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Average Age: 24.7
Players In: Gary Ablett
Players Out: Darcy Lang (Carl), Steven Motlop (Port)
Retired/Delisted: Andrew Mackie (ret), Tom Lonergan (ret), Josh Cowan (del), Tom Ruggles (del), Matthew Hayball (del) *will be re-rookied.
Draft Picks: 22, 24, 35, 58, 71, 86
WHAT THEY GOT/LOST:
Geelong headed into the trade period linked to a number of players and with the Premiership clock ticking, adding ready to go talent was seen as a priority after a second consecutive Preliminary Final loss. Unfortunately for the Cats, securing those types would prove to be a lot more difficult than previous years. Jake Stringer, Jack Watts and Devon Smith all nominated other clubs, a situation Geelong hasn’t found itself in for some time. Losing players in their prime is also an unfamiliar position for Chris Scott and his list management team, as the often maligned but very talented Steven Motlop chose to exercise his free agency rights and accept a lucrative contract from Port Adelaide. 2013 first round draft selection Darcy Lang also packed his bags for greater opportunities at Carlton, after showing promising signs during the finals.
Although the Cats still managed to negotiate and successfully secure its number one target, the return of club legend Gary Ablett after seven seasons at the Suns. While some at the club didn’t believe he met the implemented list strategy at 33 years young, he is certainly playing good enough football to make a significant on field impact and the marketing incentives are impossible to ignore. Geelong also managed to significantly improve its 2017 draft position, mainly on the back of unexpected FA compensation from Motlop and stock up on some late future selections to help accumulate points for potential father/son prospects Oscar Brownless and Bailey Scott next year.
WHAT THEY NEED:
The recruitment of Patrick Dangerfield at the end of 2015 meant Geelong had the opportunity to fight for another premiership, which saw a dramatic list management direction change. Bringing in the likes of Lachie Henderson, Scott Selwood, Zach Tuohy, Zac Smith and mature age options like Sam Menegola and Tom Stewart to extend that potential premiership window has meant a commitment to youth has been postponed. Although three second draft picks gives Stephen Wells the chance to do what he does best.
Geelong have managed to bring in some talented youngsters from the Rookie Draft in recent seasons with the likes of Zach Guthrie, Sam Simpson, James Parsons and Jack Henry, although there are holes on every line when looking to directly replace the current 22 in the future. The immediate concern would be the key position defensive stocks, with Tom Lonergan retired and Harry Taylor coming to the end. Tom Stewart and Jake Kolodjashnij are capable of playing on taller forwards, but can’t be expected to fulfill those roles week in, week out. Ryan Gardner is making progress at VFL level but isn’t quite ready, while the mature bodied Timm House showed impressive signs in the defensive arc but still hasn’t got an AFL game to his name.
The Cats currently possess one of the best midfields on paper of all time, but really lack developing midfielders coming through outside its best 22. On the forward front, the likes of Wylie Buzza and Esava Ratugolea are developing into KPF options and while the small forward stocks are well covered on a list perspective, the never-ending injury troubles of Lincoln McCarthy, Nakia Cockatoo and Cory Gregson leave the cupboard consistently bare. There is a great opportunity here to bring in talented youngsters and give them time to make positions their own at VFL level while the flag chase is still on.
ON THE RADAR:
Two early second round selections gives Geelong the flexibility to equally consider needs and the best available options. As most clubs do in this position, they’ll be hoping for a potential slider, but Stephen Wells never shies away from backing his judgement and producing a perceived surprise. Nathan Murphy is a type that screams Wells with his size and potential to develop in any position, but he could well be gone by Pick No.22. His unavailability may trigger a reach for underrated South Australian Charlie Ballard, whose rangey physical attributes and height make for a unique alternative. This range of the draft is also likely to see some quality KPDs available in the form of South Australian Harrison Petty, Dandenong’s Oscar Clavarino or even Western Australian Sam Taylor, while Noah Balta isn’t an impossibility to fall this far.
The Cats history of taking on a talented local must also be considered and there are plenty of draftable Falcons in this year’s crop. Matt Ling, Ethan Floyd, James Worpel and Gryan Miers could all fall in that 2nd Round range, while David Handley and Tom McCartin are also worthy options. You could easily see Geelong ending the night with at least one Falcon.
Then there is the immediate success to think about. Do the Cats take on another mature age option? South Fremantle’s Tim Kelly is one of the classiest state league prospects available in years and could easily fill a more beefed up, contested void left by Motlop. Geelong would probably have to swoop fast and use one of its early second rounders, but stranger things have happened.
Lastly, how much is in a name? The Cats proved during the trade period that it is an obvious consideration with the recruitment of Gary Ablett. So how far does the grandson of a premiership captain named Wooller get down the draft order before becoming too difficult to say no too? Could it be this year’s Pat Kerr/Carlton moment?