THE NAB AFL Draft has been a long time coming for Jaidyn Stephenson. As a 16-year-old, the wiry forward made his TAC Cup debut for the Eastern Ranges at the end of 2015 – more than two years before he was eligible to be picked by an AFL club.

He went on to feature in the Ranges' finals series, before again starring at that level as a goalkicker last season as a bottom-ager, where he booted 23 majors from 11 games.

This season saw Stephenson gradually change his game. He could have continued to play as a deep forward and use his brilliant speed and smarts there, but instead he pushed himself to move into the midfield and show his wares there.

It took an adjustment period, but Stephenson saw the rewards in the second half of the season when he was one of the best performed players in the pool. He added another element to his game and in the process proved plenty to some scouts who weren't sure he could have an impact outside the forward 50.

As a forward, Stephenson can play as a deep target, or one who leads up at the ball and gets away from his man. He booted five goals in the opening round of the TAC Cup season, can leap high and take a strong mark, and he has genuine pace to get away from his opponent – he ran 2.97 seconds over 20 metres at the NAB AFL Draft Combine.

His breakout game of the national carnival for Vic Metro came against South Australia when he kicked five goals and had 28 disposals from the wing, and he carried that form into the second half of the season in the midfield for the Ranges. One game he gathered a season-high 39 disposals, and in their final had 30 disposals and kicked a goal as his side's best player.

Stephenson is a risk-taking player who breaks the lines not just with his pace but also his dare. Something tends to happen when he has the ball in his hands, and he finished the season averaging 22.6 disposals, of which about half were contested. He also upped his tackle count as the season went on, averaging more than five a game.

Whether Stephenson can translate his form as a midfielder at under-18 level to the AFL remains to be seen, and is something clubs will consider when weighing him as a top-end pick. He will also need to add some weight to his lighter frame, but that can generally be easily done in an AFL system.

It's very difficult to find a comparison for Stephenson, given his broad and unique range of skills. Some have likened him when playing forward to Greater Western Sydney's Jeremy Cameron, with his long stretch, lean build and genuine speed. He doesn't play as a key forward like Cameron, however.

Stephenson has been on the radar as an early selection for some time and that hasn't ever really changed. Is a top-10 talent and clubs with those selections will have to consider him strongly. 

Stephenson is one of the most exciting players in the draft. He jumps, he runs, he kicks goals, he takes things on and he loves to thrill. Footy is a game to him and he plays on instinct.