Youth grows for old Bailey: Demons pre-draft

As part of a club-by-club series, we look at the ongoing disaster recovery efforts led by Dean Bailey.

Melbourne Demons AFL Training Session

MELBOURNE
Live selections: 1, 2, 11, 18, 34, 50, 66

In perhaps a sign of modern times, the heretofore hapless Demons are strongest at precisely the position in their depth charts where many other serious contenders are weakest: tall defender. Jared Rivers, Colin Garland, James Frawley, Matthew Warnock and Stefan Martin all merit top 22 consideration at the club, while Daniel Bell plays smaller but is still 190cm-plus like the other five. Coach Dean Bailey played four of his tall backs in some games in 2009, and wil probably do so again in future. Part of this is because his genuine small defender stocks at this stage, apart from Bell, consist of fantasy darling Jack Grimes plus everyone’s favourite clone of Rorschach from Watchmen: Kyle Cheney. The redheaded stepchild is the only hard-marking small defender left from an exodus of Dee backs that started last year with Chris Johnson and continued this year with Simon Buckley, both of whom suffered from Bailey’s evil eye, and the premature retirements of Paul Wheatley and Matthew Whelan due to chronic injury. Jamie Bennell was used as a small back in 2009, though he may return to his usual forward role.

Aaron Davey was used as a halfback rebounder at times in 2009, but suffered under hard tags later in the season and didn’t show that he could consistently run them off without significantly hurting his own game. Perhaps that can be blamed in part on the lack of support from lesser players on the Demons list, particularly the lack of an enforcer type to rough up taggers. In any case, one wonders if Bailey will persist with that tactic in future, given how spotty it made Davey’s game, and how much more damaging he can be in the front half. A spot may open up in the half back line for Melbourne as a result, which may be filled by a draftee from this year or last.

The other major hole in the Demons depth charts is inside midfielder, where they just traded Brock McLean out of their #1 slot. Of course, Melbourne has the #1 and #2 picks in the draft and is strongly expected to use one of them on Tom Scully and the other on Jack Trengove, which could be like inserting Rhys Palmer and Joel Selwood into the Demon engine room if the hype is to be believed.

Picks #11 and #18 are more fluid at this stage. The Age’s draft expert Emma Quayle has Melbourne picking two forwards in Lewis Jetta and Kane Lucas, while BigFooty’s phantom draft leaves them with tall forward Aaron Black and tall half back flanker Brad Sheppard. The choices will no doubt be restricted by the list of best available.

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