Seeing how much Zac Merrett has become an inside mid of distinction already and Fantasia a small forward dynamo I decided to look back at the 2013 AFL Draft when Merrett was taken at 26 and Fantasia at 55.
If that draft was re-run now both would go much, much higher.
How many players would you truly rate from that as clearly better than either Merrett or Fantasia. How high would they go now?
Well, here is my analysis of that draft.
- Boyd (GWS) - walked out to Bulldogs on a million dollar contract. In and out of the Bulldogs side. Doesn’t look remotely like a Pick #1 and is not a better player, right now than either our pair.
- Josh Kelly (GWS) - clearly a midfield gun. I would rate him a better player than our pair.
- Jack Billings (Saints) - showed a lot of promise early, had injury problems but is seemingly marooned in the Saints VFL side despite the Saints being well outside the Top 8. Definitely wouldn’t rate him high than our pair.
- Bontempelli (Bulldogs) - looks the best player from that draft for mine. Better than our pair you would have to admit.
- Kade Kolodjashnij (GCS) - looks a handy player but nothing more, certainly not a better player than our pair.
- Scahrenberg (Pies) - defnesive medium size tall, always injured. Doesn’t come close.
- Aish (Bris) - soft as butter outside mid now with the Pies. Would be lucky to go Top 40 due to his softness from what I have seen.
- Luke McDonald (North, F/S) - promising smaller defender who has hamstring issues and in/out of an old side. An ok player, nothing more and certainly not better than our pair.
- Salem (Melb) - looks highly talented and skilled but can’t get a game and one suspects it’s because, like Aish, he doesn’t like contested ball situations. No where near as good as our pair.
- Freeman (Pies) - perenially injured and now at the Saints. Has never played a game. Doesn’t even come remotely close.
So, of the Top 10 taken that draft only Bontempelli and Josh Kelly (in that order) are better than Merrett or Fantasia.
Quickly perusing the remaining picks and highlighting only those players who I rate the same or better as our pair.
- Patrick Cripps (Blues) - inside mid general destined to be captain one day. Break out year last year but struggling this year as teams now paying him attention. A very good player but I don’t rate him better than Merrett as an inside mid (Merrett racks better numbers with less support regularly) but probably would take him before Fantasia.
- Zak Jones (Swans) - emerging HB type in the J.McVeigh mold. Looks like he will be a good player but, right now, not a better player than either our pair.
- Rory Lobb (GWS) - the player whose name Dodoro was originally going to read out. Super tall yet agile and a strong mark and good kick for goal. Vastly superior to Tom Boyd based on his performances. Is only going to get better. Would take him ahead of our pair and perhaps second only to Bontempelli.
- Ben Brown (North) - also better than Tom Boyd. Hard to know how good he really is given the experience that surrounds him so he often doesn’t get the attention he should. Good player nonetheless but I don’t think better than either of our pair.
- James Sicily (Hawks) - mobile, athletic tall forward who has a good leap, good pair of hands an excellent shot for goal. Also superior to Tom Boyd. Like Brown, is surrounded by a wealth of experience and talent so he gets the 5th-6th best defender most times. Good player. Not quite in Merrett’s class but I’d rate him ahead of Fantasia given his ability to finish off his work is superior.
- Sam Lloyd (Tigers) - mature age goal sneak who always looks dangerous and regularly kicks 3 goals a game. Doesn’t have the tank to push into the midfield though and often doesn’t work hard enough the other way so he is not in Merrett’s class. Fantasia can kick 3 goals a game but have more shots on goal and doesn’t have a handful of stars (Martin, Reiwoldt, Deledio) to feed off. Fantasia also has him covered for speed, defensive work and endurance.
- McGovern (WCE) - raw boned KP defender and sometimes forward who gives everything but lacks polish. Good player but his lack of polish sees me rating him below (but not by much) our pair.
- Ed Curnow (Rookie elevation - Blues) - close checking tagger with great endurance & work ethic but poor kicking skills. Would be Top 20 if that draft was re-run but clearly not better than our pair.
- Dane Rampe (Rookie elevation - Swans) - one of the steals of the draft in my mind. Outstanding mid-size defender who can play tall or small, beats all comers and often saves the day for the Swans. Will never be more than this but he is about as good as you get for that role. I wouldn’t rate him higher than Merrett as Merrett has a more all-round game and nor Fantasia as Fantasia’s speed would catch him out if the ball is delivered into space.
So, here’s how I think the 2013 AFL draft would go in my view if it was re-run with 3 seasons of AFL in hindsight:
- Rory Lobb
- Josh Kelly
- Zac Merrett
- Patrick Cripps
- Orazio Fantasia
- Dane Rampe
- Jeremy McGovern
- Ben Brown
- Sam Lloyd
- James Sicily
- Ed Curnow
- Zak Jones
Staggering isn’t how poor the Top 10 from that draft have turned out to be except for 2 exceptions. after those 13 there’s probably not more than 10-12 other players taken that year who will make it to at least 50 games.
Also shows how many gems are taken after Pick 50.
Makes you wonder what all those recruiters & list analysts really do.
Makes you thankful that Dodoro, Merv Keane & Co. really had done their homework and delivered, in my view two Top 6 selections with only picks 26 & 55.
Compare that to the Pies - have completely missed out (due to injury admittedly) on getting value from the two Top 10 picks they actually had.