Most clubs run a spine of 2-3 tall defenders, 1-2 ruckmen, 2-3 tall forwards. Say 6 talls on average in the best 22, plus some depth.
Talls are known to take a few years, with the first 4 years being development time. I don’t know what the career length of the average tall is, but say on average they retire at 30. So very roughly, talls have a career that is 1/3 development and 2/3 productive.
This means if 100% of your drafted players became best 22, you could have a mature:rookie ratio of 2:1. But it doesn’t work that way, so it’s going to be more heavily weighted towards youth.
If you have a relatively even age demo, you have 3 players 23-26 and 3 players 27-30. Your youth needs to replace the 3 oldest players. That would mean the time to recruit a replacement tall is when your best 22 player is 27-28. In every 4 year block, you need to find 3 best 22 talls to replace retiring players. Over a 4 year block, you could easily draft 4-6 players and delist a few before you find the right 3.
Now I’ll admit I’m kinda making this up as I go, so lets compare this to the Essendon list and see how delusional my ramblings are…
Firstly, we are slightly top heavy on field, running with 7 talls. We have decent depth in all positions, but relatively few developing players.
Leuenberger 29 *depth
Brown 27 *depth
McKernan 27 *depth
Francis 20 *developing
Ridley 19 *developing
Draper 19 *developing
*Lavender 21 *developing
Recently delisted / traded talls:
So what does this mean…
- Rucks: Leuey and McNernan are depth. Draper looks likely to become the replacement for Belly, with Lavender at the very least a nice backup. We had a crack with Gach, but not every pick is a success. Only draft another ruck in a few years if the young lads aren’t developing.
- Defenders: We have a relatively young group of mature guys with nobody approaching retirement age in the next 4 years. With Ridley and Francis, there is some high end talent awaiting opportunities. Need to draft a tall in 2018 or 2019 to prepare for the retirements of Hurley/Brown/Ambrose.
- Forwards: We need a replacement for Hooker to be ready around 2020. Daniher will take Hooker’s role (in his own way), Stewart will become the second target and a young tall will become the third.
Overall we haven’t turned over much youth of late. The list of talls is really well balanced, despite losing Carlisle and Crameri. We’ve had a damned good success rate with our talls, but even so drafting one this year wouldn’t hurt.
If the decent mids are gone and the most talented player available is a tall forward, we have an upcoming need. If we don’t take one this year we can cover for a year or two, but it will become critical in 2019.