I'm not joking that I think he could thrive as a HFF / mid who can pinch hit in the ruck.
Being constantly involved with the play while not having the pressure of a primary big man role could be exactly what he needs at AFL level.
He hasn't got the tank for it.
That's half his issue with rucking. He's ok in small stints, but once he has to do it for extended periods of time, he tires. And when he tires, he starts jumping less and scragging more, which is when the free kicks start happening.
In that infamous game against Goldy, most took note of all the free kicks, but i mostly noticed that 15 mins into the first quarter, he was essentially dead on his feet.
I think rucking as an undersized ruckman really takes it out of you, and it's probably something Judas Ryder doesn't get enough credit for. (But fark him anyway)
I mentioned that during the Goldstein game - he was serviceable the first 10 minutes of the first quarter, the first 5 minutes of the other quarters then for about 2 minutes after he'd had a spell on a spine.
Once he fatigued he got absolutely shat on, and unfortunately (for McKernan) the game has moved on from ruckman going 50/50 off the bench so he needs to find another couple of tricks
I don't insist it is the answer, but the point being if he isn't the main ruckman (which he has been when called upon, other than last Thursday) he won't get as exhausted, and while spending too much time in the midfield is too much to ask, if his main role is a 3rd tall HFF who keeps the small and big backmen looking over their shoulders when the ball is in dispute, maybe that would work.
It is one thing to be quick, but he is pretty good at using his physical presence when the ball is in dispute, and this could benefit both the other talls and the smalls in our forward line, as well as being handy around the goals himself.
I think people need to stop trying to find a place to stick/shoe horn in, a guy who isn't quite up to it, and start looking for/developing someone else who may be. McKernan will be 27 years old by the end of this season, he has had 2 AFL clubs over a period of 7 years, and has racked up the grand total of 49 games. Sometimes you have to accept the fact that someone is not quite up to it and move on. Good VFL player. Leave him there.
I don't usually put him in my best side, because individually he doesn't look as good on paper as others, but I am open to the idea that he could help with team balance if played as the main ruck alternative, and allows Joe to stay forward .
I do genuinely believe he has more to offer than TBC as the second ruck at the moment, and probably more than Stewart for now.
If we don't want to use JD as second ruck, I think he is our best alternative. Given there is probably now a small window to try him in this role, and if he continues to show form, we should try him in a role like this. If it doesn't work TBC and Stewart are next in line and we move on.