Agree with you thoughts in the first couple of paragraphs, and partly the last.
I don’t really think he gets worried off the ball, and I don’t by into what people say in that he is laconic. Smooth moving yes, Laconic no.
He just doesn’t have natural inside instincts, he gets beaten to the ball by better AFL mids as his cant read where the ball is going/situation quick enough, which leaves him chasing tail (has high tackle numbers in the VFL for example).
He has all the correct physical attributes to be a very good inside mid. But not the instincts, and instinctive things are very hard to teach.
His reading of the play outside the contest is great, as is his kicking and marking. He is best suited to a HFF or even a wing.
I think he is a best 22 player who could easily rack up 20 plus each week if played in his natural position.
I would love him to prove me wrong though as we badly need another big inside mid.