Leagues: Coates Talent League Boys
SNAPSHOT: "Daicos has an unrivalled understanding of the game; able to bring his teammates into it and anticipate where his next possession will come from, leading to utter domination."
Having entered his top-age season riding a wave of hype, Nick Daicos has delivered on so many levels. The Collingwood father-son prospect comes from elite pedigree and carries a name lodged deep into Magpie folklore, meaning he is already a fan favourite among the black and white army - despite supporting Carlton. Faced with arguably more expectation and attention that any other draft prospect in recent memory, the impressive 18-year-old has taken on each challenge with aplomb and is rightly considered one of the best two prospects nationwide. He captained the AFL Academy and Oakleigh Chargers, dominating each game he played with elite decision making and production through midfield. Given all the fanfare, detractors have come thick and fast trying to cut down this tall poppy, but he is a special talent made of leadership material likely to make an immediate impact in the AFL system.
+ Clean Skills
+ Decision Making
+ Scoreboard Impact
- Impact per Kick
Had the Victorian underage season not been cut short, Daicos could well have stamped himself as this year's consensus number one. Despite the limited opportunities and being heavily managed throughout the season, the 18-year-old delivered in each game with an incredibly high level of production across multiple levels. He was nothing short of dominant among his peers; consistently racking up game-high numbers in the NAB League or one-off representative showcases.
Looking at pure numbers, Daicos' 2021 averages stack up against the likes of Matt Rowell and Sam Walsh, both of whom were undeniable number one picks out of the NAB League. As leader of his Chargers, Daicos averaged an astonishing 35.8 disposals, 5.8 marks, and two goals per his five outings. His consistent output and sheer production levels are massively impressive, and largely credit to two factors; his running capacity and decision making.
Able to run all day and find the ball in all areas of the ground, Daicos' impact on games is one of accumulation. His endurance level makes him a readymade AFL midfielder, and he consistently makes good decisions while bringing others into the play. A team-first player, Daicos loves to give-and-go and often demands the ball back from each disposal through sheer work rate. Teammates trust him with the ball and he is seldom caught in possession, keeping his feet and showcasing great poise and awareness to come away effectively by hand or foot.
His smarts also extend to stoppage craft, where Daicos is able to position himself best and time each run beautifully. Even with body contact, he proves clean in his handling of the ball and has enough athleticism to get to the outer. After his initial acts on the inside, Daicos then shows his balance on the outer with the aforementioned running capacity and knack for rolling forward to kick goals. Seemingly a genetic quality, he has no problem finishing on the run, with dribbled efforts, or from set shots beyond the arc.
Suffice to say with 55-metre efforts on goal, Daicos has no trouble executing his skills and penetrating by foot. A slight knock on him is his tendency to air his kicks on the run, inviting pressure on the receiver or allowing opposition defenders more time to intercept. He often makes the right decision, but some argue that a prospect like Jason Horne-Francis is more damaging per possession, despite accumulating less across a single outing. A fair assessment.
While he has an abundance of strengths, there are a few more improvement areas to nitpick with Daicos - as is often the case with the very best prospects. While clearly a terrific endurance athlete, Daicos can look to add some muscle to his 72kg frame going forward, helping him better deal with the rigours of midfield work at senior level. Some question his defensive running, though with 3.4 tackles per game this year he clearly is not afraid of getting his hands dirty at the contest, and can easily improve that side of his game. His true value is shown going the other way, in any case.
DRAFT PROJECTION: 1-2
While there will be plenty of conjecture over whether Daicos is worthy of a bid at pick one until his name is called out, it means little in the grand scheme of things. Collingwood has known for over a year that it had a top three talent on the horizon and planned accordingly, while stating it would commit to matching a bid at any pick. North Melbourne seems likely to overlook that option and take Horne-Francis with pick one anyway. The 18-year-old has signed a two-year extension on top of his original two-year draft deal, and can look forward to forging his future in black and white. He hasn't had any profound senior experience of yet, but has trained with the Collingwood group and will likely have no issue transitioning into the top flight early in year one.
>> NAB League POTW: Round 3
>> NAB League Head-to-Head: Daicos vs. Sonsie
>> The race to be number one – what separates Daicos and Horne?
>> Feature: Opportunity awaits Oakleigh at the end of "challenging" year
Coates Talent League Boys