St Kilda has acquired Murray Bushrangers midfielder-defender Ben Paton with their fourth and final pick at No. 46 in Friday night’s NAB AFL Draft in Sydney.
After being overlooked in last year’s drafts, Paton returned to the Bushrangers this season as a 19-year-old overage player and thrived in a new role in defence.
The shift from the midfield to the backline paid dividends for the tenacious teenager, with his early season form attracting the attention of the Vic Country selectors.
Paton cemented a spot in the championships and performed so strongly he was rewarded with All-Australian selection in the same defence as new teammates Oscar Clavarino and Nick Coffield.
At the end of the championships, Paton played two games for Collingwood in the VFL, impressing with his seamless transition against senior bodies.
Although it wasn’t the first time he had played senior football.
In 2015, a then 16-year-old Paton played 18 games for Mitta United in the Tallangatta and District Football League, where he handled his first exposure to mature bodies so well he won the best and fairest.
Paton enhanced his standing in the draft pool at the combine in October when he finished third in the standing vertical leap, jumping 80cm, before recording the sixth fastest time in the 20 metre sprint at 2.95 seconds.
Draft History: Pick 46 2017 AFL Draft