Jackson Nelson (Geelong Falcons)
Height: 187 cm
Weight: 80 kg
Strengths: Tackling, marking, clearances machine, contested ball-winner, versatility.
Player comparison: Nick Vlastuin
A picture of consistency and versatility, Jackson Nelson continues to float under the radar and could very well launch himself into first round contention, according to draft experts.
Although Nelson doesn’t have any flashy traits or romantic tricks that make him a stand out like a Jayden Laverde or Paul Ahern, the no-frills defender-cum-midfielder is just as affective, if not more rounded and does it all without fuss.
Nelson has a great mixture of aggression and poise, not too dissimilar player to that of Nick Vlaustin when he was drafted. He is a defender who gravitates to an inside midfielder, Nelson plays either position equally well and is rated high internally at the Geelong Falcons.
As a bottom-aged prospect in 2013, he was utilised in both positions averaging 17 disposals at 67 per cent disposal efficiency, but as expected he has this year made the next step in his development, averaging 22 disposals so far for the Falcons in his top-age year.
Although his appearances at the National Championships weren’t overly flattering, his best came against eventual title-winners, South Australia gathering 21 disposals, five tackles, two clearances and one goal.
In terms of his strengths, his intensity and repeat efforts are a stand out. His work rate is massive, and he is vocal and leads by example out on the field. nelson isn’t afraid to put his body on the line, and his tackling pressure is trait that really sounds out his defensive capabilities, averaging a whopping 6.2 tackles per game at TAC Cup level this year.
His football smarts is another attribute worth mentioning – he isn’t fooled into getting sucked in a player trying to dart around him. He watches hip movements then really corrals and pressures players into ultimately coughing up the ball, whether that’s via the boundary line or a direct turnover. He understands when to play his man close, and when to peel off to impact another contest or swoop on a loose ball. It’s for that reason that clubs are wary of Nelson becoming an attacking option, which forces the opposition to find a player who can also play him accountable.
Rating highly in terms of disposal efficiency at a fraction over 70 per cent, Nelson’s marking game is also fantastic, averaging 5.2 marks per game. He runs hard to always present an option, can cut off forward entries with an intercept mark, as well as mark up around the flanks, through the middle and on a wing.
I rate him particularly highly across half back, which is what I believe to be his best position is at the next level. He has variety in that role, playing small to medium, lock down, rebounding or loose. He picks off marks, repels attacks and takes the game on.
His contested game is incredible, in fact against the Northern Knights he collected nine clearances and 15 contested possessions in a complete game earlier in the season.
Although Nelson’s kicking doesn’t have a whole lot of depth to it, he does enough to get from A to B, so to speak. He doesn’t possess that line-breaking speed, but has quickness over his first few steps to create enough separation to take possession and give himself enough time and space to find a target.
What you see is what you get with Nelson. An honest, hard working footballer who is more likely to wear black boots rather than fluorescent ones. A player who dumps opponents into the turf and has a fearless approach. His resilient mental edge that means he gets the best out of himself as well as his team mates around him.