AFL Academy assistant coach Glen Jakovich firmly believes the draft age should be elevated by 12 months in order to protect draftees who aren’t ready for the pressures of AFL football.
The Eagles legend has seen a number of juniors come through the Academy during his time and says some have had the talent to succeed, but were not ready to make the professional leap at 18.
Jakovich hopes when the AFL holds its external review, that the draft age is something that is brought up.
“Part of my thing with the AFL review coming through, I’m a big advocate for it and I’ll state it right now, they’ve got to lift the draft age,” he told Sportsday WA.
“Too many young players are going into this environment not ready physically and mentally and they’re going to rush players.
“(Logan) McDonald, I haven’t put him in the calculations for Sydney (in 2021). I hope he gets a taste, plays five or six games, but you can’t have him playing 18 games or more next year. There’s going to be a lot of wear and tear on such a young player introduced into a professional program so early in the piece.”
Jakovich believes the additional time to prepare for the AFL system would be hugely beneficial to the majority of draftees.
“(It should be lifted by) six months minimum, but definitely 12 months, that would be my optimal age bracket to lift it 12 months from where it is now,” he said.
“They’re just not ready mentally and physically. I want players to experience a bit more of life and life experiences, get a job in the real world, but probably spend some more time in the SANFL, the WAFL or local leagues.
“I think the under 18s competition could use players more for another 12 months and give those clubs the responsibility of fast-tracking the development of the players.
“At clubland, they’re trying to do everything in such a short span of time. They draft them and they want to get maximum results out of them in their standard two-year contract and it’s just not enough time.
“There’s always exceptions. Chris Judd was one of them, but that’s one in 40 or 50 footballers.
“We’ve got to look at it across the board that we’ll get more Chris Judd’s, but they’ll come from later developers.
“I’ve got a number of examples through the AFL Academy program who were thrust into the AFL system way too early, got injuries and lost complete confidence in the system, didn’t like it and didn’t like clubland because of the pressure mounting on them to play at AFL level when they were an outstanding junior.
“They’re on the scrapheap when they’re 21 years of age when they should be building into the peak of their careers.”