get back and playing footy."