AFL Draft

2017 AFL Draft Preview: Western Bulldogs

 

LIST BREAKDOWN BY POSITION:

 

Key Def

Gen Def Mid Mid/Fwd Gen Fwd Key Fwd Ruck

Total

6

7 6 7 6 4 4

40

 

Average Age: 24.3

Players In: Josh Schache, Jackson Trengove, Hayden Crozier

Players Out: Jake Stringer

Retired/Delisted: Matthew Boyd, Robert Murphy, Josh Prudden, Declan Hamilton, Tristan Tweedie, Travis Cloke, Stewart Crameri, Roarke Smith

Draft Picks: 9, 16, 79

What they got/lost:

The Western Bulldogs were big players throughout the trade period. They played their own hand in pushing Jake Stringer out the door, meaning they probably got less than they should have for him. The Stringer trade allowed many others to fall after the Dogs received picks 25 and 30 for the dynamic forward, and while his 2017 campaign was disappointing, he is a substantial loss. Ultimately, they had to let him go after his falling out with Luke Beveridge in the backdrop of his concerning off-field issues.

They were able to nab the first free agent of the period, signing Power utility Jackson Trengove (replaced at Port Adelaide by his namesake) on a four-year deal. They probably paid overs considering he couldn’t crack it in the seniors at Port towards the end of the year, but the Bulldogs have shored up their defensive stocks with his recruitment. He played in an unfamiliar ruck/forward role for the Power this year to reasonable effect, but I expect the Bulldogs to utilise him as a tall defender primarily.

It was a stressful couple of weeks for wantaway forward Josh Schache – with Melbourne clubs showing little interest – but he eventually found his way to the kennel in the dying moments of deadline day. Frankly, the Bulldogs got him for a steal considering he was drafted with pick 2 in 2015, and while he has failed to show a great deal of competitiveness in his first two seasons, the move home should do wonders for the young talent.

Hayden Crozier was the other acquisition for the Bulldogs, and the club has said they recruited him as a defender. Crozier has played some good footy for the Dockers across half-back in recent times, but spent the majority of his time in the forward half. Possessing an efficient kick and good legspeed, Crozier could prove to be a very handy addition.

The almost inevitable delisting of Stewart Crameri came as little surprise when the former Bomber publicly confessed he had been left in the dark by the Bulldogs. However, the sudden retirement of Travis Cloke at the end of the trade period was a bit of a shock.

What they need:

The Bulldogs are filled to the brim with ‘hunter gatherers’ (the irony being that Lachie Hunter is one of these players), possessing a number of mid forwards on their list. While these hard-nosed, scrappy players were a major factor in their Premiership success in 2016, it left them looking one-dimensional last season – especially when they failed to produce this defensive pressure, which was frequent in the backhalf of the season. For this reason, a classy midfielder with a good kick would be an ideal acquisition for the Bulldogs.

Another area they need to stock up on is half-back flankers, to fill the void of retirees Robert Murphy and Matthew Boyd. Likewise, when Jason Johannisen was tagged during the middle of the year the Bulldogs really lacked run out of defence, so I see this as a major priority for the Bulldogs.

They certainly don’t need any more key defenders, with the Trengove signing pushing them out to seven key defenders on their list. However, a tall forward isn’t out of the question despite getting Schache, with Travis Cloke (retired) and Stewart Crameri (delisted) no longer at the club. In saying that, they already have Tom Boyd, Jack Redpath, Zaine Cordy (can play forward) and Josh Schache, so another young forward may not be what they need.

On the Radar

The Bulldogs have been linked with draft bolter Nathan Murphy. The 188cm swingman has burst into top 10 contention after shifting his focus from cricket to footy this year. Murphy has been touted for his intercepting abilities and his sharp kick, and has spent time at both ends of the ground for Sandringham. His lack of attention towards footy means his scope could be greater than others, and he is a chance to be selected with either of the Bulldogs’ first round selections.

If one of the top midfielders slips through to nine (Adam Cerra perhaps the most likely) they would be difficult to pass up, but this remains unlikely considering the lack of quality talls in the pool.

Perhaps the best fit for the Bulldogs would be tall running defender Nick Coffield if he isn’t snapped up by the Saints at pick 7 or 8. The Northern Knights skipper has impressed off half-back with his ball-use and pace, and can back it up defensively with his height and reading of the play. Considering their questionable ball use at times and the retirements of Murphy and Boyd, Coffield would be a sound addition. One who can eventually move into the midfield.

The classy Lochie O’Brien is one who the Bulldogs should seriously consider at pick 16. He was one of the leading prospects coming into the season but didn’t have an overly impressive top age year. However, he showed his credentials on the MCG in the Grand Final curtain raiser with 24 disposals and a goal, and he would fill a need as an outside midfielder/half-back flanker with an elite kick. Screams Andrew Gaff.

Hunter Clark could be another option at pick nine. The Dandenong product is tough as nails and has a good long kick on both sides of his body. His attack on the man and the footy fits the Bulldogs profile, and he is composed with ball in hand. Clark would probably start his AFL career as a defender, but he has inside mid written all over him.

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