Best 22 and draft needs: Melbourne

SEN - Thu, 15th Nov 2018 - 0 Comments

Melbourne enjoyed a successful season in 2018, highlighted by a drought-breaking finals campaign.

Simon Goodwin’s Demons were enjoyable to watch late in the season and from an overall viewpoint, the list looks in very strong shape.

The off-season departure of Jesse Hogan was not ideal but the inclusion of Steven May offsets that loss as it allows Tom McDonald to become a permanent forward.

Things look bright forward of centre, especially after a year where they were the heaviest scoring team at the conclusion of the home and away fixtures.

The midfield is awash with quality and the defence has now been strengthened, meaning there is balance all over the park for what looks to be an era of increasing positivity for the red and the blue.

Below is what Melbourne’s best 22 looks like pre-draft:

FB: Neville Jetta, Steven May, Jake Lever
HB: Christian Salem, Oscar McDonald, Michael Hibberd
C: Nathan Jones, Clayton Oliver, James Harmes
HF: Christian Petracca, Sam Weideman, Bayley Fritsch
FF: Jake Melksham, Tom McDonald, Mitch Hannan
Fol: Max Gawn, Angus Brayshaw, Jack Viney
Int: Jordan Lewis, Charlie Spargo, Alex Neal-Bullen, Kade Kolodjashnij

Long-term needs

Having lost Hogan and to a lesser extent Cam Pedersen, the Demons would love some key forward depth.

Tom McDonald will lead the way with Sam Weideman providing support, but there is little else in the way of tall forward options.

An injury to either player would create a problem of sorts and would likely force an alteration in forward line personnel, prompting a smaller setup inside 50.

While this pair could work together for at least the next five or six years, it would be wise for the Demons to put resources into a capable forward for depth purposes.

Short-term needs

The Demons are sorted for contested ball-winning mids, but certainly could use some run and carry around the periphery.

Each of Nathan Jones, Clayton Oliver, James Harmes, Angus Brayshaw and Jack Viney are all more than capable of winning their own ball but are limited in their running capacity in terms of pure speed.

Pace on the outside of stoppages and coming out of defence would be more than useful for the Demons.

It is an area of necessity and something the Demons need to look at if they are to genuinely contend in 2019.

Draft picks: 23, 28, 54, 62, 91

Who could they target?

Bailey Williams is an athletic forward who would no doubt be on Melbourne’s radar.

The 198cm Dandenong Stingrays big man is capable of assisting in the ruck but is better viewed as a long-term key forward prospect who could be taken at 23 or 28.

With pace and agility around the flanks a need, the Demons could look at a player in the mould of Sam Sturt.

William’s Stingrays teammate is a half-forward who tested high in the running vertical jump as well as sprint and agility tests at the Draft Combine and could be developed over the next few years, provided he is still available at 23.

The Demons are expected to bid for NextGen academy prospect Toby Bedford (another Stingray) with his pace, forward pressure and tackling ability his standout qualities.

Medium-sized forward Curtis Taylor, from the Calder Cannons, may also be in the sights of the Dees with his overhead marking ability, doubled with his capacity to move into the midfield, both attractive attributes.

Alternatively, Tasmanian outside runner Fraser Turner could also be an option for the Demons.