WELCOME to our new series, counting down to the NAB AFL Draft. In the lead-up to D-Day on November 27 we’ll uncover one future star perday. Find out what makes each player tick with exclusive interviews andmatch video. And learn why they have clubs salivating with stats andanalysis from our draft experts.
LUCK played no part in Angus Brayshaw's first-class 2014 season, which is likely to see him end the year as a top-five draft pick.
Brayshaw was nine days away from being eligible for last year's NAB AFL Draft, but had he just snuck in, he might not have even been a top-30 selection after an injury-affected season.
But everything went right for the midfielder this year after working hard over summer to improve his speed, strengthen his core, and hit the season in top form.
The son of former North Melbourne player (and current Coaches' Association CEO) Mark Brayshaw never really stopped, and with each game showed why clubs with early selections will strongly consider him.
An ankle injury towards the end of the year saw Brayshaw miss the Sandringham Dragons' semi-final defeat and also sit out testing at the NAB AFL Draft Combine, but he had done enough. He is ready to begin his AFL career.
For a start, he gets plenty of the ball. In 11 games for the Dragons this season, he averaged 24 disposals (12 contested) and six clearances. In the under-18 championships, Brayshaw averaged 22 disposals for Vic Metro.
At stoppages Brayshaw is hard to stop: he can sense where he has to be to get the ball, and isn't deterred if he gets hit, hurt or blocked in the process. There were plenty of times during the year where Brayshaw copped a heavy knock and looked sore, before dragging himself off the ground and getting on with things.
He's added a breakaway burst which separates him from others, and he kicks so well on both feet it's hard to know which side is his preferred (he's a right-footer for set shots and uses his left in general play, if you're wondering).
He shows his natural flair around goal – he kicked 17 goals for the Dragons this season – and is a smart, articulate and respected leader who takes his team with him. He knows when to step up and impact a game, and does it often.
Some clubs at the start of the season might have been keen to see him use his speed more in games (he ran a 2.81 second 20-metre sprint in March) but he's learned how to do that through the year. There's not much to be worried about with Brayshaw. He's a very solid bet.
There was a point midway through the season when, having watched Brayshaw bust out of a pack, a recruiter turned and said he plays like Joel Selwood. His mature build and fearless approach lends itself to those comparisons, and he has also got some traits like Ollie Wines in his fierce desire to have his hands on the ball.
Brayshaw will be picked in the first handful of selections. He's right at the top of the draft and with good reason.
It is easy to see why some clubs think Brayshaw is best positioned to have the biggest impact at AFL level next season of all 2014 draftees. He's a big, strong and powerful midfielder suited to modern football, and a player who imposes himself on contests when a game is up for grabs.