Filtering the Kids

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Vader

Sith Lord
Oct 14, 2005
47,313
29,992
Canberra
AFL Club
Adelaide
Other Teams
Norwood, Adelaide Crows
OK... so we've removed most of the senior players from the list, and stacked it with kids. We're now in the position of having to give those kids games, to identify who will sink & who will swim at AFL level. Which of the kids improved in 2021, who went backwards, and who trod water? In 2020 it was hard to identify many players at all who improved, this year that task is much easier - and that's a good thing!

For the following review, I've drawn the cutoff line at players who started 2021 with less than 40 AFL games. That puts means Keays & Murphy are above the line, with O'Brien the most senior player under the line.

My apologies if it's a bit confusing. I've gone through and tried to identify which players improved & went backwards this year, but I've also tried to identify those I think will sink & who will swim.

Improvers
Chayce Jones
- Many people were writing Jones off at the start of the year. He reinvented himself as a HBF, and took his game to a whole new level. Based on this season, he appears to have gone from a sinker to a swimmer.
Ned McHenry - Ned still reminds me of a puppy dog, eager and enthusiastic, but slobbering over everything and making a complete mess. However, in 2021 that eagerness started to show signs of producing quality football. As a result, he won the club's "Most Improved" award (or whatever they choose to call it). There's a lot of improvement still to come, but there were hugely promising signs in 2021, and he's looking like an increasingly proficient swimmer.
Harry Schoenberg - Schoenberg showed promise in 2020, and took it to a new level in 2021. To date, he's the only one of our younger players to be entrusted with a regular position in our midfield rotations (along with Keays/Sloane/Laird). We have a definite swimmer here, not that there was ever any doubt.
Jordan Butts - After 2 AFL games in 2020, Butts played every game in 2021, becoming the rock on which our defence was built. Not once did he concede more than 2 goals in a single game. For a player with his lack of experience, that was a remarkable achievement. Butts is, without a shadow of a doubt, an excellent swimmer.
Kieran Strachan - 2021 was Strachan's 3rd year on the rookie list, and I expected him to follow in the footsteps of Graham & Lowden, passing in to the annals of history once his 3 years on the rookie list came to an end. Strachan proved me wrong. Strachan was, by all accounts, the best ruckman in the SANFL all season. With ROB injured, he seized his opportunities in R22-23, more than holding his own against Max Gawn & Todd Goldstein, two of the best ruckmen in the AFL. Now ROB has serious competition for his position in the AFL team, and Strachan has been re-signed for 2 more years. Things couldn't be more promising.
Riley Thilthorpe - With no baseline against which to judge, TT was probably going to be classed as an Improver regardless of what he did. What he did was kick 5 goals on debut, and another bag of 3 against St Kilda, which earned him a rising star nomination. TT still has a lot of improvement left in him, as his body matures and he adjusts to playing at the AFL level - but the promise he showed this year was extraordinary. We have a swimmer on our hands here.
Brayden Cook - It took him a while, but he finally got his chance in R21 against the forces of Darkness & Evil. He seized his opportunity with both hands, picking up 17 disposals against the Tools, then backing it up with 19 disposals in R23 against the Roos. Were it not for TT kicking 5 goals on debut, I would have rated him as our best 1st year player in a long time. Definite swimmer.
Sam Berry - As a first year player, making his debut and playing 17 games definitely puts him in the "Improver" category, despite the lack of previous baseline. Berry is a tackling machine, but he needs to work on getting more of the ball, averaging just 9 disposals per game for the year. There's a lot to like, and a lot for the coaches to work with. I think he's a swimmer, and I expect to see him in the "Improvers" list again next year.
Nick Murray - Coming from nowhere, having been signed post-draft, during the pre-season supplementary period, Murray went on to play 13 games. By the end of the year he was looking more confident, and really starting to shine. There's a lot to like here, and he could be Butts' main support act for many years to come. I think he's a swimmer, though there is still room for further improvement.
James Rowe - 19 games and 15 goals is a reasonable return for our last selection in the 2020 draft. However, Rowe's longer term future is very much undecided. He's not overly quick, and his defensive application leaves a lot to be desired. Not a bad first year, but I'd want to see more in 2022 before I grade him as a swimmer. For now, he's only treading water, but he hasn't yet started sinking.
Lachlan Gollant - Gollant finally earned his debut in R23, against the Roos, and immediately made his mark, joining in the joyous last 10 minutes as he, Mackay & Lynch all kicked goals - the debutant and the two departing veterans. He's clearly a "project player", who is still think as a pencil, despite gaining significant weight during the pre-season. If he can continue adding muscle to his frame, then he could have a bright future at the AFL level. I think he could be a swimmer, but it's far too early to tell.

Treading Water
Tom Doedee
- Doedee's placement in this group isn't a bad thing, it's an indicator that he was already performing at a very high level. I didn't see much (if any) improvement in Doedee this year, but neither did I see him going backwards. He struggled when forced to play 1-on-1 with bigger & taller forwards, but that was more an issue with team selection than Doedee's individual form. Have no fear - the Dude is definitely a swimmer.
Darcy Fogarty - Fogarty had a lot more opportunities this year, but he really failed to grasp them. He's still inconsistent, from game to game and quarter to quarter, averaging just 8.1 disposals per game (below his career average). Worst of all, his goal kicking accuracy started to fall away in the latter part of the season, limiting the effectiveness of the only weapon he really has. He needs to lose weight and get a lot fitter, if he is to become a swimmer.
Andrew McPherson - The Moose showed a lot in 2020, and I'm judging him against that benchmark. He was very disappointing at times in 2021, and I could easily have put him in the next group. However, he finished the season strongly enough for me to put him in the Treading Water group. I think he will swim, but he needs to continue showing improvement.
Billy Frampton - Billy has had a really mixed year. He worked hard in the pre-season, and jumped Himmelberg in the pecking order. That earned him AFL selection, where he failed miserably as a forward and was sent back to the SANFL. He played really well in the SANFL, and once again gained himself a promotion, and once again he stunk it up severely at AFL level. Eventually they gave up on him as a forward, and tried him in defence. He surprised everyone by appearing to be a competent defender - not great, but definitely competent. So, how should he be graded? As a forward, he was awful, but even then he'd still be classed as "treading water" - having failed previously, failing again was expected and not seen as a step backwards. As a defender, he was surprisingly competent, but that was really only for 2 games, as an experiment to see whether or not there was any justification at all for retaining his services in 2022. As a forward, he's not so much a sinker as an anchor. As a defender, he treads water, but there are younger players with greater potential already on the list.
Ben Davis - Little was expected of Davis, based on previous form, and little was delivered in 2022. He had a low benchmark to beat, and few would argue that he managed to improve on it. Like Frampton, Davis was selected a few times, late in the season, to see if he had potential as a small defender (having failed miserably as a forward). Like Frampton, he showed himself to be a competent defender, but with many younger players with greater potential, there's no pressing reason for his retention in 2022. Well liked by coaches and teammates, he is never the less a sinker.
Will Hamill - Hamill showed in 2020 that he was a swimmer, and nothing much changed in that regard. He played some poor games this year, but he played some really good ones too, particularly late in the season. Overall, I didn't see enough variation from his 2020 benchmark to grade him up or down a group from here. I still think he will be a swimmer, though repeated concussions may have a very unfortunate bearing on his future.
Josh Worrell - Worrell's good early SANFL form was eventually rewarded with a debut in R13, but 3 disposals later he was back in the SANFL for the rest of the season. Worrell was re-signed by the club, so there's definitely hope that he'll come good, but there's not much sign of it so far - and an off-field alcohol incident during the pre-season didn't endear him with the coaches. At best, he's treading water - no signs yet that he'll swim, but I'm still reluctant to rate him as a sinker.
Ronin O'Connor - Second year player who did get selected for 2 games, but didn't really do much with those opportunities. O'Connor is the last remaining uncontracted player on the senior list, so his future is highly uncertain. At best he's treading water, though the club may have decided that he's a sinker, which would make him the first of our recent draftees to be filtered out.

Going Backwards
Reilly O'Brien
- ROB set a very high benchmark in 2020, winning the B&F in the process. Relative to that standard, he's gone backwards this year. He's definitely a swimmer, but Strachan's performances in the last few rounds will have him keeping a close eye on his back in 2022. Competition for positions is entirely a good thing, so hopefully Strachan & ROB will push each other to improve in 2022.
Elliott Himmelberg - Berg's bright finish to the 2020 season had us all looking forward to seeing what he could produce in 2021. The answer, for the first 17 rounds of the season, was SFA. A poor off-season saw him fall behind Frampton in the pecking order, and it wasn't until Frampton's dismal failure as a forward became completely embarrassing that Berg was able to shine again. Berg's best is definitely AFL standard, but he needs to keep working hard to ensure that he's able to deliver on a consistent basis. Sink, or Swim? Berg could still go either way.
Jackson Hately - Adelaide grabbed Hately in the PSD, not giving GWS anything for his services. Based on Hately's performance in 2021, we overpaid and did GWS a favour. For such a highly rated player, Hately's 2021 has been ****ing awful. Supposedly he was injured (osteitis pubis is the rumour). Hopefully 2022 will see him injury free, and showing us why he was a top-10 draftee a few years ago. Right now, he's not so much sinking as drowning, but I'm still hopeful that there's a swimmer in there somewhere.
Shane McAdam - McAdam spent too much time going for speccy marks, and nowhere near enough time doing the basics. As a result, his game went backwards in 2021, and he found himself playing in the SANFL for much of the season. Whether or not he makes it is dependent upon his ability to develop an AFL-standard work ethic. Right now, he's in danger of sinking, after a bright start to his career in 2020.
Fischer McAsey - The big fish didn't play a single AFL game this season, and didn't impress anyone at SANFL level either. He's had 2 very interrupted pre-seasons since being drafted, so there's still hope. The club has re-signed him for another 2 years, so they still have faith that he can turn it around... but based on his 2021 performances, he's looking very much like a sinker.
Lachlan Sholl - Sholl is one of the few Crows to have earned 2x Rising Star nominations, one in 2020 and another in 2021. He started the season in great form, but by the end of it he was struggling to hold his own in the SANFL. Sholl had the worst case of "2nd year blues" that I can remember. But I take heart from the old saying - form is temporary, but class is permanent. Sholl has class, and I hope/expect to see him back at his best in 2022.

Not Assessed
Mitch Hinge
- Season ended in R1, thanks to a shoulder injury.
Luke Pedlar - Showed a lot of promise in the pre-season games, but his season was limited due to injury and fitness. Hopefully we'll see a lot more of him in 2022.
James Borlase - Cat B rookie who wasn't given an AFL debut. Game reports indicate that he's done well at SANFL level, though it's unclear how that would translate to the AFL level. Completely unseen by me (excluding the pre-season games), so no grading made.
Tariek Newchurch - Cat B rookie who wasn't given an AFL debut. Lightning quick, but inconsistent and poor defensively. He may have done enough to earn a contract for 2022, but would need to show more next year. Completely unseen by me (excluding the pre-season games), so no grading made.
Patrick Parnell - Added to the list via the mid-season draft, I haven't seen or heard a lot about him, so no grading made.
 

latinoheat

Club Legend
Sep 8, 2008
2,892
3,404
argentina
AFL Club
Adelaide
OK... so we've removed most of the senior players from the list, and stacked it with kids. We're now in the position of having to give those kids games, to identify who will sink & who will swim at AFL level. Which of the kids improved in 2021, who went backwards, and who trod water? In 2020 it was hard to identify many players at all who improved, this year that task is much easier - and that's a good thing!

For the following review, I've drawn the cutoff line at players who started 2021 with less than 40 AFL games. That puts means Keays & Murphy are above the line, with O'Brien the most senior player under the line.

My apologies if it's a bit confusing. I've gone through and tried to identify which players improved & went backwards this year, but I've also tried to identify those I think will sink & who will swim.

Improvers
Chayce Jones
- Many people were writing Jones off at the start of the year. He reinvented himself as a HBF, and took his game to a whole new level. Based on this season, he appears to have gone from a sinker to a swimmer.
Ned McHenry - Ned still reminds me of a puppy dog, eager and enthusiastic, but slobbering over everything and making a complete mess. However, in 2021 that eagerness started to show signs of producing quality football. As a result, he won the club's "Most Improved" award (or whatever they choose to call it). There's a lot of improvement still to come, but there were hugely promising signs in 2021, and he's looking like an increasingly proficient swimmer.
Harry Schoenberg - Schoenberg showed promise in 2020, and took it to a new level in 2021. To date, he's the only one of our younger players to be entrusted with a regular position in our midfield rotations (along with Keays/Sloane/Laird). We have a definite swimmer here, not that there was ever any doubt.
Jordan Butts - After 2 AFL games in 2020, Butts played every game in 2021, becoming the rock on which our defence was built. Not once did he concede more than 2 goals in a single game. For a player with his lack of experience, that was a remarkable achievement. Butts is, without a shadow of a doubt, an excellent swimmer.
Kieran Strachan - 2021 was Strachan's 3rd year on the rookie list, and I expected him to follow in the footsteps of Graham & Lowden, passing in to the annals of history once his 3 years on the rookie list came to an end. Strachan proved me wrong. Strachan was, by all accounts, the best ruckman in the SANFL all season. With ROB injured, he seized his opportunities in R22-23, more than holding his own against Max Gawn & Todd Goldstein, two of the best ruckmen in the AFL. Now ROB has serious competition for his position in the AFL team, and Strachan has been re-signed for 2 more years. Things couldn't be more promising.
Riley Thilthorpe - With no baseline against which to judge, TT was probably going to be classed as an Improver regardless of what he did. What he did was kick 5 goals on debut, and another bag of 3 against St Kilda, which earned him a rising star nomination. TT still has a lot of improvement left in him, as his body matures and he adjusts to playing at the AFL level - but the promise he showed this year was extraordinary. We have a swimmer on our hands here.
Brayden Cook - It took him a while, but he finally got his chance in R21 against the forces of Darkness & Evil. He seized his opportunity with both hands, picking up 17 disposals against the Tools, then backing it up with 19 disposals in R23 against the Roos. Were it not for TT kicking 5 goals on debut, I would have rated him as our best 1st year player in a long time. Definite swimmer.
Sam Berry - As a first year player, making his debut and playing 17 games definitely puts him in the "Improver" category, despite the lack of previous baseline. Berry is a tackling machine, but he needs to work on getting more of the ball, averaging just 9 disposals per game for the year. There's a lot to like, and a lot for the coaches to work with. I think he's a swimmer, and I expect to see him in the "Improvers" list again next year.
Nick Murray - Coming from nowhere, having been signed post-draft, during the pre-season supplementary period, Murray went on to play 13 games. By the end of the year he was looking more confident, and really starting to shine. There's a lot to like here, and he could be Butts' main support act for many years to come. I think he's a swimmer, though there is still room for further improvement.
James Rowe - 19 games and 15 goals is a reasonable return for our last selection in the 2020 draft. However, Rowe's longer term future is very much undecided. He's not overly quick, and his defensive application leaves a lot to be desired. Not a bad first year, but I'd want to see more in 2022 before I grade him as a swimmer. For now, he's only treading water, but he hasn't yet started sinking.
Lachlan Gollant - Gollant finally earned his debut in R23, against the Roos, and immediately made his mark, joining in the joyous last 10 minutes as he, Mackay & Lynch all kicked goals - the debutant and the two departing veterans. He's clearly a "project player", who is still think as a pencil, despite gaining significant weight during the pre-season. If he can continue adding muscle to his frame, then he could have a bright future at the AFL level. I think he could be a swimmer, but it's far too early to tell.

Treading Water
Tom Doedee
- Doedee's placement in this group isn't a bad thing, it's an indicator that he was already performing at a very high level. I didn't see much (if any) improvement in Doedee this year, but neither did I see him going backwards. He struggled when forced to play 1-on-1 with bigger & taller forwards, but that was more an issue with team selection than Doedee's individual form. Have no fear - the Dude is definitely a swimmer.
Darcy Fogarty - Fogarty had a lot more opportunities this year, but he really failed to grasp them. He's still inconsistent, from game to game and quarter to quarter, averaging just 8.1 disposals per game (below his career average). Worst of all, his goal kicking accuracy started to fall away in the latter part of the season, limiting the effectiveness of the only weapon he really has. He needs to lose weight and get a lot fitter, if he is to become a swimmer.
Andrew McPherson - The Moose showed a lot in 2020, and I'm judging him against that benchmark. He was very disappointing at times in 2021, and I could easily have put him in the next group. However, he finished the season strongly enough for me to put him in the Treading Water group. I think he will swim, but he needs to continue showing improvement.
Billy Frampton - Billy has had a really mixed year. He worked hard in the pre-season, and jumped Himmelberg in the pecking order. That earned him AFL selection, where he failed miserably as a forward and was sent back to the SANFL. He played really well in the SANFL, and once again gained himself a promotion, and once again he stunk it up severely at AFL level. Eventually they gave up on him as a forward, and tried him in defence. He surprised everyone by appearing to be a competent defender - not great, but definitely competent. So, how should he be graded? As a forward, he was awful, but even then he'd still be classed as "treading water" - having failed previously, failing again was expected and not seen as a step backwards. As a defender, he was surprisingly competent, but that was really only for 2 games, as an experiment to see whether or not there was any justification at all for retaining his services in 2022. As a forward, he's not so much a sinker as an anchor. As a defender, he treads water, but there are younger players with greater potential already on the list.
Ben Davis - Little was expected of Davis, based on previous form, and little was delivered in 2022. He had a low benchmark to beat, and few would argue that he managed to improve on it. Like Frampton, Davis was selected a few times, late in the season, to see if he had potential as a small defender (having failed miserably as a forward). Like Frampton, he showed himself to be a competent defender, but with many younger players with greater potential, there's no pressing reason for his retention in 2022. Well liked by coaches and teammates, he is never the less a sinker.
Will Hamill - Hamill showed in 2020 that he was a swimmer, and nothing much changed in that regard. He played some poor games this year, but he played some really good ones too, particularly late in the season. Overall, I didn't see enough variation from his 2020 benchmark to grade him up or down a group from here. I still think he will be a swimmer, though repeated concussions may have a very unfortunate bearing on his future.
Josh Worrell - Worrell's good early SANFL form was eventually rewarded with a debut in R13, but 3 disposals later he was back in the SANFL for the rest of the season. Worrell was re-signed by the club, so there's definitely hope that he'll come good, but there's not much sign of it so far - and an off-field alcohol incident during the pre-season didn't endear him with the coaches. At best, he's treading water - no signs yet that he'll swim, but I'm still reluctant to rate him as a sinker.
Ronin O'Connor - Second year player who did get selected for 2 games, but didn't really do much with those opportunities. O'Connor is the last remaining uncontracted player on the senior list, so his future is highly uncertain. At best he's treading water, though the club may have decided that he's a sinker, which would make him the first of our recent draftees to be filtered out.

Going Backwards
Reilly O'Brien
- ROB set a very high benchmark in 2020, winning the B&F in the process. Relative to that standard, he's gone backwards this year. He's definitely a swimmer, but Strachan's performances in the last few rounds will have him keeping a close eye on his back in 2022. Competition for positions is entirely a good thing, so hopefully Strachan & ROB will push each other to improve in 2022.
Elliott Himmelberg - Berg's bright finish to the 2020 season had us all looking forward to seeing what he could produce in 2021. The answer, for the first 17 rounds of the season, was SFA. A poor off-season saw him fall behind Frampton in the pecking order, and it wasn't until Frampton's dismal failure as a forward became completely embarrassing that Berg was able to shine again. Berg's best is definitely AFL standard, but he needs to keep working hard to ensure that he's able to deliver on a consistent basis. Sink, or Swim? Berg could still go either way.
Jackson Hately - Adelaide grabbed Hately in the PSD, not giving GWS anything for his services. Based on Hately's performance in 2021, we overpaid and did GWS a favour. For such a highly rated player, Hately's 2021 has been ****ing awful. Supposedly he was injured (osteitis pubis is the rumour). Hopefully 2022 will see him injury free, and showing us why he was a top-10 draftee a few years ago. Right now, he's not so much sinking as drowning, but I'm still hopeful that there's a swimmer in there somewhere.
Shane McAdam - McAdam spent too much time going for speccy marks, and nowhere near enough time doing the basics. As a result, his game went backwards in 2021, and he found himself playing in the SANFL for much of the season. Whether or not he makes it is dependent upon his ability to develop an AFL-standard work ethic. Right now, he's in danger of sinking, after a bright start to his career in 2020.
Fischer McAsey - The big fish didn't play a single AFL game this season, and didn't impress anyone at SANFL level either. He's had 2 very interrupted pre-seasons since being drafted, so there's still hope. The club has re-signed him for another 2 years, so they still have faith that he can turn it around... but based on his 2021 performances, he's looking very much like a sinker.
Lachlan Sholl - Sholl is one of the few Crows to have earned 2x Rising Star nominations, one in 2020 and another in 2021. He started the season in great form, but by the end of it he was struggling to hold his own in the SANFL. Sholl had the worst case of "2nd year blues" that I can remember. But I take heart from the old saying - form is temporary, but class is permanent. Sholl has class, and I hope/expect to see him back at his best in 2022.

Not Assessed
Mitch Hinge
- Season ended in R1, thanks to a shoulder injury.
Luke Pedlar - Showed a lot of promise in the pre-season games, but his season was limited due to injury and fitness. Hopefully we'll see a lot more of him in 2022.
James Borlase - Cat B rookie who wasn't given an AFL debut. Game reports indicate that he's done well at SANFL level, though it's unclear how that would translate to the AFL level. Completely unseen by me (excluding the pre-season games), so no grading made.
Tariek Newchurch - Cat B rookie who wasn't given an AFL debut. Lightning quick, but inconsistent and poor defensively. He may have done enough to earn a contract for 2022, but would need to show more next year. Completely unseen by me (excluding the pre-season games), so no grading made.
Patrick Parnell - Added to the list via the mid-season draft, I haven't seen or heard a lot about him, so no grading made.
Good write up Vader . It’s nice to see you didn’t have much of a dig at Fog and Frampton.
 

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Golumless

A bigger deal out west.
Jul 12, 2013
34,054
41,787
Adelaide
AFL Club
Adelaide
Other Teams
Newcastle, Rockies, Oceanics
OK... so we've removed most of the senior players from the list, and stacked it with kids. We're now in the position of having to give those kids games, to identify who will sink & who will swim at AFL level. Which of the kids improved in 2021, who went backwards, and who trod water? In 2020 it was hard to identify many players at all who improved, this year that task is much easier - and that's a good thing!

For the following review, I've drawn the cutoff line at players who started 2021 with less than 40 AFL games. That puts means Keays & Murphy are above the line, with O'Brien the most senior player under the line.

My apologies if it's a bit confusing. I've gone through and tried to identify which players improved & went backwards this year, but I've also tried to identify those I think will sink & who will swim.

Improvers
Chayce Jones
- Many people were writing Jones off at the start of the year. He reinvented himself as a HBF, and took his game to a whole new level. Based on this season, he appears to have gone from a sinker to a swimmer.
Ned McHenry - Ned still reminds me of a puppy dog, eager and enthusiastic, but slobbering over everything and making a complete mess. However, in 2021 that eagerness started to show signs of producing quality football. As a result, he won the club's "Most Improved" award (or whatever they choose to call it). There's a lot of improvement still to come, but there were hugely promising signs in 2021, and he's looking like an increasingly proficient swimmer.
Harry Schoenberg - Schoenberg showed promise in 2020, and took it to a new level in 2021. To date, he's the only one of our younger players to be entrusted with a regular position in our midfield rotations (along with Keays/Sloane/Laird). We have a definite swimmer here, not that there was ever any doubt.
Jordan Butts - After 2 AFL games in 2020, Butts played every game in 2021, becoming the rock on which our defence was built. Not once did he concede more than 2 goals in a single game. For a player with his lack of experience, that was a remarkable achievement. Butts is, without a shadow of a doubt, an excellent swimmer.
Kieran Strachan - 2021 was Strachan's 3rd year on the rookie list, and I expected him to follow in the footsteps of Graham & Lowden, passing in to the annals of history once his 3 years on the rookie list came to an end. Strachan proved me wrong. Strachan was, by all accounts, the best ruckman in the SANFL all season. With ROB injured, he seized his opportunities in R22-23, more than holding his own against Max Gawn & Todd Goldstein, two of the best ruckmen in the AFL. Now ROB has serious competition for his position in the AFL team, and Strachan has been re-signed for 2 more years. Things couldn't be more promising.
Riley Thilthorpe - With no baseline against which to judge, TT was probably going to be classed as an Improver regardless of what he did. What he did was kick 5 goals on debut, and another bag of 3 against St Kilda, which earned him a rising star nomination. TT still has a lot of improvement left in him, as his body matures and he adjusts to playing at the AFL level - but the promise he showed this year was extraordinary. We have a swimmer on our hands here.
Brayden Cook - It took him a while, but he finally got his chance in R21 against the forces of Darkness & Evil. He seized his opportunity with both hands, picking up 17 disposals against the Tools, then backing it up with 19 disposals in R23 against the Roos. Were it not for TT kicking 5 goals on debut, I would have rated him as our best 1st year player in a long time. Definite swimmer.
Sam Berry - As a first year player, making his debut and playing 17 games definitely puts him in the "Improver" category, despite the lack of previous baseline. Berry is a tackling machine, but he needs to work on getting more of the ball, averaging just 9 disposals per game for the year. There's a lot to like, and a lot for the coaches to work with. I think he's a swimmer, and I expect to see him in the "Improvers" list again next year.
Nick Murray - Coming from nowhere, having been signed post-draft, during the pre-season supplementary period, Murray went on to play 13 games. By the end of the year he was looking more confident, and really starting to shine. There's a lot to like here, and he could be Butts' main support act for many years to come. I think he's a swimmer, though there is still room for further improvement.
James Rowe - 19 games and 15 goals is a reasonable return for our last selection in the 2020 draft. However, Rowe's longer term future is very much undecided. He's not overly quick, and his defensive application leaves a lot to be desired. Not a bad first year, but I'd want to see more in 2022 before I grade him as a swimmer. For now, he's only treading water, but he hasn't yet started sinking.
Lachlan Gollant - Gollant finally earned his debut in R23, against the Roos, and immediately made his mark, joining in the joyous last 10 minutes as he, Mackay & Lynch all kicked goals - the debutant and the two departing veterans. He's clearly a "project player", who is still think as a pencil, despite gaining significant weight during the pre-season. If he can continue adding muscle to his frame, then he could have a bright future at the AFL level. I think he could be a swimmer, but it's far too early to tell.

Treading Water
Tom Doedee
- Doedee's placement in this group isn't a bad thing, it's an indicator that he was already performing at a very high level. I didn't see much (if any) improvement in Doedee this year, but neither did I see him going backwards. He struggled when forced to play 1-on-1 with bigger & taller forwards, but that was more an issue with team selection than Doedee's individual form. Have no fear - the Dude is definitely a swimmer.
Darcy Fogarty - Fogarty had a lot more opportunities this year, but he really failed to grasp them. He's still inconsistent, from game to game and quarter to quarter, averaging just 8.1 disposals per game (below his career average). Worst of all, his goal kicking accuracy started to fall away in the latter part of the season, limiting the effectiveness of the only weapon he really has. He needs to lose weight and get a lot fitter, if he is to become a swimmer.
Andrew McPherson - The Moose showed a lot in 2020, and I'm judging him against that benchmark. He was very disappointing at times in 2021, and I could easily have put him in the next group. However, he finished the season strongly enough for me to put him in the Treading Water group. I think he will swim, but he needs to continue showing improvement.
Billy Frampton - Billy has had a really mixed year. He worked hard in the pre-season, and jumped Himmelberg in the pecking order. That earned him AFL selection, where he failed miserably as a forward and was sent back to the SANFL. He played really well in the SANFL, and once again gained himself a promotion, and once again he stunk it up severely at AFL level. Eventually they gave up on him as a forward, and tried him in defence. He surprised everyone by appearing to be a competent defender - not great, but definitely competent. So, how should he be graded? As a forward, he was awful, but even then he'd still be classed as "treading water" - having failed previously, failing again was expected and not seen as a step backwards. As a defender, he was surprisingly competent, but that was really only for 2 games, as an experiment to see whether or not there was any justification at all for retaining his services in 2022. As a forward, he's not so much a sinker as an anchor. As a defender, he treads water, but there are younger players with greater potential already on the list.
Ben Davis - Little was expected of Davis, based on previous form, and little was delivered in 2022. He had a low benchmark to beat, and few would argue that he managed to improve on it. Like Frampton, Davis was selected a few times, late in the season, to see if he had potential as a small defender (having failed miserably as a forward). Like Frampton, he showed himself to be a competent defender, but with many younger players with greater potential, there's no pressing reason for his retention in 2022. Well liked by coaches and teammates, he is never the less a sinker.
Will Hamill - Hamill showed in 2020 that he was a swimmer, and nothing much changed in that regard. He played some poor games this year, but he played some really good ones too, particularly late in the season. Overall, I didn't see enough variation from his 2020 benchmark to grade him up or down a group from here. I still think he will be a swimmer, though repeated concussions may have a very unfortunate bearing on his future.
Josh Worrell - Worrell's good early SANFL form was eventually rewarded with a debut in R13, but 3 disposals later he was back in the SANFL for the rest of the season. Worrell was re-signed by the club, so there's definitely hope that he'll come good, but there's not much sign of it so far - and an off-field alcohol incident during the pre-season didn't endear him with the coaches. At best, he's treading water - no signs yet that he'll swim, but I'm still reluctant to rate him as a sinker.
Ronin O'Connor - Second year player who did get selected for 2 games, but didn't really do much with those opportunities. O'Connor is the last remaining uncontracted player on the senior list, so his future is highly uncertain. At best he's treading water, though the club may have decided that he's a sinker, which would make him the first of our recent draftees to be filtered out.

Going Backwards
Reilly O'Brien
- ROB set a very high benchmark in 2020, winning the B&F in the process. Relative to that standard, he's gone backwards this year. He's definitely a swimmer, but Strachan's performances in the last few rounds will have him keeping a close eye on his back in 2022. Competition for positions is entirely a good thing, so hopefully Strachan & ROB will push each other to improve in 2022.
Elliott Himmelberg - Berg's bright finish to the 2020 season had us all looking forward to seeing what he could produce in 2021. The answer, for the first 17 rounds of the season, was SFA. A poor off-season saw him fall behind Frampton in the pecking order, and it wasn't until Frampton's dismal failure as a forward became completely embarrassing that Berg was able to shine again. Berg's best is definitely AFL standard, but he needs to keep working hard to ensure that he's able to deliver on a consistent basis. Sink, or Swim? Berg could still go either way.
Jackson Hately - Adelaide grabbed Hately in the PSD, not giving GWS anything for his services. Based on Hately's performance in 2021, we overpaid and did GWS a favour. For such a highly rated player, Hately's 2021 has been ****ing awful. Supposedly he was injured (osteitis pubis is the rumour). Hopefully 2022 will see him injury free, and showing us why he was a top-10 draftee a few years ago. Right now, he's not so much sinking as drowning, but I'm still hopeful that there's a swimmer in there somewhere.
Shane McAdam - McAdam spent too much time going for speccy marks, and nowhere near enough time doing the basics. As a result, his game went backwards in 2021, and he found himself playing in the SANFL for much of the season. Whether or not he makes it is dependent upon his ability to develop an AFL-standard work ethic. Right now, he's in danger of sinking, after a bright start to his career in 2020.
Fischer McAsey - The big fish didn't play a single AFL game this season, and didn't impress anyone at SANFL level either. He's had 2 very interrupted pre-seasons since being drafted, so there's still hope. The club has re-signed him for another 2 years, so they still have faith that he can turn it around... but based on his 2021 performances, he's looking very much like a sinker.
Lachlan Sholl - Sholl is one of the few Crows to have earned 2x Rising Star nominations, one in 2020 and another in 2021. He started the season in great form, but by the end of it he was struggling to hold his own in the SANFL. Sholl had the worst case of "2nd year blues" that I can remember. But I take heart from the old saying - form is temporary, but class is permanent. Sholl has class, and I hope/expect to see him back at his best in 2022.

Not Assessed
Mitch Hinge
- Season ended in R1, thanks to a shoulder injury.
Luke Pedlar - Showed a lot of promise in the pre-season games, but his season was limited due to injury and fitness. Hopefully we'll see a lot more of him in 2022.
James Borlase - Cat B rookie who wasn't given an AFL debut. Game reports indicate that he's done well at SANFL level, though it's unclear how that would translate to the AFL level. Completely unseen by me (excluding the pre-season games), so no grading made.
Tariek Newchurch - Cat B rookie who wasn't given an AFL debut. Lightning quick, but inconsistent and poor defensively. He may have done enough to earn a contract for 2022, but would need to show more next year. Completely unseen by me (excluding the pre-season games), so no grading made.
Patrick Parnell - Added to the list via the mid-season draft, I haven't seen or heard a lot about him, so no grading made.
Now that might be the single worst opinion you have ever had on an Adelaide footballer. Ever. Sholl is not a version of 2nd year blues no matter how you spin it and it's only a recency bias which has seen nuffies flock to that opinion.

This is his form line coming into round 10: 22 disposals/16.22 ED/5.22 marks/3.67 SI/383.67 mg and even 90.11% TOG. Near elite and a rather significant step up on 2020. The player we're looking at breaking the bank for this offseason in Jordan Dawson averaged: 22.3 disposals/17.6 ED/5.5 marks/4.2 SI/466 mg to give a baseline for where those numbers sit. An example of severe 2nd year blues is McPherson where he fell apart early, going from being a best 22 to out of the lineup within the first 5 weeks and resigned to long stints in the SANFL.

It falls apart afterwards, dropping to 76.4% TOG in the second part of the season. This is purely a kid who just ran himself into the ground, not someone who regressed as a player.
 
Last edited:

Soggy2112

Club Legend
Aug 6, 2021
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Now that might be the single worst opinion you have ever had on an Adelaide footballer. Ever. Sholl is not a version of 2nd year blues no matter how you spin it and it's only a recency bias which has seen nuffies flock to that opinion.

This is his form line coming into round 10: 22 disposals/16.22 ED/5.22 marks/3.67 SI/383.67 mg and even 90.11% TOG. Near elite and a rather significant step up on 2022. The player we're looking at breaking the bank for this offseason in Jordan Dawson averaged: 22.3 disposals/17.6 ED/5.5 marks/4.2 SI/466 mg to give a baseline for where those numbers sit. An example of severe 2nd year blues is McPherson where he fell apart early, going from being a best 22 to out of the lineup within the first 5 weeks and resigned to long stints in the SANFL.

It falls apart afterwards, dropping to 76.4% TOG in the second part of the season. This is purely a kid who just ran himself into the ground, not someone who regressed as a player.
Glad someone else sees it this way.

Sholl in the first half of the season showed what he’s made of.

Second half to me was simply a third year player who relies on running power running out of steam, and with that he’s light frame was exposed.

Give him a couple more preseasons and a bit more time in the gym and we’ll start to see his 2020/first half of 2021 form consistently.
 

jackster83

Rat in a cage;
Jul 31, 2007
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Glad someone else sees it this way.

Sholl in the first half of the season showed what he’s made of.

Second half to me was simply a third year player who relies on running power running out of steam, and with that he’s light frame was exposed.

Give him a couple more preseasons and a bit more time in the gym and we’ll start to see his 2020/first half of 2021 form consistently.
He needs to work on his craft below his knees. Takes a long time to pick the ball up and ends up getting tackled. Opposition players seem to have caught on to this.
 

Soggy2112

Club Legend
Aug 6, 2021
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He needs to work on his craft below his knees. Takes a long time to pick the ball up and ends up getting tackled. Opposition players seem to have caught on to this.
No doubt, and I’m sure he’ll put in the work, just as every young player has areas they need to work on.

It just frustrates me that people are putting him in the “gone backwards” pile. Dips in form are to be expected in third year players, particularly one who’s body isn’t really AFL ready, we need to be patient.
 

Kickin Goals

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OK... so we've removed most of the senior players from the list, and stacked it with kids. We're now in the position of having to give those kids games, to identify who will sink & who will swim at AFL level. Which of the kids improved in 2021, who went backwards, and who trod water? In 2020 it was hard to identify many players at all who improved, this year that task is much easier - and that's a good thing!

For the following review, I've drawn the cutoff line at players who started 2021 with less than 40 AFL games. That puts means Keays & Murphy are above the line, with O'Brien the most senior player under the line.

My apologies if it's a bit confusing. I've gone through and tried to identify which players improved & went backwards this year, but I've also tried to identify those I think will sink & who will swim.

Improvers
Chayce Jones
- Many people were writing Jones off at the start of the year. He reinvented himself as a HBF, and took his game to a whole new level. Based on this season, he appears to have gone from a sinker to a swimmer.
Ned McHenry - Ned still reminds me of a puppy dog, eager and enthusiastic, but slobbering over everything and making a complete mess. However, in 2021 that eagerness started to show signs of producing quality football. As a result, he won the club's "Most Improved" award (or whatever they choose to call it). There's a lot of improvement still to come, but there were hugely promising signs in 2021, and he's looking like an increasingly proficient swimmer.
Harry Schoenberg - Schoenberg showed promise in 2020, and took it to a new level in 2021. To date, he's the only one of our younger players to be entrusted with a regular position in our midfield rotations (along with Keays/Sloane/Laird). We have a definite swimmer here, not that there was ever any doubt.
Jordan Butts - After 2 AFL games in 2020, Butts played every game in 2021, becoming the rock on which our defence was built. Not once did he concede more than 2 goals in a single game. For a player with his lack of experience, that was a remarkable achievement. Butts is, without a shadow of a doubt, an excellent swimmer.
Kieran Strachan - 2021 was Strachan's 3rd year on the rookie list, and I expected him to follow in the footsteps of Graham & Lowden, passing in to the annals of history once his 3 years on the rookie list came to an end. Strachan proved me wrong. Strachan was, by all accounts, the best ruckman in the SANFL all season. With ROB injured, he seized his opportunities in R22-23, more than holding his own against Max Gawn & Todd Goldstein, two of the best ruckmen in the AFL. Now ROB has serious competition for his position in the AFL team, and Strachan has been re-signed for 2 more years. Things couldn't be more promising.
Riley Thilthorpe - With no baseline against which to judge, TT was probably going to be classed as an Improver regardless of what he did. What he did was kick 5 goals on debut, and another bag of 3 against St Kilda, which earned him a rising star nomination. TT still has a lot of improvement left in him, as his body matures and he adjusts to playing at the AFL level - but the promise he showed this year was extraordinary. We have a swimmer on our hands here.
Brayden Cook - It took him a while, but he finally got his chance in R21 against the forces of Darkness & Evil. He seized his opportunity with both hands, picking up 17 disposals against the Tools, then backing it up with 19 disposals in R23 against the Roos. Were it not for TT kicking 5 goals on debut, I would have rated him as our best 1st year player in a long time. Definite swimmer.
Sam Berry - As a first year player, making his debut and playing 17 games definitely puts him in the "Improver" category, despite the lack of previous baseline. Berry is a tackling machine, but he needs to work on getting more of the ball, averaging just 9 disposals per game for the year. There's a lot to like, and a lot for the coaches to work with. I think he's a swimmer, and I expect to see him in the "Improvers" list again next year.
Nick Murray - Coming from nowhere, having been signed post-draft, during the pre-season supplementary period, Murray went on to play 13 games. By the end of the year he was looking more confident, and really starting to shine. There's a lot to like here, and he could be Butts' main support act for many years to come. I think he's a swimmer, though there is still room for further improvement.
James Rowe - 19 games and 15 goals is a reasonable return for our last selection in the 2020 draft. However, Rowe's longer term future is very much undecided. He's not overly quick, and his defensive application leaves a lot to be desired. Not a bad first year, but I'd want to see more in 2022 before I grade him as a swimmer. For now, he's only treading water, but he hasn't yet started sinking.
Lachlan Gollant - Gollant finally earned his debut in R23, against the Roos, and immediately made his mark, joining in the joyous last 10 minutes as he, Mackay & Lynch all kicked goals - the debutant and the two departing veterans. He's clearly a "project player", who is still think as a pencil, despite gaining significant weight during the pre-season. If he can continue adding muscle to his frame, then he could have a bright future at the AFL level. I think he could be a swimmer, but it's far too early to tell.

Treading Water
Tom Doedee
- Doedee's placement in this group isn't a bad thing, it's an indicator that he was already performing at a very high level. I didn't see much (if any) improvement in Doedee this year, but neither did I see him going backwards. He struggled when forced to play 1-on-1 with bigger & taller forwards, but that was more an issue with team selection than Doedee's individual form. Have no fear - the Dude is definitely a swimmer.
Darcy Fogarty - Fogarty had a lot more opportunities this year, but he really failed to grasp them. He's still inconsistent, from game to game and quarter to quarter, averaging just 8.1 disposals per game (below his career average). Worst of all, his goal kicking accuracy started to fall away in the latter part of the season, limiting the effectiveness of the only weapon he really has. He needs to lose weight and get a lot fitter, if he is to become a swimmer.
Andrew McPherson - The Moose showed a lot in 2020, and I'm judging him against that benchmark. He was very disappointing at times in 2021, and I could easily have put him in the next group. However, he finished the season strongly enough for me to put him in the Treading Water group. I think he will swim, but he needs to continue showing improvement.
Billy Frampton - Billy has had a really mixed year. He worked hard in the pre-season, and jumped Himmelberg in the pecking order. That earned him AFL selection, where he failed miserably as a forward and was sent back to the SANFL. He played really well in the SANFL, and once again gained himself a promotion, and once again he stunk it up severely at AFL level. Eventually they gave up on him as a forward, and tried him in defence. He surprised everyone by appearing to be a competent defender - not great, but definitely competent. So, how should he be graded? As a forward, he was awful, but even then he'd still be classed as "treading water" - having failed previously, failing again was expected and not seen as a step backwards. As a defender, he was surprisingly competent, but that was really only for 2 games, as an experiment to see whether or not there was any justification at all for retaining his services in 2022. As a forward, he's not so much a sinker as an anchor. As a defender, he treads water, but there are younger players with greater potential already on the list.
Ben Davis - Little was expected of Davis, based on previous form, and little was delivered in 2022. He had a low benchmark to beat, and few would argue that he managed to improve on it. Like Frampton, Davis was selected a few times, late in the season, to see if he had potential as a small defender (having failed miserably as a forward). Like Frampton, he showed himself to be a competent defender, but with many younger players with greater potential, there's no pressing reason for his retention in 2022. Well liked by coaches and teammates, he is never the less a sinker.
Will Hamill - Hamill showed in 2020 that he was a swimmer, and nothing much changed in that regard. He played some poor games this year, but he played some really good ones too, particularly late in the season. Overall, I didn't see enough variation from his 2020 benchmark to grade him up or down a group from here. I still think he will be a swimmer, though repeated concussions may have a very unfortunate bearing on his future.
Josh Worrell - Worrell's good early SANFL form was eventually rewarded with a debut in R13, but 3 disposals later he was back in the SANFL for the rest of the season. Worrell was re-signed by the club, so there's definitely hope that he'll come good, but there's not much sign of it so far - and an off-field alcohol incident during the pre-season didn't endear him with the coaches. At best, he's treading water - no signs yet that he'll swim, but I'm still reluctant to rate him as a sinker.
Ronin O'Connor - Second year player who did get selected for 2 games, but didn't really do much with those opportunities. O'Connor is the last remaining uncontracted player on the senior list, so his future is highly uncertain. At best he's treading water, though the club may have decided that he's a sinker, which would make him the first of our recent draftees to be filtered out.

Going Backwards
Reilly O'Brien
- ROB set a very high benchmark in 2020, winning the B&F in the process. Relative to that standard, he's gone backwards this year. He's definitely a swimmer, but Strachan's performances in the last few rounds will have him keeping a close eye on his back in 2022. Competition for positions is entirely a good thing, so hopefully Strachan & ROB will push each other to improve in 2022.
Elliott Himmelberg - Berg's bright finish to the 2020 season had us all looking forward to seeing what he could produce in 2021. The answer, for the first 17 rounds of the season, was SFA. A poor off-season saw him fall behind Frampton in the pecking order, and it wasn't until Frampton's dismal failure as a forward became completely embarrassing that Berg was able to shine again. Berg's best is definitely AFL standard, but he needs to keep working hard to ensure that he's able to deliver on a consistent basis. Sink, or Swim? Berg could still go either way.
Jackson Hately - Adelaide grabbed Hately in the PSD, not giving GWS anything for his services. Based on Hately's performance in 2021, we overpaid and did GWS a favour. For such a highly rated player, Hately's 2021 has been ****ing awful. Supposedly he was injured (osteitis pubis is the rumour). Hopefully 2022 will see him injury free, and showing us why he was a top-10 draftee a few years ago. Right now, he's not so much sinking as drowning, but I'm still hopeful that there's a swimmer in there somewhere.
Shane McAdam - McAdam spent too much time going for speccy marks, and nowhere near enough time doing the basics. As a result, his game went backwards in 2021, and he found himself playing in the SANFL for much of the season. Whether or not he makes it is dependent upon his ability to develop an AFL-standard work ethic. Right now, he's in danger of sinking, after a bright start to his career in 2020.
Fischer McAsey - The big fish didn't play a single AFL game this season, and didn't impress anyone at SANFL level either. He's had 2 very interrupted pre-seasons since being drafted, so there's still hope. The club has re-signed him for another 2 years, so they still have faith that he can turn it around... but based on his 2021 performances, he's looking very much like a sinker.
Lachlan Sholl - Sholl is one of the few Crows to have earned 2x Rising Star nominations, one in 2020 and another in 2021. He started the season in great form, but by the end of it he was struggling to hold his own in the SANFL. Sholl had the worst case of "2nd year blues" that I can remember. But I take heart from the old saying - form is temporary, but class is permanent. Sholl has class, and I hope/expect to see him back at his best in 2022.

Not Assessed
Mitch Hinge
- Season ended in R1, thanks to a shoulder injury.
Luke Pedlar - Showed a lot of promise in the pre-season games, but his season was limited due to injury and fitness. Hopefully we'll see a lot more of him in 2022.
James Borlase - Cat B rookie who wasn't given an AFL debut. Game reports indicate that he's done well at SANFL level, though it's unclear how that would translate to the AFL level. Completely unseen by me (excluding the pre-season games), so no grading made.
Tariek Newchurch - Cat B rookie who wasn't given an AFL debut. Lightning quick, but inconsistent and poor defensively. He may have done enough to earn a contract for 2022, but would need to show more next year. Completely unseen by me (excluding the pre-season games), so no grading made.
Patrick Parnell - Added to the list via the mid-season draft, I haven't seen or heard a lot about him, so no grading made.
Nice assessment but I disagree with Sholl he was on fire first half of the year but then opposition teams started to put a bit more work into him, also I think he ran out of steam a bit, he is a defiantly a swimmer.
 

Golumless

A bigger deal out west.
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Glad someone else sees it this way.

Sholl in the first half of the season showed what he’s made of.

Second half to me was simply a third year player who relies on running power running out of steam, and with that he’s light frame was exposed.

Give him a couple more preseasons and a bit more time in the gym and we’ll start to see his 2020/first half of 2021 form consistently.
Yup, it's a bit of a "what could have been" year, seeing Sholl was likely streets ahead of everyone in the RS come the Melbourne game. Still he certainly cemented himself as a potentially elite winger, and considering he was giving Seeds/Smith company, that's still a rather excellent year for Lachie.

Maybe even one more preseason. I do wonder if this just ended up being the year where Sholl had to learn how to manage himself, and how to retain that running power over 22 rounds. I'm certain he'll bounce back after a break.
 

Murray2503

Brownlow Medallist
May 10, 2016
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OK... so we've removed most of the senior players from the list, and stacked it with kids. We're now in the position of having to give those kids games, to identify who will sink & who will swim at AFL level. Which of the kids improved in 2021, who went backwards, and who trod water? In 2020 it was hard to identify many players at all who improved, this year that task is much easier - and that's a good thing!

For the following review, I've drawn the cutoff line at players who started 2021 with less than 40 AFL games. That puts means Keays & Murphy are above the line, with O'Brien the most senior player under the line.

My apologies if it's a bit confusing. I've gone through and tried to identify which players improved & went backwards this year, but I've also tried to identify those I think will sink & who will swim.

Improvers
Chayce Jones
- Many people were writing Jones off at the start of the year. He reinvented himself as a HBF, and took his game to a whole new level. Based on this season, he appears to have gone from a sinker to a swimmer.
Ned McHenry - Ned still reminds me of a puppy dog, eager and enthusiastic, but slobbering over everything and making a complete mess. However, in 2021 that eagerness started to show signs of producing quality football. As a result, he won the club's "Most Improved" award (or whatever they choose to call it). There's a lot of improvement still to come, but there were hugely promising signs in 2021, and he's looking like an increasingly proficient swimmer.
Harry Schoenberg - Schoenberg showed promise in 2020, and took it to a new level in 2021. To date, he's the only one of our younger players to be entrusted with a regular position in our midfield rotations (along with Keays/Sloane/Laird). We have a definite swimmer here, not that there was ever any doubt.
Jordan Butts - After 2 AFL games in 2020, Butts played every game in 2021, becoming the rock on which our defence was built. Not once did he concede more than 2 goals in a single game. For a player with his lack of experience, that was a remarkable achievement. Butts is, without a shadow of a doubt, an excellent swimmer.
Kieran Strachan - 2021 was Strachan's 3rd year on the rookie list, and I expected him to follow in the footsteps of Graham & Lowden, passing in to the annals of history once his 3 years on the rookie list came to an end. Strachan proved me wrong. Strachan was, by all accounts, the best ruckman in the SANFL all season. With ROB injured, he seized his opportunities in R22-23, more than holding his own against Max Gawn & Todd Goldstein, two of the best ruckmen in the AFL. Now ROB has serious competition for his position in the AFL team, and Strachan has been re-signed for 2 more years. Things couldn't be more promising.
Riley Thilthorpe - With no baseline against which to judge, TT was probably going to be classed as an Improver regardless of what he did. What he did was kick 5 goals on debut, and another bag of 3 against St Kilda, which earned him a rising star nomination. TT still has a lot of improvement left in him, as his body matures and he adjusts to playing at the AFL level - but the promise he showed this year was extraordinary. We have a swimmer on our hands here.
Brayden Cook - It took him a while, but he finally got his chance in R21 against the forces of Darkness & Evil. He seized his opportunity with both hands, picking up 17 disposals against the Tools, then backing it up with 19 disposals in R23 against the Roos. Were it not for TT kicking 5 goals on debut, I would have rated him as our best 1st year player in a long time. Definite swimmer.
Sam Berry - As a first year player, making his debut and playing 17 games definitely puts him in the "Improver" category, despite the lack of previous baseline. Berry is a tackling machine, but he needs to work on getting more of the ball, averaging just 9 disposals per game for the year. There's a lot to like, and a lot for the coaches to work with. I think he's a swimmer, and I expect to see him in the "Improvers" list again next year.
Nick Murray - Coming from nowhere, having been signed post-draft, during the pre-season supplementary period, Murray went on to play 13 games. By the end of the year he was looking more confident, and really starting to shine. There's a lot to like here, and he could be Butts' main support act for many years to come. I think he's a swimmer, though there is still room for further improvement.
James Rowe - 19 games and 15 goals is a reasonable return for our last selection in the 2020 draft. However, Rowe's longer term future is very much undecided. He's not overly quick, and his defensive application leaves a lot to be desired. Not a bad first year, but I'd want to see more in 2022 before I grade him as a swimmer. For now, he's only treading water, but he hasn't yet started sinking.
Lachlan Gollant - Gollant finally earned his debut in R23, against the Roos, and immediately made his mark, joining in the joyous last 10 minutes as he, Mackay & Lynch all kicked goals - the debutant and the two departing veterans. He's clearly a "project player", who is still think as a pencil, despite gaining significant weight during the pre-season. If he can continue adding muscle to his frame, then he could have a bright future at the AFL level. I think he could be a swimmer, but it's far too early to tell.

Treading Water
Tom Doedee
- Doedee's placement in this group isn't a bad thing, it's an indicator that he was already performing at a very high level. I didn't see much (if any) improvement in Doedee this year, but neither did I see him going backwards. He struggled when forced to play 1-on-1 with bigger & taller forwards, but that was more an issue with team selection than Doedee's individual form. Have no fear - the Dude is definitely a swimmer.
Darcy Fogarty - Fogarty had a lot more opportunities this year, but he really failed to grasp them. He's still inconsistent, from game to game and quarter to quarter, averaging just 8.1 disposals per game (below his career average). Worst of all, his goal kicking accuracy started to fall away in the latter part of the season, limiting the effectiveness of the only weapon he really has. He needs to lose weight and get a lot fitter, if he is to become a swimmer.
Andrew McPherson - The Moose showed a lot in 2020, and I'm judging him against that benchmark. He was very disappointing at times in 2021, and I could easily have put him in the next group. However, he finished the season strongly enough for me to put him in the Treading Water group. I think he will swim, but he needs to continue showing improvement.
Billy Frampton - Billy has had a really mixed year. He worked hard in the pre-season, and jumped Himmelberg in the pecking order. That earned him AFL selection, where he failed miserably as a forward and was sent back to the SANFL. He played really well in the SANFL, and once again gained himself a promotion, and once again he stunk it up severely at AFL level. Eventually they gave up on him as a forward, and tried him in defence. He surprised everyone by appearing to be a competent defender - not great, but definitely competent. So, how should he be graded? As a forward, he was awful, but even then he'd still be classed as "treading water" - having failed previously, failing again was expected and not seen as a step backwards. As a defender, he was surprisingly competent, but that was really only for 2 games, as an experiment to see whether or not there was any justification at all for retaining his services in 2022. As a forward, he's not so much a sinker as an anchor. As a defender, he treads water, but there are younger players with greater potential already on the list.
Ben Davis - Little was expected of Davis, based on previous form, and little was delivered in 2022. He had a low benchmark to beat, and few would argue that he managed to improve on it. Like Frampton, Davis was selected a few times, late in the season, to see if he had potential as a small defender (having failed miserably as a forward). Like Frampton, he showed himself to be a competent defender, but with many younger players with greater potential, there's no pressing reason for his retention in 2022. Well liked by coaches and teammates, he is never the less a sinker.
Will Hamill - Hamill showed in 2020 that he was a swimmer, and nothing much changed in that regard. He played some poor games this year, but he played some really good ones too, particularly late in the season. Overall, I didn't see enough variation from his 2020 benchmark to grade him up or down a group from here. I still think he will be a swimmer, though repeated concussions may have a very unfortunate bearing on his future.
Josh Worrell - Worrell's good early SANFL form was eventually rewarded with a debut in R13, but 3 disposals later he was back in the SANFL for the rest of the season. Worrell was re-signed by the club, so there's definitely hope that he'll come good, but there's not much sign of it so far - and an off-field alcohol incident during the pre-season didn't endear him with the coaches. At best, he's treading water - no signs yet that he'll swim, but I'm still reluctant to rate him as a sinker.
Ronin O'Connor - Second year player who did get selected for 2 games, but didn't really do much with those opportunities. O'Connor is the last remaining uncontracted player on the senior list, so his future is highly uncertain. At best he's treading water, though the club may have decided that he's a sinker, which would make him the first of our recent draftees to be filtered out.

Going Backwards
Reilly O'Brien
- ROB set a very high benchmark in 2020, winning the B&F in the process. Relative to that standard, he's gone backwards this year. He's definitely a swimmer, but Strachan's performances in the last few rounds will have him keeping a close eye on his back in 2022. Competition for positions is entirely a good thing, so hopefully Strachan & ROB will push each other to improve in 2022.
Elliott Himmelberg - Berg's bright finish to the 2020 season had us all looking forward to seeing what he could produce in 2021. The answer, for the first 17 rounds of the season, was SFA. A poor off-season saw him fall behind Frampton in the pecking order, and it wasn't until Frampton's dismal failure as a forward became completely embarrassing that Berg was able to shine again. Berg's best is definitely AFL standard, but he needs to keep working hard to ensure that he's able to deliver on a consistent basis. Sink, or Swim? Berg could still go either way.
Jackson Hately - Adelaide grabbed Hately in the PSD, not giving GWS anything for his services. Based on Hately's performance in 2021, we overpaid and did GWS a favour. For such a highly rated player, Hately's 2021 has been ****ing awful. Supposedly he was injured (osteitis pubis is the rumour). Hopefully 2022 will see him injury free, and showing us why he was a top-10 draftee a few years ago. Right now, he's not so much sinking as drowning, but I'm still hopeful that there's a swimmer in there somewhere.
Shane McAdam - McAdam spent too much time going for speccy marks, and nowhere near enough time doing the basics. As a result, his game went backwards in 2021, and he found himself playing in the SANFL for much of the season. Whether or not he makes it is dependent upon his ability to develop an AFL-standard work ethic. Right now, he's in danger of sinking, after a bright start to his career in 2020.
Fischer McAsey - The big fish didn't play a single AFL game this season, and didn't impress anyone at SANFL level either. He's had 2 very interrupted pre-seasons since being drafted, so there's still hope. The club has re-signed him for another 2 years, so they still have faith that he can turn it around... but based on his 2021 performances, he's looking very much like a sinker.
Lachlan Sholl - Sholl is one of the few Crows to have earned 2x Rising Star nominations, one in 2020 and another in 2021. He started the season in great form, but by the end of it he was struggling to hold his own in the SANFL. Sholl had the worst case of "2nd year blues" that I can remember. But I take heart from the old saying - form is temporary, but class is permanent. Sholl has class, and I hope/expect to see him back at his best in 2022.

Not Assessed
Mitch Hinge
- Season ended in R1, thanks to a shoulder injury.
Luke Pedlar - Showed a lot of promise in the pre-season games, but his season was limited due to injury and fitness. Hopefully we'll see a lot more of him in 2022.
James Borlase - Cat B rookie who wasn't given an AFL debut. Game reports indicate that he's done well at SANFL level, though it's unclear how that would translate to the AFL level. Completely unseen by me (excluding the pre-season games), so no grading made.
Tariek Newchurch - Cat B rookie who wasn't given an AFL debut. Lightning quick, but inconsistent and poor defensively. He may have done enough to earn a contract for 2022, but would need to show more next year. Completely unseen by me (excluding the pre-season games), so no grading made.
Patrick Parnell - Added to the list via the mid-season draft, I haven't seen or heard a lot about him, so no grading made.
I wouldn't put Rowe in the improvers. He was found out this year for his lack of pace, skill and fitness. Rowe was lucky that McAdam had a massive drop off for a lot of the season combined with us moving on Stengle and Murphy being injured for a lot of the year. Murphy is not the answer either btw. We definitely need to acquire a better small at the trade or draft.
 

The Smith Revolution

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An objective assessment V.
IMO Moose needs to lose the double grabbing of ball receives. Has good traits but double grabbing will sink him. Get that out of his game and he will swim big time.
Gollant is a massive swimmer. You can see that already from one years play. Huge upside. Huge.
Lastly, Rowe with other weaknesses cannot kick 40 metres in distance on a set shot. Surprised me. That is non AFL standard for a forward.
 

Jarman3

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I wouldn't put Rowe in the improvers. He was found out this year for his lack of pace, skill and fitness. Rowe was lucky that McAdam had a massive drop off for a lot of the season combined with us moving on Stengle and Murphy being injured for a lot of the year. Murphy is not the answer either btw. We definitely need to acquire a better small at the trade or draft.
Agee completely - to put it in perspective, our 2017 small forwards were Eddie Betts and Charlie Cameron. Now it's Murphy and Rowe. That is... an area to improve.
 

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