Demons skipper believes Oliver could be a Brownlow bolter
MELBOURNE captain Nathan Jones has paid teammate Clayton Oliver a huge compliment, labelling him the best young talent he's seen in more than a decade at the Demons.
While youngsters are often at risk of falling victim to "second year syndrome" when a gun debut year is followed by a significant drop off in performance, Oliver is continuing to impress.
After bursting on the scene in 2016 with a NAB Rising Star nomination, the midfielder wore the Demons guernsey 13 times last year and has played in all six of Melbourne's 2017 clashes. He's been sensational so far, averaging 32 touches, seven tackles and five marks a game in the opening month-and-a-half.
So dominant has Oliver been his skipper has already suggested a Brownlow Medal is within his reach this year.
"If I was a betting man, I'd get around him," Jones said on SEN Breakfast. "I don't reckon I've ever seen a better young player, to be honest, in 11 or 12 years of playing."
The 19-year-old was caught drink driving in November last year, but Jones praised the way he's rebounded from the setback and says he's seen a new-found maturity in him since the incident.
"I reckon from that moment he really has matured and just taken control of his career," he said. "I saw a drastic change in his body shape and his commitment to his training and preparation. Obviously the start to the season he has had has been a significant reward for that and now he's coupled that with being really driven and disciplined.
"We're getting a really consistent player that's just an absolute bull in the midfield."
Essendon legend Tim Watson backed Jones's assertion Oliver is a chance to be crowned the game's best-and-fairest player in 2017.
"I've watched every game that he has played this year and there is a chance he would very much right now be in the voting for the Brownlow based on his performances this year," Watson said.
Oliver will have another chance to display his star quality when Melbourne takes on Hawthorn at the MCG on Sunday.