With the another AFL premiership season almost upon us, I'd thought I'd bring back the ever-so controversial Top 50 AFL players today on Bulldogs Centre. I loved doing it and it recieved a lot of feedback too, some positive, some negative. That is the beauty of putting together a top 50.
Like there was last year when I did two sets of top 50s - one pre-season and one post-season, I found it so hard to settle on a top 50, but I eventually did, with many apologies to players from every club.
For those wondering what I based the top 50 on, I've blended together past successes, along with 2016 form and projected 2017 form. There might be some bias here and there for some players, but I've tried to keep it as unbias as possible.
In case you've missed parts one or two so far, positions 50-31 are as follows:
50. Tim Membrey (St. Kilda)
49. Dale Morris (Western Bulldogs)
48. Jack Viney (Melbourne)
47. Easton Wood (Western Bulldogs)
46. Dayne Zorko (Brisbane Lions)
45. Zach Merrett (Essendon)
44. Sam Docherty (Carlton)
43. Jeremy Cameron (GWS)
42. Jack Ziebell (North Melbourne)
41. Patrick Cripps (Carlton)
40. Andrew Gaff (West Coast)
39. Luke Dahlhaus (Western Bulldogs)
38. Dayne Beams (Brisbane Lions)
37. Callan Ward (GWS)
36. Luke Shuey (West Coast)
35. Dyson Heppell (Essendon)
34. Robert Murphy (Western Bulldogs)
33. Rory Laird (Adelaide)
32. Michael Hurley (Essendon)
31. Dylan Shiel (GWS)
For explanations, click the following links below:
So now, without further ado, here's the third part of this five part series, where I have a look at players 30-21. Monday on Bulldogs Centre, we get to the business end of the top 50, as we look at positions 20-11.
30. Daniel Talia – Adelaide
Career Games: 122
Career Goals: 6
Daniel Talia has never been a big-possession getter, and because of this, he gets a tad overlooked. Wasn't overlooked last year as he was named in the All-Australian team for the second time in three years. His ability to stop his direct opponent combined with his ability to read the flight of the ball brilliantly makes him one of the game's top key defenders. Averaging career-highs in disposals, marks and rebound 50s suggest that he's capable of boosting his stats to that of an elite within the coming years.
29. Todd Goldstein - North Melbourne
Career Games: 171
Career Goals: 90
Came off a career year in 2015 which saw Goldstein claim his first club best and fairest award at North Melbourne as well as a spot in the All-Australian team for the very first time. Many expected the big ruckman to maintain his position as one of the game's dominant ruckmen in 2016. However, his numbers dipped from 44 hitouts per game to 36 due to a niggling knee injury, but still managed to be second in the AFL for hitouts and still managed 14 disposals a game, expect a bounce-back year.
28. Jarryd Roughead – Hawthorn
Career Games: 231
Career Goals: 491
I'm not going to lie, I can't wait to see Jarryd Roughead walk onto the MCG turf come round one after enduring a horrific 2016. First it was the knee surgery, and then it was the second-coming of his melanoma problems. Now cancer-free, Roughead's return will no doubt delight the Hawks as he's capable of a number of roles around the ground. From a key forward who can give you at least 50 goals a season to a midfielder who can get you 15-20 possessions a night, Roughead's versatility was sorely missed last season.
27. Cyril Rioli – Hawthorn
Career Games: 178
Career Goals: 268
There's no doubt Cyril has more than his fair share of people that knock his game. 'He doesn't get a lot of the ball' or 'He's overrated' are the common phrases used by the common person. Give me a break, Cyril doesn't need to have a lot of the ball to have an impact. He won the Norm Smith medal in 2015 off 18 possessions and throughout 2016 has kicked bags of three or four goals from games in which he's had 15 disposals or less. Fresh off a 47-goal season in 2016, There's no doubt he's amongst one of the more exciting players in the AFL today.
26. Toby Greene – Greater Western Sydney
Career Games: 98
Career Goals: 78
In the span of one season, Toby Greene turned into a serious cog in a talented engine room to a star on the half-forward line. He kicked 44 goals in 2016 and managed to average over 21 possessions a game and sat in third in the league for inside 50s, averaging over five a game – a career-best. Greene was rewarded for his terrific year with an All-Australian spot and was named as the Kevin Sheedy medallist for being the Giants' best player. Doesn't turn 24 until September, it's crazy to think what he can do in his second year as a bona fide half-forward.
25. Jack Steven - St. Kilda
Career Games: 134
Career Goals: 88
I've always admired the game of Jack Steven, who at 26 years of age is already a triple best and fairest winner at St. Kilda and I suspect their will be more to come. His most recent B&F win coming last year when he averaged a career-high 28 disposals a game as well as averaging five tackles, five inside 50s and five clearances a game across all 22 games last year. His ability to push down forward and be a threat in front of goals often go unnoticed, scoring ten goals or more a season five times across his eight seasons at the Saints.
24. Heath Shaw – Greater Western Sydney
Career Games: 237
Career Goals: 39
Continues to solidify his position as one of the game's elite rebounding defenders today. After winning the 2015 best and fairest at GWS and an All-Australian for the first time in his career, Shaw backed that up with an equally impressive 2016 campaign in which he averaged just under eight rebound 50s per game as well as 21 kicks per game – leading the league in both categories. You don't have to like his fiery attitude, but you can't argue he always looks to get the best out of himself and his team.
23. Jeremy McGovern - West Coast
Career Games: 55
Career Goals: 19
Jeremy McGovern's rise from obscurity in 2015 has been something I've enjoyed watching as he turned from an outcast into an intercept-marking machine. He was incredibly stiff not to be named All-Australian in 2015, but injuries played a role throughout his campaign that year, but played 22 of 23 games last season to be named in the All-Australian team, leading the league in intercept marks, with an average of 3.5 intercept marks per game and a career-best 15 disposals a game. Despite being a star in defence, he has flagged interest numerous times to play further up the ground.
22. Lachie Neale – Fremantle
Career Games: 92
Career Goals: 43
Whilst Fremantle endured a horror season in 2016, Lachie Neale backed up his wonderful 2015 campaign with an even more remarkable 2016. With Nat Fyfe missing for most of the year, Neale stood up to the plate and led the league in disposals with a ridiculous average of 33.5 disposals a game across all 22 games for the Dockers last season. What made this all the more impressive was that Neale battled shoulder, wrist and calf problems throughout the year, however was unbelievably unlucky not to make the All-Australian team.
21. Dustin Martin – Richmond
Career Games: 153
Career Goals: 150
Last year was a career-best year for Dustin Martin, averaging a career-best 31 possessions a game as well as career-highs in clearances and inside 50s – both which he averages over five a game. He finished third in the Brownlow last year and is a beast at winning contested ball, averaging a career-high 12.5 contested possessions as an inside midfielder last year. I loved watching him emerge as an elite on-baller last year, and if he can tidy up his disposals (averaged over five clangers per game), then Richmond may very well have another Brownlow medallist on their hands.
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