IT WAS during the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships that Nick Coffield established himself as an AFL player of the future.
The talented defender came into the national carnival with good form behind him playing at TAC Cup level for the Northern Knights, but stepped it up a notch in Vic Metro colours.
He averaged 22 disposals, at 74 per cent efficiency, and four marks a game across the championships, which saw him named in the All Australian side as a defender.
Coffield is a general defender who has excellent closing speed, good game sense, solid skills and can create plenty of drive out of the back half. He ran a 2.91-second 20-metre sprint at the NAB AFL Draft Combine, which highlighted his brilliant take-off pace and movement.
At 190cm, Coffield is also a nice size to match up on a range of forwards, and because of his pace he can also be used to shut down quicker, smaller types who present a threat. He averaged 21 disposals at TAC Cup level this season and uses the ball well out of the backline. He was also captain of the Knights, highlighting his strong leadership qualities.
Coffield's ability to take the game forward was also evident in his scoring power. He averaged nearly a goal a game at TAC Cup level this season (13 in 16 appearances for the Knights), which included a four-goal haul in the opening game of the season.
The question on Coffield will be his ability to play in the midfield at the next level and whether he has the running capacity to move there more permanently than the stints he had in there this season.
Some similarities have been made between Coffield and Melbourne defender Michael Hibberd in the way Coffield can really patrol a back half and take care of a number of things at once.
Coffield came into top-15 reckoning as the year grew longer, and he's certainly in that mix with the draft inching closer.
Mobile, quick and versatile, Coffield is Mr Reliable across half-back. You can depend on him to clean up a mess, but also to start an attacking play with the ball in his hands.