Geelong went into the 2018 season aiming for a flag with the acquisition of Gary Ablett supposedly the cherry on top of their star-studded midfield.
It didn’t quite pan out with the Cats finishing eighth on the ladder, bowing out in the first round of the finals to a Melbourne team that ran them off the park.
They’ve added midfielder Luke Dahlhaus from the Bulldogs and speedy forward Gary Rohan from Sydney, but still have a number of clear holes that need filling going into the 2018 National Draft.
Here’s what their best 22 looks like pre-draft:
FB: Jake Kolodjashnij, Lachie Henderson, Tom Stewart
HB: Zach Tuohy, Mark Blicavs, Jack Henry
C: Luke Dahlhaus, Mitch Duncan, Tim Kelly
HF: Gary Rohan, Esava Ratugolea, Sam Menegola
FF: Gary Ablett, Tom Hawkins, Brandan Parfitt
Fol: Rhys Stanley, Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood
Int: Scott Selwood, Nakia Cockatoo, Jed Bews, Cameron Guthrie
Long term needs
The Cats are still relying on the health of Lachie Henderson and/or Harry Taylor, and 2018 showed that is a real concern.
Mark Blicavs stood up as a key defender, winning the club’s best and fairest, but they should be looking for someone in the upcoming draft to develop and hold down that role for many years to come.
Tom Stewart, Zach Tuohy and Jack Henry provide great support down back, but Geelong could benefit from a young key defensive pillar to build around.
Short term needs
Ryan Abbott showed good signs late last year, but the Cats should be looking to fill their ruck stocks, given they’ve seemingly moved on from Zac Smith.
Rhys Stanley performed admirably in the role, but his body breaks down too often, making it difficult to rely on him.
They could also do with a small forward to replace Daniel Menzel, who was delisted.
Dahlhaus and Rohan were brought in, but the former is clearly a midfielder and the latter has never really shown the ability to be a consistent goal kicker.
Draft picks: 12, 50, 59, 60, 70, 87
Who could they target?
AFL.com.au and Future Stars draft expert Callum Twomey labels Calder Cannons prospect Curtis Taylor as “classy half-forward” that can “make things happen” and projects him to be available for Geelong’s pick 12.
Given their need for goal kicking targets, Taylor or West Australian Ian Hill could add some skill and finishing to their set up.
Only three ruckmen were invited to the AFL Draft Combine – Kieran Briggs (GWS zone), Bailey Williams and Riley Bowman. The Cats may need to look at non-traditional means if they wish to add to their ruck depth.
Delisted Fremantle ruckman Zac Clarke had a fantastic season for Subiaco in the WAFL and could provide a ready-made option.
Key defensive options include Kyle Reid and Jacob Koschitzke who they could potentially get around the 50-mark.