The Crows sprang a bit of a surprise in the 2015 national draft when they selected versatile and athletic young prospect Tom Doedee with Pick 17.
A former junior basketballer, Doedee was a relatively unknown quantity who was tipped by many to slip beyond the first, second and perhaps even third round of the draft.
But the Crows saw his potential — and have since witnessed him develop in leaps and bounds in the SANFL, where he enjoyed a promising and exciting campaign last season.
Doedee averaged 17.2 disposals per game in the SANFL, but it was his reading of the play and his natural athletic abilities that helped him flourish behind the ball.
According to Champion Data, he ranked No.1 in the league for intercept possessions (9.0 per game) and also rated elite for intercept marks (2.6 per game) and spoils (4.1 per game).
Close to a debut midway through the year, according to Crows coach Don Pyke, Doedee was forced to bide his time in an extremely strong Adelaide squad.
However, with Lever departing to Melbourne during the off-season, a place opens up in that Adelaide back six. He won’t have to wait long for his chance in 2018.
Another option touted would see Mitch McGovern moved into the back six.
Given the Crows already have a multitude of forward options and more than can move inside 50 from the midfield, McGovern’s marking attributes would suit a defensive role.
However, should Doedee prove a capable senior defender, Pyke and co. may be able to afford the luxury of keeping McGovern forward alongside the likes of Taylor Walker.
The first half of last season was all about Rory Sloane. The Adelaide midfielder was the Brownlow Medal favourite at the turn of the year, following a scintillating campaign where he was both winning the footy and converting on the scoreboard. For the first six weeks of the season, Sloane was averaging 29.5 disposals, 1.3 goals and 132.3 ranking points per match. He struggled with the tag later in the year, but will undoubtedly benefit from the arrival of Bryce Gibbs. He’s the player to watch at the Crows next season.
Young gun Wayne Milera was a mainstay in the Adelaide team throughout last season. He played 16 games, impressing with his speed and his composure with the ball. However, he was dropped on the eve of September and found it difficult to regain his place in the side. Milera played in only one of the team’s last seven games and was listed as an emergency throughout the finals series. At just 20 years of age, he’ll obviously improve again next year, but may need to battle for his place in Adelaide’s best 22.
THE RISING STAR
Another player who will ease the pain of Jake Lever’s departure is Jake Kelly. At just 22, the defender enjoyed a breakout campaign last season and will be hoping to replicate such form in 2018. Able to play both a lockdown role or as an intercept defender across half back, Kelly played 24 games last season. He impressed with his ability to play both small and tall and should see more senior action in 2018.
IT’S A BIG YEAR FOR ...
It’s fair to say last season didn’t end the way Taylor Walker might have liked. After the criticism following the club’s grand final loss and the departure of Jake Lever, the Crows skipper will be looking to get back to work in order to lead an improved side next year. On-field, Walker was as prolific as ever in 2017. He bagged 54 goals and was one of the team’s most important players. If he can replicate that production, there’s every chance he can lead Adelaide to the big dance yet again next season.
B: Luke Brown, Daniel Talia, Kyle Hartigan
HB: Jake Kelly, Tom Doedee, Rory Laird
C: Brad Crouch, Matt Crouch, Rory Atkins
HF: Mitch McGovern, Taylor Walker, Tom Lynch
F: Eddie Betts, Josh Jenkins, Richard Douglas
FOLL: Sam Jacobs, Rory Sloane, Bryce Gibbs
I/C: Riley Knight, David Mackay, Hugh Greenwood, Paul Seedsman
EMG: Curtly Hampton, Alex Keath, Wayne Milera
OTHERS: Kyle Cheney, Ben Davis, Harry Dear, Darcy Fogarty, Jordan Gallucci, Sam Gibson, Elliot Himmelberg, Andrew McPherson, Reilly O’Brien, Andy Otten, Myles Poholke, Matt Signorello
ROOKIES: Jackson Edwards, Cam Ellis-Yolmen, Paul Hunter, Ben Jarman, Lachlan Murphy