ADELAIDE had a brilliant season and it’s a credit to the coaching, development, recruiting and list management teams to get this group of players performing to such a high level.
While the Crows didn’t get the job done on Grand Final day the club shouldn’t lose sight of the outstanding effort it took not only to finish minor premiers but to play off for the premiership. Flags are hard to win.
If I’m honest, Adelaide performed better than I anticipated. They are beyond where I thought they’d be despite having a good list. I didn’t think they could play the footy they have.
The list is very well balanced and they are in the enviable position of having one of the best and most dynamic forward lines in the league — it has a nice mix of talls and smalls although the potential loss of Charlie Cameron will hurt.
The big reason this group was able to perform so well this year was the development of the Crouch brothers, who became really good players. But the Crows still lack another genuine outside midfielder to take the pressure off Rory Sloane.
Are clubs going to go out of their way to tag either Matt or Brad Crouch? Unlikely. Sloane is still the man.
The defence also has a really good mix of talls, small lockdown defenders and runners, although the loss of Jake Lever will be significant. All clubs need that intercept player and now the Crows have lost their weapon — is there someone at Adelaide who can step into that role in 2018? I’m not sure. His departure will hurt.
Kyle Cheney has been at the Crows for a few years and had injury problems this year, but he can be a good third option in a Josh Gibson-style role, and Alex Keath made his debut this year but was used as a lockdown player. Andy Otten has the potential but I’m not sure he is good enough.
Will coach Don Pyke consider throwing Mitch McGovern into defence? He reads the ball just as well as his brother, Eagle Jeremy, who is the best intercept player in the game. That could be a real weapon. The Crows could then have Taylor Walker, Josh Jenkins and Otten as the three-tall set-up if they want to continue with that style.
I believe McGovern can definitely fill that role and become a really dangerous swingman. That would be a structure change I would work towards over the pre-season.
That’s the benefit of having such a balanced list — there are options if a hole presents.
The Crows did really well out of the Lever deal. I thought two first-round picks was overs for him but Adelaide convinced Melbourne to give that up, while they gave a second-round pick back the other way and other pick swaps late. But the two first-rounders are what matters. To get a 2018 first-rounder is huge, that will net them a very, very good player next year given the strength of the draft.
The big question for Adelaide is do they go after Bryce Gibbs again now that they are loaded up with first-round draft picks after the trading of Lever to Melbourne? The Crows have picks 10 and 16 this year and two first-rounders in the 2018 draft.
While the Crouch brothers have become key players, Gibbs is a different type of player. He’s an outside runner with silky skills and he kicks goals — he’s the type of player who tops off your squad. He’s a playmaker.
Bringing someone like him in will add class, but is he as big a need as he was last year? Probably not. Having said that, I’d still do all I could to try and convince him to request a trade again and see what Carlton does.
I would offer pick 16 and see if the Blues bite. If not, try with pick 10, but I wouldn’t be offering two first-rounds picks for a 29-year-old, as good as Gibbs is. But I would also ask the Blues if they wanted a young player as a sweetener, but that would only be part of the deal if it’s pick 16 on the table.
If a trade doesn’t happen, I don’t see it as a major issue for Adelaide because of the development of the Crouch brothers as well as the likes of Rory Atkins.
Charlie Cameron has requested a trade to Brisbane and I’m a little bit concerned about that. At the moment he doesn’t cop too much attention because he plays alongside Eddie Betts. At the Lions he won’t have that luxury. He is contracted so if Adelaide agrees to trade him then Brisbane will need to pay a little bit more to get the deal done.
He’s worth a pick in the 15-20 category.
WHAT THEY NEED
The need for midfield depth is obvious and the Crows looked at adding to that area in last year’s draft with the selection of first-round pick Jordan Gallucci. This year, the Crows can go best available at their picks — which is often a midfielder — with a premium on midfielders who can play inside, outside or both.
The Crows also need ruck back-up. Sam Jacobs has been incredibly durable but what happens if he goes down? He’ll be 30 in April next year so Adelaide really needs to think about what its plan is for life after him. Reilly O’Brien has been around a while, but is he good enough?
I’d have a look at someone like Jake Spencer, who was delisted by Melbourne but has shown he can fill a role when needed, or look in the SANFL, WAFL and VFL to see if there’s a ruckman there who is capable of playing at AFL level if needed.
Paul Seedsman will have a huge role to play next year with Brodie Smith set to miss the whole season with a serious knee injury. We get glimpses of what Seedsman can do but he doesn’t do it anywhere near consistently enough. He’ll have one good game then go missing in the next three. The Crows need him to stand up and be that damaging rebound defender in Smith’s absence next year.
Cheney has been at the Crows for a three years now and after playing nearly every game last year, he unfortunately had injury troubles this year and couldn’t get a look in when fit. If he stays on the list he’ll need to make sure he gets his body right and gives himself one last crack at it. With Lever’s departure there is a spot in the back six up for grabs.
Cam Ellis-Yolmen is coming off a serious knee injury and will be lucky to get another crack at it. It sounds harsh given his injury but the reality is he was talked up in 2016 and didn’t live up to the hype. He was drafted way back in 2011 — he has been around for a long time and played just 14 games.
I want to see Wayne Milera become a regular senior player next year. He was a pick 11 in 2015 and he could be that speed and X-factor player to replace Cameron if he’s granted his wish to be traded to Brisbane.
Harrison Wigg is another one — he was talked up over the pre-season but didn’t even play a game this year. He needs to show something or he’ll likely be moved on.
BUCKY’S LIST CHANGES
Scott Thompson has retired and Lever has been traded, while the club has delisted Troy Menzel and Dean Gore. I don’t anticipate there will be many more changes in terms of delistings as that frees up four spots on the senior list.
Cheney is probably most at risk but he is such a good clubman and given the departure of Lever, that could see him stay on for depth. Ellis-Yolmen and Harry Dear are the other two I’d move on.
The Crows’ development this year was ahead of where we all thought they were and probably was a bit of a surprise to the club as well after the loss of Patrick Dangerfield and the reliance on Sloane.
With such a potent forward line, strong defence and emerging midfield group, the sky is the limit for Adelaide providing the Crows have another good run with injuries.
This year their depth wasn’t really tested because they remained relatively healthy, so time will tell how they go when injuries inevitably strike.
But the Crows are in the premiership window now and should be in the top four and challenging for at least the next three years.