Just noticed the story on the EFC site throwing up our most improved players this year. For a more positive topic of conversation, who do people think are the 3 most improved players for us this year? (try to resist the urge to bring up those you think have gone backwards - start another thread).
The list put up in the article doesn't necessarily list those that have made career progression for mine. Zaka, Hurls, Hibbo, Hepps and Davie Myers have all played some great footy and maybe returned to a level they've been before or shown more consistency, but in terms of career improvement and stepping up to a new level - I wouldn't say so.
Zaka has shown us his current form before (B&F year)
Hurls has been epic at times in the past both forward and back. Yes he's having a better year than last year, but I don't think anyone is surprised at his output.
Hibbo is at a similar level to last year (which was his breakout year), same with Hepps (who is really consistent now) and David Myers.
My top 3 improved would be
1. Cale Hooker
2. Joe Daniher
3. Zach Merrett
I think the big improvers for me have been Joe Daniher and Cale.
Joey has really impressed and has progressed with his strength in marking contests and mobility around the ground. They are both traits he already had, but how quickly he has come along has been a surprise for me - he is only 19!
Cale has really continued his strong improvement for mine- he showed similar form early in his career but after injuries many, even in here questioned his spot. He is the leader down back now and appropriately - is getting the plaudits.
I will be honest and say after this I struggle to find any that I think have taken big leaps after this so Zach gets my vote, he is growing in stature as the season goes on.
Our major improvement this year is obviously the backline group as a whole working together - not through massive improvements from individuals, but as a group they actually inspire some confidence.
Improving class of Dons
Every season, there are players who take a step forward in their development and become the core group of players, performing each week as the club looks to improve.Essendonfc.com.au takes a look at the Bomber bolters for 2014 as we cast an eye over the key improvers this season.
26 years old
100 career games
12 games: 11.6 kicks, 9.3 handballs, 20.9 disposals & 8.9 marks.
It‘s been well-documented how great Hooker‘s season has been to date. Named in both The Age and Herald Sun‘s mid-season All Australian side, the 26-year-old key defender‘s season really has been quite remarkable.
Aside from averaging almost 21 disposals a game for a key defender, it‘s his marking that has been his key asset this season. Taking almost 9 marks a game, his ability to shut down his opponent and repel attacks has been outstanding.
24 years old
73 career games
8 games: 11.1 kicks, 9.2 handballs, 20.4 disposals & 3.1 tackles
Myers has had his fair share of injury setbacks, and after a consistent season on the park last year, he has taken yet another step forward in 2014. Elevated into the Essendon leadership group, Myers has become an important cog in the Bomber halfback line and midfield group.
His leadership and decision making skills have been first class, and has improved his ferociousness and defensive side of his game this year, averaging over three tackles a game.
24 years old
99 career games
12 games: 15 kicks, 10.1 handballs, 25.1 disposals & 0.8 goals.
After a slow start to the season the half forward turned midfielder has really shown his hand in recent weeks and will become even more vital as the season continues while the team is without Jobe Watson.
Accumulating 65 disposals and six goals in the last two weeks alone demonstrates that Zaharakis has found some consistency in his game, that has otherwise been lacking early in his career.
22 years old
74 career games
12 games: 14.2 kicks, 13.9 handballs, 28.1 disposals & 6.2 marks
The youngest of the bunch, and arguably the one with the highest ceiling- Heppell has grown into one of the league‘s most damaging midfielders this season. Yet again improving on his 2013 season, he averages over 28 disposals a game this year.
Heppell has the rare ability of reading the play remarkably well and barely misses a target by both hand and foot. The 22-year-old‘s leadership has grown through the early stages of 2014, and will no doubt continue to demonstrate his class through the absence of Watson.
24 years old
56 career games
12 games: 15.8 kicks, 9.3 handballs, 25.1 disposals & 6.5 marks
Hibberd has dominated across halfback this season, again displaying his damaging left boot exiting the Bomber defence and into attack. Improving to over 25 disposals a game in 2014, he has become the go-to-man by foot, amassing almost 16 kicks a game.
24 years old
89 career games
10 games: 11.6 kicks, 7.5 handballs, 19.1 disposals & 6.6 marks.
The move down back has done wonders to Hurley‘s game this season, slotting well into the club‘s defensive six. Combining with Hooker, Hurley gathers over 19 disposals and well over six marks a game this season.
His relentless nature and want for the ball sees him well settled in the Bomber defence and looks set for many years to come.