CLUB: Bendigo Pioneers/ Geelong Grammar / VIC Country
POSITION: Inside Midfielder/Forward
PICK RANGE: 1-5
- Inside Dominator
– One of the best stoppage players in this year’s Draft
- Dual Threat
– Inside 50 target with great goal sense
– Superb acceleration to create separation
It probably took too long for everyone to jump on the Paddy Dow bandwagon, but I think it is fair to say that almost everyone now is fastened tightly aboard.
Dow was certainly a player of interest coming into the 2017 season after displaying his stoppage and midfield nous as a bottom ager, most notably at Punt Rd Oval for the Judd and O’Loughlin All Stars U17 clash on AFL Grand Final day. Although a lack of TAC Cup exposure pre-champs left him hovering under the radar. He was producing some brilliant football too, having a huge influence for his school, Geelong Grammar, by dominating the stoppages and hitting the scoreboard, which included a bag of seven goals.
But like most elite junior footballers, their true qualities are highlighted when the standard is at its highest and Dow’s contested ability shone at the Championships. He didn’t win huge amounts of the ball and probably didn’t spread to space as often as he could have, but his inside percentages were off the charts. Against Metro 12 of his 17 disposals were contested with 5 clearances and backed that up against WA with 15 of 23 disposals contested, on top of 6 clearances.
It was no surprise to see him named in the All Australian midfield group and rightfully in the discussions of being a top ten proposition. Although his status grew further when he returned for Bendigo against Gippsland Power, where he collected 35 disposals, 21 contested possessions, six clearances and finished off a best on ground performance with two goals.
While some were already talking him up as a potential No.1 prospect, that performance gave the industry as a whole a greater indication that Dow does indeed mix it with the best of the 2017 pool. Unfortunately, it was the last game we’d see of him in 2017, as a shoulder injury and the resulting surgery shut his season down. While he couldn’t play any more football or test at the combine, you suspect more than enough has been seen.
WHY PICK HIM?
He has inside tricks that no other player in this draft possesses. There are elite stoppage traits that I’m certain will be transferred to the top level. When he wins the ball in traffic, he has a happy knack of creating space for his team. What is most impressive is that he has multiple ways of manufacturing that real estate for himself or teammates. He has a fast side step, can draw players, makes quick decisions and is explosive when a gap presents itself.
As the season went on, the more dangerous he looked when resting forward. He has genuine goal sense and appears to have scope to improve further inside 50. Dow is probably underrated in his ability to take a contested overhead mark. He positions himself well and often finishes the job with soft hands in the air. He is a great size at 185cm and will demand a defender with an outstanding athletic profile to avoid dangerous separation. While I don’t want to create unrealistic expectations for the kid, but these attributes appear very comparable to a certain Brownlow Medallist who he shares a first name with. The most exciting part is that there could be so much more development to come.
THE QUESTION MARKS?
There isn’t a whole lot to be worried by for the clubs considering calling Dow’s name out on Draft night, but there will be areas he’ll look to balance out when he gets to a club. Some have questioned whether he wins enough of the ball, especially after averaging under 20 disposals for Vic Country. No one can fault his contested numbers, but he needs to find easier footy on the outside to not only lift his disposal tallies, but occasionally escape the demanding environment of a contested situation. When Dow finds space from a stoppage, he is a long metres player too, so that should be enough encouragement to get in more outside offensive positions.
While Dow is prone to the occasional floater when running at top speed, he is a more than capable kick when settled and in technical shape. Missing testing at the Combine isn’t an issue either, after proving his speed with sub three second 20 metres times earlier in the season.
It isn’t very often that explosive stoppage specialists with size are available and clubs often have to swoop quickly, which makes Paddy Dow a sought after commodity. The potential flexibility forward offers even greater rewards, which also meets the trending tactics of medium targets inside 50 being back in vogue. Whichever way you look at it, I find it very difficult seeing all of Brisbane, Fremantle and Carlton passing him up, as I feel the star factor he radiates is too much to ignore. Paddy Dow is the best player available in my book.