Jesse Tardio (Northern Knights)
Height: 179 cm
Weight: 72 kg
Player comparison: Nathan Jones
Strengths: Ball getting, stoppages, positioning
Weaknesses: Outside game
Jesse Tardio is not often a player that is thrown into the mix when discussing the Northern Knights. The likes of Marcus Bontempelli, Ben Lennon or the injured Cameron Conlon get suggested well before Tardio does. Tardio in many ways is very similar to Geelong’s James Tsitas with more ability to go forward, but less influence on the match.
Tardio is your typical hard nut contested inside midfielder who racks up disposals with ease and is also very dangerous around the stoppages. He positions himself well in order to give himself and his team best chance of clearing the ball from a contested situation and loves to get under the packs and scoop it out to teammates. While he is predominantly inside, he can drift forward and find space to impact the scoreboard. In the game against Sandringham earlier in the year he had two chances to win the match but unfortunately missed both and the game ended in a draw. Nonetheless he has that ability to kick goals at times during matches.
While Tardio doesn’t have the best disposal around, he isn’t a complete ball butcher and uses it well by hand and knows how to offensively hurt teams. He isn’t overly quick but isn’t slow either so he moves reasonably well around the ground without much trouble. He’s a highly underrated midfielder at the Northern Knights and while many may not expect him to do much damage, he’s the crucial inside player that helps clear the ball and get it to the likes of Bontempelli and Lennon.
Unfortunately for Tardio he is a little like Brad Sewell in the sense that he can often go unnoticed due to winning all the inside ball. One might think he’s barely touched it when in reality he’s had 25-30 touches. He would be considered the ultimate team player given that at times his game style sacrifices his own game for that of the team. He is a determined young man who loves hunting the football and while he might not be on the top of anyone’s list, his season suggests he has done enough to at least warrant a late pick or rookie selection this year.
In the Bound For Glory News Phantom Draft, Jesse Tardio was selected by North Melbourne with pick 80. Tardio might not start as that inside midfielder and instead by trialed either up forward or as a defensive player who can play a run-with role on an opposition midfielder. In some ways, Tardio might be similar to Daniel Cross and go head-to-head with midfielders or play a more defensive stance on a key opposition midfielder who is strong but not overly quick, perhaps a Josh P. Kennedy or Jobe Watson for example.
While some might argue that clubs will prefer to go for quicker, more skilful players, Tardio does have a skill set that is of use in the AFL. He’s not a ball butchering tortoise so in the end he could be best compared with Melbourne’s Nathan Jones. Jones is solid across all areas without being considered “elite” and he busts a gut every match regardless of the score. If Tardio can continue to develop and mould into Nathan Jones than no doubt there would be a number of clubs keen to secure his services.