Leagues: NAB League Boys
POSITION: Small Forward
SNAPSHOT: "A crafty small forward capable of producing match-winning bursts, Curtis brings x-factor and high level smarts to the attacking 50."
In one of the toughest positions to play, Paul Curtis has made a habit of producing the goods as a lively small forward. The Western Jets product shot onto the radar in 2021 with super spurts of form, proving a difference maker in his side's front half with terrific smarts and goal sense. He is an all-action type of player when the ball is in his area, applying good tackling pressure and getting creative with ball in hand. His form warranted Vic Metro Under 19 selection this year, and Curtis capped his season with NAB League team of the year honours, as well as a National Combine invite.
+ Goal Sense
+ Clean Hands
- Midfield Craft
- Finishing Consistency
Small forwards require special traits to succeed at the next level and Curtis is one who not only possesses some typical attributes, but also provides points of difference. He added dynamism to the Jets' forward line this season, creating clever leading patterns to present an unlikely marking target inside 50. His forward craft also came into play in one-on-one situations, where he would use his body to protect the drop of the ball and could follow up at ground level.
With a few different avenues to goal, Curtis booted 14 from seven NAB League outings in 2021, working out to an even two goals per game. Among his stats were also averages of 3.7 marks and the same amount of tackles, meaning he offered a well-rounded type of contribution inside 50.
Held goalless just once this year, Curtis' majors also tended to come in bunches. Arguably his standout performance came against Sandringham in Round 5, where the 183cm prospect burst to life in the third term with four goals in 15 minutes to inspire a remarkable comeback victory. That kind of game-breaking ability in a team which produced three wins was outstanding.
Putting the pieces together more consistently is something Curtis will certainly be working on, though. He catches the eye with glimpses of individual brilliance, but hardly does so for four quarters. Part of that, by his own admission in preseason, comes down to fitness and Curtis has been working on his endurance base this year.
With relatively neat skills, evasion technique, and clean hands, Curtis also has some tools to spend more time in midfield. He pinch-hit there during a couple of games and certainly had eyes on the engine room, but looked more comfortable up forward and can work on adding that craft to his game in future. Another small thing Curtis may look to refine is his finishing. While apt at sniffing out a goal, he managed 14.13 in terms of scores this season and can straighten up a touch to wreak maximum havoc.
DRAFT PROJECTION: 40+
Paul Curtis is one of the more exciting small forwards available in this year's intake, with his ability to impact both on the lead and at ground level offering diverse avenues to goal. He improved as the year wore on and consistently kicked multiple goals, with scope to continue his development and eventually spend more time further afield. He is one who could take great strides in an elite environment.
NAB League Boys