A-B-C midfield ratings

No, I’m not talking about rating everyone in relation to the Geelong engine room of Ablett-Bartel-Corey. Well, not directly. I’m talking about the way of looking at midfield groups in terms of classing them as A-grade, B-grade and C-grade, as they do on Fox Sports every week on their AFL Teams show.

I’ve always liked that method of looking at the relative merits of the midfield rotations of each club. I’m not always a fan of the classifications that some of the pundits claim, with Tony Shaw in particular being a culprit of overrating certain of his favourites. David Parkin is normally more level-headed. I’ll try not to let my club biases show through…. but you’ll be the judge of that!

Okay, let’s go through them in alphabetical order.

Adelaide

A Grade B Grade C Grade
Scott Thompson
Simon Goodwin
Andrew McLeod
Nathan Van Berlo
Chris Knights
Brent Reilly
Tyson Edwards
Robert Shirley
Michael Doughty
Bernie Vince
Patrick Dangerfield

McLeod is barely an A given his physical deterioration in recent years, which is only going to get worse. NVB, Knights and Reilly need to make that next step: all are capable, but it remains to be seen if any of them can.

Brisbane

A Grade B Grade C Grade
Simon Black
Luke Power
Jed Adcock
Jared Brennan
Bradd Dalziell
Travis Johnstone
Daniel Rich
Michael Rischitelli
Justin Sherman
Tim Notting
Troy Selwood

Power is another lucky to retain A-grade status, on the back of a solid second half of the season after a poor start. Adcock is on the cusp of moving up a grade, as is Dalziell if his late-season formn can hold up in the new year. Rich slots in smoothly as a B-grader based on his WAFL form.

Carlton

A Grade B Grade C Grade
Chris Judd
Bryce Gibbs
Marc Murphy
Nick Stevens
Andrew Carrazzo
Heath Scotland
Andrew Walker
Adam Bentick
Kade Simpson

Yes, okay, they’re the new 05/06 Eagles. Some might say it’s a stretch to include Stevens as an A-grader, given his lack of accountability, but his disposal is elite enough to fit him in. The midfield is not the Blues’ problem though, like those Eagles of old.

Collingwood

A Grade B Grade C Grade
Dane Swan
Alan Didak
Scott Pendlebury
Leon Davis
Dale Thomas
Shane O’Bree
Marty Clarke
Tarkyn Lockyer
Steele Sidebottom

Pie zealots will bag me for this, I suppose. Davis has had a good couple of years, yes, but he’s still inconsistent. Pendlebury needs to beat good opponents, and not just beat up on lesser teams. Thomas just needs to get more of the pill.

Essendon

A Grade B Grade C Grade
Mark McVeigh
Brent Stanton
Jobe Watson
Andrew Welsh
Brent Prismall
Bachar Houli
Alwyn Davey
Andrew Lovett
Sam Lonergan
Kyle Reimers
David Zaharakis

There seems to be a lot of hate for the Essendon midfield, mainly because Don supporters tend to overrate it, but it’s not as bad (or good) as the hype from either side. McVeigh and Stanton are solid players who have come on very pleasingly, McVeigh for his leadership and Stanton for his new found ability to break the tag. Watson remains the barometer of this team: if he can get his s— together with his disposal, the Bombers instantly become a much better club.

Fremantle

A Grade B Grade C Grade
Rhys Palmer
Ryan Crowley
Paul Hasleby
Des Headland
Byron Schammer
Garrick Ibbotson
Stephen Hill

What a mess. Palmer shot straight to A-grade with a stellar debut, and Crowley showed late in the season that if freed up to play his own attacking game, he can be quite damaging. However, Hasleby and Headland have to start all over again in 2009, while the lesser said of the rest the better.

Geelong

A Grade B Grade C Grade
Gary Ablett jnr
Jimmy Bartel
Joel Corey
Joel Selwood
Cameron Ling
Corey Enright David Wocjinski
James Kelly

Yes, five A-graders, they are that good. Is it a weakness that they perhaps haven’t got much depth underneath those five or six guns? Kelly certainly got exposed in the grand final. Their draft concentrated mostly on talls again, so it would be interesting to see who steps up from the bottom of their list if they struggle with midfield injury a bit more this year.

Hawthorn

A Grade B Grade C Grade
Sam Mitchell
Brad Sewell
Chance Bateman
Jordan Lewis
Clinton Young
Xavier Ellis
Rick Ladson

There are a bunch of D-graders sitting just outside this chart waiting for their chance, such as Travis Tuck, Josh J. Kennedy and Beau Muston. With Crawf gone and Ellis nobbled, early 2009 will be their chance to race up the rankings.

Melbourne

A Grade B Grade C Grade
Brad Green
Cameron Bruce
Brock McLean
James McDonald
Cale Morton
Nathan Jones
Shane Valenti
Lynden Dunn
Sam Blease

Am I being too charitable about classifying Green and Bruce as A-graders? You could argue the toss, certainly. Morton must be fast-tracked again this year, as must Blease and Valenti. Bailey has no choice, really.

North Melbourne

A Grade B Grade C Grade
Brent Harvey
Daniel Wells
Adam Simpson
Daniel Harris
Brady Rawlings
Sam Power
Andrew Swallow
Jack Ziebell

I’m sure the Roo supporters will squeal about Simmo being only a B, but I didn’t think he had a great year. Perhaps the burden of captaincy was the problem, and he’ll return to elite status in 2009. Here’s hoping on your behalf!

Port Adelaide

A Grade B Grade C Grade
Chad Cornes
Kane Cornes
Shaun Burgoyne
Steven Salopek
Domenic Cassisi
David Rodan
Danyle Pearce
Travis Boak
Hamish Hartlett

Salopek is probably the unluckiest not to be A-grade given his second half, which was excellent. He’ll no doubt graduate all the way during ’09. The Power have an impressively deep midfield, truth be told, which is why I’m of the opinion that they’re not far away from a big rebound up the ladder.

Richmond

A Grade B Grade C Grade
Brett Deledio
Shane Tuck
Nathan Foley
Trent Cotchin
Kane Johnson
Richard Tambling
Adam Thomson

There is a huge host of D-grade Tigers who have been D-graders at Punt Road for years and years now: White, Connors, Edwards, Jackson, Polo, Collins, Howat, Oakley-Nicholls. Well, perhaps JON is more of an F-grader. :D

St Kilda

A Grade B Grade C Grade
Lenny Hayes
Nick Dal Santo
Luke Ball
Leigh Montagna
Jason Gram
Steven Baker
Farren Ray
Clinton Jones

I hemmed and hawed about Ball, but decided he deserved a spot among the As. Saint fans might argue for Montagna as well, but let’s not get greedy! This is another team with a bunch of kids who haven’t been impressive enough yet to qualify for C-class.

Sydney

A Grade B Grade C Grade
Brett Kirk
Adam Goodes
Jarrad McVeigh
Jude Bolton
Amon Buchanan
Kieren Jack
Rhyce Shaw
Craig Bird

McVeigh almost made it to A this year: if he can back up his second half of 2008 then he’s there. I’m assuming that Goodes remains a midfielder, which is under question at this point. Shaw is a decent depth player at best.

West Coast

A Grade B Grade C Grade
Daniel Kerr
Matt Priddis
Andrew Embley
Tyson Stenglein
Adam Selwood
Matt Rosa
Chad Fletcher
Chris Masten
Brad Ebert

The Bs and Cs here seem to be legion, and you could possibly throw Luke Shuey and Tom Swift in there was well. The Eagles will have to give their young midfielders much more time this year and finally superannuate Embley, Stenglein and Fletcher.

Western Bulldogs

A Grade B Grade C Grade
Adam Cooney
Daniel Cross
Ryan Griffen
Matthew Boyd
Dylan Addison
Nathan Eagleton
Josh Hill
Sam Reid

Griffen is a great player when he’s on, but he’s just not on enough. Boyd is also possibly a closet A-grader. Addison is a quiet achiever: Dog fans know about him but not many else do.

I’m sure everyone has an opinion on this sort of thing, so where did I go wrong? I’m open to suggestions if I made a glaring mistake, but remember this is just my own thoughts, not AFL policy! Let me know your theories in the comments.