Pursuing a fairly reckless and short-sighted trade-a-thon during the mid-year trade period, largely left me doing damage control on my draft position, so I traded pretty much everybody that I could live without going forward, plus 1 or 2 others that I thought offered a good chance of reclaiming some early picks.
Made 2 major blunders - trading Atkins away on the news that Brandon Ah Chee had requested a trade to Gold Coast, should've waited for confirmation on that, but I'd already agreed to terms with Stoops before learning Gold Coast wouldn't be able to fit him in this season and it would've been an arsehole move to back out at that point.
Blunder #2: Offloading Nankervis, because I already had T-Bell and Witts who had both received minimal interest, and who would be fighting for that 2nd ruck spot. Given T-Bell had been a combination of disappointing and perpetually injured in the 2 seasons before and Witts had much greater competition for a ruck spot, this was flawed logic.
Trade-Ins: Both Aliir Aliir and Connor Menadue weren't traded in exclusively for this season, but it is disappointing that Aliir hasn't had a pre-season and Menadue apparently is in the process of transitioning to being a back flanker, which will take time. Neither of them I expect to dramatically improve their fantasy stocks on the back of this, but when Menadue was drafted I wasn't expecting him to click in the AFL until year 3 or 4, so I'm happy to stash him in any case. Aliir averaged 67 once he got himself settled, so I still hope once he overcomes the toe injury that he could still prove a very useful part of the backline.
Keeper Choice: Easily the most underwhelmed I've been about my squad pre-draft, some of that was eliminating most options in last year's trade period, the rest was the lack of any dramatic improvement from my kids due to injury (Duggan, Aliir) or transitioning to a being a back flanker (Fiorini, Menadue). Marcus Adams got a spot by default due to a lack of options and the FB flexibility, last season I also kept someone that had a dire pre-season (Brendon Ah Chee) over an injured guy (Jeremy Howe) and that cost me, so I fully expect Sam Wright or T-Bell to burn me. Shannon Hurn who was told he wouldn't be receiving a new contract, ended up getting one due to Wright's 2nd surgery filled pre-season and how lacklustre he was last season after zero pre-season. Crazy Bomber drafted both of them, so based on history that is potentially good news. Went into the draft with 4 legit forwards + Adams as a place holder 5th.
My 2nd "chill" draft in a row, not even an eye-bulge I cannot be reading that right because I'm drafting him moment. Would've liked Knight, would've liked Mutch, would've liked not to have rushed my last pick and did better legwork on Neal-Bullen's pre-season but those are the breaks, it is what it is, and overall I'm relatively comfortable with how I've drafted.
Pick 21. Oliver Florent (Sydney)
In the previous years, I'd specifically targeted back eligible players without overly reaching (Duggan and Tucker), though Tucker at 9 just exemplifies how shallow last year's pool from an immediate fantasy perspective was, both burned me with Duggan a FC after year 1 trending C and Tucker reverting from HBF to wing once injuries decimated Freo's mids - so this year I was purely taking the best available. We didn't expect player X to still be there is the oft-heard phrase out of recruiters months on draft night - in Florent's case I would be saying the same thing. Given in most cases with the exception of the later first round picks of any premiership contenders, if you're not a KPP, pure mid or seriously injured, our draft largely runs down the AFL draft board albeit with a preference for backs, so to get a very classy FC drafted at Pick 11 all the way down at 21 was a big win. Like Duggan he is a bit undersized so I expect realistically I'm looking at years 3 or 4 before really hitting his straps. Will get games early due to Sydney's small forward issues, but I don't envision him being best 22 as Longmire likes to develop his undersized guys in the NEAFL and he isn't overwhelmingly superior like a Heeney or Mills.
Player Consideration: Tom Bell
Pick 46. Rohan Bewick (Brisbane) - 4 Games
Returns to the Seagulls after playing 4 games for the club in 2011. Given I was needing best 22 forwards, I was very happy when I saw wez had dropped both Bewick & Bell as I thought they would provide good cover for Riley Knight, in the end Knight went earlier than I thought he might, and Bewick was still around, which given his form over pre-season was surprising. He looks rejuvenated and he is playing to his limitations (despite the "good skills" Jason Dunstall was espousing, he is a very average field kick). Very good chance he is a pure C (winger) at year's end and for that reason, he won't be in the keeper mix.
Other Player Considered: Travis Cloke
Pick 54. Kade Stewart (Hawthorn)
Still not 100% sold on this pick. Cloke was still around and would've made a good selection, but I wanted a FC - to give me another forward option, but I was also concerned about the mid depth of the draft, which was compounded by the large gap to my 5th pick, plus I would be carrying Duggan and Menadue at least for the early part of the season. Stewart tackles hard and scores well and brings a slightly different option to their depth mids - that being said I'm not sold that he is best 22. Thought about Towers but he often forces Longmire to drop him as he is an abysmal decision maker.
Pick 57. Michael Close (Brisbane)
With the gap, a ruck option was imperative to avoid a run-on and getting dregs. Have followed Close...um...closely in recent years and think he's potentially poised for a break-out year. Has been very unlucky with injuries in the past 2 years including the Etihad surface causing ACL, but with Josh Walker being trialled as a back, Close is really just fighting Jono Freeman for that 2nd key forward spot.
Pick 81. Lynden Dunn (Collingwood) - 34 Games
Lynden returns for his 4th season at the club, having been a squad member in 2009, and then bounced back on the scene with 32 games between 2014-15, during which time he also earned a keeper spot. My back keepers were strong, with Hurn getting the 7th spot, so I could afford to wait until here to start drafting depth. I'm not envisioning him bouncing back to his 2014 highs, but with Collingwood trading away most of their key backs, he'll get plenty of opportunity to cement a spot - should be a very solid depth back and average 60-65.
Pick 81. Dylan Clarke (Essendon)
My first ever Essendon draftee and only my 3rd Essendon squad member in 12 seasons (T-Bell & Darcy Daniher being the other 2). The PR department will say we purposely left Mutch on the table, because our recruiters were hoping Clarke would still be available here - realistically I like being competitive and adding Mutch at that stage, with a rubbish forward line and little midfield depth would've left me circling the drain more than I already will be this season. Onto Clarke, I took him too early but I wanted to get him off the board with Mutch gone. He is a throwback pick of the type I used to draft a lot of in my early days - a slow, inside mid, ball glutton whose vision around the contest tends to make up for his lack of foot skills and pace. With our lack of inside mids I could easily see Mutch or Clarke or both getting games later in the season.
Pick 93 - Dave Astbury (Richmond
Really shone last season after injury troubles and interrupted pre-seasons in years past. Averaged 60 for the season, but like Aliir Aliir his scores shot up after his confidence grew and he started to believe he belonged - Astbury averaged 69 in his last 9 games. Again will be another good depth back. Looked at Daniel Talia, but was wary about him given last year came out of nowhere and he hadn't averaged above 50 previously.
Pick 99. Dan Robinson (Sydney)
Given how iffy I was about the Stewart pick, I went with another FC here to cover things. Robinson averaged 64 and was best 22 before injury last year and there is less competition for spots currently, with so many Swans mids and small forwards injured. It should also help him that he played wing before the injury, once Lloyd moved to a back flank no one player locked down that wing with a rotation of many players (McVeigh, Heeney, Towers, Hewett), ending up with Zak Jones playing there on Grand Final Day. The other wing is usually Hannebery's but he'll probably be needed more inside this year, as he is the one of the most proficient plays in the compeitition at being able to play joint inside and outside roles. Looked hard at Ryan Lester but couldn't bring myself to do it.
Pick 119. Ryan Schoenmakers (Hawthorn) - 4 Games
Another to return to the Seagulls after an abscence (played 4 games in 2014). Was comfortable with the selection yesterday but now I wonder whether despite Gunston & Roughead's athleticism, if those 2 plus Schoenmakers & Vickery would make them too top heavy. A need to again cover those pesky forwards led to ignoring better backs (Jetta), if Schoenmakers gets regular games, he'll be adequate depth, if he doesn't he'll be gone very shortly.
Pick 120. Jack Sinclair (re-draft) (St Kilda) - 11 games
Rushed this pick and made a blue - and it was a pot committed selection rather than a smart one. If I thought I was a finalist I would've selected someone else here, I knew Sinclair was still on the periphery if not further back in the pecking order, but I didn't want to chance him bouncing back from his 2nd year blues at another club. Was fine with letting Dan Butler go, but hadn't put the work into ANB that I should've, specifically I didn't think he'd gotten as much game time as he had and that Melbourne had only named 24 rather than the usual 27 man squad for the Eagles game. Next season I'll take more time and go through the entire list of players as this is the second straight year I've taken someone with miles of competition for their spot, only to overlook someone who had previously been on my list and been closely tracking previously, who also had an easier path to a best 22 spot. Will get a month to demonstrate some form, given the lack of mid depth, I suspect my options of a replacement will be severely limited, though I do have a few guys in mind should they survive the draft and the picking frenzy that is usually the first foggy FA's.
B: Rory Laird (B), Shannon Hurn (B), Bernie Vince (CB)
HB: Darcy Tucker (CB), Easton Wood (B), Nathan Wilson (B)
C: Brayden Fiorini (C), Tom Rockliff (C), Lachie Hunter (C)
HF: Sam Kerridge (FC), Taylor Walker (F), Rohan Bewick (FC)
F: Rory Lobb (FR), Michael Close (FR), Toby Greene (FC)
R: Jarrod Witts (FR), Cam Guthrie (C), Mitch Robinson (C)
Int: Dan Robinson (FC), Oliver Florent (FC), Lynden Dunn (B), Dave Astbury (B),
Kade Stewart (FC), Ryan Schoenmakers (FB)
Injured: Aliir Aliir (B), Liam Duggan (FC)
Jack Sinclair (FC), Connor Menadue (FC), Dylan Clarke (C), Marcus Adams (FB)
The core is solid, but there is zero depth, so I'd be surprised if I made finals this year barring an extremely generous injury run. The goal for this season was to tread water, hit the draft hard next season and hopefully bounce back into flag contention whilst Rockliff still has some prime left. The core is still very young as aside from Bernie & Hurn all the other keepers are 27 or under, with the vast majority in the 22-24 age bracket. Sinclair and Adams will be challenged to find form quickly, though whether I'll have any decent options available to me is the question.
Estimated Finish: 9th-12th