Nathaniel Paredes (Gippsland Power)
Height: 177 cm
Weight: 79 kg
Player Comparison: Brad Sewell
Strengths: Winning the contested ball, tackling and body use.
Weaknesses: Disposal efficiency.
There has been much talk about the elite midfielders of the TAC Cup competition in the lead up to the draft. These players gather 25+ possessions a game, and stand out to the crowd. In contrast, not much is said about the players who win the contested footy and don’t mind to do the dirty work for the team, in and under the packs feeding it to the running, outside midfielders. One of these players is Nathaniel Paredes.
Coming from a soccer background, Paredes started playing football only four years ago for a small club in Gippsland. Since then, he has worked hard on becoming a better player after being selected to play for the Power in 2012, and again in 2013. He has gotten stronger, and been able to lift his fitness levels up since starting with Gippsland in 2012.
Paredes main strength is his contested footy. He is very good at winning the ball at ground level, and picking it up off the ruck tap. He crashes midfield packs, and goes hard at the ball wherever it is on the ground. His teammates have described him as one of the hardest midfielders at the club, and this has earned him the nickname ‘Concrete’ among some players and coaches. He has a good football IQ, and knows when and where to handball the ball to give his teammates the best chance of a free run, even if he is buried under a pack of players.
Another strength that Paredes has in his game is his tackling. This season, he is averaging 7.4 tackles a game, including three 10+ tackle games and a 12-tackle game. He can hold onto opponents and pin their arms, not allowing them to dispose of the ball correctly extremely well, and can stop opponents in their tracks if they are running towards him. This is a strength that really stands out in Paredes’ game.
An area that Paredes does need to work on however is his disposal efficiency. He can get a lot of the ball through the midfield, but his kicking sometimes lets him down. Against the Falcons, where he picked up 28 possessions, he had 20 kicks, but only 5 were effective. This is also because he tries to get the ball moving forward by booting it out of the midfield, and this can just land in defenders hands sometimes. This could easily be taken care of at an AFL club however, with one on one kicking coaching, he could move his kicking skills to the top level, and could become a very dangerous midfielder not just by hand, but by foot to.
Paredes is not a tall midfielder, but he can use his body very well in contests. He has bulked up over the last year in the gym, and this has considerably helped through the midfield, and in marking contests. He can push taller defenders away, to create space for other forwards, or can take a mark himself. Paredes uses his body to also maneuver defenders under the ball, or away from the ball, so another teammate can run onto it, or he can pick the ball up and deliver inside 50 to the forwards.
Paredes has lifted his game since last season, becoming a starting midfielder, and one of Gippsland’s best-contested midfielders. Although his kicking sometimes lets him down, his contested ball winning, tackling and body use are many areas that midfielders can take a long time to develop. He has got them already at an under 18 level, and with extra coaching and practice, he could become a leading midfielder at many clubs. Clubs that could use Paredes skill set are the less contested clubs such as GWS, the Bulldogs or Melbourne.