Club: Lauderdale/Tassie Mariners
Height: 182 cm
Weight: 79 kg
Position: Medium forward
Strengths: Goal kicking, marking, athleticism, crumbing
Weaknesses: Contested ball-winning abililty
Player comparison: Tory Dickson
First year impact: Near future prospect
Kicking: Above average
Speed: Above average
There has been lots of talk about Blake Hardwick as the goal sneak of the draft but Nick Dodge is not far behind. For Tasmania, there has been few better this year than Dodge. He plays as a medium forward at the moment but has the potential to move onto a wing. His ability to dominate up forward at his size is amazing and has the confidence to try the most difficult shots on goal, and generally pull them off.
Dodge last year was one of the most highly rated Tasmanians kicking five goals in one game in the under 18 championships. He backed up his form of last with his TAC Cup games being nothing short of outstanding. He averaged 20.25 disposals and three and a half goals per game. He then went on to play champs against some of the best prospects from the Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales. He kicked six goals in three games in a disappointing carnival.
Dodge has a rare ability to find the goals anywhere he plays. In the first TAC Cup game for the year he kicked four goals in the first quarter. He also has a solid set shot routine which on his day can slot goals from 50 metres. His crumbing is superb and genuinely thinks he can do anything when kicking at goal. Against the Northern Knights he lined up in the midfield to see where he fitted best. From the midfield he kicked four goals and also collected 28 disposals.
To add to his gun-point like accuracy at goal he has shown ability to take great marks against bigger opponents. Against stronger bodies, he can lead to the footy and against smaller guys he can outbody them in practically all marking contests. In the TAC Cup he averaged 5.25 marks per game. His positioning against players is good allowing him to either take a set-shot or getting behind his man and running into an open goal.
Athletically, Dodge is a sound prospect and that makes him quite elusive. His speed is great which makes him a harder matchup. His leap is good without being great and his endurance is good for the modern medium forward. It wouldn’t surprise to see him shine on the combine stage in the 20 metre and repeat sprints.
As much as Dodge is a good medium forward he just does not have that aggression expected of him, and doesn’t go hard to attack the footy enough. You can see him slow down as he gets to the ball when it’s in a contested situation. If he added the contested ball-winning ability he could maybe play some time in the midfield like the Western Bulldogs’ Jake Stringer, but for now he is a medium forward who can pinch hit on the wing.
In the future, we could see Nick Dodge impressing on the big stage instead of the suburban battle grounds. Dodge would add lots of firepower to any teams forward line and i would expect him to make his debut early to late in the season. Dodge reminds many a lot of Tory Dickson as that great medium forward who will always put in the hard work on the ground and in the air without being as damaging outside that forward line. As a prospect he can add depth and a bit of versatility to match-ups in any side being a threat in the air, on the ground and most of all around goal.