The Roar’s 2018 AFL Top 50: 40-31

Cameron Rose Columnist

By Cameron Rose, Cameron Rose is a Roar Expert

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180 Have your say

    Welcome to day four of The Roar’s AFL top 50 players of 2018.

    On Monday, Ryan took us through the best of the best in the top 10, which was followed on Tuesday by Josh looking at those in the next bracket.

    Yesterday, Madelyn wrote about players 21-30, and today I’ll be looking at numbers 31 through 40.

    This is where these countdowns get really interesting, because the deeper you go the harder it gets to split players out.

    Every reader will already have in mind a number of players they think should have been in the top 30 but are yet to be seen. Some of those may not even figure in our countdown at all.

    31. Rory Laird
    Rory Laird was a unanimous pick among our voters, with all five panellists putting him in between 24-39 in their individual rankings. He is the first half-back flanker in our countdown, thus making him the best player in this position in the league, at least according to us.

    Another player who might have claimed this honour was Sam Docherty, but his pre-season ACL injury has meant he wasn’t considered this year.

    Laird is the professional’s professional, with clarity of mind and crispness of foot his two standout features, along with astute reading of the play – therefore he makes the best decisions, chooses the best options, and then has the skill to deliver, all after being in the right spot in the first place.

    Rebound off half-back is a must for successful teams, and the 45 degree in-board kick is an important attacking weapon – no-one does it better than Laird.

    Rory Laird

    32. Patrick Cripps
    It’s not spoiling too much from here on to state that Patrick Cripps is the only Carlton representative our top 50. Madelyn and I were most in love with the young midfield beast with the centre-half-forward build, and both of us expecting him to go to another level in 2018. Every footy fan in the country should be hoping he can stay injury free.

    Cripps has only played in bad sides, but at the age of 21 was already the best midfielder in a team consisting of Bryce Gibbs and Marc Murphy, no lightweights themselves.

    He specialises in the tough stuff, getting first hands on the ball in contested situations, and winning clearances against the best players in the league. He tackles fiercely on the rare occasions he is beaten.

    Even people who hate Carlton love watching Patrick Cripps, which is probably the biggest compliment of all.


    33. Ben Brown
    The Kangaroos had a couple of players around the fringes, but ultimately it was only Ben Brown who made the top 50. Josh had him as high as 16 from an individual perspective, while Ryan didn’t find room for him at all.

    Brown announced himself as a player in just his ninth game, when leading North to an elimination final victory with a four-goal effort in 2014 as a 21-year-old, and has continued to improve and be a shining light in the years since.

    Unfortunately, his rising form has coincided with North’s downward spiral, but a strong finish to 2017 suggests a Coleman medal will be his in the near future.

    Brown is a superb set shot at goal, is as good a mark on the lead as there is in the league, and he uses his height to advantage in marking situations, making him difficult to defend.

    Ben Brown of North Melbourne Kangaroos

    34. Isaac Heeney
    Many people believe Isaac Heeney is destined to be a top-ten player in the competition, and it’s not a stretch to suggest he may fulfil the number one spot on this list some day.

    Entering 2018, three of our panel had him rated between 30-32, while two others didn’t have him in their 50 and just want to see another season first.

    Heeney was arguably Sydney’s player of the finals in 2016 – in just his second season mind you – but was a late starter in 2017 thanks to a pre-season bout of glandular fever. Such a setback didn’t prevent far more midfield time last year, enabling him to enhance his possession and clearance rate, albeit at the expense of scoreboard impact.

    Heeney is clean when the hot ball is there to be won, powerful once he has it in hand, is strong overhead, and has a touch of magic that all the greats have. He’s destined to be one of them, and is ready to explode this year. Sydney will have one hand on the cup if he does.

    Isaac Heeney Sydney Swans AFL 2017

    35. Bryce Gibbs
    Bryce Gibbs has been a model of consistency across 11 seasons, in a career worthy of the number one draft pick he was. Along with Marc Murphy and Matthew Kruezer, he has been somewhat maligned over the years, possibly because he didn’t deliver Carlton to the promised land as was expected when they were rebuilding in the Brett Ratten years.

    Gibbs just does everything well. He can win his own ball, possesses fine skills, is a regular scoreboard hitter, and doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty, finishing top 20 in the league for tackles in 2017.

    Not yet 29, Gibbs is destined to be a 350 game player. Adelaide certainly paid to get him, and rightly so. They can win the flag thanks to his inclusion.

    Bryce Gibbs Adelaide Crows AFL

    36. Nic Naitanui
    Nic Naitanui is the first ruckman to appear in this year’s top 50, which tells us two things – firstly, The Roar panel, along with the football world, are a bit down on ruckmen at the moment, and secondly, Naitanui is a rare talent that can hold the number one mantle for his position despite not having played in about 18 months.

    Plenty of critics will line up to tell you what Nic Nat doesn’t do, such as win a high amount of possession or take a lot of marks, but as time goes on there are more defenders of him to tell you what he can – he’s in the top handful of tap ruckman the sport has ever seen, his follow-up at ground level is second to none, and the balls he wins at ground level in contested situations are always influential.

    He has match-winning traits, and they are regularly on display when he takes the field, which is not something that can be said about many ruckmen.

    Nic Naitanui West Coast Eagles AFL 2016 tall

    37. Steele Sidebottom
    Four of the five panellists had Steele Sidebottom rated between 33-46, so he has found his right level around the 37 mark. He’s similar to Gibbs in that he’s an uber-professional who has maintained a steady, consistent high level for a long period of time. While certainly more noted for his outside play, he’s no slouch on the inside either.

    Not many run harder or longer than Sidebottom, and you can find him marking in the back pocket and popping up for a shot at goal in the same play often enough. At the very least he’ll be presenting himself as an option the length of the field.

    He’s a more natural footballer than someone like a Tom Scully, is more impactful than an Andrew Gaff, and is more highly skilled than both of them. Hence why he appears here as either the first or second wingman on this list, depending on your view of Mitch Duncan.

    Steele Sidebottom Collingwood Magpies AFL 2014

    38. Clayton Oliver
    Clayton Oliver’s rise in 2017 was meteoric, enough to see him placed in the 20’s by Madelyn and I, while Ryan, Josh and Jay didn’t have him in their 50. It is starkly notable that Madelyn and I all had much higher ratings for younger players like Cripps, Heeney and Oliver than the other panellists. It’s clear that we believe the future has arrived. Oliver is the only third year player in the top 50.

    Oliver only dropped below 26 disposals in a game once in 2017, and even then he had 24. He is on a run of 22 straight games (all last season) of double-figure contested possessions, and he averaged almost seven per game in both clearances and tackles. This is a man that craves body contact when on the field.

    Oliver is a one-touch player in the fiercest heat, and knows what he is going to do with the ball before he gets it, choosing almost always to handball to a teammate he then hopes can create space or move it onto someone who will.

    39. Dane Rampe
    This is Dane Rampe’s second consecutive year in the 30s for us, and the Swan certainly deserves his place in this conversation. His versatility as a defender is almost unmatched in the league, given that he is equally at home creating play from defensive 50 or half-back, but is also often asked to play taller and stronger than he is on the opposition’s best forward.

    Rampe missed Rounds 2-6 in 2017, and Sydney infamously lost all of them. His team had started to right the ship by the time he came back in Round 9, but he gave them a defensive steel that had been previously lacking.

    The Swans are at the thick end of premiership talk again this season, and Rampe is again one of the reasons why.

    Dane Rampe Sydney Swans AFL 2017

    40. Max Gawn
    Max Gawn is the second ruckman in this year’s top 50, driven by Josh having him at 21 in his individual rankings, in a show of faith that he can return to his best after an injury-interrupted 2017.

    Gawn’s 2016 season was one of the great ruckman years. He dominated hit outs, placing them to the advantage of his mids all around the compass; he was a contested mark beast both inside 50 and dropping behind the ball; he kicked multiple goals half a dozen times, got plenty of the ball as a link man in chains of possession, and laid his share of tackles when the time came.

    Melbourne must surely play finals in 2018. Surely. And when they do, Max Gawn will be at the heart of it.

    Cameron Rose
    Cameron Rose

    Cameron Rose is a born and bred Melbournian, raised on a regime of AFL, cricket and horse racing. He likes people who agree with him but loves those that don't, for there's nothing better than a roaring debate. He tweets from @camtherose.

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    The Crowd Says (180)

    • February 15th 2018 @ 5:37am
      Slane said | February 15th 2018 @ 5:37am | ! Report

      I wouldn’t have any ruckmen in the top 50. Nine times out of ten the ruckmen is the least skillful player on the field. Any player who can’t run and bounce the ball or even hit an open teammate by foot has no place in a list of top players. Nic Nat is probably the closest to having actual football skills. He can run and bounce the ball, even if he looks uncoordinated as all hell while doing it.

      • February 15th 2018 @ 7:29am
        Rob said | February 15th 2018 @ 7:29am | ! Report

        Agree with you to an extent but you blew your argument suggesting a dude who struggles to read the play should ne the only ruckman in the top 50. Gawn is superior to Natinui in pretty much every way and should have been in the top 20.

        • February 15th 2018 @ 8:18am
          Slane said | February 15th 2018 @ 8:18am | ! Report

          I didn’t say Nic Nat should be in the top 50. Just that he is the closest ruckman to being an actual footballer.

          • Columnist

            February 15th 2018 @ 8:41am
            Cameron Rose said | February 15th 2018 @ 8:41am | ! Report

            Ruckmen are always hard to place, and I personally tend not to rate them that highly. But I’m not in Slane’s league by the sound of it.

            • February 15th 2018 @ 9:05am
              Slane said | February 15th 2018 @ 9:05am | ! Report

              Rewatch the Grand Final, Cam. The Tigers won a larger peecentage of their clearances when it was Grigg vs Jacobs than when it was Nank vs Jacobs. An extra body at the coalface is worth more than the 30% chance that a ruckman will actually hit the ball to advantage.

              • Roar Guru

                February 15th 2018 @ 3:41pm
                Dalgety Carrington said | February 15th 2018 @ 3:41pm | ! Report

                I reckon it’s fair to say there are a few misconceptions about viewing the contributions of ruckmen.

                Using that an isolated period in the GF skews things a little and it’s a bit like finding an isolated period where say Martin went off and Richmond dominated to equate that to “Dusty’s no good”.

                Keeping on the Richmond, if you look at when the Tigers were rising a few years back, they were most dangerous while Maric was out there in his pomp, dropped off as he dropped off (this was most in effect in 2016) and lo and behold Nankervis arrives and they’re snarling again. But it’s best looked at from a structural perspective, rather than the usual measures used for other types of players.

                On that, when people get critical, they do so more or less referencing midfielders measures, which I reckon is the wrong frame to view it through. It’s a bit like comparing mobile infantry with heavy artillary. Sure you might still win some battles using only our mobile infantry, and think why do we need our cumbersome heavy artillary? But while you can get by in a few battles with the infantry, heavy artillary comes into it’s own across a longer war.

              • February 15th 2018 @ 6:38pm
                Slane said | February 15th 2018 @ 6:38pm | ! Report

                ‘Using that an isolated period in the GF skews things a little’

                Why even bother telling me that? Water is also wet. The number 1 factor that effects whether a clearance will be won is number of players in the contest. Every team in the competition knows this. When was the last time the Premiership team also had the All-Australian ruckman? The game has made them redundant. Considering that the number 1 job of a ruckmen is to ‘give their team first use of the ball’ and no ruckmen can do that any better than a third of the time, what exactly is their role? To half the ruck battle and take some marks? Why is expecting them to be able to run and kick at the same time such a big ask?

                Maric and Nankervis are terrible examples to use. Both just bog-standard work-horse ruckmen. The exact sort of ruckman that I have been advocating for years. Why use a high draft pick and mega-bucks for a superstar ruck when all you need is a big guy who can half the battle and take a chop-out mark or two? The influence of the ruckman is overrated.

                The ruckman aren’t artillery. They are cavalry. They are bows and arrows. They are a vistigial organ. In the days off full-team defense and speed of transition they have no place. Long live the small-ball revolution.

            • February 15th 2018 @ 11:14am
              Mattician6x6 said | February 15th 2018 @ 11:14am | ! Report

              The other thing with nic nat is his shepherding after a ruck contest, blocking the space so wce midfield can get a clean run. The fact this was missing for a lot of 2016 and all of 2017 exposed the flaws ppl where quick to jump upon. A fit natanui takes wce from mid road to contender very quickly.

        • February 15th 2018 @ 2:38pm
          Pelican said | February 15th 2018 @ 2:38pm | ! Report

          Paddy Ryder is a good read of the play. He drops back to intercept mark. Goes forward and kicks goals and is one of the best rucks.

          • February 15th 2018 @ 3:32pm
            Slane said | February 15th 2018 @ 3:32pm | ! Report

            Isn’t that really just the bare minimum we should expect from any football player? The ability to read the play and go where they are needed?

            • February 15th 2018 @ 6:31pm
              Pelican said | February 15th 2018 @ 6:31pm | ! Report

              Ryder reads the ball better than Nic Nat who you claim is an example of a complete footballer/ruckman.

              • February 15th 2018 @ 6:41pm
                Slane said | February 15th 2018 @ 6:41pm | ! Report

                I said Nic Nat is probably the closest. I’m not even sure that the type of ruckman that I would consider worthy of a top 50 spot exists. I’m pretty much after a couple of 190cm+ midfielders to share the load.

      • Roar Guru

        February 15th 2018 @ 11:03am
        Paul D said | February 15th 2018 @ 11:03am | ! Report

        I’m with you Slane, they’re the council buses of the AFL highway

        • Roar Guru

          February 15th 2018 @ 3:56pm
          Dalgety Carrington said | February 15th 2018 @ 3:56pm | ! Report

          Hey, you don’t want to underappreciate those buses. Without them, those highways would be (more) choked up with smog and cars. You just don’t measure their worth by their turning circle or how fast they can go.

          • February 15th 2018 @ 6:51pm
            Slane said | February 15th 2018 @ 6:51pm | ! Report

            Not Vic-centric enough. They are more like trams.

          • Roar Guru

            February 15th 2018 @ 7:47pm
            Paul D said | February 15th 2018 @ 7:47pm | ! Report

            I don’t doubt their necessity, I’m just saying that they’re basically all the same and one is as good as another as they all do basically the same stuff and serve their own purpose

            so it doesn’t really matter which one you have, so long as it meets the length requirements

            Sandilands is a bendy bus

            • Roar Guru

              February 16th 2018 @ 9:06am
              Dalgety Carrington said | February 16th 2018 @ 9:06am | ! Report

              And there your analogy begins to disintegrate. I guess we can then also say that all midfielders are basically all the same, as are fullbacks basically all the same, full forwards basically all the same…I mean it’s not really representative of reality, but we could say it.

              • Roar Guru

                February 16th 2018 @ 11:43am
                Paul D said | February 16th 2018 @ 11:43am | ! Report

                It was a throwaway line Dal, I think you expect too much from me sometimes

    • February 15th 2018 @ 8:04am
      Dankswonderelixir said | February 15th 2018 @ 8:04am | ! Report

      Cameron and team not sure if you are planning too but it would be interesting if you could do a similar exercise for players in their 2nd to 4th years.

      I did not include first year players as no one has played an AFL match as yet.


      • Columnist

        February 15th 2018 @ 8:42am
        Cameron Rose said | February 15th 2018 @ 8:42am | ! Report

        This has been mentioned a few times this week by commenters. It might be something we can look at, maybe through the byes.

        • February 15th 2018 @ 6:25pm
          Dankswonderelixir said | February 15th 2018 @ 6:25pm | ! Report

          That sounds like a good idea also may allow some 1st years to be considered after half a dozen games?

    • February 15th 2018 @ 8:13am
      Harsh Truth Harry said | February 15th 2018 @ 8:13am | ! Report

      Ruckmen are getting a Harsh Roar Treatment in this list! Gawn at his best can change games.

      • Columnist

        February 15th 2018 @ 8:44am
        Cameron Rose said | February 15th 2018 @ 8:44am | ! Report

        Yeah, he can, but you of all people should appreciate harsh truths being delivered, even about ruckmen.

    • Roar Guru

      February 15th 2018 @ 8:13am
      AdelaideDocker said | February 15th 2018 @ 8:13am | ! Report

      No Neale?

      Good list so far, though. Can’t argue too much about the positioning.

      • February 15th 2018 @ 8:36am
        Harsh Truth Harry said | February 15th 2018 @ 8:36am | ! Report

        Time to hop off the fence today AD and start forming your own opinions!

      • Columnist

        February 15th 2018 @ 8:45am
        Cameron Rose said | February 15th 2018 @ 8:45am | ! Report

        Neale always seems to be on that’s in the conversation for the lower spots in the 50. You’ll have to wait and see if he makes the cut tomorrow!

        • February 15th 2018 @ 9:13am
          Don Freo said | February 15th 2018 @ 9:13am | ! Report

          And Walters and Yeo and foitball’s most under rated player, Shannon Hurn.

          • February 15th 2018 @ 10:48am
            Ditto said | February 15th 2018 @ 10:48am | ! Report

            To me Elliot Yeo is an example of a player that should be at the pointy end of this list. With some notable retirements from WCE’s roster, a lot is going to be expected of him. He has the form, history, trajectory and credentials to deliver for the Eagles in 2018.

          • Roar Guru

            February 15th 2018 @ 10:59am
            Paul D said | February 15th 2018 @ 10:59am | ! Report

            I rate Yeo very highly. I agree he and Neale should have been in the mix by now. Walters just below those two.

            • February 15th 2018 @ 11:25am
              Harsh Truth Harry said | February 15th 2018 @ 11:25am | ! Report

              All of them should be in front of Zorko! How the heck did he get listed so high!

              • Roar Guru

                February 15th 2018 @ 11:41am
                Paul D said | February 15th 2018 @ 11:41am | ! Report

                Because Zorko is an attention grabbing player with a flashy name who consistently makes the highlight reel. Also, he gets a lot of sympathy for playing for an enduringly crappy team.

                Much the same reasons Merrett is so high really

              • February 15th 2018 @ 12:15pm
                Mattician6x6 said | February 15th 2018 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

                Wouldn’t you also say he’s a match winner who can turn games? If zorko was in a decent side he would’ve rated even higher.

            • February 15th 2018 @ 2:32pm
              Harsh Truth Harry said | February 15th 2018 @ 2:32pm | ! Report

              Mattician you are another bloke looking at it from the wrong way.

              Blokes in lousy sides get flattered by standing out and being the “go to”person for their inexperienced teammates.

              hence Zorko – plays in lousy team, not as good as he appears on pure stats sheets.
              Murphy, plays in dreadful side, not as good as he appears on pure stats sheets.

              You see it with other players and clubs too. Look how average Gunston and Breust started to look last year after the Hawks huge fall from grace.

              • February 15th 2018 @ 4:00pm
                Macca said | February 15th 2018 @ 4:00pm | ! Report

                “Murphy, plays in dreadful side, not as good as he appears on pure stats sheets.”

                “You see it with other players and clubs too. Look how average Gunston and Breust started to look last year after the Hawks huge fall from grace”

                This is the most wonderful piece of logic I have seen. Gunston and Breust started to look terrible last year because Hawthorn were no longer a top side (according to Harry) but instead of this being used as evidence that it is harder to be good in a poor team it is used to convince us that “Blokes in lousy sides get flattered by standing out and being the “go to”person for their inexperienced teammates.”

                Do you even give the slightest thought to what you are saying before you say it?

              • February 15th 2018 @ 4:08pm
                Macca said | February 15th 2018 @ 4:08pm | ! Report

                “Blokes in lousy sides get flattered by standing out and being the “go to”person for their inexperienced teammates” Being the fantastically knowledgeable super coach that you are perhaps you can explain one thing to me – why don’t opposition coaches tag the “go to” person in a lousy team?

              • Roar Guru

                February 15th 2018 @ 4:11pm
                Paul D said | February 15th 2018 @ 4:11pm | ! Report

                Because they’re Nathan Buckley and too arrogant and self-assured to bother with something as mundane as tagging

              • Roar Guru

                February 15th 2018 @ 4:13pm
                Dalgety Carrington said | February 15th 2018 @ 4:13pm | ! Report

                So you’re saying a player is flattered by playing in a poor side, but also when playing in a great side? Where’s the consistency Harshy?

              • February 15th 2018 @ 5:46pm
                Mattician6x6 said | February 15th 2018 @ 5:46pm | ! Report

                I get that argument hth but I don’t think it holds weight.
                Let’s use tippa as the example. First year at your mob he looked great regardless of fact he was in a rubbish team, surround him with better players last year and he looked even better.
                Did Judd look better at wce or blues? Won a brownlow at both and the wce team he was part of was far superior.
                Good players are good players regardless of teammates. They tend to become great players when teammates are a higher quality

              • February 15th 2018 @ 6:35pm
                Dankswonderelixir said | February 15th 2018 @ 6:35pm | ! Report

                you should name half of the bombers side except Goddard totally over rated.

            • February 15th 2018 @ 4:51pm
              Harsh Truth Harry said | February 15th 2018 @ 4:51pm | ! Report

              Dalgety, it’s pretty simple bloke. Great sides make everyone look better. The Hawks were a great side because of Buddy, (until he left) Rioli, Hodge, Gibson, Lewis and Mitchell and co – Gunston and Breust got on the end of some quality inward balls. Now the Hawks are a C grade side, the quality isnt coming in anymore and these players suddenyl seem so pedestrian! Got it champ?

              • February 15th 2018 @ 5:12pm
                Macca said | February 15th 2018 @ 5:12pm | ! Report

                Harry – “Great sides make everyone look better” and ““Blokes in lousy sides get flattered”

                So who doesn’t get made to look better by their team?

                The fact that 2 people pointed out your logical inconsistency and you still can’t get it is hilarious.

              • Roar Guru

                February 15th 2018 @ 7:03pm
                Dalgety Carrington said | February 15th 2018 @ 7:03pm | ! Report

                Yes I’m pretty aware of the thinking behind it, but that’s hardly the point is it. The point was that that you used the Bruest et al as a follow on from the idea that a lack of quality makes you look better.

                They’re hardly complimentary examples, are they? One says you look better with less talent, while the other says you look better with more.

                What is consistent is that perception is king. And it’s hardly a lock either, you could also find lots of other explanations for a players drop in form in one (or perhaps half) year for example.

            • February 16th 2018 @ 11:55am
              Harsh Truth Harry said | February 16th 2018 @ 11:55am | ! Report

              Dalgety, I never said a lack of quality makes you look better. I referred to the fact that bigger name midfielders get more game time and more easy receives than other blokes in weak teams. You don;t think the no names at Gold Coast don’t see GAJ shiny blad head and hand it straight to him? Of course they do. Same as Murphy, number one pick, captain at times, go to man = increased stats. Throw Murphy in a midfield like the Crows and he would struggle to hold his place in the side.

          • February 15th 2018 @ 11:06am
            Mattician6x6 said | February 15th 2018 @ 11:06am | ! Report

            Great points Don, Hurn is a machine. Would Rate him as best kick in afl personally

        • Roar Guru

          February 15th 2018 @ 9:31am
          JamesH said | February 15th 2018 @ 9:31am | ! Report

          To be honest I’m surprised Neale, Murphy, Heppell, Gibbs and Sidebottom aren’t ahead of Cripps. I know Cripps is an exciting talent and if he can maintain his fitness I expect him to finish his career rated ahead of most, if not all, of those guys. I just don’t think he’s quite done enough yet to be rated this highly for 2018 (particularly with the injury issues he’s had).

          Cripps is a contested ball machine but from a neutral perspective I’d like to see him develop other facets of his game, like his foot skills and hurting opponents when he goes forward – as long as he doesn’t do it against Essendon.

          • February 15th 2018 @ 9:39am
            Macca said | February 15th 2018 @ 9:39am | ! Report

            James H – On Cripps developing his other facets, I agree but I posted this yesterday;

            Firstly in 2016 he averaged 8.4 kicks from 26.9 disposals while in 2017 he averaged 11.2 kicks from 24.9 disposals.
            Secondly in 2016 he averaged 3.2 marks per game (0.3 contested) while in 2017 he averaged 4.3 marks (0.7 contested)
            Third in 2016 he averaged 2.9 inside 50’s compared with 3.1 in 2017
            and Finally in 2016 he averaged 177.4 metres gained compared with 234.5 in 2017.

            He is evolving his game.

            On his injury issues – he has broken his leg twice – the first from hitting the point post the second from being kicked and he had broken ribs last year which he played through – I don’t think these are likely to be recurring injuries. The other injury he had was a back issue which was caused by over work and not reporting a bit of pain when he should have – again I doubt this will be a recurring problem.

            He is currently enjoying the best pre-season he has had and looks in amazing knick.

            • Roar Guru

              February 15th 2018 @ 10:51am
              JamesH said | February 15th 2018 @ 10:51am | ! Report

              I’m not suggesting he isn’t evolving, Macca, or that his injuries are likely to continue to hamper him. I’m suggesting that there are still areas of his game that need to improve before he is rated this highly, and the stats you gave me don’t change my view.

              Cripps’ kicks per game went up a bit in 2017 (at the cost of his number and his % of contested possessions) because he spent a bit more time outside of contests than he did in 2016. I’d say this has a lot to do with coming back from/nursing his injuries.

              This isn’t supposed to be a list based on potential; it’s supposed to be a list of the top 50 players in 2018. If Gibbs were still at Carlton, Cripps would currently be their third best midfielder.

              • February 15th 2018 @ 10:56am
                Macca said | February 15th 2018 @ 10:56am | ! Report

                JamesH – “This isn’t supposed to be a list based on potential; it’s supposed to be a list of the top 50 players in 2018.” But given the 2018 season hasn’t started yet potential has a lot to do with it.

                As I said yesterday I could see Cripps not being on the list at all, my point is just that given his game is clearly evolving and he is having a great pre-season (as opposed to last year where he missed a couple of months) I think his 2018 season will be a big step forward and 32 will be viewed as too low rather than too high.

      • February 15th 2018 @ 10:21am
        mattyb said | February 15th 2018 @ 10:21am | ! Report

        AD,Neale is a lot like Macrae from the bulldogs,players who rack up possessions week in week out but are extremely underrated by those outside their club. Midfielders are a dime a dozen though so are often hard to place.
        Personally I’d have them in the top 50 but I’m not surprised they havnt been mentioned yet. Walters is a glaring omission so far but in exercises like this it’s hard to complain,people can see things differently.

        Ben Brown is also highly underrated,good to see him finally mentioned,in a world where being ungainly didn’t matter,he’d be far higher.

        • Roar Guru

          February 15th 2018 @ 10:56am
          AdelaideDocker said | February 15th 2018 @ 10:56am | ! Report

          Great points.

          I’ll agree with you and maintain that Neale is underrated outside of Freo and WA. Macrae’s another good example as well – albeit a bit of a left field example – of someone who isn’t particularly highly rated outside of their club environments. Honestly, it doesn’t matter if they’re not in the top 50, because I have full confidence that they will service our clubs very well this year. I’ve pegged Neale as a future Brownlow winner, however unlikely that is. But he’s definitely future captain material at Freo.

          Brown’s a surprisingly divisive figure, but I will admit he’s done some good work at North of late. He does deserve his place on this list, yes.

    • February 15th 2018 @ 8:48am
      Ditto said | February 15th 2018 @ 8:48am | ! Report

      Not a lot of love for Port Adelaide players so far, with Robbie Gray at 11 the only contributor. The Crowd ladder predictor series just recently asked us to believe that they would finish top 3, I’m guessing none of the panalists have them that high. Still I’d rate Ollie Wines at least as likely as Cripps and that’s not a knock on Cripps. It seems on reflection there’s quite a few younger players that failed to progress as much as expected in 2017. Chad Wingard ?

      • February 15th 2018 @ 9:14am
        Rex said | February 15th 2018 @ 9:14am | ! Report

        Honestly Ditto – what has Wingard done over the past 3 years?? he’s way down the list based on performance. If you build a list on potential then I agree – top 30 for sure. He just doesnt do enough consistently enough.

        • February 15th 2018 @ 9:20am
          truetigerfan said | February 15th 2018 @ 9:20am | ! Report

          Yeah, gotta agree, Rex. Sums up Port Adelaide, too. When they’re on they’re really on but when they’re not . . . Way too inconsistent and just can’t produce against the better sides.

        • February 15th 2018 @ 9:59am
          Ditto said | February 15th 2018 @ 9:59am | ! Report

          Hey Rex, to a certain extent this is an exercise in grading potential as it is predicting the best players in 2018. In this regard I think the panalists have played it too safe. However, you’re right, in the last few years the only thing that Wingard has not failed to do is disappoint. So it would probably be wiser to wait and see, rather than pulling the trigger. I made a poor choice Rex, so thanks for putting me straight.

          • February 15th 2018 @ 10:05am
            Rex said | February 15th 2018 @ 10:05am | ! Report

            all good Ditto – Id have Charlie Dixon on the 40-50 list – hes a gun

      • February 15th 2018 @ 9:47am
        Pope Paul VII said | February 15th 2018 @ 9:47am | ! Report

        Be interesting to see which clubs get the most top 50 players and where they finish this year (and finished last year). Not a big sample in a comp featuring 18 teams.

      • February 15th 2018 @ 2:27pm
        Pelican said | February 15th 2018 @ 2:27pm | ! Report

        Wingard has moved from the forward flank to the midfield in the last two years. Last year he averaged 22 possessions per game. He is doing alot of hard work rather than taking the flashy grabs he used to. This is why people who don’t follow Port don’t see him anymore. He is no longer on the highlights real he is in the packs getting the ball out and into the forwards.

        • February 15th 2018 @ 3:11pm
          truetigerfan said | February 15th 2018 @ 3:11pm | ! Report

          If he ran both ways he’d get more of the ball. Lacks the ‘want’ to defend.

    • February 15th 2018 @ 9:14am
      johno said | February 15th 2018 @ 9:14am | ! Report

      Definitely not a lot of love for your running backmen. Rampe and Laird the only non key defenders to make it so far, given Rance, McGovern and Hurley are all typical KPP players.

      But how important are the small defenders? Jetta was outstanding in 2017, but Yeo, Docherty and Hibberd were excellent as well and without these guys the free wheeling Greene’s, Betts, Grays and Walters of the world would just run amok.

      That said ….. where’s Sonny? He’s been in the conversation for AA the last few seasons, and barring injury (which doesn’t seem to affect opinion … NicNat and Gawn) in 2017 would have been an AA in my opinion

      • February 15th 2018 @ 3:40pm
        Julian said | February 15th 2018 @ 3:40pm | ! Report

        Sonny Walters?

        I definitely agree. Had probably the best individual game of the year against Geelong.

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