DRAFT ANALYSIS: “Athletic key position tall who oozes X-Factor and is projected to be a key defender at the next level”
Noah Balta finished 2016 on a high – with strong performances in the ruck and up forward for the Calder Cannons. Some draft followers even tipped this time last year that he could be in the frame for a top three selection, as was his impressive finish to the year. Balta possesses elite speed, agility and leap – all of which will make him an attractive prospects for clubs wanting to select him. For the Calder Cannons, Balta was utilised in the ruck and up forward – but at Vic Metro level it was pushed for him to play as a key defender, an area where clubs suggested the athletic tall might be best suited. His attacking nature was eyecatching throughout the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships, where he averaged nine disposals and three marks.
- Long right foot kick
Balta’s athletic leap is one of the best in the 2017 draft pool. Despite standing at 195cm – smaller than most traditional ruck – Balta was often able to leap over them at the centre bounce and around the ground, winning hitouts – averaging 11.7 for the Calder Cannons this season. Balta’s vertical jump of 74cm at the National Combine & running vertical jump (left) of 89cm were superb, and it is a skill set that he will likely use up forward or down back, where he can fly to take a mark.
While the wind can be a factor out at RAMS Arena, Balta’s long right foot kick has been on show right throughout the season. His thumping kick can see him get the ball long inside 50 from a clearance, or having a set shot kick on goal from outside 50m – where he comfortably can make the distance.
Balta is a versatile footballer, with some even predicting he could move into an inside midfielders role down the track. While he is likely to play as a key position player, there isn’t a position on the ground that he hasn’t been tried in. While his height will likely be a put off for a club using him in the ruck, Balta leaps high and can get up and above even the tallest of ruckman. While he has played most the year up forward, clubs are looking at Balta to play as a key defender – a role at which he can mould into at the next level.
- Decision making
One area Balta can improve his decision making. Coming out of defensive 50 at times he can be unsure of what to do – questioning whether to take his opponents on using his speed and agility, or to pass the ball off to a teammate. At times at school footy for St Bernad’s College, Balta would often attempt to take the ball under his arm and have a run – sometimes on multiple occasions trying and do too much with the ball in hand rather than finding a simple option. His running and leading patterns up forward can continue to improve, and already from Round 1 to Round 18 of the TAC Cup – he had shown improvement inside 50.
Like many talls, Balta’s consistency is an area that can be addressed. At times he is hot for 10-15 minutes, before having a quiet patch of 30-45 minutes. When Balta is on, he is hard to stop and if he can increase his consistency and efforts throughout the whole four quarters – he will be able to mould into a damaging footballer.
DRAFT PROJECTION: 15-35
Athletic tall Noah Balta has plenty of potential and if he can develop & mould into the tall defender role that clubs will attempt to groom him into, he could be a steal of the draft if he goes in the second round. With a mix of X-Factor and a long right foot kick, Balta could be anything and if he continues to develop as a footballer, there’s no doubting he will be one of the better talls from this draft pool.
Under 18s Championships