Toast Welcome to Freo Caleb Serong– Fremantle’s 2nd 2019 National Draft Pick [Pick #8]

MrDanggazz

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Welcome to Freo Caleb Serong!


DOB: 09-02-2001 (18)
POSITION: Mid/forward
HEIGHT: 178cm
WEIGHT: 83kg
DRAFTED FROM: Gippsland Power, Vic Country


STRENGTHS:

Clean hands
Footy IQ
Leadership/competitiveness
Consistency
Clearances
Strength


IMPROVEMENTS:

Kicking under pressure
On-field emotion
Size


DRAFT ANALYSIS: "One of the most well-rounded draft prospects, Serong ticks plenty of boxes across multiple roles and is as consistent as they come with a high level of competitiveness." TOUTED as one of the top prospected behind the obvious Oakleigh Chargers’ duo, Caleb Serong is one of the more well-rounded players in the AFL Draft crop, with very few glaring areas of improvement. The biggest upside for the 178cm midfielder/forward is the areas he could improve on are more easily doable compared to other players. Among his list of strengths in his game is his clean hands, footy IQ, clearance ability and strength, while his consistency and competitiveness is up there with Matt Rowell despite heading into the AFL Draft somewhat underrated – if that is possible from a potential top three pick. The areas that Serong can improve are his kicking under pressure – which has developed over the course of the season – his on-field emotion – which while good at times can also be a hindrance – and his size – which while his height will not change too much, he can still improve his muscle tone. Overall though, Serong is one of the more complete packages in the AFL Draft this year.

Serong is a natural leader, having co-captained Vic Country this year and played all four games, including a massive effort against South Australia despite feeling under the weather pre-game. He stepped up enough this year to win Country’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) and Best and Fairest awards, while splitting his time between Geelong Grammar and Gippsland Power throughout the year. While he might be undersized to play inside midfield at AFL level, he has a crack and certainly plays taller than his 178cm might suggest. He is so strong through the core and hard to shake, with his ability to win first possession and get clean hands out to teammates a standout feature of his midfield game. When forward, Serong is good overhead, and thrives in one-on-one situations, and if there was a relative strength measure, Serong might be at the top of the list. He outmarked Nick Bryan in the qualifying final on the wing – despite being some 24cm smaller. His consistency throughout matches is almost unrivalled and his competitive nature makes him well loved within the club and supporter base at the Power. This will no doubt give him similar plaudits at AFL level for the club that picks him up.

But the competitive nature can also get the best of him. It is an area where on some occasions he has crossed the line a bit too far – not maliciously, but through frustration – giving away a free kick or a 50m penalty for not putting up with opposition chatter. This area of improvement is one that can be fixed because it is about tempering him to play the way he naturally does, but to also develop restraint when opposition players get under his skin. Secondly, the other area that can improve – and has done so over the course of the season is his kicking under pressure. When in time and space, Serong is a terrific kick and able to hit-up targets well with great vision and high footy IQ. But it is the inside area where he can be rushed and try and do too much with the ball, which is when he can overcook the kicks or miss targets – which his 45 per cent kicking efficiency shows. While that statistic does not do justice to Serong’s technical skill, it does show an area of improvement. If one looks at Serong as a whole package, he ticks most boxes, and no doubt had he been 10cm taller, he would have been one of those prototype midfielders with more strings to his bow, but even at his size, Serong is able to influence contests like very few can, both in the midfield and down forward. Whichever club selects him is getting a potential future captain, as well as an on-field leader who will bleed for the jumper and do whatever it takes to help his side, and improve his game.

DRAFT RANGE: 3-8
 
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Chris25

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Caleb Serong (178cm, 83kg from Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

If the draft was a month ago, would Caleb Serong have been available at pick 8 or 9? Most draft watchers would have said no. He was consistently being talked up as a potential #3 pick and a top 5 prospect overall. It's really only been the rise of Luke Jackson and Fischer McAsey that has seen him start to drop down. But if you were after a safe long term prospect in the top 10, then Serong had to be at the top of your list.

Heading into the 2019 season, Serong was considered a top 10 chance as a half forward and he was one of the better players in the U17 game on Grand Final day. But he's only gotten better since then, having moved into the midfield full time and increased all of his numbers. And one thing I've always rated highly, is development in your draft year. Some guys are great 17 year olds, but don't take their game to the next level as an 18 year old. Serong hasn't done that...

2017 - 14 disposals, 4 marks, 4 tackles, 1 goal
2018 - 18 disposals, 3 marks, 4 tackles, 1 goal
2019 - 24 disposals, 5 marks, 7 tackles, 1 goal

So with a move into the midfield, Serong has increased his disposal and tackle numbers significantly - while also maintaining his goal a game average. He also averaged 7 clearances a game for Dandenong and 5 a game for Vic Country. He's just a natural ball winner, which is something that can't really be taught. In close, his clearance work is strong and his hands are clean. He's one of those players that just gets their hands to it and knows what to do in tight. And for a shorter guy, he is incredibly strong and uses his body well.

As a half forward, he has a good mix of class and competitiveness. A bit like a Toby Greene, he can do all the dirty stuff with his tackling and pressure - but then he can also play as the deep forward with his overhead marking and leap relative to his size, plus his ground level work is just as good in space as in the stoppages. I think he should consistently be a goal a game player going forward.

Now, I don't personally have him ranked as highly as others do - I have him as a teens pick, and that's based more on projection rather than production. He's as consistent as anyone in the draft, but I think others players may have higher ceilings. And I'm always drawn towards the flashier prospects. Some people have questioned his kicking, I don't think it's too bad...but there is room for improvement. With time and space, his kicking is fine. It's more just under pressure that he can rush a bit, but that's normal for a lot of players. For me, it's just a question of how good he can be at his size. He doesn't really have any standout elite trait, he's just good at everything and is a proper footballer. It depends on who you ask whether that's a good or bad thing.

As I said before, I consider Serong to be a safe prospect. I think he's a 200 game player and the last thing you want is to miss on a top 10 pick. His ceiling to me is Toby Greene as a mid/half forward, but otherwise I compare him to Jade Gresham - which certainly isn't bad, Gresham kicked 35 goals last year before upping his disposal numbers to 23 this year as a midfielder.

Now that Fremantle have picked him, I think the supporters will quickly grow to love him. He's hard and competitive, he'll be our own meatball.
 

PurpleWizard

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Seems like he'll bring great leadership. Feels like we could be building something special with him and Brayshaw.

We need a small forward that applies pressure that can score goals. He'll play that role round 1 and hopefully he can grow into an elite mid in the years to come
 

Righteo

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Wasn't my first choice but it would be pretty lame to hold a prejudice towards the kid before he's even played a game in purple, similar to what we saw with Andrew Brayshaw. If Luke Valente never overcomes his injury issues I'm sure we'll be very very pleased that we picked up Caleb.

If Chris25 sees another Jade Gresham then I'm pretty okay with that.
 

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sherrif

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To be honest I dont agree with the draft write-ups. If they say kicking under pressure is his weakness then they must mean kicking under a lot of pressure. Think the write-up dont do justice to how good a long kick he is as he's elite in terms of metres gained compared to most top rated junior inside mids. With time and space he's great and hell add massively to our tackle pressure around the ball which is a work in progress.
 

rgauci

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Like this pick, we miss an inside mid who can play forward pocket. Aside from Walters, who gets banged up in the inside, we don’t have that sort of player. Raynor / Jamie Elliot / Lachie Neale / Chapman a great example.
 

Outshined

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Good luck to the young fella. Sad that people are writing him off before he's played a game. Hoping he might prove a few people wrong.

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It wouldn't be a proper Freo draft without a high pick being written off before he's even had his first kick at training.

I'm no expert by any means, but there's more than enough positive press around Serong to get excited about the pick. Especially since he and Young are good mates and should help each other settle.
 

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