MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 23: Sam Butler of the Rebels in action during the NAB League match between Eastern Ranges and the GWV Rebels at Highgate Reserve on May 23, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Jonathan DiMaggio/AFL Photos/via Getty Images )

The athletic and lightning-quick Sam Butler put AFL clubs on notice last month, starring in the Vic Country draft combine.

He finished with the quickest 20m sprint time and was second in both the running and standing vertical jump.

Butler isn't just an athletic threat, however, showing versatility and the ability to win the ball on the inside while playing in the NAB league.

The mid-forward spent equal time between the two positions, averaging 17.1 disposals, 4.8 tackles and 0.8 goals per game. Amongst all mid-forwards in the NAB League, he was ranked No.1 for tackles (4.8), contested possessions (9.2 per game) and goals (0.8).

Another thing that sets Butler apart from other players in his draft class is his two-way running. With his quick acceleration, he can chase down an opponent, get to a contest or generate a turnover. He is happy to do the one-percenters that might not get on the scoreboard but makes a difference for his team.

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As the brother of St Kilda forward Dan Butler, Sam has been around footy clubs for the past seven years. This has been a valuable experience for Sam, with his brother's premiership success spurring on his desire to play in the AFL himself.

"It has been good, especially watching him get that premiership and then seeing him make the All-Australian squad last year. That was good to see as well, just for him and what it did for his confidence," Sam told AFL.com.au.

"With him getting traded and going to a different club, it gave me more of an insight into what it's like. You know what it was like at the Tigers and now the Saints. It's helped me prepare if I was to get drafted, for life at an AFL club. I've seen those experiences and you know what the environments are like."

One area that Butler needs to improve on is his decision-making in the contest. With his blistering speed, he has the ability to burst away from the pack to compose himself and analyse the situation better. He has shown flashes of this throughout the NAB League, but would often opt for a quick handball or kick instead.

An exciting prospect for many clubs, he still has a few areas to address to live up to his potential. He looms as a short-term forward who could potentially push into the midfield after more AFL experience. His defensive effort will impress coaches though, and will likely result in AFL experience in 2022.

While not likely to feature at the top-end of the first round, Richmond could have a look at selecting their second Butler in the draft.

Team: GWV Rebels
Position: Midfield/Medium Forward
Height: 184cm
Weight: 73kg

Strengths

Speed
Athleticism
Defensive impact

Weaknesses

Needs to improve kicking
Decision making in the contest

Draft Range

15-25

Potential Landing Spots

Richmond (Pick 15)
Fremantle (Pick 19)
Geelong (Pick 22)
Carlton (Pick 25)

AFL Comparisons

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 01: Zac Bailey of the Lions prepares to kick the winning goal after the siren during the 2021 AFL Round 03 match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Brisbane Lions at Marvel Stadium on April 01, 2021, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Zac Bailey
Stephen Hill
Chad Wingard

Expert Comments

"Butler reminded recruiters of his all-round capabilities with a strong Combine showing, leading the Vic Country testing for the 20-metre sprint (2.97 seconds) as well as finishing second in the standing vertical jump (71cm) and running vertical jump (87cm) tests. The younger brother of St Kilda forward Dan, the Rebels talent had an impressive season, including a 27-disposal performance to finish his year in the NAB League. Butler is a smart midfielder/forward who impacts games with clever ball use and quick decisions." - Cal Twomey