Melbourne land Jake Lever, but they sold the farm to do it

Ryan Buckland Columnist

By Ryan Buckland, Ryan Buckland is a Roar Expert

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    The animus is over, for now. Melbourne have secured the services of Jake Lever, their young key position piece, giving up a bounty to add one of the final pieces of their aggressive rebuild.

    Melbourne has exchanged their 2017 first-round pick (currently pick 10), their 2018 first round pick (which would project in a similar range to this year’s pick right now) and a future fourth-round pick for Adelaide’s Jake Lever, Adelaide’s 2017 pick 35 and their 2018 third round pick.

    The wantaway key defender, who completed a three-year stint with the Crows with a borderline All Australian season, now forms part of a youthful core of blue-chip talent at the Dees.

    Melbourne has Lever, Christian Petracca and Jesse Hogan all in the same age bracket – a key forward, key defender and primo midfielder to build a team around for the next decade.

    The Dees were reportedly in love with Lever in the 2014 draft, but chose to draft Petracca and midfielder Angus Brayshaw instead. It cost a pretty penny – which we’ll get to in a moment – but now they’ve got their set.

    Lever has put together a very strong three years for a young key position player, his reputation as an outstanding aerialist growing this season as he averaged 9.5 intercept possessions in 20 games.

    His 190 intercepts were second to Richmond’s Alex Rance, a player Lever is often compared to as a measure of how high his ceiling extends. Melbourne’s new piece makes quality decisions and possesses an above average right boot, and does his best work flying across a marking contest to chop off the play.

    There’s little doubt Lever is an outstanding player for his age. Champion Data’s AFL Player Ratings have him as the best key defender for his age ever – albeit their history extends to 2010.

    But this does not consider role, and it’s where this deal gets a little murky. Lever has been Adelaide’s third defender for most of his career, and spends plenty of time as a spare man when the Crows look to manufacture an extra behind the ball. That is sure to inflate his intercept statistics.

    Melbourne will be procuring his services to eventually act as their number one defender. It’s not clear he can’t grow into this role, but it is no sure thing. It won’t happen overnight, either.

    The Dees’ defence does need some help. They were no better than average last season, conceding 88 points per game, and a hair more against the top sides (90, ranked eighth). Stopping teams from scoring is driven more by scheme and team defence, but having a Jedi Knight patrolling the back 50 can buttress even the shakiest of teams.

    Lever’s ascension will force some change in Melbourne’s defensive mix. One of Oscar McDonald, Tom McDonald and Sam Frost will be punted out of defensive 50 – the prime candidate for me would be Tom McDonald, who will instead take his rightful place as the centre half forward no one knew we needed. It puts Melbourne’s desire to offload Jack Watts into sharp focus.

    A Lever-McDonald swap doesn’t instantly improve Melbourne’s projected defensive prowess – particularly if he isn’t able to handle the load as the number one man straight away.

    But this is all about growth for the Dees, and being in a position where a clutch of highly rated players can grow in concert. It is a gamble on Lever’s upside, albeit one where the odds are stacked in Melbourne’s favour.

    Which gets to the bounty the Dees gave up. For all the bluff and bluster – and boy wasn’t there a lot of it – Adelaide ultimately got their inflated asking price: two first round picks.

    There are pick swaps down the line that may help soften the edge for the Dees – Adelaide’s pick 35 could yield a handy role player based on history – but make no mistake: Melbourne has sold the farm for this guy.

    It harkens back to Collingwood’s 2015 trade for Adam Treloar, where the Pies gave pick eight, pick nine and pick 65 to the GWS Giants for Treloar and pick 33.

    It looked a lot at the time, and the Pies picked Treloar on his potential, which depending on your perspective he may or may not have yet to live up to.

    It affords the Crows some added space to wheel and deal their way into an extra piece to bolster their already very strong best 22.

    There is already talk Bryce Gibbs may suddenly be a little more available than he was at the start of trade period, when the Blues and Crows ruled out a deal.

    The Dees pulled the Lever in this trade, but there’s little doubt as to who was the puppet master.

    Adelaide have come out of a heated negotiation, with a player who was out of contract and had all-but narrowed his list of suitors down to one, with the very best possible deal.

    The diminishing value of draft picks continues at a pace. If Lever is really a young Alex Rance, for Melbourne it was a price worth paying.

    Ryan Buckland
    Ryan Buckland

    As an economist, Ryan seeks to fix the world's economic troubles one graph at a time. As a sports fan, he's always looking one or two layers beneath the surface to search for meaning, on and off the field. You can follow Ryan here.

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    The Crowd Says (103)

    • Roar Pro

      October 12th 2017 @ 11:33am
      Darren M said | October 12th 2017 @ 11:33am | ! Report

      It means that Melbourne goes 3 years without a first round pick, unless we can find one somewhere else, and with Jack Watts being the only name being offered up, that seems very unlikely.

      Happy to have Lever, but I think losing two first round picks for him was probably too much.

      • Roar Guru

        October 12th 2017 @ 11:35am
        Cat said | October 12th 2017 @ 11:35am | ! Report

        How are you getting 3 years out of trading 2 picks?

        • Editor

          October 12th 2017 @ 11:45am
          Josh Elliott said | October 12th 2017 @ 11:45am | ! Report

          They didn’t have one last year either.

          • Roar Guru

            October 12th 2017 @ 12:15pm
            Cat said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

            Thank you.

      • October 12th 2017 @ 11:57am
        Kaniel Outis said | October 12th 2017 @ 11:57am | ! Report

        Melbourne think they can land a Messiah that will take them to the promised land. I agree that they have given up too much to land Lever. If Melbourne think they are going to be the next Richmond they are living in cloud cuckoo land.

        • Roar Rookie

          October 12th 2017 @ 12:06pm
          Lord Dunsborough of the MCC said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

          We are aiming much higher than that

          We are aiming to be the old Melbourne.

          • October 12th 2017 @ 5:18pm
            sammy said | October 12th 2017 @ 5:18pm | ! Report

            his lordship’s club got a bottle of Johhny Walker Blue label today…but paid $1000 for it in real terms

            • Roar Rookie

              October 12th 2017 @ 5:24pm
              Lord Dunsborough of the MCC said | October 12th 2017 @ 5:24pm | ! Report

              I’d value your views on alcohol more if you had any experience outside of swigging a half gallon goonbag of Stanley Fruity Lexia

              • October 12th 2017 @ 6:01pm
                sammy said | October 12th 2017 @ 6:01pm | ! Report

                ahem..coming from the state with THE BEST wine regions in Australia..I will have a hill of Grace or a Magill Estate or even an RWT and leave the Rutherglen fortified’s and VB bath water to you ‘eastern staters’

              • October 12th 2017 @ 6:22pm
                Slane said | October 12th 2017 @ 6:22pm | ! Report

                Awful lot if sour grapes coming out of Adelaide over the past couple of weeks. I’d be avoiding anything out of the Barossa for a little while…

              • October 13th 2017 @ 8:41am
                Sammy said | October 13th 2017 @ 8:41am | ! Report

                Revenge from the crows for lever dumping on his club is best served cold…like a good Clare valley reisling

              • October 13th 2017 @ 12:34pm
                Slane said | October 13th 2017 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

                Nice one Sammy!

        • October 12th 2017 @ 12:06pm
          Basil said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

          So what do Melbourne pay Hogan and Petracca when they come out of contract after gifting Lever @850k?

          • Roar Pro

            October 12th 2017 @ 12:49pm
            Darren M said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:49pm | ! Report

            is it up to 850 now? It seems every time his contact is mentioned it gets higher.

            General consensus was it was 700-750.

            • October 12th 2017 @ 2:00pm
              AD said | October 12th 2017 @ 2:00pm | ! Report

              Everything I’ve heard since the very beginning has been $800-900k.

    • October 12th 2017 @ 11:40am
      Darren said | October 12th 2017 @ 11:40am | ! Report

      Spot on Ryan re Alex Rance comparison. My comment on Josh’s day 4 blog is effectively the same. Personally I think it is a big gamble for Melbourne. Third defender in a top team is not a difficult role.

    • Editor

      October 12th 2017 @ 11:46am
      Josh Elliott said | October 12th 2017 @ 11:46am | ! Report

      Alex Rance spends plenty of time playing as Richmond’s second or third defender, and almost exclusively when he was 21. Have seen a lot of fans this year who rated Lever very highly when he was on the open market, kicking the tyres now that he didn’t land at their club. For mine Melbourne have done well, fans should be ecstatic.

      • October 12th 2017 @ 11:54am
        Darren said | October 12th 2017 @ 11:54am | ! Report

        I’m not one of those Josh. He’s a good player but a long way from A Grade yet. I’m basing analysis on watching him at Adelaide Oval (and I’m a Carlton fan not Crows).
        If he ends up as good as Rance then Melbourne have done well. ATM I’d say Crows have done well on this deal.
        I have to admit that I have a bias against defenders who spend half the time whinging to umpires (a la Brett Thornton) so could hold that against Lever as he is a shocker.

        • October 12th 2017 @ 12:19pm
          AD said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

          Lever is certainly A grade at his role, but his role is different to Rance. As has already been noted, Rance has racked up those numbers while being the number 1 defender, Lever has been playing number 3. It remains to be seen whether Lever can continue to pile up the stats the way he has been once he starts lining up on the Franklins and Kennedies etc next year. If he does manage that then Melbourne have got their money’s worth out of this deal.

          • October 12th 2017 @ 12:24pm
            Darren said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

            If you are number 3 defender you are not A Grade

            • Roar Guru

              October 12th 2017 @ 12:32pm
              Cat said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:32pm | ! Report

              You act like the only role a defender should play is the key role. Corey Enright never played that role in his life but he sure as hell was A grade.

              • October 12th 2017 @ 12:46pm
                Darren said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

                How much was he paid?

              • October 12th 2017 @ 2:23pm
                Darren said | October 12th 2017 @ 2:23pm | ! Report

                Also Cat I’d Enright as a medium defender not a third tall defender.
                Lever will have to be Melbourne’s no.1 defender for the money and trade or you would have to ask why they did it?

              • Roar Guru

                October 12th 2017 @ 2:33pm
                Cat said | October 12th 2017 @ 2:33pm | ! Report

                How much a player gets paid doesn’t define them as an A-grader or not.
                What position a player plays doesn’t define them as an A-grader or not.

                What makes a player an A-grade player is their ability to play the role, whatever it may be, that the coaching staff have given them.

              • October 12th 2017 @ 3:26pm
                Sal said | October 12th 2017 @ 3:26pm | ! Report

                I agree. Everyone is assuming Lever will take no. 1 forward, personally I would continue to grow oscar McDonald in that role and have lever play off his man and take intercept marks.

                Lever is not a shutdown 1-1 defender like Talia or Davis, his strength is his ability to read the play and regain possession.

                I would argue this can be just as important (if not more so) than your bullocking but one dimensional full back.

                For mine, the assumption that the most important defender nessarily plays on the best forward, is misguided.

              • October 12th 2017 @ 3:20pm
                Darren said | October 12th 2017 @ 3:20pm | ! Report

                Cat I agree on your comment re A Grader. But I don’t think Enright and Lever are a direct comparison. I see Lever as a key defender who is not yet ready to take on the top mantle. Enright was more a medium running defender – A grade (all time great) at that role.

          • October 12th 2017 @ 3:13pm
            Craig Delaney said | October 12th 2017 @ 3:13pm | ! Report

            Lever is 21. Give him time. Injury free, he is special. He is more like Silvagni than Rance.

            • October 12th 2017 @ 3:33pm
              Matto said | October 12th 2017 @ 3:33pm | ! Report

              Well if that’s true it makes the deal seem half decent.

              • October 12th 2017 @ 5:20pm
                sammy said | October 12th 2017 @ 5:20pm | ! Report

                he has had hamstring issues and for his sake, you would hope that they don’t keep being and issue as Melbourne have paid big for him

            • October 12th 2017 @ 10:13pm
              Rex said | October 12th 2017 @ 10:13pm | ! Report

              Injury prone – will be exposed very quickly at melb!

    • Roar Rookie

      October 12th 2017 @ 11:59am
      Lord Dunsborough of the MCC said | October 12th 2017 @ 11:59am | ! Report

      Who says the mighty Fuchsias and the MCC are a spent force? Richmond’s long hangover has already begun, I hope they had a big sip from the premiership club because it’s going to be a lean few years coming up.

      Lever has done what any sensible player would do – he’s been offered a chance to escape that squalid little hole on the Torrens and take up residence at the oldest, grandest and most esteemed club in all of Australian sport to play at the greatest ground in the world in front of the most educated and erudite fans in the world.

      For a lot more money too, I might add. When the alternative was staying on half pay in front of a bunch of toothless train jumpers from Norwood, well, who can blame him for signing on the dotted line.

      The MCC New Model Army will be back next year, resplendent in Red and Blue and ready to complete the triumvirate of ending premiership droughts. Ours will be the greatest triumph of all.

      • October 12th 2017 @ 12:04pm
        Basil said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

        When the name calling from the opposition starts, you know you have won the battle.

      • Roar Guru

        October 12th 2017 @ 12:15pm
        Rick Figjam said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

        “most educated and erudite”

        You do realise they mean the same thing right?

        The irony is spectacular if you don’t.

        • Roar Rookie

          October 12th 2017 @ 12:39pm
          Lord Dunsborough of the MCC said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:39pm | ! Report

          I use erudite in the context of manner of speech, a vocal demonstration of your learning.

          You can be well educated and yet let all sorts of unmitigated waffle fall out of your mouth.

          • Roar Guru

            October 12th 2017 @ 1:03pm
            Rick Figjam said | October 12th 2017 @ 1:03pm | ! Report

            …very erudite indeed you Melbourne fans.

            • Roar Rookie

              October 12th 2017 @ 1:28pm
              Lord Dunsborough of the MCC said | October 12th 2017 @ 1:28pm | ! Report

              I can only speak for those around me in the members reserve. That looks like GA.

              • Roar Rookie

                October 13th 2017 @ 8:51am
                Lamby said | October 13th 2017 @ 8:51am | ! Report

                Will someone please elevate The Lord to the status of ‘Guru’ please?

        • October 12th 2017 @ 12:40pm
          Slane said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

          They aren’t exactly the same. Erudite pertains to knowledge and being knowledgeable. Educated pertains to learning and being taught. Similar but subtlety different.

          My father is an extremely knowledgeable man but he left school at 15.

        • Roar Pro

          October 12th 2017 @ 12:54pm
          Darren M said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:54pm | ! Report

          Dunsborough allegedly of the MCC often betrays his upbringing with futile attempts at educated language. So much that it would seem that he is not actually an MCC member or Melbourne supporter, rather, just a poor attempt at satire.

          • Roar Rookie

            October 12th 2017 @ 12:59pm
            Lord Dunsborough of the MCC said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:59pm | ! Report

            The only thing more prodigious than my vocabulary is my bank balance.

            My word the good denizens of Adelaide are easily offended. I think it stems from the chronic insecurity of living in the worst city in Australia and knowing if they had the means or wherewithal they’d have left by now.

            • Roar Pro

              October 12th 2017 @ 1:08pm
              Darren M said | October 12th 2017 @ 1:08pm | ! Report

              True Old Money doesn’t need to remind everyone how much they have.

          • October 12th 2017 @ 2:18pm
            AD said | October 12th 2017 @ 2:18pm | ! Report

            I hear he’s actually a cleaner at the MCG who has a red and blue cravat that he fished out of a garbage bin there after the round 23 Collingwood loss, so he’ll be putting that on and using it to attempt to bluff his way into the MCC members area next year. Hopefully he can find a monocle somewhere there during cricket season to complete the outfit.

      • October 12th 2017 @ 12:16pm
        Tommo said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

        Norwood are they not the same colours as Melbourne. Yep. Norwood is a posh area of Adelaide.

        • Roar Rookie

          October 12th 2017 @ 12:42pm
          Lord Dunsborough of the MCC said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:42pm | ! Report

          A pale mockery of the original Redlegs.

          Norwood has our colours to be sure, but that’s like saying Cuba is the USA because they’ve got red blue and white stars and bars on their flag

          • October 12th 2017 @ 6:19pm
            Craig Delaney said | October 12th 2017 @ 6:19pm | ! Report

            Norwood began as working class then got gentrified. Go the Redlegs!

      • October 12th 2017 @ 12:35pm
        Bretto said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

        LD – although I don’t support the poshies, your posts are always awesome and something to look forward to. Keep up the good work.

      • October 12th 2017 @ 12:47pm
        fairsuckofthesav said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:47pm | ! Report

        Your email frankly lacks a lot of class.

        ‘that squalid little hole on the Torrens’ You do realise that Adelaide is rated one of the best cities in the world to live in?

        ‘most educated’ ? Given your comment above this statement now becomes an oxymoron.

        ‘half pay’ again another false statement.

        • Roar Rookie

          October 12th 2017 @ 12:57pm
          Lord Dunsborough of the MCC said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:57pm | ! Report

          Probably by people who can’t afford to live in Melbourne.

          Simply saying I’m wrong without citing any evidence – well, forgive me if I tell you to go suck your sav a bit harder. Not exactly a telling blow.

          • October 12th 2017 @ 5:09pm
            fairsuckofthesav said | October 12th 2017 @ 5:09pm | ! Report

            ‘Adelaide tied with Calgary in Canada for fifth in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s liveability index for 2016, released on Thursday morning. It’s the fifth year in a row Adelaide has finished fifth in the ranking.’

            http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/adelaide-ranked-worlds-fifth-most-liveable-city/news-story/9e8e809ba1784402790a10b44f93218e

            “Our offer was a very lucrative offer, and one that would place him very high in our footy club. If we were to match what Melbourne are offering, it would have made him the highest-paid player at our footy club,” Burton said.

            http://www.afl.com.au/news/2017-10-03/crow-jake-lever-asks-for-trade-to-victorian-club

            Pot Kettle re facts re your comment. Seems it is your absence from facts here…

            • Roar Rookie

              October 12th 2017 @ 5:30pm
              Lord Dunsborough of the MCC said | October 12th 2017 @ 5:30pm | ! Report

              Very interesting article there Sav – although I do wonder why you didn’t quote this part:

              “Melbourne was named the most liveable city for the sixth year running, just ahead of Austria’s Vienna and Canada’s Toronto and Vancouver. The Victorian capital had perfect scores for healthcare, education and infrastructure.”

              But hey, being satisfied by coming 5th – well, that’s Adelaide summed up to a T. Both the city and the football club that represents them.

              Lever should be the highest paid player at your club. Whatever you’re spending on that insecure infant Walker is a waste of money

              • October 12th 2017 @ 9:08pm
                Fairsuckofthesav said | October 12th 2017 @ 9:08pm | ! Report

                We are modest in Adelaide part of the charm and perhaps lost on youse pontificating types.

                I like Melbourne and Sydney for that matter but it seems the Insecurity lies with your good self having to beat up on others to make you feel good.

                Sloane is a he’ll of a lot better player than Lever. And as for the latter he couldn’t lie straight in bed. Give me Tex any day as you know where you stand with him.

                Cheerio.

              • October 12th 2017 @ 10:21pm
                Rex said | October 12th 2017 @ 10:21pm | ! Report

                How’s your recruitment manager at the not so mighty dees going there LD???
                I’d say not so good – at least in the past 30 years or so.
                And to think of ALL those WASTED top 3 picks they’ve had!! Any other club would have multiple flags to show for those! The not so mighty couldn’t even make finals for all those decades! In fact they continued to fail miserably – REBUILDING I believe they claimed!

                Oh Dear!!

              • Roar Guru

                October 13th 2017 @ 9:02am
                AdelaideDocker said | October 13th 2017 @ 9:02am | ! Report

                “We are modest in Adelaide part of the charm and perhaps lost on youse pontificating types.

                I like Melbourne and Sydney for that matter but it seems the Insecurity lies with your good self having to beat up on others to make you feel good.”

                I mostly can’t argue with that! I love Sydney and Melbourne, but whilst those two seem to be locked in a perennial arm battle about which is better, us in Adelaide just … live. We just know our city is a good one.

      • October 12th 2017 @ 4:16pm
        Geoff from Bruce Stadium said | October 12th 2017 @ 4:16pm | ! Report

        From memory there was never a metropolitan train line to Norwood. Trams possibly back in the day. So you may have to change that metaphor to “toothless tram jumpers”. But given that Norwood is one of the wealthier suburbs of Adelaide the locals probably have reasonable access to affordable dental facilities and are more likely to use them. I think you may be confusing Crows supporters with Port supporters. The folk down at Alberton and Semaphore are more likely to have teeth resembling reclining tombstones with the odd unmarked grave. And now that Jake Lever has served his apprenticeship with the Crows and chosen to line his pockets with the 30 pieces of silver offered by Melbourne it remains to be seen whether he will blossom and flourish or become a faded wall flower occasionally mentioned as a defender for the Crows who played in a losing Grand Final.

        • Roar Rookie

          October 12th 2017 @ 5:45pm
          Lord Dunsborough of the MCC said | October 12th 2017 @ 5:45pm | ! Report

          It’s almost like I’m just making it up as I go along, really

          I am certain though, much like Paddy, Lever is instantly going to be a much better player and have a much higher profile the moment he travels east of Serviceton

      • October 18th 2017 @ 4:34pm
        Tony said | October 18th 2017 @ 4:34pm | ! Report

        I read your comment and thought you were talking about Collingwood in your second paragraph.

    • October 12th 2017 @ 12:09pm
      Tommo said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:09pm | ! Report

      Can Lever play other than in defence? Adding 2 growing midfielders in a swap for a defender that has no ability to play elsewhere. Crows win that deal.

      • October 12th 2017 @ 12:56pm
        truetigerfan said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

        Midfielders are a dime a dozen.

    • Roar Guru

      October 12th 2017 @ 12:15pm
      Rick Figjam said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

      Duplicate comment.

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