It’s tough deciding what to do with our list. It is so unbalanced as far as age, inside v outside mids, number of mids vs utilities, number of prospects that are still developing, etc, etc.
After yesterday’s game, you want to throw the team out and start again, but that’s not quite the best thing to do.
And unfortunately, given how bad the draft is looking, we won’t be finding that jet midfielder we’ve been craving this year. Unfortunately, if we haven’t gotten him already, we won’t get him soon.
Unless we get a free agent, I cannot see this list plus whoever we get at pick 11 being good enough to make the 8 next season. We’ll have a tougher draw and we have to replace Jobe and Kelly who have been capable of playing at a high level for greater than 15 games this season. Whilst I have hope in Langford, Francis and Laverde, I just don’t see them capable of holding a spot in our midfield the way Darcy Parish or Zerret did in their first few years. And that’s before we even address our other weakness with Bellchambers, Myers and Colyer.
I think at best, we are two years away from being a top 8 team. By then, Goddard and Baguley will be gone whilst Bellchambers and Hooker will be 30 and Hurley and Zaharakis will be 29. That’ll be another six players that will be past their best and will need to start looking at replacements for.
2017 Out of contract (according to Blitz thread) - Mark Baguley, Craig Bird, Josh Green, Heath Hocking, Ben Howlett, Conor McKenna, Jackson Merrett, Alex Morgan. Sam Draper, Jake Long, Shaun McKernan, Ben McNiece, Yestin Eades (all rookies).
I’d offer Baguley and Green a 1 year contract. Conor should get 3 years.
Draper and McNiece earn some extra time on the rookie list. The rest should be gone (even McKernan).
Retired - Jobe Watson, Brent Stanton, James Kelly
Delist - Craig Bird, Heath Hocking, Ben Howlett, Jackson Merrett, Alex Morgan
That is 8 senior list changes and 3 rookie spots.
It’s always handy to look at next year to see what what you’re options are…
2018 Out of contract - Josh Begley, Tom Bellchambers, Mitch Brown, Dylan Clarke, Matt Dea, Marty Gleeson, Brendan Goddard, Michael Hartley, Kyle Langford, Jayden Laverde, Matthew Leuenberger, Andrew McGrath, Kobe Mutch, Jordan Ridley, James Stewart
Gleeson, McGrath and Stewart all deserve at least a 2 year contract and if they continue improving, they should get 3.
I’d be looking to extend Begley by a year at this point in time. Tom Bellchambers and Mitch Brown shouldn’t get any kind of extension, but we really are short of options at their positions so I’d offer a 1 year contract to them. Dylan Clarke, Mutch and Ridley also warrant a bit more patience.
Michael Hartley, Langford and Laverde should all be re-assessed next season. They have shown glimpses, but more should be expected from them next year. They have all struggled with higher expectation and in Hartley’s case, he’s gone from having no expectations and keeping Hawkins goaless to now being exposed one on one weekly by the opposition. The opposition are yet to even bother targeting Langford or Laverde.
Looney has been good, but he just isn’t quite up to it anymore. We should be hoping to get a replacement for him and move him on.
Matty Dea has barely been played this year (even though I think there is a spot for him) but I’d look to let him go.
Josh Green gets another year of re-assessment. I’m not sold he’s our small forward answer to our problems.
Baguley would have reached the age where we’r3 not getting much more out of him and should be looking to retire as should Goddard.
So that’s another 4 to 5 senior list changes still to come.
That leaves a core of…
Forwards - Fanta, Tippa, Joe Dan, Stewart, Hooker (Begley, Francis and Laverde still developing)
Mids - Hep, Zerret, Parish, Zaka, McGrath (Langford, Draper, Mutch and Clarke still developing)
Backs - McKenna, Hurley, Gleeson (McNeice, Ridley and Redman still developing)
Depth - Bellchambers, Mitch Brown, Colyer, Myers, Hartley, Ambrose
I’m a little rough on Bellchambers and Ambrose, but I think they are the kind of guys we need to find better options for if we are ever to match it with top 4 teams.
I’d love to try and trade Colyer and Myers, but they are contracted until 2019 and are unlikely to be head hunted.
We need a midfielder. Badly. And one that won’t take three years to develop otherwise, we miss the window Hurley and Hooker are in and would need to find replacements for them so that we don’t miss the window of opportunity Joe Dan is in.
We also need a ruckman. Badly.
We’ll be cutting the list deep this year so with the poor draft depth, I would be looking to replace two or three list spots with guys who have performed at VFL level and give them the opportunity that half the players on our list have had, yet are failing to grasp. Guys like Howlett, Jackson Merrett, Hocking and to a lesser extent Laverde, Redman, Morgan and Francis should be a lot better at VFL level and should be earning their spots.
We should be looking to improve the list. That doesn’t mean cramming the list with 18 years olds and waiting a few years for them to get better. Relying on ‘hope’ hasn’t gotten us very far to this point.
I’d be looking to try and snag one or two midfield / forwards who aren’t getting senior action but are performing well at VFL level to help with our midfield depth. I’m a big fan of Ben Kennedy and Jack Lonie. They weren’t totally useless at U18s level and could be the ‘value’ option picks that wouldn’t warrant high trade picks. These two have shown more at VFL level the last few years than some of the players on our list and they would be the kind of players teams like Sydney would throw an opportunity at. I’d be surprised if they’d be worth any greater than a 4th round pick. Either would be an upgrade on our current developing players and would give us the time to further develop Langford, Laverde and Francis if we truly think they’ll make it.
If we could also get our hands on Harley Balic, it would go a long way to adding to the mix of midfielders that will help transform our group from the slow treacle we currently harbour.
We don’t need to get the best midfielder available, but one who can add to the mix and provide value. Jarryd Lyons is a perfect example who went from Adelaide to Gold Coast for a pick in the 40s. Lyons would be an upgrade on Colyer and if we could get value like that, it’ll go a long way towards fixing our midfield options for the short term and give us the opportunity to start trading other assets without worrying too much for the return.
We seriously need a ruckman. Reilly O’Brien has been good at SANFL level for a few years but barely gets a look in due to Jacob’s reliability. He’s 22 years and would be perfect for us. He might be the Sam Jacobs type trade where he blossoms at a club when given the opportunity. There aren’t many other ruck options that aren’t already broken (Zac Clarke and Tim Nicholls spring to mind) so the cupboard is bare in the ruck department.
With a late pick, I’d be looking at giving an opportunity to Liam Ryan from Subiaco in the WAFL. He’s 21 years old and I think he’d be an upgrade on Josh Green. His speed and skill would work very well in combination with Fantasia and Tippa. I’m not sure if he’d be considered a ‘tackling machine’ so maybe some WA viewers can give some insight into him but usually WAFL isn’t the competition for tackling demons.
I would be trying to trade our current first round pick and any other player that isn’t in our core above for an established midfielder or to move up the draft a few more spots. Hopefully we are lucky enough to have Darcy Fogarty or Jack Higgins slide to our pick. Maybe the Brayshaw kid might get to our pick. Adding to the midfield mix is paramount.
Let’s face it. We’re unlikely to get the midfielder we really need. Our best chance is to push hard to get Rockliff. We wouldn’t need to give up anything for him and again, he’ll buy us some time to develop and draft further talent.
Any other player (like Stringer or Kelly) would mean we’d need to give up draft picks to get to the club. Unfortunately, the draft picks are of high value to us and we just can’t afford to to trade anything more than our first round pick at this point in time.
I would also dearly love to switch our drafting philosophy. Obviously, we need to focus on midfielders. Generally, they are quicker to develop and you should see some assuring signs within a year or two at both VFL and AFL level. If we focus on this for a few year (especially with our first picks), then we should be able to solve our defensive problems. I’d be looking more for players who don’t need two years to build their bodies up before we see some signs. Darcy Parish for example shows a thirst for the contest even though his body size is slight. Once he gets the muscle into him, it’s noticeable he’ll be fine. Hopefully, we don’t focus on timid midfielders.
We seem to ‘reach’ for players with our picks in the 20s when lower risk players are still available. It looks like we got a win with Begley using that philosophy, but we’ve missed out on Parker when we went for an untried Steinberg. We overlooked Balic for an injury riddled Alex Morgan. Some will probably say Ridley over Witherden would be another example, but I actually think Ridley was a solid choice at the time. I couldn’t say the same for Steinberg and Morgan at the time (even though their highlight videos looked promising). We seem to have a better strike rate when we take sliders with our picks in the 20s.
I do like the way we’ve used our picks above 40. In all honesty, if you can find a 50 game player in this range, then you’ve done well. Marty Gleeson, Mitch Brown, Hartley (even though unpopular) and Fantasia have been good value, Mutch looks promising too.
I’d like the rookie list being kept for project players who need development. We can afford to have 1 of the rookie spots for a ‘mature age’ player like McKernan or as a ‘last chance saloon’ spot, but the rest need to be kept to developing and cycling through youngsters in the hope of finding a player worthy of promoting to the senior list.
I’d also like to set higher standards for our youngsters.
Jackson Merrett should not be allowed to waste away a list spot.
I know Colyer is considered a reason why patience is required, but in all honesty, we wasted away 5 years of a list spot to wait for an average midfielder to blossom. That’s just poor use of a list spot.
Myers has been okay. But can we really afford to give up another list spot for someone who can only get on the park for 10 to 15 games per year?
That’s before we even start to consider players like Steinberg, Kav, Ashby, O’Brien, Alex Browne and Tayte Pears wasting away further list spots in the hope that they become anything better than an average footballer.
Alex Morgan has spent two years on our list and has barely shown glimpses at VFL level. If he was taking up a rookie list spot, then so be it, but you cannot afford a senior list spot to a player who can barely perform at VFL level (regardless of injury).
Langford and Laverde have had 3 years on our list. Oddly enough, I think Laverde could be the better of the two, but Langford has shown more at both VFL and AFL level. If they don’t make it next year, then we need to cut our losses and move on to the next option. We just cannot afford to keep players on the list if they aren’t performing well enough to warrant senior selection 4 years into their careers.
Aaron Francis could still be anything. But we need to put a timeline on when we stop looking at their potential and look at what they are delivering.
We either have a poor football development department or we just choose the wrong players.
Cutting our losses means we risk these players going to other clubs and being of value, but it is a risk we have to be willing to take and hope that we get more wins with our trades than losses.
Richmond took a big gamble and traded away draft picks for Caddy and Prestia. Then got Nankervis for virtually nothing. And drafted Graham late. All four players played on Friday night and and three of them have significantly added to their midfield mix through the season and now they are in a Prelim Final. A lot here laughed at Richmond when the Caddy and Prestia trades were made (even I did). But when you sit back and look at the value they got from those trades in total, it was worth it. It meant players like Corey Ellis, Taylor Hunt, Jake Batchelor, Anthony Miles, Reece Conca and Sam Lloyd all were back at VFL working hard for a spot in the 22 rather than being gifted a spot in the 22 as they had been in the previous two years.
Even Geelong got crazy value in the trade for Dangerfield. And even then, most here laughed at them and said wait until they get old and have to draft for themselves. They could have held on and waited for Gore, Thurlow, News, Josh Cowan, Horlin-Smith and Kolodjashnij to develop whilst sliding down the ladder and missing out on the Hawkins, Taylor and Selwood opportunity. But they instead upgraded their list by adding Zach Tuohy, Stewart, Henderson, Scott Selwood, Menegola, Zac Smith and Rys Stanley so that they don’t need to rely on those players to develop. And I’m sure they’ll continue adding value to their list for the next few years so that their drafting isn’t the core of where their talent comes from.
We need to be bold and be willing to make a trade so that our fringe players (like Colyer, Myers, Green, Langford, Brown, etc.) aren’t gifted games, but earn them.