Player Watch #3 Dylan Stephens - Pick 5

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Kennedy Parker

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Jul 9, 2015
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Dylan Stephens
The Sydney Swans used their first pick five since Jarrad McVeigh in 2002 to lock in a talented midfielder from South Australian club Norwood at the 2019 AFL Draft. Dylan Stephens is a prolific ball-winner and creative user of the footy by hand and foot. He played predominantly on a wing in the early matches of the 2019 AFL Under-18 Championships before starring on the inside in the final match, gathering 33 disposals in a best-on-ground performance. A penetrating left-footer, he averaged 23.8 disposals and 4.8 tackles across the 2019 AFL Under-18 Championships and was rewarded with All Australian honours. He also played some excellent football at senior level with Norwood, averaging 18.2 disposals and 4.6 tackles in 12 matches. Stephens enjoyed a breakout season for the Bloods in 2020 with a memorable AFL debut in Round 6 against Richmond alongside fellow debutant, Chad Warner. Stephens finished the campaign with eight appearances, averaging 12.5 disposals and 3.4 marks per game, while also kicking two goals.

Dylan Stephens
DOB: 08 January 2001
DEBUT: 2020
DRAFT: #5, 2019 National Draft
RECRUITED FROM: Red Cliffs (Vic)/Walkerville (SA)/St Peter's College (SA)/Norwood (SANFL)

 

caesar88

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Interesting to hear him say (swans site) that his preferred position is inside mid and where he wants to play.

That isn’t a surprise to me but might be for some who said he is only outside.
I liked his honesty, talking about how he hasn't got to show much of his run so far. Seems to have a really clear idea of the type of player he wants to be, which I think will serve him well, particularly over the next few pre-seasons as he has a clear objective to work towards.
 

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S120

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Played a little more inside mid and after a rocky start, he really got going in the 2nd quarter. Smooth running across the ground, a cracking goal which showed his toughness, and some really nice decisions with the ball. Throws himself around in the tackle and air too.

Generally with young players in their first 10 games or so, I'm looking for flashes. They're generally not gonna come in and play consistent 4 quarter efforts straight away (unless you're Rowell or Serong I guess), but if you can see at least consistent moments which are senior-worthy, it tells me that with the right development they can make their potential. I think Stephens is in this boat. Once he gets stronger, his running improves even more (in volume and power) and he realises how much time he has with the ball to make good choices, he's gonna be valuable imo. I'm seeing the Andrew Gaff kind of comparison - not claiming he'll be a dual All Australia, but in his running mixed with his inside midfield game.
 
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caesar88

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Played a little more inside mid and after a rocky start, he really got going in the 2nd quarter. Smooth running across the ground, a cracking goal which showed his toughness, and some really nice decisions with the ball. Throws himself around in the tackle and air too.

Generally with young players in their first 10 games or so, I'm looking for flashes. They're generally not gonna come in and play consistent 4 quarter efforts straight away (unless you're Rowell or Serong I guess), but if you can see at least consistent moments which are senior-worthy, it tells me that with the right development they can make their potential. I think Stephens is in this boat. Once he gets stronger, his running improves even more (in volume and power) and he realises how much time he has with the ball to make good choices, he's gonna be valuable imo. I'm seeing the Andrew Gaff kind of comparison - not claiming he'll be a dual All Australia, but in his running mixed with his inside midfield game.
The Serong comparisons/belated complaints are a little tiring. It is not about what a player is like as a kid, more what they can do over the decade that follows. Sure it helps if they come out and star straight away but a lot of the time these kids are so "ready to go" that they hit their ceiling fairly early on. Who knows where any of these kids will be in five, ten years time. So until then I agree, it's best to just enjoy the good moments you see from young players like Stephens.
 

S120

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The Serong comparisons/belated complaints are a little tiring. It is not about what a player is like as a kid, more what they can do over the decade that follows. Sure it helps if they come out and star straight away but a lot of the time these kids are so "ready to go" that they hit their ceiling fairly early on. Who knows where any of these kids will be in five, ten years time. So until then I agree, it's best to just enjoy the good moments you see from young players like Stephens.
Daniel Rich is good example of a player who had a brilliant first year for a rookie and then stagnated without really ever escalating to the top of the tree in his position (although he has remained a good to very good player for a long time). Whereas someone like Steele Sidebottom (from Rich's draft) came in quietly and steadily built on his performance every year to become one of the best in his spot.

Very hopeful Stephens will be a slow build in a good way.
 
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Rhino5

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Hilarious the negativity early in the game towards him. Glad he shut a few people up.

Actually I reckon he's looked the goods pretty much since he got that first crack. Another poster (I can't remember where) said he doesn't look classy. It's funny how we can all see different things - IMO he immediately looked like he belonged and had a few flashes of class that show why he was a top 5 pick.
 

RUNVS

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Played a little more inside mid and after a rocky start, he really got going in the 2nd quarter. Smooth running across the ground, a cracking goal which showed his toughness, and some really nice decisions with the ball. Throws himself around in the tackle and air too.

Generally with young players in their first 10 games or so, I'm looking for flashes. They're generally not gonna come in and play consistent 4 quarter efforts straight away (unless you're Rowell or Serong I guess), but if you can see at least consistent moments which are senior-worthy, it tells me that with the right development they can make their potential. I think Stephens is in this boat. Once he gets stronger, his running improves even more (in volume and power) and he realises how much time he has with the ball to make good choices, he's gonna be valuable imo. I'm seeing the Andrew Gaff kind of comparison - not claiming he'll be a dual All Australia, but in his running mixed with his inside midfield game.
Pervert.
 

Corpuscles

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Stephens didn't do a lot but that will come with more regular inclusion into a more stable balanced side.
They need a quality ruckman to try to break even in the clearances, to use him properly to potential.

The pleasing things were:
Even when winning a contest and being tackled heavily , he had pre thought his kick - long to first snap at and successful shot at goal
When clear and had time - LOOKED up and chose the long low direct pass lace out to chest over the back.
 

LukeParkerno1

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Stephens didn't do a lot but that will come with more regular inclusion into a more stable balanced side.
They need a quality ruckman to try to break even in the clearances, to use him properly to potential.

The pleasing things were:
Even when winning a contest and being tackled heavily , he had pre thought his kick - long to first snap at and successful shot at goal
When clear and had time - LOOKED up and chose the long low direct pass lace out to chest over the back.
Weirdly I liked the pass even more. Had a great game!
 

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S120

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I'm really bullish on Stephens. He's slowly finding his way and looking a little more composed and comfortable every week. I love how he throws himself at contests and tackles like a demon for a skinny kid. He's getting more used to the speed of games too - starting to work out how much time he has with the ball and is hitting targets.
 

monty1104

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Nice article :)
Funny enough the girl in that photo is a pretty handy footballer too, playing for Bendigo Pioneers last season.
 

caesar88

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This kid has been seriously hard at it. Wouldn't shock me if he saw some inside action in the last few weeks. Probably not this week, against a powerful unit like Port, but maybe in a couple of weeks time against Carlton's midfield. Horse has always shown a willingness to reward effort and the way Stephens has gone about it since returning to the seniors would have really endeared him to the coaching staff IMO. Would be a nice way to close out his first season by getting a bit more time on the ball as a gesture of faith.
 

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