List build - where are we? Where are we going next


Surely Draper makes it onto the mainlist. Would be enough interest that we couldn’t get away with just keeping him as a rookie for another year.


What difference does it make if we can play him anytime anyway?


Not a bad tap ruckman but moving around the ground and knowing where to go or lead to needs work.


He’s contracted and reportedly happy.


Yep. Would hurt very very much if he got poached. Will be a very good AFL ruckman, sooner rather than later.


Until Port offer him 3 years @ $250k. His 1 year rookie wage don’t look so great.


Crows are the ones monitoring the situation very closely.
He won’t be going anywhere though


Yep and yep.


This started off as a post for the trade targets thread, but morphed into more a list build post, so I have put it in here instead.

I think you are right that now is time to go all in, our 25 and under group is looking very promising and if we put another couple of planks in place we will have a side that is ready to peak from next year onwards for at least 5 years.

But I don’t think we have a problem yet with any major holes in the list, and we have patched up a couple already. The thing more to watch is managing large numbers of players the same age as the list gets older, and having to retire them around the same time, but I don’t think have any major problems there yet either, and as time goes on, it will probably even out further.

What does make a lot of sense to try to concentrate the players in the age group where they are already early in their prime, rather than have too many developing players, and too many older players who aren’t best 22, so you have a deeper list in terms of players who are ready to go and will be for some time.

This approach also creates the potential to have more players who are trade worthy and who can also be covered if the functioning list is deep enough. What Dodoro has done right in recent times is get a bumper crop of young ones in recent times who he can build on with trading in the right players.

To illustrate this I have listed in age order the 25 and under players at the moment:

1999 - (19 -20)
Trent Mynott
Jordan Houlahan

1998 (20 - 21)
Jordan Ridley
Sam Draper
Dylan Clarke
Brandon Zerk-Thatcher
Josh Begley
Andrew McGrath
Kobe Mutch

1997 (21-22)
Mason Redman
Matt Guelfi
Aaron Francis
Darcy Parish

1996 (22-23)
Kyle Langford
Luke Lavender
Jayden Laverde
Conor McKenna
Jake Long

1995 (23-24)
Zach Merrett
Orazio Fantasia

1994 (24-25)
Martin Gleeson
Adam Saad
Jake Stringer
Joe Daniher
James Stewart

1993 (25-26)
Michael Hartley *
Devon Smith
Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti

In the 25 and under group (the above 28 players) - I think we have 14 players 25 and under that are already (in bold) best 22 and 6 who could challenge for a best 22 place during the course of next year (bold italics)and 2 more on the way for 2020 (in italics) and jury is still out on the remaining 6.

Having 22 players in this age group of AFL quality with 14 of them best 22 players is very healthy, in terms of keeping a side together for a long enough to know how each other plays inside out, and hopefully function as a well oiled machine in years to come.

(* Hartley is controversial, I think his kicking could be a weapon in 2019, but not all would agree, and Hooker would have to go forward - but 198cm 100kg+ defenders don’t grow on trees, and he would be an important match up if Hooker wasn’t available down back and we had to take on Tex Walker or the like).

In the over 26 age group (the below 14 players) I would say there are only 4 players in this group who I expect to still be in our best 22 by the end of next season (bold) and 4 who are best 22 now by could be challenged by the end of the year (bold italics) and 5 who are AFL quality depth and one (McNiece) who may not be but perhaps still has some upside.

1992 (26-27)
Dyson Heppell
Ben McNiece

1991 (27-28)
Matt Dea
Patrick Ambrose
Travis Colyer

1990 (28-29)
Shaun McKernan
Mitch Brown
Michael Hurley
David Zaharakis

1989 (29-30)
Tom Bellchambers
David Myers

1988 (30-31)
Cale Hooker
Matthew Leuenberger (is still our second best ruckman and now fully fit)

1987 (31-32)
Mark Baguley (in our best at the moment, can’t discount him until he starts to drop off)

In terms of list holes, we could afford to get more players born in 1999, but we can do that over the next couple of year especially if Mynott and Houlahan don’t come on. We could use a player or two born in 1995 where our draft sanctions are showing a little. It is interesting to note that all of our players born back to 1995 are all draftees, for those born in '94 we have 2 who were drafted and 3 who were traded in, and those born in '93 were either traded in or drafted when over 22 YO’s. So the only player left from the 2011 draft is Bags who came in as a mature player despite us offloading 9 players that year, the draft was a weak after GWS took most of the cream, with Kav being our top pick and Jerrett our second. From this point of view Chad Wingard makes sense, because that is not an overcrowded age group for us.

So in reality holes are not that hard to fill if there are draft misses (or picks are traded away), and in some ways it can be a bigger problem with too many best 22 players being the same age because they are likely to drop off at a similar time, making it harder to keep the team performing at a higher level.

So ideally Dodoro would be aiming at 2 to 4 AFL quality players in each year level up to the 30 and over age group. 1994 is our only really over achieving year, with 5 quality players (only 2 drafted) and '98 looking extremely promising with 5 drafted players looking very promising and 2 more who may make it.


Really great post. Just one nitpick, I don’t think Zaharakis is close to being pushed out of the best 22.


Yep, agreed.

Two points I’ll make though.

  • It does get frustrating when he misses entries inside F50. Although the “kick it to the boundary” strategy was a new one to me and does mean that maybe he was kicking the ball where he intended.
  • He doesn’t appear to perform to the same level if carrying an injury. I’d like us to be strong enough to rest him if he is carrying something. Such an incredibly damaging player when fully fit and firing.


Thanks Ants. Yes, maybe a harsh call on Zaka, I was tossing up on it. Perhaps I have taken too much notice of criticisms of him.

The thinking was if we bring in one or two more quality mids into the side, who goes out?

I see players like Parish as taking a step up next year and I favoured his toughness over Zaka. But given Parish is already in the side, it is a bit hypothetical Zaka being pushed out by players we don’t yet have and we don’t know yet what attributes they bring to the table.

As things stand and even with reasonable progression of our younger players he is still in the side. But to keep in it, he will need to maintain the same tough relentless attitude that will be required of the rest of the side to be a force in 2019.

I think he has shown he can do this, but maintaining it will be key, and it is not an attribute he has always displayed.


Great post SCarey!

Just goes to show that we really can’t just put ALL of our eggs into the ‘midfielder’ basket. Hooker probably only has 2 years left. Hurley 3-4. Similar story with Brown/McKernan/Ambrose if they can continue to contribute. Assuming Hartley is traded, our only sub-26 year old KPP players are Daniher, Stewart, Zerk…it’s not a great contingency plan at this stage.

I’m not saying we should bulk up on KPP. I still firmly believe we need to load up an already promising midfield as that’s where the bag is won and lost. But I don’t think it should be scoffed at if we dedicated some of our currency/one list spot to a high quality KPP with say pick 8 or Steven May.

As a hypothetical (and a dream) but say we used pick 8 for May, then next years 1st for Martin plus 2 x 2nd rounders for Setterfield. I’d be more happy with that strategy than just going mid, mid, mid.


Go mid mid mid for blokes we are trading in.

We have been exceptional at drafting AFL quality talls. No need to reach for a tall at present while we are still in a weak midfield position. Will probably find a couple of talls in the draft in the meantime.


Yeah our good KP drafting is a factor too. But given they take 3-4 years to develop we probably need to start drafting these tall kids this year or next if we want a smooth contingency for Hooker, Hurley, Smack, Brown, Ambrose.

Maybe that’s our plan…target other clubs mids in the trade/FA periods and KP in the draft.


I don’t think we are planning for a smooth transition. Why would we want things to be smooth when we aren’t competitive. I reckon we are going all in. Bugger the long term and try and win on the short term.


Whereas I think whether it be in midfield or replacing Bags on the HFF later in his career, Zaka is so clearly best 22 its not funny. I mean, IMO he’s pretty clearly our #4 midfielder. Only Zerrett, Heppell and possibly Smith are ahead of him. Hopefully a few guys like McGrath, Parish, Langford will overtake him, but none of them are anywhere near his level yet, and I wouldn’t say Myers is either.

As to who gets knocked out of the side, it depends on the type of player(s) we bring in. But given you usually have an injury or two, its probably guys who are currently depth (Guelfi & Colyer) who are most at risk of less game time.


I would be staggered if any Essendon fan has Colyer in the fully fit best 22


Although there are no guarantees, the Francis/Zerk/Hartley/Ridley are all of an age to play for the next 6-7 (+ for youngsters) and look very promising of being good enough. So that covers Hooker/Hurley, especially if we rookie Mason Fletcher or Hanna.

Midfield we’re pretty gold for the future, with Zaka our oldest. Just need to strengthen it for the now.

Tall forwards are a concern, but even there with JD and Stewart its not terrible. A single ruck/forward with a higher certainty of success than Lav 2.0 would be a great fit. Failing that, another tall somewhere this year or next.

I do think we also need more small forwards. With Green going, Long with question marks, we really do need to strengthen.


For me Francis and Ridley are not KPP. They’re third tall flanker types. Plus Hartley looks even money to not be on our list next year. Which leaves Zerk, Daniher, Stewart and possibly speculative rookies in Fletcher and Hanna.

I agree on our need for more small forwards too.