Nathan Freeman (Sandringham Dragons)
Height: 181 cm
Weight: 85 kg
Player Comparison: Patrick Dangerfield
Strengths: Clearances, Breakaway speed, Leadership
Weaknesses: Opposite foot disposal
Nathan Freeman is a player who has cemented his spot as a top 20 draft prospect over the course of the season. Freeman is one of the best clearance players in the draft, as he continually has the ability to get the ball moving forward out of a stoppage for his team.
Freeman has been rated quite highly for a few years now, as he only missed out on Under 16 Vic Metro selection due to an injury. Representing his state for the first time at Under 18 level this season, Freeman collected over 20 disposals each game, helping his side to second in the National Championships.
One of his greatest assets is his clearance work, which could really benefit a team with great outside runners. In the Bound For Glory News Phantom Draft, Hawthorn selected Freeman as he may just be that final piece to an already quality midfield. As well as doing work at the stoppages, Freeman has shown that he is able to go forward and hit the scoreboard. He has the ability to score goals from the midfield, and his disposal into the forward 50 is first class. Add in his steady head and quality decision making, and he could be also be a real weapon in a high half forward role.
In his second year at Sandringham, and being one of the senior players, Freeman’s leadership qualities have really shone through this season. Whilst playing for Vic Metro in trial matches, he was rotated through the bench quite often, to give the younger players a chance to impress, and instead of just sitting on the bench waiting, Freeman was up and barking out instructions and giving positive feedback to the younger players to help them out. Players with real leadership qualities aren’t found too often, which is another reason why Freeman is rated as high as he is.
Like Patrick Dangerfield, Freeman has that burst of speed that allows himself to get some space between him and his opponents around the stoppage. The space he makes for himself is crucial, as he isn’t the best kick under pressure, but give him a couple of metres and he’ll find the target every time. Freeman has previously stated that he models his game on Dangerfield and you can see it in the way he runs and breaks the lines.
As well as being able to drift forward and kick goals from the midfield, Freeman is also quite competent sitting behind the ball. He’s got the speed to get away from a stoppage, which he could use coming off the half back flank to set up his team in attack. Freeman has the ability to do this at a TAC Cup level, but he may just struggle behind the ball in the AFL.
With a full preseason under his belt, and a little more weight added to his solid frame, there’s a good chance you could see a lot of Nathan Freeman in 2014. He’s just one of those players who gets the job done, and in a midfield as good as Hawthorn’s, it may just help him elevate his game to a new level.