Calder Cannons star Josh Goater has risen up the draft board in 2021, with the midfielder showing serious development over the past 12 months.
His pre-season testing was where he first gained widespread attention, finishing equal first in the vertical (80 cm) and running vertical (96 cm) jump and sixth in the 20m sprint (2.92 seconds).
Throughout his season with the Cannons, it has been his versatility that has been a draw for scouts. Goater proved to be a jack-of-all-trades playing all around the ground.
Being tall from a young age, he spent the first part of his career playing as centre-half forward. His athleticism and speed made him a nightmare matchup for opposition defenders.
JOSH GOATER | DRAFT PROSPECT
Here's 1 minute of the athletic & agile Josh Goater. Latest Twomey Rank #18. I like the look of him. Has a nice spring in his step. Smart & composed in traffic. Looks underrated compared to others I've posted.#weflyasone
— Vardy Magic (@VardyMagic) October 7, 2021
This year, the Cannons experimented with Goater also giving him time in the midfield and across half-back.
As a midfielder, he averaged 24.5 disposals and 8.0 clearances in the Vic Metro trial games, and 21.6 disposals and 5.2 clearances in the NAB league.
Equally impressive was his time spend down back, averaging 30.5 disposals, 8.5 intercept possessions and 4.0 intercept marks in three games played in defence.
That verstility makes him highly attractive to many clubs, who can rely on him to fill a range of team needs. It also provides him plenty of opportunities to play some meaningful AFL football in 2022.
With his size and attributes, the Cannons and multiple AFL clubs believe that the midfield is where Goater will play his best football.
It also appears to be his preferred position going forward, telling AFL.com.au: "I really enjoyed the experience of playing midfield and hopefully I can keep developing that and push into becoming an AFL midfielder."
One thing that all clubs have to consider when drafting is the location of each potential pick. While the 'go home' factor has been an issue for many clubs over the past decade, Goater could be a different prospect. His father David was born in Western Australia, playing for East Perth in his youth.
"I do have family over in WA, so it's obviously something that I wouldn't shy away from and I'd be more than willing to move across. I'd be happy with any club that would be interested in taking me at the draft, so I wouldn't shy away from going to WA. I'd be willing to do whatever," Goater told AFL.com.au.
One of the major areas that Goater will need to improve on is his endurance. Other midfielders in the draft class have proven to be running beasts, which is something that Goater hasn't demonstrated yet.
Despite his quick speed, he would often fail to reach a contest or transition back into defence due to fatigue. As shown by his performance down back, his marking and read of play could be an asset when playing in the midfield. By having the running capacity to reach and impact more contests, Goater could elevate his game to the next level.
His other deficiency is his field-kicking, especially when playing in the midfield. Likely linked with his endurance issues, Goater would break out of the contest only to undo all the good work with an inaccurate kick.
Possessing most of the tools that a star player needs, Goater could be one of the surprise players of this year's draft. If he manages to significantly improve his running capacity, he has the skills and attributes to be one of the premier picks in this year's crop.
Even if that doesn't eventuate, he will still be an athletic half-back or forward capable of high flying marks and breathtaking highlights.
Team: Calder Cannons
Height: 190 cm
Weight: 79 kg
Needs to add more size
Potential landing spots
"Goater has the versatility that will appeal to clubs, with the Cannons prospect able to be used off half-back as a runner or through the midfield. He is quick, athletic and can jump to use his size to effect around the ground." Cal Twomey
"Versatile midfielder who uses his height, natural spring, speed and agility to win and use the ball efficiently in a range of roles both inside and outside and can also play in defence. His vision, decision-making and execution by hand and foot is a real weapon and stood out in his seven matches in the NAB League" - Kevin Sheehan