As the 2018 AFL draft has come and gone, here is a best team comprised of one player from each of the last 18 drafts. Certain players have missed out for the sake of team balance, the only question is who made it, and who was made to sit on the bench?
Tom Lonergan (2002) Heath Shaw (2003) Tom Doedee (2015)
Backs were hard to consider, as placing these strong men down back meant sacrificing a lot of other key stars, but for team balance, we have opted with Tom Lonergan, Heath Shaw and young gun Tom Doedee. Lonergan and Shaw are both premiership stars in their time, and Doedee has all the makings of an elite intercept defender for years to come.
Shannon Hurn (2006) Harris Andrews (2014) Luke Hodge (2001)
Similar issue with the full backline, finding room for the half backs was a struggle, but having two premiership captains seems justified, in a line featuring Shannon Hurn, Harris Andrews and Luke Hodge. Hodge seems obvious, even if his inclusion meant leaving out Chris Judd and Gary Ablett Jr, but there’s simply an abundance of midfielders to choose from, not enough backs, and of these three, two are legends and one is a future star.
Andrew Gaff (2010) Joel Selwood (2006) Josh Kelly (2013)
This is where the problems lie, the midfield, and there were just too many options. Andrew Gaff seemed a reasonable choice on the wing, as he was still a strong option even if it meant sacrificing other star midfielders. Joel Selwood already has won nearly everything in the game, and adds star power and leadership to an already stacked team, while Josh Kelly will be one of the best players in the AFL for the next decade.
Half Forward Line:
Dayne Beams (2008) Lance Franklin (2004) Dustin Martin (2009)
Lance Franklin is perhaps the most obvious choice, as although the 2004 draft class was star studded, he has been too good to pass up and he fills the void in the forward line. Dayne Beams and Dustin Martin are cheating somewhat, but both can operate has high half forwards, and that position was lacking in this team, so they’ll slot in seamlessly.
Full Forward Line:
Cyril Rioli (2007) Nick Riewoldt (2000) Jaidyn Stephenson (2017)
Any forward line spearheaded by Nick Riewoldt is bound to do well, while having Cyril Rioli and Jaidyn Stephenson on either side of him makes for an electric attack. Riewoldt will take the big grabs and kick the big goals, but Rioli’s and Stephenson’s pace and energy, coupled with their ability to sneak in some goals, will pose nightmares for any backline on any given day.
Brodie Grundy (2012) Tom Mitchell (2011) Tim Taranto (2016)
Brodie Grundy’s elite abilities as a ruck posed the question of featuring two ruckmen in the 2018 All-Australian squad, which is exactly what happened, such was his ability. If leather poisoning had a face it would be Tom Mitchell’s, who shattered numerous disposal records in 2018 including most in a game and most in a season, on his way to the Brownlow Medal. Tim Taranto is one of the brighter young guns in the game, and would do well playing alongside all of these stars.