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)

 

Bear31

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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.
its great to read posts like this c88
 

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dazedjosh

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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.
I'd love to see him get some inside time, but I don't know about this year, he's listed as 183cm/69kg on the Swans site. You can't be throwing a 19 year old kid who hasn't cracked 70kg into the trenches. He'll get broken. Carlton probably have the weakest inside division of our remaining opponents and last round they started with Cripps (195/92), Setterfield (192/87) and Curnow (180/85). At a minimum he'll be giving up 16kg. I'd love to see him get some time in the trenches, I'm definitely with you there. But Stephens needs a lot of time in the weight room and constant IV bags of protein shakes before he gets there.
 

caesar88

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I'd love to see him get some inside time, but I don't know about this year, he's listed as 183cm/69kg on the Swans site. You can't be throwing a 19 year old kid who hasn't cracked 70kg into the trenches. He'll get broken. Carlton probably have the weakest inside division of our remaining opponents and last round they started with Cripps (195/92), Setterfield (192/87) and Curnow (180/85). At a minimum he'll be giving up 16kg. I'd love to see him get some time in the trenches, I'm definitely with you there. But Stephens needs a lot of time in the weight room and constant IV bags of protein shakes before he gets there.
I thought that too, but his level of physicality is surprisingly high for someone of his stature. He is sticking tackles better than most, and doesn't panic under opposition pressure either. I think a sustained run in there would break him. But a three game stretch, two of which would be against fairly light-on midfields in Carlton and Brisbane, just to finish off his year would not hurt him. If anything it would be just the right sample size for him to know what he has to work towards next year.

Edit: Point proven - he is fifth in average tackles among all Swans available for selection, behind only Parker, JPK, Bell and Rowbottom.
 

dazedjosh

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I thought that too, but his level of physicality is surprisingly high for someone of his stature. He is sticking tackles better than most, and doesn't panic under opposition pressure either. I think a sustained run in there would break him. But a three game stretch, two of which would be against fairly light-on midfields in Carlton and Brisbane, just to finish off his year would not hurt him. If anything it would be just the right sample size for him to know what he has to work towards next year.

Edit: Point proven - he is fifth in average tackles among all Swans available for selection, behind only Parker, JPK, Bell and Rowbottom.
That's among the Swans though, among the league it's a slightly different story. He's 78th, and is well behind a number of guys we're going up against. I'd also disagree with you on a couple of points, I'd like to see how many of his tackles have been broken, because I remember seeing a few Freo players wear him like a backpack on the weekend. I'm not questioning his work ethic or his desire, I rate him very highly in that regard. But we already know what he was to work on for next year, it's no secret, he needs to bulk up and he needs to speed up his decision making, his kicking is good and his running is elite. But he is hesitant and he can be brushed off too easily. I don't see the point in rushing him into the guts in his first year when he's not physically ready.

From our future opponents the following are all above him in tackles per game, Oliver, Rockliff, Parfitt, Curnow, Setterfield, Zorko, Lyons, Cripps, Berry, Steven, Boak, Powell-Pepper, Viney, Fogarty, Wines, Ebert, Guthrie, Fisher, Selwood, Narkle, Duncan, and Petracca.

I think there would actually be better stats to measure his effectiveness in the guts, and those would be how many of his tackles are broken per game, and how many tackles our future opponents break per game. If he was still effective in those situations, then yes I would agree with you. I have no idea where to find those stats though as they're not measured on StatsPro.

Tackling on it's own just shows desire and effort and again I'm not questioning either of those in Stephens, he's great at both of those. You could use stoppage clearances, but at first glance that looks even worse, somebody like Fisher who plays mostly in the forward 50 and is probably the easiest match up for Stephens out of the list above, has Stephens beaten there. Stephens hasn't got a single stoppage clearance according to Stats Pro, and Fisher also has a higher contested possession average than Stephens.
 

caesar88

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That's among the Swans though, among the league it's a slightly different story. He's 78th, and is well behind a number of guys we're going up against. I'd also disagree with you on a couple of points, I'd like to see how many of his tackles have been broken, because I remember seeing a few Freo players wear him like a backpack on the weekend. I'm not questioning his work ethic or his desire, I rate him very highly in that regard. But we already know what he was to work on for next year, it's no secret, he needs to bulk up and he needs to speed up his decision making, his kicking is good and his running is elite. But he is hesitant and he can be brushed off too easily. I don't see the point in rushing him into the guts in his first year when he's not physically ready.

From our future opponents the following are all above him in tackles per game, Oliver, Rockliff, Parfitt, Curnow, Setterfield, Zorko, Lyons, Cripps, Berry, Steven, Boak, Powell-Pepper, Viney, Fogarty, Wines, Ebert, Guthrie, Fisher, Selwood, Narkle, Duncan, and Petracca.

I think there would actually be better stats to measure his effectiveness in the guts, and those would be how many of his tackles are broken per game, and how many tackles our future opponents break per game. If he was still effective in those situations, then yes I would agree with you. I have no idea where to find those stats though as they're not measured on StatsPro.

Tackling on it's own just shows desire and effort and again I'm not questioning either of those in Stephens, he's great at both of those. You could use stoppage clearances, but at first glance that looks even worse, somebody like Fisher who plays mostly in the forward 50 and is probably the easiest match up for Stephens out of the list above, has Stephens beaten there. Stephens hasn't got a single stoppage clearance according to Stats Pro, and Fisher also has a higher contested possession average than Stephens.
If you go back to my original comment I said that I could see Horse rewarding Stephens for his effort by giving him some time in the guts. Not over a long stretch of games, and not for entire matches either. Just enough to give him a taste of what he needs to work for in 2021. Could be wrong.
 

dazedjosh

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If you go back to my original comment I said that I could see Horse rewarding Stephens for his effort by giving him some time in the guts. Not over a long stretch of games, and not for entire matches either. Just enough to give him a taste of what he needs to work for in 2021. Could be wrong.
And my original reply was that I'd also like to see him get some inside time, but not this year. I absolutely agree with you that he would benefit from inside time, and agree with you on most points you've made about Stephens I just don't think we should be doing it when a pillow case full of wet hair is heavier than him. Once he's got more muscle around his lower back, neck, and shoulders, then we should put him in the guts.

If our remaining opponents weren't teams packed with inside brutes, I'd like to see it this year. But the fixture is a bit unkind in that regard.
 

showemhowtorock

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I love this kid so much, wanted him at freo so so bad and was devo you got in first! Loved seeing him live last w/e, we works his ass off and you can really see this at the ground compared to on tv!
Was so sad he handballed to thurlow in the last, he could 100% have kicked that goal. You've got a ripper :hearteyes:
 

SeanM

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He has surprised me, he is starting to look more comfortable at this level now. In the preseason games I thought he struggled a bit with the pace of the game and the physicality of his opponents.

I think he will always be a bit lighter. But from a younger age he would have adjusted his technique to being one of the smaller players on the field.

I am still cautious about playing him inside. From sports like rugby league, sometimes there is a lot of wear and tear from playing teenagers early in contact positions against mature bodies. Also I remember Jye Simpkin in his early seasons trying to tackle Melican and damaging his shoulder.
 

Kapers

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I love this kid so much, wanted him at freo so so bad and was devo you got in first! Loved seeing him live last w/e, we works his ass off and you can really see this at the ground compared to on tv!
Was so sad he handballed to thurlow in the last, he could 100% have kicked that goal. You've got a ripper :hearteyes:
I was pretty sad as well. He'll start to back himself more as the game goes on.
Probably would of kicked in the reserves.
 

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dazedjosh

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Perhaps my math is wrong but wouldn't 78th in the league mean on average he'd be top 5 in tackles at every team.
The not so great answer is, sort of, some teams are more heavily represented in that table than others, our opponents in the next few weeks were very present in that table.

But as per the rest of my point in that post, I don't think tackles per game is a great representation of whether or not Stephens is ready for some time as an inside mid this year. If somebody could find missed tackles then I think that would be a better measure, clearances and contested possessions could also be used. I also mentioned that he was giving up at least 15kg to pretty much every inside opponent he would, which was why I was opposed to him getting inside time this year.

Let him get game time on the wing and get used to the AFL level, then he can put on some weight in the off season and spend some time in the guts next year.
 

Ralphyboy

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I’m a fan of working a player to his strengths. Stephens is an inside mid. He is being played as an outside winger. He got dropped because he kept being sucked into the contest leaving his opponent out wide. Mcinerney played the outside role well yesterday and provided some width and run. If Stephens is an inside mid, play him inside and let him develop.


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BloodySwan

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I’m a fan of working a player to his strengths. Stephens is an inside mid. He is being played as an outside winger. He got dropped because he kept being sucked into the contest leaving his opponent out wide. Mcinerney played the outside role well yesterday and provided some width and run. If Stephens is an inside mid, play him inside and let him develop.


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He's meant to be an inside/outside player from memory? More importantly, if he's been given a role he needs to stick to it. McVeigh & Jack were both taggers before they were let loose, sometimes you just need to play your role
 

Bonz

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I know, now imagine if he could have hit the side of a barn door by foot!
To this day I don't think Hanners was actually that bad a kick (he had many moments of skillful execution by foot when he was here).

His bad kicking was a side effect of his gut running (which was the best in the league since Cousin's) pretty confident the best kicks in the league would struggle to hit a target if they were puffed after multiple repeat efforts.
 

Ralphyboy

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He's meant to be an inside/outside player from memory? More importantly, if he's been given a role he needs to stick to it. McVeigh & Jack were both taggers before they were let loose, sometimes you just need to play your role
Sometimes I think guys that have gone through their juniors as the superstar in the team are used to getting a fair bit of licence to do what they want. It can take a little time to realize they will be given a role and they need to stick to it. In Dylan's case there is no doubt he will adjust to an outside role if required as he is a genuinely decent person who will do what ever he is asked. Having said that, given we have a few games left, we probably need to manage florent and rowbottom who must be knackered by now, it would be fun to see stephens play his natural inside mid game.
 

TheMase

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Sometimes I think guys that have gone through their juniors as the superstar in the team are used to getting a fair bit of licence to do what they want. It can take a little time to realize they will be given a role and they need to stick to it. In Dylan's case there is no doubt he will adjust to an outside role if required as he is a genuinely decent person who will do what ever he is asked. Having said that, given we have a few games left, we probably need to manage florent and rowbottom who must be knackered by now, it would be fun to see stephens play his natural inside mid game.
Glad he is being noted as having an inside game. I said so when he was drafted and got told otherwise more than once!
 
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What a ripping lad.
“Not only because he goes to my school, but because it’s a kid and his family whose struggling for funds and things so just trying to help him out,” he said.


 

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