Height: 177 cm
Weight: 74 kg
Strengths: Intelligence, leadership, accumulator, endurance
Weaknesses: Speed, hurt factor
Player comparison: Dion Prestia
First year impact: Near future prospect (may play between 5-10 games in year one)
Endurance: Above average
Northern Knights averages (TAC Cup) – seven games, 23 kicks, 10 handballs, 33 disposals, 71 per cent efficiency, 7.3 marks, 5.4 tackles, one goal.
Vic Metro averages (U18 Championships) – two games, 16.5 kicks, 10 handballs, 26.5 disposals, 79 per efficiency, 8.5 marks, 5.5 clearances, 5.5 tackles.
Jade Gresham models his game on Travis Boak and Trent Cotchin. If he ends up half as good as the two captains, he’ll be a very good player. Right now, Gresham is similar to Dion Prestia, who is an outside accumulator that presents at contest after contest and uses his leadership though his actions.
Gresham was a standout last year for the Knights as a small defender. He was used as either the first or second option moving the football out of the back half. He doesn’t have one of those booming kicks, but he will hit more targets than not.
Gresham is one of those players you know what you are going to get. While he does lack that punishing hurt factor that the elite players have, he uses his limitations to the best of his ability. In other words, rather than try and boot a 60m bomb to half forward under pressure, he’ll size up his options and pass laterally to teammates who are more likely to break the lines. In this way, Gresham could be considered a link man who has the intelligence to find the more dangerous players on his team.
Defensively, he’s not too bad. He doesn’t rack up a lot of tackles, but he is accountable and he reads the play well enough to choose when to peel off his man as well. He doesn’t have that incredible straight line speed to chase down opponents, but he’s good at setting up defensively two kicks before it gets into the defensive 50.
The Knights captain moved into the midfield this year and he’s been arguably the biggest bolter to date. Gresham has racked up the most touches of any player to date and his ceiling is around that 40 disposal mark.
Gresham is a outside-leaning midfielder, with the potential to develop an inside game in the future. He reads the ruck taps so well and knows where to run and break away. While he’s not fast, he’s smart and this helps him at stoppages. He is fearless in the way he throws himself into packs, despite being a shorter midfielder.
His hands in traffic are really clean and quick. Gresham rarely fumbles and he’s got poise before disposing of the football.
On the outside, he runs hard both ways. Whilst he isn’t as good athletically and via foot as Lachie Whitfield, he has that knack to just keep working both ways and he always gets involved in chains from the defensive 50 to create scores.
In the modern game, coaches rely heavily on creative score launches from the back half, and having players who have the endurance to always be an option are crucial. Having a player who is also a really smart user of the football is an absolute bonus.
Gresham has added goal kicking to his repertoire of late. He hasn’t had the opportunity to play much as a crumbing small forward, but he has kicked a goal per game on average this season, so can kick truly when drifting forward.
Gresham looks to be an excellent leader already. His game style is inspiring and he is really vocal.
Gresham isn’t as quick as you’d hope for a smaller player, but he is really agile and he’s got excellent endurance. For all the flaws that he can’t fix, Gresham works hard to cover it up by showing another string to his bow.
One question mark over Gresham is the idea of being a non-threating accumulator. The Knights have won just one game this year, yet Gresham, Brayden Fiorini and even at times Kieran Malone and Mick Mattingly have had dominant games, at least on the stats sheet.
Recruiters don’t care too much about stats. Look at Jordan De Goey for example – he only showed little flashes here or there and often had games around the 15 disposal mark, yet he went at pick five.
Gresham hasn’t lead a winning team. The Knights like to over-use the football, similar to Essendon. Gresham is not exempt from this. Many of their players will end up with a lopsided statline with 70:30 ratio of uncontested possessions to contested.
To Gresham’s credit, he has shown he can find the ball at Vic Metro level too, but it’s clear that his monster stat lines are more from the game style and him being the go-to guy, rather than being a really impressive player.
As mentioned prior, Gresham uses his capabilities to get the most out of himself. He will never be a line-breaking, 50-metre dart pass player like a Matthew Suckling. Instead, he is a smart leader who pinpoints others around the ground that can use their skills to hurt the opposition, while keeping calm and collected under pressure.
The big test for Gresham will come at the draft combine for recruiters to see exactly what athletic base they are working with. The Northern Knights’ captain has done enough to get drafted, but won’t want to drop off. If he can continue to kick goals and be the link man to set up attacks through other players, than there should be a number of clubs with his name on their lists.